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As we come to look in the Bible, there is a principle that we call the indispensable principle and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. We cannot understand the Bible unless He shows us Jesus and only God can show the Lord. No human being and no teacher can present the Lord apart from the Holy Spirit. I would like to begin with a Bible verse that ties into redemptive living. Psalm 67:7, “God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.” The Psalm begins the same way it ends. God blesses us so that the world might be blessed. He doesn’t bless us to bless us. It’s redemptive. He blesses us so that the world might fear Him. That’s why He chose Israel. He wanted to put on display His heart. He gave Israel the most and the best and the highest, so others could look at Israel and see how God felt about them. He blesses us so that the world may know. That’s redemptive.
Our Heavenly Father, we thank You again that we can look into Your word. We thank You that we can depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit to bring us to Jesus. Give us ears to hear and take the veil away from our heart and eyes. Show us Jesus again. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The principle, as you know, that we’re going to look at is called redemptive living. All the principles that we’ve been studying are foundational. It’s hard to put them in order; 1, 2 & 3 because they are ALL very important. I consider this lesson, redemptive living, a great foundation. I’d like to first give a description of what I think God’s word teaches about redemptive living. All things are redemptive because God is sovereign. After we look at that, I’d like to show how things are redemptive when we cooperate with God. They are redemptive even if we don’t cooperate but, in a special way, they are when we do cooperate.
When I say that all things are redemptive I really mean two things; that God is sovereign and He always gets what He wants. Nobody can stop His purpose. His sovereignty and Lordship are absolute. He is in perfect control of the world and everything in it. Ephesians 1:11, “…also we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…” Job. 42:2, “I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.” Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” Psalm 103:19, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all.”
That’s the purpose; God gets what He wants but we’re calling it “redemptive purpose”. What is meant by the “redemptive” part? John 3:17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” God has redemption on His heart and He wants to save people. Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” It’s His heart to seek and to save that which is lost. 1 John 4:14, “And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
The Lord is in control of everything, so that He can redeem the world. Whatever happens, in some way is redemptive. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” That’s what I mean by redemptive purpose. God controls everything to bring redemption into the world. Ephesians 1:22, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.” He works all things for the church. It’s all redemptive.
Even the wicked who are against God fulfill His purpose. A great illustration is Acts 2:23-24, “…this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” God planned the cross and wicked men put Jesus to death. Even the wickedness is redemptive.
There’s a great illustration of this in Matthew 27 when Jesus was on the cross, wicked men mocked Him, but when they mocked Him they praised Him. They didn’t try to praise Him. They tried to mock Him. Matthew 27:29, “And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” They put a crown of thorns on His head and in mockery they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” But that’s actually a praise; “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Matthew 27:37, “And they put up above His head the charge against Him which read, ‘This is Jesus the King of the Jews.’” Over his head they put the cause of His death but listen to what they said, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” They didn’t try to praise Him but they ended up praising Him.
Matthew 27:42, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we shall believe in Him.” They tried to mock Him and they said, “He saved others; save Himself!” But in that mockery they confessed that He saved others. God turned the mockery into praise.
Matthew 27:43, “He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him; for He said, “I am the Son of God.’” They said, “He says that He trusts in God and God delights in Him,” but they were mocking Him. But they also confessed that He trusts in God and He saved others and God delights in Him. They said that He said He was the Son of God. As they tried to mock Him they said, “He’s the King, He saved others, He trusts God, God delights in Him, and He’s the King of the Jews.”
I don’t know if you are familiar with Friedrich Krummacher, a German reformed theologian. He was meditating on this passage and he said, “They stoned His cross with roses.” They tried to throw stones but, instead, they just honored the Lord.
One that has become precious to me is Matthew 27:25, “And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children!” You know what they meant when they said, “His blood be on us and our children.” I pray that for my family. I ask the Lord to put His blood on me and my family. God will always get praise. Nobody can stop Him.
Romans 11:36, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” So, God works and controls everything in the universe for redemptive purposes. What I mean by that is that God will get the glory, even if I don’t want to give it to Him and even from rebellious people and even from Satan. Angels give Him glory. Every circumstance and every storm, everything, gives Him glory and it’s all redemptive.
When there is a calamity in the world, somebody will seek the Lord. Everything that happens is redemptive. God gets glory from the wicked and the unwilling but, in a special way, He gets glory if we cooperate with Him. John 15:4-5, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:8, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” He said that His Father was glorified if you bring forth much fruit.
He gets glory because He is sovereign but He gets a special glory if we agree with Him and work with Him. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Others see your fruit and they glorify your Father.
Galatians 1:15-16, “But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood…” The apostle Paul said that God revealed His Son in Him. Galatians 1:24, “And they were glorifying God because of me.” They were glorifying God because of Paul.
