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The Encouragement of Our True Identity

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
July 22, 2022 12:00 am

The Encouragement of Our True Identity

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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July 22, 2022 12:00 am

Dr. Stanley examines Peter’s conviction that each Christian's identity is like a stone built on the foundation of Christ.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Friday, July twenty-second. Do you need a little encouragement these days? The study of First Peter continues as it leads believers to find encouragement in knowing our true identity in Christ. If you'll turn to First Peter chapter two, and tonight we come to the fourth verse and read through the tenth verses of this second chapter of First Peter. And while you're turning to that, you know, one of Satan's choice's tools in the life of a believer is discouragement.

It doesn't make any difference what you know, how many experiences you've had with God, how much Scripture you can quote, how many people you've won to Jesus, how well you've done in serving Him. If He can get you under the cloud of discouragement, He doesn't care what you do. Because, you see, there are not many folks drawn to a discouraged Christian, and a discouraged Christian doesn't do much in excitement, with joy, with anticipation.

There's not anything very magnetic about a discouraged person's personality. And oftentimes when you and I are sort of forecasting oncoming danger, oncoming persecution, or oncoming troubled times, sometimes we allow what we ourselves forecast even before it ever comes. And sometimes it never even comes. In our future predictions of things that are going to be troublesome, we begin to worry. We accept things before they ever happen, and sometimes they don't happen. And we get discouraged. Now, when Peter was writing this epistle, he was writing to people who already saw on the horizon black clouds of persecution.

In fact, they were already beginning to experience a little bit, but the darkest days were ahead of them. And so all through this epistle, Peter is writing to them to encourage their hearts and reminding them of who they are. And in this section, he is encouraging them, listen, he is encouraging them by reminding them of who they are in their relationship to Jesus Christ. Listen to what he says, beginning in verse four. And coming to him, that is to Christ, as to a living stone rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also are living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture.

Now, he mentions a couple of Old Testament passages here. For this is contained in Scripture. Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone, and he who believes in him shall not be disappointed. This precious value, then, is for you who believe.

But for those who disbelieve, the stone which the builders rejected, this same, the very cornerstone, and a stone of stumbling and a stone or rock of offense. For they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession. That you may proclaim the excellences of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God.

You had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Now, he says, listen, you need to remember that as Jesus Christ was and is the chief cornerstone, he says, you are a living stone. Coming to Him is to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God. Listen, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God. You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.

Now, here's what I want us to look at here. When he says that you and I are living stones, that is, like another stone, the cornerstone, he says something very significant that I believe Christians in our country today need to be reminded of. He says we are living stones, and notice how he says this, living stones being built up as a spiritual house. That is, each believer is like a stone. And he says the foundation stone is the person of Jesus Christ, that is, the cornerstone. Now, there are stones 69 feet long, 13 feet wide, and 12 feet high. This would be a cornerstone, for example, of a building or a wall. That is, that part's not going to ever move. It's not going anywhere.

69 feet long, 13 feet wide or high, and 12 feet wide. That's the rock. That's the cornerstone. That's the chief stone. Everything rests upon that. He said Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone.

But you and I are stones. That is, every single one of us is a part of the body of Christ. Now, it's interesting to me today that people have the idea that they can be lone rangers as Christians. No, I don't want to be delegated or relegated to some group over here that has some name.

I just freed with it. I'm a Christian. I've been born again.

I want to tell you something, friend. There's not a single verse in this Bible anywhere that promotes that kind of Christianity, not a single one. You think Paul would have said, listen, you don't have to join a church. Don't worry about meeting with God's people. Man, just free will at you, the lone ranger. You just solo all the way to heaven.

There's not one verse in the Bible that indicates that, not a one. Now, listen, what good is abrick? Abrick is a very useless piece of matter, but abrick laid on top of another brick, beside a brick, under a brick, and mortar filling the joints. You know how this church building was built? A single brick was laid by a single brick, on top of a single brick, beneath a single brick, and brick laid upon brick, upon brick, upon brick, upon brick, and we have a household where the First Baptist Church meets.

