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The Blessings and Curse of the Cross (Galatians 3) March 5, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Baptism, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Crucifixion, Galatians, Lord's Table.
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THE CURSE AND THE BLESSINGS
Galatians 3:7-14

We saw last week that Paul was opposing those who were perverting the gospel. They were changing salvation by grace through faith in the gospel, that is, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ into a salvation by law: circumcision, Sabbath-keeping, zealousness, the Ten Commandments, or some other way in which one can make himself acceptable or at least presentable before God. Paul says, “You can’t change what God has set forth.”

Warren Wiersbe tells how “a new employee was instructed how to measure valve parts to make sure they were ready for the final assembly. But after a few hours, his foreman was receiving complaints that the parts he was approving were faulty. ‘What are you doing?’ the foreman asked. ‘I showed you how to use that micrometer. You’re sending through parts that are oversize!’ The employee replied, ‘Oh, most of the parts I was measuring were too large, so I opened up the micrometer a bit.’” The cross is God micrometer. It is by the cross that we determine our spiritual welfare.

A. The curse of the cross was on our behalf (3:7-14; 5:11; 6:12-13).

1. The curse was pronounced by God (3:7-14). Paul quotes six different Old Testament passages to make the point that there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. He also says that through the law comes the curse. Actually, there are two curses here. The first, a general curse, is on anyone who breaks one law (verse 10). This is in contrast to the justification that comes through faith (verses 8-9, 11-12). Justification can simply mean that you are getting what’s coming to you. That is not the way Paul is using this word. He takes an Old Testament concept and speaks about God taking a sinner’s account and stamping it “righteous.”

There are four stamps God could use. He could stamp our account as “guilty.” That is what we deserve. Or he could stamp us “not guilty.” That means you’re not condemned, that is, the evidence does not condemn you. But, of course, that is not true. God could stamp our account “innocent.” That is better than not guilty but the evidence still is against us. God uses the stamp “righteous through faith” (see Abraham’s case in verse 6). What Paul is saying is that righteousness is put on my account by grace through faith in Christ and his death on my behalf.

One might say faith in the second curse pronounced by God, that is, the curse of the cross (verses 13-14). It is faith in the righteousness, the redemption, the payment, provided by Jesus Christ on the cross for our account that justifies us with God.

2. The offense of the cross provoked persecution and derision (5:11). Certainly the cross was despised by the Jews because of the curse pronounced by God on anyone hung from a tree. It was also a most shameful death in the eyes of the Romans who were actually carrying out the act of crucifixion. It was reserved for criminals and slaves. Jesus was neither. Robert Gundry feels that Mark’s gospel may have been written to counteract the shame of the cross by recording the power of Jesus, for no Roman would trust a crucified Savior. The Roman senator and orator Cicero said “the very word ‘cross’ should be far removed not only from the perons of a Roman citizen but also from his thoughts, his eyes, and his ears…the mere mention of them, that is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a free man” (In Defense of Rabirius taken from Gundry’s A Survey of the New Testament). The shame of the cross was not theoretical but real.

3. The cross is incompatible with profiteering from believers (6:12-13). It is more respectable to belong to the right group than to be associated with the cross of Christ. Heroes did not die on the cross but in battle. Those who profit from religious faith have no use for the cross unless they can turn it into some type of work. If I preach a certain type of message so that it might attract a crowd, am I any better than these? Not that we should not try to reach as many as we can and any legitimate method should be used. At times the message of the cross has been more popular than others but whether it is the “in thing” or not, it is still our only message.

B. The blessings of the cross come through Christ living in me (2:17-21; 5:24; 6:14-17).

1. Our lives are transformed by grace through faith in Christ (2:17-21). When we baptize tonight, we will being testifying that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ through His death and resurrection. Verse 21 is a sobering verse. If we have life through any other way, then the cross of Christ was a waste, a wasted life.

2. We actively war against sin (5:24). We will speak about this more at a later time but the fight against sin in our own individual lives must take place under the banner of the cross. Apart from the power of the cross to give us new life, we are helpless against the sins listed in this chapter. Our flesh will give in but we are alive now in Christ, the Crucified One.

