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Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

Who did Jesus think He was?

October 13th, 2010

Was Jesus just a man with an over inflated story? Would he just be embarrassed by all the subsequent attention? Actually Jesus very clear about who he was and he must have been either incredibly deluded or someone absolutely unique in human history.

The basic message of Jesus was himself and that’s the evidence of the gospels. This makes Christianity unique in world religions, take Jesus out of Christianity then it all collapses. It’s all built on his identity so it’s important we understand who he is.

John’s gospel is built around the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus.

I am the bread of life. We all have a hunger that needs satisfying. Jesus didn’t just direct people to the source of this satisfaction he claimed to be that himself.

He didn’t just point to the truth he said; I am the way, the truth and the life.

I am the resurrection and the life Jesus doesn’t provide the answers he provides himself, THE answer.

Jesus often described himself as the son of man. Was Jesus emphasising he was just human?

Daniel 7:13-14  provides a great description of the son of man. He has authority to rule all the nations and they’ll worship him. It’s not about manhood, the name refers to him being God,  or another name for the son of man; Messiah. Messiah means anointed, empowered by God for a certain task.

Old Testatment  full of prophetic promises for a coming rescuer, the messiah. Jesus read all those things, understood them and realised that was his identity. Jesus could have crushed this identity, most ‘messiahs’ end up being killed! Even before the Sanhedrin prior to his execution. They asked are you the Christ? He says I am.

What part do our expectations play in the way God acts?

The Jews didn’t understand why Jesus wasn’t acting like the messiah they’d expected. They thought their enemy was the Romans but Jesus talked about an enemy much more dangerous that required a much different saviour to the one they expected.

We all want Jesus to solve our problems and help us get what we want. But that can show we don’t really understand Jesus and what he offers.

Our problems are much deeper. There is a heart issue at stake.

Handling our Differences – 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

April 26th, 2010

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Paul is dealing with the issue of litigation in the church in Corinth, when there were rock star lawyers and suing people was a way of making money. Paul reserves his harshest words for this topic – he wants the church to feel ashamed for such behaviour. In our present day and culture, we may not be taking others to court but we do hold grudges and take vengeance on others.

Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that they have forgotten the following:

1. Themselves

  • They have forgotten their identity – who they are – and their destiny – where they are headed – as the people of God
  • All the saints (that is, anyone who has saving faith in Christ) will one day rule the whole world, including the angels
  • We are God’s ecclesia – His people – so we should be able to sort out our differences amongst ourselves
  • Paul is furious that they were making the Church look like any other organised religion that is just about ripping each other off. He is keenly aware that the world is watching, and so should we be
  • Jesus prayed that His people would be one, would be unified
  • We know better than to get revenge on each other
  • Paul is NOT advocating covering up sins within the church and keeping them secret. He wants the city to see the church as genuine, open and humble, shining for Jesus, and civic authorities have been put in place by God – so there are times when we need to bring issues out into the open for the sake of justice
  • However, this is about personal grievances and wanting money

2. Their Master

  • We follow the example of Jesus – He suffered, forgave, was merciful, took mistreatment without retaliating, was loving, and did not take vindication against others
  • We betray Jesus by not acting like Him and getting revenge
  • However, we can’t just try our hardest to be like Christ – we’ll never make it in our own strength. We are innately sinful – we long for personal vindication in our hearts. But Jesus took all this on the cross – our sin and also the sins committed against us
  • Jesus at the cross gave us a righteous standing with God and the power to live righteously. He was disempowered so that we could be empowered and reign with Him for all eternity
  • Although we as God’s people continually treat Jesus with contempt, He never once gets back at us even though He has every right to
  • Ch.3 – we have everything in Christ. This is why we can suffer losing money, personal grievances, etc
  • Dwell on the fact you have been forgiven – he who has been forgiven much, loves much
  • There’s an illusion that holy people just choose miserable, hard things for sake of it. But the truth is, it’s all done in faith and knowing that they have a destiny which cannot compare – e.g. Abraham
  • We’re not advocating being doormats – we do need to seek justice when necessary

3. Their story

  • If you spend your life grabbing and getting, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If you try to hold onto your life, you will lose it – but if you give it up for the sake of Jesus, you will find it
  • In this passage Paul lists any and every kind of person who lives to gratify their own pleasures. He is not picking on certain people, e.g. homosexuals – but having a go at everyone who lives for themselves
  • We have a new story, a different story to the rest of the world
  • You’ll live a joyless life if you live for yourself – everything you try to grab becomes cheap
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. True peace is always costly and God is the ultimate peacemaker – we are called to follow His example
  • None of this is easy but it becomes easier the more you grow in your relationship with Jesus

2 Corinthians 5:21

November 11th, 2008

This is arguably one of the most important verses in the Bible. One commentator puts it like this ‘There is no sentence more profound in scripture; for this verse embraces the whole ground of the sinners reconciliation to God.’ Certainly all the other great truths already stated in this chapter are dependent on the truth given to us in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

 

It tells us what God did … he sent his Son. The biggest question in the Universe must be, why does evil exist? The Bible doesn’t actually give us an answer to that, but it tells us that evil does exist; we see it in the terrible things that happen in the world but we know there is evil also in our own lives. God took an initiative against evil in sending his Son. This means that God was fully involved at the Cross. He made Jesus sin for our sake. See also Isaiah 53:4 and Acts 2:23.

It tells us who Jesus is… he is sinless. One of the most astonishing things about this claim is that Jesus was himself aware that he was sinless. See John 8:46. It is also the consistent testimony of the New Testament. See Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5. (3 different writers here). To state that Jesus is without sin is not to be understood just in a negative way; he was utterly righteous. We sin and fail to do the will of God. Who can help us? Only someone who is utterly righteous and without sin. That is the person that God sent. That person is Jesus.

It tells us what Jesus did… he was made sin. This happened at the Cross. This does not mean that Jesus became a sinner. John Stott says the meaning of this is that Jesus bore the legal consequences of our sin. This is beyond illustration for there has never been an event like the Cross of Christ, nor will there ever be. Jesus was punished for our sin and in our place.
Also Jesus dealt with all our sins. Time may be a great healer, but it is not a great forgiver. Only God can forgive us our sins. God sees all our sins past present and future equally clearly because God stands outside our limitations of time. They all stand as a record of charges against us; none of them are expunged because of time. But they are expunged by the death of Christ at Calvary. See Colossians 2:13-14. The something extraordinary happens; God remembers our sins no more. See Hebrews 8:13. This does not mean that God forgets our sins (we do and that is part of our problem) but God chooses no longer to bring them to mind.

It tells us who we are… the righteousness of God. In context this verse is not telling us that we are righteous; because we aren’t! It is telling us that we are covered with Christ’s righteousness and that is how God sees us; dressed in Christ. Christ took our sin; we are covered with his righteousness – an amazing transfer has taken place.

It tells us where we are… in him. To speak of a person being ‘in’ something identifies that person and tells you a lot about them. To be ‘in Christ’ identifies us with all the privileges of being a Christian. ‘In Christ every part of our salvation is complete.’ (John Calvin). There is no small print giving exceptions like you get with an insurance policy, In Christ everything to do with salvation is covered. This includes my sin, my body, my death, my future.
Wesley put it like this:
No condemnation now I dread
Jesus and all in him is mine
Alive in him, my living head
And clothed with righteousness divine.
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown through Christ my own.
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
2 Corinthians 5:21 – no sentence is more profound in scripture.

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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