United to Christ

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:3-6, 1 Thessalonians 4:16
Date: 12/20/2008 
Lesson: 12
The Bible describes the Christian's state of union with Christ as being "in Christ."
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Good morning, Happy Sabbath and welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church for another "central study hour." We want to welcome those of you who are joining us this morning on our website, saccentral.org. Watching the three weeks delayed on the various television networks or listening on the radio this morning, welcome--we're so glad that you are joining us on this beautiful Sabbath day. Our first song we're gonna do is a request--122, "hark the herald angels sing." And this is from jessica in australia, bernie and ralph in the bahamas, Michael and raleigh in California, Mark in cuba, archie and monique in florida, rodney and julie in Georgia, ingrid in jamaica, rosemary in Maryland, fred in the netherlands, mari in New Jersey, elizabeth and Karen in New York, paean in the Philippines, eddie and hilda in switzerland, veronica in Texas, vicky in trinidad and tobago, and adoracion in Washington. Thank you so much for sending in, "hark the herald angels sing," verses 1, 2 and 3. Wouldn't you like to be one of the shepherds on the hills that night around Bethlehem, sitting out there in the dark with your sheep, when suddenly the sky opens up and you hear the angels singing.

That would have been--how would you describe that when you go back into the city to tell people? No wonder they thought they were mad, right? It would have been amazing. If you have a favorite song request, please go to our website at saccentral.org, and click on the "contact us" link and send them in. We love to hear from you and we will do our best to sing your favorite song on an upcoming Sabbath. Our opening song this morning, , "joy to the world." This is from sheryl in Arizona, sadie, mick and truss in australia, ralph, birdie and leona in the bahamas, brian, Michael, raleigh in California, dave in Canada, abigail in Colorado, faith and maj in england, jim, diane, jamie and buffy in florida, carmen and anne in jamaica, rosemarie in Maryland, tina in Montana, naomi in North Carolina, maurie in New Jersey, Daniel in romania, dana in saudi arabia, jillian, jamie lynn, Joel and jordell, trinidad and tobago, and jonathan in Texas. , Verses 1, 2 and 4.

Father in Heaven, what a joy we have in our hearts because you came to this world. And it is a wonder, it's amazing that you would have given up the courts of heaven to come down here to this dark world to save us. But we thank you for doing that. We thank you the gift-- for the gift that you gave us all those years ago. And I pray that we will never forget the love that you have for us.

Father, this morning we give you our hearts and we give you our lives, and we ask you to fill us and to be with us as we study together this morning. Send your spirit to be with us, your angels, in Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by pastor white. He is our administrative pastor here at central church. Good morning.

Are you in the Spirit of the holiday season after all of those songs? That's good. Thank you for joining us, all of you who are joining us, from wherever you are joining us. It's amazing to hear debbie read all those names from places around this country and around the world. We are so happy that you do take the time to join us from Sabbath to Sabbath. And we're always glad for those who show up here in Sacramento.

It's a beautiful day in Sacramento, and like the Bible says, this is the day the Lord has made--what are we supposed to do? Rejoice and be glad in it, indeed. So we have a wonderful lesson this week we're continuing to study on the atonement and the cross of Christ. And our lesson this morning is entitled, "united to Christ." And our memory verse comes from 2 Corinthians 5:17. Many of you can quote this from memory, but if you want to, I'd like to have you read along with me from your quarterly as we read this verse together, Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old has gone, the new has come." That is a wonderful verse. In fact, I want to spend just a little extra time on the introduction this morning because of this verse. This new creature that we are to become, when we come to Christ, I wonder if we ask people how new you felt the day you were baptized, you'd probably get a lot of different concepts of what being new really means. Some people get the idea in the back of their mind that when you come to Christ and you're baptized it's like, "I should be perfect now. A new creature, I should be a perfect creature.

" Well, we find out pretty quickly, don't we, that that's not what it means. We all fall short too soon, but there's got to be some concepts about this new creature that we can pick up on. And if this was your first day in Sacramento, for example, you would say you were a new creature or a new person in Sacramento, right? Well, how much do you know about Sacramento? That depends on how much you've heard about it, maybe how much you've read about it. Maybe you have relatives that have filled you in about the history of Sacramento, what it's like to be in Sacramento, some of the places you can go to eat. And so you'd be a new person in Sacramento, but you'd already have a lot of information about Sacramento.

