Faithlife Sermons

Who are God's People

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Cruel and Unusual Punishment

  • When we were children, my sister and I used to complain that we were mistreated.
    • We always had to pick up toys at other peoples’ homes…
      • “You’re not someone else’s kid.  You’re my kid.”
    • Eventually, we noticed different treatment b/c we were our parents’ kids
    • Our actions of picking up the toys or cleaning up after ourselves did not entitle us to be our parents’ children.
      • What we did or didn’t do did not establish or affect our standing as Bill and Lori’s kids.
      • Like it or not, we were already Bill and Lori’s kids.
    • Our limited, childlike understanding may have sometimes made us wish we were someone else’s, but that never could have happened.
      • All parents can also relate to this: no amount of frustration is going to suddenly make you abandon your child and put him up for sale.
  • Likewise—Your actions do not make you God’s either.
    • Nothing we can physically do or not do can/will change our standing as God’s ppl.
    • The Bible makes this abundantly clear.
      • We already know this.
      • One thing defines us as God’s people. – What is it?

Faith has always made God’s people God’s people.

  • Abraham
    • Gen 12.1-4 –multiple implications for the questions we’ll be asking [w3]
      • What matters now is Abraham’s response—“Reckoned as righteousness” Gen 16.6
  • Christians today
    • Eph 2.8-9 (NIV)
    • “Controversy in the Greater Mediterranean Christian Convention”
      • Acts 15.10-11 – their answer was theologically consistent
  • This would be works-based salvation (and this has never defined God’s people).
    • Legalism
      • Over-reliance on the Law to accomplish something it was never intended to accomplish
        • Define “Law” for practical purposed as “doing, works, etc.”
      • Rom 3.20, 21
    • Whether we accept/believe this or not, we still often talk/think like we don’t.
      • “just trying to do enough to get to Heaven”
      • “hope I’m good enough”
      • “I can never forgive myself for what I’ve done.”
        • [We think and view the world as if the grand summary of our actions defines who we are.  But, we already have identity as God’s people.]

What the Law was really for.

  • The Law did have a purpose.
    • So do our actions today. 
    • They do matter.
    • How Israel behaved and how we conduct ourselves has a profound impact on us as people.
      • But how?
      • Did not make Israel God’s. 
        • We’ve already covered that.
      • Dt 10.12-13 [nasb]
        • Who is Moses talking to? –God’s ppl.
          • Already called out of Egypt. 
          • Already delivered from Pharaoh.
            • They were already defined as the ones God has plucked and gives special treatment to
            • They were already God’s. 
            • We are already our parents.
      • Dt 11.8-9a, 13-15
      • MY POINT – Many conditionals (“if/then”) in Dt.
        • Do not link to eternal salvation, but to temporal (immediate, here-and-now, in this life) blessing (i.e.: Dt 11.22-23, 26-28)
    • NT
      • Jn 15.7-11

This Law—that no one else had—made Israel different.

  • While Faith defines who we are, our actions distinguish from everyone else.
  • In the same way, our good works and loving actions must make us different.
    • Being different is evidence of salvation received.
      • Jn 14.21
  • Do they really, though?
    • How many ppl look at us—the church, Christians—and see the exact same actions they see in themselves?
      • We must be different. (look, smell, feel, etc.)
      • Ppl should not be surprised to find out we’re Xns.
        • How you act says something about who you belong to and how you feel about that relationship.
        • Christ—“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
  • For Israel, expectations and requirements were laid out before them.
    • This made being different easy—“Do This.  You Will Be Different.  Guaranteed.”
      • Moral requirements placed on Israel as they marched into alien territory raised the ethical bar very high.
        • Dt 4.5-8
    • Peppered throughout Dt are calls to be different.
      • Dt 7.6 – “God has chosen you.”
  • For us today, the expectations are no different. – Be different.
    • Eph 4.17 – 19, v. 20 (but you…)
    • “live such good lives…” –(1 Peter 2.12)
      • Whether we’re reading Moses in Dt 4 or Peter writing millennia later:
        • The bar is still just as high b/c God is just as sovereign
        • Not possible to read OT and not see that God expects to be involved in every area of His people’s lives
          • NT Xns should never feel that they’re held to a lower standard
          • God still works to accomplish His purposes through His people
  • So, dream with me for just a minute.
    • How do you think the world would really be if believers acted like they believed this stuff?
      • If coworkers, neighbors, friends actually got something different from what they were expecting from us?

So, follow God’s commands and do the right thing because of your faith.

  • Behave differently because you are different.
    • 2 Sam 7.23-24
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