THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 7-18-04
LESSON TITLE: "PRIVILEGED TO BE IN GOD'S FAMILY: GOD'S PRECIOUS FAMILY"
Thank you for joining us this morning, let me welcome you to the program. The Living Word is a work of our Lord, dedicated to doing God's Will in His Way! As always, it will be our privilege today to sing songs of praise and to study from His Word. In these acts of worship, may we all be encouraged, but ultimately may we each praise God according to the sacrifices to offer toward His Throne. It will also be our honor this morning to speak with God through prayer. Will you bow with me as we talk to our creator?
Our first song this morning reminds us of a great day that will come in the future. A day when we will go to heaven and be with our God for eternity! How wonderful it is as Christians to know that we have the promises and rewards of God - if we are found faithful unto death. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together this encouraging song, it's name "There's a Great Day Coming."
(SONG # 1)
Think for a moment this morning about just how great we have it as Americans. Isn't it great to be a citizen of the greatest and most blessed country on this earth? Furthermore, think about our homes and where we live. Isn't it also equally great to have a family and to be a part of a social structure which was planned and ordained by God Himself?
Now read with me from Ephesians 2:19, were Paul talks of another great blessing we have through Jesus Christ. There we read, "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." Praise be to God for this glorious truth! Not only are we members of a great country and a part of a physical or earthly family, but best of all we are citizens in the household of God! The verse proclaims us as saints and members of the house which God built. Isn't that wonderful? Isn't that precious to know?
Continue with me at the next verse, 20, as it goes on to tell us why we have this blessed opportunity and from where it is founded. There we read, "having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." Thanks be to God and His Son, for it is through Christ that we are a part of that precious household or family of God. For Christ alone is the "chief cornerstone," in which the whole building, temple and family are joined together in.
Now the question you must ask - are you a part of the family? Are you in the household of God? Have you done what God requires that you be considered a part of His precious family?
With these things in mind, today we are excited to begin a new series of study which focuses on the wondrous blessing we have by being a part of the family of God. The series will be entitled, "Privileged To Be In God's Family." And our specific lessons of the day will further introduce, "God's Precious Family!" So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will lead us in our main thoughts of the day. Now it's time to join in our second song of the day, the name of this hymn, "Trust And Obey."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us this morning as we now can study God's Word and look into the pages of the Bible. Certainly it's a privilege to look at God's family as most of us certainly are striving and desiring to be a part of that family and living lives and attending services and acting in ways and saying things that certainly qualify us before the throne of God.
But as we look this morning we want to look a little bit more specifically and more in detail as we've already began to see in our introductory remarks. Ephesians chapter 2 deals a lot with this concept of the family. In fact, we were told there that as the family of God, we are now "fellow citizens," in verse 19. We are those who are "saints." We are those who are "members and we are of the household of God." All of this, you and I, the body of Christ, the family of God, being built on the foundation that is clarified in the following verses. There in verse 20 and following. Jesus Christ is that foundation.
But then if you go to chapter 3, we continue to see this discussion that Paul is having here with the church at Ephesus and trying to encourage them of the fact that they are as a family. They have the family atmosphere. In fact, you might notice there in chapter 3 around verses 9 and following, he even there talks about "the church, the family of God being the church and how it was God's pre-planned, pre-ordained purpose that the church would make known the manifold wisdom of God," verse 10, "and that was according to His eternal purpose," verse 11.
But then later in chapter 3, he goes on in verse 14 to actually bow and come before the Father. Notice the declaration there and proclaims to these brethren once again as he says, "From whom the whole family in Heaven and earth are named." That is the Father through Jesus Christ in whom all of us are named. Aren't we called Christians? Certainly we are. Don't we refer to ourselves as the church of the Lord, the church of Christ, the church of God? Those things again that give homage and praise to Jesus, the one who gave His life for us. Certainly I hope that we all do because that's what He's saying here. We are members of God's family. Not my family. Not your family. Not the family of a man that lived, but God's family through Jesus Christ and it is His name, Jesus Christ, that we wear and that we enjoy in.
In fact, he goes on to talk about those riches in verse 16 of chapter 3 that "we would be granted the riches and strengthened through God." And then it goes on later in that same text to talk about that great concept of love in verse 18 that we might be able to understand something that really is not able to be understood, the great depth and the great width and the length and all the love that God has and it's fullness and all that it encompasses for us as His followers.
