20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can have hope! Nothing in this world even compares to what God can do in our lives. He begins this good work when we place our faith for salvation in Jesus, in who He is and what He did for us on the cross. Nothing in this life compares to the eternal life God gives us through the Gospel. The hope of eternal life is based on our acceptance of the Gospel.
Nothing else compares to what God can offer me because Christ in me is the HOPE of glory. If you have Christ, you have the hope of the Gospel which includes the hope of salvation, the hope eternal life.
In other words, the basis of our hope is our reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. Reconciliation has a beautiful and significant meaning for those who have come to know Christ personally. Our passage calls to mind the great change that occurs in lives that have been reconciled with God. Those saved by the gospel of grace are challenged to continue striving forward in the truth that had saved them. For the Son’s reconciling love gives persevering faith through the hope of the gospel.
We are going to break down these verses wit three points to consider…
I. THE NEED FOR RECONCILIATION, 20-21.
II. THE MEANS OF RECONCILIATION, 22a.
III. THE RESULT OF RECONCILIATION, 22b-23.
20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.
What does reconciliation mean?
Reconciliation: reuniting, reunion, bringing (back) together (again)
an act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amicable truce.
the state of being reconciled.
The preceding paragraph taught that all God's fullness is in Christ. The purpose of God's fullness in Christ was reconciliation. He is God in human flesh. As verse 20 teaches us, it is only in and through Christ that we can we be reconciled to God. “and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross”
Having proclaimed the deity and work of Christ, Paul now reveals what it means to us. It is only because of the deity and work of Christ that we can be redeemed. With joyful wonder the Apostle testifies to the Colossian believers that they too have become recipients of God's marvelous act of reconciliation when they believed the gospel. By faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ they had been made acceptable to God.
Note that peace with God is made "through the blood of His cross”.
Hebrews 9:22 (NIV)
22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Without the death of Jesus on the Cross there is no forgiveness of sin before God. Jesus became our substitute as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Our reconciliation or atonement is because Christ went from being the spotless Lamb of God to being sin on our behalf as He died for us or in our place on the Cross. Our hope of Salvation is based on the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Verse 21, of our opening text impresses on us the transforming power of reconciliation by reminding us of what we were like before we were redeemed. 21 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled”.
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.
Here we encounter three words of separation that describe people before they are saved. First, they-we were alienated. Before we give our lives to Jesus, we are alienated from God. This means that we are separated from or estranged from Him.
Reconciliation is necessary because people are alienated. We are alienated because we turned away from God and have been shut off from fellowship with God.
Second, our minds were hostile toward God. Before conversion the Colossian believers were enemies or hostile to God in their minds, meaning in their internal thinking & external behavior. People are outwardly hostile against God because of their inward hostility. Our intellectual capacities were so distorted that we worked against God's purposes.
Would you readily admit that before you came to Christ, that your mind was hostile toward God? What this is saying is that we were strangers to God's ways of thinking and, as a result, we lead a life of sin. Thus, this hostility can manifest itself in outright rebellion against God to the subtle ways we ignored God in our everyday lives. We used our thinking ability to justify ourselves and our actions.
Third, we were engaged in evil deeds. Wicked works are the evidence and manifestation of alienation and hostility. Calling our deeds evil sounds harsh doesn't it? What are evil deeds? Everything we do that is in opposition to God's will is considered an evil deed. Not just the extreme actions. An evil deed is ANYTHING that stands in opposition to what God has told us. It is living for ourselves and not for God and His glory.
You and I were estranged and hostile toward God. We were without any hope of attaining eternal salvation. Without any hope of saving ourselves. And that is the condition of the whole human race. Rebellion against God reigns in the hearts of men/women - you and me, included. We are rebels by nature just as much as Khomeini, Khadafy or Osama Bin Laden.
II. THE MEANS OF RECONCILIATION, 22.
22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
How can fallen man have fellowship with God? Only Verse 22 indicates God's terms of reconciliation with sinners. We can be reconciled to God only through the death of Jesus. “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”
These blessed words should resound like thunder in our heart. The pivotal word "reconcile" is one of the most significant in the NT. It is a key to understanding what Christ has done for us. Jesus uses a group of words, all having basically the same meaning, to express the central experience of the Christian faith.
