Who Do You Think You Are
Who Do You Think You Are?
New Hope Baptist Church
January 8, 2006
Text: 1 Peter 2:9-10
1. Privileged People
2. Private Possession, with a
3. Public Proclamation, about a
4. Powerful Savior
Everybody has a “once upon a time” in their memories, in their past life, in their history. We have been conditioned to expect that most “once upon a times” end positively, and most do. The problem is when people fail to realize that those experiences, those times in life, those instances that make up what we call “Once Upon a Time” should come to an end, positively or not.
Now, I admit that there are some things from my past that I just enjoy more than what is offered in the present. I like mellow, wind instruments jazz. I like R&B and many of the dances from the ‘60s and ‘70s. I like soul food. I like old T.V. shows like Matlock, Columbo, and Mayberry. I like old friends that have remained loyal. I like interesting old people. I like world and Biblical history. I like enjoyable strolls down old memory lanes. None of these old things have impeded my growth into a mature woman. But there are other old things from my past that, if I stay around them too long, could cause me psychological or emotional unrest. There are some old memories that could upset my spiritual equilibrium. There are some old habits that could draw me back into a lifestyle that might prove unhealthy. There are some old friends that could entice me into sin. There are some old places that I used to frequent that have nothing good to offer me now. Those are the types of old things that we all need to leave in our “Once Upon a Time” experiences.
Such is the situation in our text today. The writer of the text is intent on helping a people to come to terms with their past experiences by engaging their minds on their present circumstances. You do know that as a man thinketh, so is he? You do know that if you continue to think a though, you will eventually conceive an idea, that will lead you to take an action, that will form into a habit? Thus, I ask the question: “Who Do You Think You Are?” Well, let me try and help you out.
The books of 1st and 2nd Peter hold the name of their author. This is the same Peter that seemed so intent to rearrange the shape of his mouth in the Gospels. He always seemed to have his foot stuck in it. The same Peter who was usually the first to speak out for the Apostles; The same Peter who dared to walk on the water with Jesus; The same Peter who was quick on the draw and cut a man’s ear off; The same Peter who had been requested by name, of the Devil, to be sifted like wheat; -Can anybody identify with the man?- The same Peter who vowed to go unto death with the Lord; The same Peter who denied Jesus three times in one evening. -That Peter- A man whose “Once Upon a Time” had served to strengthen his testimony and to be an example to us all of the power of prayer, the Lord’s mercy, and diligence in the work and faith of the Lord.
Based upon several accounts, the book of 1st Peter was written somewhere between A.D. 62 and A.D. 64, probably from Rome. This is important to note because some very interesting things had taken place and Peter is addressing those things to the Christians who had experienced the atrocities.
You see, a generation after the death of Christ, Christianity had reached Rome as an obscure offshoot of Judaism that was popular among the city’s poor and destitute. The views held by this religious sect of a coming new kingdom and a new king provoked the Jewish authorities and caused fear among the Roman authorities who perceived these beliefs as a threat to the Empire.
In the summer of 64 A.D. Rome suffered a terrible fire that burned for six days. It consumed almost ¾ of the city. The people accused Emperor Nero, claiming that he set the fire for his own amusement. In order to deflect their accusations, Nero laid blame on the Christians. He ordered the arrest of a few members who, under torture, accused others until the entire Christian populace was implicated and became fair game for retribution. All of them that could be found were rounded up and put to death in horrific manners for the amusement of the citizens of Rome. They were covered with hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and in the evening, burned to serve for the evening lights. Nero himself used the human torches to light his famous garden parties and he made sport of them.
Of the Christians that survived and remained, feelings of dooms and wonderment prevailed. Most wondered if they had made a mistake in coming to Christianity at all. Others existed in sheer dread and withdrawal. So, Peter was writing to these Christians to uplift them, to encourage them, to inform them of their inheritance by supposing the question, “Who Do You Think You Are?”
So, after reminding them of all that God had done for them in causing them to receive a new birth, to obtain an inheritance, and giving them the protection of his power; he admonishes them to prepare their minds for action, to be alert in their spirits, and to set their hopes upon Jesus. They could do this because they could call upon their heavenly Father for help; because they had been redeemed and purchased with the precious blood of Christ; because their faith and hope were centered in God who raised Christ from the dead.
I think he’s talking about the same God that we serve. The same God did the same thing for you and for me. The same God caused you to have a new birth when you believed in Jesus Christ as Savior; the same God purchased you from your old way of life and gave you an inheritance; the same God purchased you with the precious blood of Christ; the same God raised Him from the dead; that same God that you can center your hope and faith in because of his mighty power and protection. The same God.
Peter didn’t stop there. He went on to offer them several adjectives that described their new person in Christ; adjectives that now describes who you are if you are in Christ today.
