THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 2-24-08
LESSON TITLE: "GOD'S PECULIAR PEOPLE: A PECULIAR CHURCH"
Peter once proclaimed, "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people." Are you one of God's special children?
Good morning! Thank you for joining us today for God's Living Word. I hope everyone had a great week, and I hope your weekend was a profitable one also. Now, here we are on another glorious Lord's Day morning. What a wonderful opportunity we have again today to join together in the worship of our Redeemer. I hope you are ready to begin this new week with a day of service and offering to your God.
As always, it is our commitment through this program to proclaim the simple truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - which is confirmed for us in the Bible. I hope you all have your Bible's handy and I hope you are ready to worship God together as we sing praises to His name and study from His wondrous word. Now let's begin by talking to our Father in prayer!
At this time, we want to sing our first song of the morning. Won't you all join in with the congregation at this time as we praise God together with the hymn, "Anywhere With Jesus."
(SONG # 1)
I think we sometimes forget just how unique and special we are as Creations of God. The Psalmist David certainly understood this as he wrote, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well," Psalm 139:14. You see God has made us His wonderful creation through His marvelous works. No doubt this is why we all want to know God, show love to Him and follow His precepts.
This leads us to our text of the morning. We read earlier from the inspired words of Peter as he said, "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people." Wow, how descriptive this verse is of just how glorious we are as the faithful in the sight of the Lord. Here we learn that as Christ's church we are chosen by Him. What greater blessing could we have than being chosen by God personally to be a part of His family?
Next we see that we are referred to as a royal priesthood. How encouraging this is to us for it qualifies the faithful as the "priesthood." Therefore we each have the privilege of approaching God's throne ourselves, with no physical man who stands between us. Only Jesus Himself is the only mediator.
We also learn that as God is a holy God we must be a holy people. What else would we want if we truly love God, than to be like Him - holy?
Then the verse ends with the fact that we are a peculiar or special people of God. The fact is everything about God, His people and the Christian walk screams out with its uniqueness and peculiarity. So no doubt it is important that we understand these things fully, so we might be found pleasing in the sight of God.
With this in mind we will begin a new series of study today which is entitled, "God's Peculiar People." Through these discussions we hope to consider together just why the people of God are so special and peculiar, as those who are personally created by God. So I hope you have your Bible's ready to join in this important study of the day as we consider, "A Peculiar Church."
To lead us in this study we are thankful to have brother Darin Chappell with us today. Brother Darin is the minister for the Mountain Grove Church of Christ, as well as an instructor at the Bible Institute of Missouri. So please continue with us this morning and after our next song together, brother Darin will return with this lesson from God's Word. It's now time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."
(SONG # 2)
By Darin Chappell
As we're beginning our series of lessons now on the question of what it is to be a peculiar people, we come from the position of reading the passage found in 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 9 where Peter wrote, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." But the verse goes on where Peter explains why it is that this is necessary. He says, "that," and that means "in order that," in order for this to be the case, "that you should show forth the praises of Him who have called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." The purpose for us being that royal priesthood, that holy nation, that peculiar people is so that we can set forth in our day by day activities, in our attitudes, our actions, our words, the way in which we treat one another. We can show forth the excellent praises of our God because He has called us out of the darkness of sin and death into the light of spiritual eternal life that is promised to all of those who would be faithful according to His Will. We are to live as peculiar people.
So what does it mean to be peculiar? Well, this degree of peculiarity, I have heard it for years be explained away that it doesn't mean strange or odd, but in reality it does. We are to be strange, unique, as the old timers say, "just weirder than all get out." This is really what it is talking about here. We are supposed to be that kind of people which are uniquely distinct from all those around us. We are to be peculiar people. But there are ways in which we are to be peculiar, ways in which that distinction is to be seen in us both as individuals and as the body of Christ as a whole. And so it is that we begin our study giving a whole review of ways in which it is that we are to be peculiar, strange, unique and distinct.
First of all, let's examine the church itself. The church is a unique, a peculiar body in many ways, not the least of which the church, the church of Christ, so called not because it is a name that was established by individuals. No group of men got together and said, "Let's call this the church of Christ." But rather it is something which is a description not a name at all, but a description that was given by the Bible. In Romans chapter 16 and verse 16 when Paul was writing to those Christians of the 1st century there in the city of Rome he said, "The churches of Christ salute you." That is those congregations found all over the world. They salute you. They send you their greetings. The idea of being the church of Christ is a description of that body. It's interesting but sometimes the smallest words in the Bible are some of the most important. When he talks about the churches of Christ, the word "of" there is very important because in the original language the word "of" describes the point of origin and the characteristic or nature, which is distinguished by the name or the title or the description. So when Paul here talks about the churches of Christ, he is talking about those congregations, those parts of the body which have their distinction, their characteristic and their nature coming from Christ Himself. That is those groups of individuals, those Christians of the 1st century were to have the characteristics that were found in Christ Jesus being expressed by their own day by day living. So when we're talking about the church of Christ we're talking about that body of people who exemplify Christ in their day by day living. That's what is required of us if we are going to truly be able to wear the title and the name of "Christian."
