(PowerPoint files are available by emailing me)
What it means to be God’s!
* This is Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day is the day we remember those who have been killed in our nation’s service. We honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for “freedom.” You see, it meant something to those men and women to be an American. It meant putting America before your family, your friends, or even yourself. When men and women go to battle for this nation, they are saying that being an American mean giving all for America.
* The same principle applies to us in the matter of belonging to God. It seems amazing that, to some people, it means more to be an American than to belong to God. Now don’t get me wrong, being an American is truly a blessing, and one in which we should thank God for every day. However, I ask today, “What does it mean to be God’s?” Does it simply mean that we go to a meeting 1 or more times a week? Does it mean that we do good things in the community? For military people, being an American means total commitment, a change in their lifestyles, turning over control to someone else, and being prepared to meet the challenges they face.
* In the middle section of Romans 15, we discover Paul proclaiming this type of truth about being God’s child, children, or possession. Give some thought to what it “means” to be His. How does it impact you? From our text, I suggest great effects on every believer who sells out to God; that is to say, a believer’s life reflects his commitment to Christ.
1. The Characteristics – Notice verse 14 begins with these words, “Now my brothers, I myself am convinced about you.” The word “convinced” is also translated “persuaded”, “certain”, “satisfied”, and even “sure”. Nothing is as convincing or persuasive as a changed life. That is, a life that reflects our Lord Jesus and His attributes. Paul lists three of them, see if they are you.
a. Full of Goodness – What in the world would it mean to be “full of goodness?” The word full means to be replete, filled to the top, or even saturated. In the language of the South, “filled up to the brim.” The interesting thing about the word goodness is that there is a debate about whether it should be “goodness” or “love.” If I’m full of goodness, then I must be full of love and if I am full of love then I will be full of goodness. To put this in context of the entire chapter would mean that one of the characteristics of the person who is “HIS” is they are full to overflow of love for all people and from this heart of love show goodness and respect for all. It was in the upper room that Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” To love one another is to be good to one another. It is learning God’s way to handle conflict. It is learning God’s way to develop friends. It is learning God’s way to respond to hurt, pain, insult, and the like. It’s learning God’s way.
* Have you thought about what it means to be “full” of something, whether goodness, hate, love, meanness, or any of the like? To be full of something means it is the first thing which comes out. For instance, you hit you finger with a hammer, what is the first word which comes out? Your server in a restaurant is late or gets something mixed up, what is your first response? Most of us will say, “Well that just human behavior” to which I would respond, “exactly.” But when we come to Christ, He leads us to rise above human behavior to the divine or supernatural. It called becoming Christ like and it should be a characteristic of a believer.
b. Filled with Knowledge – Notice it was “full of Goodness” and now it is “filled with knowledge” and in many translations it speaks of “all knowledge”. The Greek word for filled means to “complete”, “consummate”, or even “perfect”. As I have read about this word, it seems to me to this speaks of the process of Spiritual maturity. There is so much for us to consider with this being “filled with knowledge.”
* First, one of the weaknesses of the church today is “not knowing what you believe and being discipled in your Christian walk.” Preaching alone will NEVER do the complete job of discipleship. If it would, the American church (&HBC) would be proverbial “Giants” in the faith. This truth is one of the reason why so many Baptist wind up in cults. If we don’t know what we believe then we will be swayed by every wind.
* Next, particularly in this culture there is a danger for those who do not apply themselves to learning what they “say” they believe. When Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth, in 1 Corinthians 8:1 he writes, “Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.” Later we are told that we can have all knowledge and yet, without love, we are nothing. So there is a reason Paul wrote “goodness or love” before knowledge. Being knowledgeable is different from being mature.
* Next, we must act on that which we believe (which we’ll get to in just a second). But we must never forget that we are saved by believing and then we learn and discover the knowledge needed to “grow in” and to contend for our faith. Our belief requires action in order to mature.
c. Fit to Instruct – The HCSB says, “Able to instruct one another.” Another translation says, “Competent to instruct”. This is a huge characteristic that the average believer misses, “Every mature believer is able to instruct a new believer in developing spiritual, godly, and good attributes in their life.” I read a statement this week which startled me and yet convicted me. It said, “We have made it okay to be a Christian without becoming Christ like.” There is a human tendency to hide behind the cloak of ignorance when God has called us to involvement. The Bible repeatedly teaches us that the mature believers need to instruct the new believers.