Please note that God has not been reconciled to a man, but man must be reconciled to God.
God's passionate yearning for His children's return home is never abated. the fire of love burning in His heart is unquenchable, constant, and continuous. Nothing lessens that love or turns it into hate.
The meaning should be clear. Through what Christ did, the lost relationship between persons and God, can be restored. What did Jesus do? He died, judged in our place, for our sin on the Cross. Jesus Paid it All as the old hymn reminds us . . .
We are reconciled through Jesus' death. The death must be understood in light of the person who died. Since the person was infinite. It could include an infinite amount of suffering and pain, and infinite amount of penalty and payment.
Reconciliation with God can be offered to us because of the life and death of Jesus, the fullness of God in human flesh…
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is a gift given to us from God. He is the gift-giver. Thus… He is the one who sets the terms for how to receive this free gift and then makes the offer to us. You did not purchase or earn your gift so you cannot dictate the terms of acceptance. Your either accept it on His terms or you have rejected it. He will not give His indescribable gift to us on our terms. We must receive it on His terms, or He will not gift it to us.
Notice if you will… Man was alienated from God, Jesus lived in perfect harmony w/ God. We were hostile toward God. Jesus was the Son of God. Our actions were evil, Jesus did only the works of God.
The reconciled God justifies by grace the sinner who accepts the means of reconciliation. Those who surrender to Jesus allow the Holy Spirit into their life to transform their relationship, mind, and behavior in order to bring them back to God. Have you done this... have you surrendered your life to Christ? Are you being brought back to God's way of believing, thinking and acting?
III. SOME RESULT OF RECONCILIATION, 23.
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Verse 22 also tells us that the purpose of Christ's death is redemptive. Christ died for you, "in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach-"
To present you is the ultimate purpose of reconciliation Christ's death is the basis for judicial justification (Rom. 3:21-26), and for sanctification (Rom. 6-7). He cleans us and makes us holy for Christ's righteousness becomes our righteousness. We become sanctified as we follow Him.
So… a result of Christ's reconciling work is to present believers as "holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation." When you belong to God, you are set apart as something special, you have a special purpose. Holy, in this context, means to set aside to be dedicated to God, like the holy utensils of the tabernacle were set aside for the special purpose of service to God.
That does not mean you are sinless or perfect. But God has expunged our record and accredit to our account Christ's perfect record. He pronounced us justified after we acknowledge our sinfulness, place our faith in Jesus as Savior, and surrender our life to Him as Lord.
Verse 23 states that this reconciliation in Christ comes only by an abiding or continuing faith. “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
The text is insistent that believers must continue and confident that they will. They had a settled faith. It was established (grounded like a building on a strong foundation) and firm, so Paul expects they would continue or be able to continue building a God honoring life.
Because of Jesus' work on the Cross, we can be presented to God as holy and blameless “if” we continue on in faith or reliance on Christ and His teachings.
When we are separated from God, it will affect every other area in our life in a bad way. A right relationship with God is the foundation for everything else we do in life.
Atonement for sin was absolutely necessary for until alienation, hostility and evil works were dealt with, there could be no reconciliation. God cannot be reconciled with sin. Man must be reconciled to a Holy God in holiness. We can now be offered holiness, blamelessness, in Christ Jesus.
The only hope we have of being saved is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once we are saved, we can have the hope of the Gospel, the hope of heaven, the hope of becoming more and more Christ-like as God continues the good work of redemption in our life.
To what are you clinging to establish your future? We need to believe in the promises of Scripture. We need to place our hope and faith in Jesus and the Word of God! We are to cling to the hope of the Gospel. When you receive Jesus, you are telling God that you are surrendering your life to Him on His terms!
11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore, his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads here today. This is a very familiar story that we all have heard and learned quite a few lessons from. A story of forgiveness, mercy, and love. This Father’s day… I want to look at what makes a great dad according to this story. The very first thing I noticed is that a great dad sets his kids free. The story begins with a horrible request – “give me the portion of goods that falls to me”. “give me my share of the estate”.