Of course the church also has other distinctions. The church is that body for which Jesus Christ shed His own blood. Acts chapter 20 and verse 28 tells us that, "He purchased the church with His own blood." Now that shows us not only the unique characteristic of the church in relation to all the other religious bodies in the world but how precious it is, how precious it is to God our Father in heaven that His own Son went to the cross to shed His blood that the church might be purchased with that most precious of prices.
We find in Matthew chapter 26 and verse 28 that Jesus said that His "blood was shed for many for the remission of sins." Now follow here with me for just a moment if you will. But if Jesus purchased the church with His own blood and Jesus' blood was shed for the remission of sins, then it is reasonable to conclude that the remission of sins is found within that body, the church, which He established and purchased with that blood.
Of course that's exactly what we find taking place there in Acts chapter 2 where the church is said to have been instituted on the first Day of Pentecost after the Lord's resurrection. We find that those Jews there in Acts chapter 2 and verse 37, those individuals when they recognized what it was that they had done, they along with the Roman citizens around them calling for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, when they recognized that they were responsible as individuals for the crucifixion of Christ they said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Indeed the question was probably more something along the lines of, "What can we do? We just had the Son of God crucified and we recognize that now and so what can we do?" Well the apostle Peter there with the rest of the apostles they stood up and explained to them what they were to do. They were to repent and they were to be baptized for the remission of their sins by the authority or in the name of Jesus Christ. There were 3,000 individuals that were so baptized that day and we find there in Acts chapter 2 and verse 47 that "God added them to the church those who were being saved daily," those individuals who were day by day were being obedient to the gospel and being saved from their sins were being added to the church. Well, which church? Well, there was only one in existence at the time. It was that church which Jesus had built. It was that church which Jesus had purchased with His own blood. It was that church which came from Christ and shared those characteristics and the nature that He expressed through His disciples in Christ Jesus. It was that church of Christ that Paul spoke of in Romans chapter 16 and verse 16.
The church is also quite distinct in the way in which it worships. When Christians are gathered together, we worship according to the scriptures. We worship according to the commandments of God. There are some similarities between the way we worship and the way that other groups worship as well, but there are some distinctions, things which make us peculiar. For one thing, we don't use mechanical instruments of music. Now there are a good number of people that think that churches of Christ don't use mechanical instruments of music because of some traditional perspective or perhaps small congregations couldn't afford mechanical instruments, but that's not the case at all. We find in Colossians chapter 3 and verse 16 and Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 19 that we are commanded to "sing and make melody in the heart," and therefore we sing a cappella which literally means "at the chapel," the kind of music which could be heard in the worship of God during the 1st century, that kind of music which you can still hear in those peculiar situations found in the churches of Christ, those peculiar people worshipping according to the Will of God.
We partake of the Lord's Supper upon each and every first day of the week as we are commanded to do. Acts chapter 20 and verse 7 tells us that "upon the first day of the week we are supposed to partake of the Lord's Supper," just exactly as the Jews of old were commanded to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy in Exodus chapter 20 and verse 8. They didn't ask, "Well, which Sabbath? Shall we do it quarterly? Shall we do it bi-annually? Shall we do it only at certain times of the year?" No, they recognized that every week had a Sabbath, that there was never a week without a Sabbath and so "every time the Sabbath rolled around they remembered it to keep it holy," Exodus chapter 20 and verse 8.
Acts chapter 20 and verse 7 tells us that "we are to partake of the Lord's Supper upon the first day of the week." Has there ever been a week without a first day? Has there ever been a week with more than one first day? Therefore, we the churches of Christ, those peculiar people, we worship God according to that pattern set forth.
