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Jul 31 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

The Shepherd and the Star Pt. 4 07/30/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning and welcome!     The Lord is with you!

Last week, Chuck mentioned 2 Corinthians 3:18, which reads:  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.  One of the most beautiful verses ever.  Several phrases caught my attention, these in particular:  “are being transformed” and “unveiled face.”

Unveiled is the Greek word anakalypto, meaning to uncover, for example, by drawing back a veil. I’m sure you have heard the word apocalypse; the Greek word apokálupsis meant a revelation, disclosure, or unveiling.  Remember how the veil was torn in the temple at Jesus death?  The separation between the holy place and the holy of holies was opened.  We are invited in, and the Spirit is released to dwell in us.  As our faith grows, we believe and train ourselves to follow the new way of the Spirit.  We grow in our new environment.

We often talk about it in terms of True Self and False Self.  One way I picture it is that our True Self is like the sun, always shining.  The False Self (actually “selves” since we have true parts and false parts of ourselves) are like the clouds.  The sun is always shining, but the clouds may veil its presence. We all have parts of ourselves that were formed in our first environment. We were born into and perhaps parented in the false;  we’ve lived in the false desires of the world and its culture. We have an enemy who offers lies and deceptions. We adapted, but those parts of us are small and superficial, like clouds compared to the sun.  They are trying to maintain control, security, and esteem. 

This past week, near the Vatican, did you read that Nero’s 1st century Theater was uncovered?  It was revealed by uncovering the layers of dirt that hid the ruins and precious treasures that were already there.   We don’t wait for the gift of the True Self; we uncover it and let ourselves shine.

Transformation is the Spirit’s work.  Following our True Self is to follow the Spirit of Christ living in us, in sync with Christ’s impulses, operating freely by Grace.  Our False Selves are parts that haven’t yet come into Truth and therefore are not free. They have not been transformed. They live in cramped spaces of control, fear, greed, violence, and shame.  Those places were developed in adaptation, the Survival Dance instead of the Sacred Dance.  But now our True Self-in-Christ is wanting to bring transformation.  Living in that truth will set us free. 

Let’s pray together:  How wonderful it is to be called the children of God; our transformation is not yet complete.  Let us not be hypnotized or paralyzed but seek the Truth of our own being.  May everything we encounter assist this deep awareness of the Spirit’s call and leadership.  We present ourselves to Your Truth and Your Presence this morning, dear Lord.  In Jesus Name. Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Intro: The book of Proverbs is a collection of pithy sayings

If you read it several times, those clever lines stick in your mind
– for instance, here is one that comes to mind regarding this last week:
Iron sharpens iron,
so a person sharpens the face of a friend (Pr. 27:17)
• you might remember, last year, Guy Gray spoke here
◦ we met up again this past week — Gut has been my friend for fifty years
◦ I was fortunate to meet him in the early years of my ministry
• he guided me to a path of greater insight and understanding
◦ his has been a lasting influence all these many years
– I think God has placed people in my life strategically
• men and women who have opened my eyes and prepared me for what was next
• however, when it comes down to what I do for you,
◦ the most important, overriding service that I provide you,
that has come to me directly from Jesus Christ, through the Scriptures

I know that God wants to use me as an influence in your life
– not a great deal of influence – that isn’t necessary
• it’s not my place to tell you how to vote,
• or to make you decide where you stand on controversial doctrinal issues
– however, I won’t hold back anything that I believe is vital for you to know
• in that regard, Paul is my example
I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable (Acts 20:20)
• it is God’s desire to personally direct your path through life

What kind of influence does God want me to provide?
They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you Galatians 4:17-19

