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August 13, 2021 4:00 am
So here we are forgiven.
Yes, transformed yes with an impulse to obey and here we had that impulse to obey served by a series of commands in this text. These texts then come to speak to the heart where obedience is the deepest desire is only CEO concert or construe. That has nothing but strings you need people filling different roles and that is also true for the church in this hostile world. So what role should you have in the body of Christ. What do you uniquely add and how can your spiritual gifts help strengthen believers during trials and persecution. John MacArthur digs into those practical issues as he continues his study called faith through the fire. Now with the lesson here is John. Let's open our Bibles to first Peter chapter 4, first Peter chapter 4 this is a rich summary of our responsibility as Christians, we have called it Christian duty in a hostile world. It reminds us of something that is very basic to the Christian faith. It reminds us that faith cannot be removed or detached from the realm of real life me say that again. Faith cannot be removed or detached from the realm of real life. To put it another way, salvation is not just forgiveness for sins. Salvation is a new order of life. I say that because it seems to me that in the contemporary climate in which the church exists today. Salvation is primarily if not exclusively conceived of as somewhat far removed from its biblical definition salvation today primarily means the forgiveness of sins. Most people and I'm afraid to many preachers they talk so much about salvation being the point at which your sins are forgiven you are delivered from sin and death and guilt and hell. But when we understand salvation in a biblical way. We must understand that salvation effects a whole transformation of life is not just the forgiveness of sins is the transformation of life. The emphasis today tends to be on viewing salvation is receiving the forgiveness of sins by faith in Christ.
That of course is true, but most salvation preaching seems to center only on that and even to consummate only on that and so the cross becomes the focal point the crosses that point at which Christ bears our sins and seems then to be the focal point of salvation because it is there that the sinner finds grace for the forgiveness of his sins.
You might be interested to know that as central as the cross is in Christianity, it was not really the central focus of the early church, the early church saw much more in salvation than just the moment at which Christ atoned for sins. The moment in which he died on the cross. The early church saw salvation much broader terms than that the early church saw salvation as something that only began with the forgiveness of sins and led to a life transformed into obedience and consummated in the glory with Jesus Christ. It is interesting that even history sort of reflects this in his book civilization author Kenneth Clark shows that the cross as such was a very late symbol in Christian art and Christian culture. When we think about Christianity. We think immediately about the cross is the symbol of our faith. You might be interested to know that as far as that book civilization determined the first appearance of the cross in Christian art or culture occurred in A.D. 430 all the way into the fifth century on the doors of the church at Santa Sabina and that that cross was a very small little cross inset into some piece of Christian art. The early church did not focus on the cross. The early church focused on what great event. The resurrection, it focused its attention on the resurrection, and consequently its preoccupation was not with the point at which sin is forgiven, but the point at which new life begins in the resurrection is that point we of course died in Christ, spiritually and in that death, the penalty of sin was paid, but we also arose in Christ. As Paul to walk in newness of life to be saved, then to the early church and surely to us as well was not just to have your sin forgiven.
It was not just some transaction which dealt with your guilt, but rather to be saved was to be delivered from the power of darkness and to be translated into the kingdom of God's dear son.
In other words, it was to enter into an entirely new kind of life to enter into a new sphere of existence. Salvation is not just atonement, salvation is not just forgiveness, salvation is read generation is trans formation is the imparting of a new kind of life the life of God in the soul of man, because that is true, one who is saved. Not only has sin dealt with but has a new desire to live in that new sphere that desire arises from a new nature of holy seed.
The New Testament talks a lot about the fact that there is planted in the believer, the seed of new life and incorruptible seed and that seed is a very important concept because a seed is that which produces something in the very fact that Scripture identifies the Christian is one in whom is planted and incorruptible seed of life indicates that there will be a fruit bearing that will be up production out of that seed that seed of new life that is incorruptible will flourish and so when a person is saved is not just a matter of dealing with sin, it turns them from the old life in the old ways, to a new life and new ways that are the very consequential expression of that new life. To put it simply works, godly works, spiritual works, good works become the inevitable result of that transformation where you have saving faith.
You have works because salvation is not just forgiveness is transformation.
It is read generation Martin Luther describes saving faith is a powerful life altering force listen to the words of Martin Luther. Although this faith is a living, busy, active powerful thing, it is impossible that it should not be ceaselessly doing that which is good. It does not even ask whether good works should be done.
But before the question can be asked. It has done them and it is constantly engaged in doing them, but he who does not do such works as a man without faith he gropes and casts about him defined faith and good works, not knowing what either of them is and yet travels and idly multiplies words about faith and good works.
