November 16, 2014
Pastor Joe Wittwer
In Christ
#3—I have all I need

Introduction:

The apostle Paul uses the words “in Christ” or some variation of it over 100 times.  It is one of his favorite phrases and is theologically rich and practically important.  To be in Christ is to be united with Him, to be in relationship, following Jesus.  At the top of your outline, you’ll see:

The Big Idea: When you are in Christ, all that is true of Him changes what is true of you.  In Christ, you have all you need. 

At the bottom of your outline, you’ll see two questions:

What will I do?

Who will I tell?

As I talk with you, I want you to be thinking about those two questions. 

What will I do?  Whenever we study the Bible, it should result it obedience, in action.  It’s not just about information, but transformation.  It’s about changed lives.  If something comes to mind that you should do, a next step, write it down there.

Who will I tell?  You may hear something that makes you think, “I wish so-and-so could hear this.”  They can. You can give them a CD or the web address.  But even better, you can tell them.  When you learn something, share it.  Pass it on to someone who needs it.  If someone comes to mind, write their name down.

Here we go.

 

1. In Christ, I have all I need.

Let’s start in Philippians 4 where Paul writes a thank you to the church in Philippi for their generous support. After receiving their gift, he gratefully wrote:

Philippians 4:18–19 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

After thanking them for their gift, he gives this promise: my God will meet all your needs.  “You have been generous with me for the sake of the gospel, and God will be generous with you.  He will meet all your needs.” 

God will meet all your needs.  Just that alone is a wonderful promise, but Paul expands it.  God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ.  Paul loved to talk about the riches of Jesus.  A couple examples:

Ephesians 2:7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

Ephesians 3:8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,

Notice that Paul preached “the boundless riches of Christ”: the riches of His grace, His power, His love, His wisdom, and on and on.  All these riches are ours in Christ. 

So when Paul promises that God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ, what does that mean? 

ILL: If I promise to meet your needs according to my riches, that means I will do the best I can with my limited resources.  It may be pretty skimpy. 

But if Warren Buffett promised to meet your needs according to his riches, that’s a different story!  Buffett is one of the wealthiest people in the world, with personal assets well over $60 billion.  He is also one of the most generous people in the world, having promised to give away 99% of his wealth.  So if Warren Buffett promises to meet your needs according to his riches, you’re in good shape.

Paul goes one better than Buffett: God will meet all your needs according His glorious riches in Christ.  And God owns everything!

If Warren Buffett promised to meet your needs according to his riches, would you ever worry again?  Of course not—he’s got more than enough to meet your needs.  How much more is this true of God?  This is why Jesus told us not to worry about our necessities: “don’t worry about what you’ll eat or drink or wear.”  God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ.  He’s got you covered.  Don’t worry; trust Him. 

When I am in Christ, I can relax: God will meet all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ.  Generously.  He will take care of me.

In Christ, I have all I need.  So let’s get specific.  What kinds of needs will God meet in Christ?  Of course, it says He will meet all of them—and all pretty much includes all of them.  But here are a few that are specifically named.

 

2. In Christ, I have forgiveness.

This is one of Paul’s favorites; he says it several times.

Ephesians 1:7 In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

There’s “the riches” again!  In Christ, we have forgiveness in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  God isn’t dribbling out forgiveness; He’s pouring it out according to the riches of His grace.

ILL: On Halloween, I went trick or treating with the grandkids.  They had nice big bags and they were jazzed to fill them up with candy!  At each home, the owner had a bowl or basket of candy and allowed the kids to pick out one or two pieces: bite sized candy bars, mini-packs of M&M’s or Skittles.  But owners’ bowls were all pretty small; they had a very limited supply of candy, so they had to dole it, one or two per kid.  They were giving candy according to the riches of their candy bowl—just one or two per kid.

But what if they had gone to this couple’s house?  “C’mon in and help yourself!  Fill up your bag!  There’s more where this came from!”  Every kid’s dream!  They could fill up each kid’s whole bag out of the riches of their candy, and still have plenty.

God’s forgiveness is like that.  He forgives us out of the riches of His grace in Christ.  No matter how big or how many your sins, God’s grace is greater still.  In Romans 5, Paul says, “Where sin increased, God’s grace increased all the more.”  God’s grace is always greater than our sin.  So you never have to wonder, “Can God forgive this?”  In Christ, we are forgiven in accordance with the riches of God’s grace, and God’s grace is always greater than our sin.

Colossians 1:14 in Christ we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

In Christ, God has forgiven us, and now we are to forgive just as we’ve been forgiven. How has God forgiven us in Christ?  Fully, freely, for everything. 

Colossians 2:13 He forgave us all our sins.

How many?  All.  And all pretty much covers all!  God’s grace is greater than your sin.  No matter what you’ve done, no matter how big your sin, no matter how many your sins, God’s grace is bigger still, and in Christ, God has forgiven all your sins. 

I need forgiveness.  I sin.  I know that shocks some of you who think I’m perfect, like my wife!  Actually, nobody knows how imperfect I am more than Laina.   She has to live with me!