Paul’s letter to the Galatians is a fire alarm, an air-raid siren
– his passion is felt from beginning to end
• he was upset with them:
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (Gal. 3:1)
◦ and afraid for them:
I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain (Gal. 4:11)
• the problem was that two different messages had reached Galatia
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-7)
– it’s good for us to know something about this controversy
• there was a dedicated contingent of believers with their own ideas regarding salvation
◦ when a large number of Gentiles formed a church in Antioch,
some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers and sisters, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1)
◦ this created an immediate conflict
And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question (Acts 15:2)
◦ when they arrived, the Pharisee believers argued:
“It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5)
• although this issue was resolved at that council, the ultra-religious followers of Moses did not quit
– Paul’s message was, through Jesus we are saved by grace
• the message of the other group was, we are saved by grace plus something else
◦ they were adding requirements for the Gentiles that God did not authorize
• I hope you can see why this is so important that Paul would fight it aggressively
◦ this has ben an ongoing danger ever since – people adding prerequisites
◦ today people will give you the impression that you are saved by grace plus something
that you read only the King James Version of the Bible
or the only authentic Bible study is verse-by-verse
or “You must become an Evangelical to become a Christian”

So in verse 17, when Paul says, They make much of you,”
– the “they” are members of the ultra-religious crew
• “make much” is literally “zealous for you” or “over you”
Martin Luther, “Now zeal properly signifies an angry love, or as we would say jealousy. . . . such a zeal the false apostles pretended to bear towards the Galatians.”
◦ in verse 18, Paul says zeal can be good if the purpose is good
◦ he provides his own example in 2 Corinthians:
I feel a divine jealousy [zeal] for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2)
• the ultra-religious plan was to convince Gentile Christians, that their connection to God was defective
◦ they would act very concerned for the Galatians
(and they may have had a true concern–but they were still wrong)
◦ they wanted the Gentiles to feel “shut out”– “excluded”
◦ then they would offer them the way in–by keeping the law of Moses
– that’s the background for Paul’s passionate word picture in verse 19

What Paul describes here is the work Jesus has given me to do

Let’s take this line by line:
my little children
– this term always expresses deep affection
– John uses this expression many times in his first letter
• this is the only place ever in all of his writings where Paul uses this term
for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth
– the reference is specific to a woman in labor
• it seems an odd analogy for a man to use (I feel embarrassed by it)
• but the point is, Paul struggled and was in anguish over the Galatians
– giving birth is not a function of mechanical rules and requirements
• it is an organic process – it has to do with life
• life was the essence and goal of Paul’s ministry
until Christ is formed in you
– there is this strange language in the New Testament
• Paul talks about believers being in Jesus Christ,
◦ but he also talks about Jesus being in us – “Christ in you”
◦ Jesus made a similar reference, but in fruit-bearing rather than birth:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me (Jn. 15:4)
– the life of Jesus within a person secures them in God
• the attributes of Jesus are seen in the person in whom he is formed
◦ in their words and actions and demeanor

For Christ to be formed in you must be the result of whatever influence I have in your life

I hesitate to refer to my work as “spiritual formation,”
– simply because that phrase is used too often of too many things
• but it is quite literally the formation of a Christian spirituality
• and it is a developmental process

When Jesus is formed in our lives:

We have a new center
– by nature, I was at the center of my universe – I was egocentric
We have new thoughts
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Ro. 12:2)
We have new desires, new feelings, new impulses

To have Christ formed in me, means, what is his becomes mine
– his will becomes my will
• I experience his compassion and his goodness as my own feelings
• his vision becomes my vision

As we experience this, we come to a new vision of ourselves
– an awareness of who we are and how we please our Father in heaven
• we are constantly knowing Jesus more intimately
• and knowing him intimately, we become more like him
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18)
– this doesn’t mean you become Jesus, but he causes you to become your true self
• there is a famous Hasidic story of Rabbi Zusha
◦ when dying, his students asked him why he was crying
“Because I know that in the next world they will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you more like Moses?’ but ‘Why weren’t you Rabbi Zusha?’”
• Christ formed in you, means you become like the person God meant for you to be

Conclusion: We can see plainly how we have been shaped by life

But I feel it’s important to have a clearer view or our history
That it is not simply life with all its coincidences and contradictions that made us who we are today
or will determine who we become tomorrow
Listen to how the prophet Isaiah describes our formation:
“But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay and you are our potter;
we are the work of your hand” (Isa. 64:8)
Can you remember that this week?

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