17th December 2023

Neither Jew nor Greek; male nor female

Passage: Galatians 3:22-29, Colossians 3:11, 1 Corinthians 12:13
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

In our morning services, I have sought to highlight the availability of learning the scriptures and being in fellowship also during the week, and mentioning the varying home groups that we do have on. They're in recess at the moment, but will in the new year, of course, be starting again, so keep in mind that at this new year you might decide to come to a home group at one night or other of the week when they're on. There is one home group, though, that meets before church around the hall, and it actually was meant to be a prayer meeting, meeting in the prayer room, but they saw fit to do more than just a prayer time and shifted to the hall, and it is quite an interesting experience to join in with those who meet for prayer before the service. So any time from a quarter to nine through to 9.30. There are folk there, and it is another one that's worth going to, and Benga is the person who leads this, and you can ask him about it if you wish afterwards. But he presented me with, Benga did, with some questions to help us understand some of the things to do with the scriptures, and particularly to do with how the Old Testament and the New Testament fit together. For our Christian Bible is... is both in Old and New Testaments, both are a part of what it is to be into the Christian Bible, but there are many misunderstandings as to how the Old and the New go together. And so he'd asked a question with regard to that, and I'd had a previous service where the actual passage was from Galatians in Chapter 3, and we're going to start from that spot again, because I think I've said some things. I may have said something about this to the evening service, but I want for the morning service in particular to understand that there's something very important about how the Old Covenant and the New Covenant go together, and how the Old is an introduction to the New, but there is something to be learned. Now that previous message honed in on the fact that in verse 23, you'll see up there in Galatians, and this is chapter 3. And now verse 23. of Galatians, it says, Now before faith came, and I had the title of that address, before faith came. What's this business about faith coming? And the fact of the matter is that the New Testament teaches there to be a difference between how we come to God from the Old Covenant, the Old Testament law. And that difference has to do, something to do with faith. And so the writer Paul can say, before faith came, we were held captive under the law. Now immediately you could jump to what would be a wrong conclusion, that the Old Testament doesn't require faith. That would be a bad mistake because faith is always that which all the way through the scriptures is what God looks for his people to have. In fact it was the failure of faith in the Garden of Eden that led to the fall. When the devil came out. And said, has God really said, has God said, and sought to get Adam and Eve not to believe the statements about eating the tree from the fruit, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And so it was an attack on faith that led to the fall in the first place. So what is there about there being something in the New Testament that's been referred to as the faith that needed to come? And the answer to that was, it was how we get right with God by responding. In the New Testament, there is a message that calls for our faith, which is the gospel. And although the gospel is hinted at and there's much of the Old Testament which is given to be a bit of a heading and a direction of understanding the gospel, and there's much in the Old Testament that shows how faith is necessary, all the storyline of Abraham is how he's called the father of faith. And then there is that famous passage in Hebrews which talks about a sweep across history, right? And it's a very specific passage. It's a passage that talks about the birth testaments of there being people who needed to have faith, and that is in Hebrews chapter 11. We'll go there just for a moment, and I'm reviewing this fact that faith is everywhere in the Scriptures. So whatever the New Testament in the book of Galatians means when it says before faith came, it's a particular thing, not meaning that there was no faith necessary in the Old Testament. Reading in Hebrews here, chapter 11 verse 3-4, 1. verse was created by the Word of God, so that what is seed was not made out of the things that are visible. By faith, verse 4, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain. So you see that faith is mentioned there right at the beginning, and it goes on through all the heroes of faith, through the Old Testament and into the New, and that is because faith is something always needed by God, just as His grace, that freeness of His gift to help us, is also something all the way through the Bible. So faith and grace are not something just that comes in the New Testament. So it would be a mistake to understand the Jewish religion in the Old Testament as being totally legalistic. Jesus veiled against the Pharisees of His days for how they had turned it to be too legalistic, and He spoke against that understanding of the Old Testament in general. Jesus Himself lived under the law. It was necessary for Him to be in that period of time that still was under the Old Covenant, because He was to die to pay for its price. He was to die to buy us out from under the Old Covenant. Jesus Christ came to live a perfect life and so qualify to be totally an innocent man, a sacrifice that would be without blemish Himself, and then to go to the cross. He was to come and take our sins. So Jesus necessarily came under the Old Covenant, lived under it and died under it. Wherein then does come the New Covenant, but it comes in the resurrection of Jesus and the offering of the special