Die To self
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Joh 12:20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.
 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
 22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
This entire incident takes place during the Passover feast after Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. These Greeks, who had adopted the Jewish religion, were restricted to the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple, and  could not get close to Jesus because they were Gentiles and so they respectfully request an audience with Jesus through Philip.

So Philip and Andrew come up to Jesus and said, “Jesus, there's a couple of Greeks who would lie to see you!”  Here's His answer:

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
 24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
 25 "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
 26 "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
 27 "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
 28 "Father, glorify Your name."

“Ummmm, is that a yes or a no?”  I mean, it's a simple request, why the big lecture? Jesus always looked for opportunities to teach, and this was a good one. Time was short, later this very week, He would be crucified, dead and buried, but the third day He would rise again and eventually ascend into heaven where on the Day of Pentecost, He would distribute the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church.

There would be no more painstaking work of building the kingdom through the one on one contacts that Jesus made while He walked this earth. He was about to be planted in the ground for the purpose of bearing much fruit. He would be producing a bunch of “little Jesus' that would be doing the work of the kingdom.

The next time you're slobbering away on an ear of sweet corn, think about what Jesus is saying here. Look at all the kernels of corn on that cob and remember that just one kernel planted in the ground, made it possible for the rows of kernels on that cob.  

Jesus wants His disciples to understand the kingdom principle of multiplication. The time has come for Him to be planted in the ground, and raised up to bear much fruit. The fruit is born as Jesus ascends into heaven and each new believer is gifted with the Holy Spirit at their baptism.

In baptism, the old man is buried with Jesus and brought forth to new spiritual life. This dying to self is then to be done on a daily basis through repentance and confession in order for the work of multiplication to be successful.

Individuals and individual churches must learn the lesson of dying to self in order to be effective kingdom multipliers. This involves sacrifice of time, talent, and treasure. It involves putting your spiritual gifts on the altar for the purpose of multiplying the kingdom.

Incidentally, Phillip learned this lesson well. He is specifically referred to as “Phillip the evangelist” in Acts 21:8. The NIV study Bible says that an evangelist helps the church grow by augmentation, which is another way of saying multiplication.

And if you follow his career in Scripture you can see why. It was Phillip who brought the gospel to Samaria. It was Phillip who brought the Ethiopian to Christ, and who knows what the Ethiopian did when he got back home.

Phillip then went and served in a seaport city called Azotus. Imagine the number of people he led to Christ who then spread the message through the trade winds. Eventually he settled in Caesara,  another major trade hub.

Phillip learned this lesson of multiplication well, and one can image row after row of corn growing throughout the world because of his willingness to die to self and follow Jesus.
It's a lesson we still need to learn here at Living Word, and I pray the process will begin in earnest at our annual meeting later today.

How can we put “self” aside to better serve Christ as individuals and as a church?

In case you aren't aware of it, this old man in us, this self doesn't die easily. It's a real struggle as we seek to hang onto the temporary things of this world. This wrestling match of dying to self and living for Christ is a tremendous struggle.

While our death is a spiritual one, Jesus' death was physical and you can hear the struggle and agony in His voice as He nears the hour. “Should I ask the Father to deliver Me from this hour?”  No Way! This is the reason I came to this earth in the first place!

So Father, “glorify Your name! Proceed with your plan. Let us do what we must do to judge the ruler of this world and dethrone him!

This turmoil that Jesus was feeling is not too much unlike the turmoil that we go through as God shows us that we must die to self in order to defeat the devil in our own lives. Of course our mental sufferings are nothing compared to what Jesus experienced on the cross, but the old man in us puts up one terrific fight.  
We don't want to yield, but when we do, when we live with Jesus on the throne of our lives instead of self, the devil is defeated and God is glorified.

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."
 29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him."
 30 Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

God spoke audibly three times during the earthly ministry of Jesus, and each time it was to put His stamp of approval on what was taking place. He spoke at the baptism of Jesus,  pleased to connect the Holy Spirit and baptism.

He spoke at the transfiguration, pleased to connect Jesus to Moses and Elijah, (the Law and the prophets,” and He spoke here, pleased to connect the defeat of Satan with dying to self.  Learn the lesson well, dying to self is necessary to defeat Satan, because in dying to self, you live through the power of Christ.

31 "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
 32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."
 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
 34 The people answered Him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?"

Here it is, the pivotal moment in history. Now the accuser is cast down. He no longer has God's ear with his accusations of sin. The debt of sin and the guilt of sin will be completely removed for the world on the cross. And all who are drawn to Jesus through the cross will be set free from their sins.

Now, the devil can accuse you and I down here and he will, but when you hear his accusations, you need to remind him and yourself that God has stopped his ears to all the accusations of those who are in Christ,

The people are puzzled by this crucifixon thing. Their understanding was that Christ is eternal. How can you claim to be the Christ if you are going to be crucified? And who is this “Son of Man,” that You keep talking about?

Once again Jesus answers their question concerning what the OT says about the Christ I an obtuse, teachable way. He starts talking about light! I mean what has light got to do with Law?

 35 Then Jesus said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.
 36 "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

One of the passages that the people were referring to is found in Isaiah 9:6,7 , “”For unto us a child is born, unto  us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, EVERLASTING Father, prince of peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever.”

So the people ask a legitimate question. Based on this passage and others like it, they feel that the Messiah would come and set up an everlasting earthly reign restoring the former national greatness of Israel.

Jesus brings up the subject of light to get the people to look at the rest of this passage in Isaiah where we read in Is 9:2, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”

Jesus was trying to tell these people that He was that light, but in order for Him to cast out the ruler of this world, He would have to die on the cross, to pay the price of their sins.

37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,
 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?"
 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
 40 "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them."
 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Why do people have so much trouble believing in Jesus? Why are their so many unsaved people? Well John says, Isaiah predicted it for one thing, but the other reason given is people are too hard hearted and refuse to see.

They refuse to see the necessity of God having to die for the sins of the world. They refuse to believe that their sins are already paid for. There is nothing they have to do or can do to pay for their misdeeds. They refuse to believe the confession of the church, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

They refuse to believe that He is the way the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. There must be some other way, some good thing that we can contribute….anything but yielding to Him and this word that cramps my style!.

42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;
 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

This whole section ends on such a sad note. For some finally did come to believe what Jesus was saying about Himself, but they were not willing to receive what Jesus was saying about them. How about you? Are you willing to believe what Jesus says about Himself?

Do you believe He is the Savior who died for the sins of the world? You do well, but do you believe what He says about you? Do you believe that you must die to yourself? You've got to let go of the cob, let go of the things of this world. Give up on your own little kingdoms down here. Daily revisit your baptism and die to self and live with Him on the throne of your life?

This is the key to spiritual multiplication, and we are called to be fruitful and multiply not only in a physical sense through man and wife, but through a spiritual sense too and that will only happen as we remove ourselves from the cob and die to self.