It is a slap in the father’s face, a rejection, a selfish demand. This son is not mature enough to wisely handle the responsibility and does a terrible job with it. the story says he, “wasted his possessions with prodigal living” In light of the result, we are tempted to blame the father for giving in to the request, we are tempted to criticize him. Until we remember that in the story Jesus is telling, the “Father” represents God. If we accept that representation, we have to see some wisdom in the Father’s decision, and I think it is this, he sets his son free, even to make mistakes. That is a hard thing for a parent, I’m sure I am not the only parent in here that is not afraid to see their children make mistakes, but I think it is a part of remembering that our children really are their own persons, able and responsible for making their own decisions, and that even though we do our very best to guide and to teach, there comes a time when we must set them free.
The second thing I notice is that a great dad never stops believing. Verse 20 says… “when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him”. That tells me he was watching, he was hoping, he was believing that the home of love that he had worked so hard to create would be powerful enough draw his son to return, as the Scripture says, “But when he came to himself”, and return home. For some of you, this might be tough, perhaps your relationship has been strained, and there is great distance between you and your child.
Don’t give up! Don’t stop believing! Your child can never go so far that they are out from underneath God’s care, and God’s love. Take responsibility for whatever part you played in the breakdown of that relationship and keep believing that it can be restored.
The rest of verse 20 says… “when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him”. This is packed with emotion. There is compassion, there is excitement and exuberance, and there is physical affection. There is compassion instead of condemnation and I think this comes because the father truly did set his son free. You see many fathers today would be full of pride if this was to happen. On a side note, the Bible gives a clear command on father’s when it comes to their relationship with their child.
6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
And again on…
20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
“provoke or exasperate” To irritate, to frustrate intensely. To anger, to annoy, antagonize, to provoke.
You see, there are many ways that we…as parents or dads can provoke/exasperate our child.
Calling them names, your stupid, what were you thinking. Don’t you ever learn anything. Your good for nothing, your lazy. Here’s an innocent way that parents/dads can exasperate a child.
Many may not see it, but judge for yourselves if it’s true or not.
We can innocently exasperate/provoke a child, when we start comparing then to their siblings or another child.
Here’s some examples, again…judge for yourselves.
Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister!
Your brother/sister gets straight A’s, why can’t you get straight A’s!
Your brother/sister never gets into trouble, how did you end up this way!
Our neighbor’s kids help with the chores, why can’t you!
Does all this sound familiar! It also goes with your relatives, cousins, nephews, nieces and so on.
You get the picture. You see…we are not all created the same way. We have done quite a few baby dedications in this church. And one of the things mentioned is that, your child is a gift from God/ a loan, that needs to be taken care of.
Every child is created differently. And guess who is the Creator? GOD of course! By comparing child with another child, we have taken away their worth! Totally a different reaction from the father in our story. Anyway, back to our story…
The father did not harbor bitterness, he did not greet the son with harshness, even though the son comes back understanding that he had rejected his father and was “no longer worthy to be called (a) son”, the father responds with compassion. This father lives in the present, not nurturing the hurt of the past, but instead focusing on what is true today which was this… “for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
In this line, the compassion is together with excitement and exuberance. The father runs to meet the son. Now remember, the father does not yet know how the son is feeling – he could be coming back for more money, he could be coming back unrepentant, he could be coming back completely unchanged – the father doesn’t know yet.
All he knows is that his son is coming up the path. But he doesn’t wait, he doesn’t believe the worst, he runs to his child. Some of us fathers maybe need to do the same, show our kids how excited we are in them, show them our love, believe the best and run to meet them in their lives and their worlds.
This father shows his love with physical expression. He hugs, and kisses. Dads, our kids need this – they need positive, affirming touch. They need dads that will wrap their arms around them and gently demonstrate their love through positive and affirming touch. Yes, even when they are old enough to leave home!
The story continues with the father’s instructions to his servants… vs22-23, “22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it and let us eat and be merry”.
The dad threw a party…how insane is that!!!
What I notice here is that a great dad gives his children the best. The son gives the start of his “prepared speech”, about how he is no longer worthy, and the father’s response is to yell to the servants, whom he instructs to go and get the very best for his son. The best robe, the ring, the sandals, the fattened calf. The massive, hold-nothing-back celebration. What an incredible picture of forgiveness! It is not reluctantly or grudgingly offered… it is a celebration! Instead of punishment and penalty and penance, there is exuberant forgiveness and joyful celebration.