message that is based on His death and resurrection, the Gospel message, whereby which calls for faith, whereby forgiveness comes that is totally free. And there is a difference between the Old and the New, in terms of the New giving us a forgiveness that we could never earn. It's earned, as I've been mentioning in our series on the Beatitudes, the thing that the Beatitudes are making so clear is the righteousness of God as the only standard and we can never attain that on our own, but it comes as a gift. And when a person becomes a Christian and recognizes that they're a sinner and that they need to respond to the gospel of how Jesus has died for that to be answered, they come by faith. And that's the coming by faith that is that which hadn't come until the new covenant arrived, the offer of the gospel. The day of Pentecost was the first time people, they're all Jews who heard it, but the day of Pentecost, they heard the message calling for them to respond by faith to what Christ had done to his mighty death and his majesty, majestic resurrection from the dead. The fact that he ascended to heaven and was now Lord of Lords, and this one, this Jesus is the saviour and that saviourhood of Jesus is the message of faith. He calls for faith. We're very lucky to have at this Christmas time another opportunity for us to present Christmas carols as we're practising and doing this morning. But tonight the whole purpose of the evening is to bring to people the facts that Jesus came in the centre of history in order to be God's gift of opportunity of faith. And the Christian faith is possible when you hear the gospel and understand it. Sometimes at Christmas time that can happen to people. I think more folk have converted at Easter where there is more conscious awareness of the death of Christ. But nonetheless at Christmas time, even tonight at our carols night, there's a possibility that people will hear from God and understand that Christmas is about the gift of life that's come in the person of Jesus and the opportunity of Jesus. The opportunity to respond to his gospel is responding in faith to the gospel message. That's what was meant by before faith came, before the time of the offering of that message. Now what I'm wanting to do is to answer some questions that were given to me and see how this all applies on the way through. And so we'll go now to a few verses where people are trying to understand what the New Testament is saying and to make sure that we've got this straight this message that's come with the call for faith. And another place that that is in is in the same passage of Galatians that we had earlier, Galatians 3 and now verse 28. Galatians 3 and verse 28. And so the apostle here is writing to the Christians and he's telling them of what they've gained by coming to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That response to the gospel is, the gospel gets you in the door and when you get in the door, baptism is something that follows. Baptism doesn't do the trick but baptism is a witness to the fact that you have come by faith to Christ. And so we have in our church the practice that if people come and find the saviour, they make their decision to let Christ be their personal saviour. They then ask for baptism. They don't have to. You are a Christian because you've come to Christ. Whether you're a Christian or not, whether you do that or not, but it is the biblical way to give a confession. And so verse 27 says, for as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Now he's not meaning that the very body of Jesus which is in heaven at God's right hand by the way he rose and is there now and he's praying for us, but he sent his spirit down to the earth and when you come to Jesus as saviour, his spirit comes into your person. And brings Christ his person to you spiritually. So we sometimes teach our children to become a Christian. You need to ask Jesus into your life. It's sort of true, but it's more true than what that little statement often is understood to say. When you have Christ come into your heart, it is actually the Holy Spirit who affects that and brings to you the personality of Christ to be indwelling in your person. And you put on Christ. And these verses here, 27 and 28, is saying about the fact that no matter who you are or where you've come from, what's your background, what's your colour, that you have put on Christ and there's a oneness you have with all the others who have so done. So it's worded there is neither Jew nor Greek. He wasn't writing the Apostle Paul that Jews nor Greeks didn't exist in his day. He wasn't saying that there were some who'd still be Greeks even though they were Christians or some who'd still be Jews. Even though they're Christians, he's saying there's neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor male nor female. These are distinctions in personages, but it's trying to say that when you put on Christ, it makes no difference whether you're a Jew or a Greek or whether you're a slave or a free or whether you're male or female. The promise of the gospel is to people, irrespective of your nationality, irrespective of whether you've been circumcised or not, irrespective of whether you're in bondage or not, irrespective of whether you're in bondage or not, irrespective of whether you're in bondage or not, in the era of slavery, or whether you're a man or a woman or a boy or a girl. What makes you a Christian is that Christ has come by his Spirit into your life. You've put on Christ in the sense that you've taken him as your Saviour. You've done a confession that you belong to this Jesus, that he's your Saviour, and there's no difference between you so doing and any other person of these different descriptions. Now, there are some people these days who try and make this verse the reason why you should do it. You shouldn't make any distinction between males and females. I think it's a very silly argument to have because