The History Of Us

The Story Of Us

Pastor Jerry Gillis - September 22, 2019

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
  2. Why is it important for us to understand our history as humanity through the lens of the covenants God made with His people?
  3. What does it mean to be fully human? How was this defined in Sunday’s message?
  4. Read Ephesians 2:11-16. If we as believers share in this “one new humanity,” how does that impact how we relate to one another? How does it also influence our interactions with non-believers who are not yet in this new humanity?
  5. What is one action step from the message that you believe God wants you to put into practice in your life this week?


Sermon Transcript

She has a history. He has a history. When we hear those statements, we actually know what we're saying when we say that someone's got a history. We're referring to the fact that they've got a past, that they have had in their life their share of mistakes or bad decisions or sins. They have a history. Well, in the story of us, we have a history too. Sometimes, through the course of human history, when human beings who have a history have been confronted with their sin or their mistakes or their bad decisions, they have had a tendency to try and shove it aside or justify it or whatever. Commonly now, in our context here, when we as human beings are confronted with our own mistakes and our own bad decisions and our own pasts and our own sins, sometimes we have a tendency to maybe excuse it or write it off as well. Usually, it's with a statement like this, "I'm only human."

Now, we know what we're saying when we say that. When we say, "I'm only human," what we're saying is this, "Hey, we all make mistakes. We all mess up. We all have stuff. That's what it means to be human. I'm only human." Well, the truth is is that is true to a degree. We do make mistakes. We do have a past. All of those things are true to a degree, but sometimes it can be used as either an excuse or, worse yet, it can be used to justify things. I'm only human. You see, it wasn't always like that. From the very beginning of the story of us, that's not how it has always been. Even though our human nature now is sinful, human nature itself wasn't created that way. This is what we read about last week, for those of you who were tracking with us.

When we look in Genesis chapter one and chapter two last week, we saw this, that a good God created good human beings to live in a good creation, that this was the original intent, that the human nature of the very first human beings God called actually good. These were image-bearers. These were people who were representing God in the place that they were in this garden, where God dwelled and walked with them in the cool of the day. God cared about them. God was in relationship with them. It was a beautiful setup, this divine design that we read about in Genesis chapter one and Genesis chapter two, but you and I both know that when you get to Genesis chapter three, something went awfully wrong there. We see human beings who have chosen to walk away from dependence on God and choose independence from God. As a result, they plunged into sin. They were cast out of the garden, and things thereafter got a little bit messy.

This is a part of the story of us, but here's the thing. The story of us is all about a story of God and human beings. We learned that from his creation of them in Genesis one and two last week, but we realized that, from beginning to end, the story of us is a story about God and about humans. When we read through the entirety of the Bible, it's a story about God and about humans. I'm thankful for that because it's primarily a story about God, but it's a story that's inclusive of us. God's always desired relationship with human beings, with you and I, with everyone that's existed, with these people who've been created in the image of God. God has always desired relationship. I could even go a step farther and say this. This relationship is not because God has a need. God does not desire relationship with us because he's got a need that he's trying to meet, "If only they would be friends with me." That's not what God is doing.

God is actually in love, inviting us into the love that God has experienced within himself for all eternity as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in this triune beautiful relationship of love. God is actually just inviting us into that, not because he needs us, but because he loves us. You see, he's not only invited us into relationship. Listen to this. God desires partnership with human beings. When we look at the beginning of the story of us, that's exactly what we see. We see this idea of God making image-bearers. Part of what it meant to be an image-bearer, as I talked about last week, was that we represented God. What were we doing? We were working in partnership with him. This was the story of us, to be partners with God.

