Intro: I have heard some Christians say, I was active in serving the Lord before but… or when I retire I will give all my time to serve God. I hope there is still enough strength and good health left to serve the Lord after that? I believe they have the right perspective in serving the Lord as a sacrifice. Christians who do not serve the Lord will not lose their salvation for the lack of it. But they will miss out of the opportunity to be used by God for the glory of His Son, which is the next greatest blessing after salvation. Then there are those who serve in different religions in order to please their god so that they will be rewarded with heaven. But will that save them? No, because salvation is not by works or service to God. But for those who are already saved, it is God’s will that we serve the Lord.
“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.” Heb. 9:14
Does serving God involve a sacrifice? I wonder if you have come across what seems to be a contradiction to what the prophet Samuel said in relation to the message last Sunday about offering our body as a living sacrifice. Here’s what Samuel wrote inspired by God.
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Sam. 15:22
Careful examination of this passage, we find that there is no contradiction. Sacrifice has no meaning if it is not done out of obedience. What was the cost to Jesus to obey the will of His Father as His sacrifice to God? The suffering that He would go through at the cross, receiving the punishment of God for sins He did not commit as His ultimate offering to God.
“It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one: he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him…First he said, Heb. 9:23-28; 10:8-10“Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus once for all.”
Last Tuesday in a home Bible study, we took up the lesson on the way and one of the questions was, what is another definition of sin?
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins.” James 4:17
When I asked for examples of the good things we ought to do, one of the attendees pointed worshiping God and was quick to admit that she sinned because she did not come to worship. Even though she wanted to but there was a mix up as to her ride to church. Is it a sacrifice to come church to worship? If it is done in obedience to give up activities and things you love and would rather do, then it is a sacrifice and a living sacrifice.
But what is the living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God? We already took up last Sunday what a living sacrifice is. In the Old Testament God used the offering of blood of bulls and goats to atone for sins. That was only a pattern of what was promised until the Messiah who takes away the sins of the world comes. This was fulfilled when Jesus came as the Lamb of God. His death took care of those who believed God in the OT by obeying what God required, the shedding of blood. Their faith was looking forward to the promised Messiah and their obedience was the evidence of their faith. However, in time this lost it’s meaning. They were doing the right thing but only to satisfy the law out of obligation but not out of a love relationship with God. In the last book of the Old Testament in Malachi, the chosen nation Israel has so adulterated the Word of God and His law that God rebuked them and then was silent for four hundred years until Jesus came.
“When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king.” Says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” Mal. 1:13b-14
Thank God, He provided for us the perfect sacrifice, pure, sinless and without blemish in the person of God the Son who left heaven to live in a body and shared in our humanity so that He could die and His blood shed to wash away our sins. Jesus offered His body as a living sacrifice by living in holiness for 33 years. He was holy because He never sinned and pleasing to God because He gave His all to do the will of God and did it out of…
“The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
The cross was the ultimate sacrifice of Christ but even as He grew up He lived his life as an offering to God His Father, in perfect submission.
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation of those who obey him.” Heb. 5:7-9
Jesus did not refuse nor ask to be saved from suffering, instead He,
“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, from whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Heb. 2:10-11
So as brothers of Jesus and sons of God, how are we to live our lives? The same way Jesus lived His life. By sacrificially live for God.
“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Rom. 12:1b
Does God force us to offer our bodies? No. Otherwise it is no longer our choice nor offering but an obligation. That’s why Paul reminded us not to forget how God had mercy on us to save us from death and hell. He saved us because He loved us. God’s act of mercy and grace came out of his love, the same love that He had for Jeremiah and His chosen ones in Israel.
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you in loving kindness.” Jer. 31:3
And this is also true of those whom God has chosen and loved.