3. Our boasting is dependent on the cross (6:14-17). Unlike the profiteers, our boasting is dependent on Jesus. My rejection of the sins of the flesh, of this world is based on my new life in Christ. Paul even notes that he has brands or marks on his body that identify him with Jesus. In those days an idol worshipper might have the brand of his idol burned into his body. Slaves were also marked with brands. Circumcision itself, though not a brand, served the same purpose. Paul said, “My brands come through my daily life with Christ.”

Let’s take our micrometer and measure ourselves.
1. Have you been saved by the grace of God? If you feel in anyway that you deserve salvation, you are too big for the micrometer of the cross.
2. Are you trying to mix law and grace? Are you trying to adjust the cross for yourself or someone else? God will not accept that mixture.
3. When we celebrate today the Lord’s Table, will you be boasting in the cross of Christ or will you be trying to impress God by your sanctified worship?
4. Are you walking in spiritual liberty? We are celebrating spiritual liberty today through the Lord’s Table. Do you live your liberty out in the world during the week?
5. Are you willing to defend the truth of the gospel of Christ? Or do you let it slide when people say, “Well, I think I’m good enough for God. I’m better than the average Joe?”
(Questions adapted from Warren Wiersbe’s Be Free).

As we partake of the Lord’s Table, let us dwell on these questions and respond to God’s call to salvation and to walking in spiritual liberty.

Next week: Righteous Indignation (Galatians 1-2)

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Celebrating the Lord’s Supper on New Year’s Day January 2, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Apostle Paul, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Communion, First Corinthians.
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Had a great service yesterday. This is the devotional I brought.

THE LORD’S SUPPER
1 Corinthians 11:18-34

The importance of the Lord’s Supper is sometimes lost in how we celebrate it. Often it does not feel like a celebration. The atmosphere is too somber. We sometimes act as if “the point of the meal is to screw up one’s face and try to feel sorry for Jesus. This is often accompanied by a psychological attempt to meditate on the physical pain of Jesus’ sufferings-an emphasis that is markedly understated in the biblical text itself” (Russell Moore, contributor to Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper, 33).

A focus on the physical pain of Jesus does not seem to be the focus of the celebration described by Paul, although it is mentioned. There are two aspects of the celebration emphasized by him.

I. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is an expression of our family relationship (verses 18-22 and 27-34). Sometimes I am asked if I go to individuals, for example, to shut-ins and serve the Lord’s Supper. I don’t, not because it is wrong, but because it then ceases to function as a family event. These people, though, did not act as a family. They understood that they were supposed to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together as a family and they did gather together. Unfortunately, they did so in a very dysfunctional way. In fact, their lack of hospitality brought shame on those who were less fortunate in the congregation.

A. Lack of hospitality within the church shows that we despise the church (verses 18-22). In Corinth the “have’s” sat separately from the “have not’s” and acted generally as if they were better than them. I wish I could say we never acted that way but many of us know better. How often have we as individuals acted like we were better than someone else in this church? That is not the way God wants us to act.

B. Lack of hospitality within the church is unworthy of the love our Lord has shown to us (verses 27-30). “Jesus, what a Friend for sinners! Jesus! Lover of my soul; Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He, my Savior, makes me whole.” Remember the thief on the cross. To die on the cross was a shameful death. In the earliest days such a death had been reserved for slaves. To die on a cross was to be “despised by the world.” Jesus, however, did not despise the thief but loved Him and took Him to paradise to be with Him forever.

C. Lack of hospitality within the church will be judged by the Lord (verses 30-34). Our Lord Jesus takes this seriously. In Corinth, some were afflicted with sickness because of their pride towards their fellow believers. Others were killed by our Lord Jesus in judgment for their sin. To my knowledge we have not suffered in this way and yet I ask myself if some of our difficulties can be attributed to our lack of love for each other. God has, however, been merciful to us. We must learn to love every person in our church family with the love He has shown us, a love that does not despise the other but rather exalts the other.

II. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is not only an expression of our relationship as a church family but it is also an expression of the importance of our Lord’s death (verses 23-26).