And that's a pretty good comparison to what it is like to become a new creature in Christ. You study and you begin to learn about, a lot about the Christian way of life. You learn that there are some things you should do, you learn there are some things you shouldn't do; some places you should go, you shouldn't go, and so on. Pretty soon you learn that there are even dues--well, we don't call them "dues," we call it "tithes and offerings." And these are used to promote this lifestyle around the world, this being a new creature. And you learn about the goals and the purpose.

And as you learn all of that, you come to the conclusion finally that it's beneficial to be a new creature in Jesus. And so you give your heart full surrender to Jesus and you say, "I want to be baptized." And so you declare your allegiance to the Christian lifestyle, to become a new creature in Jesus by publicly being baptized. You are declaring to the world, you're declaring to God, you're declaring to yourself, you're declaring to the church, to all your family and friends, anybody that knows you, and even to the universe and these other worlds that may be looking on, that you now belong to God. You want to be this new creature in Christ. But after all that, how new do you feel? Well, that depends on the person and the circumstances that really led up to that.

But more important than anything else, how well we understood the concept that we needed to yield all to Jesus, we needed to open up our hearts completely to him so that he could make us new. If we don't get that concept, if we think somehow that becoming a new creature is still left up to us, we won't be too new on the day of our baptism. Because unless Christ comes in and helps us become a new creature, it won't happen. You could move to Sacramento, but never allow Sacramento to get into your bloodstream, so to speak. You can learn of Jesus and commit to baptism, but if it isn't with the understanding that you have to completely surrender to him and allow him to come in, then you won't-- he won't be in your bloodstream, so to speak.

So you have to have Jesus within to become this new creature--isn't that true? That's what this verse is really talking about. So actually there could be some people who have been baptized that are hearing this, this morning, and say, "wow, you know, I don't think I really understood that." Maybe could be understanding it for the first time in their life and you could become a new creature today. Well, I hope that doesn't apply to anybody, but if it does, that's good news--you can become a new creature in Jesus today, simply by opening up your life to him, allowing him to come in to bring about that new creation within you. In fact, if you don't know that you are a new creature in Jesus, I hope that something that's been said already has kind of piqued an interest in you. Because there's probably nothing more important in all the world--there isn't, in fact, anything more important in all of the world, than becoming a new creature in Jesus Christ.

Is there? Nothing--nothing more important. But let's carry a step further. If you are a new person in Sacramento, we could say, we could use the term you are a new "creature" in Sacramento, but it might be better to use the word, "person." If you are this new person in Sacramento, are you a new person in fact or feeling? Well, if you're here, you're a new person in fact, right? But if you may not feel too good about being in Sacramento, you wish you were back in piccadilly somewhere, wherever you came from, you are home, your heart is where your home is, and you're lonely here and you don't feel good about being in Sacramento, you're not really a Sacramentoan yet, right? Because your heart is someplace else. And so becoming a new creature in Jesus, sometimes--i think there's a lesson there, it's sometimes we may not even feel too new, but you can't go by feeling, can you? If you give your heart to Jesus, if you surrender everything to Christ, then you must come to the place where you know that you are a new creature by faith. You might have woken up this morning saying, "I don't feel very good.

