He Called You Out, and He called You Into. . .
1 Peter 2:9-10 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Everybody say, “Called Out!”
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge– 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.
7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Everybody say, “Called Into.”
The nation of Israel is the Old Testament parallel for the church in the New Testament. What God demonstrated toward Israel, what He delivered them from, what He called them to, and how He related with them is all a pattern for how He relates and wants to relate with us as His people, the Church. We see in the I Peter text that we have been chosen by God, made into a priesthood of believers, given the title “Holy Nation” so that we can fulfill the purpose of making God known. That is why we were called out of darkness and into the light of God.
The Greek word for “Church” is “ecclesia” which simply means “called out.” You and I are the “called out” ones. There is something we are to leave behind as we become Christians. There is a way of being that we are to forsake as we are being called out of that way, the way of sin. We are not only “called out” of a life of sin, but as we see in our I Corinthians passage in verse 9, we have been called into fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.
God is holy, so our relationship with Him has to be holy. We can’t stay in the old existence and just add a relationship with Jesus because our old existence or sinful existence is offensive to God. So we move away from one existence and into another existence. This idea of separating ourselves from something and consecrating ourselves to something is as old as the story of the nation of Israel.
Abraham was called by God to be the Father of many nations. He was the Father of the Jewish nation. He entered into a Covenant with God. He was called God’s friend. Abraham had a relationship with God, fellowship with God, by faith. There were no 10 Commandments yet. There was no written law yet, but Abraham believed God, taking Him at His word, and was called into a Covenant-relationship with God.
But what we may not understand is that in the process of accepting the call to be in this Covenant with God, Abraham had to leave where he was. He was called out of a place called Ur. There was a reason he needed to leave Ur if he was going to become God’s friend. Abraham’s family had been polytheists. They had worshipped many pagan gods. It wasn’t unusual. That is just the way he grew up. That is how things were in the town of Ur. In order for him to become what God intended he had to get away from the influences that would compete for his affection. He had to be re-programmed if you will. He had to be de-cultured in order to become devoted to the One True Living God.
It wasn’t just about God’s relationship with Abraham, but it was about God’s relationship with Abraham’s offspring. The whole nation of Israel was going to have a different way of living than the kind of living that was going on in Ur. Staying in that location would have kept him in the mindset he had always been used to. Moving physically meant moving to a new way of thinking and behaving spiritually. Abraham couldn’t concentrate on this new relationship with God and stay in a context that would try to keep him focused on many gods.
When God rescued the Israelites later from slavery in Egypt, He wasn’t just emancipating them. He wasn’t just freeing them from a location that had been binding and difficult for them, but He was removing them from a culture of paganism and darkness. He wasn’t just freeing them physically, but He was freeing them spiritually taking them from the many gods of the Egyptian culture and into a relationship with the One True Living God.
Once they were out of Egypt, God had their full attention. Have you ever been on a spiritual retreat where you left your phone and computer behind? Where you suspended your earthly responsibilities and focused just on God? While the Israelites journeyed with God through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land that is the luxury they had. They were able to focus on God alone. Even in their travel time the fact that they were called out and called into a relationship with God was clearly seen.
For three months they traveled with God when they arrived at Mt. Sinai. We pick up the story in Exodus Exodus 19:3-8 (NIV) 3 Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and BROUGHT YOU TO MYSELF. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be MY TREASURED POSSESSION. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 YOU WILL BE FOR ME A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS AND A HOLY NATION.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” 7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.”
So Israel was “all in!” They were ready to belong to God, to be His treasured possession, to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. They said, “We will do everything the LORD has said.”
Now God realizes that just because they have moved from Egypt to another location that doesn’t mean that the ways of thinking and doing and being that they had adopted in Egypt were now no longer a part of their experience. Not reality, right? The Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. That is generations upon generations of people who grew up in a polytheistic, many gods culture and with a slave mentality. You don’t go from being a slave to having the esteem of being the One True Living God’s treasured possession. There isn’t any earthly light switch that could be flipped to make that happen. God knew that even as He had gotten His children out of Egypt that He would have to now get Egypt out of them!
So, hearing their hearts are ready to embrace something new, what did God do in Exodus 20, just one chapter later? He gave them the Ten Commandments. Turn over to Exodus 20. Remember, we are being called out of a life of sin and called into a relationship with God. We see in the very first commandment beginning in verse 2 this concept of being called out and called into a relationship with God.
Exodus 20: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
God was saying to them, “the religious culture you were used to being part of is no longer the religious culture you are to pursue going forward.” He had removed them that false religious culture in order to help them pursue a relationship with the only true God. Remember, too, that God was leading them to the Promised Land that was inhabited by people that worshipped all kinds of pagan and evil things. He wasn’t just trying to de-program the Israelites from their experience in Egypt, but He was also preparing them for a new way of living once they got where they were going.
