July 14, 2019
AM Service Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
This morning I want us to celebrate the new creatures we become in Christ. God is so good to us! As we begin the review of God’s Word we start with this verse that tells us: in Christ – we become new creations or new people! It is very important that we properly understand what “in Christ” means. “In Christ” does not mean that we go to church, it does not mean we own a Bible, it does not mean we have read the Bible, it does not mean we tithe, it does not mean we believe Jesus existed. All of those are good things and they are associated with being “in Christ” but those alone do not mean we are “in Christ”. To be “in Christ” refers to a relationship with Christ. To be “in Christ” we need to have placed our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We need to believe Jesus is God’s Son, that Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and resurrected, we need to surrender our life to obedience to Jesus including committing to stop sin in our life and instead seek God. This relationship is a surrendered life and is what is meant by being “in Christ”.
Now I want to see in Scripture 4 things made new in those who are “in Christ”.
First as a new creation we are given a new eternal destiny. The Bible tells us that every person has committed sin. Sin is anything that displeases God. The Bible tells us that the penalty for sin is death and eternity in hell. But when we enter a saving relationship in Jesus, we are saved from from that fate and given a new eternal destiny in heaven. John 3:16 tells us that Jesus came to save us from perishing (in hell) and give us eternal life (in heaven). We see this occurring in Luke 23:39-43. Here we have the criminals and Jesus being crucified together. One of the criminals we see recognizes Jesus as Lord and calls on Jesus to remember and save him. In verse 43 Jesus tells the man his eternal fate has been changed as he would join Jesus in paradise. Praise God we are given a new eternal fate in heaven when we join Jesus!
A second change in our new life is new freedom. John the Baptist tells us in John 1:29 that Jesus came to take away the sins of the world. For the followers of Jesus this means we are freed from sin. We are freed from the guilt and shame of sin! Isaiah 1:18 shows us the extents of the forgiveness we experience when it describes the scarlet and crimson stains of sin being washed away to be left white as snow. This is possible because Jesus paid the full debt of our sin penalty on the cross. And so now we do not have to continue feeling guilty or burdened by shame because our sins are forgiven! We can let go of sin. And not only are we freed from the guilt of sin but we are freed from the power of sin. Romans 6:17-18 tells us that we were once under the power of sin – this is all humanity resulting from the curse of sin. But Jesus sets us free from the sin. This means we can repent from sin. It means we do not have to go back to the old sins that may once dominated our life. It means sin can be defeated and removed from our life. While we may not be perfect and without sin now, sin does not have dominion over us. Praise God we can have victory over sin!
A third aspect of our new creation is that we are given a new purpose. We see this in our current passage in Romans as verse 18 tells us we are now servants of righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:15 tells us tells us we to no longer leave for ourselves but we have a new purpose to live for Jesus. We are to be sharing the Gospel to people to share God’s love for them. We are to be helping the needy just as Jesus did. We are to be worshipping and praising God just as Jesus did. Our new purpose is to make disciples, to teach God, to glorify God!
As we consider our new purpose, let’s consider our engagement on the new purpose compared to the first two new aspects of our lives in Christ. We all gladly embrace our new eternal destiny and we all celebrate our new freedom from sin. But do we commit so wholeheartedly to our new purpose. We should embrace our new purpose and live for Jesus each moment and day of our lives. We are called to live this way by our Lord!
