Our Identity

SERMON LEFTOVERS 3.23.15

        ‘We are Servants of Christ’       Jude 1       

The Apostles introduced themselves as “servants of Christ”

Jude presents his identity in his servant role over his blood role

This Jude was one of Jesus’ brothers by birth (Mark 6:3)

What did being a servant mean in that cultural context?

The Apostles actually didn’t use the word “servant”; they used the word “slave”

Servants had some choice and freedom, but slaves were owned

So why did Bible translators use the word servant instead of slave?

The answer is found in the change in what slavery looked like when English translations began

In the New Testament world, a large percentage of the population were slaves

Most of these were conquered nations and their descendants

Slaves could hold virtually any position in society (teachers, doctors, artisans etc)

When you saw a slave, they typically dressed and looked like everyone else

The New Testament context of slave, was someone owned, but also usually valued and respected

By the time English translations began, slavery looked quite different

It was the slavery we think of in the British world and United States

This slavery was based on race, prejudice, brutality and chains

Translators felt these changes in slavery would distort the readers perceptions of what the New Testament intended

When we read that we are “servants” of Christ, it is a mix of what we now think of concerning a slave and a servant

Being a servant (slave) is our identity, but it’s not the whole story

We are also adopted as children of God and we are the bride of Christ

We should hold to the worth of those images, and at the same time, recognize in this world we labor as servant of our Master

What are the characteristics of being a servant/slave of Christ?

1.  As servants, we live in submission to Christ our Lord

Servants hold a subservient role; that is the most fundamental reality about them

We live to serve God; He doesn’t exist to please us (Luke 17:7-10)

2.  As servants, we practice obedience to Christ’s will

Servants don’t stop to consider which commands to obey, or how fully they will obey

If you are knowingly withholding obedience to God, you are being unfaithful!

3.  As servants, we have an exclusive devotion to Christ our Lord

The life of a servant is focused on service to their Master

Christ is not to be one of many features in life – He is to be the center of all our life

4.  As servants, we are accountable to Christ our Lord (Matt 24:45-51)

We cannot be serious about discipleship, church life or about Christ without it

5.  As servants, we are fully dependent upon Christ our Master

A difference between servants and slaves, is that slaves must totally depend on their Master

Are you trying to be self-sufficient about making life work?

Servant is a subservient title, but it is also an honorable one

1.  Servant is the title God used for his mighty leaders

Abraham, Moses and David are all called “My servant” by God

God uses this title in the context of being pleased with them

2.  Being a servant is the mindset of great understanding (Matt 8:8-10)

This centurion applied his understanding of the roles of master and servant to how he approached Jesus

Jesus’ response was that this demonstrated great faith!

The Marines should not expect more of their recruits than God does of his people

3.  Being a servant is the path to accomplishing great things (Matt 20:25-28)

Having a servant attitude is not a minor teaching of Christianity

This is what it means to live as Christian; it is what God looks for and uses

4.  Being a servant was Jesus identity (Matt 12:18) 

Like us, this is far from the whole picture of Jesus identity

Yet, Jesus joyfully embraced being a servant

We cannot follow Jesus unless we embrace our role as his servant

Do you embrace your role as a slave of Christ – or do you resent it? 

How we respond to this aspect of our identity reveals much about our heart and love for Christ

SERMON LEFTOVERS 2.16.15

Our Identity in Christ: “We are a Priesthood”               

1 Peter 2:4-5, 9

I have noticed in my years as a pastor that people think being a pastor gives me greater access to God. This is an inaccurate view that can keep us from living by our true identity – which is that all believers are Priests

What is a priest in the Bible?

1.  In the Old Testament Israel, they were people set apart by God for his service

Only priests could serve in the ceremonial duties of the temple

2.  Their primary work was to offer sacrifices to God on behalf of the people

People brought their own sacrifices, but only priests could offer them

This was because only the priests had been consecrated by God

The status of a priest was their being set apart to serve God

The function of a priest was to offer sacrifices

How are all believers a priesthood?

1.  Our status – is that we have been set apart by God  

Old Testament priests were consecrated by anointing with blood and oil

We are anointed by the blood of Christ which cleansed us from sin

We are anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit, who made us a new creation and enables us in all things for God

Being SET APART is the primary theme in the Bible concerning the people of God

The New Testament describes this in many ways: we are to be Holy . . put on Christ . . follow Christ . . walk with God . . be filled with the Holy Spirit etc

We cannot follow or serve God, if we not set apart from the world that rejects him

God didn’t save us to simply enjoy life without fear of consequences

That is either the deceived view of an empty ‘acceptance of Christ’ – – Or, it’s the self-centered view of a believer who wants to still be ‘lord’ of their life

