God’s People are Outside Common Society – John 17:1-26 I called last week’s message “God’s People are a Part of Society.” But tonight I want to turn that inside out with the title “God’s People are Outside Common Society.” Here in John 17 we have the true “Lord’s Prayer.” It is an example – the greatest example – of Christ’s conversation with His Heavenly Father. It may be the holiest chapter in the Word of God – it is highly important and highly instructive. And as such there is a word used here which might seem just a little out of place. And yet, because of the way the Lord used it, you might not have even noticed. The word “cosmos” – translated “world” is used nineteen times here, with a variety of different purposes. For example there is verse 5 – “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” In this case the word refers to creation. Then several times Christ prays for His saints – you and me – mentioning that we are “in the world.” “And now I am no more in the world, but these are IN the world…” “While I was with them IN the world, I kept them in thy name.” “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them INTO the world.” But then interspersed between those thoughts we have just the opposite. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me OUT of the world…” “I pray...

God’s People are Part of a Society – Acts 11:19-26

Tonight we are taking our study of the names and titles of God’s people and turning a sharp 90 degrees. This is a transitional message, and it might seem to be completely off the subject, but we will come back. This is where I intended to begin five or six months ago. Our outline for this evening was the first thing I penned as I was envisioning this study. But then I realized that a look at the Biblical names and titles of God’s people should come first. So for the last three months that is what we have been doing, and it has been a good study for me. Next week and perhaps the following wek, Lord willing, we will begin to look at the various names and titles which God’s saints have borne since the conclusion of the Book of Acts. We have been called “saints” and “brethren,” but in the centuries since Paul and John we have been called “Donatists,” “Anabaptists” and a host of other names as well. I don’t want to digress into a mere intellectual exercise, so I need your prayers.. But I am reasonably sure that we can learn something about living in an ungodly world, by considering those who have lived in it before us. Even once we get into the history aspect of these lessons, I hope that this will still remain a Bible study. I hope you have seen that the names and titles which we find in the Bible were applied for a reason. Those reasons still exist, and they should apply to us as much as it...

God’s People are His Building – I Corinthians 3:9-17

Those of you who were able to stay awake through last week’s afternoon message, might remember that our scripture for this evening takes up where last week’s scripture left off. And I will begin with essentially the same introduction. Even though this epistle is addressed to the entire church in Corinth, the lessons of this chapter are directed toward the individual members of that church. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” At this point Paul isn’t speaking to the nursery, but to the babies in that nursery. Four times in the verses we have just read, the Apostle says, “if any man” – if any individual. And he says, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” Paul is thinking of the individual members of the church in Corinth. And in verse 9 he says of them – “ye are God’s husbandry, YE are God’s building.” Each child of God is the Lord’s cultivated field – His garden, designed to produce a crop for His glory. And every Christian is also the Lord’s building. That is not to say that in other scriptures the entire church isn’t described as God’s building. Ephesians 2 for example: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself...

God’s People are His Husbandry – I Corinthians 3:1-9

To whom was this letter – this epistle – written? There is no doubt but that it was written to the church in Corinth. I hope that you and I have no problem understanding that a church is not a physical building. This letter was not written and mailed to post office box 3433, or to 100 west 12 Avenue, Corinth, Greece. A church is not a building or a denomination, and it is certainly not an invisible, make-believe, ghostly cloud in the sky. A church is a group of God’s people, called out from general society by the Lord assembled together in order to serve and worship Him. This letter was written to one such church, as we are told in its first two verses. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth…” And again, a church is a called out assembly of God’s people. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ … unto the church of God which is at Corinth – to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints….” Paul’s letter was primarily written to the church in Corinth, but he knew that the Holy Spirit intended for it to be shared with other churches and other Christians – like us. “Paul… unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord..” The fact that...

