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May 9, 2022 2:00 am
What are preparation for time run the Lord's table this evening.
I want us to think about three areas I want us to think number one, about what we believe. Number two I want us to think about. To whom do we belong number three like for us to think about how we are to behave so believing belonging and behaving those of my three points of emphasis tonight so you don't get lost I'm gonna start in the middle and then circle back around and cover all three points would come to the Lord's table. There is a legitimate emphasis on self-examination where we look within.
Try and ascertain where we stand with the Lord and aided by the spirit of God to identify areas of sin that we need to acknowledge and confess and repent of and although that's commanded in Scripture that if our focus stays there. We are going to be discouraged because there's no help for our soul by looking within. We've gotten look without and see Christ and see that he is the one that God is provided for the answer of our sin problem.
John Calvin said this, there's no knowing there's no knowing that does not begin with knowing God what he is saying is our starting place is not cannot be with ourselves, our starting place is got to be with God. No man will know himself right until he has had a proper encounter with God.
You remember in Isaiah chapter 6 Isaiah the prophet said in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and lifted up in his train filled the temple. And he went on to explain this phenomena. This experience this encounter that he had with God and how did it affect you. He said woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of an people of unclean lips for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts, he would not have understood himself right he would not understood himself as a sinful man had he not first had an encounter with the holiness of God and that is the proper order. So it's important as we think about our identity in Christ that we keep that focus in mind. You see you you you either identify yourself. Find your identity vertically, or you find your identity horizontally.
What I mean by that. Well if your identity is tied to those horizontal things those relationships, your possessions, your job performance. Any of those things you are going to be disillusioned because we live in a broken world and people will fail you and you will not be able to accomplish the things you set out to accomplish in so far. Identity has cannot be horizontal.
Our identity must be vertical because we been made for God we find our satisfaction in him and in him alone so it's only when you have a proper understanding of this that you can make progress toward talking about identity. You see, when you think you are you are the most important that you are the main factor in your life and how you live your life. If your identity is bound up in being, let's say for sake of illustration. This evening is Mother's Day. If your identity is bound up in being a mom and you view that as the core of who you are.
That is going to have implications in what you do, the choices you make and your priorities and so on.
And while being a mother is great. What happens when your kids don't turn out the way you want them to what happens when your kids leave home.
What happens when your children become more important to you than God, and often times, as Christians, we struggle with this issue of identity. We are tempted to anchor our identity in people or places or earthly things or earthly ambitions instead of Jesus Christ.
So identity matters identity matters who you think you are matters, it will affect your life, your marriage, how you handle temptation. The disappointments in life that come the challenges of life that come identity matters. So the question tonight is what is your identity you were to encounter somebody on the street and you are engage them in conversation, would you say to them about who you are only just take a just quick tour through the opening chapters of Ephesians 2 anchor our identity and remind us of who we are in Jesus Christ, our life is hid in gone with God in Jesus Christ. This is your identity. If you are a believer tonight. You were chosen in eternity past by God the father to be adopted into his family. Ephesians chapter 1 verses four and five. You are a redeemed tax slave no longer in bondage to sin.
Satan, guilt and death. Ephesians 17 chapter 2133 you are and acts spiritual corpse that is been raised to new life in Christ. Ephesians 2 verses four and five. You have a mission and a purpose to do good works that God has prepared before hand for you to do. Ephesians 2 verse 10 you are part of a new family where barriers of race and socioeconomic background and culture and gender don't matter.
Ephesians 211 through 21. You are part of God's plan to display his wisdom to angels and demons throughout the ages. Your trophy of his grace that God will and has put on display for his own honor and glory sake you have new gifts and abilities. First Corinthians chapter 12 one through 11 you are you are a soldier of Christ.
They got new enemies, but you have brand-new resources to conquer them. Ephesians 610 to 18.
And all of these things about your new identity have radical and drastic implications for how you live, how you do marriage how you parent how you work. All of those aspects of your life are now meant to revolve around who you are in Christ and your responsibility to image God in the world. All those areas we want to live a fruitful life. We want to live a life that pleases God and honors God.
So in a nutshell, when you become a Christian, you become a brand-new person.