Now, there's a theological term for this partnership. If I could just toss it out to you, maybe you'd heard of it already. It's called covenant. You see, what a covenant was is a covenant was a partnership between two parties that worked toward a desired outcome. God desired for us to be in covenant relationship with him. Now, in the ancient world, there were two kinds of covenants predominantly. Particularly, when we're reading like at the beginning of the text in scripture, in kind of Hebrew history, there were two primary kinds of covenants. There was one that was called... Forgive me. You're just going to have to stay with me here for a second. There was one that was called a Suzerain/Vassal covenant. You're going, "Okay. What does that mean?" Well, suzerain means a greater king, and a vassal means a lesser king, so it would be a greater king entering into a partnership or covenant with a lesser king. These two parties would agree to whatever stipulations, and they would enter into a partnership or a covenant together. That was one covenant.

Then, there was another style of covenant that was just called a royal grant. What that meant was is that whoever the beneficiary was in this covenant, it came because basically a king said, "So, this is what I want to do. It's not contingent upon you. It's not that you have to meet any qualifications. I'm just doing this because I'm a king, and I'm going to be willing to give you this." It's a royal grant. You've got two different styles. When you read through the story of us, this great King of ours has entered into partnership with us, and you can actually see both styles of these covenants that start to weave their way through scripture itself. What are they doing? These partnerships, listen to this, this covenant is trying to get to us, get us to a desired outcome. God actually has a desired outcome for what these partnerships are for, for their purpose. We're going to get to that in just a few minutes in Ephesians chapter two, which is where we're going to land if you want to prepare yourselves in advance. I know some of you are Type A.

If you want to prepare yourselves, we're going to be in Ephesians two in just a few minutes, but to get there, I want to help you and I be able to see the flow of some of the covenants of scripture so that when we get to Ephesians two, we can understand a little bit more about what this desired outcome of God's looked like in the story of God and humans. Now, the first covenant that I would mention to you is pretty simple because it's the one that we were kind of alluding to and talking about last week, and it would be this. It would be the covenant of creation. You and I both remember when we looked back at Genesis chapter one and chapter two that human beings were created as royal priests who were to rule in God's stead, so to speak, that they were to represent God, and they were to rule on the earth as image-bearers of God.

Now, in Genesis one and two, when we read last week, what we didn't see is we didn't see the word covenant that was there, but every aspect of what a covenant looks like, where a greater King is making a partnership with lesser kings and queens, Adam and Eve, we can see that in Genesis even though the term is not used. What we also know is that these two people, these lesser kings and queens, Adam and Eve, that were created in the image of the great King, that they broke that covenant. In fact, not only am I saying that because I know that to be true, but when we look at the prophets, they actually looked back to Adam and realized that this was a covenant. In fact, when Hosea was talking about Israel being a covenant-breaking people, listen to what Hosea said in Hosea chapter six, "But like Adam, they transgressed the covenant. They have dealt faithlessly with me."

You see, what they understood is this. Adam and Eve were covenant breakers, but even though they were covenant breakers, God did something very unique. As they fell into sin, receiving the temptation and deception of the serpent that we know is our enemy, the enemy of our soul, Satan, God, after they had fallen into sin, said something directly to the serpent as a promise. This was a covenant of sorts. He said, "I'm actually going to give you, this is a royal grant. This is a royal dictate. I'm going to say something to you, serpent, that is a promise that is going to happen because I want this partnership with people. I want them to be able to rule and to live in this land that I've given them here in Eden, but they have fallen. They are going to be cast out."

God knew all of these things, but he wanted to say something to the serpent, and listen to what he said in Genesis 3:15. God said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." This is what God said. He said, "The offspring of the woman is going to crush your head." This was a promise. This wasn't dependent upon anything that she did. God had already said, "This is what is going to happen." Now, what you and I both know is that when we start reading in Genesis three, and we start following that trail a little bit in the book of Genesis, we see that sin kind of reigns in the earth.

We see that sin reigns, and eventually God has made a promise that eventually the offspring of the woman is going to crush the head of the serpent, but it doesn't look that way when we begin unpacking Genesis because sin reigns, and there's violence, and there's death. It gets so bad that God actually judges the earth through a flood. There's only a handful of people that were saved from that. Noah and his family were saved from that, but, in doing so, it's interesting what God did. This is a lot of generations removed from the time of Adam and Eve, but it got so bad and sin reigned so bad that God judged the earth with a flood. Notice what God does right after that in Genesis chapter number nine. He says, "I establish my covenant with you." This is still a part of the covenant of creation, "Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood. Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."