First, Peter says we are a Privileged People. It’s right there in the beginning of v.9. A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.
We belong to a select group of people. We enjoy certain advantages that are not available to everyone. We have a Father who really does have His eye on us. We have an advocate who intercedes on our behalf at all times. We have a love by our Father that is impenetrable and unstoppable. We belong to a group who membership is restricted. You see, anybody can get in, but not just anybody is in. Oh, there are some imposters who frequent our meetings; imposters who act like we do and call on the name of our Father and our Lord, but they are just visiting. They are not really in. to really be in you have to be born again; you have to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. We are a privileged people in a restricted group, but we are not stuck up. We love a big family and we are seeking newborns all the time. But it’s important that you know that you are privileged, and because of that you have certain advantages like prayer that goes directly to the Father. Jesus gave us this privilege before he left, and he said just so you will know that God will hear your prayers, when you pray tell Him that I sent you. Pray in my name and you will have His full attention. We have confidence in that whatever you tell him stays with him. He has said that if we pray in secret he will bless us openly. We have the work of Jesus as our model to live by as we journey in this barren land. We are a privileged people with many advantages to carry us along in this world.
Second, we are a Private Possession. We are God’s own possession. God has exclusive rights to us as His own. We have an elite standing in that we are His sons and daughters, not foster kids, but His own. We are the true fashionable people because we will never die. We have eternity to look forward to. God has called us his workmanship, His works of art. We hold value in His eyes. When He looks at us covered in the blood of Jesus, He sees masterpieces. I don’t know about you, but that’s good news to me. You see, I know what I was, and to know that God sees me as His work of art is uplifting. God has custody of our souls. They are safe in His hands. Jesus said that we are in His hands and that He is in the Father’s hand and no man can pluck us out of the Father’s hand. Because we are God’s possession, He has rights over our lives. He has the right to direct us; He has the right to instruct us; He has the right to chasten us; He has the right to mold us and to reshape us into the image of His dear Son; He has the right to say to us: “Be ye holy for I am holy”.
“Who do you Think You Are?” We are a Privileged People; we are His Private Possession; and thirdly, we are to have a Public Proclamation.
It’s just our human nature to want to show and tell. When we get something nice or a good thing occurs, we want to share it with someone. Sometimes we have to be careful in our showing and telling because people will accuse us of bragging or we may get the big head and boast. But all that God has done for us deserves showing and telling. I am not just talking about the material things that He may bless you with, but the other stuff that you’d just as soon forget. First we should proclaim God’s Excellencies; His superiority as being God all by Himself. I know I’m right because He said it Himself in Deut. 32;39, “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” We must proclaim the brilliance of the Lord in His intelligence. He is Omnipotent. He is The All-powerful One. He is invincible and unstoppable in His desires and abilities. We should proclaim the distinction of His personage in that He is One God with three manifestations, each distinct in purpose.
But then, we need to proclaim His wonderful deeds towards us, His people. He has called us no only into His marvelous light, but He first called us out of darkness. Some on you may not want to admit it, but you were once ignorant.
As my children were growing up I found it necessary to set some ground rules. So the obvious place to begin was at the beginning. I needed to set my superiority over them so that they were clear in their thinking about who I was. I told them that I had not bore any stupid children, but that they were all ignorant when they arrived. You see, I’d say, you know your name to be Kenneth because I told you that your name was Kenneth; you know that you are my daughter because I told you to call me momma; you know to eat with a fork and spoon because I taught you to eat with them. You were all ignorant but not stupid. You were capable of learning.
In the same way, others will only know who Jesus is if we tell them who He is. They won’t know that he was born of a virgin unless we tell them that He was; they won’t know that He lived a sinless life unless we tell them; they won’t know that He died for their sins unless we tell them; they won’t know that He was buried and rose again unless we tell them.
People won’t know that God can save them from a life of sin unless we tell them. Unless we stop coming here week after week, sitting in the same pew with the same phony smiles or blank stares on our faces and tell somebody of the hell we have been called out of, they won’t know what God can do. Unless we tell somebody how we struggled with drugs, they won’t know; unless we tell somebody how we lived in fornication, they won’t know. Some people are suggesting that we destroy sheets to symbolize past struggles with fornication. Some of us need to not only destroy sheets, but burn some beds for the struggles in that area were great! Somebody needs to know that you forfeited your family, your job and livelihood over some weeds that you chopped up and rolled into a piece of paper and sucked on for fun. Somebody needs to know that while you were in the midst of sucking that stuff that God called you out, cleaned you up and started you on a new path. Somebody needs to know that you struggled with bills and just trying to keep food on the table from day to day, but that you never went hungry and your kids grew up into adulthood because God called you out and you came into the light. somebody needs to know that you have a “Once Upon a Time” but that God has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light and that He can and will do the same thing for them. Somebody needs to know. You ought to proclaim the brilliance and distinction of God’s personage. “Who Do You Think You Are?”
