We Belong Together — Part One
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We Belong Together — Part One

Romans 12:3–8  (ID: 2780)

Once we submit ourselves to Jesus’ lordship, the immediate effect isn’t necessarily dramatic activity but rather genuine humility. Examining Paul’s exhortation to think about our identity and role within God’s kingdom, Alistair Begg explains that a biblical view of ourselves as recipients of God’s mercy is the foundation for exercising our spiritual gifts. For the saints of God, humility, not ambition, is the root of healthy relationships.

Series Containing This Sermon

Shaped by Grace

Romans 12:1–21 Series ID: 26302

Sermon Transcript: Print

Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”


Father, we pray that, with our Bibles open before us, we will truly feed upon your Word, as we’ve just sung, and that we will listen to your voice, believing that when your Bible is taught that your voice is heard. And so it is for this we wait in humble expectation as we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Well, we looked last Sunday morning, and then, as some of you will know, in the evening, at the opening two verses of Romans chapter 12. It was my purpose last Sunday simply to do that, because of the nature of the Sunday and the launching of these sixty days and the beginning of what is something of an adventure for us as a church. But I was aware of the fact that it was dangerous to unearth these verses from their context. That’s why we took some time to set verses 1 and 2 in light of all that the “therefore” pointed us to. But subsequently, I thought about the fact that it’s also dangerous if we unearth them from the verses that follow. And so for that reason, we’re back here again this morning.

We’re not spiritually engaged unless our bodies are engaged, because our bodies are the key to engagement.

Paul, as we know now, has appealed to his readers, first of all, to offer their bodies as living sacrifices. This, we said, was Paul’s call to the people in Rome to be “all in” for God. Their sacrifice was to be living, unlike the Old Testament sacrifices, where the blood of an animal was shed. Jesus had made that one sacrifice; that was the great act of his mercy. And that sacrifice, in Old Testament terms, was “propitiatory,” and the sacrifice that is now to be offered by those who follow Jesus is not a propitiatory sacrifice—as if it availed something with God or secured benefit—but rather a dedicatory sacrifice, living and lasting, not momentary, not a flash in the pan, not a quick surge and then nothing, but a cross-country run for the rest of our lives. A lasting sacrifice. And at the same time, this sacrifice is to be logical. That’s why in some of your versions it reads, “[for this] is your reasonable service.”[1] And the reason the translators translated it “reasonable” is because they were taking the Greek word logikos, which gives us our word logical, and they were saying, “It just simply makes sense. There is a spiritual mathematics to this that demands this kind of response.”

And then he went on to say, “Offering your bodies to God in this way, you must make sure that you’re not conforming to the pattern of the world, but rather that you’re being transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And we noted last Sunday evening that there is a direct correlation between the offering up of our bodies as a living sacrifice and our minds being transformed by the truth of Scripture. None of us will ever offer our lives in this way to God unless our thinking is being entirely reoriented as a result of the Word of God.

And we noted carefully that the challenge of this resulted in the fact that we then would be able to “test and approve the will of God.” That doesn’t mean that we would find out what God’s will is, but rather it means that we would then make the discovery that God’s will is absolutely best, that God’s way is always best—“As for God, his way is perfect”[2]—and that we would not only make that discovery, but then that we would pledge ourselves to live in obedience in the discovery of that will of God.

Now, that was verses 1 and 2. Paul now goes on to exhort his readers to think properly about who and what they are and where and how they fit in the family of God. I think if you just look down, you can see that that’s a fairly accurate summary. “I want you to understand,” he says, “who you are, what you are, where you fit, and how you fit.” Last Sunday was for us Connection Sunday, and Paul is very, very clear here that if you’re in the family of God, you’re connected. And if you are connected, as it were, at that level—at that unseen level—it is incongruous not to be connected at the seen level. And the idea of spiritual worship being somehow or another divorced from our physicality is certainly not a New Testament concept. We’re not spiritually engaged unless our bodies are engaged, because our bodies are the key to engagement.  I can’t touch you without my body, I can’t hear you without my ears, I can’t sing without my lips, and so on. So spiritual engagement is a physical engagement. And it begs the question for those who, for example, choose to simply attend Parkside Church, actually believing and yet unprepared to be committed to being physically, organically joined to the fellowship of God’s people here. (A passing exhortation for some of you to attend our class that would help to resolve that potential dilemma.)