A. He ought to be remembered by us (verses 23-25). This week I caught a portion of the NPR broadcast, “Talk of the Nation.” They were asking the question, “What persons passed away in 2011 that we ought to remember?” One man called in and mentioned the “Champaign Lady” from the “Lawrence Welk Show.” The daughter of the man who invented the Nordic Track and told about her dad. An acquaintance of a nun who was important in the early days of anti-nuclear protests also called in. These people all did important things in the field in which they worked. None of them, however, have done anything comparable to what Jesus did. His body was broken for us. He shed His blood for us. He established a new covenant between God and man for us. He ought to be remembered by us.

B. He ought also to be proclaimed by us (verse 26). Russell Moore says that the Lord’s Supper should “be characterized by more celebrative singing and even laughter, than the rest of the service. The congregation would be taught to understand that the Supper is a victory lap-announcing the triumph of Christ over the powers of sin, death, and Satan” (Moore, 33).

The third verse of “At Calvary” says, “Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus ev’rything, Now I gladly own Him as my King, Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary. Mercy there was great and grace was free, Pardon there was multiplied to me, There my burdened soul found liberty-At Calvary!”

Jesus Among Friends (Luke 22) April 7, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Christ, Communion, Covenant, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Falling Away, Jesus, Lord's Table, Luke, Messiah, Millenial Kingdom, Passover, Suffering.
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JESUS AMONG FRIENDS
(Luke 22:1-62)

A couple of weeks ago I asked for questions from the congregation to be written out on a 3” by 5” card. I received a card with the following question, “Is it sinful to “befriend” persons outside the faith or should we see this “opportunity” as one to bring these people to Christ?”

Now I don’t know what provoked this question but it does address a real problem. As believers in Christ, what should our relationship be to those outside the faith? One of my biggest concerns as pastor is that most of us do not bring many unsaved friends to church. There are many possible reasons for this but one of them could be that we tend to isolate ourselves from sinners.

Jesus, however, was known by his enemies as a friend of sinners (Luke 7:33-34). Was this a just accusation? In this chapter we find Jesus with twelve of his closest friends; men who He chose to follow them. One of those men was a man named Judas.
How did Jesus show friendship to Judas (22:2, 21, 27)?
I. Jesus chose a sinner to be His friend, to be one of the twelve (22:2). Sometimes we forget that Jesus knew all along who would betray Him (John 6:64-71). He chose a friend who he could never help. It is interesting that Jesus knew also that Judas would never believe, Jesus befriended a liar, a traitor, a thief simply because it was God’s will.
This helps us to answer the first part of our question. It is obviously not sinful to befriend a sinner. It also helps us to answer the second part but not directly. We are not just to look at people as “opportunities” but rather we are to live in God’s will and be so full of a passion for Jesus Christ and His gospel that we become the “opportunity” for them to hear the gospel of Christ.
II. Jesus shared His table with a sinner (22:21, 27). It was such a high honor at that time to be invited to eat with someone that to refuse the invitation opened one up to the revenge of slander and defamation. Jesus gave Judas a place of honor.
Judas seemed to be singled out by Jesus for honor and intimacy at this feast (John 13:26). Based on this chapter, it appears that Judas has been given by Jesus, the host of this feast, the place of honor on his left. In addition, Jesus gave Judas the sop. The sop was a piece of bread that was dipped into some type of sauce or mixture. To give the sop to some one was not only a great honor but symbolic of a close friendship. Jesus treated Judas at this festival with the greatest of honor and signs of friendship.
III. Jesus served sinners (22:27). When Jesus washed feet, He washed Judas’ feet also. When Jesus instituted the Communion that we celebrate today, He did not withhold it from Judas but rather served him also. Jesus, the King of Kings, served Judas in whose heart the devil had accomplished an awful work (John 13:2).
What ended the friendship between Judas and Jesus (22:4-6)? There are a lot of theories about Judas’ motivation, money being the most obvious. I think money certainly played a part (John 12:6). There was something deeper though for all of the disciples were tainted by their desire to be important in the kingdom and they certainly could have assumed that great riches would come with the kingdom. What ended the friendship was Judas’ lack of faith in Christ (John 6:64-71). Oh, he certainly began believing but he did not have a faith that would last.

