Galatians 2: 20
Philippians 3: 12
I would like to speak of two sides of the gospel that God would present to you. One is that Christ is for you. The Lord Jesus is for you, and can be yours. The other is that you are to be for Christ; you might belong to Him. Do you know the reality of these two things? Are they true of you? He is yours, and you are His? Can you say, ’Jesus is mine’? Does He belong to you? That is what God offers to you in the glad tidings, in His wonderful grace and marvellous love, His gift. There are many gifts in the glad tidings, but the primary gift is the Lord Jesus. God has given Him. We read of that in one of the best known verses of the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal”, John 3: 16. That is the breadth and the expanse of God’s love towards the world. He has, as it were, enveloped the world in His affections, and everyone in this world is involved in that. We can say in the glad tidings that God loves you.
We might speak of it in a general way. We might speak of His care and goodness to His creation, the way the sun rises every morning, the way we get the rain, the way He gives us food, clothing and shelter - everything we need for life. He is a good God. I say that reverently. He is a God that cares, cares for His creation. Many go on unthinking and unthankful of God’s care but He does care, and He cares for you. The Lord Jesus speaks of it in a very precious and intimate way, “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered”, Luke 12: 7. Are you conscious of God taking account of you in that way, caring for you? Every breath you take you can trace directly back to God because your very breath is in His hands. That is how intimately and closely God has set Himself in relation to you. Every time you take a breath, God has to do with you. “If he only thought of himself ... All flesh would expire“, Job 34: 14, 15. That is how intimately God has to do with you in your life, as you sit here now. But, He does not just care about you; He loves you. It is not just a general and beneficent love for His creation; His love is personally towards you.
I love the first scripture that we read because it is so intimately personal: “the Son of God who has loved me and given himself for me“. Here is a man who wrote many great things about the truth of Christianity - some things that I do not yet understand or could explain to you - yet the foundation of everything for Paul was “the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me”. It was him that the Son of God loved, and it was him that the Son of God gave Himself for. Do you know that as intimately and as really as the man that wrote this? Can you say that it was the Son of God who loved me, and it was the Son of God who gave Himself for me? Have you claimed Christ for yourself, do you have your own link with the Lord Jesus, so that you can say it was "for me"? That is what God offers you in the glad tidings. That is what He would give to you. Have you taken it up? Have you received it and said, ’It is mine’?
Think of the way that that love of God shines and through the gospel is magnified and intensified. You might say God loves the world in a very general way, but the gospel is not general; it is very specific. It is for you. God’s love envelops the world just as the sun shines around the world. If you take a magnifying glass and you let the rays of the sun shine on it, those rays are intensified and it magnifies them. You can set alight paper or dry grass with a magnifying glass. Think of the love of God shining through the Lord Jesus, intensifying the rays into your very heart so that it might burst forth in affection and fire for Him. That is what this verse suggests, “the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me“; all the intensification of the rays of the love of God shining in the heart of Paul through the way that the Lord Jesus met him on that Damascus road, setting him on fire for Christ. Have you experienced that? Have you experienced the warmth and intensity of the rays of divine love upon you, towards you? It comes home to each one of us. There is not one person in this room outside of that. It is for you, “the Son of God who has loved me”. How much love! Have you felt that love towards you? Maybe you have turned your back upon it. Maybe you have said, ‘Not for now‘. O let His love shine on you afresh today!
How much did He love you? He died for you. He gave Himself for you. He is the One that went to the cross. “No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends”, John 15: 13. He is the Shepherd, who laid down His life for the sheep, the One that has stood in a place where you could never stand, the One who has taken your place before a holy God and borne the believer’s sins in His body on the tree. All the believer’s sins, He, the sinless One, has taken upon Himself. In His own body He bore them. Everything that you, as a sinner, need, the Lord Jesus has done for you because He loves you. If you turn to God in repentance and trust the Lord Jesus, put your faith in what He has done, you will know what it is for Him to have borne your sins on the cross.
