All of us understand the importance of "catching on" or "getting it." So most of you are to talking to yourself right now saying, "No, we do not all understand 'catching on' or 'getting it.' We do not have a clue of what you are talking about!"

Your will understand quickly. Help me build your understanding. Everyone here who works outside the home for financial payment, hold up your hand. Thanks! Everyone who at some point in your past life worked outside the home for financial payment, hold up your hand. Thanks!

When you are employed on a job, how important is it to understand how things are done? When you begin the job, you have a learning period, a grace period. In that period you are expected to learn "how things are done." You are expected to "catch on" and "get it." If you do not, your job is in serious jeopardy.

It is essential to "catch on" and "get it" in every important responsibility in life. Each one of us have to "catch on" and "get it" in successful marriages, in quality child and parent relationships, or even in meaningful friendships. Any serious involvement or interaction with people involves "catching on" and "getting it."

God, like people, has His way of functioning. If we are serious about belonging to God, we must "catch on" to God's ways and "get" what God expects of His people. From the first part of the Bible until today, God's basic way of functioning in His interaction with people has not changed.

  1. I want to begin with incidents and information that should be familiar to many of you. [If what I share is new to you, that is okay; just focus on the way God has always functioned.]
    1. In the first book of the Bible God promised Abraham that through his descendants would come a blessing that would benefit all people.
      Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
    2. Abraham died. His son Isaac died. Jacob and his sons went to Egypt and died. For years Abraham's descendants through Isaac are in Egypt existing as slaves to the Egyptians.
      1. They have been slaves for a long time (most of 400 years).
      2. They think like slaves.
      3. They act like slaves.
      4. Their lifestyles are the lifestyles of slaves.
      5. Their morals and ethics are the morals and ethics of pagan slaves.
    3. God commissioned Moses to go to Egypt and do two things: (1) confront the Pharaoh [the king] and (2) to lead Israelite slaves out of Egypt to become God's people.
      1. "Did these Israelite slaves deserve God's deliverance?"
        1. No. They were not righteous, or godly, or of great value, or more worthy than other people.
        2. "Then why did God deliver them from Egypt and eventually give them Canaan as their own land?"
        3. For two reasons.
          1. First, to keep His promise to Abraham.
          2. Second, to punish the incredible wickedness of the people in Canaan.
      2. If you internal reaction is, "That simply is not true," listen to what the Bible says.
        1. First is God's assessment of these people after He brought them out of Egypt and they turned back to idolatry.
          Exodus 32:8,9 "They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshipped it and have sacrificed to it and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!' " The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people."
        2. Second is God's statement to Israel just before they enter Canaan about forty years later.
          Deuteronomy 9:4-6 Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people."
        3. While there are many things to consider in this, I want you to see one obvious, simple point: God did not redeem these people from slavery because they deserved it--they did not deserve God's kindness nor God's deliverance.
    4. I want you to see something very clearly.
      1. First, God released them from their slavery.
        1. That happened because if was 100% God's kindness and graciousness, and 0% their deservedness.
        2. They had been slaves who thought like slaves, lived like slaves, and acted like slaves.
        3. God redeemed them; God separated them from slavery; God did for them what they never, never could do for themselves.
      2. Second, God redeemed them from slavery so they could be totally different.
        1. They had been slaves.
        2. Now they would be God's people.
        3. As God's people they would not think like the slaves they were, they would not live like the slaves they were, they would not act like the slaves they were.
        4. Slavery was a thing of the past when they had no choice but to be slaves.
        5. "You are not slaves any more, so don't function like slaves."
        6. "Your are now God's people, so function like God's people."
      3. Third, God redeemed them from slavery before God gave them the law [responsibility].
        1. The act of redemption was God's act.
        2. The act of obedience to their new existence was their expression of appreciation for God's ending their slavery.
        3. Redemption came first, but redemption was supposed to be followed by a changed existence.

  2. The sad thing is this: Israel never "caught on," never "got it."
    1. When they built the golden calf and called it the god who brought them out of Egypt, they were acting like slaves, not like God's people.
    2. In the book of judges when they rebelled over and over, they were acting like slaves, not like God's people.
    3. In the last of Saul's rule and the last of Solomon's rule, they were acting like slaves, not like God's people.
    4. When ten of the twelve tribes separated themselves from God to worship idols, they were acting like slaves, not like God's people.
    5. The written prophets repeatedly sought to awaken Israel to what they were doing, but Israel continued to act like slaves to be destroyed rather than God's people to be redeemed.
    6. They deceived themselves because they put absolute trust in the fact God redeemed them, and they accepted no responsibility to be God's people.

    Transition: Do you see this? Do you understand it? First came deliverance from God, then came the responsibility to be and live like people who belong to God.

  3. Nothing has changed. We were slaves to sin, and God in His kindness and love delivered us from slavery to sin through what God did in Jesus' death.
    1. God did not redeem us because we deserved it, because we are such extraordinary, valuable people.
      1. Just as with Israel, we did not and do not deserve it.
      2. Just as with Israel, it is God's faithfulness, not our worth.
        Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    2. God did not redeem us for us to continue to live and act like the people we were before we were redeemed. He redeemed us so we could be His people instead of "those people."
      1. I literally could take hours to show you again and again the emphasis in New Testament books that said, "You must not live like you lived before you were redeemed by God in Christ. You must live like God's people, not like people enslaved to sin."
      2. That was an important message in the book of Romans spelled out very clearly from chapters 12 on--when you belong to God in Jesus Christ you do not have the morals and ethics of people who do not belong to God.
      3. That was an important message in the Corinthian letters--you are behaving like people who do not belong to God.
      4. That was an important message in Galatians--you do not live in the desires of the flesh; you live in the fruit of the Spirit.
      5. That was an important message in Ephesians--that is what you were before redemption, this is what you are as God's new creation.
      6. Over and over this point is made: those who are redeemed in Christ do not live as do people enslaved to sin.
      7. Just like Israel, we were redeemed from slavery to live as God's people.
        1. That life, that existence cannot be reduced to a set of rules and regulations.
        2. There is much more involved than "going to church" and "plugging into the institution and organization."
    3. It has never been more important for Christians to "catch on" and to "get it" than it is right this very moment.
      1. That is the way God functions.
      2. That is the way God has always functioned.
      3. God redeems people to accept the responsibility to be His people.
      4. When they accept God's redemption in Christ, everything changes.

  4. I want you to listen carefully to a statement Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:1-14. Paul is making a comparison of Christians to physical Israel, and he said very plainly that we need to learn from their example.
    1 Corinthians 10:1-14 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play." Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

God did not redeem us in Jesus Christ to keep on living the same old lives we lived as the unredeemed. He did not redeem us in Jesus Christ to live and act like people enslaved to sin. He did not redeem us to look, and act, and talk, and live like people do who made no commitment to God.

God redeemed us in Jesus Christ to be His people, to look and act and talk and live like His people. If you say to yourself, "God forgave me because I am special," you are deceiving yourself. You are doing the same thing Israel did. Do not make their mistake! God is special! We are not! He is our God only if we are His people!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 23 June 2002

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