God’s People are the Light of the World – Matthew 5:13-16

I can’t say that all of our Lord Jesus’ sermons were developed just like this Sermon on the Mount. But it appears that this message was developed in much the same way that I usually develop mine. There was an introduction, and now we are in the second subdivision of the first point. Or perhaps the beatitudes are point number one, and now we are in point two. I suppose it doesn’t matter much how the message was originally penned, there is a logical progression. Christ Jesus began with the character of the citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. His message begins with the things which are to be found in the saints of God – Spiritual poverty (humility), mournfulness (repentance), meekness and hunger for righteousness, etc. And now we are into the second sub-division of the Lord Jesus’ second point. As children of God – as saints of the Lord – as citizens of God’s kingdom, we are here for a purpose. “Ye are the salt of the earth.” We have the opportunity to help make this world a better place – for the glory of God.. We can make the bland existence of a world sucked dry, just a bit tastier. We have the responsibility to arrest the growing corruption caused by sin. We are commissioned to be different – to stand apart – from the world. That means our most important work is outside the salt-shaker, as we are sprinkled throughout society. We may rejoice with God’s people in the fellowship of the Lord’s church, but our real work is elsewhere. Following that, our Saviour describes...

Ye are the Salt of the Earth – Matthew 5:13

Our scripture is just one point in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. And one of the critical things to remember when studying and interpreting this Sermon is – the audience. It was preached to Christ’s disciples; God’s saints; Jesus’ spiritual brethren; His servants; His sheep. When this message is re-preached to the lost by lazy or liberal theologians heresy is almost guaranteed. Jesus’ message began with a description of the character of those Christian disciples. They began their Christian lives as “poor in spirit,” “meek,” “hungering” and “thirsting for righteousness.” And the Lord then promised to “bless” them. Then after He had established the character of the children of God, He moved on into pictures of their proper relationship to the world. Having a Christian nature – being different from the rest of humanity and the world – we must not conform to the world, but be transformed in order to inform sinners of Christ. But, the idea that WE can actually do some good in this sin-sick world might make us question our sanity. What lasting good can these meager, meek and mournful people do? I am just a single pebble tossed into the Columbia river of life. I am merely a maple leaf floating on an ocean of sin. Won’t we be simply overwhelmed by the floods of evil? Yes, I know that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,” but still, how can WE compete? Christ Jesus didn’t share our scepticism, despite the persecution that He just mentioned in verse 11. We can and must serve this creation as ambassadors for Christ – that is...

God’s People are His Sheep – John 10:1-11; 22-30

The word “sheep” is found many times in both testaments – 41 times in the New Testament. Several times it is applied to us but prefaced with the word “as.” “Behold, I send you forth AS sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” “For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted AS sheep for the slaughter.” “For ye were AS sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” With scriptures like that, it would be hard to use “sheep” as one of the titles of the children of God. But in John 10 Christ calls us “HIS sheep” elevating the term and blessing us in the process. Let’s use this scripture to consider some of the opportunities and blessings of us – the Lord’s Sheep. We have heard the voice of Christ. Verse 27 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Sheep were not raised like chickens – brought to a certain weight and then slaughtered in a few months. Eastern sheep were raised primarily for their wool. Sure, there were some that were sacrificed, but many fewer were used for food. And doesn’t word “sacrifice” suggest that there was an expense in killing that animal? The people of Jesus’s day ate far less meat than we do in our society. When they thought about lambs, it was not with mint sauce. Sheep were loved, prized, and often kept as pets, sometimes even living in people’s houses. And since many sheep...

God’s People are Servants – Acts 16:16-18

There is an immensely popular PBS television series called “Downton Abbey.” It has been running for five years, and according to some accounts, it is the most watched series in world. It tells the story of the Crawley family, the father of which, Robert Crawley is the 7th Earl of Grantham. The tale begins with the sinking of the Titanic, then rolls through WW I, and into the “Roaring Twenties.” Now in its final season it is nearing the Second World War which began in 1939. The various plots revolve around the servants as much as the aristocratic Crawley family. Many of the servants are as proud of their position as are the daughters of the Earl. And, just as there are complicated hierarchies and levels of royalty, so there is among the staff. There is an estate manager; a butler, under butler, head valet, valet, first footman, second footman, chauffer and hall boys. On the ladies side, there is are the head house-keeper, senior lady’s maid, head house maid, various lady’s maids, an head cook, assistant cook, kitchen maid, and a nanny. Some of those servants want to make more of their lives, and so they them move on out of the Abbey. But several of them are happy – and even proud – to be the servants of others. In our on-going consideration of the titles which God gives to His people, we come to the term “servant.” Again, it is debatable whether this is a title or a description. But I think, like Mr. Carson or Mrs. Hughes in “Downton Abbey,” the honor of being a servant...