Dads, (I’m in this too) here is a pointed question, do our children get our best? Now, in our affluent society I am not talking about material possessions here. Do they get our best efforts? Our best love? Our best time? Our best attention? Do they know that we are still excited about who they are, (the same excitement as when they were born) that we still celebrate them with joy and exuberance? A great dad, like the one in this story, gives his children his best.
A Great Dad Works For Family Unity. The last thing I notice about a great dad is this. A great dad works for family unity. In the last part of the story, we see the jealousy and selfishness of the older brother – the “good kid”, like I had mentioned earlier, It’s not fair to compare a child to another. Here we see a jealous son, who is so ripped off by the father’s welcome of the prodigal son, that he won’t even go in to join in the celebration. Notice what the father does…
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore, his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’
He didn’t just go out to the first prodigal – that father went out to the second prodigal as well – the prodigal who never actually left home, but whose heart was far from his father’s. And he “pleaded” with him – he talked and listened and tried to help the brother understand how important it was to celebrate. His actual words are significant… “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” He reaffirms his love and dedication with this older son, and that “everything I have is yours”, you see, they were treated equally and then introduces his perspective on why they must celebrate. I’m sure it was a difficult confrontation, but through it we see the father working for family unity.
For those of you who are fathers, my prayer is that you would find something encouraging and something challenging in this story, that would help you to be the father that God desires you to be. (YES!!! I am included in this also)
It is hard work being a dad/parent. But…God in His sovereign power gave us children, that we can be called parents/dads. I Think in a way… God knew that we were up for the task. One thing I know for sure is that…if God gave us the gift of children, he knew that they would be well taken care of. After all, they are His!
Happy Fathers Day!!!
1 Peter 2:2-6
2 As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
“Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
God has called us to the life of building, not destroying. After Peter has instructed us to rid ourselves of evil and to grow up in our salvation, he proceeds to tell us how to do that. After using the analogy of a baby who craves for milk, he now uses an analogy which is used frequently in the New Testament to illustrate growth in one's spiritual life, or the building up of the body of Christ--the church. It is the comparison of building a house.
Peter's analogy is more specific than merely building a house, it is the building of God's house, a spiritual temple. The original temple was built by King Solomon under the first covenant of God with His chosen people. Under the New Covenant, the spiritual house or temple is being built by the Lord Himself. A spiritual temple requires a very specific kind of building material. It is to be built of living stones--the very lives of those who have become spiritually alive through faith in Jesus Christ.
And such building must begin with Jesus Christ for He alone is the foundation and cornerstone and each born-again believer who is a living stone in Christ's church…
I. THE LIVING FOUNDATION STONE, 4.
II. THE LIVING TEMPLE STONES, 5.
III. THE CHOICE CORNER-STONE, 6.
Verse 4 begins teaching on the important subject of God's living temple by referring to Jesus Christ as a "living stone." “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,” Peter says not only are we children in the same family, but we are stones in the same building. A physical building isn't the church--the body of believers is the church! We are the living stones.
Many like to be on the church on Sundays. At times we can see a crowd enjoy the parking lot, fellowship hall, and the sanctuary. Why? It's not because the grounds are anything special. It's because the fragrance of the church is left behind. This building is nothing more than a building. But because the church worships, prays, studies and fellowships with the Lord here, this place is filled with the fragrance of Jesus.
The church of Jesus is made up of believers who have come to Christ and founded their life upon Him. The participle's tense and voice indicate that this coming is to be a personal and continual approach. It is an intimate association of communion and fellowship between believers and their Lord. The church is made up of those who have come to Christ and who are continually coming to Christ.
You see…true believers who have felt the love of Christ, will want to fellowship with fellow believers, because they all beat in one heart. And that is the heart of Christ. And those who ignore to be among fellow believers will show the opposite. It will be very obvious…noticeable, when someone stays away from other believer. When that happens, you need to search your heart and see who is really there. Whether you have been made alive…a living stone or the obvious fact…you are still dead and just playing role for people to see.
