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In Christ Alone (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 8, 2024 3:00 am

In Christ Alone (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 8, 2024 3:00 am

Becoming a Christian isn’t just a slight adjustment to your Sunday morning schedule; it’s a radical transformation of everything you think and do. Explore what this dramatic change looks like when you study along with Alistair Begg on Truth For Life.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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Becoming a Christian doesn't just mean you make a slight adjustment to yourself. Today on Truth for Life, we'll explore what these dramatic changes look like.

Alistair Begg He's not suggesting that they haven't. It's just his way of calling them to verify the fact and to do so by going on to act in keeping with the word that they've heard. And we're taught in him. Heard. Actually, our version there says heard about him, but there's no preposition in Greek.

There's no about. It actually just reads, And you have heard him. As the Gospels had come to them, they had heard Christ's voice. The apostles had preached, and they had heard the voice of Christ. That's why the hymn writer can say, I heard the voice of Jesus say, Come unto me and rest. Well, you never heard the voice of Jesus.

There was no audible voice. What did he mean? He heard him. In the word you heard him. And you were taught in him. In other words, Christ wasn't only the subject matter or the teacher.

He was actually the sphere or, if you like, the context in which all of this was taking place. And you were taught in him as the truth is in Jesus. Interestingly, he uses Jesus here. This is the only time in the letter where he uses the word Jesus on its own. Why doesn't he say, as the truth is in the Messiah, or as the truth is in God? He says, as the truth is in Jesus.

I think he must do it purposefully—to remind the people that they have believed in Jesus. You have come to Jesus. You have found the truth in Jesus, the one, the historical Jesus, the one who was born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, who was dead and was buried, who was raised from the dead, who will return in power and great glory. That's who you've come to trust in—he who said, I am the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me. Why do we go to all the world? Why are they going to Bolivia?

Why are we supporting people in the lostness of Asia, if this is not the case? You see, nobody will be interested in seeing the gospel going out to the world unless you have learned Christ. You have heard him. You have been taught in him. Then you find yourself saying, Everybody needs to hear this.

Everybody needs to know this. We go to all the world with kingdom hope unfurled. No other name has power to save Jesus Christ the Lord. The need for the secular person on that London Bridge is the same need as exists in the life of the Muslim terrorist. It is the need for Jesus as a Savior and a friend.

And we dare not allow the world to shut us down and to become just another little story on the addendum of Western culture. No, no, not for a moment. You did not learn Christ in that way. You heard him. You were taught in him.

Taught what? The truth that is in Jesus. In Jesus. You see, if you do not have this conviction in your heart, you'll never stand. You'll never stand for this. If all you want to stand for is a nice way of life, a kind of, you know, suburban valley nice deal, that's fine. Nobody cares about that.

You might get criticized by somebody, but by and large, it's fairly acceptable. But if you're going to go in that party and say, you know, I'll tell you something, if you want to know about me, I had a hard heart. I was ignorant. I was a snob, man. I was so scientific, I told everybody, you couldn't believe that, Jazz. And the person says, And what happened to you?

Well, I learned Christ. What? He says, I heard him. You heard him?

Yeah. I was taught in him. People say, Well, you know, if you were on a train, they would move their seat.

They'd move away from you. Now, our time is hastening on. What then does he mean that you were taught in him as the truth is in Jesus? What is this truth in Jesus that you were taught?

Because this is the development of his argument. Now, we have said, and it is important to keep saying, that when we read Paul, as we're doing now, it is important to understand Paul's usual argument, or Paul's logical flow, so that when we come, for example, to Ephesians 4, we can read it in light of Romans chapter 5 and 6. We can read it in light of 1 Corinthians 15.

We focus on it here, but we don't abstract it from the overall context of his instruction. And what is Paul's great thing? Paul's great thing is constantly making clear to people that as a believer, we are no longer in Adam. In Adam.

Right? Adam is the founder of the race. Adam is the beginning of it all. Adam is the one who was made in the image of God. Adam is the one who sinned and brought all in Adam down into the destructive dimension of his sin.

That's why we exist in the realm of futility and darkness and so on. However, says Paul, when a man or a woman hears the gospel and comes to trust in Christ, then the ties that bind us to Adam in our old man are then broken, and we are adopted into a whole new family. So we are then, he says, no longer in Adam, but now we are in Christ, and all that is in Christ is now ours by dint of our union with him. United with Adam, we live in the realm of sin and rebellion and hardness and alienation and so on. United with Christ, we are brought into the realm of righteousness and holiness and truth and so on. If you want it in a sentence, 1 Corinthians 15–22, for as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive. Now, I think this is why he says in verse 23 that part of what is going on is the renewal in the spirit of our minds, because we need our minds renewed in this, don't we?

So that we can learn to think about ourselves in the right way. I had a hard time creating an outline for this talk, as is pretty obvious by now, but I just did write three words down to try and keep me somewhere on track. I wrote one word down, which was futility—the futility which is represented outside of Christ. Then I wrote down the word identity, that the key to grappling with this is understanding our identity in Christ.