Finally, you are a Privileged People, you are a Private Possession with a Public Proclamation, about a Powerful God. Jesus asked a prevailing question of His disciples: “Who do men say that I Am?” After listening to their responses, He qualified the question: “Who do you say that I Am?” Even more important than who you think you are, is who you think Jesus is. Why? Because all that you are in this new life is dependent upon who He is. Without Him, you can do nothing; without Him you are nothing. I still find it difficult to adequately describe Him. Of all of the adjectives found in the English language, none seem to do justice to what my hearts knows about Him. I wish I could tell you about Him, but He is just indescribable.
D.S. Lockridge is known for something he wrote a few years ago about Jesus called the Indescribable Christ. Lockridge, a theologian, did his best to describe to us Jesus Christ. He wrote:
He’s enduringly stong; he’s entirely sincere, he’s eternally steadfast, he’s immortally graceful, he’s imperially powerful, he’s impartially merciful, he’s God’s Son, he’s a sinner’s savior, he’s the centerpiece of civilization, he stands alone in Himself, he’s unparalleled, he’s unprecedented, he’s supreme, he’s preeminent, he’s the loftiest idea in literature, he’ the highest idea in philosophy, he’s the fundamental truth in theology, he’s the miracle of the age, he’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously, he supplies strength for the weak, he’s available for the tempted and the tried, he sympathizes and he saves, he guards and he guides, he heals the sick, he cleans the lepers, he forgives sinners, he discharges debtors, he delivers captives, he defends the feeble, he blesses the young, he serves the unfortunate, he regards the aged, he rewards the diligent, he beautifies the meek. Well, Who do You Think You Are?
He is the king of knowledge, the well-spring of wisdom, he’s the doorway of deliverance, he’s the pathway of peace, he’s the gateway of glory, he’s the master of the mighty, he’s the captain of the conquerors, he’s the head of the heroes, he’s the leader of the legislators, he’s the overseer of the over comers, he’s the governor of governors, he’s the prince of princes, he’s the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
His life is matchless, his goodness is limitless, his mercy is everlasting, his love never changes, his word is enough, his grace is sufficient, his reign is righteous, his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Again, I ask you, “Who Do You Think You Are?” I’m trying to tell you who you are based on who He is, but He is indescribable. You can’t outlive him, and you can’t live without him, the Pharisees couldn’t stand him, but they found out they couldn’t stop him, Pilate couldn’t find any fault in him, Herod couldn’t kill him, death couldn’t handle him and the grave couldn’t hold him. He’s always been and he always will be, he had no predecessor and he has no successor. You can’t impeach him and he’s not going to resign.
I asked some other people to tell us what they know about his personage: Abraham said he was like a ram in the bush, He is always on time; Jacob said he is the WWF champion, if you do battle with him you will know you have been in a fight; Joshua says he’ll give you the land where your feet trod, Sampson says he’s the God of another chance, Ruth says he’ll lead you to Boaz, David said “I’ll not offer Him anything that costs me nothing”, Elijah said “He’ll walk with you”, Hezekiah says he is the extender of life, Esther said “He’s called you for such a time as this”, Job said “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord”.
Jeremiah said “He’s like fire, shut up in my bones”, Ezekiel said “He’s like a wheel in the middle of a wheel”, Daniel said, “My God is able”, the three Hebrew boys said, “Even is He doesn’t save us, we won’t bow to another”, Hosea says if His people perish it’s because they lack knowledge, Jonah said, “I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me”, Malachi wants to know, “Would you rob such a God?”, Paul says nothing can separate us form His love, the writer of the Hebrews says He’s our High Priest, John says He is Love and the Revelation declares He’s coming back again!
I tell you he’s just indescribable. In my own heart and experience I know Him to be a supplier of needs, a giver of desires, a forgiver of sins, a healer of cancer, One who lifted me up when man pushed me down, a director on my daily path, a keeper of secrets, large enough to hold my entire weight of burdens, intimate enough to let me rest my head on his shoulders, a father in every sense, a friend and a teacher. He’s the one that causes my heart to pound faster when I think of Him. He is my everything.
Who Do You Think You Are? If you are in Him, you are a Privileged People, you are a Private Possession, you have a Public Proclamation and you belong to the All Powerful God! You are His son or daughter! Walk in this New Year with a new attitude and remembrance of your heritage. No matter what your “Once Upon a Time” may be, no matter what you may be facing right now, no matter what may come tomorrow, just ask yourself, “Who do You Think You Are?, and then remember Who He is:
He’s sweet I know,
He’s sweet I know;
Dark clouds may rise and strong winds may blow
I’ll tell the world, where ever I go
I’ve found a Savior
He’s sweet I know.