The Equalizer

Posted on 11/09/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:

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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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YOUR WORD IS A LAMP

Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path
Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path

No longer do we walk in darkness
No longer do we walk in darkness
No longer do we walk in darkness

For you have called us out of darkness
    into your marvelous light
We turn our backs on what is wrong
    and choose to do what's right

Your blood is flowing through my veins
to cleanse until all that remains
is clay that's molded through the pains of life

Your Spirit blows into these bones
to claim this temple as its home
and starts a fire that soon becomes a blaze

YOU ARE MY ALL IN ALL

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all

Seeking you as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I'd be a fool
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
 worthy is your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
 worthy is your name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising again I bless your name
You are my all in all

When I fall down you pick me up
When I am dry you fill my cup
You are my all in all

I LOVE YOU LORD

I love you Lord
    and I lift my voice
To worship you
    O my soul, rejoice!

Take joy, my King
    in what you hear
Let it be a sweet,
    sweet sound, in your ear

THERE IS NONE LIKE YOU

There is none like You
No one else can touch my heart like You do
I could search for all eternity long
And find there is none like You

Your mercy flows like a river wide
And healing comes from Your hands
Suffering children are safe in Your arms


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***

How many of you know we live in an age of political correctness. We're not supposed to call someone blind, but visually impaired. We're not supposed to call someone white or black, but causasion or african-american.

And yet, as much as we're made to think our society has evolved past judging those around us, nothing has really changed.

If you didn't vote for Obama last Tuesday, like my wife and I did not, have you been accused of being racist? After all, that's what our highly advanced society would have us believe. If you don't vote for someone with dark skin, because they have dark skin, that makes you racist.

I know, that doesn't really make any sense. But that's the kind of foolishness that comes from a people attempting to put an end to bigotry aside from Jesus Christ. And the result is that we're reminded over and over that a candidate is black and that we must therefore vote for him, while his character and the issues take the back row.

In fact, ALL of the world's attempts at fairness and morality outside of Jesus Christ ultimately fail. It's like somehow removing the magnetic pull of the north pole and expecting your compas to still point you in the right direction.

Let's read a passage from Galatians chapter 3, verses 26 through 29. Galations 3, 26 - 29...

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

And the title of today's message is, "The Equalizer."

Let's pray.

Lord, thank you for giving us your Word, and for sending your Holy Spirit to bring it alive to us. I ask that you would speak to us now, and bring this Word to life, so that we can live by it and be more pleasing in your sight.

So, this passage starts by saying we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of us as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

It might be helpful to realize that this was first written to a group of believers who had in their midst men who taught that they must be circumcised and follow other elements of the Old Testament law in order to be saved. These were things that would have been expected for a non-Jew to be accepted as a Jewish proselitite.

But Paul strongly refutes these ideas, and exposes them as a false Gospel, for it is by grace through faith in Jesus alone that salvation can be found.

And he goes on to paint a picture that, on the outside, seems compatible with the world's ideas of equality, but as we take a closer look, I think we will begin to see a stark contrast.

He says, "for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ," as though they were putting on some type of covering or garment. And it is through this baptizm into Christ that God sees us, and this is why he sees us as holy. This is why we can come into his presence and why our fellowship with him has been restored. It is because we have put on Christ. And as the Scripture says, it is therefore "no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me."

And it is this indwelling of the Spirit of God that changes us from glory to glory into the image of God, purifying us, building our character, and giving us the power to put to death the carnal man with its sinful desires.

And then he begins drawing some paralells.

Verse 28 says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Now, if we just left out the middle one, we could conclude that this is the same as the worldly non-racist and non-sexist.

But he throws a monkey wrench right into the middle. He not only says there is no Jew nor Greek, and there is no male or female... He also says there is no slave nor free.

Does he mean that nobody is a slave in Christ? If so, he'd also have to mean that nobody is free in Christ. And of course we know this isn't so.

This goes beyond the way we look at people, the way we look at classes, the way we tend to look at life.

The world will tell you that some people are just too rich, and they need to have some of their wealth taken away and given to the poor. Of course that might sound nice, like a Robin Hood type of "good guy" government. But it's the world's attempt to make people more equal, and it results in economic destruction rather than true equality.

The women's liberation movement was taken to the extreme, as women protested differentiation by burning their bras, insisting that they were no different than men.

The gay activists would certainly agree with the part that says there is no male or female, insisting that how God formed your body doesn't really matter, for we are all equal and we are all the same.

