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Where God Lives (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
October 6, 2022 4:00 am

Where God Lives (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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October 6, 2022 4:00 am

Is being a Christian different from being religious, or are they essentially the same thing? Hear the answer, and discover how and why genuine faith completely changes the way we think and behave. Study along with us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick
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Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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Alistair Begg
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R.C. Sproul

What's the difference between being a Christian and being religious? We're going to find out today on Truth for Life as we discover how and why genuine faith completely changes the way we think and the way we behave. Alistair Begg is teaching from Ephesians chapter 2. We're looking at verses 19 through 22. Now let's come to this so then. So then what? So then what is the implication?

What is the result of this? Well, it's not the complete result, but it is the result that Paul, by the Holy Spirit, wants us to focus on just now. "'We are now,' he says, fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."

I know you've fed up with me mentioning it, but it never stopped me before and won't stop me now. But remember when Eric Little left Edinburgh to go to China, and eventually he was to die in China? And when his train pulled out of Waverly Station, the last thing that he did before he left was roll the window down and lead the vast crowd gathered in Waverly Station underneath the castle. Many of you have been there, and he led them in the singing of Jesus Shall Rain, Where'er the sun doth his successive journeys run, and his kingdom stretch from shore to shore, till moon shall wax and wane no more. Why did he do that? Because he's a citizen of the kingdom. You have been made a citizen of the kingdom.

That's what he's saying. And the mystery of it—go back all the way to chapter 1. Before the dawn of time, he loved you. He drew you to himself.

He made you what you've never been. Not in order that we might just enjoy ourselves and sit down and please ourselves, but in order that we might understand what a mystery it is that I have become a citizen of this great kingdom. And let that also help us in our citizenship in this kingdom. And that's what Paul is saying. At one time. But now.

So then. Citizens. Secondly and quickly, members included with the saints, all of God's people, made members of God's household. God as a house, as it were.

There's a metaphor here. It's a picture of… The same word in Greek for family and for household is virtually synonymous. So members of the household of God are members of the family of God. The church, you see, is not just an aggregate of diverse people. The church is individual people united to each other on account of their union with Christ. You know, attachment to a local church by means of profession of faith and whatever else is involved is simply to give an outward, understandable dimension to an internal, decisive reality—that you belong to me, and I belong to you in Christ whether you like it or not. You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. And you can't choose your church family. Oh, some people do.

That's why they come for a little while, and then they go to the church down the road, and then a church up the street, and then they listen by themselves, because they can't find the perfect church, so they just listen on the radio, and then, nah, come on, come on. You love your sister, don't you? I mean, she's a pain in the neck sometimes. I'm talking about your siblings now. Sometimes your brother's a little uppity. In fact, a lot of times he may be that and maybe many more things. But the Bible's realistic about this.

That's why the picture of family is so helpful. Paul doesn't address it here, but in Colossians he does. He says, you know, since you are God's chosen ones, you're holy and you're beloved. That's what you are. So he's saying, become what you are, not try and make yourself something you're not. You see, religion says, try and fix yourself.

Try and clean up your deal. Christianity says, look what Jesus has done in dealing with your sins, in making you his own. Therefore, become what you are. You're holy and you're beloved. In other words, you're set apart for God, and you're loved by God.

Okay, implications? Make sure you have compassionate hearts. Kindness, humility, meekness, patience.

Bear with one another. And if you have a complaint against another, forgive them. As the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. So the community of faith is to be a community, by God's grace, that is marked by these elements—compassion rather than insensitiveness, humility rather than pride, meekness rather than aggression, forgiveness rather than holding grudges.

Do you know how many…? The microcosmic dimension of it is expressed in our own families, where you've got siblings, physical siblings, that won't forgive each other. And people want to come to the family of God and duplicate the same mentality.

If he doesn't, if she doesn't, if she this, if he that, then I want this. Listen, how long did the Lord Jesus wait for you to finally clean up before he loved you? No, he loved you.

And the cleanup process began right there. Now, when you think in these terms, you realize what a wonder this is. Because grace actually humbles, and pride creates disintegration. And who we think we are individually shapes the flavor of our family relationships. Who I think I am as an individual shapes my family relationships. If I think I'm very special, then I will expect people to treat me as someone who is very special.

If I think that I should always be heard, then I will wait for everybody to silence up so that I can be heard. Whatever it might be. And what happens is, when we see ourselves as we really are, when we remember at one time and we realize the wonder of Christ's redeeming love, then we say, This is fantastic. And this household, this family—it's not a flimsy family—is built on the solid foundation of the apostles and the prophets. The apostles and the prophets, remember the beginning of it all.

Jesus says, Receive the Holy Spirit, wait in Pentecost. And out they come onto the streets of Jerusalem, and the building goes. Jesus is the cornerstone, he's the capstone, everything else fits into it from there. And there is a sense in which, since the apostles and the prophets spoke the Word of God as it was revealed to them and recorded by them, the very foundation of the family is in the Bible itself. Now, you see, this was anticipated in the Old Testament. Isaiah writes as follows, Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation stone in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone and a sure foundation.