The Scriptures tell us that you put off the old man and put on the new Ephesians 420 to 23. The Bible says that if any man be in Christ he is a new creation.
Second Corinthians 5 or 17 a Christian whose life is no different. After his conversion than before is not a Christian. If you're a Christian and you been converted by the grace of God. Your life different. Your life will change. You will be the same person you used to be. I doesn't mean the Christians are perfect, we know that we still battle and sometimes succumb to our old sinful tendencies in the devil's schemes. But nevertheless, if you are a Christian, something profound has happened and you are no longer what you once were a knowing this can make all the difference in the world as you wrestle against sin, we wrestle against the world, the flesh and the devil.
I love the story of Augustine fourth century believer Bishop of hippo in North Africa before his conversion he lived a sexually immoral life one day after his conversion to Christ.
He came upon a former mistress on the street. He recognized her. She recognized him when he recognized her. He turn, turned around and quickly went the other way. She called out to him. Augustine it is. I and continue to say that. How did Augustine respond well.
He hurried his gait. The story goes, and as he moved away from her replying yes, but it is not.
I won the same man he once was darkness, but not always, the landlord's life and been changed.
And in that moment, Augustine remembered his new identity. He was not the person he used to be. We are admonished to walk as children of light. So if we're going to make a difference in this world if were going to live a life pleasing to the Lord. We must know three things we must know what we believe where we belong, and how we are to behave. I read from first Peter, let's start there in verse eight of chapter 1 verse Peter chapter 1 in verse eight Peter speaking about the trials that, as a result of faith. He says that the verse seven that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ and then verse eight whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. The English standard version renders that verse eight this way though you have not seen him, you love him, though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls think with me about the nature of our belief.
This fact is foundational to Christian truth. What is that we believe in him, despite the fact we've never seen him and you see how the logic of that defies human explanation. That's why, in my opinion it's so problematic to reduce faith to the exercise of simply a man's will. Faith is something that supernatural faith is something that is it is a divine initiative, God has to granite. Now we are the ones you exercise it. But God is the one who grants faith. We believe despite the fact we have not seen while you see in our culture. Everything depends it seems upon what we see our world says is important to be attractive to where the right close to drive the certain card to live in the certain house, but God in his grace says that he opens our spiritual understanding. He gives his eyes to see what the natural man cannot see but did you notice there is a promise of future hope whom having not seen you love.
Though now you do not see what's implied there's a time when you will see him know for every Christian.
That is a longing the never wanes it's constantly with this and the closer we get to the end of our life, the stronger that desire becomes to see him when faith will give way to cite chapter 2 Peter uses a picture that helps us. He says in verse three, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, you may have a translation that says the Lord is good, tasted that the Lord is good. Oh, we understand what it is to taste something in belief in the New Testament is never simply intellectual assent, there is all the difference in the world between knowing that a certain shellfish is an oyster and actually tasting the oyster for yourself direct. Too often we have I think overly simplified. What saving faith is yes. The Bible says, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt save but we have to think through what does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It's more than simply mental assent.
Listen to what Jesus said in John chapter 11 in the context of the death of Lazarus as he was seeking to minister to Mary and Martha. He said I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, yet shall he live and whosoever liveth and believe with in me shall never die. You see how you cannot divorce the living from believing whosoever liveth and believe it in me shall never die.
Too often the living part is absent in people's understanding how do you know that you've believed upon Jesus Christ to the saving of your soul. It's evident in the way you're living your life and it's an active pursuing. It's an active faith. It's an active living again.
Too often the focus is have you ever one time in your life ever believed on the Lord Jesus Christ will yes I remember a time that I did that within your say your sure to go to heaven.
No, no, there has to be a time point in time that you believe but you continue to believe there's no interruption in that.
So we must have a living faith, a vibrant faith and evident faith. A life that manifests itself in spiritual life so believing in the Lord Jesus is trusting its embracing and yes tasting that the Lord is good. So it's important what we believe but number two.
It's also important where we belong, we must first know what we believe but what we believe informs us about our belonging notice again. First Peter chapter 2 I read to you. Verse one through 12. What I want to draw your attention to verse nine he says you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous, not marvelous light.
Notice with me.
