This morning Greg continued his series on discipleship by speaking about the rationale for living a disciplined life, and how this type of life affects our present situation. The main text was 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 where Paul exhorts his readers to live a life marked by an eternal purpose that displays a commitment to discipline that would rival that of an “Olympic” athlete.
So what is the goal of this disciplined life? Greg preached that the goal is “to participate perfectly in the blessedness of the eternal Kingdom.” He further unpacked this goal by saying that “the Kingdom shall be perfectly manifested…”
a. TO us (see 1 Cor. 13:12 and 1 John 3:2)
b. IN us (see 1 John 3:2)
c. THROUGH us (see 2 Tim. 2:12 and Revelation 22:5, 5:10)
In regards to this last point of reigning with God, Greg mentioned that in today’s culture there is great interest in attempting to discern the chronology of the end times. Greg cautioned against this approach. Instead, like the early Christians who anticipated the return of Christ during their lifetime, so we should live with the hope and anticipation that Christ will return soon. We do not know when it will be, but we do know that it will come suddenly. Thus, let us be ready for it. Let us live as though this is our last day.
If the goal of discipleship is to participate perfectly in the blessedness of the eternal Kingdom where the Kingdom is perfectly manifested to us, in us, and through us, then how should this impact the present?
Greg preached that the purpose of the present is “to establish increasingly the Kingdom of God…”
a. TO us – “commitment” is the operative word. This is the time of decision-making, which Greg described as the “gestation period of eternity.” Are we open to the transforming power of God? It is not so much our cognitive knowledge that matters, but instead our yearning for God (see Romans 10:13).
b. IN us – “discipleship” describes this process. We are to be increasingly conformed to Christ, which reframes all of life including the hardships that we face. If happiness is our goal instead of the Kingdom then when we face challenges in life we may miss opportunities that could be used for spiritual growth (see Romans 8:28 and Hebrews 12:6).
c. THROUGH us – “expansion” expresses this idea. God has given believers “say-so” in this world, meaning the ability to affect change. Greg called us to leverage this Kingdom authority, first in our mind by “taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). This takes discipline and being intentional. Greg challenged us by saying that our discipline in following Christ should outstrip the discipline of Olympic athletes because our goal is not of this world, but instead has eternal significance. In our striving, we must remember that this is a process that requires perseverance through the enabling and sustaining power of the Holy Spirit. A fundamental way that we can further God’s Kingdom in the present is through intercessory prayer. Through our participation in prayer, we exercise authority to advance God’s Kingdom against the kingdom of darkness.
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