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.” Ps. 103:17-18
When we gave our sins to Christ, He took it and gave us in exchange His righteousness. So in God’s sight He sees the righteousness of Christ. However, we may not yet be holy in our walk because we still want to have control of our lives and live the way we want to. That’s why we go through a process called sanctification, the growing of our spiritual life compared to a,
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.” 1 Cor. 13:11
So, when we offer our lives to God, it ought to be holy for God to be pleased and for Him to use as He pleases. On our own we cannot make ourselves holy neither can we always live daily a holy life. But we can, and here’s how we can live a holy life to offer to God.“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.” After we received Jesus we became a child of God by being in Christ. Jesus is the only one who is holy and only He can make us holy. How then can we be holy? By…
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
This is a daily decision to put to death our old self and surrender to Christ as Lord so He can live His life in us. This is in response to Christ’s invitation. This is our decision to surrender our will and let Him have full control of us.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Think of the cross. Cross mean death. Jesus went to the cross and died. And after three days was raised from the dead. He is alive and now in us. What does He want us to do? The same way He did by going through the cross.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2
We need to go through the cross and die daily and be cleansed of sin so Christ can live in us and be Lord. We die to our wants, ambitions, desires and even our rights to ourselves. We yield completely in total surrender and submission to Christ to lead us where He wants us to go and do what He wants us to do. This is what Jesus said to Peter,
“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” John 21:18
How does this work out in practical life? A life that is fully surrendered to Christ will be led by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the will of God. When you go to work, you will be in the center of God’s will and you will be a witness to Christ because you will do a good job joyfully and stand out because you are different among those around you. Christ is in you and living in you and He is seeking for His lost ones while He is being glorified through you. When Gina and I go out to buy groceries or eat we watch where God is working and whom He is drawing to His Son. We are ready to be used by God, however He wants to use us, trusting that Christ is the One living in us and seeking His lost ones. We make this commitment to offer our bodies daily as living sacrifices for Christ to live through us and do what He wants to do through us. Does He really? Yes, He can, He will and does because this is the will of God. We need to believe, trust and by faith offer our bodies to God to do as He pleases as His will for us in Christ.
A voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Matt. 17:5b
When we listen to Jesus and do what He says, God the Father accepts our offering and He is now free to do what He wills to glorify His Son. We will be right in the center of God’s will and will experience God.
Today after our worship service, we will be affirming our covenant with Christ by observing His ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. This is to proclaim His death and in remembrance of what He did for you and for me.
Intro: Last Thursday, Gina and I went to look for something at the surplus store and as always we prayed that the Lord will encounter us with a Filipino and we did. We got into a conversation and exchanged asking questions what we are doing and why we are here. He is very active in a Catholic religious group called BLD. After we said we are missionaries, he invited us to attend their meetings. I then felt it was time to ask him the diagnostic question. If you were to die today, God forbid, do you know for certain that you will go to heaven? His reply was, I think so but God is the only one who knows that. This is the most common reply for anyone who is not saved. Other answers are, I hope so, maybe because I am not so bad. And there are those who say they are sure but when asked the reason why, they have different answers and Jesus is not even mentioned. We shared with him that he can know for certain of going to heaven but sensed that he is not ready to listen so we just told him to call us when he is ready to hear.
He does not realize that he is like being on death row. There is already a judgment hanging on his head and will be carried out the moment he dies. God’s law says that the “wages of sin is death.” All of us who are already saved were on that death row once upon a time. In this country there are crimes that carry the death penalty. And once you have been sentenced to die, you just wait for the day of execution. The only way one can be saved from death is when the State Governor holds the execution. I suppose it is the most horrible time for any person to wait for the clock to strike midnight when the lethal injection is applied. But the Governor can call on his hot line to stop the execution. That’s when he receives mercy.
With God everyone who has sinned will receive the penalty of death and is already on death row just waiting for the time of execution. But if God has mercy on him, judgment is withheld in order to save him from death and hell. This is the first act of God and then follows His grace to give him what he does not deserve, the forgiveness and full pardon of his sins. God is then justified to forgive sinners because of the sacrificial death of His Son as the full payment for our sins. But here’s the condition how God works this out.
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18
I’m sure we all had a near death experience in the past. And when that happened to me I felt the greatest fear of my life and it scared me to death. I was afraid because I was not sure I would go to heaven. I also felt in my heart that I was certain of going to hell because I knew I was a sinner. But I received mercy, and God saved me from death by sending a missionary to tell me the good news. I heard the answer to my greatest need the salvation of my soul. After I repented of all my sins and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I received full pardon for all my sins, past present and future sins. This was by the grace of God, His kindness to me who did not deserve to be saved.
There are pastors and teachers who are hesitant to say that when one receives forgiveness even his future sins have already been paid for and covered. The one who is truly saved and realized the horrible consequence of his sins will not continue to sin against God. If we have received mercy and grace will we take sin lightly and use it as a license to sin? Of course not, since we gave them up. But will we never sin? We will because there are sins we commit that we may not be aware of yet. Unintentional sins. That’s why we cannot claim to be perfect and sinless. Here’s what God says.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
But will we love to sin and continue to sin and sin again? Certainly not! And because we have received mercy, how are we going to respond to this truth to show our gratitude to God?