the Bible teaches both men and women are humans and they're people that Jesus loves and that God sent his Son to save, and they equally can find salvation, but they don't stop being males or females. They are people who are as they are, but in terms of them having put on Christ, there's neither Jew nor Greek nor male nor female. You're all one in Christ Jesus. The passage explains itself. You're all one in Christ Jesus. It didn't blot out your personalities. It didn't mean that all the extroverts stopped being so selfish and become introverts like me. No, it means that we're just as we are, but our having of Christ is something available to any person who comes on Jesus' terms and comes to the Saviour, no matter what group you may be in. You can be a part of the group of people and you can come to Christ and that supersedes, that transcends any other differences between you. That's the reason why in our church we have people of all races. We have people of all backgrounds and distinctions. It's one of the reasons why a healthy church is one that does not necessarily display generation gaps. My previous church had a problem of generation gaps and sometimes when we tried to put on fellowship meetings, some of the young people said, oh, I don't want to go to that because I'd have to sit next to her. And they named a person. It happened to be a beautiful old lady who was my prayer partner. And they said, I'll have to sit next to her and say her name. But God worked in that youth group and in that young person who so said and he got keen for Christ and realised that anybody who'd come to the Savior was a person to fellowship with and something changed in the church where instead of the young people all doing their own things and the old people all wanting to have their own club and the people from outside, saying, I can't join in here because I'm not of this type of work. No, suddenly something happened in that church where it didn't matter who you were, whether you're a blue-collar person or a brain, whatever the other, I'm colorblind, whatever the other colours are that people have and think they should live out. It doesn't matter whether your culture is one that's trained at a university or you're a person that's not bothered with that direction, whether you're someone who works with your hands or someone who works with your hands, or someone who works in another way with pen and paper, I want to tell you that when you're in Christ, you're the same, you're one and that's done something to the church so you can have a church where half the people are just workers and don't bother going and doing more study and you've got another half who are haughty, I won't anyway say they've gone and got degrees and think that's great. That's all right, I think they're great too but it doesn't make any difference and what happened in that church is it broke down the generation gap. And the same young man who said I don't want to go to that meeting, I'm going to have to sit next to him and he named this old lady. He ended up getting king for Christ and went as a missionary and guess what? The old lady became one of his prayer partners. You know the health of a church when you see there are no generation gaps and there's no saying this type of people or that type of people but we say as this passage says we're all one in Christ Jesus and the fellowship is one in Christ Jesus. What is the glue that has us together? And one of the joys of this year has said and it's been on my heart to have a bit of a review of the year and what's been a good thing of this year has been the sense of fellowship after the services. I have never before in my life imagined I'd be in charge of a church where what you wanted to brag about was what happened after the services. I used to want to brag about what happened in the services but our church, it's a fantastic place when people don't leave. Do you know one place I was at? I won't say which. When you had the benediction you had to be quick to get out the door and the leaders of the church would come and stand in the foyer and there was a stream of people racing for the cars. Something happened in that church and there grew a fellowship around the gospel and then it got to be when the leaders came down and stood in the foyer with me we'd have to stand around there for ages because the people didn't bother coming out. Not as many anyway, not as quick. It's happening in our church, the fellowship after the services. As a matter of fact, sometimes I get weary and go home earlier than other people do which is a change because people have found the fellowship. That'll happen again today. Sometimes we have on the coffee and sometimes we have on well, tonight we've got the special meeting with the carols. But those things are additives to the fellowship and help us for but the real cause is when you recognise there's no difference whether you're a male or a female. You can talk to anybody. It doesn't matter whether you're young or old and the gospel dissolves the generation gaps. Isn't that fantastic? That's what this verse is about. It's not a verse to say that there's no difference between male and females. I know that's true because I've got six kids and I didn't really get to be the one that birthed them. Well, I was present but I want to tell you we wouldn't have that number of kids if it wasn't for a wife who knew what a female was and what her role was. I want to tell you that in that moment in the hospital I'm very glad of the difference between males and females and the fact that I don't have to suddenly become a female to have a part. You get the story, alright. We're all one in Christ Jesus and if you're Christ's this is the interesting conclusion then you are Abraham's offspring. That little word offspring is what I want tonight to be preaching about because there's something to learn about Paul's use in his sermons of the word offspring. Here he's writing in the book of