He stood there in a place that you could never stand. You could not bear the wrath of God. I could not bear it. I could not pay before God for one of the wrong things that I have done, but Jesus paid the price for all of them. He is my Saviour. He has saved me from everything that I justly deserved. The malefactor said on the cross, “we indeed justly, for we receive the just recompense of what we have done”, Luke 23: 41. That should have been my place. Justly I should have been on that cross. Jesus took my place because He loved me and gave Himself for me, and He loves you and has given Himself for you. He would give you the realisation, the joy of that. Is He yours? Can you say, “the Son of God, who has loved me” with an absolute certainty that He is yours and He is yours for ever? What a gift we have in the Son of God: the greatest Person in the universe, the One who commands angels, the One who created the heavens and earth, the One to whom every power and authority is given. You can claim Him for yourself. Think of God’s feelings in the glad tidings, how long they have gone out, how He would say to men, ‘Here is Christ; He is my very best for you in your very awful state of sin; He is for you‘. Many turn away. Many say, ’It is not for me’. Many go on in darkness away from God. Think of the heart of God! What does God do? Strike them down in judgment? Cease to appeal to their hearts? Is that what you would do? It might be what I would do. But God is still appealing. You might have heard the gospel many times and you might have said, ‘No, it is not for me. No, I am not interested. No, not tonight‘. And here it is again, the Son of God offered to you. All you have to do, by faith, is take God at His word.
If Christ is yours, then you are His. The second Scripture that we read says: “I have been taken possession of by Christ Jesus”. You are His. Mr Darby wrote those words:
O Lord ‘tis sweet the thought
That thou art mine;
But brighter still the joy
That I am thine!
Do you belong to Christ? That precious blood that was shed for you, the blood that washed you from your sins, the blood that met the righteous claims of God upon you as the sinner, the blood that cleansed from every stain of sin for ever; how precious is that blood! It is the blood that has bought you, and entitles Christ to every claim over you. “Ye have been bought with a price”, 1 Cor 6: 20. The price was His precious blood.
His love is now towards you, not only as a sinner, but as one that is His - one of His own. He speaks very preciously of His own. He speaks of “his own sheep“, John 10: 3. Are you one of them, one that has heard His voice? He speaks of His love for His own: “having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end”, John 13: 1. Do you belong to that company, “his own”, those that are His? Have you been taken possession of? From His side you are His, and He will never let you go. We might not always think about being His; we might not always act like we are His; but He will never, never let you go. Let the Lord Jesus take possession of you, let Him have what He has paid the price for! It is covered really in the first scripture that we read because it says, “no longer live, I, but Christ lives in me”. There the Lord Jesus has taken possession. "Christ lives in me." Once you lived your life for yourself doing everything that you wanted to do and just followed your thoughts and your hobbies and all the things that interested you. Well, we have all done that. Perhaps some of us are still doing it, living our lives to ourselves. What a joy it is when you can say, ‘I belong to Jesus - I am His, and He has every right to take possession because He has bought me‘. Are you going to give Him that possession so that your life is no longer yours, but “Christ lives in me”? I am living for the Lord Jesus for His joy and His pleasure and what I do is for Him. I wonder if we have any real understanding of how much joy the Lord Jesus has in taking possession of one of His own. What is yielded to Him from the life and the body of one of whom He has taken true possession! The same man who wrote “the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me“, in the appreciation of the full outpouring of divine giving, also wrote these words: “I have been taken possession of by Christ Jesus”. No other response than complete possession would be worthy of such a love. He speaks earlier in this chapter of all the things he used to do and all the things he used to be, but he gladly counted them as “filth“ in the recompense “that I may gain Christ“ (v 8), and “I have been taken possession of by Christ Jesus“.
That is the two sides of the glad tidings. The Lord Jesus is yours and you are His - a wonderful opportunity for you to embrace. As the hymn says:
Swing the heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.
Open your heart, and let the Lord Jesus in, and let the Holy Spirit in. As one that belongs to the Lord Jesus, God would give you the Holy Spirit; so not only are you “taken possession of by Christ Jesus”, but you become a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit too. What love that would pour such blessing into your heart!
May you know the joy of Christ being yours! May you claim Him for yourself, and may we each yield our hearts, our lives, our all to the One who has bought us! For His Name’s sake.
8th August 2010