I AM "IN CHRIST"
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJ)
Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, IF the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (NIV)
Lesson two in our SALT study is about who you are, your identity. You are not a sinner, or a loser, or a straight man or woman, or a winner, or whatever else you think you might be IF you are born again… IF you are “in Christ”… IF you are a child of God.
When we are born again, if we are in Christ we are a child of God. We are loved by the Creator of the Universe. We have a new identity. We are a new creation.
As long as you think of yourself as anything other than a child of God you are missing out on what God wants to give you. Your thinking is warped. You are walking in the flesh.
Who you are is determined by your relationship with God and that alone. Nothing else comes close to being as important as this.
Adam’s sin led to his death. It also led to the death of every person born after him.
“Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12 (NKJ)
Everyone born into this world inherits sin from Adam and is separated from God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (NKJ)
When we are born again God moves us from the line of Adam to the line of Christ. We now have eternal life because we are born again. Life is no longer about ME, it is about HIM !
God disciplines His children because He loves them. He does not punish them. Punishment has been taken off the table.
We are IN CHRIST. We are no longer slaves that live in fear of punishment.
God will chastise you but He will not give you what you deserve – DEATH… Separation from Him! His justice… His wrath… was satisfied by the suffering and death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
We are now free to obey God because we love Him. As His slaves we were only able to obey out of duty and to escape punishment. STOP ACTING LIKE SLAVES! Start living as children. God is our Father. He loves us.
Who are you? God’s children… His disciples are learning to put off the flesh and put on the Spirit. We are learning to obey out of love, not out of fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Fear is about punishment. We are learning to walk in the Spirit. We are learning to make disciples.
We are moving toward the high standard of loving God with all that we are. We have habits and ways of thinking that God wants to change. Are we listening and doing what He says to do?
Making disciples is how the church grows. Making disciples begins with knowing you are a disciple… knowing you are a child of God and not a slave to sin.
Jesus made disciples by calling people to follow Him. Then He spent time with them. They learned to be disciples by following Him. They learned what it meant to be children of God as they spent time with Him.
Paul called people to follow him. He told them “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
If we are going to make disciples… if we are going to grow as a church we need to pray and ask God to send us people that we can encourage to walk in the faith… to walk in the Spirit. We need to be calling people to follow us as we follow Christ. This is what church is all about.
A church does not consist of people singing songs and listening to a sermon. A church does not consist of four Sunday School classes. A church is not a church because they have a beautiful, comfortable building in which to worship.
A church is a group of people who are growing together in their relationship to God.
Pastor, when should we start a Sunday School program again? When God leads someone to find and teach a Sunday School class.
Monica, what did you tell me about one of your mentors? Margaret Hildebrand? She went out week after week and visited those in her class and recruited more to come and learn about Jesus! That is how you build the church. Our children’s classes do not have to be on Sunday morning.
Who is called by God to teach a Sunday School class in our church?
We have someone discipling our youth. She is working at encouraging more to join her. She is running two youth groups: one here and one in Ripley. She is called by God to do this. We help her by paying part of her cost of driving down from Ripley. We have some who help her as she disciples our youth.
Our church will grow as we surrender to the call of God to begin making disciples.
Before the first pastor, May Pauley, came to Two and Three Quarter Mile Creek there was a man who had a burden for the people of this valley. He came over here and started a Bible class. I would assume they met in homes at first. He was called by God to make disciples.
As churches age they become more and more a bureaucracy. Bureaucracies maintain programs. You do not need to be called by God to maintain a program.
As a church, or any other organization, ages they tend to maintain programs instead of following the purpose for which the programs were started.
A church has life when it calls people to follow Christ. When it is just maintaining programs, it begins to lose the life it had when people were following the Lord in carrying out the work of making disciples. A dying church maintains programs and follows the flesh instead of the Spirit.
If we are in Christ, we will put off the flesh and follow God. The ministries we develop in the church may not look anything like what we think of as a traditional church. The ministries of the church need to be started and run as people are called by the Spirit. We are all called to follow Christ. We are all called to make disciples.
Have you prayed and asked God to show you who He wants you to disciple? Who does God want you to lead to Christ? Who does God want you to lead into a deeper relationship with Him? There is someone that God wants you to pour your life and energy into. There is someone God wants each of us to disciple, to love as we have been loved, to ask them to follow Christ as we follow Christ.
I read a statement not too long ago that went something like this, “We should not use people to run programs. We should use programs to build people.”
Running and maintaining programs does not make disciples. We need to shift our thinking and allow God to lead us to what He wants this church to be in the future.
He will reveal His plan for us as a group when we each seek His plan for us as individuals.
Too often churches are limited by their programs and buildings. They spend all their time and energy to maintain those buildings and they struggle to keep the programs running.
We have the opportunity to start fresh. We have the opportunity to allow God to lead us to do exciting new ministries in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have the opportunity to not just build another building to maintain, but to build the church. We must begin to seek God’s will and ask Him what He is calling us to do.
It will begin as we each ask God who He wants us to spend time with so we can lead them in being the children of God… so that we can lead them in being disciples of Jesus Christ.
Who is God leading you to begin helping to be the child of God He wants them to be? If we are in Christ, He wants to lead us to grow in our love for Him. He wants us to grow in our love for people. He wants each of us to be involved in making disciples.
God is calling some of you to begin meeting together in your homes to pray and seek God, to study His word and ask Him to lead you to others who can join you in seeking to be the disciples God wants you to be.
God may be calling some of you to volunteer at a school to mentor a young person.
God may be calling some to start an after-school program for children teaching a Bible lesson.
Out of those prayer cells or Bible studies will grow the ministries God wants us to be involved in.
We will gather each week to celebrate our relationship with God and to seek God as the Green Valley Church. We will gather to celebrate and share what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of those He has used us to win to deeper involvement in the life of Christ. This celebration is what worship in the church is about.
Who is God giving you a burden to pray for, to meet with, to lead to a deeper relationship with God?
Why? To save Green Valley Church? NO! Because you love God and you love people.