Finishing Well Part 2 Finishing with Jesus

Part 1:
Don’t Love the World
04 Feb 2019

Part 2:
Finishing with Jesus
11 Feb 2019

Part 3:
Finishing in the Spirit
18 Feb 2019

Part 4:
The Finish of Paul
06 March 2019


John 4:7-15 ESV Hebrews 11:32 – 12:3 ESV

INTRODUCTION

When we began our “Finishing Well” series last week I concentrated on “the love of the Father(1 John 2:15 ESV) as the only power greater than the “love of the world”. In the fullest sense, the Father’s love can only be his Son.

When the scripture says, “God is love(1 John 4:8 ESV), it isn’t making a statement about the whole Trinity, but about the Father.

The Father is love because he has always loved his Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. The ability to finish well against “the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life(1 John 2:16 ESV) can only be found in Jesus.

As Jesus knows he is fully loved by God he shares this intimate knowledge with us (John 17:3 ESV). Since God’s love for the world is real in what it does to save us it’s important to be grasped by Christ’s own consciousness1)See Biblical References 1 Cor 2:16 ESV; Phil 2:5 ESV of being giving by the Father as the Saviour of the world (John 3:16 ESV). This is not always well understood.

As a younger Christian, I remember teaching that says God calls you to ministry and give gifts so you might complete his task.

I accepted this teaching at the time, but now I believe significantly responsible for the failure of many believers in our time to finish well.

What some people have called the professionalisation of ministry has corrupted the spiritual culture of many contemporary churches. Where pastors are paid for a service according to a contract such ministry always has boundaries/limits.

Such contractual ministries cannot produce disciples whose fruit has no limits.

Loving relationships have no limits so that fulfilling a relationship is infinitely more glorious that finishing a “task”.

We can’t possibly imagine that Jesus thought of his relationship with the Father as a mere task or job to be completed.

There was something quite different from task orientation at the centre of Jesus’ understanding himself to be the Son of God.

THE GIFT OF GOD

Jesus was profoundly impacted by knowing he was the Gift of God to the world. The words of John 3:16 ESV, “ vs.16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.vs.17… in order that the world might be saved through him.” ” (John 3:16-17 ESV), reveal that Christ’s whole consciousness was filled with the knowledge of himself as a gift.

This is crucial to Christ’s identity. As such he can say to the woman at the well in John chapter 4, “ “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” ” (John 4:10 ESV).

The word translated “gift(dorea cf. Isa 9:6 ESV) here carries a sense of bounty and grace.

Jesus sensed himself to be in the fountain of God’s overflowing grace for the world2)See Biblical References cf. John 4:14 ESV; John 7:37-39 ESV.  

This is why Paul, overwhelmed by God’s giving Christ to us exclaims, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Cor 9:15 ESV).

Jesus is the Gift in which all God’s gifts are freely offered. Jesus knew he was the dearest thing in his Father’s heart so that his being given to the world impressed upon him that there were no limits to the Father’s love for the lost.

Taken up into the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit’s constant giving to the world through his words and works it was impossible for Christ’s walk with God to become dry, routine, boring or tiresome. Unlike us.

I remember being rather worn out and going to see a senior Christian brother for counsel. He wasn’t surprised at my emotional depletion because “You’re giving out all the time.”

There’s a truth in that diagnosis, but what he didn’t teach me was that Jesus knew he was a Gift to whom all was given before he gave out to others. He could say, “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for God gives him the Spirit without limit.(John 3:34 ESV).

Jesus, “the only Son”, is given to so that he might give to others. This is particularly clear in relation to his baptism.

As Jesus is being baptised “the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.(Luke 3:22 ESV).

The Spirit-filled joy of being a son is the gift which will enable Jesus to keep on giving. This is a picture of unlimited relational intensity which is unconquerable.

In this joy, the Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-2 ESV). Some commentators interpret this story in terms of Jesus’ victory over the worldly powers we looked at last week.

The refusal to turn stones into bread overcomes “the lust of the flesh”, the refusal to spectacularly escape death through throwing himself off the temple, defeats “the lust of the eyes”, and denying the enticement to rule the nations, negates “the pride of life(Luke 4:3-12 ESV).

