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September 8, 2021 4:00 am
Some people enjoy setting out of the crowd, but many must feel awkward drawing attention to ourselves. We would rather blame them. Christians, however, are actually expected to stand out to be distinct from the world today on Truth for Life.
Alastair Begg explains why and how we are to be this is part two of a message titled all in the opening verses of Romans chapter were thinking about what it means to be all in all in for God in the call that goes out here to the beginning of Romans 12, I might be summarized just as that in itself and he is urging his readers to make sure that their lives are offered to God as a living sacrifice, which he says is spiritual worship. What Paul does is pick up on the Old Testament picture of sacrifice, and as you know from your studies in the Bible there are many pictures of sacrifice in the Old Testament, but to in particular stand out.
The sacrifice that was propitiated three for the appeasement of the wrath of God by the setting aside of a sacrifice and the shedding of blood and then subsequent to that sacrifice that was dedicated to me in thanksgiving to God for the acceptance of the sacrifice of propitiation and the sacrifice. Unlike a sacrifice that died is to be a living sacrifice. It is not to be moment three bursts of enthusiasm followed by long periods of chronic inertia, but rather it is to be a lasting sacrifice and he says this sacrifice makes sense. It is rational, it is logical and the word that is used here in Greek is just that. So then what does it mean to be those who are offering their lives in terms of spiritual worship. Let me quote to you from the late Prof. John Murray. He says this.
We are not spiritual in the biblical sense except as the use of our bodies is characterized by conscious, intelligent, consecrated devotion to the service of God. So the idea of I'm a spiritual person, but it doesn't really affect my body or it doesn't affect what I do with my hands or my feet, but you can't get there from an Orthodox understanding of the New Testament.
Gnosticism in their early heresies sought to contrive that notion, and offered to people and it remains very attractive even today. Somehow or another to separate what I am, in terms of the attitudes of my mind and the actions of my limbs from that spiritual part of me know an actual fight, says Paul, it is by our bodies that we relate to one another and it is in the use of our bodies that we express this truth that we quoted from JB Phillips paraphrase and let me give to you the second verse at least part of it from Phillips. He goes on to say, don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold but submit to God as he re-mold your mind from within, so that you may prove in practice, the plan of God for you is good. So first of all, don't and then do don't allow yourself simply to be squeezed in by the contemporary thinking of your time and what Paul is doing is once again reinforcing truth that he has already talked and quoting from Romans chapter 8 and this is what he says. For those who live according to the flash. They are the non-Christian set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit for to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace for the mind that is set on the flash is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law. Indeed, it cannot those who are in the flash cannot please God. Then he says clearing up for all time. The idea that is prevalent as you move around church circles while I was just in the flash and moving over into the spirit as if it's a kind of 110 to 20 AC/DC existence. He says that's not what I'm talking about a told you, however, are not in the flash but in the spirit if in Fike, the Spirit of God dwells in you.
And if anyone does not have the spirit of God dwelling in him, then he or she does not belong to God. So the distinguish of these making is the radical distinction that he now says is to mark the child of God.
So in other words, Christianity is a mind altering reality, it changes the way a man or woman thinks that's why your member again from CS Lewis. He says on one occasion, I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising of the sun, not simply because I can see it, but because by it. I can see everything else so that our understanding of the grace and mercy of God in verse one, reveals itself then in this expression.
In verse two, and what Paul says Peter also says this is first Peter 113 he says to the scattered Christians of his day.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober minded set your hope fully on the grace that would be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And here we go. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all that you do now. You see, this is of course the radical distinction that runs through the very heart of Paul's theology and in chapter 1 of Romans. He is rate laid out this great exchange that is taken place as we in our unrighteousness have turned our backs on God and this is what he says. Chapter 1 speaking of God, his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made, so they are without excuse for although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him and here we go. Listen to this phraseology, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened futility in thinking in the darkening of the human heart. Having quoted one Scottish theologian let me go to another one to Mrs. MacLeod now human thought processes, human presuppositions and assumptions and human logic are hostile to God. The distortion of sin, the anti-God bias has come in at the level of understanding and intellect by nature.
We think crookedly we think and on on godly way, if you think about this in relationship to some of the folks that you enjoy reading, although it may be painful for you to read. I read Christopher Hitchens all the time.
I have been fascinated by his robust atheism. But ultimately the Bible adjudicates on Hitchens and on all the others and explains that sin has left no part of the human faculty untouched and therefore at the level of the intellect at the level of human understanding.
Man thinks wrongly about God and thinks wrongly about himself unto God shines into the darkness of that futile, thinking the light of the glory of his gospel third Scottish theologian known.