I find it interesting that what happens here in this covenant of creation that God enters into and desires this covenant relationship with Adam and Eve in this Eden so that they may rule and reign in God's stead and work in partnership with God for his glory. Now, after sin has entered in and all of these things happen, and even though humanity is established, that we have broken the covenant, here's what God says to Noah. He says, "I'm clearing the world, but I'm never going to judge the world with a flood again, and I've made a covenant with you." It's like Noah is a new Adam who's on a new earth. What God wants is for now Noah and his family to populate the world, and he wants them to rule and reign as image-bearers of God.

Here's what we know. Human beings, they failed. It didn't happen. This was not something that they were able to do, and you start watching the progression in Genesis even after the flood, and you eventually get to Genesis chapter 11, and the people are trying to build a tower to be like God and to reach the heavens on their own. God has to scatter the languages and scatter the people. It is a mess. Then, you know what God does in Genesis chapter 12? It's another covenant. Here it is. It's the covenant with Abraham. I'm moving fast. You're going, "Is this just going to be a history lesson?" No, I'm going somewhere with this, so stay with me. It's important that you know it.

A covenant with Abraham, listen to Genesis chapter 12 verses one through three, "The Lord had said to Abram, 'Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." You see, what he promised Abraham is this. He said, "Abraham, I want you to leave your land. I want you to leave your household. I want you to leave where you are, and I want you to go to a land I'm going to show you." He's going to show him. Canaan basically is the land he's going to be going to. "I want to show you this Canaan." What was interesting is this is like a repeat of the covenant that God had initiated in creation. It's now like Abraham becomes the new Adam, and Canaan becomes the new Eden, where God wants to dwell with his people.

You see, God is wanting this partnership to happen. He wants this covenant to happen. The covenant after Abraham, of course, is renewed. I mean, he says to Abraham, "I'm going to give you land, and I'm going to give you offspring. I'm going to bless the earth. I'm going to rescue the earth through you." He makes that covenant to Abraham, and then he renews that to Abraham's offspring, Isaac and Jacob and Joseph, but you know what happens. After Joseph, some time has passed, and now the people of Israel, they're in bondage to Egypt at this point. As they're in bondage to Egypt, they don't know what's going to happen. They've been in bondage for a long time, and then Moses emerges to lead a people.

What does God do there? God uses Moses as a deliverer of his people, and he delivers the people out of bondage, and he's starting to bring them into the land of promise. What land was that? The land of Canaan, the land of Abraham, the land where God wanted them to be, but you and I both know what happened with Moses and with the people, but God initiated a covenant with Israel in this context. It's the third one. There was a covenant with Israel, and notice what he says in Exodus chapter number 19. God says, "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

I don't know if you can tell, but this is almost like another repeat of what God originally had said, "I want you to be a kingdom of priests. I want you to be royal priests who are living in the land that I've given to you, where I'm going to dwell with you, and I want you to be my representatives, and I want you to show the world the glory of God," but you know what they did. They started worshiping idols. They started going after other Pagan idolatrous worship. Then, they said, "It's not good enough, God, that you're kind of this invisible King. We want a king like everybody else. See that nation over there, that Pagan nation? They've got a king. He sits on a throne. He tells people what to do. We want one of those." God says, "Okay. All right," and so he gives them a king, which was Saul.

Saul wasn't a good king, but he raises up another king who was a shepherd boy named David. Guess what God does with his covenant. He makes a covenant with David. This is what he does. He makes a covenant with David. What does that covenant sound like? Well, Nathan came and spoke to David, and listen to what the prophet Nathan had said. He said, "When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands, but my love will never be taken away from him as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me. Your throne will be established forever." Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.