I don't even feel very spiritual. I don't feel like a new creature, that's for sure." In fact, I had a little bit too much to eat a couple days ago and I feel miserable." But you still can be a new creature in Jesus Christ by faith, right? So that's what we want to talk about this morning. And what do you do to maintain this newness, this new creature? When you are a new creature in Christ, you need to feed upon Christ food. What is Christ food? It's the word of life or the bread of life, right? If you come to Sacramento, one thing you do pretty soon, most people I guess, is you find one of these fruit stands, right? And you begin eating all and you learn, man, everything that you can possibly think of is grown in California, right? And you really begin to enjoy the fruit stands of California and you begin eating this food, and the more you eat of it, the more you become a Sacramentoan. The more you digest the enriched bread of life, the more you become a bread of life-ian, or a Christian we would say, wouldn't we? The more you digest of the food of life, the more you will feed this new creature that has come about by faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Well, let's see if we can get down to the practicalities of the lesson as we go to Sunday where the title is, "two humanities." We are confronted with the parallel of, between adam and Christ, and Christ is considered, biblically speaking, the second adam, right? And they immediately we come face-to-face with the situation that causes people to want to become new creatures. And what is that? Well, it is caused by sin. Sin causes us to become something that, well, it causes us to experience guilt. Pretty soon we experience some pain because of sin, some sorrows, some tragedies. Something bad usually comes about after we immerse ourselves in sin.

So we have this feeling we'd like to be something other than we are. We don't like this guilt, we don't like this pain and we don't like this misery--we want to be transcended out of this condition that I'm in. And people of the world will try anything and everything under the sun, other than coming to Christ. And what are some of the things they try? Well, if I can just get rich enough, I'll be wealthy and power enough a man or woman of influence, I'll be a new creature. And that works for a while; it helps the person to feel like a new creature, on top of the world, people looking up to you.

But then that only lasts a certain while. Others will maybe try to become a new creature by trying to find the fountain of youth. If they can just find the fountain of youth, they'll take the liposuction to do that, they'll take the facelifts and everything else--hair transplants, whatever you-- you name it, I'm gonna do it to become, stay young, be this new creature or young creature. Well, that only goes so long, too, doesn't it? In fact, have you ever seen some of these people that have had so much plastic surgery they look like plastic? They do, that's the way it sometimes looks in the end. And of course there are people who try the substance route to become a new person--alcohol, drugs, and certainly that works powerfully.

It transcends them immediately out of the person of guilt and shame and misery that they're living in. It really buoys them up for a moment, until it wears off, until the next time that they can shoot up or drink down. And I think I've shared this little quotation once, maybe in a sermon, but it's very applicable. It's found in one of thomas wolf's book, in a little paragraph he describes his first experience with drunkenness. And I quote, "it was, he knew, one of the great moments in his life.

In all the earth there was no other like him, no other fitted to be so sublimely and magnificently drunken. It was greater than all of the music he had ever heard, it was as great as the highest poetry. Why had he never been told? Why had no one ever written adequately about it? Why, when it was possible to buy a God in a bottle, and drink him off and become a God one's self? Were not men forever drunken?" End quote. And you read something like that, you even hear it and you say, "you know, man, maybe that's, that sounds kind of good. I wish I could get that feeling.

Maybe there is something in that bottle for me. Until you know the rest of the story. We hear the stories over and over endlessly, the end of the story, the misery that comes attached to it in just a short while. It's the dying to self person that we wanted to focus on this morning. In that lifestyle long enough, you either end up dying to self or dying eventually, and it's so much better to die to self and become a new creature.

Wouldn't you agree? So let's focus on that. One of the first things we're confronted with, somebody has job 14:4, I believe. If they would read that for us, I think right over here. "Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one." Thank you very much. We live in a world that has been permeated with, as you know, what has been referred to as new age teachings.

Along with that, what was just read, I'd like to read a statement from "steps to Christ." It says, "the idea that it is necessary only to develop the good that exists in man by nature, is a fatal deception." And don't you hear that kind of thing all over the world today? All you have to do is dig deep within yourself and you will be all that you want to be. Well, as I dig deep within myself, I find a carnal nature. I find a sinful nature. In fact, if you do the same thing, you'll find the same thing, too, because that's what the Bible says. We all have this carnal nature.

We are all deceitful, above all things, the heart is. So it is a fatal deception to think that we're going to become a new creature by digging deep within ourselves. That's an impossibility. So we're talking about the two humanities here on Sunday, and we soon find out that these two humanities often clash even within ourselves, even within the individual. It is the Great Controversy being played out within each and every one of us.