There is no road from man's intellectual and moral perception to a genuine knowledge of God. There's a sentence for all you apologists. There is no road from man's intellectual and moral perception.
To our knowledge of God. The only way to knowledge of God is for God to freely place himself within the realm of our perception and to renew our fallen understanding. Hence, if we are to know God and of any adequate basis for our Christian understanding and experience. Revelation is in dispensable and it is that which lies at the very heart of Paul's theological treatise all the way through the book of Romans and so he says I don't want you to go back to the kind of thinking that characterize you when your minds were hostile to God. Don't allow all of that hostility.
He says to squeeze you don't capitulate to that. Don't play food. See with that. Don't try to make yourself look smart by just simply kowtowing to all of that hostile thinking.
Be prepared be robust, be willing to be all in be willing to be thought foolish for the things of God are actually foolishness to those who are perishing in the message of the cross is regarded as absolutely ridiculous. Therefore he says do not allow the world around you just to captivate and squeeze you in that way, but instead be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that the process of God at work within the child of God is always to conform us to the image of his son. He has predestined us Romans eight to be conformed to the image of his son. That is his eternal purpose. He he is in the process of transforming our second Corinthians 3 into the image of his son.
That is if you like his existential purpose and one day he will make is just like his son.
That is if you like his eschatological purpose and in that process. To that end, our minds are absolutely critical.
Critical. That's why it is a privilege for you folks to be in, in an institution like this. That is why it is an immense privilege for you to be the recipients of this kind of framework in which to think these things out and that's why it's a privilege for me to come and address you to say to you, did you not focus on that line is we saying that second song pondered a new will ponder he says, ponder, be transformed as a result of pondering of thinking the work of the spirit of God through the truth of the word of God to bring us to a knowledge of these things so that when we think we think about the volumes of the kingdom.
We realize that Jesus when he comes proclaiming the kingdom of God turns human values upside down. He says I know you think you're smart but if you want to enter the kingdom of God. You must become as a little child as some of you want to push yourself to the front. If you want to be first, he says then be the servant of all. If you want to save your life lose it. If you lose your life for my sake, you will find it would be better. He says to go into heaven.
Missing one of your hands or one of your eyes and to going to hell with both because you did not abide by the values of the kingdom I see will okay that's fine but we have to go back out into the realm of our immediate environment here and beyond that. Okay so let me give you a few things to think about for your homework. If this was a class then we could talk about it later on we get every Q&A, but it isn't. So I don't have to worry about it and neither do you. And there will be, and there will be no test in the end, at least not for me so if I'm going to be transformed in the renewing of my mind that I have to have a Christian perspective on the issues of blood say ecology regarding a Christian way to figure this out in relationship to the doctrine of creation. I'm going to have to have a perspective and on the whole notion of philanthropy because of you think about 21st century America is largely categorized by the preoccupation with the ecology that is represented by Al Gore in the philanthropy that is represented by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the Christian has to think about what this means. What is it mean to use money.
What is it mean to deal with this world in which Carter set us what is it mean that our world is disintegrating.
And yet there's going to be a new heaven and a new earth, we have to think these things out. What are we going to do as we think about social and economic theory transformed by the renewing of my mind. The Christian is something to say about the issues of greed about issues of injustice about the issues of hypocrisy about the issues of lostness receipt. One of the benefits of living little longer than you've lived is that you realize that everything is actually fairly cyclical. Not everything because from eternity to eternity is actually linear, but in all things go around and around on as I was looking at all these people who these people really concerned about you know about the issue on their iPhones and their laptops and and you know I was just struck me as well. World wonderful world in which we live and here we aren't.
And all these dear people are upset and under lost and because they feel like they're just another brick in the wall there just another cog in the machinery. Whatever might be and I said to myself, but you know there's nothing really changed. I was around in the 60s we were doing the same thing in the 60s. We were into the whole alienation thing. I wonder how many of you going to see Paul Simon are here in Santa Barbara. Not a living soul is not amazing that that that that that the most significant lyricist arguably on the second half of the 20th century is singing in your town and not even knowing you're not even going, but that's all right.
You're not just a smarter group as I thought you where. But when you rediscover Paul Simon. You will discover that he was right in the same songs in the 60s. Kathy I lost. I said though I knew she was sleeping. I'm empty and aching and I don't know why counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike. They've all gone to look for America to try to make sense of the whole thing. What you say to these people.