God saves us to live with him and for him. Anything less is unworthy of Christ, and it is blind to the glory of God

2.  Our function – is to offer sacrifices to God (v5)

We don’t offer sacrifices for sin, because Christ has done that in full

We offer the sacrifice of a life lived in response to God (Romans 12:1)

Once a sacrifice was offered, it could not be used for another purpose. This is how we are to view living for God

Notice we are to give a “living” sacrifice: this means that we offer God the way we live our life from now on

Our sacrifice is a continuous submission to God

This is called “worship” because it is our response to God

Our life is to be offered as an “acceptable” sacrifice

We cannot define what that looks like; only God through his word tells us what is “acceptable”

Peter uses two adjectives to describe our identity as priests

v5 we are a “holy priesthood”:  we are set apart for God, we cannot live for God and the world

v9 we are a “royal priesthood”:  the one we give our life to serve, is the King of all

How do we live by our identity as priests?

1.  Use the open access we have to our Heavenly Father (Hebrews 4:16)

Only priests had access to the temple – which represents the covenant presence of God

We are invited to come to him with every need and to “cast off” each burden

And then, we are invited to stay and enjoy his presence

2.  We have the responsibility to serve in the temple ministry (i.e. church ministry)

The Roman Catholic practice of clergy being priests does not exist in the New Testament Church

Instead of priests, the New Testament church is given pastors or shepherds

Pastors have teaching and oversight responsibilities, but they do not have any higher status

It harms the church when believers think only clergy are priests

This encourages church members to think they cannot do ministry   

Or that they are not responsible for it

3.  We make who we serve known to the world! (v9)

We have experienced the “light” of Christ – so make him known

We personally know the “excellencies” of Christ – so make him known

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.19.15

“We are Saints”              

1 Corinthians 1:2

We are in the series “Know who you are”, which looks at our identity in Christ.

Saint is used to describe everyone who is “in Christ”

Being a “saint” is like being “born again” – you cannot be a true Christian without this being true about you

The word saint means “holy one” or “set apart”

Saint comes from the same root word as ‘sanctification’ (which is the process of becoming righteous in our actions)

Saints are people set apart by Christ to live for a new purpose

We are both declared to be saints and called to be saints

1.  Being a saint refers to our condition, “those sanctified in Christ”

Christ has made us saints; he made us holy and he set us apart

Our guilt was placed on Christ and his righteousness placed on us

2.  Being a saint also refers to our purpose

We are called to live under the rule of Christ and in his character

Jesus is holy, he was ‘set apart’ from all that is corrupt

We are saved out of corruption in order to live for him and with him

We should not be content to say “I am saved and that’s enough”, we We should want to live in a way that walks with Christ

How can we welcome Jesus’ sacrifice and then disdain his life?

Christians may sin, but we must not be friendly with sin (Ephesians 5:1-12)

Sadly some Christian may tell other to “loosen up” and not be so zealous about every little sin

Would you be happy to accept a little bit of Ebola in your body?  Why ask God to accept a little bit of sin in you?

Christ himself harshly warns against the heart behind this (Revelation 3:16)

Being a saint includes:

1.  Our reality – this is what we are in Christ

2.  The Father’s expectation – what He saved us to be

3.  The Holy Spirit’s enabling – this is what he is doing in us

What does saintliness look like?

It has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic idea of “super Christians”, which is simply unbiblical

It is also more than strict moralism, which is the world’s perspective of saintliness

By definition, to be a saint is to live “set apart” for God

It is the recognition that we exist for him

God has set us apart from an idolatrous world to be worshipers of him

1.  To be set apart it is vital to see what we separate from

From whatever is rebellious

From what is false and distorted

From what distracts you

2.  To be set apart it is vital to see and cleave to

To the person of God

To what God has said

To the community of believers God created for us

Saintliness is to be like Jesus (Ephesians 4:11-13)

To love the Father with all our heart, mind and strength

To desire the Father’s will in all we do

To live for Christ’s kingdom rather than our own

Fulfilling our identity as a saint is a worthy way to live

We have to come to a conclusion about what we think is a worthy life (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

Do we think a half-hearted life is okay and worth it?

Do we think that zeal for God is wasted energy and a poor life goal?

Do we believe the Bible is accurate in what it portrays about the glories of obedience and living for Christ?

What makes living as a saint worthy?

What God has done for us in Christ

It follows the perfect wisdom of God

It brings us to the glorious eternal purposes God has for us

What is your conclusion? What do you think is worthy to live for?