Now, it is important again, this morning, that we remind ourselves that Paul in this exhortation is not issuing a call to the man in the street. It’s not as if he’s gone out into the community at Rome and he’s saying to all the people in Rome, “I exhort you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices and holy and acceptable to God.” He’s gone out into Rome to preach the gospel; this is not the preaching of the gospel. This is the call of God as a result of the work of the gospel to the people of God to live in light of their calling. And that’s why it’s always important when you start, for example, all the way through a book to make sure that we know the recipients of the book. To whom is Paul writing? He’s writing to the saints of God. He’s writing to those who are in Christ. If you turn back to Romans chapter 1, you will see that he says in verse 6, “And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.” We already sang the phrase this morning in one of the songs, in the family of God, the people of God, “saints everyone.”[3]

I wonder, did you notice that? I wonder, did it register for you, because, along with me, you were reading your newspaper yesterday morning, and you were as intrigued as I was to discover that the late Pope John Paul is nudging closer and closer to beatification? Apparently, he’s heading for sainthood in May, provided he’s able to meet all of the qualifications—one of them being, very importantly, the power of healing that attaches to the one who becomes a saint. And Pope Benedict XVI has now attributed a medical miracle to the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II on Friday. In other words, somebody has been able to appeal to Pope John Paul, who has now been dead for a considerable time; he has then passed the word down the line; and as a result of it going down the line, a sister in Normandy, France, has been healed of Parkinson’s disease; and as a result of that, that makes it one step easier for him becoming a saint.

I’m quoting from the article yesterday: “The miracle involves the case of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre … a French nun … diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2001 …. Shortly after [Pope] John Paul II’s death, Sister Simon-Pierre began praying” That’s good! Hang on: “Began praying to the late pope for help.” How could the late pope help? “[And] her prayers were joined by other [sisters] of the … Catholic Maternity Wards … in Bourgoin-Jallieu, in south-western France. [And] in … 2005, her doctors found no signs of … illness.”[4]

I only mention that because I was reading in my Bible and I realized that Paul was writing to the saints in God. How did they become the saints in God? Because they were placed in Christ. They were sanctified. They were set apart from what they once were—1 Peter 2:[10], we’ve quoted it this morning: “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God.” The people of God are the saints of God. You can’t be made a saint by somebody else.  

So that’s the ones to whom he’s writing. He’s in need of the grace of God in order to do what he does. As an apostle, he says, “For by the grace given me I [now] say to every one of you…”[5] Paul recognized that it was as a result of God’s grace that he had the privilege of apostleship, that he had been set apart to service. And Paul is quite unashamed in attributing this to God. For example, in 1 Timothy 1 he says, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.”[6] So God had reached down into the life of Saul of Tarsus. He was living life upside down; he turned him the right way up, and he appointed him as his messenger. And he entrusted with him the responsibility of apostleship. And Paul says, “This is remarkable, because I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, but I was shown mercy.”[7] That’s Romans 12:1, isn’t it? “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God.” On account of God’s mercy, Paul has been redeemed, Paul has been entrusted with the responsibility of apostleship,  Paul now writes to everyone in this Roman context, and his exhortation to them is on the same basis that he finds himself with a standing before God.

Now, he is writing, he says, “[and I write and] I say to every one of you.” There is a comprehensive dimension to this. He’s not singling out a small group of people within the church in Rome. His expression here is to cover “every one”—all the people in the seats, all the people who are listening to this initial reading of the letter to the church at Rome.

And what he does is, first of all, give them a word of exhortation—and that’s in verse 3.  And then, in verses 4 and 5, he provides them with a straightforward illustration. And then, in verses 6 and 7, he makes application of that as it relates to the variety of spiritual gifts within the body. And that will be the template that we use for our study, which will extend into the evening hour on the strength of what happened in the first service.