Further, he says faith is a living, well-founded confidence in the grace of God so perfectly certain that it would die a thousand times rather than surrender its conviction. Such confidence and personal knowledge of divine grace makes its possessor, joyful, bold, full of warm affection toward God and all created things, all of which the Holy Spirit works in faith. Hence, such a man becomes without constraint, willing and eager to do good to everyone, to serve everyone to suffer all manner of bills in order to please and glorify God who has shown toward him, such grace" many theologians have tried to make us believe that Luther didn't believe in such a faith, but he did, as witnessed by his own words is view of salvation was right that ours must be as well. We must see salvation as a transformation of life.
Listen to it. Now that makes meaningful and desirable. All the commandments of the word of God. That's why the great commission.
It says teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. There is inherent in that new life. The impulse to obey. So here we are forgiven. Yes, transformed yes with an impulse to obey and here we have that impulse to obey served by a series of commands in this text. These texts then come. Like many others in the New Testament to speak to the heart where obedience is the deepest desire. Peter then is instructing us on the principles of Christian living. We do not fight it. We desire it. We do not resist it. We long for it.
We do not debate it we obey it. That is the mark of transformation in verse seven we remember he gave us first of all, the incentive when he said the end of all things is at hand and was talking about the consummation or the return of Jesus Christ. He said keep in mind that Christ could come at any moment we live in constant expectancy of his return. The fact that the end of all things is near. Should keep us accountable for when he comes, we will stand before his judgment seat and our works will be evaluated whether gold, silver, precious stones or Woody and stubble and we will be rewarded eternally on the basis of our faithfulness. So we live in the light of the return of Christ, and we looked at that quite carefully, then from the incentive came immediately in verse seven, the instruction and here are the commands that I believe come to an eager transformed heart.
The commands in verses seven and following down to the middle of verse 11 basically fall into three categories.
Category number one holiness as to do with your relationship to God. Category number two. Love has to do with your relationship to others, and now we come to category number three service service in verse seven, Peter was talking about having sound judgment and a sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. In other words, having a holy life which enhances your communion with the living God, that is basic to Christian living. And then in verses eight and nine. He spoke about love, fervent love, the love that covers the sins of others. The love that is hospitable to strangers and never begrudge is it but now as we come to verses 10 and 11.
We don't talk about service. We are one to maintain a holy relationship with God to maintain a loving relationship with others free to live a life of service, simply that how, then, is that service to be rendered. Let's simplified as much as we possibly can.
Look at verse 10, 11, as each one is received a special gift employed in serving one another. Now that's where we start. Peter says your to be busy serving one another. You start with the right vertical relationship you follow up with the right horizontal relationship and that engages you into a life of effective service inward holiness leads to outward love, which produces spiritual service and spiritual service without inward holiness and spiritual service without outward love is hypocrisy.
Legalism sham. I was looking at these two verses that tell us about spiritual service. Verse 10 says we are to be serving. We are to be serving. But how is the question how it might serve the word serve is a very very mundane word. I might remind you very mundane word. It means literally to wait on people what it means to wait on is the word diaconate which is use of a table waiter worse than that a busboy very menial task where to give our lives to serve one another.
Now the question is how are we to do that and working to see it one element at a time. Verse 10 again as each one has received a special gift. Here is the tool for service.
We are to serve one another through the means of a special gift a special gift.
What we mean by a gift. What is this gift that he's talking about. Well will go to see that in just a few moments before we look at that. Let's go back in the text and take one piece at a time that deals with this special gift. First of all I want talk about the extent of these special gifts verse 10 as each one has received a special gift. There's the extent each Christian has a special gift. Everyone does you do I do every Christian does Peter says as each one has received and therein, does he describe for us the extent of special gifts or as we call them spiritual gifts everybody has one turn with me for the moment to first Corinthians chapter 12 and I want to reinforce this point by showing you explicitly what the Spirit of God says.
First Corinthians chapter 12 talks about the same subject. It's talking about spiritual gifts verse one says now concerning spiritual gifts verse four says there are varieties of gifts, but verse seven says to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. In other words, every believer has a spirit given spiritual gift verse 11 but one in the same spirit Holy Spirit works all these things. Listen now distributing to each one individually. Just as he wills. Notice verse 12 for even as the body. The body of Christ like a physical body is one and get as many members and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. The point is, as you have a body and every member has a certain function, so in the body of Christ. Every member has a certain function and the body says verse 14 is not one member, but many.
The idea there is so's the church numbers 11. The first Corinthians 12 says that the spirit is distributing distributing to each one that is universality, but he is distributing to each one individually that his individuality so you have universality and individuality what you mean by that. I simply mean this.
He gives gifts to every single Christian, but while we are universally gifted. We are individually gifted as well, which means that each of our gifts is unique to us. He distributes to each one. That's universality individually.