Now, here's something new that we learn. We already know that through the seed of the woman this enemy of our souls is going to have his head crushed. We know that through Abraham's offspring that there is going to be one who is going to be the blesser of the nations. We also know that God has made a promise through Israel that his people are going to be a treasured possession, and that they were kind of compelled to live by way of the law to demonstrate the glory of God to the nations around them. Then, we find out now that this one who is promised is actually going to be in the line of David. He's going to be a king in the line of David. It's kind of something. It's like a new little twist on the covenant that he had already taught us or showed us in the scripture.

You know what happened after David, kingdom divides. The kings get worse and worse. There were some exceptions that were decent people here and there, but, generally speaking, in Judah and Israel, it didn't go well. They weren't led well. They were involved in all kinds of Pagan idolatry. They had walked away from God. God had to deal with his own people. They got kicked out of their own land and brought into exile. Here's what it looks like. The covenant that God had made, the promises that God had made, it looked like they were going backwards, but God is not like us. He's not a covenant breaker. You see, our story, we have a history, and our history is that we're covenant breakers. That's the history of our story. We're covenant breakers, but thank God that God is not a covenant breaker. In these covenants, listen to this, God made so much of these covenants just dependent upon him and his character instead of dependent upon us.

When he told Satan, "One of the woman's offspring is going to crush your head," that didn't have anything to do with anything except for God. When God said to Abraham, "You're going to have a child. You're going to have an offspring even though you don't have any kids right now, and you and the Mrs are pretty old, but you're going to have a child, this child of the promise. What I'm going to do through this is going to be remarkable, and I'm going to rescue the world. Hey, I'm going to do this through the line of David." Aren't you glad that God is a covenant keeper even when we have been covenant breakers? Because what God did is, in the person of Jesus Christ, he fulfilled every aspect of the covenant.

You see, what the Bible tells us about Jesus is this. Colossians reminds us that Jesus is the one who reconciles all of creation to God. We're reminded in Galatians that Jesus is the seed of Abraham, and every person from anywhere, anybody from anywhere who puts their faith in Jesus becomes sons and daughters of Abraham and, as a result, are heirs to the promise and a part now of the blessing of the world. What we also know that is that in Jesus and by faith in him, we become God's treasured possession. We now get to live in the presence of a great King because Jesus fulfilled the law, as Hebrews tells us, fulfilled the law in dying for our sins. We also know, whether you look at Matthew or you look at Luke in the genealogies of the Lord Jesus, that he came from the line of David so that he could rule, listen to this, so that he could protect his people, so that he could crush the enemy, and that his kingdom would be forever, world without end.

You see, in Jesus, he has fulfilled every aspect of the covenant. We have a history. We are covenant breakers, but we can not hide behind the fact, ladies and gentlemen, that we're only human because to do so, in my opinion, misses the point of why Jesus came. Listen to this. Jesus didn't come to rescue us from being human. He came to enable us to become fully human. Jesus didn't come to rescue us from being human. He came to enable us to become fully human. See, now that you have that perspective, now I can get to Ephesians two. In fact, I want us to take a quick glimpse here at what Paul is saying in Ephesians two beginning in verse number 11. Notice what he says.

He says, "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (which is done in the body by human hands), remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility."

You see, Paul was doing something brilliant here, and Paul, almost in literally every time he's writing something for us by the Holy Spirit, is doing something brilliant. I don't need to say that. I don't know why I keep doing it. Paul brilliantly is writing for us this great survey of what God has done for us in Christ. God began with this desire for covenant with human beings, this partnership with humanity. In Jesus, he has fulfilled this covenant, listen to this, but Jesus didn't come to rescue us from being human. He came to enable us to become fully human because the desired outcome of this partnership, we would be the kinds of human beings that live in our full humanity before God, but because of our sin, because of our mistakes, because we have a history, Jesus had to come, dying for our sin in our place, so that now by faith in him, listen to this, by faith in him, instead of decreasing in our humanity, we grow in our humanity because it is redeemed humanity.