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.05.15

 “We Are In Christ”

Ephesians 1:3-14

Sunday began a new series on Our Identity in Christ:  “Know Who You Are”. Each week will examine a different descriptive statement about our identity in Christ. We begin with the most foundational one of all – we are “in Christ”

** “Found in Him” by Elyse Fitzpatrick is a great book on our union with Christ

We are united to the person and accomplishments of Christ

We are not just saved “by” Christ; we are saved “in” Christ

Jesus saved us by what he did: He lived a perfect life, He died to pay for sin and He was physically raised

Although we didn’t do any of this, through faith it lives in us

1.  Our status before God is as if we did them

2.  Our life goes on to share what Jesus has (Ephesians 2:5-7)

What Christ accomplishes as God in flesh is “who we are”

Every spiritual blessing is built on our union with Christ (v3)

These blessings begin now, because Christ is victorious in this world

These blessings will flow into eternity, because Christ will reign there

We are in what is sometimes called, “the already– not yet”

Our salvation is completely done, but we don’t fully experience it yet

Our Primary Identity Is Not From This World

Our identity flows from eternity into the everlasting

1.  Our identity stood in eternity past (vs 4-5)

Our identity has always been known and in God’s heart

2.  Our identity is known in heaven now (vs 7-9)

We are redeemed, forgiven and God’s grace is “lavished on us”

3.  Our identity is everlasting (Ephesians 2:6-7)

Forever we will share life with Jesus and experience immeasurable grace

God’s commitment defines who we are, not the fickleness of people’s opinions or our accomplishments

Our identity is in our relationship with the triune God

1.  With the Father who has a wondrous plan and placed us in it

We are in Christ according to the Father’s ‘will’ (vs 5 & 8), and His ‘purpose’ (v11)

Our value is in how deeply our Heavenly Father is committed to us

2.  With the Son, who redeemed us so we could share his inheritance

We can never be separated from Jesus; he gave too much to ever let go

If how we think about ourselves, doesn’t flow out of what we have in Christ – we have a distorted opinion

3.  With the Holy Spirit who lives in us a proof God is “all in” (vs 13-14)

His presence is undisputable proof that God’s grace is lavished on us

The Holy Spirit’s presence is our greatest attribute

Our relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit defines us, nothing less

What do we do with this identity

1.  Be at peace

Our great blessings cannot be lost, because they are in him not us

Our future is inevitable, because we are not completing it

Our weaknesses don’t affect our hope

2.  Be fascinated with everything about Christ (Colossians 3:1-4)

We are with him. All that he is and has done directly affects us

The more we know about Christ, the more we know about our life

3.  Be a worshipper

All these blessings are to “the praise of his glory” (vs 6, 12, 14)

If you want the truths of God to become rooted in your heart – be a worshiper

If you want a deeper and more joyful relationship with God – be a worshiper

If you want to bring joy to God’s heart – be a worshiper

4.  Don’t sip at your union with Christ, drink from it

To drink means to believe, and biblical faith means we takes action on what we believe

A PARENT’S IDENTITY

 

     by Debbie Huber
Many moms will make a New Years resolution to be a “better mom”. What does it mean to be a better mom?  Is it the amount of time we spend with our children? Is it feeding your family healthier food?  Regularly attending church together?

In this article on the True Woman blog, Kimm Crandall addresses our need to obey the “mom laws”, the unwritten rules that we feel pressure to follow. We tend to think if we “do” parenting better or if our child achieves something or acts a certain way that we are successful parents. We can either keep throwing ourselves into trying harder or give up because we are afraid that we will keep on failing.

But our identity is not found in being a mom, our identity is in Christ. His love doesn’t just give us a fresh start to try again, we are forgiven forever and we are loved completely.  When we realize the sinful state that we were in and that we now are seen by God through the righteousness of Christ, we desire to be more like Him. When we read the scriptures we more clearly see the magnificent story of our Savior.  And we want to reflect this to the world because of who He is not because of how hard we try.

“When we try to display God’s goodness in our own strength, our works become self-exalting. But when we bask in Christ’s love and base our identity on the title of beloved daughter, we can love and serve others with motives informed by the gospel instead of self-righteousness (Phil. 3:9). Those messy, hard days when we fail do not change God’s disposition towards us. Because we have Christ’s righteousness, we are loved just as much on the good days as we are on the bad days.”

“There are no ‘three steps to gospel motherhood’ because the gospel is not something to do; it is something to believe (Jn. 6:29). Believe Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension were all for us. Believe His perfection was enough.”

How will this look in us?  I cannot answer that because it will not be the same in each of us. But when we daily reflect on the Gospel’s power to save us, we will focus less on ourselves. We will not strive to see our children succeed by the world’s standards to make them and us look good but instead strive to demonstrate to them the amazing power of God. We can show them that they will mess up, but that is why Jesus came!  That is why we need Him! That is why we run to Him and trust that He is good in every circumstance.