ILL: Remember last week when I asked you to turn and tell your neighbor, “You are God’s masterpiece”?  One guy told me that he tenderly said that to his wife and she replied, “You’re a piece of work!”

I get it.  I’m a piece of work!  I am a work in progress—I’m getting better—but I’m a piece of work.  I need forgiveness.  I like to remind people that if you stick around Life Center very long, I will disappoint you.  Bank on it!  I’m a piece of work!  When I disappoint you, you’ll have a choice to make: leave and find a perfect pastor at another church, or forgive me and stay in the saddle.  Here’s Paul’s recommendation:  

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Paul says we should forgive each other just as in Christ God forgave us.  We receive the riches of God’s grace; now we must share them with each other. 

I need forgiveness.  In Christ, I have all I need.

 

3. In Christ, I have access to God.

ILL: A few weeks ago, I tweaked my shoulder; I’ve waited for it to heal, but it’s still keeping me awake at nights.  So Tuesday evening, I called an orthopedic surgeon on his cell phone.  Normally, that’s a big no-no—you don’t call the doc on his private number at home after hours.  But he’s a friend and a neighbor (and he’s an owner at Life Center), and he’s told me, “Call anytime.”  So I knew he wouldn’t mind the call.

I would never do this with my regular physician, who is a wonderful doctor, but is neither a neighbor nor a personal friend.  A call to her after hours at home would be completely inappropriate.  But because this other doc is my friend, he has given me access.  “Call anytime.”

Access is a wonderful thing!  Imagine having access to someone who can meet every need, someone who can help you with anything that comes up!  In Christ, you have access to God.

Ephesians 3:12 In Christ and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.  

In Christ, we have access to God—free and confident access.

Now it wasn’t always this way.  In the Old Testament, God could only be approached with a sacrifice, and then for common folks, only from a distance.  Jews would bring their sacrifice to the temple to the Court of Israelites, then the priest would take it for them into the Holy Place, where only priests could go.  And even the priests had limited access.  God’s dwelling place was behind the curtain in the Holy of Holies.  Only the High Priest could go in there, and only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, when he took in a sacrifice for the sins of the whole nation.  It is said that they attached bells to the bottom of his robe and a rope around his ankle.  The bells were so they could hear him moving and know he was still alive.  The rope was in case God struck him dead, so they could pull him out!  All of this was designed to emphasize the gulf between a Holy God and sinful human beings.  No access.

The curtain or veil in the Temple reinforced this idea.  Don’t think of a gossamer veil, transparent and thin. Think of the thickest curtain you’ve ever seen—maybe a stage curtain—and multiply by 10!  Josephus said it was as thick as a wall!  And it served as a wall to keep everyone out. If you went behind it into the Holy of Holies, you would die.  Only the holiest man on the holiest day of the year could go behind the curtain into the presence of God.  For everyone else, that curtain said, “No access.” 

When Jesus died, all that changed.

Mark 15:37–38 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

God tore the curtain in two.  It was a graphic way of saying, “Please come in.  Let’s hang out!” 

In Christ, you have access to God.  God has thrown open the door and invited you in.  And you don’t have to come to God tentatively, fearfully; you can come with freedom and confidence.  Look again:

Ephesians 3:12 In Christ and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.  

The word “freedom” is a really cool Greek word.  Parresia means freedom of speech, outspokenness, frankness, to speak plainly, openly, freely; boldness and courage in speech. 

ILL: Imagine a soldier asking his commanding officer, “Permission to speak freely, sir.”  He’s asking for permission to say what he really thinks and feels without fear of reprisal.  The officer can say yes or no to his request.  If he says yes, the soldier can speak freely; he can say whatever is on his mind, but must still respect the rank of the person to whom he’s speaking.  If the officer says no, the soldier keeps his mouth shut.

In Christ, we have permission to speak freely.  “Please come in, and tell me what’s on your mind.”  Nothing is off limits.  You can speak freely.  You can be completely honest with God.  You can tell God anything.

Hebrews 4:15–16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Our high priest is Jesus, who understands our weakness.  So let’s approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.  Guess what that word is: parresia.  Come and speak freely.  Tell God what’s on your mind.  And you’ll receive mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need.

“Please come in.  Tell me what’s on your mind.”

I need access to God.  In Christ, I have all I need.

 

4. In Christ, I have peace.

So God invites us in and tells us to speak freely.  And Paul adds one more promise to this.

Philippians 4:6–7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything, and you will have God’s peace.”  In Christ, you have access to God; you can pray about anything anytime anywhere.  Speak freely!  And when you pray, you’ll have God’s peace.

I think it’s interesting that Paul doesn’t promise that we’ll get whatever we ask for.  He promises that we’ll receive God’s peace.  I’m not saying that God won’t answer your prayers.  He often gives us what we ask for; other times He wisely says no or wait.  But yes, no or wait, God’s answer comes with His peace.  When you pray, you’ll experience God’s peace.

Do you ever wonder what you should pray about?  Paul says, “How about your worries?”  Let every worry be a catalyst to prayer.  If you find yourself worrying about something, uncertain, unsettled, or fearful, that should be a signal to pray.