Galatians and he says you're all Abraham's offspring. Heirs according to promise. That previous message I had began with talking about before faith came but then explained it by this final verse 29 saying heirs according to the promise. For the key of the travel between the old covenant into the new is the coming of a better promise. Coming of a promise of a better promise that is the promise of the gospel that if you will come and put your faith in Jesus Christ if you'll rest your cause with him and let him forgive you because of how he took your payment for your sins in his death you're not doing a thing you're coming by faith to rest in the success of Jesus' sacrifice for your sins. No more temple sacrifices needed. No more anything but just to rest in what Jesus has done. That's what gets you to be a Christian and you become an heir of what Abraham was promised and an heir of Abraham's offspring spiritually and you may not have a little bit about you that looks Jewish but you have got into the promise that was given to Abraham and become his offspring and tonight I'm going to talk more about what that word offspring means in Paul's preaching and heirs according to promise. So faith comes when you believe the promise of the gospel. Have you actually done that? Has there been a moment when you recognise the promise of forgiveness of sins a total cleansing when you recognise the offer not only coming with the forgiveness of sins but is the gift of the Holy Spirit and you're not going to get rid of it and because the Holy Spirit comes to live in you you are made one with every other Christian no distinction. There's nothing better to get rid of generation gaps than when people have similar experiences of the Holy Spirit working in their lives. Sometimes that is true for someone first coming to Christ but not finally realised enough to make the difference felt in their relationships but as we grow as Christians and get closer to Christ as we let sanctification happen as we allow that which has occurred to us in our getting converted to Jesus to then begin to change us. As that happens one of the results of that is we begin to see this very promise heirs according to promise that what was promised to Abraham to be rich through the Saviour who came and to have this experience of having put on Christ and having him permeate your life with his personality of having him make you the person who can have fellowship and that's why you have fellowship. I know I've told it before but one little illustration if you'll excuse me for repeating it but also for what it is but there was a time when I was a teacher out in western Queensland and the education department held these big conferences at Longreach so we'd all come down from the various places me from Dajara and other people from all sorts of little places and we were there having this fellowship it was a pretty wild sort of place and some of the others took it as an opportunity to get sozzled and so that was one thing that was going on and I felt a little bit estranged from not wanting to join in and at one stage because nonetheless there was lots of liquids it was a hot time and we were all consuming all sorts of fluids and so we were making little trips to where they'd made some very makeshift conveniences and the men didn't have anything very good at all the women did but what we had as men was just like a big little wall outside and no women around you'd go up and there were two signs to the wall and I went to urinate forgive the illustration but while I was doing it someone came and used the other side and I was I think I was whistling a song a Christian song and the bloke on the other side joined in because he was a Christian and we hadn't met each other because no one sort of knew who was what and at the end we both went down to the end to find out who the other Christian was I remember the inclination to reach out a hand but we did not shake hands and but somehow having a common faith this happening this sense in which you recognise someone else as belonging to Christ just like you just like that in the middle of this conference something I'm still talking about what God can do when he brings you to another person who knows the Saviour and it makes all the other distinctions the ones who have got this lifestyle the ones who work with their hands and are very good at it and the others who work with pen and paper and do you know how in the history of the West particularly in England but there's all this bad feeling against the workers and the ones in the office and there's all this having of strikes and there's union business unions were started out as a good thing to help the working man but sometimes it can turn into the them and us business all of that gets erased and then you can end up with good fellowship with someone and they might be someone who's in the office as a decision maker and never does anything but pick up a pen and you might be a person who's got skills unrecognised and not paid for or rewarded sufficiently but you can still have that fellowship and that's what happens in churches and that's when you know you've got a successful church when the fellowship transcends the differences and people stop engineering the differences and they don't or thinking of groups or being factional or doing things just to be in this little group or that little group which one do you belong to I hope if someone asks you that say Jesus group and everybody else who's in it belongs to Jesus too that was a fantastic thing in that church I had where they got over the generation gaps and they didn't run out the door as soon as the benediction was finished they stayed to have the fellowship with the others whether they were males or females or Jews or Gentiles we don't have that many Jewish people we get them now and then it doesn't matter what you are in your humanity nor does it blurt out it doesn't erase your personalities you can be an extrovert