In Luke’s gospels, Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to have dinner at his house and Jesus used what happened there as an object lesson.
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at his table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me teacher,” he said. “Two men owed money to a certain money lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.” Luke 7:36-43
I am using this as a parallel lesson to our text that Paul urged believers. In our language we describe this as “Utang na loob,” a debt of gratitude. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he urged them and from the Amplified Bible, it says he begged them to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. Now the body here is referring to the whole physical being not material blessings that we give as an offering. This body also refers to those who have already been saved. If a person is not saved, even though he sacrifices his body and martyred for the good of his country or his god, this will not get him to heaven. An example of this is Gandhi of India, he died for the good of his country. The Jihadists who sacrificed their own lives, hijacked planes and crashed them at the Twin towers to kill many innocent lives. They are already condemned even before they did that because they are sinners.
The reason Paul is appealing to believers is to point to them how God had mercy on them who were already condemned to die. God withheld what they deserved and saved them from going to hell. This was not just for them but also for us today. If God did not have mercy on me, I would be burning in hell now. What he said, “in view” should be the driving factor, motivation and the highest reason to offer our bodies to God. Why did God have mercy on you and me? God said this in the OT as quoted by Paul.
“For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Rom. 9:15-16
And this was what Paul wrote to Titus revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7
When I look back more than thirty years ago, I was on death row awaiting my execution, and one day a messenger from God came with the good news, just like the call of the Governor to cancel my execution. God had mercy on me and saved me from death and His sure judgment in hell. I received my full pardon after I believed and accepted the message. And God was justified in giving me full pardon because someone took my place, punished for all my sins as payment in full. This is what He offered.
“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifices and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God.” Heb. 10:5-7
Jesus knew this from the Psalms what He was to offer. He did the will of God by offering His body as a living sacrifice. Animals that were sacrificed had to die first before they were offered. Jesus offered Himself while He was still alive. He was willing to be punished in order to take away the sins of the world. Why? Because God required this in order for Him to be justified to forgive sinners through someone who had no sins to pay the penalty for their sins. God the Son came down in the flesh to die for you and me.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21
We will end here for now and will continue the remainder of our text as to how we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God.
God may be speaking to you saying that He had mercy on you on many occasions when you would have died but He extended your life to this day. If He is speaking and revealing this to you by His Spirit, see me after the end of the service to explain to you the terms of your pardon.
If you have already experienced God’s mercy and grace and he is speaking to you about something that he is inviting you to join Him in His work, respond to Him. He may be calling you to become a member of this church or to serve Him in a particular way. However He is speaking to you, come willingly and offer yourself to God.
Intro: I don’t know if you are keeping track of what is happening today and in recent weeks around the world. Consider the stock market. It has gone wild. No one can predict how the market will move, up or down. One day we see people in jubilation and another day in desperation because the market is like a roller coaster. There are so many riots these past months, mostly in the Middle East and recently in cities in England. What’s going on? Has God lost control of the different situations in the world? Is God having a hard time keeping the peace and harmony and prosperity among the nations? Then there is the fear of economic meltdown. Is there anyone in control of these events? Then there are the different calamities, droughts, famines and many casualties in Afghanistan. Today we will examine who has control over those who are in Him, in the world now and in the future.
“Who has control of us and the world?”
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” Acts 17:24-28
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Col. 1:17
“Not that I have already obtained all these, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for whichChrist Jesus took hold of me.” Phil. 3:12
Last Sunday God revealed to us from His Word that all the suns and stars in the heavens are under His control and kept in their proper places. That’s held no doubt by the power of God. The difference between the heavenly bodies and human beings is we are mobile and we make choices either good or evil while heavenly bodies has no life by themselves to move. So, because we move is there anyone who controls our movements? Imagine all the cars moving in the world, the airplanes flying and the boats in the sea, how much more the seven billion people who are always on the move everywhere, making decisions and choices in what they do, is there anyone in control of them and even knows what is going to happen everyday and in the future?
This is why we need to know more of our God who created everything from nothing, how big and powerful He is, who understands everything that is going on with His creation and what will happen in the end. So, can we really comprehend and understand Him who is called the Sovereign Lord? Sovereign means, God is independent, self-governing, not ruled by anyone and can accomplish anything because He has all the power to do it. So, as far as fully understanding God, here is how the Bible says we are limited and how far we can comprehend Him.