It's essentially what we talked about last week about the restoration of the image of God in human beings. You see, this is important for us because when we look at this idea of Jesus saying, "I've come in fulfillment of these covenants. I've come to create a new kind of humanity," there's a lot to that. There's a lot to that idea. If Jesus didn't come to rescue us from being human but instead came to enable us to become fully human, what does it look like to be fully human? What does that look like? That's a fair question. Isn't it? What does it look like to be fully human? Well, let me point out to you in Paul's argument some of what I believe that that encapsulates.

Here's the first thing. To be fully human is to live full of grace and truth. You see, listen to what Paul argues in Ephesians two. He says, "By setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations, his purpose was to create in himself one new humanity." In himself. Listen to this. What does Jesus' self actually look like? What kind of humanity is Jesus' self? Well, John tells us in John chapter one. Doesn't he? John says this, "The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." You see, listen. Here's what it looks like to be fully human because Jesus was fully human. You're going, "Yeah, but he was also fully God at the same time." That's true, but listen carefully.

If you're not careful and if I'm not careful, we make a grave theological mistake. People have a tendency sometimes to think of Jesus actually not being human like we're human because he was fully God and fully human. Did you hear the words, though, that I just used? Fully God. Fully human. He was born of a woman and was fully human. Is there a difference between him and us? Yes, we're not fully God while being fully human, but Jesus was, nevertheless, fully human, completely human, totally human. As a result, listen to this, Jesus demonstrated to the world what fully humanness looks like. This is what it looks like. You see, stay with me here for a second. I'm diving deep for some of you, but I want you to stay with me. Listen carefully. Not to sin is more fully human than to sin. Do you know why I know that? Because Jesus is what fully humanity looks like. Jesus is the fullness of humanity.

When I look at Jesus, I realize that Jesus did not sin. Listen to this. It is actually more fully human not to sin than it is to sin. You're going, "Yeah, but we're still broken." Understood, but by faith in Jesus and what he's come to do, he's come to give us the power not to sin, that no longer... See, before Jesus, we couldn't not sin, but in Jesus, we have the power not to sin. It doesn't mean that we'll forever be perfect. I'm not saying that, but I'm saying this. We have the resources not to sin. That's what the scripture teaches us. That's what the Lord Jesus shows us and teaches us. You see, when we sin, listen to this, when we sin, we are less human, not more human, because Jesus is fully human and did not sin. When his life is living out through us, when we sin, we're actually less human, not more.

See, what we do is we start judging our humanness in the wrong direction. Let me see if I can explain this. Instead of judging Jesus' humanity by ours, which is what we do, right, "Jesus, he must not be as human as I am because Jesus didn't sin, and I do," so we judge, listen to this, we judge our humanity or we judge Jesus' humanity based on ours when, instead, what we ought to do is to judge our humanity by his. In other words, instead of saying this, instead of saying, "I don't know if Jesus is as fully human as me because Jesus never sinned, and I sin," that's the wrong direction. Do you know what the right direction would be? Look at Jesus and ask this question of yourself, "Am I as fully human as he is?" because he is one who did not sin and is the fulfillment of the covenant.

See, what that means for us is that we will live full of grace and truth. We now can say no to the lies and yes to the truth. Why? Because this is who Jesus is. This is who Jesus is in our lives. We can say no to the lies, no to the falsehood, no to the idolatry, and yes to the truth. You see, to be fully human means that we live full of grace and truth. Why? Because that's the life of Jesus in us. Let me give you a second thing. To be fully human is to be at peace. Now, I'm not specifically referring to peace with God because that is certainly the case. When we have been found by faith in Jesus Christ, we are now at peace with God, but this is actually representing other people.

Look at what Paul argued in verses 14 and following. He said, "For Jesus himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near." See, what's Paul talking about here? He's talking about Jew and Gentile. Listen to this. For us to be fully human, here's what that means. When we start growing into the likeness of Jesus and we start recognizing what full humanity looks like, redeemed humanity looks like, it means that we can be at peace with everyone, listen to this, with everybody else who puts their faith in Jesus Christ. We can be at peace with them even if they're not like us.

