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Sermon #37 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: “Jesus Christ Himself”
Text: Ephesians 2:20
Subject: Christ’s Preeminence
Date: Tuesday Evening — May 10, 2016
Readings: Lindsay Campbell and Cody Henson
Let me read two verses to you from the 2nd chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians — Ephesians 2:19-20.
(Ephesians 2:19-20) “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”
“JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF” — That is my subject. — I want us to focus all of our attention on this blessed subject — “JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF.” What an ocean there is before us! In which direction shall we turn our thoughts? There may not be a richer, fuller text in all the volume of Holy Scripture that that which we have before us in these three words found in Ephesians 2:20. — “Jesus Christ himself.” — Here is a treasure chest full of the rarest jewels. Here is a banqueting table spread for our souls upon we shall feed forever. May it please God the Holy Spirit, our Divine Comforter and Teacher, to reveal “Jesus Christ himself” to our hearts and give us grace to trust, love, and worship him. O Lord God, give us “Jesus Christ himself,” and we have all and abound. We desire nothing but our Immanuel.
Christ Not Doctrine
“Jesus Christ himself” should always be the prominent thought of our minds and the meditation of our hearts. Our theology ought to be— “Jesus Christ himself.” He must be the Center and Head of all. — “In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Far too many, I fear, are altogether consumed with doctrine. They may indeed be precisely orthodox, and they should be; but they are harsh, bitter, and divisive in their orthodoxy. Let us love every word that fell from the lips of our dear Lord and his apostles. Let us contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. — But it is essential for us to hold all doctrine in connection with “Jesus Christ himself.” — Truth isolated from “Jesus Christ himself” is hard and cold and lifeless.
I know a good many who become very indignant with anyone who holds a view of anything that is slightly different from their own, even though they acknowledge that the imaginary offender is a brother in Christ. With them everything is doctrine, doctrine, doctrine. I hope that is not the case with myself or with you. With us, the one thing that matters, the one thing that is essential, I trust, is “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š Ture doctrine is to me priceless as a throne for my living Lord; but my chief delight is not the throne, it is my King’s presence upon the throne.
Š I want more than the garments which adorn my Redeemer, though I prize every thread he wears. I want “Jesus Christ himself.”
Christ Not Experience
There are others who delight in what they call experimental preaching, preaching which sets forth the inner life experiences of the believer, both in the rage of his depravity and the triumph of grace. In its proper proportion, this is good. But, “Jesus Christ himself” should be proclaimed, not our frames and feelings, doubts and fears, struggles and victories. We study ourselves in vain. The more you see your own heart, the more you will be filled with despondency and despair. — “Looking unto Jesus” is far better, indescribably better for your soul than looking unto yourself. — Self-examination is needful; but our faith is not in ourselves. It is in Christ alone.
Š My faith is not in my righteousness, but his righteousness.
Š My faith is not in my faith, but his faithfulness.
Š My faith is not in my doing, but his doing. My faith is not in my experience, but in his experience.
Š My faith is not in my holiness, but in my Sanctifier.
Martin Luther once said this — “Although I am a sinner, yet I despair not; for Christ, who is my Redeemer and my righteousness, liveth. In him I have no sin, no fear, no sting of conscience, and no fear of judgment; for in him there is no condemnation. I am indeed a sinner as touching this present life; but I have a righteousness of God which is above this life, who is Christ my Lord. In him I rejoice!”
“Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God —
Naught else is worth believing.
Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.
I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,
His Word shall stand forever!”
Christ Not Law
Then there are others who place all importance upon the commandments of God. Their supreme happiness is when they hear someone preaching legal precepts. But the design and purpose of the law is to point us to Christ. — The law is not our God; Christ is! We are not under the law, but under grace.
Š Moses was a prophet to point us to our Savior; but Moses is not our Savior. Christ is our Savior!
Š Moses was a prophet to point us to our Lord; but Moses is not our Lord. Christ is our Lord!
“Jesus Christ himself” is the precept we must follow, for he is the Way. — “Jesus Christ himself” is the doctrine we believe and preach, for he is the Truth. — And “Jesus Christ himself” is the experience we must have, for he is the Life. — “Jesus Christ himself” is first, last, and all between. He is all my salvation, and all my desire.
Having said all that, I must say this…
Š Let us never insult our Lord by despising his doctrine. To trifle with the truth is to despise Christ our Prophet.