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How un-searchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Rom. 11:33-36
When I ride an airplane and just before landing if it’s at night, I watch all the movements of cars and think, does God know every moving car, the people and accidents that could happen? If God is omniscient meaning all knowing then the answer is “yes”. Doesn’t that again blow your mind? Multiply this by the movements of seven billion people. Paul has been revealed so many truths yet not all of God’s wisdom and understanding has been given to him. One day he went to Athens, the people we know as Greeks or Gentiles and preached to them the gospel as he had the opportunity. His starting point was the idols that were at every corner but found one empty altar dedicated to an “unknown God.” And that was what he was going to tell them about. So, after presenting the God who created the heavens and the earth, he proceeded to say, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” Most of us here are Filipinos, born from different places in the Philippines. Did God know where you were to be born and grow up? Did God know you would be here worshiping Him today? There are many passages in Scripture that reveals the “Omniscience” of God and here’s one of them referring to Jeremiah.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jer. 1:4-5
Now using the prophet Jeremiah to speak to the nation Israel, specifically individuals God has chosen, He reveals this truth as His will for them.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jer. 29:11-14
Was this a promise only to the Jews who were exiled? I believe this is true to all that God has chosen to save for Himself. We were all captives of sin and banished from God’s presence but by the grace of God, He saved us.
So Paul preached to the Gentiles in Athens telling them to seek him and reach out to him in order for them to find him. Was there a contradiction to what Jesus said, “Unless the Father draws you to me you will never come to me”? No, because the gospel is God’s call and invitation which requires a response. Multitudes came to Jesus to seek Him, but not everyone came to Him for the right reason. Only those who are drawn to Him by the Father will respond to reach out to Christ for salvation and then find Him. This then will be true to those who receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” The key here is being “in Him.” Only the offspring of Christ can confidently say this, those who are already in union with Christ as God’s child.
So then, what was the result of Paul’s preaching?
“A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris and a number of others.” Acts 17:34
Our text last Sunday centered on this passage on the supremacy of Christ,
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Col. 1:17
Again there is the “in Him.” There are two implications and applications of this “in Him.” First is to everything God the Son created, He holds them together. All things were created by him and for him. God the Son who we know now as Christ Jesus our Lord, is the Creator and everything He created is for Him. All of His creation declares the glory of their creator.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being clearly understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Rom. 1:20
But not all people acknowledge that God the Son who came into the world and took on human flesh is the Creator of everything and holds the power to keep everything in place. Not everyone acknowledges Christ Jesus as God,
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God, nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claim to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” Rom. 1:21-23
But those who are “in Him” will glorify God in worship and praise Him for who He is and what He has done to have them in Him. Why? Because…
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…” Eph. 1:7
Then lastly, this is what Paul said about his being “in him” even though God had revealed the knowledge of God through a direct revelation by Jesus Christ Himself, yet with all his knowledge, the more he realizes that he has not known him enough from our text.“Not that I have already obtained all these, or have already been made perfect.” What was he referring to? The verse before this is the reason he said this and the goal of his life.
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead.” Phil 3:10
Paul never stopped seeking to know Christ, by knowledge and experience. And this is what he did as long as he lived. “But I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Christ took hold of Paul and now Paul is taking hold of what Christ saved him for. And this brings us back to the purpose why God chose to save us. It is important that we don’t forget God’s purpose to save us out of the seven billion people in the world.
“Bring my sons and daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isa. 43:6b-7
This is the purpose God saved us, to glorify Him. Did Paul know God’s purpose that would glorify Him? Yes, for God revealed His purposes for Paul and to Paul even before God saved him.
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:15-16
We all have an idea how Paul lived his life, what he did for Christ and for the gospel in accordance with the plan and purposes God had for him. He testified as Christ’s witness by his conversion experience. Here’s his story.
