Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 11, 2017
*Many people think you're a Christian if your parents were Christians, or if you have been baptized, or if you have been going to church. But you can go to church a thousand times, and still not be a true Christian. What does it really mean to be a Christian? God's Word shows us today.
1. First: True Christianity involves a relationship in the family of God.
*Real Christians have a relationship with God the Father through our faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
 This means we are linked together with the Savior.
*Verse 14 tells us that "when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever." The Lord went to Peter's house that day, because He was with Peter. They were linked together in a personal relationship.
*And when I become a Christian, I begin to learn that Jesus comes with me! In fact, I take Jesus with me into my home, and everywhere I go. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, there is an invisible bond formed between us.
*The Bible uses many terms to talk about this reality:
*For example, we are born again as children of God, so John 1:12 says: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."
*Romans 8:15-16 also tells Christians:
15. . . You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father.''
16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
*Christians: We are children of God. -- We are also new creations in Christ.
*As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
*Real Christians are new creations in Christ. We are also described as the Bride of Christ. In Ephesians 5:25-27, God's Word says:
25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,
26. that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27. that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
*We are the Bride of Christ. But we are also the Temple of the Holy Spirit. So in 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul put this question to Christians: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
*We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. But we are also the Body of Christ in this world. The New Living Translation puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:
12. The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ.
13. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ's body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit.
*Here God's Word gives us an amazing truth about being true Christians: We are in Jesus Christ! And He is in us!
*Thinking back to my high school days 48 years ago. I still remember Crazy Robbie Smith. Robbie was in my high school fraternity, and he was one of the nicest guys in school. He didn't drink or cuss. He was a good student and a good athlete. But my friends and I always called him "Crazy Robbie Smith," because Robbie had this crazy idea that he knew God in a personal way. Robbie even thought that Jesus Christ was actually living in his heart.
*We thought he was crazy. But 6 years later I found out that "Crazy Robbie" wasn't crazy after all. He was saved! Robbie was a true Christian, and the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ really was living in his heart.
*In 2 Corinthians 6:16 God tells Christians an amazing thing: "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." God says: "I will dwell in them, and walk in them."
*What assurance, Christians! Wherever we go, God is right there with us. Whatever we go through, wherever we are, whatever task God calls us to perform, whatever trial we have to endure, whatever delights we enjoy or heartbreaks we suffer, the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ is right here with us.
 True Christians are linked with the Savior. -- We are also linked with the saints.
*Jesus and Peter weren't alone in that house. They were there with other believers. Verse 16 tells us that many people were there. And the great truth is that when I become a Christian, yes, I am linked with the Savior, but I am also linked with the saints!
*Many people think you have to be a super Christian to be a saint, but the truth is that all Christians are saints. This word "saint" is closely related to the word we translate as "holy." And "saint" means someone holy, pure, and separated for God. Taking all these meanings into account, Derric Johnson said this word "saint" really means "God's own people." And that's what we are. (1)
*This word "saint" is used 62 times in the New Testament, but you will never see it talking about just one saint. It always refers to a group. And this fact reminds us that as Christians, we are not alone. We are forever linked together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. True Christianity involves a relationship in the family of God.
2. It also involves receiving the Lord's touch.
*True Christians have received the Lord's transforming touch in our lives, and we see an example of this truth in vs. 14-15:
14. Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.
15. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she arose and served them.
*Jesus "touched her," and something special happened when Jesus touched her. Something special always happens when we let Jesus Christ touch our lives!
 Letting Jesus touch us can bring new physical health.
*Peter's mother-in-law was healed. Then, in vs. 16-17, we see that Jesus healed all that came that day:
16. When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,
17. that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.''
*Many times, God brings healing to our bodies. Most of the time He uses the natural healing process He has given to us. God also uses the dedicated health care professionals He has blessed us to have. But many times, we have also seen God answer prayer, and go beyond what the doctors can do.
*Now of course, God doesn't always heal these earthly bodies we live in today. One reason why is because these bodies weren't designed to live forever. It turns out that we need much more than healing. We need heaven.
 Thank God that letting Jesus touch us also brings us a new home.
*We receive the gift of eternal life, and a new home in heaven. On the night before the cross, Jesus talked about our new home as Christians. And John 14:1-6, the Lord said:
1. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
4. And where I go you know, and the way you know.''
5. Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?''
6. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
*When we let Jesus touch our lives, He gives us a new home in Heaven. And that's where Christians immediately go when we die. We know this is true, because in 2 Corinthians 5:8, Paul said: "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."
*Kim Noblitt wrote a song about a Christian who had been sick for a long time. He didn't get healed in this world. But God gave him the ultimate healing in heaven, and the man in Heaven sings:
"Our prayers have all been answered. -- I finally arrived.
The healing that had been delayed has now been realized.
No one's in a hurry. There's no schedule to keep.
We're all enjoying Jesus, just sitting at His feet.
My light and temporary trials have worked out for my good,
To know it brought Him glory when I misunderstood.
Though we've had our sorrows, -- they can never compare.
What Jesus has in store for us, no language can share.
If you could see me now, I'm walking streets of gold.
If you could see me now, I'm standing strong and whole.
If you could see me now, you'd know I've seen His face.
If you could see me now, you'd know the pain's erased.
