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Ron Dunn amplifies dividends of dying in Midwestern message

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–”The only choice we have is whether to consume our lives in the present without any thought of tomorrow — or, by dying, “to save our lives for the future,” said Ron Dunn.
Dunn addressed Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students for the Week of Preaching, Sept. 7-10, in Kansas City, Mo. Dunn is president of LifeStyle Ministries and minister-at-large for MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church, Irving, Texas, and author of numerous books, including “Any Christian Can” and “Don’t Just Stand There — Pray Something.”
“A farmer can do one of two things with a grain of wheat,” Dunn said in explaining Jesus’ illustration in John 12:20-28. “He can consume it himself right then or he can die to that and bury it in the ground so that he has fruit for the future.”
Dunn added: “Jesus was not only explaining his death, but also our own.”
Identifying fruitfulness as the first dividend of dying, Dunn said, “Jesus is enunciating a principle here that appears throughout the Scripture. Life comes out of death.” Citing the birth of Isaac as just one example, Dunn said, “It was a miracle of bringing life out death. That is the way God works.
“The only way there is going to be fruitfulness in the life of the followers of Jesus Christ is if they first of all die,” Dunn said. “Every time somebody is saved, it is because somebody else has died to themselves, their own will, their own pleasure, their own convenience.”
In order to clarify the meaning of such a death, Dunn referred to John 12:25, quoting, “Whoever loves his life shall lose it and whoever hates his life in this world shall keep it for eternal life.” Preferring the Phillips translation, Dunn said, “Whoever loves his life destroys it.”
Dying to self encompasses the death of a person’s will, his wants and, ultimately, control of his life, Dunn said, observing, however, “We are control freaks. We may go along for a long time with the illusion that we are in control, but the fact is that control is an illusion.”
A second dividend to be found is the fullness described as abundant living in John 10:10. “I have a definition of abundant life,” Dunn quipped as he referred to the aches and pains that come later in life. “That’s when everything works.”
Then in a more serious tone Dunn said, “When I pray — God answers. When I believe — God fulfills. When I preach — the Spirit anoints. Everything works.” He asked the seminary audience, “Does everything work in your Christian life?”
Faithfulness was cited by Dunn as a third dividend of dying for the Christian. Referring to John 12:26, Dunn recalled that the servant of Jesus Christ follows the master.
“I must confess to you that there have been times when Jesus and I have not been in the same location,” Dunn said. “I think many times we say, ‘Lord, I am going out in this direction and I sure do want you to bless it.’ What we are literally saying is, ‘Lord, I have made up my mind. This is where I want to go. And, I sure would appreciate you following me.’“
Dunn said it took him a long time to realize the need to “get alone with God and let God speak,” describing that discipline as “a lost art.”
“I doubt there is anybody here who knows what it means to get a jug of water and go out in the woods and stay there and fast until God gives them the word,” Dunn said. “Do any of us know anything about seeking God’s face and waiting before him until we get a sense of the direction he is going in so we can follow him?”
Dunn closed with the encouragement also to be found in verse 26 of John 12 by noting the favor bestowed upon one who dies, quoting, “Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”
While confessing his own desire to have an audience think his preaching is good, Dunn stated his conviction that God is only person whose honor he needs to see.
“You can have the honor of men if you want it,” Dunn cautioned. “All of us want to be well thought of,” he conceded, while warning of the tendency to compromise the truth of God in order to receive honor from men. “What it really boils down to is this — whose honor do I want?”

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  • Larry B. Elrod