Think about that in light of some of the things Paul says. One place he says, "I live, yet not i, but Christ lives in me." Well, that's a wonderful text. Another place he says, "I die daily." So you put those two together, and Paul realized that in order for him to live and allow Christ to be living in him, he had to die daily. And that's the same experience that all of us must come to ourselves. Now, I don't know if anybody has--would somebody read Romans 7:18-25? I'm not sure we have that one.

Did I hand that out to anybody? No. Romans 7:18-25, does somebody want to volunteer to read that for us? All right, Romans 7:18-25, "for I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would do, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now, if I do that I would not, it is no more I that doeth, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law that when I would do good, evil is present with me.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, so then with the mind, I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin." Okay, thank you very much. This is a passage of Scripture that's probably been discussed from every angle by more theologians than you can shake a stick at, as the old saying goes. When was Paul saying these things--pre-conversion, post-conversion, a process of his conversion, whatever? But let me ask you the question--are there some things in that passage that you can relate to? And was Paul a human being? Yes. So I don't know, it seems pretty clear to me that, when that is applicable, but we can find some application to that in our lives.

And in light of that I'd like to address the question at the bottom of Sunday's lesson, where it says, "how should our lives in this new humanity differ from now they were in the old one?" Now, how many of us wished that when we were baptized we wouldn't even be bothered by temptations anymore? Wouldn't that be nice? But that's not true, is it? I refer back to the woman at the well. I think she's a classic example. She came to Christ at the well, she accepted him as her Savior. And that's pretty evident because she became a successful soul winner immediately, and came, brought many people back to Christ who also received him. But it's a classic example, because here she was so steeped in sin, she had had five husbands.

She was living with her sixth. And you don't have that kind of a lifestyle without all kinds of problems, right? So after she accepted Jesus, went back, Jesus went into town with them, many accepted him and then he left. What was life going to be like for her after that experience? Was it going to be free from trial? I doubt it. Five husbands--six husbands, six different men, probably some children. Six different families affected by this woman who's swapping husbands like a race car driver swaps cars or whatever.

And so life wasn't gonna be easy for her. Would she ever sin again? If I was a betting man, I'd put the whole farm on the fact that she sinned again. So where is this new life? What is it? If she sinned again, just like you and I after our baptism, we probably have sinned again. In fact, I know I have. Maybe some of you haven't.

Praise the Lord if you haven't. But if we have, what's the deal? Where is this new creature? Well, what did Jesus tell her? Jesus told her that if you drink of this water, you will never thirst again. And you probably maybe heard me explain this before, but I thought in my mind that I would go back to the Greek and I would find that the tense of that verb would say, "if you continue drinking of this water, then you will never thirst again." But to my surprise the verb in the Greek doesn't say that. The verb in the Greek says, "if you drink of this water once, you will never thirst again." I'm thinking, "well, I know the Bible doesn't teach once saved, always saved, so what's the deal here?" And what Jesus was, I believe, teaching, was the fact that this woman was a new creature, now if she fell short, what would she do? She would hop up and she would confess her sins, and turn her life all over to Jesus again, because before that, she wouldn't do that. Before that she would just go on to another man.

Now when she sins, she comes back to Christ. In fact, somebody read for us John 2:1--i think we have that one right over here. Okay, David? "My little children, these things I write to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with The Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous." Thank you very much. Sin not--that's the message.

Don't sin--but if you do, you have an advocate with The Father. And don't you think that was her lifestyle after coming to Jesus? She went back home, there were all kinds of trials, there were all kinds of problems because of her past life, just like we have problems because of our past life. But when we fall short, we don't stay down, because Jesus helps us get up. And we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. And we keep on that path of onward and upward.

It's a completely new type of person. It is a new creature, because the old creature wouldn't have done that, right? The new creature does. New type of a person, that's what we're talking about. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she did not repent of her sins before this, for what does repentance mean? It means not only confessing your sins, but it means turning away from those sins and living a different life. So before then, she might not even have confessed her sins.

We know she certainly didn't repent. But now, every time she'd fall short, she'd repent, "oh Lord, help me never to do this again." Just like you and i. The tangible result of this new humanity is turning away from the sinful lifestyle of the past. It's kind of like, as some of you know, I know how to ride a unicycle, and it's kind of like riding a unicycle. I learned to ride a unicycle as a boy, and you don't learn to ride a unicycle in three easy lessons.