This tells a lot about true faith. True faith that lasts is not dependent on excellent surroundings. Judas heard the Creator of the universe teach truth and wisdom. His faith, however, did not continue to respond. There was an initial response but it was broken easily on the banks of a few coins. What will break your faith?
What was Jesus’ desire for His friends (22:14-30)? He desired that they be a part of His eternal kingdom.
What is the kingdom of which Jesus is speaking?
a. It is a coming kingdom (22:15-19) Last week we saw where Jesus said that the kingdom is in the heart of those who believe but it is also a future eternal kingdom. This coming kingdom must be prepared through suffering (compare v. 15 with 17:22-25). Hebrews 1:8a-10 describes this kingdom through suffering in this way, “But now we do not yet see all things [in submission to Jesus]. But we see Jesus…for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him…in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
b. It is also a new covenant kingdom (22:20). I do not have time to go back to Jeremiah and look at these Old Testament passages but the main characteristic of the new covenant kingdom is heart transformation. Jesus died so that I might be born from above, regenerated in heart, passing from the kingdom of darkness into His eternal light.
c. It is a caring kingdom (22:24-27). Service is more important than authority.
Leroy Eims of the Navigators tells about a man who came to Christ and desired to serve Eims. Because he was young and inexperienced in the faith, there were not a lot of opportunities at the Navigators office for this man to serve. Winter was coming though and the man greatly desired to serve in some way. Leroy Eims gave him the task of shoveling the walkway to the office building. The man was very zealous in this service. In fact he was so zealous, Eims quipped, that not a snowflake hit the walkway the whole winter long. Eims said that such valuable service could not go unrewarded and they brought him into the office to train for service within the Navigators organization. The young man cared enough to serve.
How do we show friendship to Christ (22:28)? We show friendship to Christ by continuing with Him even in His trials. Can we do that? Absolutely, Jesus said, take up My cross and follow Me.
“They tried my Lord and Master with no one to defend.
Within the halls of Pilate He stood without a friend.
I’ll be a friend to Jesus, my life for Him I’ll spend.
I’ll be a friend to Jesus, until my years shall end.

The world may turn against Him, I’ll love Him to the end,
And while on earth I’m living, My Lord shall have a friend.

I’ll do what He may bid me; I’ll go where He may send;
I’ll try each flying moment to prove that I’m His friend.

To all who need a Savior, my friend I recommend;
Because He brought salvation is why I am His friend.”
Sometimes, however, even the most loyal of us fail Jesus when He needs us most. Peter is a true example and Jesus knew Peter would fail. Yet He showed friendship to Peter anyway. How did Jesus show friendship to Peter (22:31-34)? He warned him, He prayed for Him to endure in the faith, He gave him a positive hope for the future, and He was honest in telling Peter what he did not want to hear.
Let us return to our question about befriending sinners. Here is a good plan to follow them. We must warn them. Only a friend will warn someone of the dangers of hell. We must pray for them to come to faith. We cannot argue them into the faith. We need God’s help to bring them to faith. We need to give them hope, let them know that there is a purpose for them in this life and the life to come. Finally, we need to be honest even if they do not want to hear the gospel. It is possible to antagonize people but if you are a real friend who lives out a real faith in Christ, you will figure out how to give them the gospel of Christ.
As we come to the close of our service, we come to the time when we celebrate the Lord’s Table. How does the Lord’s Table or communion show our friendship with Christ and with each other (22:19, 26)? It shows our friendship with Christ according to verse 19 by remembering what He did for us. It shows our friendship with each other in that each one of us comes together to the table. We are all equal in Christ’s kingdom. It is interesting that the only people unworthy of this bread and juice are those who considered themselves above others (1 Corinthians 11). Today, I want us to take a few moments and ask ourselves, not if we’ve sinned but if there is anyone here today who we consider ourselves superior to. Think through the rows of seats. If you find anyone who you feel you are above, would you not repent of that ungodliness now and humble yourself before God in silent prayer?

Paying Attention to Jesus the Revelator March 14, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Blood of Christ, Christ, Day of the Lord, Eschatology, God the Father, Imminency, Jesus, Judgment, Messiah, Millenial Kingdom, Prophecy, Religion, Resurrection, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sermons.
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WHY PAY ATTENTION TO JESUS?
Revelation 1:1-18

The word “keep” in verse 3 carries the connotation of “paying attention with the intention to obey.” It is God’s intention that we keep the word of this prophecy and to the one who gives this prophecy. Sometimes it does not matter who the messenger is. When we listen to the news, it really does not matter who is reading the news. We may like the one we are listening to and they may make us feel better about the news but for the most part it matters little except for entertainment purposes whether I get my news from Diane Sawyer or Katie Couric.

