A Faith of Equal Standing

Clubs

Anyone here a member of a club or other special organization?

Maybe a service club like the Lions or the Kiwanis or the Rotary?

Or one where your age, plus yearly dues, gets you in…like the AARP?

Or perhaps because of a hobby or a cause or a passion…like the NRA or PETA?

Or maybe one that you are implicitly a member of because of an experience or accomplishment in your life…like an Olympic athlete…especially one that has received a gold medal? Or a veteran? A veteran with purple heart?

Harley Davidson

Sometimes just buying something makes you a member of a "club." The week before last I purchased a 2006 Harley Sportster Classic because having one vehicle was becoming problematic…and although he may not have specifically used the word club…John at RC Cycles in Hillsborough told me that I'd entered a new world.

Now, I told Michelle as part of becoming a Harley owner that meant I needed either to grow a beard, shave my head, or get a tattoo…which one did she want?

Sadly, instead of choosing one of those options she suggested a fourth one…selling the Sportster. 🙂

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

But it is true that people who own Harley motorcycles…or Apple computers…or…well, you know what I mean…often feel part of a special group (and treat each other that way).

Special Status

Considering how prolific Apple computers and Harley Davidson motorcycles are, it's probably a little humorous that someone like myself might feel they have a special status by owning either…especially since the former is supplied by the non-profit I help out and the latter could easily go away if that became essential to feeding the family…

But there are definitely "real" clubs that give their members a sense of special standing. Often this really translates to having a lot of money, and/or being born into the right family, and/or some other characteristic that makes you "elite" (for example, having a hit record). With these types of clubs, not only does the membership give you special status, but it provides you a place to go where you don't have to mix with commoners…the worst you have to do is be near them on the way in…they aren't allowed through the door because they don't rate.

I can't imagine anyone within these four walls fits this final category…but…even knowing better as a Christian…do you kind of wish you had some special elite status? Something that would make you famous and popular? That would make other people look up to you or want to be you?

Good or bad…isn't it normal to want to be special?

A Faith of Equal Status

In case you are wondering why I have exclusive clubs on the brain…

Earlier this week I started reading Second Peter, and it starts off like…

Well, let's read it together…

1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:1-2)

It's very easy for me to read quickly over salutations in the New Testament epistles…trying to quickly get to the "meat" of the letter…so a part of that never stood out before:

"To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours."

Isn't that incredible?! Here we have an Apostle…one of Jesus' inner circle (Peter, James, and John)…the "Rock" that Jesus showed special attention to multiple times in Scripture.

And he says you and I have "a faith of equal standing" as his and the other Apostles.

Wow!

Do You Feel Special?

That reference made me feel special…how about you?

Does your status as a Christian make you feel special? Part of an "exclusive" group?

Should it?

Let's try to answer that question together…

Salutations

One of the approaches I took was to look at other New Testament salutations. Skipping the gospels and Acts…since they are more history then letters (although Luke and Acts were written for an individual, Theophilus)…the first stop was Romans:

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:7)

In that one sentence you are referred to as being:

  • Loved by God
  • Called to be saints (which means you are "called" and you are "saints")

And let's not underestimate the word "saint." In The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament it says this about the underlying Greek word, hágios:

40. hágios; fem. hagía, neut. hágion (39), adj. from hágos (n.f.), any matter of religious awe, expiation, sacrifice. Holy, set apart, sanctified, consecrated, saint. It has a common root, hág-, with hagnós (53), chaste, pure. Its fundamental idea is separation, consecration, devotion to the service of Deity, sharing in God's purity and abstaining from earth's defilement.1

So now we know you have a faith of equal standing, are loved by God, are called, and are saints.

Do you feel special now?

Now, not every other salutation in the New Testament has something applicable to this talk…for instance, some of them are directed at people instead of the church (like First and Second Timothy. However, looking at a couple that do…

1 Corinthians 1:2-3 says:

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

There we see the calling to be saints again…but also that you are "sanctified in Christ Jesus" (which, one might argue, is what it means to be a saint anyway).

Do you feel special now?

Colossians adds another description of your status in its greeting:

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father (Colossians 1:1-2).

  • You have a faith of equal standing
  • You are loved by God
  • You are called
  • You are saints
  • You are sanctified in Christ Jesus
  • (And from Colossians) You are faithful brothers in Christ

Do you feel special now?

To save time we'll stop reading salutations, but if you continue on your own you'll find James basically says you are part of the new Israel (by calling us "the twelve tribes in the Dispersion"), Peter (in First Peter) says you are "elect exiles of the dispersion," and Jude not only reminds you that you are called, but says you are "beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ."

Do you feel special now?

Adoption as Sons

Well, you should already feel special…but we've only scratched the surface of what the Bible tells you about your membership in the exclusive club of Christianity. How about this from Paul in his letter to the Ephesians?:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:3-6).

  • You were chosen (and before the foundation of this earth!)
  • You were predestined
  • You are adopted as sons

Do you feel special now?

Let's stick with Paul a bit longer, and head to Romans 8:14-17:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

  • You are sons of God who can call him "Abba"
  • You are children of God
  • You are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ

I know, the first two bullets may seem redundant based on what we discussed earlier in this sermon…

But…do you feel special now?

Money Verses

We could continue with Paul…but instead let's return to Peter…

To what I would call the "money verses" when it comes to your special status in the exclusive club of being a Christian. They should be familiar because I use them…well, at least part of them…quite a bit 🙂

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:9-12).

See why I called them the "money verses"?

  • You are a chosen race
  • You are a royal priesthood
  • You are a holy nation
  • You are a people for his own possession
  • You are God's people
  • You are sojourners and exiles

Do you feel special now?

Well you should!!!

Wrapping it Up

You should feel special because, short of being asleep this whole sermon, you have been given ample evidence of your extraordinary standing that is far better than anything this earth has to offer…

Even better than owning a Harley motorcycle or an Apple computer 🙂

Even better than a membership in any exclusive club anywhere in the world…

To prove it if you were sleeping…or to cement it if you weren't…

  • You have a faith of equal standing
  • You are loved by God
  • You are called
  • You are saints
  • You are sanctified in Christ Jesus
  • You are faithful brothers in Christ
  • You are part of the new Israel
  • You are elect exiles of the dispersion
  • You are beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ
  • You were chosen (and before the foundation of this earth!)
  • You were predestined
  • You are adopted as sons
  • You are sons of God who can call him "Abba"
  • You are children of God
  • You are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ
  • You are a chosen race
  • You are a royal priesthood
  • You are a holy nation
  • You are a people for his own possession
  • You are God's people
  • You are sojourners and exiles

Do you feel special now?

At Great Cost

Well, you should!

Like many memberships, you had to be sponsored to get in…and someone had to pay your membership fee.

A sponsorship that wasn't based on anything we did…or anything special about us…

A membership fee that was very, very costly to the one who paid it.

Jesus chose to pay it.

Jesus chose you.

You are special!

Footnotes

1Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.


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