In never doubting he was “ “the Son of God…” ” (Luke 4:3 ESV) Jesus remained in the Father’s joy and the power of the Spirit.

Things crash whenever we move aside from our identity as children of God. This is why Eve and Adam didn’t finish well (cf. Luke 3:38 ESV).

I remember some discussions with a previous student of mine who proposed to write a thesis on the subject of Christian life in terms of our sharing in Christ as the Prophet, Priest and King.

My comment to him was to remember these ministries were founded on Jesus’ sonship (Heb 3:6 ESV). Failure to finish well follows elevating something other than sonship into the centre of our identity. If Jesus’ knowing he was the Father’s Gift to the world was central to his finishing well, how does this relate to his passion and death?

JESUS THE FINISHER

The language of finishing well is emphatically applied to Jesus by the writer to the Hebrews a the end of his long passage on the heroes of the faith in chapter Eleven.

vs.1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, vs.2 looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. vs.3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.(Heb 12:1-3 ESV).

If the faith of the witnesses listed in Hebrews 11 enabled them to persevere through sufferings and finish well, Jesus himself is the perfection of such witnessing faith.

This long passage on faith concludes not with our faith in Jesus but with Jesus’ own human faith in God.

The text literally says, “Jesus the author and finisher of faith” not “our faith”, Jesus is the true believer from first to last. He did not put his faith in himself, this is the modern heresy of self-belief, but in the joy that the Father had revealed to him as Son from the very beginning. It was “for the joy that was set before him” he endured.

Beyond the ordeal of the cross, Jesus saw by faith (cf. Heb 11:1 ESV) the joy of returning to the glory of the Father’s presence with many sons and daughters3)See Biblical References John 17:5 ESV; Heb 2:10 ESV.

He saw the joy of sharing in the Father’s delight over every sinner repenting, every lost sheep returning, every lost son coming home from the far country into the embrace God’s heart4)See Biblical References Luke 15:6-7, 22-24 ESV. This conviction of unseen things (Heb 11:1 ESV) empowered his testimony.

On trial before Pilate, he testifies with quiet confidence, “For this purpose, I was born and for this purpose, I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.(John 18:37 ESV).

His final words from the cross, “It is finished(John 19:30 ESV) reflect the assurance (Heb 11:1 ESV) that the work which the Father had given him to do (John 17:4 ESV) had been completed.

He knew that his faithful witness as Son to the Father had been fully revealed on earth to the very end5)See Biblical References Rev 1:5 ESV; Rev 3:14 ESV)). This is what it meant for Jesus to “finish well” and this witness is the very substance of the Christian life.

Hold the Testimony of Jesus

Since his life is patterned on the life of Christ, Paul says, “ vs.22Behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, vs.23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. vs.24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” ” (Acts 20:22-24 ESV).

Nothing is more important than a completed testimony. As Jesus’ life shared in and imaged the life of the Father (John 14:8-10 ESV) our witness is a sharing in and imaging of the life of Jesus (Phil 3:10 ESV).

Paul’s own survival in this world6)See Biblical References 2 Cor 4:7 – 5:10 ESV; 2 Cor 6:4-10 ESV; 2 Cor 12:9 ESV ff; Phil 1:19-26 ESV; Phil 2:17 ESV; Phil 3:8 ESV; Col 1:24 ESV is insignificant (Gal 6:14-15, 17 ESV). All that matters is “now as always Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.(Phil 1:20 ESV).

All that matters is the revelation of Jesus. Compared to the revelation of the triumph of Jesus through our suffering, the trials and temptations which impede us from finishing well are very small matters.

That to faithfully testify to Jesus is the most important dimension of life is central to the book of Revelation. In Revelation Jesus is “the faithful witness the firstborn from the dead”,7)See Biblical References Rev 1:5 ESV; Rev 3:14 ESV and his followers are those who hold to the “testimony of Jesus8)See Biblical References Rev 1:2, 9 ESV; Rev 12:17 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV; Rev 20:4 ESV unto the End.

This is our glory. As an exceptional influence of my life once wrote, “To bear testimony to Jesus means to have his testimony within us, and to have it as the primary consideration within our lives.  The propagation of this is the very purpose of our lives.” (G.C. Bingham).

