Such a Great Salvation (21)
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12.28, 29
For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authoritydid not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment. 2 Corinthians 10.14-16
Grace to serve
The great salvation which is ours in Jesus Christ, by which we enter into the Kingdom and seek the glory of God in all things, is a free gift of the grace of God. But it is grace with a purpose. The places we go and the people we see in those places need to know the grace of God, and it pleases Him to send us to those people and places, transformed by and armed with His grace, to bring His great salvation to our world.
Paul instructs us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2.12). God is at work within us, Paul promised, willing and doing of His good pleasure, transforming us increasingly into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 2.13; 2 Cor. 3.12-18). He is bringing more of His great salvation to bear on every aspect of our lives – soul and body, words and deeds – so that, as we grow in that great salvation, that great salvation flows from us, in the power of the Spirit, to make all things new, wherever we are, whomever we’re with, whatever we’re doing.
The Christian life – life in our great salvation – is rather like the PeanutsTM character Pigpen, who, everywhere he goes, a cloud of dust rises from his body. Even in the midst of a winter snow storm, dust will rise from Pigpen whenever he moves or talks. He’s Pigpen; it’s what he does.
But we’re Christians, and Christ is what we do.
God intends that a fragrance of Christ should rise from us, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing (2 Cor. 2.15, 16). We bring an aura and presence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; a bent toward encouragement and edification; and an outlook of hope and confidence into every situation. Thus, we raise the banner of Christ throughout our sphere and world, and we establish beachheads from which the Good News of salvation can spread to other people.
But, as we have been at pains to say throughout this series, this doesn’t just happen. And if it’s not happening, then we are in danger of neglecting our great salvation, drifting from the Lord, and finding ourselves in need of some serious and unpleasant corrective action on the Lord’s part (Heb. 12.3-11).
It is much better if we take up our calling to our appointed sphere with a view to growing in our great salvation and causing that great salvation to spread outward to everything and everyone. What does this entail?
We have to have some goals. Paul mentions four that guided him in working his own sphere.
First, Paul determined to make of his personal sphere a place for boasting about the Lord (2 Cor. 10.13, 15-17). That meant he would always be ready to talk about the Lord; to share what the Lord was doing in His life; to help others understand the beauty, goodness, wisdom, kindness, and power of the Lord; and to encourage others to talk and boast about Him as well. He would create or find or diligently pursue ways of bringing Jesus to the table, as often as he could, for the purpose of making His many virtues and saving work known.
Second, Paul wanted his personal sphere to be a place of give-and-take, a kind of mutual edification zone, especially where his relationship with believers was concerned, so that they would help one another grow and hold one another accountable in love for working their personal sphere diligently and fruitfully (v. 15). He created teams, communicated often, took up projects with them, and was encouraged by and encouraged them.
Third, Paul determined to make sure that every person in his personal sphere heard the Gospel by one means or another (v. 14).
Finally, Paul’s goal was always to be looking for ways of enlarging his sphere, to include more places and people with whom he could work out and live out his great salvation (v. 16).
These four goals should guide our work as well: increased boasting in the Lord, mutual edification and accountability, sharing Christ with others, growing and expanding our sphere of influence.
Achieving these goals will require regular and faithful use of four disciplines.
Preparation. We must prepare well every day. By spending time with the Lord, studying His Word, praying about the places we go, the people we meet there, and the opportunities for bringing the grace of Jesus to our world, and by improving our own salvation day by day, we will be ready for whatever arises in our sphere, to let our great salvation flow like rivers of living water.
Conversation. Second, we need to work on our conversational skills. Ask questions. Listen carefully. Share honestly. Take a genuine interest in the places and people of your sphere, so that you can talk about them in an interesting and edifying way. Make a point to start conversations, but don’t think every conversation has to include a Gospel review. Keep conversations going over time. Keep asking questions, being interested, and listening well. Talk often with the Lord before you talk with others.
Demonstration. Let people see Jesus in you – in your demeanor and outlook; how you do your work; the way you treat and talk about your co-workers and others; in your willingness to help and to be helped; in simple acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and love; and in a resolute determination not to be a party to sin of any kind.
Transformation. Learn to think and live for transformation. Do not be content with the status quo in anything if there are ways to improve and bring more of the beauty, goodness, and truth of Jesus into a situation. Try to envision new ways of adorning the places and engaging the people of your world with the grace and truth of Jesus.
We can know more of the Lord’s great salvation, and we can be used of God to disseminate that great salvation in the world, if we will embrace these goals and master these disciplines for use in our own spheres of influence.
Yes, it’s work. What isn’t work is neglecting our great salvation. Do nothing, or very little, and you will succeed at that.
But if you succeed at that, you will not succeed in knowing the riches and bounty and blessing and power and joyous exhilaration that come as Christ makes all things new in you and through you to the praise of His glory and grace.
Your great salvation is ready and waiting.
1. Have you identified your personal sphere – your Personal Mission Field? Are you beginning to work it day by day?
2. What obstacles do you need to overcome in being more consistent in working your Personal Mission Field?
3. What will you do, beginning today, to be more effective in growing in and sharing your great salvation?
Next steps – Transformation: Make a plan for realizing more of your great salvation. Offer your plan to the Lord in prayer. Then share it with a friend, and ask your friend to pray for you.
T. M. Moore
Forward today’s ReVision to a friend and encourage your friend to subscribe. This is the end of Part 3 of our series, Such a Great Salvation. For a free PDF of the seven lessons in this series, click here.
This is the end of Part 3 of our series, Such a Great Salvation. For a free PDF of the seven lessons in this series, and for all e Parts of the series, click here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.