Š Do not for a moment undervalue any experience of spiritual life in Christ. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, in you.
Š And dare not neglect the precepts of Christ in the gospel, and so transgress against the authority of Christ our King.
We must treat everything connected with our Savior reverently for his sake. But at the foundation, in the front, and above all must be “Jesus Christ himself,” the personal, living, loving Son of God, Christ in us the Hope of glory, Christ in heaven pleading and preparing for us an eternal home. “Jesus Christ himself” is our Captain, our Armor, our Strength, and our Victory. We inscribe his name upon our banner, for he is hell’s terror, heaven’s delight, and the hope of ruined men upon the earth.
I deliberately make no effort to be eloquent, oratorical, profound, or brilliant as I preach the gospel to you.
Š To endeavor to decorate the altogether lovely one with my feeble words would be blasphemy.
Š To hang flowers upon the cross is ridiculous.
Š To adorn his head with human speech would be profane.
I want to simply tell you some simple things about “Jesus Christ himself” that God has taught me from this blessed Book and by my experience of his grace over these past 50 years. These are precious, soul-satisfying, God honoring matters of Divine Revelation.
Proposition: “Jesus Christ himself” is all to the heaven born soul. — He is all to be believed, all to be trusted, all to be experienced, all to be studied, and all to be expected.
I begin by saying first that “Jesus Christ himself” is the salvation of sinful men. When our Lord Jesus Christ was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph and said, — “She shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” When Mary and Joseph brought their newborn baby boy to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, according to the law of Moses, Simeon took the child into his arms, and said, “Lord, now letttest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” Learn this — Oh, may God graciously cause you to learn this! — Salvation is not in any system of doctrine. It is not in any church. It is not in any experience. And it is not in any human work. Salvation is in a Person — “Jesus Christ himself,” the God-man.
The Lord Jesus Christ is himself the essence of all his work and accomplishments as our Savior. He is the soul of his salvation.
Š Christ is our Righteousness.
Š Christ is our Redemption.
Š Christ is our Justification.
Š Christ is our Sanctification.
Š Christ is our Reconciliation.
Š Christ is our Peace.
Š Christ is our Joy.
Š Christ is our Hope.
Š Christ is our Life!
Š Christ is our Salvation!
I am a saved sinner, saved by the grace of God because “he loved me and gave himself for me.”
Š He gave his crown, his throne, and his joys in heaven for us, but that was not all — He gave himself.
Š He gave his life on earth. — He renounced all the comforts of life and bore all its woes; he gave his body, his agony, and his heart’s blood; but the sum of it is this — he gave himself for me.
(2 Corinthians 8:9) “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
(Galatians 2:20) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Listen to the words of the Apostle. — “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” — “Who his ownself bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” There was no limit to the suffering and grief of our Lord Jesus Christ for us.
Š Though Job to suffered great, indescribably great things in his time of trial, the Lord God put a limit to his suffering. — “Only on himself lay not thy hand.” — “Only spare his life.”
Š But when the Lord God sent his Son to suffer for sinners, no reserve was made. — “He gave himself.”
Š “He saved others; himself he could not save,” because he himself was the very essence of his sacrifice.
It is because he is who he is, that the Lord Jesus was able to redeem us. It was the dignity of his blessed person that gave merit and efficacy to his work of redemption.
Š Jesus Christ is God, able to bear all the wrath and fury an angry God and his infinite justice and satisfy its every claim.
Š Jesus Christ is man, like ourselves, able to suffer the just penalty of our sins.
Š When we think of our redemption, let us always remember “Jesus Christ himself” is the essence of it.
It is for this reason that “Jesus Christ himself” must be the only object of our faith. The Triune God always directs sinners to look to “Jesus Christ himself,” our Divine Mediator, our Covenant Surety, our Sin-atoning Substitute, to “Jesus Christ himself” alone for salvation. — “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). — “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). — He does not say:
Š Look to my life.
Š Look to my death.
Š Look to my cross.
Š Come to my ordinances.
Š Come to my servants.
Š His command is “Look unto me” — “Come unto me.”
Š Here is our way of life. — “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.”
It is a very simple thing to trust in Christ alone. We make faith in Christ complicated by our carnal reason and complex creeds. But faith in Christ is not at all complicated.
Š I might be puzzled with many things about the atonement; but I can believe in Jesus Christ himself.