But that's not at all what this passage tells us.

We know that the Jew does not lose his or her Jewish heritage, neither does the Greek cease to be Greek.

The slave, in these days called the employee, may continue to be a slave all his or her life, and the free may never be brought into captivity.

The male does not become female, nor does the female become a male, and the two are in many ways very different, thank God, and they will continue to be so.

But this passage shows us that, regardless of our diversity, we who are in Christ represent Him, not us or our race or our status or our gender.

To the mind of the world, we should show our equality by voting for someone just because he's black. But to the mind of the Scriptures, we should show our equality by voting for someone based upon the issues that really matter, issues of principle and of character, being completely blind to race, social class, or gender.

The world tries to combat bigotry by focusing on the rights of a certain race, or the rights of the low or middle class, or the rights of women. But the Scriptures call us to lay down our rights, putting on Christ Jesus, who was the supreme ruler of the universe and yet took the place of common criminals like you and like me.

Are you a Jew? It doesn't matter. Are you a Greek? It makes no difference. Are you black or white? It's of no consequence. Are you rich? Trust in God. Are you poor? Be content with where God has placed you. Are you a male or a female? Forget your so-called rights and act like one.

"Gay pride" melts away when those who have it accept Jesus and lay down their rights to live as they please.

"White supremacy" and "Black pride" disappear when those who embrace such ideas put on Christ and lay down the rights they think their race gives them.

"Male shovenism" and "Femenism" run away with fear when those enslaved by them are baptized into Christ Jesus and lay down the rights they think they should have.


Now don't get me wrong. I'm glad people fought to secure for people of all races the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, reaffirming that we are all created equal.

But we tend to think an aweful lot about our own rights, so much so that we put the spotlight on our differences instead of on the one who makes our differences unimportant.

When the focus is on us, we accuse others of racism because they didn't vote for a black president, of sexism because they believe in the Biblical definition of our roles, of greed because they believe the rich should give to the poor because of a change of heart, not because of communist rule, and of hatred because they believe a homosexual union does not please God and should not be falsely labeled as a marriage.

But when the focus is on Jesus, we tend to forget that someone's skin is a certain color and instead see what they stand for and who they are, we tend to forget that we're supposed to feel victimized by the opposite sex or by those who have more money than we do, we tend to forget that we're supposed to smile upon and embrace things that God despises and that break his heart.

And this is true equality. The Bible says that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart. Let's learn to see how God sees, instead of trying to erase our differences or demanding our rights because of them.

Let's be careful to make sure we're not seeing things like the world sees them, but like God sees them.


Our passage ends by saying, "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Heirs of what? Heirs of the promise given to Abraham. God promised Abraham that his descendents would be as numerous as the stars of the heaven and the sands of the sea. And part of that promise was Jesus Christ, who opened the way for all people of every nation to become a part of his family, and heirs to the promise of a city that is to come.

Let's close by reading from Hebrews chapter 11, verses 8 - 16.

Hebrews 11:8-16

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
  
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.


Anyone here on the ministry team can come stand at the front as we prepare for a time of prayer and worship.

You see, Abraham had a promise. He was not a great nation. He didn't have pride in his race. He knew that all his material blessings were from God. He wasn't demanding that he be given what was rightfully his.

No, Abraham was only seeking to please God. So much so that he was willing to sacrifice his only son if that's what God wanted him to do.

And it says here that Abraham obeyed God because of his faith. He trusted completely in God. And not only did Abraham trust in God, he saw by faith that there was a city whose builder and maker is God.

And verse sixteen says, "But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."

You see, Jesus Christ is the great equalizer. Equality will never come by focusing on race or gender or economic class. That only magnifies our differences. True equality comes by focusing on Jesus, for that magnifies the one who is preparing for us a city, a place where the redeemed of the Lord will serve him for all eternity with peace and joy, free at last from the curse of sin.

Where will you be when the curtain closes on the last act of the ages? Are you busy thinking about your rights? Or are you seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness?

Put away the things of this world, and put on Christ. I'd like to invite all of us to get out of our seats and come to the front as an act of saying, "Lord God, I don't want to focus on my rights any longer. I want to focus on you, and lay my rights down at your feet."

If you need to leave, you're free to do so. If you need prayer or ministry, instant message one of us on the ministry team. Let's gather at the front for a time of prayer and seeking.


*** listen to the audio for the message closing and altar call ***