Friday, June 09, 2006

The Setting Up and the Sending Out - Part two

“The Setting Up and the Sending Out”
A “Missional” reading and study of the Scripture

Part Two

As we saw last time, the word “Pentecost” means “fiftieth” because in the Old Testament, this feast was held fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits. Firstfruits was fulfilled by what we know as Easter. In the Christian Church, we celebrate Pentecost as the “Birthday of the Church.”

And that, all throughout Jesus' ministry, He labored under one great disadvantage - that is when He spoke of “The Kingdom of God”, He meant one thing, and those who heard Him, heard something entirely different.

The Jews were always vividly conscious of being God’s chosen people - how many times had they heard it? They were taught of Abraham’s call, of the covenant, of God’s sustaining hand in their history - that “they” were the chosen people! They took that to mean that they were destined for special privilege and for world-wide dominion. But of course, their history proved that humanly-speaking, that could never be.

Why? Because that “kingdom” would be built on love and not on political or military power.

And now, part two…

The children of Israel were called by God to be “a kingdom of priests.” Now, what is it a “priest” does? He ministers to the needs of the people - as a shepherd cares for the needs of the “flock”. And a priest is to be a “witness” to the Power of God. Did Israel ever do that? No, they took their “chosen-ness” to mean “I’m special, and you’re not.” “I have God, and you don’t.” Or as we might say they had an “Us 4 and no more…” attitude.

They didn’t want anybody else to know of their God. Yes, God called them to be “different” as He calls us to be different. He called them to be “set aside” as He calls us to be set aside -for what? For service. We are called to serve! We are called to be this “holy priesthood.”

2 Peter 2:9-10 is the direct fulfillment of Exodus 19:3-6 - listen:
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1Pe 2:10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

Folks - “we” are the Gentiles. “We” are the sheep of the other pastures that Jesus spoke of in John 10:19.

And now “we” have the responsibility.

The title of my sermon is “The Setting Up and the Sending Out” God “set up” the “chosen-ness” of His people on Mount Sinai, and He “sent His people (us) out at Pentecost!

Look at the similarities:
The “setting up” took place 50 days after they left Egypt, the “sending out” took place 50 days after Easter.
There (in Expdus) was Sinai; here (in Acts) is Zion or Jerusalem;
There the trembling mountain, here the trembling house;
There was the flaming mountain, here the flaming tongues;
There the noisy thunderings, here the sounds of many tongues;
There the sounding of the rams horn, here the notes of the gospel-trumpet.”
This vivid passage in Acts 2 shows the close analogy between the Jewish and Christian Pentecost. Just as the appearance of God on Sinai was the birthday of the Jewish nation, so was the Pentecost, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the Christian Church.

We are called to serve, and we are called to be witnesses. Your bulletin also says that this is a ““Missional’ reading and study of the Scripture”. What that means is that we, if we are Christians, are to study the Scriptures with a “Missional” attitude - that is, one of being in mission.

John Wesley said, “The world is my Parish.” In other words, the world is my mission field.

Jesus’ words in Act 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" was a prophecy of how the church was to spread. It did take place in Jerusalem, then in all Judea, and throughout Samaria, and then even to the remotest part of the earth…

We might translate that prophecy in this way, “Ye shall be my witnesses in the homeplace, and in the workplace, and in the marketplace and to the, anyplace your travels make take you.

…in the home and at work, and at the grocery store and on vacations… We shall be His witnesses.

The children of Israel were a called and a chosen people, but their deeds did not match up with their statements of beliefs, and so they never carried out the “high calling of God.” And now the church is a called and chosen people, empowered on that day with the gift of the Holy Spirit to reach the nations, in just the way that the nations need to hear the Word.

But make no mistake, we need to understand the seriousness of that calling - that “chosen-ness”. Jesus Christ gave His life as an atonement for your and my sin - we didn’t do anything to merit it, and we can never do anything to repay it. Romans 5:8 says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And so, we serve a risen Savior - not “so that” we will be saved, or “so that” we will be blessed, but because we already have been.

You are a chosen and a called people “a royal priesthood” who have been blessed by God Almighty - how do you choose to serve? You have been called, and now you have been empowered; and sent forth…

Let us pray:
Father, help us to understand the seriousness of this calling. Let us take into our hearts the words of the song as we pray, ‘Lord prepare me, to be a Sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. And with thanksgiving, Oh Lord I pray that, I’ll be a living, Sanctuary to You…”
In the name of the One, Whose service we follow - even Jesus - Amen.

If you are a Christian, you have been called. If you are associated with this church - then you have a calling, and you are called to be a witness; a witness of that Grace that saved you through faith. And it is not because of any work you ever have done, or ever will do - it is the pure, undiluted Gift of God. Because He loved you so much

And if you are not a Christian - or if you have questions, I pray that you will feel your heart “strangely warmed” here today, and know, for a fact, that He died for you, too. I pray that today, you will recognize your call as well, because He loved you so much, too…



Post a Comment

<< Home