23rd July 2023

God’s way of speaking directly to individuals with the Divine “you”

Passage: Genesis 3
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

As mentioned earlier in the service, Christianity is a lot simpler than a lot of people imagine. We have a terrible ability to complicate things. Now there are some complications in the understanding of God. He wouldn't be God if you could get your mind around him too quickly. I don't think we can ever get our mind to completely comprehend God. That's why he's God and you're not. But it is true that Christianity has a simplicity at the heart, and the simplicity at the heart is about a person, not a thing or not a practice. Some people think Christianity is about a way of living. Well, there are implications for your living, but the heart of Christianity is wrapped up in the person of God, and particularly as he has revealed himself in his son. And the son that he's talking about is the one that came to earth and became the God-man, both God and man.

And of course, that is something that you'll never fully grasp or get your head around to comprehend, to be better than, to be the expert of. No, how you're a person who gets into Christianity and becomes someone who is an exponent of what it is to be a Christian is not just by what you know, what you think. It is by the person of Jesus coming into your life by his spirit. Jesus is the heart of Christianity. Not only is Christianity simple because it's represented so wonderfully in the person of Christ, but Christianity is simple because of the communications that God has with us. And when God wants to communicate with us, he has a way of doing it directly. And some of the theologians, some of the philosophers down through the ages have tried to think around how that is. There's something special about when God speaks.

There's something special about when we come and know heartfelt worship and we speak to God. And so there've been all sorts of experimental ideas and philosophies and theologies. I'm thinking of Martin Buber back in between the two world wars of last century. And coming up with a philosophy which written in his book, he was a German, Austrian German. And he actually was the person that translated much of the Hebrew Old Testament into Hebrew from the other languages. And this man had a book that he wrote and in German, it's Ich und Du. Ich is I and Du is the personal form of you. And translated into English, it's I thou. And when we talk to God back in the olden days that I can remember from my parents, and most of you can't because you're not old enough. People went to church and when they prayed, they said thou, do you remember any of you that? Where they prayed and there was a language, a prayer language you have to learn to somehow fit in. We deliberately don't use that in our church, that prayer language and we talk to him with familial language because the very meaning of the do which is in German, personal you, they have another word for formal you. I and you are the two forms of the philosophy that came out of Martin Buber, the theology, that when you and God speak to each other, it's never a case of one person's, one doing it all and the others are nothing. But it was called I thou theology because the sense of there's two subjects both involved in the communication. A very awkward way, I think, and I've been a theology teacher who never really understood what that was about.

But what is in the scriptures that has led to people with such experimental existential philosophies about God, which his one was, is because there's something special in how God says you and in his communications, when he gets through to a person, there's always that strong sense that God has spoken. Like Jonah, the word of the Lord came to Jonah and he went running off to be a, well, disobedient in the first place. And he had a whale of a time, as you know the story. And eventually vomited up onto an island. He's in a very sorrowful state. And the Bible says the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time. And that coming of the word of God comes in a form where he says you. In our Bible reading that we have from the book of Acts in chapter two, this Bible reading where it sums up actually how God says you. But it tells us what is my second point in the sermon, the first one having been, that when God speaks to us, he speaks personally. And he says a do in German. He says a you. He speaks to you in a way that is directed directly to you. He doesn't ever speak to someone who's like just a part of the crowd.

There might have been crowds that Jesus spoke to, that Peter spoke to, but that very essence of the communication of God that brings you to become a Christian is when God has angled in on the individual and he keeps saying about the individuals, the people. I have loved you with everlasting love. Or the great commission at the end of Matthew's gospel, going to all the world, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. And his promises come down to a very direct personal communication with an individual, a person. There it is, verse 20. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Actually, the little pronouns, you, I, you, they are pronouns, you call them in the grammar.

