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How do you identify yourself?
- I am a Schmidt, call ourselves by our family name. May place emphasis on our heritage and ancestry.
- I am an American – may identify ourselves by our country or nationality. May be proud of our country, and even served to protect it. (bumper sticker; WWII Vet – USS John F. Kennedy; Vietnam Vet,etc.. Defined their whole life)
- I am an Engineer, plumber, teacher, etc. Define ourselves by our occupation. Maybe identifies what you are good at, or what you enjoy the most.
I. What God wants to call me.. It is essential that we know who we are. In fact, I am convinced that much of God’s revelation to man in the scriptures is aimed at teaching us who we are, and giving us the purpose of our lives.
- 1 John 3:1-2 – Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
A. God’s love has given me the opportunity to identify myself as a child of God. There could be no greater privilege than to call myself a child of God.
1. This morning we discussed the 3 appearances of the word Christian in the N.T. In Acts 11:26 it tells us that …”the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” This is my first identification. I am a Christian. Peter says in 1 Peter 4:16 that I should never be ashamed of this identification (even if it is used in derision), but be willing to suffer to be so called.
II. Who Am I? How does the Bible describe the Christian? The words used in the inspired books of the New Testament that describe the child of God are meaningful. Each term used to characterize the Lord’s people tells us something we need to know about what Christians are.
A. Saints: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2) also used in Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; etc.
1. The word is hagios. It is a popular word in the Bible, properly meaning sacred or consecrated to God; from the word translated as holy. Vines says …the plural, as used of believers, it designates all such and is not applied merely to persons of exceptional holiness, or to those who, having died, were characterized by exceptional acts of “saintliness.”… the whole number of the redeemed.
a. Saints are those who are “sanctified” or “set apart” to be the Lord’s special (“holy”) possession – 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;
b. This term describes our relationship to the world around us. We are to be separate from the world. We are called by the gospel to be saints. (Rom. 1:7)
c. In 1 Cor. 6, Paul rebukes the church at Corinth because they are taking each other to cour rather than settling their differences among themselves. His objection is that they should not be taking their problems before unbelievers (v. 6) He then describes those of the world – adulterers, idolatrer, homosexuals. These will not inherit the kingdom of God. He then adds “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:11) They were saints, and they needed to act like it. In Romans 6 Paul snswers the important question of conduct after baptism and God’s grace by telling the Christians they had died to sin and could live in it any longer.
- Ephesians 5:3-4 – 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
d. We must give conscious thought and effort in maintaining our special character before the Lord – 1 Peter 1:13-16 – 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
B. Disciples: “So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Ac. 11:26). Acts 9:26 – And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.
1. To be a disciple is to be a follower, learner, or student of someone else. Christians are the Lord’s learners! Paul made a case for the unity of the church and the conduct of the Christian in Eph 4:17-21 – This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: We must learn from Christ; and learn Christ Himself.
2. It requires “discipline” to be a “disciple.” We will not come to know what the Lord wants us to know without making a serious commitment to the process – 1 Corinthians 9:27 – “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
a. We must be willin to count the cost of discipleship. Luke 14:26-27 – 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
C. Believers: Acts 5:12-14 – 2 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,
1. The defining characteristic of a believer is faith.
a. We have received the blessings of God through faith. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:18-10) Rom. 5:1 – “we are justified by faith”
b. 2 Corinthians 5:7 – 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. Our lives are built on trust. Faith isnot a static condition of belief, but an ongoing trust that creates long-term obedience to God’s commands. It this absolute trust in Christ that makes it possible for the Christian to suffer for the cause.
D. Brethren: “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” (2 Thess. 1:3)
1. A brother (or sister) shares a unique horizontal relationship. We can call each other brothers and sisters because we share in a common relationship to God, as His children.
a. The relationship of siblings obviously denotes deep affection. As brothers and sisters we must treat each other differently. – Peter talks about the sncere love of the brethren (1 Pet. 1:22) and John says we shold be willng to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16)
b. Being brethren ought to make a huge difference when disagreements arise. Among brethren, the relationship is more important than any personal disadvantage. A brother would rather “be defrauded” and quietly suffer wrong than engage in a warfare that would dishonor the family. James 4:11-12 – 11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
c. As brethren, Christians are characterized by LOVE. Colossians 3:12-15– 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
2. We are brothers and sisters to each other because of a greater vertical relationship as children of God. We are HIS family. In Eph. 3:15, Paul mentions a whole family in heaven and earth who share the name of Christ. What a privilege to be in that family!
Conclusion: As we close consider one of the most thrilling passages in the Bible.
- Heb 2:10-13 – For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” 13 And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”
- God, the Father’s design was to bring many sons to glory. That is you and me. To do this He allowed His Son Jesus to suffer (and be made perfect through suffering). Why?
- Heb 2:17 – Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
- Through the self-sacrifice of Jesus we are made to be Christians, Saints, Disciples, Believers, and Brethren, so that he that sanctifies (Christ) and those who are sanctified (us) one. If we trust in Him and we obey Him He is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters!
- Are you a Christian? Are you living as a Christian should live? If you died tonight, would you die with the hope of a Christian?