So certainly we are introduced to a beautiful idea, a concept, a concept that should not be strange to any of us because all of us have been raised in some type of a family. We have had fathers. We have had mothers. We have had siblings to interact with. And if not, we've had father-figures, and mother-figures, and even those friends and neighbors who have been like siblings to us and we've all had that atmosphere of a family and we've had to function in a certain environment. We've had to fulfill our duties and follow certain roles and be able to obey and to follow instructions and then at the same time be able to follow examples and to set examples for those maybe who are younger than us. Well when we come to the church, it should not be strange then that we read in places like Ephesians. We read in places like Galatians 5 that the husband and the wife and the family unit and the children mentioned in chapter 6 there are referenced as "the body of Christ, the church" because just as a household under has a father, has one who is over and who has children, certainly our spiritual does, the family of God, the household of God, the saints again as it has said there, as we've read together, the concept of the members, the fellow citizens. We make up the same type of a spiritual household. Who's the Father? No doubt, God the Father. God the Father and Jesus the Son being over us, the head, being the one who made the supreme sacrifice for each and every one of us. But even furthermore, who are the children? Well the scriptures, as we will see even more detailed in just a moment, indicate that you and I are the children of God. In fact, we are those who are following God and who are now able to speak to our Father through prayer and that He looks to us as His appointed children as we have done those things that He requires.
And yes, as we look at a family, we find that the spiritual family involves itself in the same good and bad and positive and negative things that really the physical family does. I know growing up I had three sisters and there were some rough days. There were some times when they would gang up on me or I might gang up on them and being the only boy sometimes it seems I may have even had some favoritism, but in looking at all of that, I am reminded of some tough times, of some many good times, of a lot of happy times. I'm reminded now of the great relationship that I share with my sisters not only physically, but as they're Christians in the faith. Well the same is true as we are discussing at this time. What about a church family? You know sometimes we act as if we find it strange that we have a hard time getting along with a fellow brother or sister in Christ. We find it strange that a church might be having problems that is supposedly made up of the children of God. Why should it be strange if our physical families quarrel and fight because of our humanity? Why wouldn't the spiritual family have similar problems? But the greatest difference then would be as spiritual families we should look to Christ. As those who are in the household of God, we should try to reflect Christ and stop ourselves when we make these mistakes. Correct them. Ask forgiveness and tell others that we're sorry when we've done things that we should not. And when we're asked to be really forgiven by others, that we are willing to forgive others, that we are willing to do our part in every area as the family of God requires.
Well yes, the church then is a household. The church then is a family. It is a group which is made up of many individuals that work together to accomplish a single purpose and that great purpose is serving God, worshipping Him, and living according to His precious Will, doing those things that again give Him great glory and honor and although at times we mistakes, knowing that with the help of God, we can ask forgiveness. We can correct those things and we can do better the next time.
Another great important fact of the family of God is not only the reality that it is made up of humans that are not perfect, that really we will have problems and trials that we have to deal with and that thanks be to God we can work through and hopefully even come out better than before with the help of God, but also as the family of God we must acknowledge that a family must be one. Think about a physical family for a moment. How could a physical family function if there were no head? If everyone was going a completely opposite and different direction and no one could agree or come together or really be one in any area? Well the reality is the Bible tells us that we are many members, but yet we must be one.
There are several verses that we might just look at just briefly. In the book of Philippians, just one book over, we find Paul there in chapter 2. He says this to the church at Philippi. He says, "Fulfill my joy and be like-minded." He doesn't stop there. He goes on in verse 2 to say, "Having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind." You see, we are encouraged there to have this oneness of mind. You know a family (inaudible) there. What about when your brother or sister does something in your physical family against you and they ask forgiveness or they say they're sorry. Your parents do something wrong or you do. A family is able to forgive. Sometimes we see even in our society where a family member might do a horrendous crime. Yet, who is it there in court? Who is it there by their side when they have realized that they are wrong and they are now on trial and possibly going to serve a life sentence for their crime? Who is it there? The family. The mothers, the fathers, the siblings who still support them and love them even though they have made the wrong choice. They have taken wrong steps and done those things that are contrary not only to our civil law, but also to the law of God.