While we live in this world, we cannot sequester ourselves from pagan and evil practices entirely. We live on planet earth. God understands that. God knew the Israelites would not be able to be on a spiritual retreat with Him forever without having to deal with outside influences, so He gave them this first command in order to protect the good thing they had going in their relationship with Him.
The next several commandments deal with protecting the relationship they had been called into with God.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Because we are called out of sin and called into a relationship with God, there are things that are off limits for us regardless of what the world around us does. There are practices that have to be habits in our lives, routine in our lives, even if they appear to be ridiculous or useless to the rest of the world. There are also things we aren’t to taste, touch, and experience even though “everybody” is doing “it” whatever “it” is.
We aren’t to be the people of superstition, placing confidence in idols, good luck charms, and icons. If you put your confidence in anything other than God, you have created a situation where you are worshiping a false god. I don’t care how many FB friends send you a “blessing chain” or “good luck” chain that says you have to post or copy and paste or send to ten friends in ten minutes or you won’t be blessed, listen, your health, your wellness, anything you possess, anything you are, anything good you enjoy is a gift straight from the hand of God alone and is not the result of something you do to try to manipulate the universe or spread good Karma. Don’t fall for it or participate in it.
The commandment about misusing the Lord’s name probably seems absurd to the world because saying, “Oh my G** is just a regular part of people’s vocabulary. Even the shortened “OMG” is just commonplace. To treat God’s name as if it is common, to make it slang or to use it like a swear word, is not just disrespectful, but it is taking something holy and making it profane. It is a degrading of the most special relationship we have. Because we are called into a special relationship with God, we are to honor His name every chance we get. We are the ones who are to make His name known among the peoples of the earth (Psalm 105).
The commandment about the Sabbath and rest and keeping the Sabbath holy points us back to this relationship to which we have been called. Leviticus 23:3 and Isaiah 66:23 talk about how the Sabbath isn’t only a day of rest, but it is also a day of worship. It is intentional time spent reflecting on our relationship with God and our worship of Him as the One True Living God.
It is interesting to me that the commandment that comes right after those that deal with our relationship with God is a commandment about the family. God says in verse 12:
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Living together, striving together, being led by our parents as they follow the Lord, was and is super important to this God who has called us into relationship with Himself. As Creator God, one of the very first things He created and established was the family when He gave Eve to Adam and told them to be fruitful and multiply. What this commandment supposed was that parents were committed to this covenant with God and would be committed to passing it down to their children. So this isn’t just a commandment for children to learn about and embrace, but it is a commandment for us as parents to take seriously.
The culture in which we live is speaking daily into the lives of our children! The messages aren’t overwhelmingly positive, constructive or holy! Are we exerting the same opportunity to fill them with godly messages and instructional messages about how we are to live as believers in the world? It’s not just an opportunity you have to parent your children. As a Christian it is your God-given responsibility to parent them in such a way that they know who God is! Are we passing down this understanding that we have been called out and called into a relationship with God to our children?
The rest of the commandments deal with how we will relate to other people which is critical to understand if we are going to have an opportunity to be witness to people in our world today. We aren’t only called out and called into, but I guess you could say we are called up in the sense that we are to live on a higher plane than the rest of the world. We are to live above personal selfishness. We are to live above drama. We are to live above that which creates division.
13 “You shall not murder. Life is precious to God. Every life. Taking a life in anger or for revenge or in order to experience some kind of personal gain is a violation of the called out, into and upward kind of life we are to lead. In the New Testament Jesus equated adultery with looking upon a woman lustfully. If that is so, and sexual sin was elevated to a matter of the heart, could the same thing be said about murder? To bully someone, to belittle someone, to gossip about someone all could be tied to murder in some respect if we use the principle Jesus used regarding adultery to elevate it from an act to an issue of the heart. To assassinate someone’s character, to kill someone’s confidence, to crush someone’s dreams with your words or actions-that kind of talk takes life from people and alters their lives in a negative way. And what about abuse whether physical or emotional that slowly murders someone’s spirit over time? None of those behaviors are behaviors for the called out and called into people of God.
14 “You shall not commit adultery. Adulterous relationships mess with the family unit that God has designed. The family unit is to represent what it means to be one with God for marriage is picture of Christ and His church. Being committed to our spouse in good times as well as bad times symbolizes God’s committed love toward us.
15 “You shall not steal. Stealing is an offense against another person for sure, but it reveals a lack of confidence and trust in God to provide. Why would we need to take something from someone else if we are walking in a relationship with the God who will provide for us as we walk with Him?
