Compelled By The Love Of Christ

                “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”

                                                                                                                                                                2 Corinthians 5:14-15

                “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

                                                                                                                                                                2 Corinthians 5:21

                These verses focus our attention on the heart of the gospel proclamation which, Paul tells us, is the power of God to redeem us.  This gospel is the foundation of all the Paul is and does.  If you are to understand Paul you must begin by coming to terms with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  So often, in biographies we encounter a question about the secret of the subject of the biography’s success.  Many theories are put forward as to why that particular person accomplished what they did.  If the subject was a Christian however there is one chief cause of their fame.  Such is the case with Paul, and all true preachers of the gospel.  This is that they are people whose lives have been mastered by the gospel of Christ.  They are who they are on account of this one tremendous fact, the Lord Jesus Christ has died for them and as a consequence they have died with Him to their own selfishness and sin, so that they might now live for Him.  He is their sin offering, the only ground on which they are reconciled to God.  They therefore have now committed their lives to making this gospel known to as many people as will listen to them. 

                This truth has been ably communicated by John Piper in his book Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, (B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tenn., 2013, pages 3 & 4). 

                “ “The life-giving preacher is a man of God, whose heart is ever athirst for God, whose soul is ever following hard after God, whose eye is single to God, and in whom by the power of Gods Spirit the flesh and the world have been crucified and his ministry is like the generous flood of a life-giving river.” (John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991, 16.))

                We are most emphatically not part of a social team sharing goal with other professionals.  Our goals are an offense; they are foolishness (1 Cor. 1:23).  The professionalization of the ministry is a constant threat to the offense of the gospel.  It is a threat to the profoundly spiritual nature of our work.  I have seen it often: the love of professionalism (parity among the world’s professionals) kills a man’s belief that he is sent by God to save people from hell and to make them Christ-exalting, spiritual aliens in the world.

                The world sets the agenda of the professional man; God sets the agenda of the spiritual man.  The strong wine of Jesus Christ explodes the wineskins of professionalism.  There is an infinite difference between the pastor whose heart is set upon being professional and the pastor whose heart is set on being the aroma of Christ, the fragrance of death to some and eternal life to others. (2 Cor. 5:15-16)

                “God, deliver us from the professionalizers!  Deliver us from the “low, managing, contriving, manoeuvring temper among us.” (Richard Cecil quoted by E. M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1972) p. 59)  God, give us tears for our sins.  Forgive us for being so shallow in prayer, so thin in our grasp of holy verities, so content amid perishing neighbours, so empty of passion and earnestness in all our conversation.  Restore to us the childlike joy of our salvation.  Frighten us with the awesome holiness and power of Him who can cast both soul and body into hell (Matt. 10:28).  Cause us to hold to the cross with fear and trembling as our hope-filled and offensive tree of life.  Grant us nothing, absolutely nothing, the way the world views it.  May Christ be all in all (Col. 3:11).

                Banish professionalism from our midst, Oh God, and in its place put passionate prayer, poverty of spirit, hunger for God, rigorous study of holy things, white-hot devotion to Jesus Christ, utter indifference to all material gain, and unremitting labor to rescue the perishing, perfect the saints, and glorify our Sovereign Lord.

                Humble us, O God, under your mighty hand, and let us rise, not as professionals, but as witnesses and partakers of the sufferings of Christ.  In His awesome Name.  Amen.””