This continual coming together, indicates they continually fellowship (abide in) with Jesus Christ, the living Stone. In 1 Peter 1:3, Peter referred to Christ as "living hope" and in vs 1:23 to the "living Word”, now he referred to Christ as "the living Stone."
Peter developed and explained the metaphor of the stone in the following verses. Here he said this Stone is living. It has life in itself and gives life to others. People may enter into personal, vital relationships with this "living Stone." He is the living stone because He conquered that which kills, steals and destroys --sin, death, and the grave.
Although Christ was rejected by men (a theme of these verses)... God had chosen Him (1:20) and sees Him as precious (1:19; 2:4, 7; Isa. 28:16).
1 Peter 1:19
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
1 Peter 2:4
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.
And also, quoted from Isaiah…
16 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.
God regards Jesus as the most precious of all… yet the world still rejects Him, because the world has rejected God. Christians rejected by the world may take heart in the knowledge that they are the chosen by God.
II. THE LIVING TEMPLE STONES, 5
1 Peter 2:5
5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Because of our connection to the Living Stone we have become living stones who are being built together into a spiritual house which is for the service and glory of God as we read in v5.
Because of the life-giving power that has flown into our life we have become alive in Christ. All spiritual life comes from Christ. Since Christ is the living Stone those who have established a relationship with become living stones also.
Each time someone trust Christ as Lord and Savior another stone is quarried out of the pit of sin by the Holy Spirit. These living stones are not scattered uselessly about but are gathered together so that they can be built into God's church, God's spiritual house…
1 Corinthians 3:16
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
The church is a dwelling place… which is inhabited by the Living God. Are you connected, have you been made live, is the heart of Christ beating in your chest? “the Spirit of God dwells in you”. Are you… “being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” Where do you belong? Are you by yourself… a lone Christian? According to the verses we had just read, there is no lone Christian. You have to be connected, or you’re not. No halfway!
This life is like a rock quarry, which explains why we feel like we're being chipped and chiseled. God also places us next to other believers who constantly rub against one another, which is aggravating because we are living stones.
Yet it is the process God uses to knock off our rough edges and grind smooth our imperfections. It takes the church and its ministry to remake us into greater and greater Christ…likeness. Sometime God puts us right next to the very people He knows will rub on us so that He can shape us and fit us into a body, a temple polished for His glory.
God knows what people and what situations will shape us most effectively. Believers not only make up the church but serve in it, ministering as a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices. All believers are priests…you represent Christ.
1 Peter 2:9
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 1:22
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in [b]sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.
Therefore, we are to become more like Jesus Christ. Not to backwards, as if there was no change in our lives.
What is the responsibility of a priest? Maybe the meaning of the word priest in Latin will help us. The word means "bridge-builder." Christians are to be bridge-builders. We are to reach out to God with one hand and each other with the other hand and seek to build each other up to God. This is the focus of the church which is made up of ministers or priests who are helping each other, building each other up for God.
We, God's holy priesthood, are to offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. These spiritual sacrifices we offer God include an obedient life (Rom. 12:1-2), praise and thanksgiving (Heb. 13:15), and the practical ministry of doing good and sharing, especially the gospel, with others (Heb. 13:16). These sacrifices are acceptable to God as we offer them through Jesus Christ for the glory of God.
III. THE CHOICE CORNER-STONE, 6.
1 Peter 2:6
Therefore, it is also contained in the Scripture,
“Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
Many of us may ask, "What does that mean? What is a cornerstone?" Webster's dictionary defines a cornerstone as: "A stone which lies at the corner of two walls and serves to unite them; specifically, a stone built into a corner of the foundation of an important edifice as the actual or nominal [fixed] starting point in the building."
A cornerstone gives direction to the rest of the foundation. It also is the support on which the rest of the building relies for strength and stability. Believers trust in Christ much as a building rests on its cornerstone. Paul writes the same definition…
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Jesus is (a living stone and) the chief cornerstone who seeks to be the master builder of our lives and who desires to build us, His church, together into a holy temple in the Lord. Jesus Christ has not become the chief cornerstone by accident nor by His own initiative. He has been chosen by God. Jesus is precious to God. He is His only begotten son (John 3:16) and Savior of His church who shed His precious life blood that He may redeem us for God.