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What would be the reason we would want to lie about something someone said or did? Would it be to hurt someone? Would it be to try to shift the blame from us for something we have done? The world says, “Cover your tracks. Alter the books to make things look more favorable. No one will know if you just cheat on your spouse just this once. It’s only stealing if you get caught.” And when the world’s philosophy doesn’t cover us and doesn’t get us out of trouble, what then? Well, we do whatever it takes to avoid the consequences. We lie and drag other people into the mess we have made. God says we are to walk in truth. We are to live a confessional life, and that means when we mess up we are to take responsibility for our actions. That means when we get caught in sin, we are supposed to admit what we have done. That means we are to be the people who are quick to say, “I’m sorry” and ask for forgiveness from anyone we have wronged.
You see, God wants a relationship with us that is based on truth, not games and deceit. That is the kind of relationship we have been called into. We have been called out of sin and worldly living and into a holy and authentic relationship with God.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
We are to be happy when other people experience blessing or something good. We are to celebrate when other people get a promotion, get chosen for the team, or seem to be enjoying life. The reason the whole thing about coveting is in here isn’t because God doesn’t want us to ever have a new desire or want something better or different for our lives. It is because He doesn’t want our eyes on other people, but on Him! Why others have what they have is a result of what God has purposed in His heart toward them, and just as sure as He has given it or allowed them to acquire a certain kind of life, He can take it away. It’s not about what we possess, but it is about WHO is possessing us! Envy is an emotion that can give Satan a foothold and get our minds on earthly things rather on the heavenly things we are truly called to pursue. And things aren’t always as they appear in the natural. That person you think you’d like to trade lives with may not have it as great as you think they do.
Every relationship we have is to be impacted by the fact that we have been called out of sin and into a relationship with the One True Living God.
The commandments of God aren’t there to keep us from anything good, but to help us achieve the best as we move away from the bondage of sin and into a life-giving, peaceful, joyful, empowering relationship with the One True Living God. Too many people see coming to Christ only as giving things up and moving away from fellowship with the world. When you are in the world and living for the things of the world that can sound like you would be taking a loss, like you wouldn’t be making a good personal decision. We forget it is more than just leaving what we know behind, but it is about entering into a relationship that exceeds where we have been, what we have known, how we have spent our time, and how much fun and joy we could experience. Perhaps martyred missionary Jim Elliot said it best, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Moving on and into a mature relationship with Christ is like climbing a ladder. You cannot go to the next step without leaving the one you are on. Today God is speaking. He is calling us out again. Out of hiding. Out of shame. Out of the slavery of sin. And into new life, a deeper, walk, greater revelation, and an adventure like we have never yet known, perhaps one beyond our wildest dreams. If we have left Egypt it is time that Egypt has left us and that we walk straight ahead into an authentic relationship with the One True Living God.
I want to begin by sharing a letter that was sent from a “faithful church member” to their pastor: – Dear Pastor: You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss Sunday worship now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons and the number of times indicated:
• Christmas (Sunday before or after for traveling purposes)
• New Year (Sometimes the party lasts too long)
• Easter (We have to be away for holidays)
• July 4 (National holiday)
• Labor Day (Need to get away again)
• Memorial Day (Visit family and BBQ together)
• Spring Break (Kids need break)
• School Opens (One last summer fling)
• Family Reunions (Mine & wife’s)
• Two Sundays for sleeping late (Because of Saturday night activities)
• Deaths in Family (Average two per year)
• Anniversary (Second honeymoon)
• Sickness (One per family member)
• Business Trips (A must)
• Vacation (Three weeks)
• Bad Weather (Ice, snow, rain, sometimes just clouds)
• Ball games (Six per season)
• Unexpected Company (Can’t walk out and leave them)
• Time changes (Spring ahead; fall back)
• Specials on TV (Super Bowl, World series etc.)
Pastor, that leaves two Sundays per year. So, you can count on us to be in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August—unless providentially hindered. – Sincerely ….A Faithful Member
The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31).
B. Our focus: The New Covenant (Jer. 31:31ff, cf Hebrews 8).
- Better promises (Hebrews 8:6), i.e. The New Covenant promised remission (removal) of sins instead of atonement (a mere coveringof sin) (Hebrews 8:12 cf Matthew 26:28).
- Better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:13 – 10:18) The new Covenant offered the blood of the Son of God instead of the blood of animals.
B. The new Covenant is the promised Covenant with the houses of Judah and Israel (Jeremiah 31:31ff)
- The new Covenant was cut at Calvary (Hebrews 8:8-12).
- Pentecost (A.D. 30) was the ingathering of Judah and Israel (Acts2:5)
- Assyria and Babylon had scattered Israel (Israel and Judah).
- Pentecost (Acts 2; AD 30) gathered the houses of Judah and Israel into one nation (1 Peter 2:9).
B. We may observe some Blood Covenants of the Old Testament:
- Yahweh /Abraham (Genesis chapters 15-17);
- Isaac/Abimelech (Genesis 26:26-31);
- Jacob/Laban (Genesis 31:44-54);
- David/Jonathan (1 Samuel chapter 18).