And in the New Testament, that picture is picked up, for example, in 1 Peter chapter 2. You are all living stones, he says. And to that we must come in conclusion. First of all, we're citizens of the kingdom.

Then we are simultaneously members of his family. And thirdly and finally, we are stones in God's temple. Stones in God's temple. He is building something.

We used to sing it in Scotland as children. He is building day by day, as the moments pass away, a temple that this world cannot see. And every victory won by grace will be sure to find a place in that building for eternity. Christ Jesus, the cornerstone in whom this whole structure, being joined together in Christ, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Notice again, in Christ in the Lord. Notice again, verse 22, in him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Where on earth does God live? There's a grandchildren question, grandchild question. Where on earth does God live?

Let's say they ask you that this afternoon. I was thinking, grandpa, I was just wondering. I know where you live and we live, but where does God live? What are you gonna tell him? Well, I hope you're gonna tell him that he lives in a temple in Jerusalem, but we're just waiting for it to be rebuilt. I hope you're not gonna tell him that he still lives in a tabernacle somewhere in the wilderness, but we've lost the tabernacle, and we're not sure. No, he doesn't live in a tabernacle in the wilderness. He doesn't live in a temple in Jerusalem, but he lives… The dwelling place of God is in the church. Is in the church. The people of God are the dwelling place of God. And that to which the tabernacle in the Old Testament and the temple in the Old Testament pointed is the church itself. Go back for homework and read Exodus chapter 25 and the instruction that God gives through Moses to his people. This is how you're to construct the ark. Here is where the mercy seat will be.

And I will meet with my people there. And when they moved through the wilderness, when the cloud that hovered over it moved, the people moved. When the cloud remained stationary, they remained stationary. Because they recognized that this was symbolic of the presence of God himself. So when the psalmist wrote, How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts, he was thinking in physical terms. He was thinking in terms of the temple.

Of course he was. It is here in this great structure that the sparrow can find itself in safety, and the swallow can build a nest beside the altar, and the people can come and they can sing and they can rejoice, and they will be in this place. But when we sing Psalm 84 and we sing, How lovely is your dwelling place, we're not singing about a temple in Jerusalem.

We're singing about the fact that God is creating a multinational temple constructed of living stones. That the plan and purpose of God is to so indwell his people in all of their gatherings, in all of their different places—which is why, incidentally, you can travel the world internationally, you can go in church buildings and read, you know, like, in 1829, the so-and-so and so on, and the building itself is historical and so on—there may be nothing in there of any particular impact to you at all. And then you can meet someone in a coffee shop, and you begin the conversation with one another, and you realize, I never met you before in my life, but we have the same Father, we have the same elder brother, we love the same Savior, we sing the same songs, we're different by virtue of our background, by our intellect, by our race, by our class, by our culture, but we are now part of a multinational temple that is being created, and one day the world will see it. Jesus says, They don't recognize you because they didn't recognize me. And that is why, loved ones, we have to have the Bible adjudicate on our identity, on the nature of our community. When we come together tonight outside, and we share with the young people who have graduated from high school, and we listen to this young couple from Singapore, and we hear from somebody else who was converted in Brazil—when we do all of these things, it's simply an expression, again, of the community of faith. It's what God has done. What a wonder!

What a privilege! Because think about it. The stones—you're one, and I'm one—we don't fit together real easily, do we? I mean, there's certain stones that you like in the church.

I like to sit next to stone 49, and 42 likes always to sit in the same seat next to 27 and whatever it might be. But there's some I don't want to get anywhere close to them at all, because if we're going to fit together, there's going to be some hammering and chiseling going on in here to get these two together. And of course, there is, both individually and communally. That's why in mere Christianity, you know, DS Lewis says, you know, if you think about your life as a house, and you become a Christian, and you think everything's going fairly well, and all of a sudden a bunch of workmen show up and start smacking your house around, bashing it and crashing it and changing it and fixing it. And he says, that is exactly what you should expect, because you thought that God would be content for you just to be a little cottage, but he wants to make you a mansion for himself.

And what he does individually, he does corporately. You see, loved ones, the privilege is immense, and the need for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to this is huge. It should be here at Parkside that the sparrow can find a place. Paul Simon has a song that begins, Who will love a little sparrow that travels far?

I can't remember anything beyond that. But think about the sparrows in the greater Cleveland area—small and vulnerable and needy people. Do you think a little sparrow will be okay here? Do you think somebody who's been married four times is living with somebody and knows that her life is a moral disaster would be okay to come clean about it here at Parkside Church? Do you think that the person who has become a religious snob who's so stuck on himself at how well he knows everything would be able to be absorbed into the community and have some of those arrogant, rough edges knocked off his big, fat head so as to make him a happy, productive member of the community? You see, our culture right now—and with this out close—our culture right now is manifestly chaos.

