Sweet Aroma

Sweet

Sweet Aroma: Pastor Appreciation Day 2021 (2 Cor. 2:14-17) *All verses in NKJV*

(Talk about Matt and Crystal)

– A little more than 18 yrs ago, I was there when Pastor Matt and Pastor Crystal planted FVC.

– I’ve seen it grow from just a few people in an elementary School, to where we are today.

– Working 2 jobs, raising kids, full time ministers… making many sacrifices along the way.

– They have had other opportunities. Example: Larger church that offered him a job, meaning he would have to close FVC. But he didn’t take it, because God called him to lead us! And he obeyed.

– Their hearts are not focused on what they can get from God, but how they can serve him better.

– Praise God that they obeyed the Lord, because I have seen it change countless lives here, as they share the unadulterated gospel with anyone who will listen.

– They have made FVC a treasure, and because of that, they have become a treasure to us

Example: I don’t know where I would be without them. They are encouragers, steadfast, loyal, and an example for all of us to follow…

They are a treasure to us because they have made it a priority to preach the whole truth and council of God. People need to hear the hard truth, not to be placated. Above all, that has become a sweet aroma to us who are saved, and a stern warning to those who are not. 

– It is the smell of death to those who have chosen to live a life of sin, and that has often created friction, which they have gladly endured for the cause of Christ.

– This leads me into today’s scripture…

2 Cor. 2:14-17, Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

1. Jesus uses us to spread his word.

– Paul is creating a word picture here that is about more than what smells good or bad. The concept is one of victory or defeat.

– In Rome, when a General returned from winning in battle, they would hold a victory parade, or a “Triumph march” to celebrate his victory over the enemy.

– This would involve a long processional through large crowds lining the city streets including chariots, soldiers, the spoils of war, and the enemy captives taken during battle. The route would be lined with burning incense that would permeate through the whole city. 

– 2 Cor. 2:14 (NLT), But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 

– Paul uses a word picture of Christ being the victorious leader, and we are in his triumph march. We are his servants, led by him, with the goal of spreading the gospel everywhere. 

– It is amazing how the word of God can change a life. You can’t expect people to just figure it out.

Example: That’s why Pastor Matt preaches the way he does. You can’t dance around the truth and try to be PC, and hope someone catches it. You have to be straight forward and honest.

Romans 10:14-15, How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

– It is great to serve and love people, but it is important for them to know why you are serving and loving them. You can’t play “guess what I’m thinking” with people and expect it to impact the Kingdom.

2. Through Jesus, we smell like victory!

– Smell is the sense most closely related to memory. That’s why a smell can bring nostalgia. The smell of gasoline reminds me of my Grampa Bill. To someone else, gas might remind them of something bad.

2 Cor. 2:15-16, For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life…

– This verse isn’t talking about a fragrance that smell differently to different people. Some think is smells good, while others think is smells bad. Example: “COVID nose.” To my FF, coffee now smells like burnt motor oil. 

– This verse is talking about the same smell that means something different, depending on what it represents to you. Example: A house fire. To a rookie, it’s the smell of battle, conquest, purpose… “slaying the dragon!” To the homeowner, it the smell of losing everything. It’s horrible. 

– Incense was scattered along the parade route of a victorious Roman general, and it was received in one of two ways. 

– For the captive enemy soldiers, who were being led on their way to the arena of death, it was the dreadful smell of death and doom. It smelled like pain and loss.

– For the victors, it was the smell of success. A reminder of worthy sacrifice and overcoming hardship. It is the smell of victory!

– For Christians, the sound of the gospel and the “fragrance of Christ” smells sweet. It reminds us of our salvation and promise of eternal life.

– For those who have rejected God, the gospel and Christian believers are an offense to them. It is a reminder of their fate, and smells like death. (Probably the worst smell I can think of.)

1 Cor. 1:18, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

– It doesn’t make sense to them… Why did God do it this way? Why not another way? etc…

– Christ is all powerful but chose to die to set us free. To live is Christ, to die is gain. Give up your life to live for eternity…

– Martyred missionary Jim Elliot is most famous for his quote, “He Is No Fool Who Gives What He Cannot Keep, To Gain That Which He Cannot Lose!” 

2 Cor. 4:3-7, But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

– Only Jesus Christ can open the eyes of the blind. You do your part by serving God where he has called you to be, and for sharing his gospel with those around you. The results are on him!

3. Faithfulness is our goal. The victory is the Lord’s.

2 Cor. 2:17, And who is sufficient for these things? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

– Have you ever thought about what you would do if you won $1,000,000 dollars?

– We are in the season of the “celebrity pastor”, which isn’t surprising given our culture of idolatry.

– There are dozens of pastors leading congregations in the tens of thousands and authoring many books. They headline conferences, and their churches are full of celebrities.

– I don’t begrudge someone who can make good money by being amazing at their job, and I don’t question their salvation or presume to know their motives, but their massive wealth creates questions:

– With all of them having multi-million dollars mega-mansions… How much house does one family need? Does this make sense?

– Is a private jet really necessary? How many trips are you going on, and wouldn’t flying first class be enough? Book multiple seats to have elbow room…

– Who is watching over your congregation while you are flying all over the country every other weekend? 

(It is worth noting that many of them give 10s of millions to charities, outreach, and missions.)

– It is understandable that some would believe that they are in it for the money, and for their own glory, NOT to bring God glory. 

– To some degree, this is a conversation we should all have with ourselves! Putting your own life in the spotlight, does your life bring God glory?

– When this verse says, “in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”  I think of Pastor Matt and Pastor Crystal.

– They have been placed over this ministry, and operate with sincerity, with the goal of honoring God first, above all things.

– One huge difference that I notice with FVC is that the word is preached without restraint. The goal is clearly to use the opportunity to see souls saved, not to gain a following.

Acts 20:26-27, Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

– Here, the word is preached with integrity, and in obedience to the Lord.

Exodus 19:5, Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

– Pastor Matt and Pastor Crystal are a treasure, and a great example to follow. This is what “dedicating your life to the call of ministry” looks like.

(piano music)

– If your life is not dedicated to Christ, now is the time to make that commitment.

– If you have gained anything by attending FVC, it should be the need for the gospel, and of giving your life to Christ.

Acts 2:36-39, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Alter call

– prayer –

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