It is different though when what we receive is a prophecy, that is, a direct word from God. There are many today who claim to have received direct words from God. We see them on our TVs, hear them on our radios, and see their books in the CBD catalogue. Should we pay attention to them? I do not; for none of them to my knowledge claim perfect inspiration and many of them preach one form or another of false doctrine. We are commanded to try the spirits whether they be of God.

Next week we will specifically look at why we should pay attention to His revelation. This week I want us to understand what is in it for us. That may seem a little backwards but this is the way it is presented in the book and so that is the order that we will follow.

This book begins by stating that God gave Jesus this revelation for the profit of His servants. Now many of us here this morning claim to be the servants of God, that is, the children of God, so this book is intended for us. Why do we need this book and why should we pay attention to the one who gives it to us?

A. Because God gave Him what we need to know for the future (1:1, 3b). The future is very important. Many of you will go to work because of the future. You will do schoolwork because of the future. Wars are fought so that nations can determine the future. Investments are made in the future. Roads and bridges are built for future use. Even history is often studied so that we can better understand the future.

Now God knows the future. Some of the future we need to know. We do not need to know details for the most part. In fact, God rarely gives us much detail. We do not know who the Antichrist is, we do not know the date of the Lord’s coming, we do not know if the multiple earthquakes that have recently occurred are signs of His immediate coming, and we do not know exactly how the world will look when Christ comes. Any details we have are either sketchy or incomplete. But there are some things we need to know about the future.

1. The coming of the Lord is imminent (verses 1 and 3b). He could come at any time. Two thousand years ago, the Lord could have come at anytime. That is still true today.

Now there are several attitudes that we can take about this.

a. We can be fatalistic about his coming. “If He comes He comes…” Now I do not think that very many people are truly fatalistic. Either they believe He is coming or they do not but this is a possible attitude one could take.

b. Most do not believe He is coming. They may not openly doubt it but they obviously do not believe otherwise they would be ready. Revelation 3:1-3 describes a church that did not believe He was coming. Jesus said that he would surprise them like a thief. Jesus taught quite often about this when He was on the earth. One of the last sermons He preached had as His main point that those who are not ready will be destroyed (Matthew 24:36-13). One of the illustrations He used was of a servant who was made ruler over his master’s house. He said to himself, “The master is delaying his coming.” He begins then to beat his fellow servants and to lead a life of partying. When the master suddenly returns the man will be cut in two.

c. There is though a third attitude. Being ready! How do you know you are ready? Romans 13:8,11-14 tells us how, “Owe no one anything except to love one another… and do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep…Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness…Let us walk properly…not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

Luke also tells us in chapter 12 of his gospel how that those who live for the things of this world will not be ready. In other words, only the disciple who is willing to live for heaven and not for this world will be ready when Jesus comes.

2. We not only need to know that the Lord could come at any moment but we need to understand that He is coming as the Almighty (verses 7-8). When He comes every eye will see Him and recognize who He is. Those who crucified Him as prophesied in Zechariah 12 will see Him. Now you might think that those who crucified Jesus are already dead. Zechariah 12:10 makes it clear that John is talking about the Jew here in this passage. They will not be the only ones to see Him. All the tribes of the earth will see Him and mourn. Why? Because the Almighty has come to judge His enemies. It is possible to mourn in repentance (which is the caase in Zechariah) but the context of Revelation indicates that the peoples of the earth will mourn when they realize that the Lord is coming to judge them (Revelation 6:12-17). On that day, every news station will show the Almighty. Facebook and Twitter updates will mourn the coming of the Almighty. The nations will rise against Him but will not be able to stand because He is the Almighty.

Now why do we need to know that He is coming as the Almighty? Because right now it looks like Christ is losing. The world is becoming more anti-Christ every day. He seems to be losing ground but when He comes we will be able to give thanks (Revelation 11:15-18) because He has returned and restored His rule over this earth. That is the day that we long for according to Romans 8. This world of sin and sinners is oppressive to the believer in Christ but when Christ returns, the sinner will be destroyed and sin will be put in check. Only the Almighty God can accomplish such a feat.

