Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 27th - Ransomed by Christ

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Text – 1 Peter 1:17-21

Before we start on this passage, I realized I missed something last week that will only take us a moment to look at, but I think it’s important for several reasons to verses 17-21, so before we begin with today’s lesson, lets read verse 14.

1 Peter 1:14 …do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance…

There are lots of things that make me mad at so called churches in these last days, but maybe nothing more-so than what has become called “moralism” or “be good for goodness sake.” They are all about what you can and cannot do, and a better term for this is legalism. When you take this to its extreme, some people will say that any pleasure or passion is evil.

The pleasure and passion that is mentioned in this passage is a love of sinful things.

Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

God has pleasure in the sanctification of your life, so pleasure cannot be sinful in and of itself.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

If we set our pleasure and passion on the things of God, then we will rejoice and delight in the things of God. Finally, before we jump into the lesson, lets look at what should be our favorite verse.

Daniel 4:2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

So it is good to be passionate about the things of God, namely holiness and putting love into action to help people spiritually first, and physically if necessary. As we prepare our minds for this, having set our hope perfectly on the Resurrected Christ, one of the things we need to do is commit that we are going to serve Christ and do the right thing, long before that is necessary.

Let me give you two examples, one of my friends was a policeman and came up on a car on fire on the side of the freeway. Everybody was alright, but the car was a total loss. As he was asking those who had stopped to help for their statements, he found out that one of the men who stopped to help had a fire extinguisher in his semi-truck, but hadn’t brought it out and used it. His excuse was that he wasn’t sure at first if they would need a fire extinguisher, and then when he realized they did, it was too late.

A pastor friend of mine was driving past a gas station and looked over and saw someone on fire from head to foot. He quickly swung into the gas station and with his wife and daughter tried to put the man out. The daughter ran inside the gas station and said, “I need your fire extinguisher!” They wouldn’t give it to her. A big crowd gathered but nobody was helping, my friend said it was the closest thing to Hell on earth you could imagine. The daughter was running back and forth from a spigot on the side of the building with a cup of water, and my friend found a big welcome mat and used it as a blanket to finally smother the fire. The welcome mat was plastic and melted all over the man. It quickly became apparent to my friend that the man was not going to survive, so he laid with him on the pavement for the last minutes of his life explaining to him he could go to Heaven and have all of his sins forgiven if he would reach out and trust in Jesus Christ who died for his sins and rose again. My friend has no idea if the man could hear him, his ears were burned off, his face was practically gone.

The reason was the same in both cases, fire extinguishers are expensive and required by law to be in convenience stores and semi-trucks, so they didn’t want to give them up. Their motivation was wrong, they had extinguishers to comply with the law, not to help people. The moral of the story, according to my police officer friend is that if you have a fire-extinguisher, you have to be prepared to use it, you have to make the choice long before you need it that if there is a fire, you’ll part with the $20, $30, or $50 that you’ll need to pay to recharge or replace your extinguisher. If you don’t make this prior commitment, there is a good chance you’ll have to make the choice in the heat of the moment, and who knows what you’ll choose. So, before I go farther, lets read the passage so you see where I am going with this.

1 Peter 1:17-21 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

v.17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile…

If you call on him as Father, which pretty much means that if you claim to be a Christian, if you are a Christian, this is Peter’s way of reintroducing the letter, going back to the beginning, pretty much saying, “Every Christian do this.” Next is that he judges impartially, he isn’t looking at the location, socio-economic status, or ethnicity of the Christian, but he’s look at our deeds. We are to conduct ourselves with fear, which means we should be terrified we might misrepresent our God, and should do everything in order to glorify his name. Verse eighteen will tell us why we should do that.

v.18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,

The reason we live for God is because he is worth it, as we learned last week, and now this verse says we live for God also because he purchased us, and we couldn't purchase ourselves. He didn’t just purchase us with money, but by dying for our sins. In this, we live in a way that glorifies him.

Let me tell you the story of John Harper. He was born in the late 1800’s, and was saved at 13. He instantly became an evangelist and loved to preach. At the age of 24 he started a church and saw it grow to a membership of 500 before he left to become a missionary. His whole life was about the gospel, every chance he got, he would tell someone about Jesus Christ and implore them to be reconciled to God.