You wouldn't want me to ever leave this place,
If you could only see me now." (2)
*Letting Jesus touch us brings everlasting life in a heavenly home. But the only reason we can have this life from the Lord is because Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. Jesus died on the cross and rose again, so we can live forever with Him in Heaven. And we will! -- If we turn to Jesus and receive Him as our personal Lord and Savior.
 Letting Jesus touch us brings a new home. And it brings a new heart.
*Christianity is not just about getting to Heaven. It's about living a heavenly life down here! So, a huge part of Christianity is learning to live the new life we have in Jesus. It's learning to let Him lead us more and more. It's letting Him touch and transform the way we think, and talk, and act.
*A huge part of Christianity is growing up spiritually in the Lord, just as little babies grow up physically and mentally.
*In 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul was overjoyed by the growth of those Christians, and Paul said: "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other."
*In his first letter, the Apostle Peter urges all Christians to grow up in the Lord. 1 Peter 2:1-3, puts it this way:
1. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,
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.
*Peter closed his second letter by urging us to: "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)
*Christianity is not just about getting to Heaven. It's about learning to live a heavenly life down here!
*In 1995, Christianity Today told the story of some Christian natives in the Amazon region of Peru. These tribal groups of the Bora people had only known Christ for one generation. Before that, they were fearful, aggressive, demon worshippers. Almost all of their contacts with outsiders were violent. They were even known to be cannibals.
*But many of the Bora were transformed by Jesus Christ. The men began to treat their wives and children much better. And yes, these believers had problems like Christians anywhere. But more than most people, they appreciated the difference that Jesus had made.
*Once an atheist anthropologist visited the Bora people, and he started criticizing the missionaries. He said, "Christianity is for the white man. You people should go back to your old religion and your old ways." One of the Bora church leaders who remembered the old ways looked at that man and replied, "Yes, -- And if we did, you'd be the first one in the pot!" (3)
 But that man wasn't thrown in the pot, because the Lord's touch brings a new heart. It also brings new hope.
*That's what some of us need today: New hope. We are Christians, but maybe we're depressed and defeated. We need our hope restored, and a touch from Jesus Christ brings new hope. That's why Paul wrote this prayer of encouragement in Romans 15:13: "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
*About 15 years ago, I got a call from a Christian mom. She wasn't a member of our church. And I don't remember why she chose to call me. Maybe she wasn't comfortable talking to her own pastor, or maybe she didn't have a pastor at that point. Like many other mothers, this mother was broken-hearted over the troubles her adult children were having.
*It was serious enough that the lady wanted to come in for a visit. And when she did, I could see that she was carrying a heavy, heavy burden. I shared some Scriptures with her like 1 Peter 5:7. There the Bible tells us to cast all our cares on God, for He cares for us.
*She said, "I'm trying to do that but I don't seem to be able." And the Lord led me to say, "On top of everything else you're going through, you are beating yourself up because you're not casting your cares on the Lord. But the Lord doesn't want you to do that.
*Here's the thing: You have been focusing on the first part of that verse: 'Cast all your cares on the Lord.' But I believe the Lord is leading me to tell you to focus on the last part of that verse: 'He cares for you.' God cares for you.
*So, remember to tell yourself, 'He cares for me.' And when you do that, some of that weight will just naturally slip off your shoulders." Even in that moment, I could see it slipping off, as she took a breath and relaxed. God wanted to touch her heart with new hope. And that what He wants to do in our lives too.
*Jesus Christ is reaching out to touch hearts and lives today. What would have happened if Peter's mother-in-law had shut and locked the door? What a foolish mistake that would have been. We can shut the door. We can keep Jesus out. But everybody needs to let Him in. True Christianity is receiving the Lord's transforming touch.
3. And it's rising to serve the Savior.
*This is another important message for us in vs. 15: "And He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she arose and served them." Just as soon as Peter's mother-in-law was healed by the Lord, she rose up to serve.
*Please notice that the Lord didn't ask her to do anything before she was able. Maybe Jesus didn't ask her at all. Maybe she got up to serve simply out of her love and gratitude for the Lord. But when she could serve, she did serve. Peter's mother-in-law did what she could, when she could, where she could. And that's the way God wants us to live.
*Also notice that she didn't just help the Lord. "He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she arose and served them." The wonderful truth is that when we serve Jesus, we wind up helping other people too!
*And what she did was important. We know this because her service did help others. We also know her service was important, because the Lord tells us about it here in His Word.
*All Christians need to live in service to the Lord! That's true Christianity. So, rise up and serve the Lord every way you possibly can, because everybody needs real Christianity! It makes the difference between Heaven and Hell. It's the difference between eternal life and eternal death.
*But what is real Christianity?
-It's a personal relationship in the family of God.
-It's receiving the Lord's touch by receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
-And it's rising to serve the Savior.
*Make sure you have the real thing. Then start serving the Lord every way you can. You can get started right now, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Original source unknown
(2) Kim Noblitt, Copyright 1992 Integrity's Praise/BMI and Dad and Dann Music - Sung by Truth (Russ Lee, soloist) on "Something to Hold on To," 1992.
(3) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Harold Miller - Source: "Christianity Today" - Oct 2, 1995 - p. 29 - www.ctlibrary.com/ct/1995/october2/5tb026.html