B. The reason we need to know about the future is that there is blessing in paying attention to Jesus and His revelation about the future (1:3). This blessing is not in stock tips or oil futures. This blessing is a spiritual blessing.

1. To be blessed means to be saved (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). Seven times in the book of Revelation, a blessing is pronounced on those who are believers in Christ. The word we read in our Bibles as “saved” Martin Luther often translated as “blessed” because He understood that to be truly blessed of God meant much more than houses and lands and nice families. God blesses the unsaved also with such things. To be blessed of God, however, means to be saved, to be redeemed by the Lamb. Sometimes this word is translated “happy.” That is not a bad translation, for one who lives eternally in the presence of God will be happy and the one in hell will not. To be blessed though is more than an emotional reality, it is a spiritual reality. Look at Revelation 20:4-6. What a contrast? Those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus are blessed because they are free from the second death. It is certainly not a happy occasion to be beheaded. Those who might sympathetically be looking on might say, “What a waste!” But they are blessed. They are saved from the second death, from the wrath to come.

2. To keep the word means to have an active faith (1:3; 22:14; compare with 1 John 3:23). You see, to keep a prophecy means that there is something that should be done in response to that prophecy. Revelation 22:14 makes it clear that those who do His commandments will have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. Now does this mean that we can work our way into heaven? Absolutely not. James put it this way, “Faith without works is dead.” In other words, true faith will live a certain way. First John 3:23 tells us exactly what the commandments of Christ are, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” So this blessing means more than to believe that Jesus is God. It demands becoming a disciple of Christ, an active faith that determines not only to trust Christ but to obey Him.

It is clear that Jesus can demand an active faith from me and I need to hear His word with active faith. The blessing of God is promised to me if I keep His word, if I have an active faith. An active faith will be ready for His coming. That is the point of the last phrase in verse 3. He is coming. Are you ready?

“A lady, who heard Whitefield, in Scotland, preach upon the words, “And the door was shut,” being placed near two dashing young men, but at a considerable distance from the pulpit, witnessed their mirth; and overheard one say, in a low tone, to the other, “Well, what if the door be shut? Another will open.” Thus they turned off the solemnity of the text. ‘Mr. Whitefield had not proceeded far when he said, “It is possible there may be some careless, trifling person here today, who may ward off the force of this impressive subject by lightly thinking, ‘What matter if the door be shut? Another will open.’” The two young men were paralyzed, and looked at each other. Mr. Whitefield proceeded: “Yes; another will open. And I will tell you what door it will be: it will be the door of the bottomless pit!-the door of hell!-the door which conceals from the eyes of angels the horrors of damnation!”

Jesus could come today. Are you ready? Is your faith active? Do you have faith in Christ at all? Trust Him today and live for Him, forsaking this world and all others for the one who loves you and died to wash you from your sin.

Next Week: The Son of Man

How would Peter define what a Christian is (2 Peter 1:1-4)? July 19, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Faith, Jesus, Peter the Apostle, Religion, Second Peter, Sermons.
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What is a Christian Anyway (2 Peter 1:1-4)?

When we were missionaries in Germany, we were brought in contact with a group of asylum seekers from an Islamic country. A few were sincere seekers after the truth but many wanted to convert to Christianity so that they might start a new life in a new country. In order to do this, they needed to convince immigration officials that they were truly Christian. They would come to us with lists of questions concerning the religious holidays of Christianity. Others sought baptism as a way of becoming officially Christians. It did not take long for most of them to realize that we were not going to be much help to them and they fell away. They fell away because they did not understand what it means to be a Christian.

What we are asking today is not how one becomes a Christian, although we will also be looking at that. Nor are we discussing what a Christian looks like and does in his everyday life. We will be looking at that question next week. Asked another way the question is this, “What does it mean to be a Christian?”

A Christian is one who belongs to Christ. When Peter begins this letter, he identifies himself by name and makes it clear that he is a Christian, that is, that he belongs to Christ. How does he do this?