And then I wrote a final word down, which is the word destiny, which is the guaranteed assurance of the end of the line for those who have been removed from the realm of futility, have a new identity in Jesus, and have a destiny that is involved with righteousness and holiness and so on. So that we would be really clear that in coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, a radical change has taken place. A radical change has taken place. The old has gone, and the new has come. Well, if the old has gone and the new has come, then there ought to be an indication of that in some way.

And what we must understand is that these verbs here are not in the imperative. But that is not the way you learn Christ, past tense, assuming you've heard about him and were taught in him, past tense, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self. So we've got to put off, we've got a renewed spirit of the mind, and we've got to put on. I was helped by reminding myself that Paul does the same thing, essentially, in Colossians chapter 3.

And I think you'll be helped by this if you turn to it for just a moment. In Colossians chapter 3, where the whole emphasis of the chapter is putting on the new self. And Paul has urged these readers to put to death the things that were part and parcel of their pre-converted state. He says, You really ought to take it seriously, because on account of these the wrath of God is coming. Now, here we go. Verse 7. In these you two once walked.

Once walked. This was the framework of your life. You may not have done all these bad things, but this was the world in which you lived. Because, you see, it's the world in Adam. In Adam. If we don't understand this in Adam, in Christ thing, we go immediately wrong. Because we start saying, Well, I wasn't really that bad, so it doesn't apply to me.

Listen. In Adam, you're about as bad as you can get. That's the doctrine of total depravity.

It doesn't mean that you're as bad as possible, but it means that there is no part of your existence that is not infected and affected by sin. So, he says, in these you two once walked, when you were living in them, but now you must put them all away. Anger, malice, slander, obscene talk from your mouth. Don't tell lies to one another. Here we go. Seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.

What's the point? These verbs—to put off and put on—are not fresh commands. They are simply the old commands which he gave them when he was with them and of which he now reminds them. In other words, what he's saying is, when I came and preached the gospel to you, and you understood the gospel, when I explained to you that you're a dead man in Adam and that there is life in the Lord Jesus Christ, when you trusted in Jesus, you put off your old man, and you put on the new man.

You were removed from one realm and placed in another realm. Your part was repentance. God's part was regeneration.

He made you alive when you were dead in your trespasses and sins. You see how vastly different this is from a kind of conversion story that says, Well, you know, I'm very interested in Christianity. I like it.

It makes me feel good about things. You say, Oh, really? That's fascinating. That's not remotely what Paul is talking about here.

No, it's a radical transformation. I think, probably, the symbol of baptism is as helpful as any, isn't it? You remember when Paul, writing out to the Galatians, he says, As many of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. You've put on Christ.

The picture there is a clear picture. People would come down into the baptismal waters in their regular clothes. They would disrobe themselves.

They would go into the—just down to their skivvies—they would go into the water, they would be baptized, they would come out, and they would be given a brand-spanking-new, fresh, white rope, and they would walk out. And the people would say, Look at that! Look at that! Why did he do that? Well, because he's put off the old man, and he wants people to know. I always tell you this, but it was so striking to me. In Yorkshire, a man who'd been a very successful business guy, very proud of his deal—he had it buttoned down—when he got baptized, he insisted on being baptized in his business suit, a really expansive suit. And I said, No, he said, No, no, definite. So he went in, man, in his business suit, and he came out. And he said, I'm gonna baptize all of my life, my business and everything. Get it all down in here. I'm putting off the old. It wasn't that he stopped being a businessman, but his motivation had changed entirely. Now, it'd be strange to do that and then say, Hey, hang on a minute. I want to go back over here and get my old stuff and put it all back on and put it on on top over this lovely new robe that you've given me. That's what Paul's saying here.

He said, Are you kidding me? Are you gonna go back and start that same stuff that marked your life before you put off and put on? It's not impossible. We do it.

Because the pool is so strong. The environment in which we live says, Hey, what do you care about marriage? Don't let anybody do that marriage stuff. What do you care about purity?

What do you care about a little dishonesty? Come on! Enjoy the good stuff. Don't get wrapped up in that. Oh, no, why? I put it off.

I put it on. What's your mind gone wrong? Well, I'm being renewed in my mind.

I'm being renewed in my mind. You see, that's where the Bible comes in, loved ones. Oh, I know you can read your Bible at home. You can read it on your iPhone if you want.

You can go sit up on a hill and do it if you want. But the purpose of God and bringing you into the community of God's people is in order, first of all, priority number one, that you might hear from God. Because you and I both know that we wedge war on a threefold front against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and it is a continual and irreconcilable war.

It never quits. All the way from here to finally, we close our eyes in death and open up to realize who Christ is in all his fullness. And in the meantime, Paul says, in light of that, what has happened? Heiress tense. You put off. You put on.

Heiress, heiress. In other words, a tense that describes something that happened in the past that has abiding significance for all of life. He says, and in the meantime, you are being renewed in your minds. Things are different now. Let me go to Sunday school.

I can always get it by going to Sunday school. Things are different now. Something happened to me.

This is the testimony. Since I gave my heart to Jesus, things are different now. There's a change.

It must be since I gave my heart to him. Things I loved before have passed away. Things I love far more have come to stay.