We also find that the church is unique and distinct based upon the way in which it is established in its leadership that is set forth for us. There in 1 Timothy chapter 3 we find given to us the position or the office of an elder for bishop. We find that these individuals are responsible for the guidance of the congregations over which they serve as overseers, again in Acts chapter 20 and verse 28 and following. But we find that these individuals are not to serve as some manmade government, that body that is ruling over the church and establishing manmade rules and doctrines, but rather they are to be leading and guiding individuals, Christians, toward heaven according to the pattern found within God's Word. We find later on in the chapter that there are deacons that are given to serve as special servants in specific instances that have roles that they are to perform within the church. Again, not to serve as some manmade government but rather instead to guide us by their example, by their work and by their love pointing toward heaven to Jesus Christ. In fact, the churches of Christ have no manmade government. There is no denominational body that oversees us. We instead answer to the King of the Kingdom, the Head of the church, the Head of the body, Jesus Christ and Him only (Ephesians chapter 1 verses 21-22). We have a responsibility to recognize that our home, our national headquarters is in heaven. We don't worry about what other individuals may think of say. We simply say, "Is there or is there not a 'Thus sayeth the Lord?' If there is, then let us be found doing it. If there's not, then not let us be found binding what cannot be bound."
There are also distinctions not only in the church as a whole but there should be distinctions among individual Christians as well. Individuals as they live their lives day by day should be found to be distinct, unique, peculiar among those around them. We find that individuals are to be those who put God first ahead of all things. Matthew chapter 6 and verse 33, Jesus said to His disciples, "But speak ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."" He was talking about all the physical things of life that the money, the clothing, the homes, everything that we work so hard for, if we would simply let that go to the side for just a moment and put God first in our lives that He would make certain that we have everything we need to be pleasing in His sight. Of course we have to do this by making sure that we submit ourselves as the servants that we are supposed to be to God. That's exactly the attitude the apostle Paul was setting forth in Galatians chapter 2 and verse 20 when he said, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh, l now live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." The apostle Paul said, "I'm not the one who is important. Therefore, my life, my goals, my aspirations, my desires, I'll set those aside and live only and always for Jesus." When you see me acting or you see me talking or treating individuals in one way or another, it should be that I would be acting and thinking and speaking just exactly as Jesus would have done were He in my place. We find that the apostle Paul was encouraging us to set ourselves aside and take up the responsibility of following after the example of Christ.
Of course that's exactly the same thing we find as a responsibility given to us by the apostle John as well. In 1 John chapter 4, he speaks about several things that Christians are supposed to be doing in their day by day living. He says there in 1 John chapter 3, excuse me, verse 7, "Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doeth righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous." How can we do righteousness? We can do righteousness by submitting ourselves to those things that are given to us within the Word of God by living rightly according to the standard of God. When we live rightly according to the standard of God, then we can be righteous not because we're better than anybody else. That's certainly not the case. We all have our difficulties, our mistakes that we make, our attitudes that need to be changed, maturing that needs to take place, but it's not perfection that God requires of us but it's the wanting to be perfect. It's the striving for it. It's the growth. It's the effort that we put forth that should make us different from those around us, the rest of the world. We see all around us the difficulties that individuals have in their lives but they just seem to struggle. They just seem to stay at that same level of difficulty and despair, but the Christian should rise above by seeking to do the Will of God and seeking to put Him first and do that righteousness which is set before us within the scriptures.
The apostle John also continues there in chapter 4 beginning in verse 7. He said, "Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God for God is love." It is that attitude that we have set before us that we are to love one another. We say, "Well, everybody is supposed to love one another." But for the Christian this makes us a peculiar people if we understand what love truly is. The type of love that is being described in the Bible is not that type of emotion, not that beating of the heart, not that quickening of the pulse. It's not what we feel. It's what we do. We are to love one another and we're to help one another. We're to be there for one another. We're to encourage one another to be righteous in our day by day living, to set a proper example, to encourage one another even if that means to correct one another. We need to love one another by being there for one another. And in that, Jesus said that we could be known as His disciples. We could be different from the world around us. We can be that peculiar people.
Now as we go through the remainder of this series of lessons, you're going to hear lessons about ways in which we can specifically be seen as that peculiar people. But this morning, I want to ask you, "Are you that kind of peculiar person that you are set aside for God, set aside from sin?" You can be that way by being obedient to the gospel that's been commanded for us to all be obedient to in the scriptures. Hear the Word of God. Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Be willing to confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God before others. Repent of your sins. Be baptized for the remission of your sons, to be added to the church by the Lord Himself, but then to be able to live faithfully up to and including the point of death. Does that describe you? Are you that kind of peculiar person? Thank you.
(SONG # 3 - "There's A Fountain Free")
What a wondrous time we have had together in participating in the things of God. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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Thanks be to God that He has made us all so unique and that He considers us as special in His sight. May we strive to never let Him down as we obey His commands and follow His precepts?