HOW DO PEOPLE PERCEIVE ME?

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HOW DO PEOPLE PERCEIVE ME?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

10 JUNE 1990

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Deuteronomy 4:32-40
Matthew 16:13-17
            28:16-20
John 3:3
1Timothy 6:16, 20-21
Hebrews 12:14

Preparation Verse: (Hebrews 12:14)

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

How do people perceive Me?

How do you perceive Me?

These are questions that God asks us.

Listen to one of these times when Jesus asked His disciples in Matthew 16:13-17.

13. Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

14. And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."

15. He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

16. And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17. And Jesus answered and said to Him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Why did some people perceive that Jesus was someone else?

Their frame of reference was different.

They saw with a different set of eyes.

But what was different about Peter's frame of reference?

Why did he recognize Jesus as Christ?

Look back at our preparation Bible verse for this morning, Hebrews 12:14.

14. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

In order to pursue peace with all men, and women, we have to truly be filled with God's love, for we must be able to see through each other’s sins.

We must be able to see the perfect being that God intended each of us to be.

We must be sanctified and made holy, and then we can see clearly and in the proper frame of reference.

That is, if we are willing to have this happen to us.

This is what happened to Peter; he was willing, and the Holy Spirit gave him this spiritual insight, just as He will do for each of us.

Peter saw Jesus as the perfect human being, without sin, that He is, unlike the other disciples – a condition that only belongs to God – and thus He had to be the Christ.

Peter saw Jesus with spiritual eyes.

But even after Jesus rose from the dead, some didn't recognize Him, and were doubtful.

Note what we are told in Matthew 28:16-20.

16. But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.

17. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some were doubtful.

18. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

20. teaching them to observe all that I command you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

But like some of His disciples who doubted, some doubt today; for they no longer see Jesus as a physical person and their perception of Him is limited to a body.

And if we have trouble perceiving Jesus, who took on the body of man, how then can we perceive our heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, who have no such body?

And even more confusing to our earthly perception of the Trinity is that we try to visualize how three human-like beings could exist in one body.

And the answer is: they can't.

But God is not flesh and blood, as Jesus reminded Peter, for it was not flesh and blood that revealed the truth about who Jesus is.

Our heavenly Father, who is spirit, enlightened Peter.

Let me give you an example. I am a physical being just like you, and you most likely perceive me as such.

But how else do you perceive me?

Most likely as your pastor, for that is the frame of reference in which you most often see me.

But what about the people who work in our office in Rensselaer; how do you think they perceive me?

They most likely see me as a businessman and their boss, and even though they see me at times performing pastoral duties, I seriously doubt they would consider me as a pastor first, for that is not their frame of reference.

And what about our clients? They see the same things as do those who work with me, yet I doubt if any of them would see me as their boss, but more likely as a type of employee or consultant.

Their frame of reference is different still.

Yet I am still the same person.

The only way that those who work with me and our clients would recognize me as their pastor, or as a pastor primarily, would be if they were part of this congregation.

Then all of our frames of reference would have a common focal point.

And in order to perceive God as a Trinity, and yet as One, we must acquire a common frame of reference.

Look back at our preparation Bible verse for this morning, Hebrews 12:14, again.

14. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

Do you remember what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3?

3. …"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Unless we have received the spiritual eyes that come with our rebirth, to see into the kingdom of heaven, we cannot see the Lord or understand the things that are not physical, but are spiritual.

God is spirit!

God is not physical.

If three of us were standing together, there is no way that we could occupy the same space, nor can all of us be everywhere at once, as is God.

So, in order to understand God, we must perceive Him in His frame of reference.

The spiritual world is invisible to us through our physical eyes, so in order to see spiritually, we must first let go of the physical imagery we have in our minds and allow Godly spiritual imagery to enter.

God in His love has shown us His spiritual imagery through His signs and wonders; and Moses reminded the people in Deuteronomy 4:32-40, so that we might truly believe and understand.

32. "Indeed, ask now concerning the former days which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and inquire from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything been done like this great thing, or has anything been heard like it?

33. "Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived?

34. "Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

35. "To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him.

36. "Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire.

37. "Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by his great power,

38. driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today.

What God has done in taking the Israelites out of Egypt is beyond human ability.

In His love, God showed the people the terrible fire of His Glory, and He spoke to them from its midst and out of the heavens.

And even though Moses uses personification to describe God's works, it doesn't literally mean that God has a body like us.

His realm is different from ours; and while in our presence, He shields us from seeing His presence directly, so that we might live; for no sin can exist in the presence of our holy and righteous God.

Moses continues, so that we might understand more fully:

39. "Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.

40. "So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time."

If we perceive God as a man, we are more likely to act before Him as we would before any other man.

But God is not a man.

Only in the form of Jesus, do we perceive the man; but God is spirit, and not man.

Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy, wrote about the glorified Jesus in the presence of His heavenly Father (1Timothy 6:16):

16. who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

Here again we see the light of God's unapproachable holiness.

No human has seen it or can see it.

But because we have perceived Jesus, we can also know God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Try to perceive God the Trinity in His spiritual realm.

Picture us here upon the earth looking at the sun at midday. Isn’t it too bright to look at?

Yet we are 93,000,000 miles away from it.

Its radiation is so intense that we can burn, if exposed to it for any length of time.

And as bright as we perceive the sun, God is ever so many times brighter.

If we would try to approach the sun, we would be burned up.

It would be even more intense with God.

So in our sinful state, we cannot even attempt to approach God.

And God recognizes our lost condition without being able to come back to Him.

Unless we come to God, we will end up in hell; and if we try, we will be burned up.

So God, in His great love, reached out to us through His Spirit.

God's Spirit is like a radio or television signal being transmitted from the most powerful transmitter, and He radiates from God in all directions, as do radio and television signals.

And just like radio and television signals, we do not perceive what they are until we tune them in.

And even when tuning it in, we have not seen the signal itself, but only the display of it.

But the Holy Spirit is much more than a signal. He is God in a form that won't hurt us; but being God, He reveals Himself to us.

His ever presence is known in the form of the conviction we feel inside when we do something against His will, and we refer to Him as our conscience.

But unless we are willing to "tune-in" the Holy Spirit, we will never come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Father, because it is the Holy Spirit who reveals Himself in these forms.

And when we tune in the Holy Spirit, on His channel, we get in our mind the image of God, and the form of Jesus Christ, so that we might relate to Him and, through Him, to the entire Trinity; for Jesus is God with a face and form.

It is only Jesus who is truly in the Image of God, for He is the only sinless one of all humans; but through the unction of the Holy Spirit we can be conformed into His image.

We are not now in God's image, for we have sin within us; but one day we will be changed into His image, if we have truly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

When this happens, we will be in the heavenly spiritual realm.

And we can perceive this now, if we tune God in.

But we can't do this with worldly knowledge; we must do this on heavenly faith.

And if you would permit the changing of Timothy's name to our own, let the words of the Holy Spirit through Paul, in 1 Timothy 6:20-21, close our sermon for this morning.

20. O Timothy [My beloved], guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge" –

21. which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.

Grace be with you.

Amen.

Amen!

Your Comments are welcome

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