And when God uses the you, when God uses an I, it's very strategic. And for just a moment, I want to just look at my first point, that God wants a relationship with you, the individual, not just the crowd. And in Isaiah 43, God says in verse one, and this is what he says. But now, thus saith the Lord, who has created you? He wants us to understand that we are the creation of his hand, but not just you're a part of humanity and you've got a few traits in common with the other people down the school or in the old folks' home. No, he says, I am the one who created you. And he also addressed it to Israel, but he addressed to Israel as though they were a person. I've redeemed my son out of Egypt, he said, about getting the whole crowd of the Jewish people out of Egypt's bondage. Who formed you, O Israel? Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. And God listens in to our sermons here and I want to tell you that in his heart, he's seeing individual people as you are, as you're sitting here. He's saying, you are someone that I have redeemed by sending my son into the world to die on the cross for your sins. I've called you by my name. And that moment when someone, whether they be in the pantry or whether they be in a church meeting like now, this often happens, you know.

It's a rare event, but it's happening to people often in Christian meetings that they come out the door and they say, God spoke to me. Because he's the God of the you. Fear not, I have redeemed you. He says that whole storyline of what happened with my son on the cross was for you. And though it is true that there are collective statements of God for God so loved the world that he gave his only son, they're followed up by the next part that says that whosoever, every little you, every person who's a one whosoever, believes in him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life. I have called you by name. Can you hear it? He's doing a do in the German, the ich und du, that I and thou, but this time coming from God to us. You are the one that I've redeemed and I've called you by name. And I've never, can't get over the astonishment when people come and report. And you can be involved in a big crowd as I have in some times past been involved with big organisations as a participant or as a person in the crowd.

And then you meet people who come out the door or come out of the crowd and they say, God spoke to me. It's because he's the God who calls us by name. And he's saying to someone here this morning that he wants you to be his. That's why Christianity is simple. It's when you get the call. Now, not only is it the case of how God deals with each of us individually, and you see that all the way through the Bible. I won't elaborate a verse upon verse, but it's something right through scriptures. But my second point is that God in his dealings with us, he wants a relationship out of that confrontation of the you. He wants you. And he has done that with first of all, you might call him a prototype. I don't know that's a good way to picture Jesus and how he came into the world. But he actually came to be the humanity that we had failed to be. He came to provide a new man that we could become a part of by becoming a Christian.

If any man be in Christ, any person be in Christ, he becomes a brand new creation. The brand new creation is Christ. He was the new man, the man who didn't fail. He's the man who was sinless. He was a man nonetheless who was tempted and suffered more temptations than we'd ever be able to face. He's the one who went to the ultimate sacrifice on a cross, who though he was sinless, he took the place of sinners. He was numbered amongst the transgressors. The Bible says that he took on him the sin of the world. He took on the sins of all the do's, the you, you. Your sin was laid on him. And he suffered there the punishment of the anger of God and the proper punishment of God against your rebellion. And he exhausted the wrath of God for your sins that God might be able to forgive you freely and calls you to come to himself and Jesus in his own person lived out this I, you business. And if you look through the scriptures, what's fascinating a lot of people who just know a bare minimum of Christianity, they do hear that we think Jesus is God. They've got that little bit right. But what they don't hear is that he's also human. He's the new humanity that God came to put up for us to get to be a part of.

He, Jesus, is in his humanity also relatable to by the Father with the I, thou. He's the one who somehow or other in the history of what he did was he came and took on humanity and took on a place of obedience to the Father. He lived out the response of the Father when the Father called him. He said, I do all things the Father leads him to do. He was obedient at every step. He cried out for help from the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane and God heard him. He needed to pray for help and he was saved from dying in the Garden of Gethsemane and lasted to go to the cross where he'd come to die for our sins with the help of the Father and the Holy Spirit and the angels just by the way. Jesus, he lived out the God's eternal you first. You see that in the story. We're gonna go to Acts and chapter two from my third point. I'm trying hard not to be too long today because you've already had a good sermon in the baptism.

And my third point is that we are brought into God's relationship through Jesus with Jesus in Acts 2, 32 to 33. This is chapter two of the book of Acts. It's actually the first Christian sermon which it was at the Day of Pentecost by the way and Peter to the crowd sums up having convicted them of being guilty for handing Jesus over to be crucified to the Romans but God stepped in. I love the other Bible from beginning to end is about God stepping in. That's what happens. It can happen in the smallest room in your house, the pantry. It can happen in the moment of crisis in a hospital. It can happen when you're lost at sea or you're in some crisis like the young men of my generation got called up for I wasn't. I didn't get my marble come out of the lottery so I did not go to a national service though I'd been willing to. I don't know what I've done if I went but a lot of people my generation had terrible crisis in life even after they came home because of what they went through in that time but in that moment of crisis I had a fellow down in my church in Sydney from where we came before here and how he heard the you from God was in the whistle of a bullet in the warfare in New Guinea that he was involved with on behalf of our country.