By the way, the word individuality is hideous from which we get idiot was an idiot mean that is a Greek word that means peculiar means nobody like him and it came to be used of people who are mentally incompetent because they are so there so peculiar there's nobody like them.
The point is this. I believe every Christian is a spiritual snowflake just like you are literally the only one of your kind even if you're a twin you're different than your twin your fingerprints are different, your teeth are different in other parts of your different. Every one of us is stamped with absolute uniqueness. We are all creative idiots. In that sense we are peculiar we are unique is no one like we are spiritual snowflakes and I believe that when the spirit of God gives to every believer gifts. He gives them individually to each believer absolutely peculiar to that believer's sale now wait a minute John, if I read in first Corinthians chapter 12.
I read that there are just a few gifts listed there. I mean a few specific ones. It talks about.
For example, the word of wisdom the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, various kinds of tongues, interpretation, and then if you look at Romans chapter 12, you have another list of gifts and you look there and there are just a few suggested there.
For example, in Romans 12, you have prophecy, service, exhortation giving, leading, showing mercy you say will know little about a dozen of them listed here how you and a divided dozen gifts up among millions of Christians in megamall different when we tell you how I believe you have a list of gifts in Romans 12, a list of gifts in first Corinthians 12. The fact that they are different shows how much latitude there is in their definition call list. Summon the Roman passage, he lists Mindy Corinthian passage and there's some duplication and some non-duplication and it's almost as if he's just suggesting broad categories. The best way to understand it would be that there like colors on a pallet and each gift would be a color and as God takes his brush and paints you. He dips into different color categories and paints you a unique color. You're not the same as someone else, even if you had 15 people or 20 or 5000 who all had a gift of teaching. You could have them all teach and they would all teach differently uniquely.
Why will because the category of gift is just that it's a category into which God dips, as it were, and then again maybe dipping into those other categories to make you unique and then was more than that. Ephesians 47 says the measure of Christ's gift uses that phrase. The measure of Christ's gift. He measures out that gifted different ways you might have a gift of teaching a gift of showing mercy. A gift of service. A gift of faith or whatever, but the measure with which you are given that gift might vary.
We have many people in this church with the gift of teaching, but it's different in each case so you have the measure of the gift. Not only that in Romans 12 three Paul says when God gives the gift. He also gives the measure of faith to operate that gift, so you have your gift measured out and then you have the right amount of faith to operate that gift measured out a measure of grace, a measure of faith is linked with the measured gift for effective use soul.
While all of us have gifts the Lord is making is very unique that passage in first Corinthians 12 emphasizes the same point from another vantage point. He says there are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit.
There are varieties of ministries in which those gifts are used, but the same are, and there are varieties of effects that result from those gifts being use so you have varieties of gifts, varieties of ministries in which the gifts operate varieties of effects because you have varieties of grace if you will, measured out varieties of faith measured out every one of us comes out as a spiritual snowflake. That's John MacArthur.
Besides being the Bible teacher here on grace to you. John also serves as Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary. He has titled our current series faith through the fire John.
In today's lesson you zeroed in on a fundamental truth of Christian living that when Christ saves us when the Holy Spirit gives us new birth. He doesn't simply modify our behavior.
He transforms our heart and I know you would say that a changed heart a renewed heart has new affections and new desires, including a desire to feed on biblical truth. So, talk a bit about that passion and how we as believers can transform that desire for biblical truth into knowledge and understanding just to undergird what you said, it is not possible to understand the doctrine of regeneration and then deny a transformation right when we believe battle that all through the years right there people who taught that you could be a Christian and have no change in your life that defies the whole reality of being born again. If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. All things passed away behold all things are new so transformation is a real regeneration and new birth. You go from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive spiritually ignorant to being spiritually knowledgeable, spiritually foolish to spiritually wise and so it is a total transformation and one of the elements of that new life is a longing for spiritual food and I think that's part and parcel of what it means to be a believer if I see someone who claims to be a Christian and has no interest in feeding on the word of God that I have every right to question the validity of their claim because if you're a believer you hunger and thirst after the revelation of God because you hunger and thirst after God and after his righteousness. So the best thing to think about when you ask yourself, how should I feed that desire is to make sure that every day of your life.
You spend time feeding your soul and one of the best ways you can do that is with our devotional book called drawing near. Millions of people have used this through the years. It's a devotional for every day of the year.
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If you benefited from John's current radio series. Perhaps let a friend know about it and encourage him or her to tune into grace to you on this station now for John MacArthur. I'm Phil Johnson reminding you to watch grace to you television this Sunday. Check your local listings for channeling times and then be here next week when John continues unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you