The Purpose Driven Life
1. Formed for God’s Family
Very early tomorrow morning I leave for a week in the Eastern Mediterranean. I will be co-leading a cruise to Israel, Palestine, Turkey and Greece with MasterSun. Around 250 people will be going to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We will be meeting with local believers along the way. We want to be an encouragement to them as they follow Christ as his peace-makers in a hostile environment. If you wish you were coming then don’t be discouraged - in the Corridor you will find details of our next tour which will be in July next year.
I have to confess that I am torn, torn between going and staying. I will miss
the Wentworth bonfire next Saturday. I will miss the lovely group of people doing
the Christianity Explored Course on Thursday evenings. Not least because James
and Kirsty’s baby should arrive this week, not least because Grace Lui is very
ill in hospital and I long to see her, not least because I will be away from Joanna
and the children for a week, but most of all, because I will not be with you next
Sunday for our Church anniversary. Spending next Sunday on the Island of Patmos
remembering the apostle John’s exile may sound idyllic, but I would rather be
at home - here with you - my family.
When you think of the Church what comes to mind? Buildings or people? Do you look forward to being here? Do you miss your church family if you are away a week?
How do you feel about the people sitting around you? Are you getting to know their names and family circumstances? Their hopes and fears? Do you miss them when they are not here? Do you notice? Do you care? Back in the Summer we discovered God has five basic purposes for your life.
During the Summer we spent time exploring the first great purpose - that God created us for his pleasure - to know and love him. Between now and Christmas we will spend time reflecting on our second great purpose - We were formed for God’s family. In his book Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren says, “God wants a family, and he created you to be a part of it. This is one of God's purposes for your life, which he planned before you were born.
The entire Bible is the story of God building a family who will love him, honor him, and reign with him forever.” Ephesians 1:5 says,
"His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure" (Ephesians 1:5 NLT).
Please turn with me to Ephesians 5:1-11. I would like us to observe three things about our second purpose - being formed for God’s family. Notice,
2. How we are Distinguished: God’s Holy People” (Ephesians 5:3). This is what we are to be.
3. Where we are Destined: Inheritors of God’s Kingdom (Ephesians 5:5) This is where we belong.
Lets examine them one at a time.
1. How we are Described: “Dearly beloved Children” (Ephesians 5:1).
This is what we have become.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) “Because God is love, he treasures relationships. His very nature is relational and he identifies himself in family terms: Father, Son, and Spirit. The Trinity is God's relationship to himself. It's the perfect pattern for relational harmony and we should study its implications.
God already exists in loving relationship to himself, so he's never been lonely. He didn't need a family – he desired one. So he devised a plan to create us, bring us into his family and share with us all he has. This gives God great pleasure.” James puts it like this,
"It was a happy day for him when he gave us our new lives through the truth of his Word, and we became, as it were, the first children in his new family" (James 1:18, LB).
“When we place our faith in Christ, God becomes our Father, we become his children, other believers become our brothers and sisters, and the church becomes our spiritual family. The family of God includes all believers in the past, in the present, and all who will believe in the future.” The apostle John reflects on this profound truth in his letter.
“See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!” (1 John 3:1 NLT)
“Every human being was created by God, but not everyone is a child of God. The only way to get into God's family is by being born again into it. You became part of the human family by your first birth but you become a member of God's family by your second birth.”
"…it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God's own family" (1 Peter 1:3b, LB).
“The invitation to be part of God's family is universal, but there is one condition: faith in Jesus.”
“to all you received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12 NIV)
“Not only are we born again into God's family through faith, the Bible says God also "adopts" us. In Ephesians 1:5, Paul writes,
“he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:5)
“We don't deserve to be his children, but he has chosen us for this privilege because he loves us.” This means “your spiritual family is even more important than your physical family because it will last forever. Our families on earth are wonderful gifts from God, but they are temporary and fragile, often broken by divorce, distance, growing old and, inevitably, by death.
On the other hand, our spiritual family – our relationship to other believers – will continue throughout eternity. It is a much stronger union, a more permanent bond, than blood relationships.” Rick Warren reminds us that “The moment you were spiritually born into God's family, you were given some astounding birthday gifts: the family name, the family likeness, family privileges, family intimate access, and the family inheritance!” Paul writes to the young Christians in Galatia,
"Since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you" (Galatians 4:7b, NLT). Everything. Notice first of all therefore,
How we are Described: “Dearly beloved Children” (Ephesians 5:1). This is what we have become. Secondly notice,
2. How we are Distinguished: God’s Holy People” (Ephesians 5:3).
This is what we are to be.
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:3-4)
Because we are God’s children he expects us to behave differently. When you are mixing with your non-Christian friends and the conversation turns to something immoral or impure, or greedy - what are you going to do? Walk away? Change the subject? Question their values? Any of these is better than joining in. Remember your heavenly father expects his children to stand out. Don’t join in. This is how Eugene Peterson translates Ephesians 5:3-11.
“Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God… You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:3-11 Message)
So you don’t have to laugh at the course joke. You don’t need to pass on the latest gossip. You don’t need to covet your neighbour’s car. You don’t need to trade in your partner for a newer model. Show them by your example that you have a new parentage, a new motivation, a new way of life that is more fulfilling, more rewarding and more satisfying.
How we are Described: “Dearly beloved Children” (Ephesians 5:1). This is what we have become.
How we are Distinguished: God’s Holy People” (Ephesians 5:3). This is what we are to be.
3. Where we are Destined: Inheritors of God’s Kingdom (Ephesians 5:5)
This is where we belong.
“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5)
“The New Testament gives great emphasis to our rich "inheritance." What benefits do we inherit? As children in God's family we are given "the riches…of his grace… kindness… patience… glory… wisdom… power…and mercy".
We also inherit eternal life and God puts his Spirit inside us now as a guarantee of all that is to come (Ephesians 1:13-14). What an inheritance! You are far richer than you realize.” In Ephesians 1:18, Paul goes on to say “I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given his people.” (Ephesians 1:18)
What exactly does this inheritance include?
1. We get to be with God for ever in eternity.
2. We will be completely changed and become like Christ.
3. We will receive a new imperishable body.
4. We will be completely freed from all pain, death and suffering.
5. We will be rewarded and reassigned positions of service.
The Bible says,
“God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” (1 Peter 1:4)
“Your eternal inheritance is priceless, pure, permanent, and protected; no one can take it from you. It can't be destroyed by war, a poor economy, or disaster. This inheritance, not retirement, is what you should be looking forward to. Retirement is a shortsighted goal.” “You should be living in light The Bible also says,
“Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too. Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time when your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is all utterly and completely true. For this is the Christian’s secret of — a happy life? — yes, certainly, but we have something both higher and profounder to say. This is the Christian’s secret of a Christian life, and of a God-honoring life… May this secret become fully yours, and fully mine.”
I was formed for God's family.
See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are! 1 John 3:1 (NLT)
How can I start treating other believers like members of my own family?
This sermon is inspired by and makes use of quotations from Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, pp.117-121, and Jim Packer’s book Knowing God.