2. The Calling – Although Paul talks about HIS CALLING, the wonderful thing about God’s word is that as we are told in Hebrews 4 is that scripture is living, powerful, and sharp. The word of God speaks to us through the lives of the writers. And the calling we see extends to every believer. Consider;
a. To be a minister – The Greek word literally means to be a public servant and has some connection to serving the “state”. Today we “call” many “public servants” (I.E. firemen, policemen, elected officials, and etc.), the reason we do is that initially (at least) they people were in place to protect and provide for the public’s good. Additionally, to be a public servant was and is to hold a position of trust. This means we, as the public, have entrusted responsibilities with these people. Even though a few (highly publicized) have violated this trust, the majority of those do carry with them the burden and responsibility for public service. If you can see the parallel, God has given every one of HIS ‘redeemed’ children the calling and responsibility of being a public servant which we call a minister. As His child we are to offer the public what no other can or will offer. As people filled with the goodness and knowledge of Jesus, we can offer a display of love, joy, peace, and hope. And being competent in His word to instruct, our calling is to minister compassion and grace to all.
b. To be a priest – In verse 16 Paul writes “Serving as a priest of God’s good news.” What is your concept of a ‘priest?’ Because of spending almost 15 years on the Gulf Coast where Catholicism is so prevalent, I think of my friends there who are called priests. Now, they spend their entire lives in the service of the church and God. The word here means “to be busied with sacred things, to perform sacred rites, or to be a temple worker.” One of the things a priest can do is approach God. This is significant for every one of us because we do not have to depend on the deacon, the teacher, or the preacher to go to God in our behalf, truthfully, we can go to God on our own, for ourselves, and for others. This means that we handle the word of God and when you handle something, you can give it.
c. To be a witness – Have you ever considered this thought, “What does it mean to be a “witness”? A witness can only give first hand testimony. Verse 17 describes being a witness for Jesus. Once again, as a redeemed person, we should demonstrate the characteristics (goodness, knowledge, and instruction) in such a way that it becomes obvious that we are under divine calling. As both a minister and priest of and for God, we should boast or brag on Jesus. This is what witnessing is all about. It’s not about us, it’s all about Him. We simply tell people what Jesus is about, what He did, and what He can do. This is what it means to be God’s!
3. The Change – When a person truly gets redeemed and become a part of God’s family, “change” becomes the name of the game.
* One of the most profound changes is how He responds to life. For the person outside of Christ, “HE” is ‘his own man’ doing whatever he wants. However, in Christ, He must live differently. Watch how.
a. Recognizes His Source – When we belong to God, there is a clear understanding that we are no longer our own, we have been bought with a price. Furthermore, we are connected to the source of life, strength, health, time, and eternity. When we recognize God as our source, then it becomes easy to submit our heart, will, life, and voice to Him. This is a huge change of life. The change of life brings about a change in life.
b. Restrains His Voice – This is a bold assertion after Paul has just called us to be a “witness”, but look what he writes, “I would not dare say anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” This has brought a new conviction on me, personally. “Mulligrubbing” and “Bellyaching” are obviously not of God. Neither are damaging words of any kind. The child of God realizes this & begins the journey to bring his tongue under control. And it is a journey, a process, but it is a requirement.
c. Realizes His Choice – The person of God is like Paul who knows that the choice to be God’s person is a choice that impacts all they do. Paul says, “I will tell what Christ has done to reach the Gentiles and I will tell about HOW he did it.” And how did God do it? He did it by word and deed. Paul testified and then produced works in keeping with his changed life. God did it by miracles. Some believe there are no more miracles happening today, yet in this congregation we have seen God heal, save, and more. When one makes the choice to accept God’s invitation, he becomes a part of the family who has access to this kind of power.
4. The Consequences – If you know and display the characteristics and callings from God and if your life displays the changes we talked about, then what exactly are the consequences? It’s all about lost people.
a. Lost people hear – When God’s people “fully proclaim” the good news, it is not simply done inside the four walls of this building. Rather, the good news has taken root in my life and blossomed that all may see & hear.
b. Lost people know – In this letter to the church at Rome, Paul has already asked, “how can they believe without hearing about Him?” The answer is, “they can’t”. But for the one who belongs to God, helping people who don’t know come to know the truth is a top priority.
c. Lost people believe – Paul writes, “My aim is to evangelize where Christ has not been named.” This reminds me of Paul’s heart revealed in 1 Corinthians 9, “I have become all things to all people that I by all means can save some.” For the one who believes in and belongs to God, the passion that all come to know Him is foremost. Why? Because this was Christ’s heart. Let us not accept “It’s okay to be Christian & not be Christlike.”