"THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONSTRAINETH US".
2 Cor. 5:14-20.
1. Have you stopped to consider why you are here today?
2. Is it because of others that are here and you are expected to be here?
3. Is it because of family and relatives?
4. Deep down in your heart, would you rather be somewhere else today; at the beach, the mountains, fishing, golfing, visiting, or in bed?
5. Are you here because you fear the punishment of the Lord upon the disobedient?
6. Are you here because you want to be a good influence upon others?
7. Are you here because you love the Lord and want to be pleasing unto Him?
8. Are you here because you desire to be saved?
9. Is there some other reason, that we have not mentioned, that causes you to attend the services?
10. There is a reason mentioned in the Bible, 2 Cor. 5:14-20 that we want to consider at this time.
11. The most basic concept of the gospel is that God loves us. Jno. 3:16.
12. And while it is rather easy to love those who love us, we find that, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:;;;8.
13. It is the love of God, the grace of God, that has made possible the gospel of our salvation. Titus 2:11-14.
14. Even though there are many manifestations of God's love, none surpasses the cross.
15. In the long ago, God said through Ezekiel "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezk. 18:20.
16. And afterwards Paul wrote, "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 6:;23.
17. In the same Book of Romans, Paul also wrote, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." 3:23.
18. So, this means that all die; or are separated from God because of their sin. Isa. 59:1,2.
19. But, by the love and grace of God, Jesus paid the penalty: "That by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man." Heb. 2:9.
20. So, when through the eye of faith we look at the cross of Christ; we are seeing the love and grace of God manifested.
21. But, in our text, Paul declared that "the love of Christ constraineth us."
22. With this in mind, we need to consider the meaning of the word "constrain".
A. "To hold together, confine, secure, to compel, control, or cause to act."
B. The NEB version says, "The love of Christ leaves us no choice."
C. The Easy To Read version says, "The love of Christ controls us."
D. The NIV says, "The love of Christ compels us."
E. The Philips Translation says, "The very spring of our actions is the love of Christ."
F. In other words, because Christ's love is seen in His sacrifice for us, we are compelled to act in a certain way.
1) Well, in what way is that? Some verses of scripture will give us the answer to this question.
I. WE ARE CONSTRAINED TO FORSAKE SELF. 2 Cor. 5:15.
A. The natural desire of man is to serve self, to live for self, to gratify the lusts of the flesh.
1. But we should realize that "God is love" and "We love him because he first loved us." 1 Jno. 4:8, 19.
2. So, as we view the cross and there see the love of Christ, we know that "He died for all, that they that live should not live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again. 2 Cor. 5:15.
3. The cross is the means of motivating sinful man to "seek after God." Acts 17:27.
a. Note the song: "When I Survey The Wonderous Cross".
B. Whenever Jesus set forth the terms of discipleship in Matt. 16:24, He showed the price was high.
1. "If any man come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."
a. Luke's account says: "Take up his cross daily..." Lk. 9:23.
2. Only the powerful love of God, shown through the cross of Christ, can move people to do that.
3. We are told: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world...the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life." 1 Jno. 2:15-17.
C. The love of Christ constrains us to leave the world of sin and self.
1. Paul, motivated by that love, wrote in Phil. 3:7, "What things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ."
II. WE ARE CONSTRAINED TO LEARN OF HIM. 2 Cor. 5:;16.
A. Many have the idea that they can "know Christ personally" some speak of accepting Him as our "personal savior".
1. But this is impossible. Paul wrote, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more." 2 Cor. 5:16.
2. But Jesus reveals to us how we can "know Him" in Jno. 6:45, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me."
B. We know Christ through His word, the message He authorized to be preached to every creature, Mk. 16:15,16.
1. In fact, the only way one can come to Christ is through learning:
2. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me..." Matt. 11:28-30.