What I want to do is to look at redemptive living from the standpoint of those who want to work with God; not when we resist and not when we try to do our own thing and not when we seek our own will or glory but when we choose to glorify God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” The Holy Spirit lives in you and there is a way to glorify God. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.”
I want to describe the redemptive life from the standpoint of those who unite with the Lord. What I would like to show you first is the indispensable condition of redemptive living. Then I want to show you the indispensable disposition of redemptive living. Then I want to show you the indispensable goal of redemptive living. If I’m going to live redemptively, I’ve got to meet this condition and it will lead to this goal.
What is the indispensable condition of redemptive living? I’ll state it for you and then I’ll try to illustrate it for you. In one word, it’s childlikeness. God demands childlikeness. Unless you are like a child you are not going to enter. Mark 9:35-37, “And sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and the servant of all.’ And taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.’” He takes a little child as an illustration.
Mark 9:42, “And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” Don’t offend a little child. Mark 10:13-16, “And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands upon them.”
Let me share the background. It’s almost comical for this occasion. Mark 9:33-34, “And they came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.” The disciples walked in the doors and Jesus asked, “What were you talking about on the way?”
Luke 9:47, “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts, took a child and stood him by His side…” On the way to the house where Jesus was, they were arguing about who was the greatest. Use your imagination and picture this. These are rough fisherman and their tongues are not tamed yet and they are deciding which one was the best. I can hear James and John saying, “We must be favorites. He invited us to go on the Mount of Transfiguration.” I can hear Peter responding, “Which one of you ever walked on water?” I can hear Judas say, “He chose me to be treasurer. He must trust me.”
I don’t think that the fighting came to blows but I think it was heated. As they got near the house they said, “Keep it down. Cool it. We’ll discuss this later.” They came in the door and Jesus asked, “What were you talking about?” They must have been shocked to hear that! Mark 9:34, “But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.”
When they came in He asked what they were talking about. They said, “Nothing.” They were embarrassed and blood came to their cheeks because they were discussing who was the greatest. At this point they had not received light on the Exchanged Life. They are still learning and they are very dull. They had no idea of childlikeness. That’s the background of when He brings in this little child.
Even today, many Christians don’t understand what it means to be childlike. They think it means that we should have the disposition of a little child but when you read the New Testament you see that God says, “Stop.” Someone says, “To be like a child is to have faith like a child.” A child will believe anything; they’ll believe in Santa Claus.
I have a jar of teeth at home. I told my grandchildren that there is no tooth fairy. So, they made me the tooth fairy. Every time they lose a tooth they want three dollars. So, I’ve got a jar of teeth and I’m getting poor. Some people say, “Have the faith of a little child.”
Ephesians 4:14-15, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ…” Jesus said to become like a little child but don’t believe like a little child. A little child is carried about by every wind of doctrine. We have to be like a child but we can’t believe like children.
Some say that to be like a child is to be humble like a child. I had six children. They are not humble. They are very proud. Every achievement is on my refrigerator. A child is a poster child for pride.
1 Corinthians 3:1, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes to Christ.” You must become like a child but don’t believe like that. You must be like a child but don’t be humble like that.
Someone says, “Maybe it means to be simple and naïve.” 1Corinthian 14:20, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature.” Don’t be children in your understanding. Be like a child but don’t believe like that and don’t be humble like that and don’t be childish in your thinking. What did he mean?
We’ve got to be childlike, so maybe we should behave like children. Matthew 11:16-17, “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’” He said to not behave like them; they are always discontent. They are fickle. One wants to play this game and the other wants to play that game. Be like a child but don’t believe like a child and don’t be humble like a child and don’t behave like a child. What does it mean to be like a child?
I think the answer is in Luke 18:15, “And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them.” They brought their babies to Jesus.
I have a book that I enjoy by a man named Kenneth Wuest. He gets into the Greek. I don’t know Greek, so I’m thankful for people that can help. In this verse he translates it, “They brought their infants.” Have you heard of B. B. Warfield? He was a great theologian who taught at Princeton University in New Jersey before they turned away from the Lord. He translates this as “infant of days”. A mother gave Jesus an infant of days.
Just before I came to this conference, the Lord gave me my fourth great grandchild. I haven’t seen him yet. He’s an infant of days. That’s the child that Jesus had. They are too young to have a disposition. They are too young to have faith. They are too young to be humble. They are too young to be naïve. They are too young to behave. When Jesus said that we must be like children, He wasn’t talking about a disposition. He was talking about a condition, a condition of a newborn babe and its helplessness; total dependence. The indispensable condition of redemptive living is helpless dependence. Do you see that powerful illustration?