A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see. “Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear his words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen or heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” Acts 22:12-16
So how does the life of Paul relate to us as to God’s purpose because of being “in him”. Does God have a particular plan for my life and your life now that you and I are in him?” Yes, God will use us as He determines with the end purpose that brings glory to God. Here’s the process. After one is born again God’s will is for our spiritual life to grow. This is the basic truth that will also prove to the believer that he is really alive and in Him.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Pet. 2:2
A spirit that has been made alive will hunger for the Word of God. I visited the baby of Darlene two days after she was born and saw her cry out for milk. Why because Jerrylyn is alive. So if one has no hunger for the Word of God or to hear the preaching of the Word of God or attend Bible study, it shows the spirit is still dead. You cannot force this to happen because it should be the most natural thing that a spirit that is alive will do. As a result of knowing Christ and being “in Him” this is the evidence and truth.
To the Jews who had believed in him, Jesus said, “If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-32, 34-36
This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” This is taking hold of the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Before I was saved and this is true to you too, we were holding on to the teachings of men, the teachings of religion by their different traditions. As we come to know the truth we are set free from error that made us sin against God like the sin of idolatry.
The life now of those who are in him, is a life of fellowship with Jesus our Shepherd. We follow His ways and as we follow Him we are being conformed to His likeness. Here’s what is true before one is saved.
As for you…you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest we were by nature objects of wrath.” Eph. 2:2-3
Since we are now in Him, God’s nature is in us and we partake of this divine nature, not produced by us but by the Holy Spirit who is in us, working to accomplish God’s plan according to His way, following Christ in obedience.
“Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet. 1:2b
We cannot change ourselves until we are brought “in Him”, “by Him” and for Him.” We are now held together in Him to have control of ourselves as we yield our lives to our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our responsibility. And why shouldn’t we? What about the rest of the world? He has control over them too. He is now fulfilling what God has revealed through the prophetic Word of the One who holds everything together, even what is going to happen in the future that Jesus revealed to his disciples and to us. This will be another message the Lord will give us at His appointed time.
How is it with you today? Are you already “in Him”. You are here not by accident but by God’s set purpose.
Intro: Recently, the space shuttle Atlantis made its last voyage to space and after this there will be no more manned space flights. I believe God’s purpose in giving man the wisdom to send space ships to space and to the moon have been accomplished. I am really fascinated just looking at the heavenly bodies and how God created them. I have not experienced viewing the stars through the telescope used by astronomers but I had an experience seeing the beauty of God’s creation of the heavens from an island with no electricity and in total darkness around saw the night sky so clear. The stars were so awesome to behold, so many that it blew my mind wondering how many there are. Astronomers from Australia estimated the number of stars to be 70 sextillion, 70 plus 27 zeroes.
The best thing NASA accomplished is to put a giant telescope in space called “Hubble’ to see beyond what telescopes on earth are limited to reach. From space there is no obstruction to take clear photos and send back to earth pictures in their color. Through the mathematicians they are able to calculate distances and size of the different suns and planets. Consider this, the size of our sun is equivalent to a million earths put inside and the diameter of our sun is a million miles. Because of the “Hubble”, they have discovered a sun they named, B Y Canus Medjuris, the size of which is, you can put a billion of our sun inside it. Doesn’t that blow your mind?
And to think that the first matter created by God is earth. The sun, moon and stars were only created on the fourth day. Here’s what is revealed to us,
“God made two great lights – the greater to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning – the fourth day.” Gen. 1:16-19
The stars came like an after thought to decorate the sky to blow our minds when we see the greatness of God in His creation. Here’s what He says,
“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Isa. 40:26
God said this to reveal Himself in comparison with those who make idols, who bow down and worship them as a representation of God.
“To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to? …To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.” Isa. 40:18, 25
Then going back to His creation of the heavenly bodies, Scriptures says,
“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty his power; his understanding has no limit.” Ps. 147:4
There are about seven billion people on earth today, can God know them all, see and understand all they do? Comparing the earth and us to the stars how much power does God have? Yet, one day all the heavenly bodies will…
“All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.” Isa. 34:4
Was it hard for God to create the heavens and hard for Him to destroy?
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Heb. 11:3
Today, we will see the greatest of God’s work for man and in man?
Notice that there are 11 pronouns of “He,” “Him” and one “His” in this passage referring to one person? Without the mention of His name it is obvious that it speaks about Jesus Christ the Son of God because of the blood he shed on the cross. We know Him also to be the head of the church.
So when we refer to God in creation, what was the role of Jesus Christ?
This is a mystery to those who believe in the theory of “Evolution” that started with the Big Bang and then the evolving of living things from an amoeba, to an ape and finally becoming a human being, but not to us whom God has revealed through His Word. Evolution was made up and propagated by educated people who reject God as Creator so they would not be accountable to a higher being to judge them. This is the biggest lie. In the New Testament, God reveals to us who Jesus was and is and is to come.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life and that life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4
Who is this Word that was with God and was God from the beginning?