It's not an easy thing to do. It's something that takes a lot of practice. We had a church picnic just a few weeks ago and I took my unicycle there, rode it around and there was a couple of guys, young guys, and they wanted to give it a try. And you could just see it in their face, "I think I can do this, I just never had the opportunity. I think with a little, with a few tries, I can get this.

" I'm not gonna tell you who those guys were, but we tried to assist them, two or three of us, to sit up on this unicycle. And they were leaning against the post or leaning against the car and they couldn't even sit there long enough to try to pedal--that's how hard it is. They couldn't even sit there on this wobbly little apparatus, because they would tip over before they even would try to pedal. You don't learn to ride a unicycle in three easy lessons--they couldn't get the hang of it. But in time, with perseverance, and with--you may begin to make little improvements.

When I first got my first unicycle, it had two poles. And after you learned to sit on it, those poles would kind of help you a little bit to get your balance and go for a few pedals and then you'd go a little farther next time and so on. Those poles are a little bit like, you know, in a sense, God's help. God helps us to stand up on our own two feet or sit up on our unicycle, and he's the one there helping us. The more you work with God, the more you can stand on your--well, you can't say you're standing on your own two feet, but you can do what Paul says, "I live, I stand, not i, but Christ within me, he's helping me stand.

" And this new humanity that comes through, Christ helps us walk differently than before. Where before we often fall, we hopefully stop falling as often, and when we do, we pop right back up and get back on. Now, once in a while I get careless with riding the unicycle and I fall off. And that's kind of like we do in the Christian life, we get careless and we sin, don't we? Or one time I was showing off--that's hard to imagine, a nice, meek, humble guy like me. I was showing off, trying to see how fast I could go for this particular person.

Boy, did I fall. I scraped up my hands so bad. Just like Christians sometimes, right? Just like Peter did walking the water. Got so proud of his walking on water, down he goes. And we do the same thing with sin--we fall, but the new creature in us comes back to life.

We don't stay down, we pop up and March on. Justification perhaps is getting the unicycle, sanctification is learning how to write it with God's help. So often people do get discouraged because they have this concept in their mind that justification is the end of the road that, "oh, once I get right with Christ I'm gonna be right forever more." And that's not exactly how it works. There are trials that come to this new humanity, and yet with Christ we can come through these trials with a peace that passes all understanding." Isn't that wonderful? That's the new life that exists in Christ. Well, let's move on to Monday's, "making all things new, a new humanity.

" We come face to face with the term or concept called, "re-creation." And we get the word, "recreation" from that, "re-creation." Now, there are a lot of things, many things we call "recreation" that actually work against re-creation. For some people they say they just drink alcoholic beverages for recreational purposes. Others gamble for recreation. Some use recreational drugs. Some are involved in promiscuity and sexual activities for recreation.

Wherein that all works against re-creation. Some people have accused missionaries going overseas to other countries and just trying to make a change in their culture, just trying to make Americans out of them; trying to make western civilized people out of these people. Well, I suppose there's a degree, an element of truth to that, but I would disagree with the concept, because some missionaries have gone to some countries, for example, where they don't wear any clothes. And if you put a pair of pants and a shirt on a person, is that just a matter of changing their culture or is it a matter of teaching them what the Bible says about modesty? It's a matter of biblical principle, isn't it? Some people, missionaries have gone to countries where they have many wives, a man will have many wives. Well, that happens once in a while in America--not too often, but it happens in some of these other countries.

And to tell them that they must confine themselves to one wife, is that a cultural thing or is that a biblical thing? It's partly cultural, of course, but it's definitely biblical. And so to teach them the biblical truth is teaching them God's Word. Even cleaning up villages, you've seen mission stories where they've gone into villages and the village that have accepted Christ are so clean and so neat compared to those who have yet accepted him as their Savior. Some people live with pigs in their house for example in such a mess. They can clean 'em up.