You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people we are. We belong to something we belong to someone and you know there's a sense in which a desire and a longing to belong is is with everybody. I make the, the, the rounds before the services to make sure that my teachers are in their place and often I will bar about often, but particularly this morning there was a young child standing outside the classroom door looking in looking for her teacher looking for her friends and she was a little uncertain whether she wanted to go in whatever first Sunday she had a a need a sense of wanting to belong. How many of you had the experience yet left. Go back in your memory. It was and it was an agonizing experience for most of us, maybe not. If you are somebody was athletic, but if you happen to play ball and they were picking up teams they would count applicators 14 people at seven on the side and you're a captain, and you're a captain and everybody lineup.
They start picking players to be on their team.
Well, usually the first two or three pics are pretty obvious it's the ones who can hit the ball and have have athletic ability, and I wasn't in that category.
So the group would go from 7 to 4 and I'd be sitting there stand in their and dreading the thought will not last. And then I looked over and it would be a girl and I'm think all I know my going to be last because the lease these boys that I played with you didn't pick a girl ahead of a guy that just got of the unwritten rule was a sense of wanting to belong. So you were chosen to be a part of the team. How many of seen the commercial of Charles Barkley and kids are picking up teams little girl and Charles Barkley, Stan and Erin follow everybody Charles Barkley is a Hall of Fame NBA basketball player and little girl says I want him and he throws his hands up in the air like he's excited that she picked what she pick and will because of who we want us because of his ability. Why did God choose you what God choose me out of all could have chosen is because he looked and said well he's he's got ability. He's got talent, no I think the fact that I was average, maybe even less than average helps me in this illustration because even when it got down to three or four and the captain looked and said I want him and I went they want me there. I have a sense of belonging, they saw something in me. But you see the way it works in God's selection God choosing us. He's not looking for merit is not saying I am to choose him around in a choose you because of what value you have, what merit you have, what you bring no too often that's the mindset of modern Christendom. You hear the this sentiment, although if so-and-so could be saved. What a spokesman they could be for God.
Some singer some athletes, some and I suppose there's some merit in that manner woman might have a platform that you are. I never could get, but what's behind that is there's that person has merit that person bring something to the table folks you and I are who we are because of what God is done by his grace in us and for no other reason we are his special people think with me about Peter who wrote this epistle.
He was a fisherman whose life had been about nets and fish want to be careful to speak speak for Peter but it would seem apartment prior to his encounter with Jesus's aspirations in life probably rose no higher than the level of the lake. He was a fisherman. That's all he was ever going to be at all he ever had hopes of being until one day Jesus came and said Peter I'm to make you fishers of men.
The Bible seems to indicate that Peter abandoned his nets and his business immediately to follow Jesus, Peter, knowing something about who Jesus was. Had they had that same feel sense that that I had like you want me you want me and you notice how Jesus assumed the responsibility to make Peter what he wanted him to be. I will make you a fisher of men. I choose you because I thought you would be a good fisher of men.
I will make you want chosen. You see Peter's life story didn't matter. His lack of experience for the job was irrelevant. Peter was chosen because he was chosen his life was never the same and I trust there are times in your experience that you have time to reflect on your life and can have an appreciation to say you know what because God the Father in eternity past, said his affections on me and shows me and rice my life is never been the same.
Is that your experience do you sit and wonder and ponder and say what would my life be what would life look like for me and God not come to me in saving grace that God had not set his affections on me and called me out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Where would I be life look like.
I think those kinds of times of reflection are helpful to deepen our appreciation for the free grace of God and what God has done for us in Christ, we should never get over the wonder that we were chosen chosen by God particularly on purpose to make this one of his own sense of belonging. So the question tonight is do you belong to Christ. Do you belong to Christ and if you belong to Christ, then you have a sense of belonging not just to Christ but you ought to have a sense of belonging to the family of God.