He almost drowned three times in his life, first when he was two and he fell in a well, then when he was twenty-six he was swimming in the ocean and was swept out to see by a rip-current, thirdly when he was thirty-two he was returning from a missions trip and the ship started to take on water and barely made it to port.

The fourth time he faced drowning, he didn’t make it. At forty years old he boarded a ship which the crew was fond of saying, “Not even God could sink the …” Which ship? Titanic. April 14th, 1912, Titanic struck a “little” iceberg and it became apparent that she was going to sink. John Harper took his six-year old daughter Annie to a life-boat and kissed her goodbye. Have you seen the movie Titanic? In that movie all of the men are little girls in their demeanor and ability, but in reality there was some very brave men on that ship who did great things; there were also some cowards as well. Harper set out to help in the rescue effort and to help people into life-boats. As the ship filled with water, the stern of the boat lifted and Harper put on a life-vest. The ship broke in two and spilled 1528 people into the 28-degree North-Atlantic, Harper was one of them.

He began to swim from person to person telling them how to be forgiven. He came to one man and asked him if he was saved, and the man said he wasn't. Harper told him how Christ had died for his sins, and that if he would repent, he would be saved, he asked the man if he would receive Christ, and the man said no. Harper took off his life jacket and gave it to the man, he said, "Then you need this more than I do." Harper then swam off to preach to others. Soon enough the coldness of the water dragged Harper's body temperature down and he could no longer swim, and he drowned.

Years later, a Scotsman stood up to give his testimony and explained that out of 1528 people who went into the water, 6 were rescued, and he was one of them. He told how he became a Christian, that John Harper had given him his life-vest so that he could live, and just before Harper sank beneath the waves, he cried out, "Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!"

When I speak to parents, I use an illustration from a man named Emeal Zwayne, I ask them, “If your child needed a new heart, and the doctors were certain your heart would fit and save their life, would you give it to them?” I’ve yet to have a parent say no, every parent is willing to die for their child. The question that more are hesitant to answer is, “Well, if you’re willing to die for your child, are you willing to live for them?” The same for us, we need to be living sacrifices, living our lives with a view to eternity, and then if we are faced with an opportunity to live or die for someone else, we will be prepared to do so, because someone in the past was willing to die for us, he purchased us,

v.19 with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

This is what Jesus did for us, he purchased us with his precious blood, which means he died for us. Not to be flippant, but if all that was required for forgiveness was the shedding of blood, Christ could have pricked his finger and been done with it, but when you read about his blood, think of it as his suffering death. It was only worthwhile because he was the perfect lamb of God. Peter is certainly referring here to a story that all of his Jewish readers would recognize, the Passover when the blood of a lamb had to be smeared on the door so that the angel of death would pass by.

How is it that one man can pay for all of the sins of every Christian who ever lived? During the Crusades, if your king or a high-up knight got captured, the Muslims would offer to sell them back for exorbitant amounts of money, even sometimes people. At one point in order to buy back a king, the Muslim leader demanded the queen as his wife, and she complied. This is the price for one man, and the reason that Christ can pay for us is because he is worth more than everyone else in the whole world.

Romans 5:7-8 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While a king was worth his country paying a lot for, the Bible says we had become worthless, and yet Christ purchased us anyways. Our value is infinite because that is the price paid for us, and now we live for Christ.

v.20-21 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Here we have multiple descriptions of Jesus Christ, first that he was perfect and without blemish, second that he is before all things, third that he put on flesh and walked the earth, forth that he died and was raised, fifth that he has received glory for his obedience and work, and sixth, that his goal was that you would set your faith and hope on God.

John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Titus 2:13-14 [We are] waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

John 8:47-58 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."

Jesus Christ was before all things, he was before Abraham, there was never a time in which he was not. He created all things, though he himself is not created. He submits himself to God the Father, but he is not any less equal than God the Father. He willingly stepped out of Heaven to seek and save the lost, he poured out his life's blood for our sins, then was raised from the dead by his Father. The application this week is pretty straight forward: go out and serve God.

Paris Reidhead put it this way, "Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, obeyed, and served; and I’m not trying to make a deal with you."

Finally, check out three verses what tie the whole Passover thing together.

Exodus 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats

John 1:29 Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Revelation 5:11-14 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.

He is worthy, let us conduct ourselves with fear in our exile, rightly representing him, worshipping him, serving him, and setting our hope on God because he has the power to raise the dead and reconcile souls to himself.