Those living stones who build their life upon the chosen cornerstone are given a promise, they will never be put to shame. Never! will they be shamed. So, Peter encouraged his readers with a sure scriptural promise of ultimate victory for those who trust Christ.
Christians may sometimes be put to shame or face disappointments in life, but their trust in God is never misplaced. God will never let them down. We can safely put our confidence in Jesus because the eternal life that He promise is certain.
The apostle Peter described Jesus as a living stone and indicated that precious in the eyes of the Father is the sacrifice of the Rock of our Salvation. Christ is the enduring stone upon which the Father has built our salvation and He is the only foundation upon which we can build a life of eternal significance…
1 Corinthians 3:11
11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
It is only as our lives are built upon His strength that we will be able to endure the harshness of life in a fallen world. Build your life upon the rock of ages if you want to build for eternity.
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
There is only one eternal Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one eternal spiritual building, the Church of the Living God. Jesus Christ is the foundation and chief cornerstone of the Church fitting and binding God's dwelling place together. The church is totally dependent upon Christ for its eternalness and its direction and by our Lord's ministry in and through us we are being built up as we build each other up in the most holy faith.
Walk By Faith
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
There was a teacher who wanted to introduce her students to the theory of evolution and the origin of the universe, but she had an outspoken young boy who was a Christian and she knew that he would surely give her a hard time. She thought and thought about how she could get this young man to accept these theories that she knew in her heart were true. Finally, she had a plan. On the day she wanted to start teaching these theories, she called the young boy to the front of the class and told him to go over to the window and look outside. When he did, she said, do you see the grass outside? Yes, the young man said. Do you see the trees? Yes, the young man said. Look up into the sky and tell me what you see up there. I see clouds. What else do you see? Nothing but sky. The teacher said; then you don’t see god up there? The boy said well no I don’t actually see Him. That’s because He doesn’t exist the teacher said. Please go back to your seat so we can go back to our lesson. When the boy went back to his seat, he asked the girl sitting beside him if he could ask her some questions. He said this loud enough for the teacher to hear him. He asked. Do you see the teacher up there? The girl said yes. Do you see her clothes? The girl said yes. Do you see her arms? The girl said yes. How about her head, do you see that? The girl was starting to get irritated with him and said of course I see her head but what is your point. I just have one more question for you. Do you see a brain in her head? The girl said of course not. Nobody can see your brain. The boy said then does that mean she doesn’t have one?
How are we to walk worthy of our calling? How we are to walk worthy of our citizenship in Heaven? The Bible has much to say about our “walk” in this life. When the bible talks about a persons walk, it is talking about a persons life, how they live and how they present themselves in the world.
In Ephesians we are told to walk in humility. In Romans we are told to walk in purity. In 1 Cor contentedness. Ephesians, different from the world, in love, in light, in wisdom and in John we are to walk in truth. So…with that being said, “walking by faith”, is a very challenging task. And at times, when you try to “walk by faith”, doubt comes along with it.
Today I want to start with the essential. What we must do in order to walk with the Lord.
In order to please God and to even be a Christian we must WALK BY FAITH.
There are three things that I want to bring out this afternoon about this “walk by faith”.
THE FIST THING IS THAT FAITH HAS A DEMAND AND THAT DEMAND IS ACCEPTANCE.
We must first and foremost accept who God is, vs3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
By faith, we understand and acknowledge that God created what we see. By faith we acknowledge the power and majesty of our Creator. By faith we accept God as the creator of all that is. Gen 1:1 says that “in the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.”
If we are to walk by faith, we must first accept who God is. There’s a story about Isaac Newton that I would like to share with you this afternoon.
Newton was a scientist, a physicist, and an astronomer. His theory of gravitation was a breakthrough in science at the time. You remember the old story of Newton sitting under an apple tree and an apple falling and hitting him on the head and from this he deduced what we today call gravity.
Newton was a religious man He walked this faith that we are talking about this morning. He was a born-again Christian. Newton had a friend who was an atheist and he had tried over and over to share Jesus with him. He realized that he had to somehow get him to acknowledge that there was a God in order to talk to him about his need for God.