An Exhortation toward Humility

First of all, then, exhortation. Here’s his exhortation. It comes after the colon if you’re using an NIV: “I say to every one of you,” colon—here it is—“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought”—that’s the negative; here’s the positive—“but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Well, let’s just take the first half to begin: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” I think it’s Phillips who paraphrases it, “[Do not] cherish exaggerated ideas of … your [own] importance.” That almost seems to have a greater and more immediate ring to it, doesn’t it? “Don’t be stuck on yourself,” he says. “Don’t imagine that you have something that you don’t have. Don’t exercise a prerogative that hasn’t been given to you. Don’t make these assumptions.  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.”

A gift can never be the source of spiritual pride. Because it’s a gift!

Now, the reason the exhortation is so comprehensive should be obvious to us—namely, that no one is immune from the problem of self-exaggeration. You don’t have to go beyond the kindergarten classes to see this in evidence.  You put a little group of children together, and eventually somebody will be singing their own praises, explaining to everybody, and they just… embryonic, obnoxious little creatures! And what they’re doing is they’re thinking of themselves more highly than they ought. And those who have significant gifts are in the greatest danger. Because Paul understands it is on account of the grace that God has given him that he has what he has. He has to remind himself of that, as I’ll show you in a moment. But we all do, all day, every day.

I haven’t had many deep thoughts in my life. In fact, I think this is my only deep thought. I’ve never shared it with you; I’ll tell you what it is now. Here it is: junk is junk. No matter where you go in the world, junk is junk. But you say, “Yeah, but I found something that it was in a junk store, and it wasn’t junk.” That’s right; it wasn’t junk. If it were junk, it would be junk, because junk is junk. You see how profound that is? I mean, it’s my best thought. And I’ve thought about my deep thought in relationship to the depth of thought that is here. A gift is a gift. A gift is a gift. Therefore, a gift can never be the source of spiritual pride. Because it’s a gift!  Therefore, when we take what is a gift and we attribute it to ourselves as if we earned it, or as if it is a credit to us, or as if somehow or another it is inherently ours, then we are in extreme danger of doing what he says not to do: cherishing exaggerated ideas of our own importance. Now, we’ll have to wait until we get to the application to work this out, but for now, notice this in passing: that Paul himself had to face this again and again.

And I’m pretty certain, when I meet Paul, that he will confirm for me that he had a problem in this area. After all, if you think about it, he was particularly bright, he had a very strong education, he was from the best kind of pedigree, he had a wonderful background, he was influential in the lives of people, and so on. Therefore, he is a prime target for cherishing exaggerated ideas of his own importance. And I think when you look at the way that Paul constantly couches things, constantly references things, it’s in keeping with the notion that if you listen to your pastor, you will find out his sins, because he’ll preach about them—because he’ll be applying the Bible to himself.

So Paul is honest when he says in 2 Corinthians 12, when he’s taking on the false apostles of the day, who are making all of these extremely elaborate claims about their knowledge of God, and he says in the third person, “And I knew a man who was caught up into the third heaven, and he saw things that you couldn’t even… that wouldn’t even be right to repeat.”[8] Of course, he’s speaking in the third person of himself. And then he says, “To keep me from becoming conceited … there was given me a thorn in [the] flesh, a messenger [from] Satan”[9]—“to show me my inherent weakness, to confront me with it again and again.” Why? “So that I will not cherish exaggerated ideas of my own importance. To keep me from getting a fat head, God did this.”[10]

I think, in the providence of God, in the goodness of God, this actually helps us to understand the place of physical illness, the challenges of interpersonal relationships, the daunting prospects of raising children. God knows what he’s doing. Can you imagine how obnoxious some of us would be, were it not for these necessary, uncomfortable, unrelenting elements in our lives?

You see, a desire for preeminence is the death knell of spiritual usefulness . A desire to be first is the death knell of spiritual usefulness. That is what makes 1 Corinthians so unnerving. Because in 1 Corinthians 3, when Paul chides the congregation in Corinth for the fact that they are worldly, and the reason for their worldliness is seen in the fact that they have decided to split into little factions and rally behind their favorite preacher, he says, “I shouldn’t have to address this with you. I should be able to address you as mature; I can’t because you’re just like infants, and your worldliness is seen in the fact that you’re attaching more significance to these people than any of them deserve. Because,” he says, “what, after all, is Paul? What, after all, is Cephas? What, after all, is Peter?” Then he says, “Only servants, through whom you came to believe. The one who plants and the one who waters is not anything, but only God who makes them grow.”[11]