First, he says, “I am a bondslave of Christ.” A Christian is a slave belonging to Christ. We are His slaves (verse 1a). Romans 6 explains how that we were in bondage to sin but that through the death and resurrection of Christ we become slaves of righteousness. This means that we now do what Christ wants us to do. In 1 Peter 2:13-16, Peter explains how that works in a specific situation. There was the temptation for believers to refuse to submit to the government because Jesus was their king. Peter makes it clear that our slavery to Christ’s will compels us to obey the government. In other words, a slave of Jesus Christ is one who does the will of Jesus Christ. Peter states clearly that he does that will of God, not his will and not the will of any man but rather the will of God.

Secondly, Peter claims to be a servant. He uses the word apostle, that is, a sent messenger. The word “bondslave” makes it clear that Peter does the will of Christ. The word “apostle” tells us what Christ’s will actually is, to go with a message from Christ. In the same way, we are Christ’s servants (verse 1a). We do not all hold the office of an apostle but we are all sent messengers.

We have heard this morning from Susan Blodgett about her missionary work on the college campus and her recent missionary trip to the Dominican Republic. We support her financially. We pray for her. We rejoice in the work that God has given her and the part in the work which we have. We are no different than her, however. We are also bondslaves and as bondslaves we are responsible to do the will of God and the will of God is that we witness, that we serve as messengers of the gospel of Christ. That is our commission as servants. That is our task as slaves. In John 20:21, Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” We are indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit, according to the book of Acts, for the purpose of being witnesses throughout the whole earth. In Matthew 28, Jesus said all authority is given to me. For that reason, “therefore” go and teach, that is, make disciples. We are sent out with a message under the authority of our master to follow the model of our master empowered by the Spirit of our master. That is what a Christian is. He or she is a messenger, an apostle.

We are His called ones (verses 1b, 3b). This is referred to in verse 1 through the word “obtain.” It is the word used when they cast lots letting God determine their course of action. Peter says here, “Every Christian is a Christian because of God’s determination.” Peter is an apostle who walked with Jesus Christ who was given the honor of leading the church at Jerusalem but his faith is exactly like our faith. Our faith is equal to his in value and in honor. And He obtained His faith like we obtained ours, by the grace of God.
This faith is also obtained by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:24-26 explains what this means, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” What both Paul and Peter are saying is this, although one is a Christian by grace, it is a free gift, it was not free. Jesus Christ died, demonstrating the righteousness of God through His execution for sins, making it possible to obtain salvation by faith in Jesus. In other words, if one says he believes in Jesus but refuses to believe that Jesus is the only means of salvation, that person is not a Christian. He may speak of Jesus as His Savior but without faith in His death for my sins, He is not my Savior but rather my judge.

This is the description of the calling that we find in the last part of verse 3. Five times in 1 Peter it is written that believers are called but today I only want to call your attention to one of those passages, 1 Peter 2:9-10. Peter writes that we are called out of darkness into His marvelous light so that we might obtain mercy. Christians are called ones. We are called to faith by mercy and grace through the righteous, the just death of the Son of God. Just and righteous not because He got what He deserved but just and righteous because He got what I deserved.

Since we are called with such a merciful calling, it is no wonder that we should submit ourselves to slavery in the will of God, to service in telling the message of His mercy and righteousness in His death on the cross.

This calling, this slavery, this servant hood is great and marvelous but a Christian is much, oh so much much more, than just belonging to Christ. A Christian belongs to a body, the body of Christ.

We are called to a common faith through knowledge of Jesus Christ (verses 1-3). We have already seen that our faith is the same faith as Peter’s faith both in value and honor. The phrase “with us” may seem small but it underlines that our calling is not just an individual calling but a calling of a people. Look again at 1 Peter 2:9. God does not call Robert Talley to be a Christian. Now He worked in my life as an individual and He saved me individually but He called us to a common faith through Jesus Christ. Perhaps verse 5 can explain this concept better. We are his building. Many individual stones but one building.

We are called by a unique Savior (verses 1b and 3b). The body of Christ is inseparable from its Head. It has no sustainability without its Head. We have already seen that we are called together into one body through His righteous death. We are also called by His glory and virtue.

