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Friday, January 27, 2017

Ye Are Christ's

Ye are Christ's”

1Co 3:23a    And ye are Christ's...

Something I've noticed over the last few years is that many people today... when they look at history... they tend look at it with a judgmental eye. In other words, they evaluate the past... and stand in judgment over a person... or an entire civilization which lived years or even centuries past... by the standards we hold today.

A primary example of this would be slavery. It's a practice that's been around for millennia... probably since the beginning of time... and it's only fallen into widespread disfavor within the last 200 years or so.

Every people group on this planet has practiced slavery at some point in time... but it seems like all we hear about today is how it was practiced and what it was like... here in America... as if we're the only country that ever did this.

And please... don't misunderstand me here... Slavery is horrible! It was an institution that rightly died in America in the early part of the 19th century... and it's a practice that's just as detestable to us today as it was to all those men and women who laid their lives on the line, fighting against it way back then.

But I will not try to resurrect the long dead and stand in judgment over them using our standards today. For example... the very idea that we should expunge the history books... or remove statues... in order eliminate the historic achievements of certain people, simply because they owned slaves is ludicrous. Some of the greatest men and women in American history were slave owners... but they were subject to the laws and the customs of their own time... not ours.

Why not instead concern ourselves with those places and cultures where slavery is still practiced? All over Africa... and especially South Africa... sex slavery is a real problem. Sex slavery is also a problem here in America... only, we give it a little bit of whitewash call it prostitution now.

Within Islam... women are nothing more than property and are subject to extreme punishments for something as simple as driving a car... or leaving a house without a male family member present. Elsewhere in the Middle East... any young girls who are captured by ISIS are either turned into sex slaves... or they're brutally murdered if they don't comply.

Folks... human slavery has not been eliminated. The various forms of it we see in our world today are just as bad... if not worse... than it was in history past. Now, some of today's slavery (like sex slavery or actual physical bondage) is blatant and in your face... While other forms of it (such as financial and economic debt) are more subtle... or given a veneer of acceptability so that as a society... we can be comfortable with simply overlooking it.

But slavery is slavery... and as Christians we should do everything we can to fight against it wherever we see it... whether it be physical, mental, financial or even spiritual.

However... there is a form of slavery, which we as Christians... find totally acceptable. Matter-of-fact... we not only find it acceptable... but we freely give ourselves over to it... and encourage others to follow us in it...

Our verse says in... 1Co 3:23a    And ye are Christ's...

We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are His. He is our Master... our Lord... and our Sovereign King! One of the Apostle Paul's favorite designations for himself was that he was the “duolos” of Christ.

Now... wherever you see Paul making mention of being a “servant” or a “bond servant” of Christ in the NT... the word he uses is “duolos”... which means... slave!

He was wholly and completely owned and possessed by His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Though he possessed a will of his own... it was in total submission to the will of His Master. As the “duolos” of Jesus Christ, Paul was the possession of the Lord and was completely dependent upon Him.

And this is God's design for all who believe in Jesus Christ... 1Co 6:19-20  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  [20]  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

God is in us... we are not our own... we've been bought with a price... and we belong to God!

We... as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are the sole possession of our Master... and we were given to Him by the Father. And I know that as Americans... it's difficult for us to wrap our minds around this concept. We're so used to having “inalienable” rights and being “free” as a people and the beacon of “freedom” to the world.

But the God's honest truth is that if you are truly a Christian... then you are the property of the Lord Jesus Christ. He owns you and you not only should... but you will submit to Him as your Lord! And if you don't... then you aren't!

From eternity past... as the property of the Father through His creative act... He gave us to the Son...

I. By Donation

Joh 17:6   I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

There is this unwritten law in the universe that when someone creates something... that thing which is created belongs to its creator. When God created everything... including man... man became God's possession to do with as He wished.

The prophet Isaiah... speaks of the relationship between man and God in terms of a Potter and the Clay.

Isa 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Now... I minored in Art when I was in college at Wayland Baptist University. And because of that minor... I took a lot of Art Classes... one of which included Pottery. In that class I learned how to “throw” clay... which simply means how to shape a lump of clay into something while it's turning on a wheel.

While the wheel would spin... I'd use my hands... fingers... or any other tool I desired... to fashion whatever it was I had in my mind... which was usually a pot, or a vase or an ashtray. Something simple... because I was a novice. But anyway... I'd work at it until I got it to look however I wanted... and then if I didn't like what I made... I'd smash it and add a little more water... and start all over again.

Once the pot or ashtray was finished... I'd fire it in the kiln. If it didn't explode because of air bubbles... the finished product would be mine to do with as I wished. I could keep it and use it. I could throw it up against the wall if I desired. Or, I could give it away to whoever I wanted... because it was mine.