And we’re not at the scary part yet. The scary part then comes when he says, “If a person exercises ministry in the realm of gold and silver and precious stones”—people said, “Oh, oh, golden, golden ministry; precious stones ministry, you know. This is beautiful, beautiful!”—“or wood, hay, and stubble, the Day will bring it to light.”[12] What day? The judgment day. And here’s the most unnerving thing: one cannot trust the judgment of the crowd. The worst possible situation to be in would be to find ourselves tremendously influential, wonderfully apparently successful, and totally unaware of the fact that what we’re dealing with is not gold and silver and precious stones, but it’s actually wood, hay, and stubble.  Because somehow, in the economy of God, in the vastness of his wisdom, it suits his purposes to continue to allow that illusion to go on and on and on, because at the end of the day, everything will be finally resolved. That’s why the warnings of the Bible—that’s why the exhortations of the Bible—are so pressing.

Now, let me step back from it just a minute and ask you, do you find verse 3 surprising? Look at it again. Look at where it comes: after verses 1 and 2. You say, “Well, that’s another deep thought there; that’s wonderful.” No. Verse 3 comes after 1 and 2. Let’s suppose that none of us had verse 3 and following in our Bibles—that somehow or another, someone had ripped all the Bibles apart, and we only had Romans 12:1–2. And we all got together, and we only got as far as 2, and people began to say, “Oh, I bet I know what verse 3 says.” Because the way Romans 12:1–2 is often used—and not in an illegitimate way—is as it was used last Sunday: to say, “Come on, we’re all in!” Right? This is what God is asking for; he’s asking for us to be unreservedly committed to him. And so, very often, when you hear sermons on Romans 12:1–2, it ends up with a call to missionary service, it ends up to a call to fulfill a vision, or whatever it might be—which, I say, is entirely fine. It’s not to abuse the Scriptures. But isn’t it interesting that he goes to verse 3 after such a striking and strong call? “Living sacrifices. Transformed minds.” And then he says, “And the way that this will be obvious is in humility.” Humility. So you see the humble girl, the humble guy, and you could say, “There goes a Romans 12:1–2 girl. There goes a Romans 12:1–2 lady. There she goes! Not marked by pride; marked by humility.” I find it exciting; I find it interesting.

Paul does it quite often, actually. Now, I only had time to look for one other, but in Colossians 1, where he does a similar thing and he’s explaining the nature of what it means to be in Christ, and he reaches a high point and he says, “Strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may…” May what? You know, “may go to the ends of the earth,” may whatever? No. “So that you may have … endurance and patience.”[13] That seems a bit of an anticlimax, doesn’t it? “Strengthened with all might according to his glorious power, so that I may be able to keep going.” Exactly! ’Cause that’s what I need to do—keep going. Don’t you? Stay on the horse. Keep it in the fairway. Put one foot in front of the other. Keep going. How am I going to do that? I need to be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might.” Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of your own importance. Why? Because you said that you’re going to offer your body as a living sacrifice. You said your mind is going to be renewed.

My significance, my identity, my role within the purposes of God is on account of who God is and what God has done, not on account of what I am and what I’m seeking to do for God.

Well, Paul does this again and again, doesn’t he? When he pens his song of Jesus in Philippians 2, he sets it up in that way: “Have this mind among you that was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God did not think equality with God something to be grasped but made himself of no reputation. And taking the form of a servant, he was found in the likeness of human flesh”[14] and so on? In other words, the way to up is down.

Now, this makes sense in light of what we’re going to see, because the exercise of spiritual gifts divorced from genuine selflessness creates a hotbed of chaos . It would be like taking a bunch of people together who all fancy themselves as playing in the Cleveland Orchestra. So they all show up with their trombones and their violins and their piccolos and everything else, and they’re all going, “Hey, me, me, me, me. Let me play, let me play, I want to play. I can play the trombone. …” “That’s not one of our songs. We’re not using that one,” and so on. The fact that they’re gifted—unless that giftedness is brought under the headship of the conductor, unless that giftedness is brought under the rule of the score, unless that giftedness is exercised in genuine selflessness and humility—then the fact they can play the trombone’s just a jolly nuisance! You don’t even want them playing it in their bedroom. Why? Because the part that they play has to be set within the part that another plays. And when I’m only interested in the part that I have to play, then I’ll only want to drown out whatever else someone designs.