Those who fail to finish well are those who have turned in on themselves having lost sight of living out the testimony of Jesus (cf. 2 Pet 1:9 ESV).

I remember some years ago coming home from one of my prayer walks, and seriously saying to Donna, “I think I am having a breakdown.” To which she replied, “You won’t have a breakdown” i.e. God won’t allow you to have a breakdown.

Why do I believe this is true for my life but so many believers do not finish well?

I suspect we all know Christians who have chosen to commit suicide. There are many possible remedies to the current crisis in finishing well: prayer support, family solidarity, transparency, a healthy lifestyle, a strong devotional life etc. All these are helpful and have their place, but we must look much deeper.

Moses and Elijah were key prophets in the history of Israel but in the midst of their severe trials they both wanted to die, they both asked God to kill them9)See Biblical References Num 11:11-15 ESV; 1 Ki 19:1-14 ESV.

Given that these were frail men (James 5:17 ESV) how is it that we see them with Jesus in glory on the mount of transfiguration?  

The answer is simple, neither of them ever stopped confessing the LORD as the only God10)See Biblical References Deut 32:3 ESV; 1 Ki 18:24 ESV. There they were at the transfiguration looking to Jesus as the finisher of faith, speaking with him “of his exodus, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem(Luke 9:30-31 ESV).

In the glory cloud, they knew that Christ would complete his passage through this world by death and resurrection and his testimony would be complete.

In Christ, as those who hold the testimony of Jesus by faith, we also are in that glory cloud11)See Biblical References Eph 2:6 ESV; Col 3:1-3 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV. And to finish in the finishing of Jesus must be our primary passion.

To quote from Hebrews, if we, “Think of what he went through… we won’t become weary and give up(Heb 12:3 ESV).

CONCLUSION

The Son of God triumphed because he gave out of what he was given to give. He gave his life for the world (John 6:51 ESV).

Jesus marked out this course for us, “ vs.25Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.vs.26If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.” ” (John 12:25-26 ESV).

The revelation of Jesus as Christ and Son of God (John 20:31 ESV) is the goal of all creation and to this great testimony, we are called. Seeing and sharing in the glory of such greatness will empower you to finish well with Christ((See Biblical References Rom 8:18 ESV; 2 Cor 4:17 ESV; Eph 3:13 ESV cf. Luke 24:26 ESV whatever you might have to endure for his sake.

Let me conclude on a slightly different angle.

Do you know that your own life in Christ is of infinitely more worth than all the treasures and pleasures of this world?

It is said of the witness of Moses in Hebrews chapter 11, vs.25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. vs.26 He considered disgrace for the sake of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.(Heb 11:25-26 ESV).

And of all those who suffered for their faith, “the world was not worthy of them(Heb 11:38 ESV).

The world does not deserve the gift of suffering Christians. But God keeps on giving to the world men and women who value Jesus far above all else so that the lost might see his glory and be saved.

As followers of Jesus, we are sent into the world as a gift in the Gift, Christ. Leaving behind us all the limits of “task-related” thinking let us recommit ourselves to this call, which is a call to be the children of God in the power of his Spirit.  then we shall never fail to “finish well”.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 10th Feb 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

10th. Feb, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References 1 Cor 2:16 ESV; Phil 2:5 ESV
2. See Biblical References cf. John 4:14 ESV; John 7:37-39 ESV
3. See Biblical References John 17:5 ESV; Heb 2:10 ESV
4. See Biblical References Luke 15:6-7, 22-24 ESV
5. See Biblical References Rev 1:5 ESV; Rev 3:14 ESV)). This is what it meant for Jesus to “finish well” and this witness is the very substance of the Christian life.

Hold the Testimony of Jesus

Since his life is patterned on the life of Christ, Paul says, “ vs.22Behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, vs.23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. vs.24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” ” (Acts 20:22-24 ESV).

Nothing is more important than a completed testimony. As Jesus’ life shared in and imaged the life of the Father (John 14:8-10 ESV) our witness is a sharing in and imaging of the life of Jesus (Phil 3:10 ESV).