God’s People are Christians – Acts 11:19-26

This is our fifth message in this series. One theme which has come up in each lesson thus far has been “worthiness.” It is not whether or not the lessons are worthwhile, because I am convinced that they are – to me if not to anyone else. Rather than “worthiness” the unintentional theme has been – “Are we worthy of these titles which the Lord has given to us.” By grace they do apply, but by simply looking at our lives, the answer might be quite different. Should we address each other as “saint,” or even “disciple so-and-so.” By our lives, are we worthy of the title “child of God?” And despite often using the designation “brother so-and-so” are we good brothers and sisters to one another? Moving on, here is a theological question – This isn’t the same as our earlier question – “Are we worthy.” Do we have any Biblical precedent to call ourselves “Christians?” I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with using that title to describe ourselves. But do we have any Biblical precedent or example? Where and how did the term “Christian” begin? We are clearly told that it first arose in Antioch, Syria. This was well after the days of John the Baptist or even the earthly ministry of Christ. And verse 26 tells us that “the disciples were called Christians.” That suggests that the disciples didn’t call themselves “Christians” – others did so. The redeemed of God called themselves either “brethren” or “disciples” – not “saints” and not “Christians.” Antioch was a cosmopolitan community where Jew and Gentile, Greek, Roman, and...

God’s People are His Children – Romans 8:10-15

I have here a little envelope – an envelope which is over 120 years old. My grandmother was a little girl when this was put into the Canadian mail system. It is a bit stained and has a few smudges of dirt, but it is a nice little cover. It is addressed to a Mr. Harris who was the Sheriff of Pictou County, Nova Scotia. It has a 3¢ “Small Queen” stamp – one of perhaps a hundred million – there were a lot printed over thirty years. The value of the stamp is 30¢, but on cover its catalogue value is $5.00. However, if I tried to sell it, I probably wouldn’t get a dollar. Now here is another envelope which was mailed a year later – from Montreal to New Haven, Conn. It is a bit nicer, because it has a printed picture of the hotel from which it was sent. But it has been torn at the top, and some fool put scotch tape on the inside to hold it together. Over time the glue from that tape will probably seep through and greatly deface the front. Generally speaking the value of both these envelopes should be just about the same. But there is a major difference – not in the identical stamps or the envelopes, but in a connection. The second is addressed to William H. Taft, soon to become the 27th President of the United States. Taft, at the time, was in New Haven, receiving an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Yale University. He was staying at the home of his friend James...

God’s People are Believers – I Timothy 4:6-12

Thus far we have looked at ourselves through the titles – “disciples,” “saints” and “brethren.” I have been trying, in these three messages, to distinguish between titles and descriptions. There may be a fine line between these two, and I’m sure to cross it from time to time. In fact sometimes the titles are clear descriptions anyway. The Bible often calls God’s people names or titles which carry with them God-designed meanings. When my parents called me “David,” I doubt that they were thinking that the original Biblical meaning of my name meant “beloved.” To them it was just a name which they liked. But when God oversaw the naming of Jesse’s last little boy, it was with a purpose. I hope you’ve seen that in our Biblical titles there are ideals to which we are supposed to strive. A “saint” is not just one of a special group of glorified people, standing closer to the throne of God than the more lowly Heavenly residents. A “saint” is supposed to live and reflect the fact that while still in this sinful world, he is a separated unto God. The Bible calls New Testament believers “disciples” – a term which refers to someone who is sold out for Christ – learning, reflecting and sharing Christ with others. And “brethren” suggests that, as beloved of God, we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. These are titles, yet with practical meaning, describing certain aspects of our regenerated character. I am thinking that soon we might look at some Biblical descriptions of God’s people which are not titles. But this...

