Summary: THIS IS A NEW YEAR'S DAY MESSAGE AND A COMMUNION SERVICE MESSAGE. IT LAYS DOWN A CHALLENGE FOR THE NEW YEAR.
HOW TO BE A SAINT
TODAY IS THE FIRST SERVICE FOR 2019 AND IT IS FITTING THAT IT INVOLVES A COMMUNION SERVICE. A QUESTION THAT IS OFTEN ASKED THOUGH IS WHO CAN TAKE PART IN IT?
NOT ALL BAPTISTS HAVE THE SAME STANDARDS AS TO WHO MAY TAKE PART IN COMMUNION. SOME FOLLOW WHAT IS CALLED CLOSED COMMUNION, IN WHICH ONLY MEMBERS OF THAT PARTICULAR CHURCH, WOULD BE ALLOWED TO PARTAKE OF THE SERVICE.
OTHER CHURCHS FOLLOW A MORE OPEN STANDARD WHICH ALLOWS ANYONE WHO HAS A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS AS THEIR LORD AND SAVIOUR TO TAKE PART. THEY COULD BE FROM A DIFFERENT DENOMINATION BUT AS LONG AS THEY HAVE THAT PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, THEY ARE WELCOME TO THE TABLE.
THIS THEN LEADS TO THE QUESTION OF THE DAY. WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN OR AS WE ARE SOMETIMES CALLED SAINTS? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST AS SAVIOR AND LORD?
SOMETIMES THERE IS CONFUSION WITH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH WHEN WE REFER TO CHRISTIANS AS SAINTS. I ASSURE YOU THAT THE MEANING IS DIFFERENT IN BOTH SITUATIONS.
THE GREEK WORD FOR SAINT MEANS “HOLY”, OR TO BE SEPARATED FROM SIN AND SET APART TO GOD. THIS WAS A GOOD DESCRIPTION OF FIRST-CENTURY CHRISTIANS, BUT CAN WE SAY THIS ABOUT CHRISTIANS NOW. DO WE STAND OUT FROM AMONGST THE WORLD, AND IF SO HOW.
PAUL IS WRITING THIS LETTER TO THE PHILIPPIAN CHURCH. THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN ATTENDING BIBLE STUDY ARE GOING TO HAVE A HEAD START ON THIS BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN STUDYING THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS.
THIS LETTER IS SENT AS AN ENCOURAGEMENT BY PAUL TO THE “SAINTS” AND LEADERS OF THE CHURCH AT PHILIPPI. THIS ENCOURAGEMENT CAN BE SEEN IN THREE WAYS:
POINT ONE: AS SAINTS, CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO BE SOMETHING.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
THREE IMPORTANT STATEMENTS ARE MADE BY PAUL HERE THAT TELL US THIS IS ONLY FOR THE SAINTS AT PHILIPPI. THESE ARE STATEMENTS THAT TEACH US ABOUT WHAT CHRISTIANS ARE:
1. THE USE OF THE TERM SERVANTS. PAUL SAYS THAT HE AND TIMOTHY ARE “SERVANTS” OF JESUS CHRIST.
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THE WORD USED FOR “SLAVE” OR “SERVANT” WAS USED TO DESCRIBE SOMEONE WHO SERVED YAHWEH.
But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD.
HERE GOD IS SPEAKING ABOUT MOSES AND THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP THEY HAVE BECAUSE MOSES SUBMITS TO GOD AND DOES HIS BIDDING. THE TERM “SERVANT” THEN BECOMES A TITLE OF HONOR, BECAUSE IT BELONGED TO ONE WHO WAS COMMISSIONED BY GOD FOR A SPECIAL TASK.
PAUL DOES NOT USE THIS TERM OFTEN, BUT HIS USE OF THE TERM HERE INDICATES THAT HE FEELS THAT HE AND TIMOTHY HAVE A SPECIAL GOD-GIVEN APPOINTMENT OR MISSION WITH ALL THE SAINTS AT PHILIPPI
2. TO ALL GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE. PAUL IS ADDRESSING THOSE IN THE PHILIPPIAN CHURCH WHO HAVE SEPARATED THEMSELVES TO A LIFE OF COMMITMENT AND DEDICATION TO GOD. THE RECEPIENTS OF THIS LETTER ARE “HOLY PEOPLE”. WHAT MAKES A PERSON HOLY?
TO BE “HOLY” MEANS THAT WE HAVE BEEN CALLED OUT FROM OUR FORMER WAY OF LIFE, TO NO LONGER PARTICIPATE IN THINGS THAT WE KNOW GO CONTRARY TO GOD’S LAW.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
NOW THIS IS GOING TO BE HARD FOR SOME PEOPLE, MYSELF INCLUDED. THERE ARE SOME SINS THAT ARE PARTICULARLY INTICING FOR US.
HEBREWS 12:1: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles
WHEN I WAS A CHILD I USED TO HELP MY MOTHER MAKE HER BALLS OF YARN TO KNIT WITH. SHE WOULD TAKE A SCANE AND I WOULD HAVE TO HOLD IT BETWEEN MY TWO ARMS, CONSTANTLY MOVING MY HANDS AS SHE MADE THE BALL. THE TELEVISION WAS NEARBY AND EVEN THOUGH IT ONLY HAD TWO CHANNELS AND ONE OF THEM WAS SNOWY, IT COULD EASILY DISTRACT ME AND THE NEXT THING I KNEW, THERE WAS A TANGLE IN THE YARN. IT WAS SO EASY TO HAPPEN AND TOOK A LONG TIME TO CORRECT.
THE POINT IS THIS. SATAN KNOWS FULL WELL THE BEST WAY TO DISTRACT US FROM SERVING THE LORD, AND CAN EASILY CREATE THE CIRCUMSTANCES TO ENTANGLE US. WHEN WE BECOME CHRISTIANS OR SAINTS, WE ARE TO WALK AND LIVE IN A NEW LIFESTYLE, CONSCIOUSLY SAYING NO TO THE THINGS THAT WE KNOW GOD WOULD NOT BE HAPPY WITH.