That's not just a cultural thing, it's a health principle from the Word of God, isn't it? So this new creation brings about new people. Coming to Christ brings about changes in all of us. Some of the issues are more complex, of course, and one of those continues to plague mankind and even the church, and that is music. What is cultural and what is fit for God's people to listen to and partake in. And that's something, I'm not gonna open that can of worms this morning, but it's something I believe people need to be strictly honest with themselves, "is this music really drawing me closer to Jesus? Is it really helping me to be more like him? I don't picture Jesus listening to some of the music you hear today--do you? I don't picture that at all.

Certainly not moving around the way that people do today with the music. When Jesus sang a hymn with the disciples after the communion service, wouldn't you have liked to have been there to hear that song? I bet that was a real sweet melody. And I bet there were some of the disciples that sang harmony, don't you? I love harmony. I can't sing it myself, but I love people who can sing harmony. Well, I want to throw in another comparison on making all things new.

Now, not all comparisons have a perfect complete comparison, but there are some lessons we can draw. It's somewhat like restoring an old car. Mankind comes off the line, and after mankind was created, what did God say? It was very good. When a new car comes out today, aren't they nice? I mean they make some beautiful cars today, they are so beautiful--but in time they take a beating, don't they? So you have this old car, you have this old vehicle and you want to restore it. What do you do? Well, if you're going to do it right, you have to strip that car down to every nut and bolt, you have to take everything apart, I mean and sand off all of the rust and put new bolts on it if it needs it and everything.

You have to take everything apart, start over from scratch. And I think what happens many times in the Christian life is that sometimes when we commit to Jesus and are baptized, we haven't stripped the old man down far enough. I believe that's what happened to me. I accepted a lot of biblical truths before I really understood that you can't be a Christian on your own merits. You have to just open everything up to let Christ come in and make all things new.

It's like maybe God, I was trying to put in new floor mats and a cheap paint job, and things like that. And I'm not sure; you know Paul was converted on the road to damascus just like that. And we were told that we may not even know the exact time of our conversion, so I believe it was a process that God was working with me and maybe you can relate to that. But somewhere along the line we've got to get the concept that you've gotta do away with the old man, strip down to the bare metal to become a new creature. Isn't that the truth? You have to do that or it won't happen.

The justification again is the exciting and exhilarating part, that's when you say, "I'm going to commit to restoring this old vehicle." The sanctification process is the sandpaper part of it. And what happens with many people is they get tired of the sandpaper process, "that's too hard. I didn't think it was gonna be like this. I didn't know there was gonna be this kind of struggle." In fact, some of you have experienced more struggles after your commitment to Christ than you've experienced before, because the devil didn't like you making that commitment. And so you have the sand paper experience and you say, "I don't know if it's worth it or not," but how does a person ever keep to the task of restoring an old vehicle? Why do they do it? They do it because in their mind's eye they have that picture of how they want that car to look.

"Oh man, I can hardly wait until that car looks just like that." And that's the way it is for the Christian lifestyle. We must keep our eye upon the finished product, where moth or rust will not have any damage whatsoever to our Christian life ever again. We'll be put on display, won't we, before the universe? Before the universe, there will be people from unfallen worlds that will want to see you--you from a fallen world where you were saved by grace through the blood of the lamb. They will want to see you and hear from your lips what it was like living in a sinful world and being saved by The Son of God. Wow, that's gonna be fantastic.

So that's the kind of thing we need to keep our mind's eye on the finished product. Don't you think that's the good thing to do? It gets me excited--i don't know about you, but it does me. We need to throw in a word here that changed the dynamics of this whole thing a bit, it's the word of "substitution." Jesus substituted his sinless life for our broken, rebellious and fatally flawed lives. Now, does he do that just at the end of this long process called sanctification, or does he do it all along the way? Well, there's a wonderful quotation that says, "we can be perfect in our sphere as he is perfect in his sphere," Christ. So all along the way, as we accept him as our Savior, we are made right through justification.

We are perfect in our sphere, his righteousness covers us. So no, he doesn't wait 'til the end process to do that--he does it all along the way. To have Christ standing in for us is more than human could ever hope to attain for in and of ourselves--it's just an impossibility. Okay, well, let's go onto Tuesday's, and would somebody read Romans 6:3-6? I don't think anybody has that one. Romans 6, right over here we want to turn to Romans 6 and we're going to look at verses 3 through 6 if you'd read that for us.