  • When your tummy rumbles, that’s a signal that it’s time to eat.
  • When you can’t keep your eyes open, that’s a signal that it’s time to sleep.
  • When you feel like your bladder is about to burst, that’s a signal that it’s time to call Dr. Leo Marvin.  It’s a signal that it’s time to tinkle.
  • When you feel worried or anxious or unsettled, that’s a signal that it’s time to pray.

Let every worry be a catalyst to prayer.  And you will experience God’s peace.

Why would prayer lead to peace?  We are coming before the throne of grace where we’ll find grace to help us in our time of need.  We’re coming to a Father who loves us and promises to meet all our needs in Christ. 

ILL: In March of 1999, six guys went snow camping.  We drove to Sherman Pass; at 5500 feet it’s the highest drivable pass in the state.  From there, we skied in about 5 miles, to a cabin near Snow Peak at about 6400 feet.  My sons Jeff and Michael were with us—Jeff was 15 and Michael was 10 at the time. 

In the middle of night, it’s pitch dark in the cabin, and suddenly I hear Michael yelling in fear, “Where am I?  Where am I?”  Since he woke me out of a deep sleep, I couldn’t think of anything else to say but, “You’re right here, son.”  He said, “Okay Dad,” and immediately went back to sleep.  Obviously it wasn’t the brilliant answer that reassured him; it was simply my presence.

When you feel worried, bring your worries to your Heavenly Father.  His presence brings peace.  “You’re ok; I’m right here.”

My pastor used to say that if you still feel worried, you haven’t prayed yet.  Sometimes we think about something, but don’t pray about it.  Or maybe we mention it to God in passing, but don’t really take time to talk it out to speak freely.  Pray until you feel peace.  We used to call it “praying through.”  It’s not that we’re trying to talk God out of something; it’s that we’re trying to connect and experience God’s peace. 

In the midst of a chaotic world filled with anxiety and fear, I need peace.  In Christ, I have all I need.

 

Tom’s Turkey Drive  here

 

5. In Christ, I have hope.

1 Corinthians 15:19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Paul is writing to correct some of the Corinthian Christians who had concluded that there is no resurrection: no resurrection of Jesus, and no resurrection of us.  Paul makes a lengthy argument that Jesus’ resurrection is central to the gospel, and our resurrection is the logical consequence. 

Here, he argues that if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most pitiful people on the planet.  What does he mean?

First, we would be pitiful because we believe a lie. 

Second, we don’t just believe it, but we’re staking our lives on it.  Many of the Christians of Paul’s day faced persecution, suffering and death for their faith.  Many in our day do also.  All of us are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus.  If the gospel is not true, all this suffering and death is for nothing.  It’s a pitiful waste. 

ILL: My senior year in college, our Old Testament professor said that if they could disprove the resurrection of Jesus, if they could produce his remains and prove it was Jesus, he would still be a Christian because it is the best way to live.  It is the best moral system.

I raised my hand and disagreed and for two class periods he and I argued this.

While we agreed that Christianity is the best moral system, I pointed out what Paul said here about the resurrection.  If it’s not true, if Jesus isn’t raised, our faith is useless and futile, and we are most to be pitied.  We are living a lie.  We are suffering for nothing.

Christianity isn’t a moral system. It’s not good views; it’s good news.  It’s about something that really happened: Christ lived, died, was buried, resurrected and appeared to many. We are following a resurrected Jesus, who gives us eternal life. 

For Paul, all the suffering was worth it because Jesus was raised and we will be too. 

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Without the hope of the resurrection, all the present sufferings would not be worth it.  Without the hope of the resurrection, our troubles wouldn’t be light and momentary—they’d be long and heavy and we should be pitied.  Without the hope of the resurrection, this life is all there is, and if we’re needlessly suffering, well…that’s just pitiful.

But that’s not the case. 

In Christ, we have hope for this life.  Jesus promised life to the full, life abundant.  In Christ, we have all we need, including forgiveness, access, and peace.  I love my life in Christ! 

But this life isn’t the end all.  There’s more!  In Christ we have hope for the life to come.  We have life now and life forever with Jesus.  We have hope that death isn’t the end, that justice will done, that wrongs will be put right, and that life will triumph over death.  We have the hope of eternal life and the resurrection. 

Honestly, there are many days when that seems distant and insignificant.  Life is good and I’m enjoying it, and death and eternal life seem far away.

But then you get sick.  Or someone you love a lot dies.  Or you wake up one day and just realize, “Shoot, I’m old.”  And suddenly, this hope becomes very real, very important.  

  • Don Bradley, 56, recently died; ask his family if this hope is important.
  • Sheldon Maul, 20, recently died; ask his family if this hope is important.
  • Randy Nichols, 53, recently died; ask his family if this hope is important.
  • Millions of Christians around the world are suffering incredible persecution and death for following Jesus.  Ask them if this hope is important.

Friends, if this hope doesn’t seem important to you, wait—it will.  I promise. 

I need hope for this life and I need hope for the life to come.  In Christ, I have all I need.

 

What will I do?

 

Who will I tell?