On one side you have the disciples asking, “How can we be great?” On the other side you have an infant of days; helpless dependence. That’s the indispensable condition. What is the indispensable disposition that we must have? Now I’d like to share what that is.
I think it would be helpful if we used a Bible illustration. I’d like to take that illustration from the Song of Solomon. If you study the Song of Solomon it’s the testimony of the bride. She does all the talking. In fact, she can’t shut up. When you read the book, she does the talking but He wrote the song. Husbands, we will write the song that our wives will sing.
In the Song of Solomon at the beginning, this woman felt very low. She kept cutting herself down. She looked at her husband and said, “He’s so wonderful that I don’t deserve him.” She’s working hard to gain His approval. She tries to make herself attractive. Then the groom says Song 4:12-15, “A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up. Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, henna with nard plants, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices. You are a garden spring. A well of fresh water, and streams flowing from Lebanon.”
When she heard those words, “You are my garden,” she was amazed because she thought she was the gardener. He said, “You are not the gardener; you are the garden; a garden locked and a garden enclosed.” And for the first time in the Song the bride begins to understand. The groom was saying to the bride, “I love you just the way you are. You don’t need to make yourself attractive and you don’t have to try so hard to win my approval. Up to this time it was her efforts but now she said, “I’m his garden.”
Song 4:9, “You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace.” The groom said, “You make my heart skip a beat. You ravish my heart. My heart beats fast when I see you.” Do you believe that the Lord’s heart beats fast when He looks at you? His heart skips a beat. He loves you and He delights in you. That’s not flattery. Flattery is an insincere complement. This is how He really feels.
When she understood that she was His garden and that He loved her, she prayed a prayer that I’m calling the indispensable disposition. Song 4:16, “Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; make my garden breathe out fragrance, let it’s spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into this garden and eat its choice fruits!”
Listen to the bride’s prayer. She said, “Wake up north wind and blow on my garden.” What is the north wind? That’s a chilly wind and that’s frosty wind. That pictures hard times and affliction. She said, “I’m his garden; north wind come blow on the garden.” She’s not only asking the north wind but she’s begging the north wind. Then she thinks about it and she says, “Wake up south wind.” The south wind is prosperity and blessing. It’s health and it’s goodness. Here is the bride’s disposition. She said, “I’m his garden. I don’t care if it’s the north wind or the south wind. It’s whatever pleases him.” That becomes the disposition. It doesn’t matter if it’s the north wind or the south wind. If he’s happy, blow on my garden.
This is more than resignation. She’s not just accepting the north wind. She’s inviting the north wind to blow. She desires whatever will please him. The disposition is that it doesn’t matter. If there’s no blowing, there’s no flowing. As the indispensable condition is childlikeness, the indispensable disposition is absolute surrender.
What is the goal of all of this? John 12:20-21, “Now there were certain Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these therefore came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’” First there’s childlikeness, then there’s surrender and now is the redemptive part. The Greeks came to Philip and said, “We want to see Jesus.” Was it curiosity? Why did they come? Did they come to argue? We don’t know. Were they really seeking the Lord? Perhaps. The only thing God calls attention to is the response of Jesus. When you look at it with our physical eyes it looks like He ignored them. He never went out to talk to them. He only talked to the disciples. Jesus explained to the disciples about redemptive living.
John 12:27-28, “’Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.’ There came therefore a voice out of heaven, ‘I have both glorified it. And will glorify it again.’” Jesus always talked about the cross as His “hour”. He said that My hour has not yet come. He always thought about the hour. But in this prayer He said, “My soul is troubled. What shall I say? Deliver Me from this hour? For this cause I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.”
Every hour in the life of Jesus He said, “Glorify Thy name.” I choose verses every chance I get. I have a year verse and I have a life verse and I have a birthday verse; every chance I get I get a verse. This is my life verse. Something comes into my life, a north wind or a south wind, what shall I say, “Deliver me from this hour? For this cause I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.”
So, the north wind blows and there is a loss. “For this cause I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” A disappointment comes in or a sickness comes in or a grief comes in or a time of suffering comes in; “What should I say, ‘Deliver me?’ For this cause I came to this hour. Glorify Thy name.” Sometimes it’s prosperity that blows in; wonderful health, good times, opportunities, open doors, provision. “What shall I say, ‘Deliver me from this hour?’ For this cause I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” That is the goal of childlikeness. Everything is moving toward, “Glorify thy name.”
We are the Lord’s garden and we invite any wind that will make Him happy. That’s fine. Redemptive living is not me living for Jesus. When He lived on earth in His incarnate body He went to the cross. He went to the cross to reach the world. It’s the same Jesus and He now lives in my heart. If He went to the cross in His first body, where is He going in His new body? He’s going to the cross. He lives in me; it’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about redemption. Everything that comes into your life, you just please Him and He reaches the world. You are not out to reach the world. You live to please the Lord. When you please the Lord He will reach the world.