or an introvert or do that Myers-Briggs thing whatever it is with E's and A's and O's I only understand the O's but it doesn't matter what personality you are in there's room for you to be your unique self and one of the things that happens to someone who becomes a Christian when Jesus and his spirit begins to take over the various areas of your life he Christianizes your subconscious especially if you learn the scriptures and feed in the Bible something happens and in the progress of time as that sanctification movement happens in you you become someone who is unique you are someone who finds your individuality you find your personhood through Jesus there's nothing more fantastic than people who find their uniqueness by becoming a Christian it doesn't make you a brand just like all those other weird people just the opposite of what the world thinks when people become Christians they actually find the real person that God created them to be and you can learn how to be a person who's freed from the things back in your youth where you had all sorts of hang-ups and lists oh you know the amazing something that Christ has done oh it's amazing what Christ does actually, when I was a youth pastor there was a young man who came along he was from overseas he had that to contend with because Australian culture was a bit hard for him to assimilate and he was very tall very big compared to me he was up here somewhere and... he had glasses and he was sort of intellectual a teenager and somehow... it was awkward thing and he'd be, oh, legs and arms. And he'd only relate to me and he didn't fit in, really. We actually arranged for things like we had a roller skating or was it ice skating occasion and he came along, he enjoyed doing that with his big, long, lanky legs. And, um, but something happened because he came to Christ. And after he came to Christ, some real person that had been there all the time in him began to flourish and Jesus brought out his personality. Now he didn't turn into immediately an extrovert or anything but he blossomed. Do you know what I'm talking about? Have you let Christ blossom you? Jesus is in the business of picking up personalities that other people think won't make it. I'm one. Told at the college, the Baptist College, Jim, you'll never get on in the ministry. They said, because you don't know how to relate to people. I was like my father. He was like someone that they found very difficult to relate to, but God gave him a ministry. And I went and prayed over the summer for my personality and what I prayed for was for Jesus to deal with that personality. And the next year, something had happened to me and in the college, those same people who told me I'd never make it had failed their Greek. My dad being the principal got a special class going for slow learners and put them in it much to their consternation, but what was even worse for them is he made me the teacher because I was good at Greek. And when they were listening and I was helping them with understanding things, they said, Jim, you're different. And some of it was a difference in them, not to be so blind, I think, but some of it was that over the holidays I'd cried out to Jesus to help me to blossom, I suppose. I didn't use that word then. But if you let Jesus have a good go at you and made you blossom, that's a part of the sanctification. And it doesn't matter whether you're a Jew or a Greek, a male or a female, whether you're of this type of extrovert or that type of introvert, what counts is what Jesus can do for you. And this is the promise, the promise that comes that we'll be made right with God by faith. And that's Abraham's offspring. We're right with God by faith. And that blessing is the answer to many of the hassles that we have in life. It's also what creates the fellowship in the church. Well, that's my message this morning. And I want you to remember that you can stay a male and you can stay a female. You don't have to somehow or other be blurred and made into one. Sometimes, you know, I can go on about this, but in the University of Adelaide, they actually made up a new pronoun to say. There was he and she, but there's also ich. And ich was being polite and not saying he or she. I thought that was silly. I don't think you have to be an ich. You can be what you are. But under the blessing of Christ, you'll be the person God designed you to be. And you don't, you're not near less a Christian or more of a Christian. And God needs all the people that he has created to be themselves. And that's what Christian fellowship is actually about, making room for everybody to have their part to play. Let's have a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the promises. We thank you for the promise given to Abraham. And it was in an era where the law was the guardian and this promise had not yet come to its application. It was before the time that faith came. But it wasn't because there was no faith happening, but because the special message that when you believe it by faith was first announced at the day of Pentecost. It was by the Apostle Peter. And 3,000 Jews got in the door that very day as the message of faith was announced and available. And people found fellowship. And what was interesting is that that fellowship burst the New Testament church open to let in the Gentiles, to let in those who are of other nations, to bring about instead of, you must come to God, to Jerusalem, to a gospel commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Father, we praise you for this all-expansive and all-inclusive message where it doesn't matter whether you're a Jew or a Gentile, a male or female, a slave or free, what counts is that you trust in Jesus. Lord, if there's anybody here who needs to trust in Jesus, would you stir them along to find opportunity in some quiet moment to come and seal the deal with Jesus today. We pray it in his name. Amen.

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