We were called to this

Called invited

Sunday 08/23/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

MESSAGE: We were called to this

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We were called to this

We’ve been talking about Do we REALLY believe since the beginning of the year and we have focused quite a bit on our call to suffering, mostly because it is part of the Christian gospel which largely gets very little attention if not overlooked entirely. If we truly believe the gospel, then we will live it and if we live it we WILL suffer. Only if one goes through the suffering as Jesus did or as Paul and Peter proclaim in their letters, will be be able to truly claim that we believe – because then we will have walking it out which is what true faith ALWAYS does.

The call of Christ is really a call TO Christ..and the word Call actually means “to invite”.

You were invited to Christ…but do we really know what that means…all that entails? Is it even really taught?

The call to Christ is just that…not a call to heaven, or a more physically fulfilling life, not a call to freedom from my bondages or even my sinful addictions without effort.

When we join ourselves with Him it is to join ourselves with the One all fallen humanity and devils are at war with. The treason in heaven affected everything – it called everything into question – things which should never have been questioned regarding the goodness of God. Which is why our passage in Peter begins with the knowledge of that goodness as the prerequisite of everything else he says…”If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good”

This call requires us to embrace not only the strengths of Christ but His weaknesses according to the flesh and suffer WITH Him – even as He suffered. Without defending Himself, but committing himself to the One Whose goodness has been brought into question. When we do this and in some cases even die for it – it becomes a testimony FOR Christ…a testimony that will be used in the final trial against satan and his angels and the condemning blow to the world before whom we lived lives of innocence and did defense – the very world who were often times the physical instruments of our suffering. But our war is not against them – but against THEIR lord, satan and his hosts.

We love passages like when Paul spoke passionately of having lost everything for Christ and counting his loss as nothing because he had gained Christ…but do we really believe ourselves? Do we really embrace that ideology…because it comes with suffering. Let’s read that passage as a backdrop for our study this morning on living the life of Christ through suffering. 

Philippians 3:7-21, 

“(7) But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.  (8)  More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ  (9)  and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ–the righteousness from God based on faith.  (10)  My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,  (11)  assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.  (12)  Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.  (13)  Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,  (14)  I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.  (15)  Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also.  (16)  In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.  (17)  Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.  (18)  For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  (19)  Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things,  (20)  but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  (21)  He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.”

Now let’s go to our main passage which is in Peter’s first letter, encouraging believers to endure suffering and denying themselves a self-focused, self advancing, self-actualizing lifestyle to embrace honor God by respecting the earthly authorities He instituded – whether they are kind and honorable or not.

1 Peter 2:1-25,

A Living Stone and a Holy People

“(1) So rid yourselves of all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. (2) Like newborn infants, desire the unadulterated spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it in your salvation, (3) since you have tasted that the Lord is good. (4) Coming to Him, a living stone–rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God– (5) you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (6) For it stands in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and valuable cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! (7) So the honor is for you who believe; but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected–this One has become the cornerstone, and (8) A stone that causes men to stumble, and a rock that trips them up. They stumble by disobeying the message; they were destined for this. (9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (10) Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (11) Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. (12) Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do evil, they may, by observing your good works, glorify God in a day of visitation.”

Submission to Authority

“(13) Submit to every human institution because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority, (14) or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. (15) For it is God’s will that you, by doing good, silence the ignorance of foolish people. (16) As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. (17) Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor. (18) Household slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. (19) For it brings favor if, because of conscience toward God, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. (20) For what credit is there if you endure when you sin and are beaten? But when you do good and suffer, if you endure, it brings favor with God. (21) For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. (22) He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; (23) when reviled, He did not revile in return; when suffering, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to the One who judges justly. (24) He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; by His wounding you have been healed. (25) For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

1 Peter 3:1-22,

Respect, honor & Obedience in Domestic Relationships

“(1) Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live, (2) when they observe your pure, reverent lives. (3) Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes; (4) instead, it should consist of the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. (5) For in the past, the holy women who hoped in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, (6) just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do good and aren’t frightened by anything alarming. (7) Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake

“(8) Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, (9) not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. (10) For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, (11) and he must turn away from evil and do good. He must seek peace and pursue it, (12) because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (13) And who will harm you if you are passionate for what is good? (14) But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, (15) but set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (16) However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. (17) For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (18) For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm. (19) In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison (20) who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared; in it, a few–that is, eight people–were saved through water. (21) Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (22) Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand, with angels, authorities, and powers subjected to Him.”

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!