God’s People are Brethren – Romans 8:28-30

Thus far in our study we have looked at two of the most common titles which are applied to God’s people. I think it is interesting how widely divergent all of these titles are, even though they are applied to the same group of people. Obviously, they are designed to highlight different traits and characteristics. Last week’s lesson dealt with the very common title – “saints.” It is found throughout the Old Testament, but only once in the Gospels. While on earth, the Lord Jesus never applied this word to His followers, but Paul did in the Epistles. And never in the Bible is “saint.” used individually; never is anyone called “Saint John” or “Saint Paul.” Correctly, or incorrectly, to my way of thinking, “saint” is a term which ties God’s people to Heaven. We read of the “saints” around the throne of God. “Saint” is a word which links the believer with God the Father. The Bible says that these people have been “set apart” unto Jehovah. We have been “called to be saints” – “beloved of God” and “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” And as such, we should strive under the grace of the Lord, to live as separated, sanctified people. Paul said, “For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” Do we have any right to think...

God’s People are Saints – Psalm 37:1-11; 25-28

There are very few Biblical doctrines for which Satan has not created a perversion or two. And very often he uses the same name or title to further confound the inattentive. For example, most people – even good Christians – have a weak perception of last week’s subject – “disciples of Christ.” There is even a denomination called “The Disciples of Christ” which came about with the 1831 merger of several Presbyterian congregations and the early Campbellites. According to Wikipedia, the primary tenant of the “Disciples of Christ” is to deny all doctrinal statements. They are thoroughly interdenominational and were among the charter members of the World and National Council of Churches. Jim Jones, the People’s Temple and the infamous Jonestown were a part of the “Disciples of Christ” denomination. Are the Disciples of Christ truly disciples of Christ? Satan likes to copy – and then corrupt – just about everything Jehovah ever does. And our subject for this week is no exception. God’s people are “saints” – and they should behave as such. But if you asked the first ten people you met on the street for a definition of “a saint” – you’ll not get a Biblical answer. The average person will tell you that saints are especially good people – almost sinless, if not actually so. Most would humbly demure that they themselves are not saints, but they once knew a saint or two. Others will tell you that saints reside in Heaven. The Roman Catholic will say that saints are people who have been officially “beatified” or “canonized” by the Pope or by some prominent...

God’s People ought to be Disciples – John 15:1-8

Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” centers on two young people – one each from feuding families. At one point Juliet muses that Romeo’s last name doesn’t make him any less a wonderful person. She says, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The meaning is that the names of things do not affect what they really are. While it is true that “Montague” is neither good or evil in itself, any more than “Capulet” – it is also true that many times a name or a title describes exactly the sort of person who carries it. While a “Republican” may be either a liberal or a conservative, a “Christian” ought to thoroughly honor Christ, according to the narrow confines of the Word of God. There are no wide-ranging liberal and conservative Christians Tonight I intend, the Lord willing, to begin a series of messages looking at titles which have been applied to God’s people. We will start with those which we find in the Bible, but eventually we will move into historical names. My intention is three fold – the first is simply educational. But my second goal is to show that quite often we fall short of what these titles convey. So my third point will be – here in this title is what we should strive to become for the glory of our Saviour. Tonight we will start with the term “disciple.” It might be argued there are better places to start. One might think we should begin by looking at the word “Christian” – but “Christian” is rather rare title in the Word...

God’s People are Disciples – John 15:1-8

Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” centers on two young people – one each from feuding families. At one point Juliet muses that Romeo’s last name doesn’t make him any less a wonderful person. She says, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The meaning is that the names of things do not affect what they really are. While it is true that “Montague” is neither good or evil in itself, any more than “Capulet” – it is also true that many times a name or a title describes exactly the sort of person who carries it. While a “Republican” may be either a liberal or a conservative, a “Christian” ought to thoroughly honor Christ, according to the narrow confines of the Word of God. There are no wide-ranging liberal and conservative Christians. Tonight I intend, the Lord willing, to begin a series of messages looking at titles which have been applied to God’s people. We will start with those which we find in the Bible, but eventually we will move into historical names. My intention is three fold – the first is simply educational. But my second goal is to show that quite often we fall short of what these titles convey. So my third point will be – here in this title is what we should strive to become for the glory of our Saviour. Tonight we will start with the term “disciple.” It might be argued there are better places to start. One might think we should begin by looking at the word “Christian” – but “Christian” is rather rare title in the Word...