This is the story of Jew and Gentile. You see, to understand the story of Jew and Gentile, you have to understand that there was great hostility between these two groups. Right? Posted signs on the temple, "You come past this point, we're going to kill you," you know, friendly things like that. There was great hostility between these two groups. Why? Because Jews looked at them as, "You're a non-Jew. You're not Jewish." Sometimes they referred to them as dogs. Listen, in the body of Christ, we become a new kind of humanity. There is a fully redeemed humanity now. Do you know what that means for us? It means that if we have in common Jesus, that is bigger than everything else. Listen to this. Our new humanity is bigger than everything that makes it up, including, by the way, ethnicity because Paul is actually speaking directly about the idea of ethnicity when he talks about Jew and Gentile.

He's speaking directly about that, and he says that the wall of hostility is gone because of what Jesus has done, because what Jesus has done is, for all who put their faith in him, regardless of the background you came from, regardless of the ethnicity that you have, that is all subsumed now in this new kind of being human. It is a new humanity that is bigger than all of these other things. Now, that doesn't mean that there's not beauty in the diversity of what makes up the body of Christ. There is beauty in that, and I believe that's affirmed in the scripture as well, but, listen, what we look like, where we come from, what our cultures are is significantly less important than our mutual faith in Jesus Christ because he has made us a new kind of humanity.

You see, as believers, we need to get that because it's our responsibility to show the world what that looks like. That's our responsibility. You see, the wall's down. Don't start building walls where Jesus died to destroy them. We best never build walls around things that, listen, are secondary to the primary issue of we have been transformed and made one new kind of humanity through faith in Jesus Christ. Let me give you a third thing what it looks like to be fully human. To be fully human is to join other full humans to glorify God. That's what it looks like. It's an us thing. To be fully human means we join other people that are fully human who have a redeemed humanity, and together we glorify God. How do we do that? Well, we do that by being at peace with one another. That's certainly one of the aspects of that. We do it by people who are full of grace and truth. Notice what Paul says in how he describes this people who are now fully human in Ephesians two verse 19 through 22.

He says, "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." Do you know that when he keeps referring, listen, when Paul is referring to you, to you, to you, he's talking plural? This is about us. This is about the new kind of human beings that now, together, listen to this, when we have come by faith in Jesus Christ, the great covenant keeping God has fulfilled all of his covenant and his desire for partnership with us in Jesus Christ. Now, when we put our faith in him, we are a renewed kind of humanity that God's desired outcome for this covenant was that we would be in relationship with him and that our humanity could be recovered because of Jesus and what he's done and his life in us.

Now, listen, together we can demonstrate to the world that we're a new household, this is a new building, this is a new kind of temple where the glory of God resides. This is the story of us. This is what God desires for us. You see, you have a history. We have a history full of mistakes and sin and bad decisions, but we can not hide behind we're only human because I think it's an affront to what Jesus has actually come to do as the great fulfiller of the covenant. The covenant of what? Of God and humans, what God wanted to do with human beings. Jesus has come to give us more than just us saying, "I'm only human." He didn't come to rescue us from being human. He came to enable us to become fully human, but sometimes we let evil and sin and the flesh convince us that it's human to do things that aren't human.

Greed, we think it's just being human to desire more, to want things that other people have. It doesn't make you human. It makes you less human. Selfishness, it doesn't make you human. It makes you less human. Porn addictions, because you're fulfilling a need that you think that you have. It doesn't make you human. It makes you less human. When we dehumanize other people with our words, we think somehow that enhances our humanity by dehumanizing them. It doesn't make you more human. It makes you less human. You see, we bought the lie that evil and selfishness and the flesh somehow makes us more human. I'm only human. It makes you less human, not more. When you begin to live out the life of Jesus because of his life in you, that's what makes you more human. That is the fulfillment of the covenant that God desired. His purpose was to create a new kind of humanity. Don't buy the lie that sin and evil makes you more human because it makes you less human.