Š I might be staggered by the many mysteries of theology; but I can trust in Christ.
Š He who loved me, lived for me, bled for me, gave himself for me, I cannot distrust. — “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
Make “Jesus Christ himself” the singular object of your faith and trust.
Š If you have been looking at your faith, look to “Jesus Christ himself,” rather than your poor, feeble faith.
Š If you have been looking to the results of your faith and been dissatisfied, look to “Jesus Christ himself” alone and be satisfied.
Š Perhaps you want more wisdom and understanding. Cease to look to your powers of intellect and reason. Come to “Jesus Christ himself” — “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”
Š Some of you are, perhaps, looking to your experience. You need to look to “Jesus Christ himself.”
Second, I want to show you that “Jesus Christ is himself” is our gospel. He is the substance of the gospel of God. Christianity is a mass of miracles and a body of wonders. But the miracle of our religion is Christ. The wonder of wonders is he whose name is Wonderful. There is nothing so wonderful about the gospel as “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š The gospel is the good news of heaven; and Christ is the embodiment of that good news.
Š The gospel is the wisdom of God; and Christ is Wisdom.
Š The gospel is a word from God; and Christ is the eternal Word.
Š The gospel is the revelation of God; and God is revealed to men only in the Person and work of “Jesus Christ himself.”
We need no other proof of the gospel than “Jesus Christ himself.” Jesus Christ is God’s final word to men (Hebrews 1:1-3).
(Hebrews 1:1-3) “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Š “Jesus Christ himself” is God manifest in human flesh.
Š His character is so uniquely perfect that even his enemies could find no fault in him.
Š His works of mercy, tenderness, power, and self-sacrifice attest to his truthfulness.
Š His resurrection from the dead forever sealed the gospel he proclaimed.
“Jesus Christ himself” is not only the proof of the gospel, he is himself the marrow and essence of the gospel we believe and preach.
Š When Paul declared that he preached the gospel, he meant that he preached Christ in all the fulness of his redwmptive glory (Acts 20:27; 1 Corinthians 2:2).
Š If you want to know what Christ taught, study “Jesus Christ himself.” He is the incarnation of the truth which is revealed by him and in him. He lived what he taught. Hear his voice. He says, “Come and see.” Study his wounds and you will learn his philosophy. “To know him and the power of his resurrection,” is the highest degree of education. He is the end of the law and the soul of the gospel. When we have preached the whole counsel of God to the full, we may close by saying, “Now, the things of which we have spoken, this is the sum, — we have an High Priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1).
“Jesus Christ himself” is also the power of the gospel. The power by which the gospel spreads through the earth, is not the eloquence of the preacher, nor the precision of our logic, nor the programs of our churches, but “Jesus Christ himself.” — “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
Š In heaven our Lord pleads, and therefore does his kingdom come.
Š It is in heaven that he rules all things for the advance of his truth and the progress of his kingdom.
Š His hand directs the wheel of providence.
Š By his power, the church militant shall become the church triumphant.
Š If a sinner is converted, it is by the power of “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š If peace rules in our hearts, it is because Christ manifests himself to us.
Š If we walk in the newness of life, it is by the power of Christ who dwells in us.
Christ is the gospel, so let us study him, and study to know him. While he was here upon the earth, he taught his disciples; and the object of his teaching was that they might know him (Philippians 3:10). They did not learn very fast; but it was clear what his object was. — “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?”
When he was risen, he walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and “beginning at Moses and all the prophets he expounded unto them in the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Again and again, we read that “Jesus showed himself to his disciples.” Whatever else we may be ignorant of, it is essential that we know “Jesus Christ himself.” We must know his character, his nature, his mind, his spirit, his will, his work, and his power.
(Philippians 3:10) “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
It is the work of God the Holy Spirit to show us the things of Christ. — “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:14). The purpose and end of the Bible is that we might know “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š As your pastor, I have one all-absorbing object. I want the men and women, boys and girls who hear my voice to know “Jesus Christ himself.” — In Preaching. — In Writing.
Š When you seek witness to others, don’t argue with them about doctrine. — Keep this one question ringing in their ears, until they can answer it aright from a heart of faith, — “What think ye of Christ?”
