Christ's Triumphal Procession

Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 9:29 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me this morning with the song “Who Believes?” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 (NIV).

Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

Captives to do God’s Will

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are slaves to Christ’s righteousness (See Rom. 6), i.e. we are his bond-servants, willing captives to do God’s will. A bondservant is “simply following your master to complete disregard of your own will, emotions, desires.” “To put it into contrast of being a Bondservant of Christ, it means a complete and utter devotion to God, His word, and His will. It is disregarding your own desires and will in all things to lay your life at the Cross and follow Christ” - We can then be led of Christ because we have surrendered our will to his will to follow him in his ways.

The Triumphant March

As Christ’s servants and witnesses, he thus leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession. A procession is a march (walk; advance; campaign; progression). We are his soldiers; his army; his servants, and we march according to the orders of our commanding officer. Yet, it is he who leads us, and it is his triumphal procession, not of our own accord. In other words, this advance with the gospel is generated by him, equipped by him, and carried out by him, as we allow him to live his life out through us for his glory. We take no credit, for this is a spiritual work, not of humankind or of human origin.

This march is triumphant. Why? Because Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he crucified our sins with him, buried them with him, and then he rose from the grave victorious over death, hell, Satan and sin. Amen! It is triumphant because this is a work of grace by God, i.e. it is of God and it is spiritual. Because of what Christ did for us on the cross we are able, by faith in him, to be set free from slavery to sin and to become willing bondservants of Jesus Christ, ready to do his will. And, as a result of that faith, we have been given eternal life with God, beginning at the point we receive him by faith.

The Pleasing Aroma of Christ

As Christ’s bondservants - captives; slaves; servants - he then uses us to spread the pleasing aroma of Christ everywhere. An aroma is a smell or it can be a subtle impression or quality – Encarta. An aroma can also be a scent – detection, sense, perception, and/or a distinctive quality or characteristic trait. This aroma is the knowledge of Christ, but not just head knowledge, but the ability to know Christ in all his fullness – in all his love, grace, mercy, kindness, compassion, justice, passion, desires, commands, and judgments. Not only does God use us to spread this aroma everywhere, but we ourselves are the aroma of Christ to those who are being saved and to those who are perishing. Our very lives serve to show forth Christ’s love (even his tough love), his grace and his kindness toward us.

Death and Life

To those who are perishing, we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. How so? So many who share what they consider to be the gospel today give an impression of the gospel which no longer speaks of death to the perishing. In other words, the gospel is whitewashed to the point to where it no longer resembles the gospel preached by the apostles. Jesus’ death for our sins and his resurrection are still preached, in most cases, yet faith in Christ is often reduced to a mere acknowledgment of what he did for us. In other words, the gospel is soft-pedaled to make it more appealing and acceptable to the sinful world. So, it no longer has the smell of death to the perishing, but it has a pleasing aroma that is attractive to the flesh of humankind. Yet, that is not the true gospel, for if it was, the unsaved world would not be attracted to it.

The true gospel of Jesus Christ does not placate sin. It does not entertain sin with more sin. It confronts sin in sinful humans. Jesus told his brothers that the reason the world hated him was because he told the world that what they did was evil. Jesus didn’t mince words. He told it like it was, yet he spoke the truth in love. And, the apostles did not mince words, either. They told us that faith in Jesus Christ means we have to die to our old way of living for self and sin, that we have to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and that we have to put on our new lives in Christ, created to be like Christ in true righteousness and holiness (See Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6; 1 John; Gal. 2:20). They told us that if we do not come to Christ in genuine faith, we will die in our sins and that we will spend eternity in eternal fire. And, they warned us that many will come to Christ on the Day of Judgment and will ask to be let into God’s heaven, but God will say he never knew them. This is the reality of it all. Without Christ we will die. With Christ we will live.

The good news, though, is that to those who are being saved, we are an aroma that brings life. Amen! Yet, Jesus did not die on the cross for our sins just so we could be positionally saved and then one day go to heaven. He came to give us abundant and Spirit-filled lives while we still live on the face of this earth. That is why he sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and to counsel, encourage, comfort, inspire, direct and spur us on in our walks of faith with Jesus Christ. He called us, not just so we could go to heaven one day or so we could live religious and moral lives on the earth, but he called us to his righteousness and holiness and to godly living, free from slavery to sin, and free to walk in Christ’s righteousness. And, that is the Good News!

If we have not truly surrendered our lives to Christ, made him Lord of our lives, and allowed him to transform us in heart and mind and to make us new creatures in Christ Jesus, then we don’t have good news, and we don’t have life, because we are still enslaved to our sin. We, as Christ’s ambassadors, are the aroma that brings life to those who are being saved. Amen! So, we must share the true gospel of salvation which opens the eyes of the blind, and which turns a sinner from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that he can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are being sanctified in Christ Jesus (See Ac. 26:16-18). Let us not dilute the gospel to make it more appealing, but let us be that aroma that brings death to the perishing, so that the perishing will be conscious of their sin and of their need of true salvation from sin. Amen!

Who Believes? / An Original Work / October 3, 2013

Based off Isaiah 53

Gospel message, who believes?
Jesus Christ died on a tree,
Saving us from all our sin,
So we might be cleansed within.

Had no beauty found in Him,
That we should desire Him.
Man of sorrows, suffering;
Crushed for our iniquities.

Surely He has borne our griefs;
From our sadness, brings relief.
Bore the stripes; forsaken, He,
So forgiven we might be.

We, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us turned his own way.
Jesus calls, “Repent today;
My commandments, now obey.”

Jesus said, to come to him,
We must die to all our sin.
Crucified with Him, we live,
Walking in His righteousness.

Suff’ring servants, we will be,
Taking His identity on us,
When confessing Him
As our Savior, Lord and King.