"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of The Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves of sin." Thank you so much. So indeed, the concept of baptism is paramount in our discussion here on Tuesday's lesson. This rite of baptism explodes with significant meaning.

The old man that the Bible refers to, the carnal man, the carnal man must die--but there's a huge problem with this, and that is that it's not a once and for all death. That is a huge problem. So, in baptism, when you hold your breath, which is signifying death--without breath you die, right? When you hold your breath and you die, this death is only a symbol of what must take place every day, all throughout the day for the rest of your life. Oh, if we could only be just once, if we only had to do it just once and we could be perfect, wouldn't that be wonderful? And the disappointment that comes to us sometimes when we know that that's not true. And it's the same with the rest of the baptism.

We go down into the water, the old man is buried, and we come up out of the water a new man, a new creature in Jesus, we are resurrected. And that is not a once in a lifetime experience either. It's something that must happen every day of our lives. It's a symbol of this process that must continue every single day. And we had the memory verse that in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that "in Christ we are a new creature.

" And the new creature then is a person who is united with Christ in this process that we have been talking about. Baptism is only the starting point, isn't it? It's certainly not the end, that's for sure. If Jesus doesn't come back soon and some of us die, then it will be a once and for all process. We will die once, and then if we are in Christ, we will be raised to life eternal once. And we'll actually have that process once, but that's only if we die physically now and wait for the resurrection.

That's not the life we live now. Then the process will be over, and that'll be something to rejoice in, won't it? The process has ended; we don't have to go through this process anymore. We're dead to the world and sin forever, because it's gone forever. And that will be worth rejoicing about. So now, Wednesday's lesson becomes important, as it is entitled, "in Christ.

" And as the lesson points out, this term, "in Christ," gets a great deal, a great workout. "In Christ," does my relationship with Christ result in me rejoicing in him, standing firm in him, being strong in him, doing works of faith in him? And there's a text in Corinthians 5:19 and it talks about being reconciled. Reconciled, the word "reconciled" means, "to make friendly again or win over to a friendly attitude." God was in Christ doing that, at least with all of the people in the world that will accept it. But you say Christ is God--indeed he is. And so yes, in a sense Christ was reconciling the world to himself.

Now, I was thinking about this in light of something that just seems to be very prevalent in the United States here and probably many other places. It seems like we have a love affair with the tomato, tomato sauce. Isn't tomato sauce just about on everything in the world, I mean so many foods? Tomato sauce, and why? Because the tomato juice has such flavor to it, right? That tomato juice draws you to the tomato, just like Jesus draws us to God. He is the juice, isn't he? He is the thing that draws us, because we look to Jesus and we see what he has done for us. We are drawn to him like mankind seems to be drawn to tomato sauce, only even more so.

The outcome is much better, for sure. God in Christ, Christ in God, interchangeable and both right, both correct. And it's the same concept that Jesus prayed, and his longest prayer, recorded longest prayer, John 17, it's the same concept that he had for us when he prayed for us, that we would be one in him and one with each other as he is one with his father--one in Christ. In other words, our motives must be his motives. And as you think about that, does that change the focus of your prayers a little bit? Well, let's play it out.

Suppose you pray for a great deal of money--would that be praying in the name of Jesus? Well, we wouldn't know for sure absolutely, but if we have any selfish intentions at all with that money, I don't think you could say that's praying in the name of Jesus, because it wouldn't be praying in his motives, with the right motives. Now, if we had a specific plan for that money that we were going to use for good intentions, for the Lord's work, we might be getting a little bit closer. But if we still were thinking in the back of our minds, using some of that money for selfish purposes--i don't think that's still praying in the name of Jesus, because it's not praying with the pure motive that Jesus would always--that Jesus always had. And so in my estimation, it would only be a guess, but I think it's a pretty good guess, and it would be more than nine out of ten people that pray for large sums of money. Those prayers are denied, because it wouldn't be in the name of Jesus.