I don't know if you guys have ever read novels by Agatha Christie. Maybe you have. Maybe you haven't. Many of them are classics. In one that was called The Pale Horse, which was written in 1961, there was a portion in there where this inspector, Detective Inspector Lejeune, was dealing with and talking about a particular criminal that they were investigating. Listen to how profound the words of this detective, obviously written by Agatha Christie, but listen to how profound the words of this detective were. He said, "Evil is not something superhuman. It's something less than human. Your criminal is someone who wants to be important but will never be important because he'll always be less than a man." She got it right. I'm not even sure she knew she got it right, but she got it right. Evil is not something superhuman. Evil makes us less than human.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would say to you this. Your only hope of being fully human is found in Jesus. It's not found in trying to experience everything in life because it fulfills some kind of need that you think you're meeting, whether that is some kind of need that's broken and depraved or whether it's just trying to be a distraction from regular life. You think that being human is all of those things. Listen. You will only find the fullness of your humanity in Jesus because Jesus didn't come to rescue us from being human. He came to enable us to become fully human. Why? Because when we are fully human in the redemptive world of faith in Jesus and other people who have come to their full humanity in faith in Jesus, we are now imaging to the world the glory and faithfulness of a God who is a covenant keeper even when we are covenant breakers.

That's why treasure your brothers and sisters in Christ whether they look like you or whether they don't, whether they come from the same side of the tracks as you or whether they don't, whether they got the same education as you or whether they don't, whether they have the same financial ability as you or whether they don't, whether they vote the same way as you or whether they don't. You treasure your brothers and sisters in Christ. Why? Because together we are a household, together we are a building, together we are a temple to demonstrate the glory of God in the world, that he is a covenant keeping God even when we were covenant breakers. I know it took me a while to get where I was going, but you're glad I came there.

Listen. This is what it means to study the word. This is what it means to let the word of God and its whole narrative begin to pour over our hearts and our minds because sometimes, instead of looking at how I can have six ways to have a better Tuesday, we need to know what God has said and what God is doing in the world and, listen, how the story of us is all fit together in Jesus. Let's bow our heads together. We're dismissed in just a second, but if you're here and never put your faith in Jesus before, you've never surrendered your life, turned from your sin and put your faith in him, I couldn't stress strongly enough that that's your greatest need. It's your greatest need.

To just passively say, "You know, I don't know. I'm just kind of doing life myself," is to say you don't need Jesus. To say you don't need Jesus means that you are preparing yourself to spend eternity separated from God in a crisis and Christless eternity. That's not what God desires for you. God desires for you to be recreated in the image of Jesus and to be reconciled to him and in relationship with him. If you've never before come to that place where you've received Jesus and come into that reconciliation, then I encourage you this day, we'd love to help you with that. There's no formula to it, but we want to help you. When we dismiss in just a moment, I'd encourage you to come right across the atrium into the Fireside Room.

We've got pastors there and some other friends that would love to take just a few moments, pray with you, talk to you, send you home with something that's going to help you in your relationship with Christ. Father, for those of us maybe who have known you for some time, maybe this is an opportunity for us to stop and pause and recognize that even though we do sin from time to time that you have given us the power not to because of the life of Jesus in us. When we live dependent upon that power, we live lives that are full of grace and truth just like Jesus. We live lives that are at peace with our brothers and sisters whether or not they come from the same places or spaces that we do because of Jesus.

Together, we demonstrate more than we could individually because of Jesus. Father, we thank you that you are a covenant keeping God even when we were covenant breakers and that you have fulfilled all of your covenant promises in the person and work of Jesus. Now, by faith in him, our humanity can be made new. We can be a new kind of human being, more fully human. We realize, Lord, on this side of eternity, we'll never fully be cast in the full image of Jesus, but may we be a people who are more and more and more being made into the image of Jesus because the world doesn't need to see more of us. They need to see more of Christ in us. Help us to be that kind of people, that you may be glorified in the world and that people may see Jesus in and through your people. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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The Nature of Us

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