I (Paul) did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ …. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God …. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God …. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:20-21, 24, 27, 32
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get. But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:9-14
Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:
There are a lot of aspects to life, aren’t there? Some of these are marriage, family (children), relatives, work, education, health, community, finances, possessions, recreation, food, clothing, housing, government, protection, etc. When we talk about living for the goal of spreading the gospel of Christ, we are not talking about abandoning all these things. We are talking about not allowing these things to be so central in our lives that they keep us from participating fully in the goal of spreading the gospel. In reality when we let Christ have full reign and look to him to bring transformation to all the aspects of our lives, they form the setting and even the means for how God uses us to impact others with the gospel of Christ.
In today’s highlighted portion from our Acts 20 passage, the Apostle Paul speaks of “the whole purpose of God.” It is transformation that lies at the heart of “the whole purpose of God.” God’s purpose of transformation touches every aspect of our lives. As a matter of fact, every aspect of this entire fallen world lies within the realm of God’s transformational purposes. So, if we are going to live fully for God, we must not only give him full reign for transforming every aspect of our lives, we must join him in his mission of transforming this fallen world. Transformation of the fallen people of this fallen world is absolutely a prerequisite to the transformation of this fallen world coming about. Every single person who has, does, or will exist, needs to be restored to God for the restoration he alone can bring about. God is always at work drawing people back to himself.
Today’s highlighted portion from our Luke 18 story uses the tax collector as a very clear example of someone’s initial correct response to this work of God. Remember, transformation is the purpose of God and it begins with rightly seeing one’s self before God like the tax collector did. Look again at his initial response to God, “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” What a difference from how the tax collector saw himself before God and how the Pharisee saw himself before God. The tax collector was repentant. An about face had taken place in his perspective so that he became deeply convicted that in rebellion against God he had up to this point existed solely for himself rather than God. He is ready to be restored to God for his transforming work that will actually change him into someone who lives fully for God instead of someone who lives only for himself.
So, for all of the fallen people in this fallen world today, repentance is all about confessing our need of a Savior who will rescue us from the plight of living for ourselves rather than God. Faith is trusting Christ and receiving the forgiveness of sins so that Christ can live in us through the Holy Spirit and change us into ones who live fully for God. This is the “whole purpose of God” and he continues to bring it about by transforming lives one person at a time. The “Christian” life is truly all-encompassing, isn’t it? Remember, the Christian life is a life of “surrendering” and not “accomplishing.” It is all about giving Christ “full reign” to accomplish the transformation of every aspect of our lives so that we truly live fully for “the whole purpose of God.” When this is
actually happening, we will not allow anything else to be so central in our lives that it keeps us from participating fully in the goal of spreading the gospel of grace.
Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:
Lord, surrendering to you is an everyday thing, even a moment by moment thing. The thought that living fully for you includes everything, always, is a bit daunting. So, I will just concentrate on seeking you fully, loving you fully, and yielding to you fully now. Help my response to you be absolutely genuine like that of the tax collector. I trust you for the transformation of all aspects of my life. I choose to embrace your “whole purpose” by wholly embracing you, Lord. Amen!