Paul’s own survival in this world((See Biblical References 2 Cor 4:7 – 5:10 ESV; 2 Cor 6:4-10 ESV; 2 Cor 12:9 ESV ff; Phil 1:19-26 ESV; Phil 2:17 ESV; Phil 3:8 ESV; Col 1:24 ESV

6. See Biblical References 2 Cor 4:7 – 5:10 ESV; 2 Cor 6:4-10 ESV; 2 Cor 12:9 ESV ff; Phil 1:19-26 ESV; Phil 2:17 ESV; Phil 3:8 ESV; Col 1:24 ESV is insignificant (Gal 6:14-15, 17 ESV). All that matters is “now as always Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.(Phil 1:20 ESV).

All that matters is the revelation of Jesus. Compared to the revelation of the triumph of Jesus through our suffering, the trials and temptations which impede us from finishing well are very small matters.

That to faithfully testify to Jesus is the most important dimension of life is central to the book of Revelation. In Revelation Jesus is “the faithful witness the firstborn from the dead”,((See Biblical References Rev 1:5 ESV; Rev 3:14 ESV

7. See Biblical References Rev 1:5 ESV; Rev 3:14 ESV and his followers are those who hold to the “testimony of Jesus((See Biblical References Rev 1:2, 9 ESV; Rev 12:17 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV; Rev 20:4 ESV
8. See Biblical References Rev 1:2, 9 ESV; Rev 12:17 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV; Rev 20:4 ESV unto the End.

This is our glory. As an exceptional influence of my life once wrote, “To bear testimony to Jesus means to have his testimony within us, and to have it as the primary consideration within our lives.  The propagation of this is the very purpose of our lives.” (G.C. Bingham).

Those who fail to finish well are those who have turned in on themselves having lost sight of living out the testimony of Jesus (cf. 2 Pet 1:9 ESV).

I remember some years ago coming home from one of my prayer walks, and seriously saying to Donna, “I think I am having a breakdown.” To which she replied, “You won’t have a breakdown” i.e. God won’t allow you to have a breakdown.

Why do I believe this is true for my life but so many believers do not finish well?

I suspect we all know Christians who have chosen to commit suicide. There are many possible remedies to the current crisis in finishing well: prayer support, family solidarity, transparency, a healthy lifestyle, a strong devotional life etc. All these are helpful and have their place, but we must look much deeper.

Moses and Elijah were key prophets in the history of Israel but in the midst of their severe trials they both wanted to die, they both asked God to kill them((See Biblical References Num 11:11-15 ESV; 1 Ki 19:1-14 ESV

9. See Biblical References Num 11:11-15 ESV; 1 Ki 19:1-14 ESV.

Given that these were frail men (James 5:17 ESV) how is it that we see them with Jesus in glory on the mount of transfiguration?  

The answer is simple, neither of them ever stopped confessing the LORD as the only God((See Biblical References Deut 32:3 ESV; 1 Ki 18:24 ESV

10. See Biblical References Deut 32:3 ESV; 1 Ki 18:24 ESV. There they were at the transfiguration looking to Jesus as the finisher of faith, speaking with him “of his exodus, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem(Luke 9:30-31 ESV).

In the glory cloud, they knew that Christ would complete his passage through this world by death and resurrection and his testimony would be complete.

In Christ, as those who hold the testimony of Jesus by faith, we also are in that glory cloud((See Biblical References Eph 2:6 ESV; Col 3:1-3 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV

11. See Biblical References Eph 2:6 ESV; Col 3:1-3 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV. And to finish in the finishing of Jesus must be our primary passion.

To quote from Hebrews, if we, “Think of what he went through… we won’t become weary and give up(Heb 12:3 ESV).

CONCLUSION

The Son of God triumphed because he gave out of what he was given to give. He gave his life for the world (John 6:51 ESV).

Jesus marked out this course for us, “ vs.25Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.vs.26If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.” ” (John 12:25-26 ESV).

The revelation of Jesus as Christ and Son of God (John 20:31 ESV) is the goal of all creation and to this great testimony, we are called. Seeing and sharing in the glory of such greatness will empower you to finish well with Christ((See Biblical References Rom 8:18 ESV; 2 Cor 4:17 ESV; Eph 3:13 ESV cf. Luke 24:26 ESV

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