Part 2
Who We Are—Our Identity

1 Pet 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
Last time we began a brand new series called CHURCH MATTERS!
And we began with a message called Why We Meet.
We learned that we’re to first SHOW UP,
then STIR UP one another to walk in love and good works,
then BUILD UP each other in the faith through encouragement and solid Biblical teaching.
Paul told the Corinthian church, “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up.”—1 Cor 14:26
Now this time I want to talk about our IDENTITY—Who We Are as the church.
How do people in general view the church?
—To some it’s just a gathering of people every Sunday morning for an hour or two.
—To others it’s a religious organization.
—To still others it’s a building with a steeple and a Cross displayed outside.
But what does the Bible say the church is?_______________
First, the church is made up of people who have been:
I. Called out
Peter says in our text that God “called you out.”
The Greek word translated into the English word “church” is ecclesia meaning “called out ones.”
What did God call us out of?
He “called you out of darkness…”
This of course is talking about spiritual darkness.
—The Bible abundantly describes this present world as darkness, and suffering under the relentless assault of dark spiritual forces:
Eph. 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness,”
John writes, “We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one.”—1 John 5:19
But the church, the “called out ones,” has been called out from the control and authority of that darkness!
Col 1:13 “He has delivered us from the domain (the rule, authority and control) of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,”
—And then he has also called you out from the darkness of spiritual blindness:
2 Cor. 4:4 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
—And he has also called you out and delivered you from loving the darkness:
John 3:19-21 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
Since our salvation the things we once loved we hate!
Phil 3:7 “I once thought these things (of the world) were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.”
And the darkness he has called us out of includes the moral darkness covering our land—living only to gratify the lusts of the flesh:
Eph. 2:3 “…we all once lived in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by the sinful self], indulging the desires of human nature [without the Holy Spirit] and [the impulses] of the [sinful] mind.”
But now as “called out ones” we live to please the Lord!
Thank God, by his amazing GRACE and MERCY He called us OUT of this terrible darkness, and:
“Into His marvelous light.”
Paul didn’t just call it “His light”—he had to add “marvelous” to it!
His marvelous light is the light of knowledge, wisdom, holiness, joy unspeakable and full of glory!
It is the light of truth, and freedom, and peace, and eternal security made possible through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ!
He called us OUT of the darkness to bring us INTO His marvelous light!
So now the Bible describes the church this way:
“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as children of light!”—Eph. 5:8
The church, the “called out ones” are now the “children of light.”
So the church is comprised of people that have been delivered from darkness, brought into His marvelous light, and transferred into the kingdom of God’s dear Son!
That’s who we are!
“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people.”—1 Pet 2:10
And it then tells us the purpose for which God brought us into His light:
1 Pet. 2:9 “…so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
In other words, so you can go out and brag on Jesus!
It gets even better!
The Bible further describes the church as:
—ONE BODY spread out across the world: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”—1 Cor. 12:13
—ONE FAMILY: “Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.”—Eph. 2:19 LB
And one last powerful fact I’ll mention about the church today—the church is:
Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock (the revelation given to Peter) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”—Matt 16:18
We have 3 key words here—Hades, prevail, and Gates.
HADES is the realm of the dead—it signifies death.
The word “PREVAIL” is from a Greek word that means “to be strong against.”
In this verse it means “to have the strength to go into battle against a foe and get the upper hand.”
It’s the strength to fight; and it’s also the strength to win!
And GATES serve only two purposes—they keep people in and they keep people out.
But Jesus uses SHALL NOT PREVAIL in the negative.
He says that the forces of hell may fight against the church but they will NOT prevail, get the upper hand, win the victory!
The battle may be intense,
soldiers may go down on every side,
and the gates of Hades may win a few skirmishes,
but they will not win the war against the church!
Here’s why!
When Jesus rose from the dead he officially defeated Hades and Death!
Revelation 1:18 says. “I am the Living One. I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
When you’ve got the KEYS to something you can let people IN and you can let people OUT!
Jesus broke the gates of Hades wide open when He was resurrected and came away with the KEYS!
And the church has been handed the keys to letting people out of Hades and Death by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Matt. 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven;”
The “key” that lets you out of Hades and eternal death is the good news of Jesus Christ!
Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior],”
The church is:
A holy nation of CALLED OUT ones
And is GOD’S INSTRUMENT for invading the darkness!

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