At the close of his life he could say: I have fought to good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
Pain, suffering, disappointment, imprisonment did not deter him from a life of dedicated service.
In life Paul was triumphant, in service, fruitful, in death, victorious.
He says to each one of us, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
Not Stephen’s example—Acts 8.
It should be the desire of every believer to be changed into the Lord’s image from glory to glory.
To be “conformed to the good and acceptable will of God.”
To be totally committed to a life of dedicated service. To live victoriously in the midst of departure and declension.
Appeal here for a metamorphic experience. “Be ye transformed,” etc.
Tell the story of the young missionary in Laos. “Must I be carried to the skies,” etc.
“Who then is willing to commit himself this day unto the Lord?”
Is there anyone here tonight who is willing to commit his life in complete surrender to the Lord? The boy who stepped into the offering plate.
Paul says that such a decision is your reasonable service—intelligent, worshipful service.
Gravestone of the young man in France. “He gave his all.”
His body is covered—enshrouded in a crimson rose with His own precious blood.
As our sin was laid upon Him He sank deeper into the inferno of God’s wrath.
Finally, God Himself was unable to look on the awful spectacle and closes His eyes, shuts His ears and forsakes His Son while the air is rent with the orphan cry, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?”
“For none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Or how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere he found the sheep that was lost.”
It is finished—the resurrection—the ascension—Prince and Savior able to save, etc.
The Lord did all this seeking the lost sheep—seeking you.
What is your response to God’s overtures of grace? Christ loving and seeking—His salvation. For there is no other name under heaven, etc.
Felix—“Go thy way for this time.”
Agrippa—“Almost thou persuaded me to be a Christian.”
Almost persuaded now to believe;
Almost persuaded Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
Go Spirit go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.
Almost persuaded, come, come today;
Almost persuaded turn not away;
Jesus invites you here
Angels lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear,
O wanderer come.
Almost persuaded, harvest is past!
Almost persuaded, dawn comes at last!
Almost cannot avail.
Almost is but to fail.
Sad, sad that bitter wail
Almost but last.
What must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and Thou shalt be saved.
This slothful servant though endowed with the same gift did not want to be bothered with the responsibility of using it, and did not feel disposed to engage in his absent masters’ business.
This man had the pound taken from him, he was stripped of his authority and became one of the menial servants in the household.
Every believer has been given a spiritual gift or gifts by God. 1 Corinthians 12:7
“The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man for the good of all.”
The Lord in His wisdom has given to each of us certain treasures—spiritual abilities with the power to use them. They are valuable to the Lord. He expects us to do business for Him during His absence. Trade. Use them.
He expects us to glorify Christ and extend His Kingdom. The day of reckoning is coming. The Lord will return. Glory. Judgment.
We shall each be called before the Lord at His Judgment Seat. At this time, many will find that they have lost out terribly, because they have not used the spiritual abilities they were given.
If we have lived for our own personal comfort and pleasures and not for God, we will suffer loss.
All the work that was done in the flesh will be burned up and we will stand denuded, clothed only in the righteousness of Christ. Saved though as by fire. Saved as one who has passed through the fire.
Speak also of the rewards.
2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear and be revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ. So that each one of us may receive his pay for what we have done in the body. We will all be made manifest—we will appear without disguise.
There will be no façade—no hiding—no excuses.
Paul lived his life in the knowledge that his life would be evaluated by God.
He fought the fight—he kept the faith—he ran the race with determination that he might obtain the prize.
He kept beating and bruising his body, making it his slave.
Lest he become a castaway—disapproved—disqualified—should fail to receive the prize or reward. 2 Corinthians 9
These are some rewards mentioned in the Scriptures. These are representative rather than complete.
1. There is a crown of life. Samuel 1:12
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved he will receive the Crown of Life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him. This is the lover’s crown, promised to those who love the Lord. “Agape.”
2. The Incorruptible Crown. 1 Corinthians 9:25
The incorruptible crown is given to those who run well in the spiritual race. To get this crown a person must be temperate in all things-lay aside every weight.
He must lay aside the sin which doth so easily beset.
He must keep his eye on Jesus.
He must place his all on the alter.
He must refuse everything that would impede his spiritual progress.
3. The crown of rejoicing 1 Thessalonians 2:19
This is the soul-winner’s crown. The degree of your joy in heaven will be determined by the number of souls you have had a part in bringing to Christ.
It is wise to win souls to Christ. It is a cause for joy in heaven to bring souls to Christ. Proverbs 11:30, Luke 15:16, Daniel 12:3
Every soul-winner shall shine as the stars forever.
The crown of Righteousness 2 Timothy 4:3
This crown is given to those who love the Lord’s appearing. Those who look for the Lord’s coming momentarily, live holy lives. “He that hath that hope in him purifieth himself, even as God is pure. 1 John 3:3
Think of the dynamic impact this truth had on Paul. I have fought a good fight…all his life he fought—and won.
I have finished my course—He finished his course and gained the crown.
I have kept the faith. He persuaded the whole counsel of God—he never betrayed any of the great doctrine delivered to him.
If we are to obtain this crown we must love the Lord appearing.
Some contrasts between the Mount of Transfiguration and the Mount Calvary.
Twice in the Lord’s life, first at His baptism and then at His transfiguration, the Father declared, “This is My beloved Son.”
In the first case the Lord stood at the beginning of His ministry. He had just emerged from those silent years at Nazareth. At this point God acknowledged His Sonship (the first full declaration of His Deity in the New Testament). As He looked back over the thirty years of obscurity, beyond the humble birth and back into the depths of eternity, God declared in majestic clarity, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Nothing in the incarnation had disturbed the Divine and eternal relationship.
At the time of the Transfiguration the Lord was in the third year of His ministry. He was some eight or nine months from His crucifixion. The Father again declared His pleasure in His Son. This time, He looked forward not only to the Cross, but beyond it to the Throne and the everlasting kingdom.
The transfiguration and the Cross are eternally linked in the purpose of God. Note the fivefold contrast between the majesty of the holy mount and the humiliation of Mount Calvary.
On the holy mountain the Lord’s face shone as the sun. On the cross, “His visage was so marred more than any man.”
On the mountain His raiment was white as light, exceeding white and glistering.
At Calvary His garments were taken from Him by the soldiers, parted among them, and even made the subject of their gambling.
In His glory, there stood with Him two of the greatest servants, men of preeminent nobility in O.T. history. In His shame on Calvary, there were crucified with Him two criminals who cast their scorn in His teeth, and of whom it was written that “He was numbered among transgressors.”
On the holy mount was the cloud of light, the cloud of glory and Divine presence.
At Calvary, from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. Darkness whose intensity we shall never comprehend.
Form the cloud of glory there came the voice of infinite pleasure. From the darkness that enveloped the Crucified, there came the anguished cry of desolation, “Why has Thou forsaken Me?”