Because things are different now. Something happened to me when I gave my heart to Christ. The Paul says, Are you gonna go back and start that stuff again? You put off.

You put on. Have your mind renewed in the Scriptures. Don't buy the lie. Let's not try and kid ourselves, you know, well, Jesus mixed with sinners. That's why, you know… Listen, when Jesus mixed with sinners, he was never mistaken for one of them. Our inclination to mix with sinners is to obscure the radical difference that is represented in the change brought about by Jesus. That's why, you see, the Bible says, if there's no evidence of change, then there's no reason to believe in conversion. God does not justify those whom he doesn't sanctify.

He makes us alive with Christ in order that as we walk through this world we might be seen to be different. Final observation from Pilgrim's Progress. Remember in Pilgrim's Progress when they reached Vanity Fair? And Vanity Fair was a fair wherein should be sold all sorts of vanity.

That makes sense. And so, here there were at all times jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, rogues, and that of every kind. And here are to be seen to, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false swearers, and that of a blood-red color. Now, the pilgrims' much needs go through this fair. And when they went through the fair, all the people in the fair were moved, and the town itself, as it were, in a hubbub about them, and that for several reasons.

Why? Because they said, Oh, it was so nice of you to come to our fair. We're glad that you like all this stuff—all this adultery and all this murdering and all this foolishness and all this vanity. We're glad to see that Christians are starting to really enter into things.

Makes us feel a lot better about ourselves. You're dead right it does. No.

No, no, no, no. They were abuzz. And I can't read it all, because our time is gone. You can read it for yourself, depending on the version.

Maybe around page 100, 101. Why was the town so stirred up? First, because the pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people therefore of the fair made a great gazing upon them. And some said they were fools, and some said they were bedlams, and some they were outlandish men. Why did you just wear all the dirty stuff? You gonna show up here with that robe of righteousness thing? And as they wondered at their apparel, so they did likewise in their speech.

We're coming to that verse 25. Are you a flat-out liar? Don't tell me you're a Christian. But that which did not a little amuse the merchandisers was that these pilgrims set very light by all their wares. They cared not so much as to look on them. And if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears and cry, Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and look upward, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven. And one guy, grabbing hold of their carriage, says, What will you buy?

And they said out of the carriage, We will buy the truth. The truth. The futility of life outside of Christ. The identity that is represented in Christ. And the ultimate destiny of all who are placed into Christ, into a realm of righteousness and holiness.

I don't know everybody here today—I don't know where you are in relationship to these things—but I do know this, that a lot of people are tied up. They're tied up outside of Christ by failing to understand the breadth, the wonder, the simplicity of Christ's invitation. And it is an invitation to come to him. To come to him. You did not learn Christ in this way. You heard him. You were taught in him the truth that is in Jesus.

And it's as simple as that. I hear the voice of Jesus. I respond to his voice. I become his child. The old goes, the new comes. You say, Is it all perfect then? Mm-mm-mm.

No. This is a lifetime journey. You're listening to Bible teacher Alistair Begg on Truth for Life with a message he has titled, In Christ Alone.

Alistair returns in just a minute. As we begin a new year, you may be thinking about someone you invited to a Christmas service or gave a Bible to as a gift. A great way to follow up with them is to invite them to learn more about Christianity. We've put together a helpful study that is perfect for that. It's called The Basics of the Christian Faith.

It's a series of 13 weekly lessons that explain core Christian beliefs. The study is designed for you and a friend to do together. You listen to a message from Alistair, and then you meet once a week to discuss what you heard. The study comes with a leader guide you can use and a guide for your friend that has plenty of room for note-taking. And these guides provide all the prompts you'll need for the discussion. Topics covered include how to be saved, what it looks like to be a believer, who Jesus is, why he came, along with other subjects like prayer, the Holy Spirit, God's law, and the sacraments.

You can purchase The Basics of the Christian Faith as printed study guides or download them for free at truthforlife.org slash study guides. While you're on our website, be sure to check out today's book offer. It's a one-year devotional titled Refreshment for the Soul. This is a newly published and updated collection of daily reflections drawn from the writings of Puritan author Richard Sibbes. Ask for your copy of the book Refreshment for the Soul today when you give a gift to support the teaching ministry of Truth for Life. You can give through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate.

Or you can call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Well, Lord, we just need so much the help of the Holy Spirit to assure us of these truths and apply them to our hearts. We thank you that the call of the gospel is not to a philosophy, to an idea, to a religious experience, but to a person—that it is the truth that is in Jesus, the Jesus who met the lady at the well, the Jesus who called Zacchaeus down out of the tree, the Jesus who healed the man let down through the roof, the Jesus who was gracious to Peter when he fouled up, the Jesus who has reached out to us. Lord, I pray for any who have never, ever come to Christ, that even today they may do so, just in the simplicity of the response of their hearts, hearing Christ's voice and calling out to him to save them and befriend them. May it be so, for your glory's sake. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. Tomorrow we'll learn how a dutiful obligation can actually become a joyful choice. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-08 07:02:43 / 2024-01-08 07:11:37 / 9

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