There are various and sundry reasons why people seem to just stay on the peripheral and never seem to want to get over whatever the barrier is to become a member in belong to the church to belong to the body of Christ to to have that sense of hay on one of this group. I'm I joined this group. I'm proud to be a member of this local assembly sometimes is just a fear of well it makes me responsible from a member, non-responsible. In a way that I was before or while there's a measure of accountability here or maybe they have an accurate sense that becoming a member of the church is like becoming a member of a family and you know what you're only known your your your know in a way within your family that you're not known any other place right. My wife knows me in a way that none of you know me, my children know me in a way that none of you know me you know what I'm saying sometimes people have a fear if I become a part of the family you know about you know more about me than on really going to reveal about me see again. I'm I don't know. I say there's lots of reasons why people would seem that if if if God is made me one of his own. I belong to him.
It seems it ought to be almost automatic that I want to belong to his family. I want to join I want to be a part I want to identify so sensitive of belonging. Notice again. Peter gives us for identifying words here in this sense of belonging. He says you are a chosen generation of already spoken to that second lease is a royal priesthood, a royal priesthood, we been born into a priesthood. We have a duty to display and a privilege to enjoy. Verse five there of chapter 2 says you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
So priests offer sacrifices we come together and worship and offer the sacrifice of praise as a priest there sacrifice involved in this. So priesthood is the offering of our lives. The offering of our praise. The offering of our service on the him who's worthy of it all. Then he says, a holy nation. It's a description of unity it's the word that's used here is in its ideal sense. It's the idea of coming together under one headship enjoying a sense of kinship, a holy nation, and then he says his own special people his own special people. My Bible says we are a people belonging to God and the reality is that people are in one of two categories P people either belong to God or they don't belong to God. We are Peter says God's possession. God owns us P we belong to him our life of autonomy are life of living our own way is behind us, becoming a Christian is coming under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We belong to him.
Paul argues with the Corinthians about living a holy life and he bases his argument on this. You were bought with a price you belong to God, therefore glorify God in your body's where his possession. We belong to him is good to be reminded of that because it's easy to take on the notion that know why I pretty much belong to myself. I do what I want when I want, how I want no, no, being a Christian change is all that so were thinking this evening about the fact that we must know what we believe we must know where we belong.
And number three. We must know how we are to behave. These things all related. They're all tied together.
Being a Christian is not behavior modification is not turning over a new leaf.
It's not something peripheral or superficial. Becoming a Christian is a change of nature its a complete transformation. It's not something that only affects us on Sunday. It affects our life every day of the week and we certainly should never get over the fact that becoming a Christian, a follower of Christ speaks into our life about the home we belong, we belong to him and therefore he has authority over our life to direct our life to instruct us to admonish us to lead us in the paths of holiness.
So we must know how we are to behave and notice what he says there at the end of verse nine. Again, Peter you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people that so that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
You see, we once were darkness, not we once lived in darkness, we once were darkness, our whole life was characterized by darkness, but now for in Christ.
Our life is not characterized by light and it should show up in the way we live our life. It should manifest itself in how we behave in this world so that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light were now living for God's honor were living our life to please him were living our life so that the way we live our life reflects well upon the one we claim to know and then he goes on to say, beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Having your conduct Hon. among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they made by your good works, which they observe glorify God in the day of visitation how we to behave differently than when we did before were new creature in Christ were living our life to reflect the grace of God that has saved us and is working in us were living differently in the way we walked were living differently in the way we talk were living differently in the way we go about our daily lives were back to our orientation, how we do behave. We are to behave with a vertical orientation.
You see, we didn't have that before we didn't fear God we didn't care about God. We did Leah live our life to please God, but once God saves us he gives us a vertical orientation and it's a desire to please him and honor him to live for him to pursue him. That's what life is about.
So being a Christian is about behaving is Christ would have us behave in all areas of life. So's we think about the Lord's table tonight. I just wanted us to think about the importance of what we believe reflect upon whom we belong and then thirdly how we are to behave in this world believing what help me believing belonging and behaving spring father, thank you for your word. Thank you, for instruction in righteousness. Thank you for the spirit of God.
That is our teacher and Lord, we simply don't want to just give mental assent an agreement to what has been said tonight. We want grace to appropriate and live in the light of what is been considered. Lord, we confess that left to ourselves.
We have no ability or power to do that but we thank you that you are working in us both to will and to do according to your good pleasure. How we thank you tonight for your son, the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross of Calvary.
We might be a purchase, possession of yours because the timer on the Lord's table to be precious to all of your children tonight. We ask in Jesus name, amen