There's virtually no level you can touch that you're not saying, Ah! So it's a phenomenal opportunity for the church. It's a phenomenal opportunity for the church.

What's bad, if you like, for the culture in terms of its disintegration, is an opportunity. There are people saying, I don't know where I'm from. Well, in the church, we can tell you. You're not a bunch of plankton. You're not molecules held in suspension. You were created by the living God, and he pursues you in Jesus.

I didn't know that. I don't know that there's any hope in life. Well, we could tell you about this. Jesus brings us to a living hope by the resurrection.

The what? You see, loved ones, to the extent that we think about going to church, we've missed it. What we have to realize is we are the church.

The elders wouldn't go for this, but years ago I wanted the sign outside to say, Park Side Church meets here, as opposed to Park Side Church. Because this isn't the church. Where on earth does God live? In his people. Well, people say, but in the sanctuary. What sanctuary?

There is no sanctuary. Do you think Jesus is more in this room than in the messy choir room back here? Or the lady's John? No.

No. See, we think all wrongly. So you are me, and I am you, and we're stuck—gloriously, wonderfully stuck. And the way in which we view ourselves controls the vibe. If we see ourselves in terms of our achievements or our acquisitions or our merits or our privileges, then only those who can match our achievements, share our privileges, and so on, will feel comfortable amongst us.

But if we're prepared humbly to acknowledge, At one time I was, but now I am. Do you see the character of a local church, the character of Park Side Church? And our character is growing, I hope. In each of our lives, we're hoping that as time passes, we're making progress. But the character of a local church is molded by the self-perception of the individual members. The character of Park Side is essentially the aggregate of the perception of those who are truly members of Park Side. I was driving not so long ago, and I came on the back of a Volvo, and I hope it's not your Volvo.

But it certainly is in the birthplace of aviation. And I said, Well, I gotta take a photograph of that. I am special. How do teachers, how do you teach with thirty of those in your class? I am special. How do you run a sales force of fifteen people, every one of them coming in going, Hey, I am special? We say, But in Jesus we are special.

Yes, but you just use the correct phrase. In Jesus. Outside of Jesus. We've gotta pray that God will make us wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

That we will be seen to stand firmly on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. Because we differ on multiple levels. We differ on innumerable levels. But that is not the issue. The issue doesn't lie in trying to make everybody the same as us. The issue lies in recognizing that the God who has redeemed us has been putting us together purposefully so that this multinational temple that involves every nation and tribe and people and language will be brought to fruition, and that God would give us any part in that, is a quite wonderful mystery. The Bible makes it clear that everyone who trusts in Jesus as Lord and Savior becomes a citizen of God's kingdom, a member of God's family, and a stone in his temple. We're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life.

Alistair returns in just a minute. Now today is the last day in our study of the book of Ephesians. If you have enjoyed studying chapter 2 and would like to study the entire book of Ephesians with Alistair, you can always listen to the series for free on the mobile app or online at

If you'd prefer, you can purchase the full series on a single USB for just $5, and shipping is free in the US. The series is simply titled A Study in Ephesians. You'll find it in our online store at Now there is a person in your church who typically accomplishes much more than you realize. This person isn't always recognized for her contribution. It's your pastor's wife, the woman who supports your pastor behind the scenes, encourages him throughout the week as he prepares to serve the congregation, and today we want to recommend to you a book that was written just for her.

In fact, you may want to get it and give it to her as a gift this month. The book is titled Partners in the Gospel. It's a book of 50 meditations that address the joys and challenges of ministry life. The reflections offer encouragement taken directly from scripture.

Each meditation is followed by a couple of questions to reflect on, a prayer suggestion, and an action point for the day. Bless your pastor or elder's wife by offering her this book as a gift. You can request your copy of the book Partners in the Gospel when you give a donation at slash donate. Now here's Alistair with a prayer. We look away from ourselves to you, our Lord and King, thanking you that your Word is both understandable and clear, any fogginess is on our part. Lord, I pray you'll look upon us in your mercy and in your grace as a church family, that you will help us, Lord, to tolerate no man-made barriers of culture or class or of race. We'd rather be here. We'd rather be amongst your people, quite honestly, deep down inside. We would rather actually be amongst your people. Because amongst your people, we're in the place that you desire for us to be. And heaven and earth will pass away, but your Word will never pass away. Lord, draw to yourself those who as yet have never trusted you, strengthen those of us who have, and make us all that you desire for us to be. To the glory of your name we ask it. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine.

Thanks for listening. What do you know about John the Baptist? He was a peculiar man. He dressed strangely, ate weird food, and with all due respect had a rather unusual personality. So why did so many clamor to hear him preach out in the wilderness? Join us tomorrow to find out. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-25 19:16:10 / 2022-12-25 19:24:30 / 8

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