But what's abrick all alone? I want to tell you, my friend, these folks who have the idea that it doesn't make any difference whether you join a church or not or become a part of it, whether you're active or not, that they can't find that in the Bible anywhere. He says, forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. Why does he spend the whole chapter there in 1 Corinthians when he talks about the eye needing the nose and the ear needing the hand and the foot needing? You see, because all of us are interdependent. God has made us interdependent with each other.

That's the way he's built his body. And so he says that you and I have become living stones and God is taking this stone, this stone, this stone, this stone, and he's building what? He's building a house for a royal priesthood. So he says, first of all, that you and I are living stones.

We're not to operate singly, solo, lone ranger. We are to operate one stone upon the other, one stone beside the other, one stone under the other. We are to live and to worship and to cooperate and to serve the living God together.

That's how God builds his body. Now he says not only we're living stone, but he says God is building himself a house for a royal priesthood, or rather a holy priesthood, and down in verse 9 he says a royal priesthood. A holy priesthood is, that is, a group that has been separated for the purpose of interceding before God for the purpose of offering offerings to God. And it's interesting about the word priest here. In the Latin it's pontifex and it means a bridge builder. You know what he's saying?

Now this is why you can't have solos. He says, first of all, he says we are, each one of us is a living stone that God is fitting together. He says we are a holy priesthood, that is, we have been made holy by the presence of Christ within us, and we're all priests of God. That is, our responsibility is to intercede. Our responsibility is to go before God in behalf of others. We are to offer offerings, holy offerings of sacrifice unto him. We are bridge builders.

Now what does that mean? You and I become the bridge builders between a holy God and an unrighteous person. You say, well, you know, I just don't believe God wants me to share my faith.

Let me ask you a question. How in the world are you going to be a priest of God and not share your faith? Because the very word means bridge builder. Building bridges from people who do not know Christ to knowing him.

Introducing them to him. So that's part of who we are. And you see, when you and I began to understand who we are, we began to be encouraged in those troublesome times. Listen, he says you and I are like those bricks.

It just takes all of us to build this place. He says we are a holy priesthood. God set you apart.

You didn't set yourself apart. God set you apart and delegated you the responsibility of being a bridge builder to those people around you who need to know Christ. He says that is our responsibility. Listen, he says it is our responsibility to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. What is the spiritual sacrifice?

Well, in the Old Testament, of course, it was lambs and doves and goat and sheep and all the rest. But for us in the New Testament, what is the spiritual sacrifice? It can be a spiritual sacrifice of praise and adoration, lifting our hands and praising the Lord God. It can be money.

It can be time. But most of all, it is our life. I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your body a living what? Sacrifice. That is, you present it to God and you take your hands off of it. That is, you say to him, God, I present to you my body, soul and spirit, undivided possession, undivided control, undivided use of my body, soul and spirit to the Lord Jesus Christ to whom it rightfully belongs. That is a living, acceptable sacrifice.

Now, back to chapter two. He says not only that, holy nation, a people for God's own possession. That is, it speaks of his ownership of us. So you see, none of us can free wheel it, really. We don't have a right to just go out and just do our own thing. You say, well, isn't the Christian liberated? Liberated to be obedient to God. Well, listen, we are the children of the living God.

Stones of the great temple, the great living temple that God is building here on this earth. But we're divided, segmented, fragmented, splintered. One believes this, one believes the other. God's heart must be awfully grieved that we've got so many tags. And you know, when he looks down, he doesn't say Baptist Charles and Methodist John and Piscopo and Frank. He just says, that's one of my chosen ones.

That's all God sees. Listen, he accepted us just the way we were. Before we were anything, he accepted us just the way we were. He says we were a chosen race, holy nation, royal priesthood, God's own possession. Listen, he says, now listen, we become living stones in this great temple that God is building. And he says, as a part of this holy priesthood, we're to offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to him.

And we, he says, are to be bridge builders. And then he says, listen, that you may proclaim the excellences of him that is Christ who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. For once you were not a people, but you are now.

You had not received mercy, but you have now. So listen to what he's saying in his last two verses here. First of all, he says, you and I were in ignorance. We were in darkness. But Jesus Christ snatched us out of that and brought us into truth. He says you were in darkness, now you're in light. But look at this next phrase, which is very significant. For once you were not a people, but now you're a people.