His glory according to 1 Peter 1:11, 21 is what happened after his death, His glorious, bodily resurrection and His even more glorious ascension to heaven to sit in authority on the right hand of God. There is none like Him. His glory is like that of no other.

His virtue is also like none other. Again in 1 Peter 1 we have a description of His virtue. Verse 19 describes Him as a lamb without blemish and without spot. There was nothing inappropriate much less sinful about Him. He truly is like no other.

It is the uniqueness of Christ that is our common bond. He lived like no other man, He suffered like no other man, He was glorified as no other man. He is our head. As we saw last Wednesday night from Ephesians 4:1, 4 the knowledge of our calling by this unique Christ is the foundation for part in the body of Christ and to not commit ourselves to other believers is unworthy of our calling in this unique Christ.

We are called based on great promises (verse 4a). These promises have great value. They are precious. These promises make it possible for us to be partakers of the divine nature. You see, belonging to Christ, being a Christian is more than going to heaven, it is more than being forgiven, I along with every other believer become a partaker of God’s divine nature. That is what it means to belong to the body of Christ. We share a common faith based on our knowledge of a unique Savior but we share more. We share much more. We share His nature. Christ being are head is not just getting corporate strength and direction from Him. His nature is our nature. How is that possible? The beginning of verse 3 tells us how. By His divine power. How is it that we have God’s nature? How is it that we can be one body in Christ? By His divine power through the knowledge of Him.

This is why you should integrate yourself fully into the body of Christ as practiced within a local church. If you are a believer in Christ and do not identify with a body of believers, do not integrate yourself fully with them, bear grudges against them, you are denying the common bond that we already have. Could you imagine a building where the stones are constantly pulling away from each other or pushing each other away? You know that such a building would collapse. Yet many believers claim to be Christians but refuse to commit themselves both formally and informally to other believers. As we saw in the book of James this morning in Sunday School, such a refusal to commit to other believers ultimately brings our Christianity into question.

A Christian belongs to a new world order (verse 4b). Being a Christian, belonging to Christ, belonging to His body is radically different. It is described in Scriptures as a separate reality.

Our old nature is corrupt, that is, doomed to destruction. The next chapter of 2 Peter describes this corruption in more detail. It is not a pretty picture (2 Peter 2:12-19). They are like rabid animals hunted down so that they might be destroyed (verse 12). The lust of the human nature is like rabies. It drives the animal to its own destruction. The animal no more fears that which can harm it. It is doomed.

But our new nature is divine. Could you imagine an animal, mad with rabies, doomed to death and dangerous to all with whom it comes in contact and then through the divine power that comes through the knowledge of Christ and through faith in Christ escapes the destructive disease and becomes not just a healthy animal but a partaker in the nature of God? It is beyond my comprehension but that is what a Christian is.

He belongs to Christ now.
He belongs to the body of Christ now.
He belongs to a new world order, a new realm of reality.

Do you belong to Christ? If you do, then you are a Christian. You belong to His body, you belong to a new world order. Do you live like it? There is nothing stranger than person who is not rabid acting as if he was. Do you walk worthy of your calling in Christ? Have you integrated yourself with the body or do you live the spiritual life of a lone wolf?

Perhaps you do not belong to Christ. The knowledge of Christ and the faith in Him produced by that knowledge will immediately make you a member of His body and a partaker of His divine nature. Will you trust Him today? Your choice is between two types of slavery. The slavery of corruption and destruction described in 2 Peter 2:12-17 or the slavery of righteousness through the death of Christ. Trust Him today!

Help from Spurgeon (and Mike Ratliff) in preparing for the Lord’s Table August 28, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Blood of Christ, Communion, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Good Friday, Lord's Table, Religion, Spurgeon.
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“After our Lord’s death was over, the blood of animals was not the type, but the blood of the grape. That which was terrible in prospect is joyous in remembrance. That which was blood in the shedding is wine in the receiving. It came from him with a wound, but it comes to us with a blessing.” Originally posted here by Mike Ratliff.

The Lord’s Table reminds us that the pivotal event in world history is the cross. It is not the invention of fire or the wheel neither is it the printing press or the computer as pivotal as all of these things were. The pivotal event in world history is the death of God’s Son on the cross establishing a new covenant between God and man. Everything before and after depend on the outcome of Christ’s death.