He came up with a plan. He spent weeks making a model of the universe. This model was an exact replica of the universe, as they understood it at that time. All the planets were placed to scale in relationship to the sun and all in their proper places. He painted them to look like what everybody imagined they would look like. He placed this model in the middle of the table in his home. His friend the atheist came by and saw it and was amazed at how precise everything was. He asked Newton who had made this model. Newton told him that he didn’t know. That it had just appeared on his table one day. He said that that was not possible. Nothing just shows up like that. Somebody had to create it and it was obvious that whoever had created it was very intelligent because of all the intricate detail. Newton continued to tell his friend that no, this just fell together and showed up on his table. His friend became very angry telling Newton that this was scientifically impossible.
Newton just looked at his friend the atheist and said ‘isn’t this what you believe about our universe? Don’t you believe that everything just kind of fell into place? That it just magically appeared. His friend got the point. There was a creator. There was intelligent design and that was the God that Newton worshipped.
Once Newton’s friend accepted that there was a God, then he could share with him… his need for Jesus. You see… “Faith” demands acceptance of who God is. The Bible says that the Heavens declare the glory of God. Once we accept who God is, we must also accept What He has done for us.
Ok…now, let’s say that we have broken through the barrier of doubt. We now believe that there is God and that He created everything that see. So…how and where does Jesus come into the picture? Keep in mind…we had just broken through the barrier of doubt that there is a God, now I have to believe there’s a Son of God?
We must understand that because of man’s rebellion against his Creator, (sinfulness), that God needed a way to reconcile man back to his Creator. God created a way back to Him through Jesus Christ. Ok now wait!!! We Just believed that there is a God, now we have to believe, that He Has a Son!
In the book of John chapter three, John tells the story of a man trying to understand what God has done for us in order to reconcile us to Him. In John chapter three we find the story of Nicodemus and his late-night conversation with Jesus. You see…it is possible to believe that there is a God and not believe in Jesus as His Son.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a religious man of that time. The scripture says that he was a ruler of the Jews, which means that he was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He was a very important man both in religious and political circles. Nicodemus believed in God, he already accepted the fact that there was a God, He was just trying to understand the role that Jesus had in this relationship between God and man.
The Pharisees… Nicodemus included, were looking for their Messiah. They were looking for an earthly king. In this conversation, Jesus told him that in order to get to Heaven, in order to reconcile yourself to God, you must be “born again”. Nicodemus didn’t understand and said that it was impossible for a man to enter into his mother’s womb and be re-born. Again, we see a man (Nicodemus) who believed in God, and yet had doubts with the Savior that he was talking to.
Jesus told him that it wasn’t a physical… but a spiritual birth that He was talking about. A birth from above as some have translated. A change of heart and a change in how a man thought that he was reconciled to God. No longer did man have to try in vain to follow rules and regulations to try and reconcile himself to God. All this re-birth required was an acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah, and faith in Him would remove all these rules and regulations that the religion of the day placed on people. And again…religion still place a very big role in the Christian faith, to this day!
John goes on to record probably the most recognized verse of scripture in the bible…
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
This is what Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he must believe, in order to be saved. In order to be “born again”. Faith demands that we believe in Jesus for who He is. He is our Savior. He is the reconciler between man and God. You see… it is very possible to believe everything in the Bible and yet doubt this very important verse! (John 3:16)
IN ORDER TO WALK BY FAITH, WE MUST FIRST MEET IT’S DEMAND OF ACCEPTANCE OF WHO GOD IS AND WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR US IN ORDER TO RECONCILE OURSELVES BACK TO HIM.
The second thing we see here is that if we are to “Walk by Faith” it is that this walk requires ACTION!!! Throughout chapter 11 here in Hebrews we see faith lived out. Paragraph after paragraph we see action by the “heroes of the faith” as they are called. Before we read about this action, the paragraph starts out saying “By faith”.
Their faith had led them into action. If you are familiar with chapter, there are many stories told here in this about these actions of faith, but I would like to share just one of them with you. The story of Abraham and his son Isaac found here in chapter 11 verses 17,18,19 and Gen ch22.