You know what that means? Once he says you were no people. The nation of Israel, who were they until God began to work?

They weren't until God chose one man and determined to bring forth the Messiah through that simple family. Let me ask you this, who were you before you were saved? What were you before you were saved? Wouldn't you have to agree that you were full of ignorance, full of darkness? Wouldn't you have to agree that for all practical purposes you were nobody? Until Jesus came into your life and made you somebody special. When you and I began to understand his view of us, listen. He says there was a time when you were not a people, but now you are.

Insignificant, but now very significant. When you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. You know what happens? You know what causes us to get discouraged? It isn't that we face insurmountable obstacles. What causes us to get discouraged is that we begin to see ourselves in our insignificance versus the big obstacle we face and then we become discouraged. Listen, you will not be discouraged no matter what you face.

That is, there may be moments of it. But when I stop in my own life, for example, when I stop and think, okay, God, at the moment this looks impossible, at the moment this looks insurmountable, at the moment it looks hopeless, at the moment it looks dark, but God, and I have to do this once in a while. Lord, would you just remind me of who I am from your perspective? And I want to tell you, buddy, you get up smiling every time.

You know why? Because when you see yourself the way God sees you, listen, as a vital part of this great temple He's building, you can't stay discouraged very long. And Peter was saying, hey, look, look, look who you are. Even with those foreboding clouds of darkness coming, look who you are. You are a vital part of God's great temple He's building.

Chosen, royal priesthood, living stone, living stone coming from the chief cornerstone, precious and chosen as He is. That's who we are. The next time you get discouraged, I guarantee if you'll stop and say, okay, God, would you just remind me of who I am from your viewpoint? It'll be very difficult to continue to worry, continue to be discouraged, and something will happen in your spirit.

You know why? Because you begin to see things as God sees them. And when you see them as He sees them, you know what happens to dark clouds? The silver lining just after a while totally envelops the darkness and everything is bright in your life.

But here's how the devil snares us. He gets us to moving very fast, thinking about the problem, thinking about the burden, thinking about the trouble, thinking about the mountain, thinking about how impossible it is, and we don't stop to ask, Lord, just show me who I am from Your point of view. If you're tempted to be discouraged this coming week, if you will just stop and review in your mind, who am I? A child of God, I'm saved, I'm born again, I'm the light of the world, I'm an ambassador for Christ. I've been redeemed, I've been forgiven, I'm accepted and the beloved. I am loved. I am walking in the grace of God. I've been justified. I've been declared righteous.

My name's written in the Lamb's Book of Life. I'm indwelt with the Holy Spirit. He's my God. He's my teacher.

He's my enabler. I have the power of the Holy Spirit living within me. The Spirit of God has equipped me to face everything I need to face.

He says He's put His words in my mouth and covered me in the shadow of His hand. You could just go on and on and on and on. And you know what, you can't review who you are in Christ and stay discouraged if you really believe the teachings of God's Word.

Peter's goal was to encourage those facing difficulty. And that's my goal for you tonight, that no matter what you face, if you take, you say, well, how am I going to remember all that? I can tell you how. You want to know how? Say, amen.

Amen. Get you a four-by-six card and write all those things on the card. You don't even have to remember them. Just write them down. Every once in a while I've got a whole stack of five-by-eight cards. Every once in a while I pull them out and read them for myself.

Just read them. You know what happens? Something inside of you at least lifts a little bit. God wants us to walk in the joy of who He knows we are. Father, thank You for showing us how to avoid discouragement.

And Lord, sometimes the devil just heaps it on. And for those brief moments, we buckle. But then when we begin to realize who we are in You, You just blow the clouds away, the sun begins to shine, our heart lifts, our joy begins to overflow, and the songs of Zion begin to come flowing through our minds.

Oh, love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee. Thank You, Father. And I pray that You'll just etch this truth in our minds. And for every single one of Your children who faces discouragement in this coming week, would You bring this message to their mind? And then would You get them in the Word to find out for themselves who they really are in You is my prayer in Jesus' name. Amen. Thank you for listening to The Encouragement of Our True Identity. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-20 23:35:14 / 2023-03-20 23:43:08 / 8

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