The bullet whistled past his ear and killed the man next to him and he reflected on his living through that time and how God in charge of everything saw he was still alive and somehow in that understanding he heard God's you and as he got demobbed from his service he became a Christian, found a church. He was one of the elder people down there in Sydney who was a great help to me. God is present in a lot of circumstances and there may be that there's someone here in what you've just come through. There's someone who's trying to talk to you. Jesus models how it happened to him and then in the sermon at Pentecost the day when Christianity began as a religion it's the first forming of the church the day of Pentecost and here Peter is preaching this Jesus God has raised up not only just out from amongst the dead but up to heaven and of that we're all witnesses because they'd seen him alive after the resurrection. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, that's the Holy Spirit that Jesus would then send upon his believing disciples and how he'd lead the church and how the Messiah, that word Messiah or Christos it means the anointed one and so the leadership of the church is by a man, Jesus, who's also God but the connection is that he's taken on humanity and lives in relationship with heaven in exactly the way that we are to live in relationship with heaven via the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the head of the church in heaven and we are the body on earth and the connection between the two is the Holy Spirit who's in our hearts from the moment of the pantry. This is a good illustration, thank you. For the moment of coming to Christ wherever it is. The connection between us is that God's Holy Spirit comes into our person and brings the connection with Jesus, brings Jesus to live in us and Jesus does that not just because he wants to get a little servant out of us alone, he wants us to be his. He wants there to be an eternal you coming from God the Father to you from that moment of Jesus Christ coming into your heart and I want to tell you something that's a consequence of that is that us to him is also and much of our prayers that use the word the old fashioned way when you said thou we just use it for our praying to God but it actually goes both way which I think is more what Martin Buber when his philosophy slash theology was trying to get at that there is this relationship where it's not just one person saying it all to the other like when you go to some formal churches and you say all the prayers and the words are said even if only the roof heard it.

But that's not what it is at all, it is a connection going both ways and from the moment of coming to Christ you and God have got a thing going and you need the reminders along the way as you grow as Melody has talked about a little bit there's times when she's had renewal of what is her commitment but the connection's been there all the time that she and Jesus have a special thing going and one of the things you do in the Christian life is that you learn to grow that connection and you grow your faith and trust and dependence and obedience and as you do that you and God become stronger together and it's a two-way thing. That's where prayer comes in, that's where worship comes in and one of the joys of our church and I want to thank our music people and worship leaders and others who are involved in making the services happen because they've been succeeding. You lot are the evidence. There's something going on in our church for which we praise God, it is a God thing and it's a two-way street and we come along and I get moved in the services of our church. I thank God for it, sometimes makes it hard to preach but nonetheless, something in my heart says to God what the old-fashioned people might have said, thou, I don't like the thou word.

I just say oh God and have a connection with him and when we have our worship, I'm there in the middle of it I'm not just a stranger who's listening into a church service, I'm someone in the presence of God. That's what God wants and the apostle Peter is talking about the Holy Spirit. He's not only made available for Jesus to be the one that sends him with the father, father and son send the Holy Spirit on the disciples, they'd been believers in God but that moment they became Christians. As the Holy Spirit filled them, as they became people who had the other side of the connection and they expressed it in worship, they expressed it in all sorts of gifts of the Holy Spirit which God can give if he wants to and Peter, look it up there, he has poured out this that you yourselves are now seeing and hearing and the evidence of this connection is seen in a live church. There are plenty of dead churches, they're just a building, sign out the front, please put money in so we can mend the roof or something like that. But a live church is the people who have connection with God and a relationship, they have it individually and they also express it corporately in the worship and you know it when you're there.