A fourth new aspect of our life in Christ is new support. You may be thinking I would very much enjoy living my life with purpose for Jesus but I don’t know how, or I tried and not capable, or I’ve been a Christian so long I don’t have the same feelings of enthusiasm for service. Well, God gives us support for the Christian life and our new purpose! Romans 5:5 tells us that the Holy Spirit indwells in us as Christians. God lives within us, His Spirit prays for us, ministers to us, comforts us, guides us, gives us words, gives us understanding and so much more support to live for God. We also see in Romans 8:14-17 that God adopts us into His family. We can call God, the Almighty Creator, we can call God our Father. God will never let us down, never abuse us, never abandon us, never disparage us, God will love us, protect us, and support us. Jesus is our brother, the best brother we will ever have. And the family includes other brothers and sisters – the other Christians of the world – the church! God gives us the church to encourage one another, to help one another, to support us all in the pursuit of God. Again you may say that you know God is your Father and the church is wonderful but you still cannot find the strength or way to live the new purpose in Christ. Let’s look at one other key support God gives us revealed by Jesus in John 8:31-32. Here Jesus tells us that if we are truly His disciples we will continue in His Word and then we will know the truth that sets us free. So here we see the Word – the Bible – is part of our support system given to us by God. But we also se we must continue in the Word. It is not simply owning a Bible, listening to a Sunday School lesson or sermon, nor just reading the Bible or even memorizing it. It means we live according to the teachings of Scripture, it means applying its truths, it means dwelling and studying it to know it and make it real in our life. If you are a Christian and do not think you are living for Jesus well and feel lost as to how to do so; then be encouraged that God has given you His Word to change your life! God’s Word transform us and shows us the way of our new life in Christ.
Praise God for the new life we have in Him!
Scripture: Amos 5:18 – 6
When we last looked at Amos we saw him pronouncing God’s offer for salvation to the Israelites that if they would repent from their sins and seek God they would be spared from the coming judgement.
As Amos made this announcement there were probably some listeners who began to tell themselves they were worthy on being spared. They may have reflected on their religious practices: the offerings they made, their sacrifices, their attendance to worship services. We have seen from Amos previously that many of the Israelites practiced religious acts but they did so selfishly and without a true heart for God. And so Amos continues his message condemning the false religiousness of the people. In verses 18-20 Amos address those who thought their religion would save them and announces the ridiculousness of their assumption. Verses 21-23 contain the rejection of the false religious acts the people were performing. Verse 24 tells us what God does desire: righteousness! In verses 25-26 God the judgement is announced on those who thought their false religiousness would save them – they too would be taken into captivity.
In chapter 6 Amos continues to announce judgement turning his focus to the entire nation of Israel again. In verses 1-2 Amos again condemns the people for thinking their man-made strength and securities would never fall. He points the Israelites to consider Calneh, Hamath, and Gath, all cities that were supposed to be strong but had fallen or would fall soon. If those cities could fall, why would the Israelites think they could stand forever?
In verses 3-6 Amos declares the selfishness of the Israelites. He notes how the people’s sins are bringing the coming judgement. He condemns their selfishness and their self-indulgence all while ignoring the spiritual needs and needy of the nation. Verses 7-11 contain the resulting judgement that is coming to Israel. Their possessions would be destroyed, their banquets ended, and the defeat would be without escape. Those who might survive the coming destruction and hide away from the enslavement would still meet death in the resulting aftermath. The judgement would be so severe even the people remaining to perform the burials would be wary of any misstep that would bring their own death.
Verses 12-14 conclude the chapter. In these verses Amos denounces the confused morality of the Israelites. He offers examples to compare how ridiculous their moral compass has become. And in the final verse Amos announces the judgement that will come as another nation will come and defeat the Israelites over all their land.
So, what can we take from this ancient message and apply to us today?
We need examine our life and see if our religiousness is true to God’s heart or if it is characterized be false acts. We need to ask ourselves who we trust in, the Lord or anything else – our nation, our strength, intellect, finances, what? Do we concern ourselves with the needs of people around us or do we pursue our own self-gratification in all things? And are we confusing moral truths by choosing our own interpretations or staying grounded in the Word of God?
If we find ourselves answering these questions the same as the Israelites we need to repent and seek the truth of God. In many ways I feel our nation is repeating the missteps of the Israelites – let’s pray for repentance and revival to come to our country, to our community, to our homes, and to us as individuals where it is needed.
If we can be of help in some way to you, please let us know.
In Christ’s Love,