That’s why my life is so exciting now. It wasn’t always this way. When I was young I prayed, “Deliver me.” As He opened my eyes more I say, “Keep me.” But now I don’t care if He delivers or keeps. Now I say, “Father, glorify Thy name.” My wife has muscular dystrophy. It’s missionary muscular dystrophy. I have congestive heart failure. It’s missionary congestive heart failure. It’s all about missions. It’s all about others. It’s not about us.
Some people have missionary singleness. Some people have missionary cancer. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the north wind or the south wind. Sometimes when Jesus lives in you He’ll go to the hospital. That’s exciting! What is He up to?
In Acts 16 it was the same. They tried to go north and the Spirit closed the door. They tried to go south and the Spirit closed the door. Then they got a dream to go to Macedonia and when they got to Macedonia they found Lydia and God opened her heart. And then a demon possessed woman came and the town came against Paul and Silas and they beat him. He didn’t send out prayer letters saying, “Pray for me.” He said, “This is wonderful! What is God up to?” Then they dragged him across the street and then they put him in a dungeon and in the dungeon they sang praises to the Lord. Then God gave an earthquake and then the jailor said, “What must I do to be saved?” It’s all redemptive. Therefore, it’s exciting. I wake up excited. “What is God going to do today?” If He wants to have missionary forgetfulness, He can have it (I have dementia).
Jesus in His first body allowed Himself to get weary and He sat down by a well and along came the Samaritan woman. He’s now in His new body and maybe we’ll get weary. It’s okay. It’s redemptive. He knows where the Ethiopian is. So, off goes Philip. He knows where the Samaritan woman is. He knows where the tax gatherer is. He knows where Zaccheus’ tree is. He knows who is meditating under the fig tree. He’ll take some to the athletic field and He’ll take some to a mission field and He’ll take some to the hospital. We need to be little children; helpless and dependent. We need to be totally surrendered. It doesn’t matter whether it is a north wind or south wind, as long as He is happy. The goal is that He will reach others through us.
John 12:32-33, “’And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.’ But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.” He said, “The Greeks want to see Me? Then I must go to the cross. I must become a grain of wheat that must die. Then, not only Greeks will come but everybody will come. If I’m lifted up I’ll draw all men unto Me.”
Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Godly ones.” Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Ezekiel 33:11, “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”
The Lord takes no delight in the death of the ungodly. Precious is my death. What that means is that I’m dispensable. He may let me die so that they may live. He may let me go through a trial that they may hear. He may allow me to lose a loved one, so that they can see a response of a Christian.
One more illustration and then I’ll finish. Ezekiel 2:9-10, “Then I looked, behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back; and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe.” Picture in your mind a hand coming out of heaven and in that hand is a scroll and it’s written on both sides and it’s all bad news. It’s lamentations, mourning and woe.
Ezekiel 3:1, “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” God says, “Eat it.” That’s hard to swallow! It’s only bad news. Ezekiel couldn’t do it. Ezekiel 3:2, “So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll.” Sometimes God will hand down that north wind with only bad news and He’ll say, “Eat it!” You say, “I can’t! It’s too hard.” He says, “I’ll feed you.”
Ezekiel 3:3, “And He said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your stomach, and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.’ Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.’” When he ate it, it became as sweet as honey.
“What shall I say, ‘Deliver me from this hour?’ For this cause I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” There is only one list; north wind or south wind. It doesn’t matter, as long as He is pleased. Redemptive living is me pleasing Him and Him reaching the world.
2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves…” The treasure is in this vessel and sometimes He breaks the vessel so that the treasure can be seen. Look carefully, please, at 2 Corinthians 4:10, “…always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” Carrying in the body the dying of Jesus; it’s not the dying of self. Many Christians are so busy trying to die to themselves. That happened two thousand years ago. Believe it. It’s over. You don’t need to die to self. You need to reckon yourself dead. But now you carry the dying of Jesus in order that the Life of Jesus may be manifest.
2 Corinthians 4:11-12, “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” Redemptive living is letting Jesus live in our lives. We are the bride and we are His garden. Whatever pleases Him to reach others, let it come. In everything we can thank God because He is reaching the world.
The indispensable condition is childlikeness; helpless dependence. The indispensable disposition is total surrender. The indispensable goal is, “Father, glorify thy name.”
Our Father, we thank You so much for Your word, not what we think it means but everything that You have inspired it to mean. Work in our hearts what You know this means. We thank You that You are doing it right now. In Jesus’ name. Amen