Let’s visit the story, shall we. One day God called out to Abraham and Abraham said I’m listening Lord. God told him to take his one and only son that had been born to him and his wife Sarah and go to Mount Moriah and sacrifice this son named Isaac.
Now I don’t know about you, but I believe that I would have said something like, “Excuse me, you want me to do what?” I don’t know about that Lord. As the story goes, Abraham didn’t question God. Abrahams faith was put into ACTION!
He got up early and loaded up his donkey with all that he would need for the sacrifice and the journey. He set out with two young male servants and Isaac. They traveled for three days and when they arrived, Abraham told the servants to stay at the base of the mountain while he and Isaac went up to worship God. They took everything that Abraham had brought with him for the sacrifice to God. Isaac noticed something. Although Abraham knew that he had all that was required, Isaac saw things a little differently.
Isaac said, father I see that we have everything needed for the alter and to burn the sacrifice with but where is the lamb that is needed for this sacrifice. Abraham looked at his son and said, God will provide the sacrifice. God will provide the lamb. (Does John 3:16 becoming clearer now!)
They went on up and built the alter and then Abraham took his son and bound him and laid him on the alter. Preparing to sacrifice him to God. He raised the knife over the young man’s chest, prepared to thrust the knife and God spoke to him again through an Angel and told him to stop. Don’t touch a hair on his head. I see your faith in action. Abraham looked around and saw a ram caught in a thicket and he used the ram for the sacrifice.
If we “walk by faith”, it will require action. James the brother of Jesus and the first pastor of a Christian church writes that faith without action is dead.
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
If we truly have faith, if we truly walk by faith, there will be a natural action involved with our faith. Here’s another story, from a devotional.
There is a member of the church that I called Superwoman. She did everything. She worked in the nursery. She was in charge of the women on mission program. She taught Sunday school. She was on the Church Council. She cleaned the church. She cooked meals for the sick elderly and delivered them. On church work days she would be right there with the men, trimming hedges, raking leaves, cutting down trees. I learned the hard way that she was as strong as all the men. On visitation nights or special evangelism events, she was the first there and one of the last to leave.
One day as we were talking, I asked her how she kept this pace up. While she is not old, she is no longer a spring chicken. She said that as long as God would give her strength, she would continue to do what she was doing and more if she could. She told me that she did what she did because of her faith. She did all these things because of what God had done for her and also because that this is what God expects from her. You see, her faith required action.
Her faith was more than sitting in a pew on Sunday morning. She is walking by faith, She has accepted God for who He is and has accepted what He has done for her and the only reaction, the only way that she can live a life of faith is to put feet and deeds to her faith.
THE THIRD THING WE SEE, IF WE ARE WALKING BY FAITH… IS THAT FAITH PRODUCES ASSURANCE!
2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
The “for by it” means faith. By faith, the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith, they were considered righteous. The bible says that because of his faith, Abraham was considered righteous. By faith these heroes of the faith were saved and they’re eternity was assured.
Back to the story of Nicodemus. Jesus said that if you believed in Him, if you had Faith that you would “not perish but have everlasting life”. This is the assurance we have as we walk by faith.
Ok…Nicodemus, had a hard time believing in who Jesus was, he had a hard time believing that he could be born again. Again, let me make this story clear. Nicodemus was man…a very religious man who believed in God. And yet, when face to face with Jesus, he was confused. Total opposite of walking by faith.
How many testimonies do you need to hear, in order to “Walk by Faith”?
How many times has Jesus saved you when you were in need?
How many times has Jesus answered your prayers?
Our las verse for tonight… I kind of went backwards on the sequence of these verses…
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
For the time being, only faith, as it receives the promises of God, can see into the future. Because “faith”, is the means by which the believer lays hold of Christ! Faith has to keep moving, action is involved. We do not loose faith because at one time we thought that God didn’t answer our prayers. We do not loose faith because we thought at one time God did not provide for our need.
Church…I can sound like a broken record, saying the same thing over and over, but the fact is…what you believe in Jesus will determine the outcome of your faith. We cannot believe in Jesus halfway…it has to be a hundred percent. We’re here…we’ve made it this far, eternity is promised. You have to believe that right!!!
Let us pray…
Pastor Richard Santos
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