As I was going over my Sunday School lesson I was about to teach a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I have not posted many of my lessons on this blog. I think it is time I did.
This eight-week series on our identity in Christ that I am teaching now is one I had taught in the summer of 2011. Since I had been spending a lot of time the last few months on writing my book on the theology of work that I am self-publishing, I decided to teach something that would not require a lot of preparation. I am glad I chose to do this series. It is extremely relevant to every Christian. It is a message that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ need to hear. My intent is to post two lessons a week, so that I will have posted all lessons prior to Christmas.
I started the class with showing a video of a Christian song from two years ago, Who You Say I Am, by Among the Thirsty. Hearing these opening lyrics often causes me to weep with joy:
My sin says I’m unworthy, my shame that I’m alone
My heart tells me I’m broken, and I can’t be made whole
But ever since the day I ran into Your grace
You call me righteous; you call me yours
No longer guilty; not anymore
And I am rewritten; I’m spoken for
A new creation, now I stand, cause of who You say I am
Problem: I often hear the word, “sinners”, applied to Christians, as in, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace”. I cringe every time I hear it. Not that I don’t acknowledge or recognize that I sin; I do. Daily. Not that I don’t accept the Apostle Paul’s assessment that he was the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). I just think that the Bible refers to believers in Jesus Christ using different words: the righteous, forgiven, saints, redeemed, new creatures, chosen ones, sons/daughters of God, etc. Believers do sin, but to refer to us as “mere sinners” misses the profound changes (spiritual, emotional, mental) that occur from the moment of salvation, when a sinner repents and becomes born again, moving from darkness to light. If believers could focus on who they really are in Christ, more than focusing on just their old sin nature (the flesh), making the big mistake of assuming that is all we can be, then we would sin less and less, as we get our eyes off ourselves and on fixed on Christ (Heb. 12:2).
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to discover, understand, and apply biblical principles on our identity as believers. What did we naturally used to do and think as non-believers and what do we supernaturally (by His grace, in the power of the Holy Spirit) do and think now that we are born again? What changes did God make in us when we chose to follow Jesus? Are some irreversible? What new abilities and spiritual resources do we all have to overcome the powerful influences of our own flesh, the world, and the devil? Are we merely human, or are we much more than that?
Here are a couple of powerful quotes from a book I bought many years ago:
“God tells us we are alive in a way we have never been alive before, possessing a birthright we never possessed before. . . Could it be that a major reason for the indifference, the epidemic occurrences of moral shipwreck in our evangelical churches, and the shattering of Christian homes is because we have seen ourselves as nothing more than “Christian” forgiven sinners – failing to be what we should be, because we cannot stop being what we think we are?” (David Needham, Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?, Portland, OR: Multnomah Publishers, David Needham, 9.)
“Perhaps this ‘new personhood’ idea seems far away from the daily reality of your life. That still doesn’t change the basic fact. If you have received the Savior, you simply are not the same person you were before.” (Needham, Birthright, 63).
We read Ephesians 1:1-18. I asked the class to list all the words and phrases that Paul uses in this passage to describe who believers are or what they have in Christ.
The big question is this: Do you believe that as a follower of Jesus Christ you are different, not just “in God’s eyes”, but REALLY different from you were before you became born again?
I closed with another music video You are More, by Tenth Avenue North.