Well as we look there in 1 Corinthians, we find the same encouragement of being one before God. In fact, the way that Paul puts it to the Corinthian brethren is like this. He says, "I plead with you brethren, by the name or in the name of Jesus, that you speak the same thing." He goes on to say further that "there be no divisions but that you be perfectly joined together." How do we be perfectly joined together, Paul? In the same mind, in the same judgment. Three things brought out in that verse: that we speak the same thing, that we have the same mind and that we have the same judgment. Yes, we can be one in faith. Yes, we can be one in matters that God hath ordained and given to us through His Word and even in areas of expediency or opinion, we can still strive to go the extra mile. We can still strive to be those who aren't puffed up or who always have to have our way, but yet maybe at times are willing to give and take not on doctrinal issues but on areas of opinion. But when God has spoken may we stand with God. May we be strong with Him and as it says here, "learn that the way we are unified is to speak the same things, to work together, to be of the same judgment, to be of the same mind, to be of the same heart, soul, mind and strength before our God.
Not only there, but we find in other places like Ephesians chapter 4 where the ones are mentioned, the seven ones of unity and in all those things, it says, "if we want to endeavor to have unity, we must be one." Believing in the one God, the one Lord, the one Spirit, believing in the one baptism, the one faith, one, one, one, one, same mind, same judgment. The household of God is one in the things of God because we are alike. Oh but, Ray, how can we be alike? We're alike because you and I strive to be like God. You know how could we say that, "I love God and I have fellowship with God but I don't have to be like God." When God says that I should imitate Him, I should follow Him, I should obey His Will. Wouldn't that be silly for me to claim that God's going to love me anyway even though I don't care anything about being like Him or about doing what He says? Well then how is it silly if we claim that we have to be alike? If I'm striving to be like God, and you're striving to be like God, and it's based on what He says, surely we're going to find that we are the same. We are similar, that our judgments and our minds are working as a family and accomplishing those goals not for our sakes and our glory, for our purpose, but for God's sake and glory as well as His purpose.
We also have the idea that is presented here well in many songs that we might sing. In our song book, we have one that's called "God's Family." It talks about how that sometimes we laugh together, sometimes we cry, sometimes we share together heartaches and sighs, sometimes we're just together and we dream and we wonder how it's going to be, but when we all get to Heaven, oh how glorious it's going to be as God's family. You know that's what it's all about. Not just our physical families before God, but God's family. That's what we're all striving for on God's law, working together, being one, unified, accomplishing those things to His glory. And why? So that in the end we might not only receive the reward but again that He might ultimately be glorified.
I'd like to spend our last few minutes in asking the question as to "How do we get into the family of God?" We've mentioned quite a few references as far as what a person should do, what a person must do as far as his relationship with God and the family, being the father's relationship with others in the family. But what is it we must do in the family to become a part of it? You know even when we are in a family that is physical, there are certain things that we have to do, the requirements that we have to meet, in order that we be considered to be of a family. Otherwise, at some point they might shun us or say that, "we can no longer put up with it because you are not willing to be a part of us and with us."
Well, what does it say in scriptures in relationship to these same things? In Galatians 3, I think we have referenced there some things about the family that will help us in understanding this. In fact, if you'll notice there in verse 26 of chapter 3 it says, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." In fact, verse 28, two verses down, it says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. There is neither male nor female. All are one in Christ Jesus." Sound familiar? One mind, one heart. We are all sons of God. We are all daughters, children, brethren, one in God. No matter who we are, where we're from, what color we are, how much money we make, what job we have, we are all one when are in Christ Jesus.
Well Paul, how do we become a part of that oneness, that family, that household? There in verse 27 that we missed purposely, verse 27 says, "For as many of you have become baptized into Christ have put Him on." How do we put on Christ? How do we put on the likeness of God, the likeness of the family? How do we be added to the church? I encourage you to look to Acts 2 and verse 47 because there it says, "Those that were being saved were added to the church." Ray, what were they doing to be saved? Acts 2:38 when they were crying out and asking the question, "What must we do to be saved?" Peter and the others said, "Repent and be baptized. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and the remission of sins." If we want to be in the family of God, we need to do what God has asked us to do. Make the great confession that we believe in Him. Acknowledge that we are out of Him in sin and we need to repent and turn toward Him. Repentance means a change, leaving the old and now following the new life and then being buried with Him in baptism. Why? To put on Christ. "To wash away our sins," Acts 22 and verse 16 and as well so that by the Lord by all of these things might know that we are His children, that He might put us in His family and that we might truly be and know that we are a part of the household of God, that we'll have the eternal rewards someday of Heaven.
(SONG # 3 - "All Things Are Ready")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I know our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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Isn't it wonderful to be a part of the glorious family of God! May we always live and do those things that cause us to be considered as a part of such a wondrous and precious body, established by our God!