Let me quote to you David Wells on the subject of humility. This is the best quote that I’ve found on humility in a long time. It comes from his book Losing Our Virtue. It’s on page 204. And this is what he says about humility:

Humility has nothing to do with depreciating ourselves and our gifts in ways we know to be untrue …. Even “humble” attitudes can be masks [for] pride. … Humility is that freedom from our self which enables us to be in positions in which we have neither recognition nor importance, neither power nor [validity], and even experience deprivation, and yet have joy and delight. It is the freedom of knowing that we are not [at] the center of the universe, not even in the center of our own private universe.[15]

An Exhortation toward Sober Judgment

Well, that’s how he states it negatively, and then he states it positively. Second half of the verse: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” Well, then, what should we do? Well, “Think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” In other words, the answer to the problem of pride is not self-denigration. Actually, self-denigration is the product of pride as well. It’s a dreadful problem of viewing myself in an exaggerated way—or viewing myself in a way that is entirely self-focused—is also found in pride, because it has to do with one’s comparison of oneself to someone else, either in terms of height, or in terms of weight or intellect or finance, or whatever it might be.

So the answer that Paul provides here is not, “You need to stop thinking of yourself as a big shot, and you need to think of yourself as a complete clodhopper.” No. “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but … think of yourself with sober judgment.” In other words, this is one of the ways in which a Christian has a renewed mind. To think of ourselves in a worldly way is just to constantly compare ourselves with other people. To think of ourselves in this way is to see myself as having value on account of God’s mercy and God’s grace—that my significance, that my identity, that my value, that my part, that my role within the purposes of God is on account of who God is and what God has done, not on account of what I am and what I’m seeking to do for God.  

If you have a congregation of people who try and identify themselves on the strength of what they are and what they do, it won’t be a very pleasant place.  If you have a congregation that understands that their identity as individuals and as a group is on account of who God is and what God has done for them, then it will be an entirely different place. Because then, you see, when people come in who are desperately aware of the fact that they’re not what they ought to be but they don’t know how to fix it, a congregation that doesn’t live in finding its identity in comparison with another congregation or an individual in comparison with another believer will be able then to say, “You can find all of that in the work of Jesus and in finding your identity in your union with the Lord Jesus.” And that is at the heart of all that Paul conveys. “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died…”[16] Well, when are you going to survey the wondrous cross? To “survey the wondrous cross” is to focus on the gospel—that another has died in our place and borne our punishment. “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died,” then I realize my richest gain is nothing: “My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”[17]

That’s why church is supposed to be radically different. You see, this is not Communism. This is not the obliteration of giftedness. This is not people who have more of the world’s resources saying, “I don’t have the world’s resources,” or “I’m going to get rid of them so that we’ve all got fifty dollars each and we’re fine.” No! What this is saying is, there is a huge diversity in us, in every way—culturally, ethnically, socially, etc. But when we come together in the context of the gospel, when we focus on the mercies of God, when we make assessments on the basis of the faith that God has given to us in relationship to the gifts that he’s provided for us, then these things, although not irrelevant, lose their significance in terms of our identity.

Sometimes I think a children’s song helps us as much as any, and one of my favorite children’s songs from the ’60s—I sing it every so often, actually, when I’m washing my hair in the shower; I shouldn’t give you all these details—but I sing this particular verse in the shower, but not the first one. Can you imagine Isaac Watts writing a hymn, or Horatius Bonar writing a hymn, or Nicholaus Zinzendorf writing a hymn that began, “If I were a butterfly…”? It’s hard to imagine. But anyway, Howard got it into the hymnody of the church, for a while at least, and it’s still in my recollection:

If I were a butterfly
I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings
[And] if I were a robin in a tree
I’d thank you Lord that I could sing
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[And] if I were a crocodile
I’d thank you Lord for my [big] smile

And here’s the shower one:

[And] if I were a fuzzy, wuzzy bear
I’d thank you Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair
But I just thank you Father for
making me, me.
[Because] you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
[And] you gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me.[18]

Would I like to be someone else? Maybe. But I am who God made me to be, and so are you. And when we allow the adjudication of Scripture to settle these issues, then suddenly all our best gifts and the peculiar facets of our DNA that attach to us, they become all the more attractive and all the more useful. Because the only accurate way to understand ourselves is, as I say, by what God is and by what God has done, and not by what we are and by what we do for him.