What you say to my generation, the baby boomers when you meet us miserable all customers. Many of us one of the mark by will. This is what the New York Times said there marked by a rise of 1 January this year. Boomers hit another milestone of self absorption and what are we doing living longer, working longer nursing some disappointment at how my life is turned out, the self-aware or self-absorbed feel less self fulfilled, and thus are wracked with self-pity. Have a good day, but this is the world to which we go and is not difficult to see the accuracy of that assessment. Although it's an overstatement. There is no question but the elements of it are there. Is there a way then for somebody who's all in for God. A young person who's committed to these things to tackle these challenges. January 1 in the NYT and in the WSJ Wall Street Journal. They carried a review of the book by Dreyfus and Kelly that those of you who are in that little house of their the philosophy department ought to know, but I'm not going to embarrass you by asking you many of you have read all things shining by Dreyfus and Kelly because I've already embarrass you, asking about Paul Simon and and so far your score is not very good, but in that book, which I which I purchased as a result of the Wall Street's review of it in the and the New York Times.
I Dreyfus and Kelly have written a book in which they are pointing out that there is a complete collapse of meaning in the 21st century and therefore individuals going after create their own meaning because we can construct meaning for ourselves from the ground up. They then say there is in our world a pervasive sadness that modern life is marked by feelings of indecision and by anxiety. They then go on to say is philosophy professors at Harvard and Stanford that nobody actually believes anymore in the notion of eternal truth. Therefore, it is incumbent upon everyone to create their own understanding of the truth, and the subtitle of their book is reading the Western Classics to find meaning in life. Now there is great benefit in reading the Western Classics is. This is a striking notion they wake up in the morning feeling really depressed, so your roommate says why don't we just read a chapter out of Moby Dick and are and that you know that the whole of life will open up before us. You know what a remarkable idea whether be no downside to it. Perhaps. But what they're actually arguing for is to find moments of transcendent bullishness, transcendent bullishness, I leave you to read the book yourself but they said when you find the shining moments. Don't expect them to cohere into any kind of picture that makes sense. They are all simply atomized encounters in the best you can do is to catch as many of them as you can as you're going through alternate standard that is in any sense a representation of the world into which are about to go as graduate, don't you think that is going to make a difference for you to be all in for God.
And when people say to you I why are you not Dwight, why do you think differently you going to tell them because of the grace of God because of the mercy of God because of the love of God because of the character of God and because the Bible is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path because I believe in its sufficiency, because I believe in the one to whom it introduces me, namely the Lord Jesus Christ and that it is in him that life unfolds for me to see were not going out to offer to our friends and neighbors of philosophy to adopt or a series of external regulations to adhere to, but rather to say to our friends and neighbors. The God who made the world and everything in it doesn't live in temples built by hands and right through the whole dialogue that ensues in acts chapter 17 then says Paul, if we are prepared to think in this way, then we will discover that God's will is best and we will commit ourselves to doing God's will.
I began yesterday by saying to you that I didn't come here to tell you something that you don't know, but to remind you of what you must never forget.
Can I ask you, are you all in.
Are you all in, remember, is it Brutus the cashiers or cashiers to produce. He says that there is there is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood, leads on to greatness and I discover that there are moments in my life that there are times that are there are occasions and these couple of days may just have been in the providence of God. One of those moments. One of those times for you. If it has been, and I invite you now to buy with me and will pray I will ask God to write these two verses in our minds and on our hearts so that we might be all in for him. I was warning us not to conform to the ways of this world to be transformed by the renewing of our mind listening to Alister's message. All EM Truth for Life. Alister will be right back in just a minute to close with prayer. If you been enjoying the lessons for life series. I want to remind you, you can own all 38 sermons Alister taught to college students. There are messages on topics like friendship, humility, temptation, purity, and more. It comes on a USB drive titled lessons for life, but you can purchase it for just five dollars in our online store. Look for it on the mobile app and the Truth for Life.org/store and don't forget about the book we've selected to supplement the lessons for life series. It's titled surviving religion 101. This is a book that was written for college students who quickly find their faith put to the test on the college campus. If you're in college surviving religion 101 will give you confidence to answer some of the tough questions you will be facing from unbelievers. The book is yours. When you donate to Truth for Life today. Simply click the image you see on the app or visit us online at truthforlife.org/donate now, here's Alister with the closing prayer will God our father, we thank you that you speak to us by the Holy Spirit through your word, the Bible and so we pray that we might receive the Scriptures from yourself. Beyond the voice of a mere man we might hear the insistent gentle stirring call to present our bodies as a living sacrifice wholly acceptable to you spiritual act of worship not to be conformed by the thinking of our day. But to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we might discover that your will is really the best that we might commit to doing hear our prayers that are dries, Jesus safely asking about the pain. If you like the world is just spinning aimlessly that your crap in the grip of blind forces like chance or fate or nature feel helpless. You're hurting. Unsure how to move forward. God's word has the perfect response to those feelings join us tomorrow to find out how to press on in the midst of chaos. The Bible teaching of Alister bag is furnished by crew for life learning