In the same way... God took the dirt of the ground and fashioned man from the mud. He then took a part out of that mud... that clay... and fashioned a woman from the man for the man.

We are His by the law of creation. And He can do with us as He wishes. And because of His great love for us, His creation... He determined that all those who believed in the Son... would be predestined to be given to the Son as a love gift from Him.

2Ti 1:9  Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began

And because the Son loves the Father and the gift that He received from Him... the Son kept us... and saved us... and called us with a holy calling. We didn't do anything to earn it... It was all according to His own purpose and grace.

But there was a difficulty with the gift... because it rebelled against its creator... In essence... the clay vessel believed the lie that it could become it's own potter. That it could become like God... So sin entered the gift, making it flawed and sinful... no longer perfect. Rom 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

And because of that sinful rebellion by Adam... sin passed through him unto all his seed. So that now... the gift from the Father to the Son... must also become the Sons possession...

II. By Purchase

Psa 34:22  The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Tit 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

You know... I can remember as a kid back in the 60's... going to the store or the gas station to buy a soda for a dime. A pack of gum was around a nickle... For a dollar and a half you could buy a hamburger, fries and soda at the Tastee Freeze. A dollar's worth of gasoline would keep the car going for quite a while because gas was only 25-30 cents a gallon.

Over the years the price of everything has gone up. And in many cases... the price of goods have out-paced any rise in personal income. Our purchasing power has fluctuated over the years from inflation... depression... and erratic swings in the market... The value of the dollar truly isn't what it used to be.

But the value of the blood of Christ isn't affected by any economic fluctuations. It's purchasing power remains the same wherever or whenever you are in the world. It's unaffected by the color of a persons skin... their sex... or what decade or century they lived...

Now because of the sin of Adam... as our federal head... sin has passed to all of us too... Adam made all of his offspring sinners. So now... that death that God spoke of when He told Adam that if he ate of the tree... Gen 2:17  ...thou shalt surely die. That curse also passed to all of us.

So now as sinners... under the curse... we're face to face with the justice of God. He can't simply sweep that curse, or that debt under the rug... If He were to do that... if He were to simply give sin a pass... He wouldn't be “just”. No. This debt has got to be paid.

Martin Luther said that as God, He couldn't die, so He became man in order to die. On the cross, He accepted the sin of man against Himself. As the Bible says in... 2Co 5:21  ...he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

In other words... our sin was imputed, or credited to Christ on the cross. And when He died... in a sense... our sins died with Him. Our debt was paid... The curse was lifted.

The blood that He shed for us on the cross... was the purchase price of our freedom. And folks... don't ever let anyone tell you that He paid this price to the Devil. No! We may have been in bondage to sin... but the debt we owed was to God, for breaking His law. Not Satan.

Rev 5:9  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

We were redeemed to God... not the Devil.

We were given to the Son by the Father. The Son then redeemed (or purchased) us back to God by His blood. And now we have standing in His family as sons...

III. By Adoption

Rom 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Gal 4:5  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

When we think of that word... adoption... I'd be willing to bet that you visualize the common practice of bringing someone who's not your child into your family and making them your legal child. Though they aren't your flesh and blood... to all intents and purposes... they become your child in every other possible way.

But the Christian experience of adoption is different in that we don't enter God’s family by adoption... but by regeneration. Jesus told us that... Joh 3:3b  ...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

And then He goes on to say... Joh 3:7   Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

So... we become children of God by faith in Christ. We're born into God's family. But every child of God is automatically placed into the family as a son... through adoption.

When a sinner trusts Christ and is saved, his condition is that he's is a “spiritual baby” who needs to grow up. But positionally... he's an adult son who can not only draw from the Father's wealth... but can also exercise all the rights and privileges of sonship.

The adoption of sons” has to do with our standing in the family of God.
So... we enter the family by regeneration... but we enjoy God’s family by adoption. The Christian doesn't have to wait to begin enjoying the spiritual riches he has in Christ... because... Gal 4:7  ...thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

* * * * *

Folks... by God's grace, through faith in Jesus Christ... we are saved and born again. And that new birth... means exactly what it says. It means... truly born again... given new life! Taking that which was dead... and putting new life within it. It's not my old life resuscitated. It's brand spanking new.

Now according to Romans chapter 6... our old man was nailed to the cross and was crucified with Christ. So he's dead and gone. But because Christ rose from the dead... we also have risen from the dead in Him.

Rom 6:11  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is a brand new start. A new lease on life. A do-over. Have you ever wanted that? To just wipe the slate clean and start all over again?

Well... you can do exactly that today.

2Co 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.

Repent of your sins... Trust Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord... Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.

And you will be saved. You'll have that do-over!

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