Because most of the time they're laced with some kind of selfishness. That's just a guess. But the point is to be in Christ our motives must become like his, to have his motives take a severe conflict with self over many issues. So what does that mean in light of one of these conflicts? Suppose when you're struggling over something and know that there is a selfishness that still is there that's trying to take over. So we can only yield our will to his will, and invite and receive him into our hearts and into our minds.

And so we pray, we end up praying, "thy will be done." Now, I believe that probably is the only prayer that we can say for sure is praying in the name of Jesus, if you really mean it. If you truly mean, "thy will be done," then you can be sure that you're praying in the name of Jesus. Would you agree to that? I believe so. If of course we really mean it. Well, let's move on to Thursday.

Would somebody read for us Romans 8:9? "But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the spirit, if you have the Spirit of God living in you. And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all. Okay, thank you so much. When you think about some of the passages in the Bible talking about human beings who are flesh and blood, not living in the flesh, we first of all begin to understand that there are some spiritual ramifications of what is being said.

We are flesh and blood, but not to live in the flesh means not to live by the sins of the world. And so we have to go back for just a moment to the concept that we were discussing earlier. I was born in Iowa, so by birth I am an Iowan. Anybody else from Iowa here? No, I'm the only Iowan. You've been in Iowa before? Okay.

I was born in Iowa, so I'm an Iowan by birth. But a lot of things that happened in my life, now I live in California, so I have been born again as a Californian. Now, that's what happens with the Christian life--we are of this world, we're still in the world, but we have--we are born again into a new kingdom, right? We are citizens not of the old worlds, now we're citizens of the new world, through Christ, that's the good part. Something--the point is something happened and that changed my whole situation. But this is something we must get--our time is running out here, but we must get this before we leave this part, because on Thursday's it talks about, "in Christ, the Spirit and the church.

" When you become one with God in the Spirit, you are supposed to be becoming one with the church." Because you are baptized into the body of Christ, which is the church--the body of Christ is the church. We are baptized into the body. And I sometimes shudder when I hear people talking negatively about the church, because that's the body of Christ. And it's not just some buildings. Yeah, if we said, "well, you're going to church today, you're going to those set of buildings," these are church buildings, I guess you could refer to them, but it's the church is people, right? We are the church.

And you might be able to say that the church is not really holy, the buildings. But in a sense I believe they are, because this is a place where we come to meet with God. And I also sometimes shudder that a lot of us don't seem to put the sanctity to the place where we worship. And the reason I say that is because I get to hang around here throughout the week, and I get to see what happens after Sabbath. I get to see some of the dirt and clutter that's left behind.

Sometimes we treat this place kind of worse than we treat our homes. Now, we have some wonderful people that come every Wednesday and do all our yard work out there, and bless their hearts, I thank God for them every week. But, you know, I think more of us could spend some time coming here to clean the cobwebs out and just make this place--because I have this burden and I have this belief that our church, where we come to worship God, should be at least as nice, if not better than our homes. That's just my belief, I believe that. And I'm always forever trying to clean up a little spot or something, because I believe this place is a holy place.

Not as holy maybe as the sanctuary in the old testament where you had the holy and the most holy place. But this is a place where we come to worship God, and let's treat it with reverence and care. I believe that we should do that. And, well, you know, some people say, "well, you're getting off the topic a little bit," but I don't think so, because we're to take an active interest not just in the spiritually unseen things, but in the things we can see that are right around us, and certainly the place where we come to worship would fall into that category. Well, to be in Christ it's a whole focus, a change of focus.

God, his kingdom, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ, his church, take front and center stage of our lives. I think that is what Paul was saying by the last phrase there in Romans 8:9, where it says, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." We will be able to know if we have the Spirit-- do you believe that? There will be a tell-tale sign, there will be tell-tale signs that we are in Christ, if indeed we are. Well, I'm supposed to remind everybody that we have a free offer this morning and that is offer number 156. And that offer is entitled, "the high cost of the cross." Just go to www.amazingfacts.org, or 866-788-3966. Again, thank you for everyone who's joined us from wherever you are joining us around the world, and join us again next week when pastor bachelor will be back.

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