No subject so moves the heart, so arouses the conscience, so stirs the soul, so satisfies the desires, and so calms the fears of men as “Jesus Christ himself.” God forbid that I should ever cease to preach “Jesus Christ himself.” There is no fear of exhausting this theme. His word is still true – “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”
Third, let me show you that “Jesus Christ himself” is the object of our love. For all of God’s people, this is both our testimony and our desire, — “We love him because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). — We have intense affection for his blessed person and sincere gratitude for his salvation. — We love the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, because he is the embodiment of everything that is true, and lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8).
(Philippians 4:4-8) “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
O Spirit of God, cause me to love my Christ superlatively! — “Lovest thou me more than these?”
Š To love him above any other.
Š To love him more than any occupation.
Š To love him rather than this world.
Š To love him, and not myself!
If we love the Lord Jesus Christ, our love for him is and must be a God-given, a divinely created and divinely sustained love.
Š It has one singular object.
Š It is a settled love.
Š It is a love that causes us to desire his glory. — True love desires the blessedness of its object above all else.
Because we love “Jesus Christ himself,” we delight in love for his people. Through him we have a union of brotherly love for all his people.
Since we love “Jesus Christ himself,” we delight to serve him.
Š With All that We Have.
Š In Any Place.
Š In Any Capacity.
Fourth, our lord “Jesus Christ is himself” the source of all our joy. How our hearts ought to bubble over with joy, when we realize what a well of blessedness we have in our dear Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Š I may lose my health, but “Jesus Christ himself” is mine.
Š I may lose my family, but “Jesus Christ himself” is mine.
Š I may be filled with pain and sorrow, but “Jesus Christ himself” is mine.
Š I may be weak, but “Jesus Christ himself” is mine and he is strong.
Š I may be sinful, but “Jesus Christ himself” is mine and he is holy; and he is my Holiness!
Can we not rejoice in all things, knowing the presence of “Jesus Christ himself?”
Š In prosperity rejoice, not in your prosperity, but in “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š In bounty rejoice in “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š In leanness rejoice in “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š In temptation rejoice in “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š In bereavement rejoice in “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š In life rejoice in “Jesus Christ himself.”
Š In death rejoice in “Jesus Christ himself.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:4-5).
Fifth, “Jesus Christ himself” is our Rule of life, the Model after which we seek to mold our lives. Christ is the Law by which we live (1 Peter 2:20-21; John 13:12-17).
(1 Peter 2:20-21) “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (21) For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”
(John 13:12-17) “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? (13) Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. (14) If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. (15) For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (16) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (17) If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
Copy the character of the Son of God, and you will not err. Let it be ours to “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”
(Ephesians 4:30-5:2) “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (1) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (2) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
This is our prospect in eternity. — “When we shall see him, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Š We shall be like him in our glorified bodies.
Š We shall be like him in perfect holiness.
Sixth, let me say that “Jesus Christ himself” is heaven to our souls. I do not pretend to understand all of Ezekiel’s vision, Daniel’s prophecy, or John’s record of the Revelation. I do not know all that heaven shall be, but this I know is heaven to my soul — “The name of the city from that day shall be, the Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
With Christ himself in heaven, we will not be plagued with any of our present infirmities. With Christ there shall be –
Š No Corruption!
Š No Fading!
Š No Separation!
Š No Devil!
Š No Curse!
Š No Sin!
Š No Strife!
Š No Division!
Š No Darkness!
Š No Confusion!
Š No Sorrow!
Š No Regrets!
Š No Sickness!
Š No Bereavement!
Š No Death!
With “Jesus Christ himself” in heaven, we will have all that we desire in perfection.
Š We will have complete knowledge with Christ.
Š With Christ, we will have complete holiness.
Š With Christ, we will have perfect rest.
Š With Christ, we will have perfect satisfaction.
Š With Christ, we will have perfect communion with all the saints.
Š With “Jesus Christ himself,” we shall have perfect union and communion.
“Jesus Christ himself” is all my hope, expectation, and desire in heaven. Christ is heaven. Heaven is Christ to my soul.
Within a week, our meeting with “Jesus Christ himself” may take place, perhaps within the hour. Once a poor girl lying in the hospital was told by her doctor that she would only live another hour. She waited patiently, and when forty-five minutes had past, she exclaimed, “Fifteen minutes more, and then…” — She could not say what, neither can I. — But our Lord has said, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.”
May God give it to you to know “Jesus Christ himself…”
(Ephesians 3:20-21) “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (21) Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.”