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Unmistakably the Word is referring to God the Son, the second person in the Trinity who left heaven and took the body of a human to become like one of us. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin whose name was Mary. As human He took a man’s name, Jesus, the only Son of God. He is now back to His throne in heaven. What was His role in creation?
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:4
“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” Col. 1:16
Doesn’t this make God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ the Creator? But was He alone in the creation? The best way I can explain this is, like building a house. A good house has been well planned having three persons working together to accomplish the work. Here’s the illustration,
God the Father is the architect, the planner.
God the Son is the builder, the Maker, the Creator.
God the Holy Spirit is the inspector.
So, in the beginning this is how they carried out what was already planned.
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from darkness.” Gen. 1:3-4
From just these two verses we see the Triune God working together.
God the Father gave the command addressed to the Word, God the Son.
God the Son carried out the command. He became the light.
God the Holy Spirit approved the light and separated light from darkness.
In the same way, God works to save sinners living in the darkness of sin through the Son of God who is the source of eternal life and light.
“The Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:12-14
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Eph. 1:13
So, God the Son created all things both visible and the invisible. The spirits we do not see, like Satan, all the demons and angels are created by God before He created the heavens and the earth. Paul referred to Satan as,
“The ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Eph. 2:2b
The spirits are in the air both the evil spirits and angels of God. Satan has dominion over those who are not yet born again and because of their sinful nature they follow his leading. Demons can also posses and enter those who are sold out to do evil things and those who play around with the occult.
But what did God the Son do after He created all things? Two thousand years ago, He left His throne in heaven and became a man. Our text says that, “He is the image of the invisible God.” The image here is not referring to his physical features as a man but the nature of God and His character. Doesn’t this blow your mind again that the God who created all things came down to His creation to be like one of them, a human being.
“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Gal. 4:4-5
He obeyed God, His Father’s command and left heaven for a purpose.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” 1 Tim. 1:15
Jesus came to save those whom He created. Why because we all rebelled against God. Will He save all? And what will qualify those whom He will save? The only qualification for those He will save is that they admit and see themselves as sinners realizing their greatest need the salvation of their soul. Those who think they are not that bad but have done good things, because they follow this and that religion and believe in God and deserve to be saved from going to hell, have disqualified themselves.
Just as I cannot fathom the greatness of God in His creation, I also cannot fathom the God who created all things would die in my behalf in order to save me from going to hell and escape God’s just punishment for my sins.
So how does God work this out to save sinners from going to hell? Just as in creation, there is the architect, one who plans things beforehand.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Eph. 1:4
Those He has chosen, He gives to His Son,
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away”… “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:37,44
Those God the Father has given to His Son, Christ Jesus saves,
“For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” John 17:2
“Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.” Heb. 7:25
Then the Holy Spirit authenticates and guarantees their redemption.
“The promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” Eph. 1:13c-14
And together the Triune God works out the salvation of every sinner resulting in creating them into new creatures.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:17-18
As a new creation in Christ they are to do as commanded by their Lord.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:10
What moved God to save undeserving sinners, why and for what purpose? “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace which he has given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”Eph. 1:5-8
Those who have already been saved and made into a new creation, you are in Him, “and in him all things hold together.” If Jesus can hold everything above the earth together, keeping the stars from colliding at each other, maintaining the heat of the sun and keeping that great ball of fire, B Y Canus Medjuris a billion times bigger than our sun, kept hanging in place in space, how much more those whom Jesus saved by His death not be held together safely in Him in His hand. How great is it for God to make the old, new?
How great Thou art, O God to save sinners such as I and change my heart of stone to a heart of flesh by your grace, which You willed to forgive according to your pleasure and will all because of the sacrificial death of Your Son who ought to be Supreme to every one He has saved. He is Lord.
You may be here today and have not yet been saved made into a new creation. Do you sense God is drawing you to His Son and convicted by the Holy Spirit of your greatest need, the salvation of your soul? Then believe this good news.
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
If you believe this and make this personal that Christ died for your sins, then turn to Jesus by repenting and turning away from all your sins. Surrender them all to Jesus and ask for His forgiveness. Then receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. This is God’s invitation and He is waiting for you to respond. Come to Jesus.