God is here amongst his people, I tell you and he's the result of the fact of Jesus having pioneered the way and there being the invitation for people to step in to what Jesus has pioneered. That brings us down to the end of my service because the end of this message and the end of my sermon, I mean, the end of this message is that God is calling you and he's calling you to answer his call. Do you know in the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve first sinned in that story of the first ancestors of the human race, God came walking in the garden. These, my guess is it's probably the pre-incarnate Christ. He's not yet got a body but he's the third person of the second person of the Trinity and he's coming looking and they're guilty for their sin and they hide behind some bushes and God says one of his yous, he says, Adam, where are you? Now I don't imagine for a moment that God didn't know what Adam was doing and couldn't see him behind the bush. God's call, where are you, is for you to wake up what you're doing hiding behind that bush and they come out trembling. God calls them into account for their sin and when God's call comes to an individual, it usually comes with an awareness of their sinhood, their need for forgiveness, which is why the gospel message finishes up with the offer of forgiveness of sins made possible because Jesus has paid for it on the cross.

And this morning I finish this message by reminding you that the reason why Jesus came into this arrangement with the Father, this God-man having taken on humanity that he might take it to a cross, being a sinless man that he might qualify as able to take your punishment and not just pay for his own sins but to pay for the sin of the world, this Jesus who took on the relationship of I, thou, I, you, do with God that he might offer it to you. And he calls you this morning, step up and take hold of my offer and you will become as I, someone connected with the family of God, connected with, the Bible says we're given an entrance into the relationship that the Trinity has. We're accepted amongst the beloved where the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit loves both, where there is this triangle of love. And when you come to Christ, you're given the do, the you from our God and you get to be a part of that love circle that he has. And he's calling you to come and step into it today. And I can't say these things without, because of the particularness of the message, giving you a call to do it now.

Now, when people come and hear this message, there are some for whom it's so much the first time they've actually twigged to half the story and they'll take several listenings before they get to the place of knowing how they want to respond. And you may be in that spot. So I don't want you to come and hear my call and not know what to do because it's so new to you. Be at peace and think about it at home. And there will come a moment when you know you're ready and you will come to Jesus. But there are others of you who perhaps have been like Jonah that I mentioned earlier. And Jonah ran the wrong way and got chased down by a storm and by the big fish. It wasn't a whale, by the way, just a big fish in the original language. And God rescued him from that fish and then God called him a second time. And it could well be that you're a person here this morning and elements of watching melody ring a bell for you. And being in this crowd of people and the joy of their singing is proving to you there's reality here and you know you haven't found it yet. And for you this morning, I'm gonna ask you to come today. So at the end of the service, we have a simple final message, song, final song, we stand and sing.

I want you to leave where you'll be standing. I'm gonna stand down here. Come and stand next to me. By your coming with your feet, just say this morning in my heart, God has called me and I need to come. We won't keep you long, we'll probably go somewhere where we can have a little less noise from all the people talking. And I'll lead you in a prayer to come and say to God the return he says to you, you. When he says, where are you, Adam? It's like he's saying, I know you're behind that bush but you need to realize that you're hiding. And that's what God wants of you this morning, to recognize you've been hiding from his call. And Adam came out from behind the bush and got things sorted out with God. And I'll lead us in a prayer to do that this morning if you come. And all through the singing of the song, the moment will be live, that God is on the call. Those who want to, whosoever will, may come and join us in the front seat. We'll go to that room over there and it won't take you long. You'll need to be somewhere for a long time to wait for coffee to be served. I'm looking forward to the two machines working.

Cameron, I hope you know it's arrived, it's in the office. Yeah, not that it's his job to do everything but. But that's what's gonna happen in the song. So first a word of prayer and then we'll ask our people to come back and lead. I'm gonna stand there and if you want to answer the you this morning, come and join me here. By coming with your feet, you help make more certain you're gonna go through with this. And let me lead you in a prayer. We'll do it out in the room. First now, just a moment of prayer to end the service. Heavenly, end my sermon. Heavenly Father, oh Lord, I so much want you to be speaking to people but it's the individuals that count. And I pray that there'll be those here who will hear from heaven, hear from you this morning. Those that are hearing things and it's an instruction that might be surprising them who need to think in it, may they take it away and be able to be led of your spirit to the truth of the Christian gospel. This call, as the Apostle Peter finishes by saying to as many as the Lord our God shall call. Father, may that happen this morning, we ask in Jesus' name, amen.

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