3. So, the cross which declares Christ's love for us, constrains us to study and to learn of Jesus. 2 Tim.2:;15.
C. But the knowledge of Christ must also lead to submission to His will.
1. Jesus said, "Why call ye me, Lord,Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Lk. 6:46.
2. And again, in Jno. 14:15, "If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments."
3. As Christ was "obedient unto the death of the cross", Phil. 2:;8, we too are to be constrained by the cross to be obedient to Him.
D. When the Lord, after His resurrection, sent the disciples out, He told them:
1. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." Mk. 16:15,16.
2. This message, made possible by the cross, was preached as instructed.
3. And when people heard, were pricked in their heart and asked what to do, they were told:
a. "Repent, and be baptized." Acts 2:;38.
4. Those who were "constrained by the love of Christ" did what they were told. Acts 2:36-41.
a. The same principle holds true today.
III. CONSTRAINED TO LIVE A NEW LIFE. 2 Cor. 5:17.
A. When the gospel was preached in Corinth, "Many of the Corinthians, hearing believed, and were baptized" Acts 18:8.
B. Paul shows the meaning and purpose of baptism in Rom. 6:3,4.
1. There it is! When we are constrained by the love of Christ to come to the cross, we are baptized into His death, buried and raised to walk in newness of life!
C. Actually, the precise point is made in 2 Cor. 5:17, where it says: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature."
D. The reason one is a new creature is that "the old man of sin is crucified with him." Rom. 6:6.
1. And when we have thus "put off the old man" we then "put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him." Col. 3: 9,10.
2. So, when one is baptized into Christ, hei is raised as a "new creature" to "walk in newness of life."
E. The new life is lived for Christ and not for self.
1. By hearing and doing the words of Jesus, we are "building upon the rock" and not "upon the sand." Matt. 7:24-27.
2. Just as Paul could say, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me", Gal. 2:20, so we all should be constrained to give ourselves wholly to the Lord.
F. The new life is a righteous life. Not that we are righteous in, or by, ourselves.
1. Isa. 64:6, says; "All our righteousness is as filthy rags". In comparison to the righteousness of God.
2. But, by the grace of God, we are made righteous in Christ!
3. The gospel reveals the righteousness of God, Rom. 1:17, and the love of Christ, through His sacrifice upon the cross, enables us to become righteous in Him:
a. "Him who knew no sin, he made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. 5:21.
IV. WE ARE CONSTRAINED TO TELL OTHERS. 2 Cor. 5:20.
A. When Jesus sent out the apostles, after His resurrection, He commanded them:
1. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Mk. 16:15.
2. They were to "God and teach all nations", Matt. 28:19.
3. He explained the reason for the cross in Lk. 24:46,47;"Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations."
B. "And they went forth preaching the word", Mk. 16:20.
1. They were "constrained" by the love of Christ to the extent that they did exactly what the Lord told them to do!
2. Yes, they preached the message to every creature.
3. So, Paul wrote in Col. 1:23, "The gospel which ye heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven."
C. The message they preached was the cross of Christ. Acts 2:22-36.
1. In fact, Paul said, "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified." 1 Cor. 2:2.
2. The reason for this is simple: "The word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God." 1 Cor. 1:;18.
D. When the cross was preached, people were moved to commit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. By so doing, those that were lost in sin were now saved.
E. Do we really realize the value of a soul?
1. Jesus, in Matt. 16:;26, gives the answer: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or wht shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
F. So, as we view the cross, the power of God to save, and see there the love of Christ, we should be constrained to tell the "good news" to those who are lost.
G. Just as we believe in Jesus Christ, so we should speak the message of Jesus Christ!
1. "Having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak." 2 Cor. 4:13
H. The natural thing for all the saved should be to tell others.
1. And the "love of Christ constraineth us" to do just that.
2. So, with this constraint, we should ever cry out: "Be thou reconciled to God." 2 Cor. 5:20.
1. Yes, the love of Christ constrains us.
2. His death constrains us to die to sin, forsake self and the world, learn of Him and do His will.
3. His love constrains us to live a new life, a life for Him!
4. And we are constrained to constantly tell others the story of the cross: the gospel of our salvation.
By Jim Sasser
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