Well, that’s his exhortation. He then goes on to illustration, but we don’t have time to go on to illustration right now. We’ll come back to it this evening, God willing.

Let me give you one final illustration one of my elders gave to me not so long ago, thinking about the difference that happens when our minds are transformed into thinking in this way. And it is a process; it’s not a moment in time. It’s a constant recalibration, isn’t it? It’s a constant “Uh-oh, wait a minute, stop that.”

The desire for preeminence is the death knell of spiritual usefulness.

1946, the president of Dartmouth College said to the graduating class—this is just after the end of the Second World War—said to the graduating class… (Did the Second World War end in 1945? Yeah? Okay.) He said to them, “There is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix”[19]—that’s 1946—“and so, let’s go out and try and be a little better.” It’s understandable.

This past year, the present president of Dartmouth, President Jim Yong Kim, referencing the presidential address of 1946, said to the graduating class of 2010, “YOU are the ‘better human beings’ that we’ve all been waiting for.”[20] That is the spirit of the age. Now, there’s no question that the graduating class of Dartmouth and other graduating classes represent tremendous possibility for the future, in relationship to the arts and the sciences and business and so on. But at the very heart of it is a notion which puts me, which puts you, right at the very center of the universe.

And until we recognize how entirely dependent we are upon God—his grace, his mercy, for faith, for giftedness, and so on—then we will fail to take seriously this, and we will be less than useful. Because I say to you again, the desire for preeminence is the death knell of spiritual usefulness.  “Let another praise you.”[21] “Choose the lower seat. Let them ask you to move up.”[22] You don’t need to blow your own trumpet, and neither do I. And therefore, we shouldn’t. And therefore, we mustn’t. And therefore, by God’s grace, we won’t.

Let us pray:

O Lord God, we want to be a community that is marked by the selflessness of Christ—the encouragement, the genuine fellowship in the gospel that doesn’t seek to deny the diversity that is represented among us, but instead recognizes that the unity which is found under the lordship of Jesus and the harmony that is enjoyed among the people of Jesus is actually all tied up with the diversity that has been created by Jesus. So we embrace all of our distinctives. We recognize that we are on a variety of scales—intellectually, socially, physically—and that we’re better together than any one of us is on our own. And as we look to the future of our church and we try to think these things out, we pray that the mind of Christ might increasingly be ours, so that we might live in this kind of harmony and usefulness. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] Romans 12:1 (KJV).

[2] Psalm 18:30 (NIV 1984).

[3] Wayne Watson, “People of God” (1982).

[4] Stacy Meichtry, “Pope John Paul II Gets Closer to Sainthood,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2011. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703959104576081470324314238.

[5] Romans 12:3 (NIV 1984).

[6] 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV 1984).

[7] 1 Timothy 1:13 (paraphrased).

[8] 2 Corinthians 12:2–4 (paraphrased).

[9] 2 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV 1984).

[10] 2 Corinthians 12:7–9 (paraphrased).

[11] 1 Corinthians 3:1–7 (paraphrased).

[12] 1 Corinthians 3:12–13 (paraphrased).

[13] Colossians 1:11 (NIV 1984).

[14] Philippians 2:5–7 (paraphrased).

[15] David F. Wells, Losing Our Virtue (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 204.

[16] Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (1707).

[17] Watts, “When I Survey.”

[18] Brian M. Howard, “The Butterfly Song” (1974).

[19] John Sloan Dickey, convocation address (Hanover, NH, Dartmouth College, 1946).

[20] Jim Yong Kim, “Valedictory to the Seniors” (Hanover, NH, Dartmouth College, June 13, 2010).

[21] Proverbs 27:2 (NIV 1984).

[22] Luke 14:10 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.