Welcome to the Family

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Acts 11:1-18 | October 20 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
October 20
Welcome to the Family | Acts 11:1-18
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Out of our bondage and sorrow and night, Jesus, we come, Jesus, we come. Into Thy freedom gladness and light, Jesus, we come to thee. Out of our sickness into Thy health, out of our wanting and into Thy wealth, out of our sin and into Thy self, Jesus, we come to thee. We come and we ask You to speak. Give us ears to hear, hearts to understand, wills to obey. We pray that You would speak and we would be listening. Jesus, come, we pray. Amen.

How do you know who’s a part of your family? Well, it depends on your family, I suppose. For some, they may say that you look just like your mom, just like your dad. Perhaps you have a familial relationship which is obvious to others. And your family, you’re sitting with them now, and maybe you go and you’ll drive home and you’ll go to your house or your apartment and that will be your family. Your children, by birth, by adoption, by fostering, your children, your family. That’s what we usually think of. That’s, that’s my family. Others of you will be able to tell of kids and grandkids scattered around, or you’ll talk of family that’s already in heaven.

Some speak of a corporate sort of family. You find this language more and more often. You know, the Novant family, or I don’t know, you can tell me later, do they speak of the Bank of America family? The Chick-fil-A family? The BoJangles family? I’m thinking of chicken, I guess. [laughter] The Clemson, the Alabama, the Chapel Hill family. Your, you’re current students, you’re alumnus. Or maybe it’s a particular nation, ethnicity, or tribe and you think of that, that’s our family. You’re Scottish, you’re Latino, you’re Dutch, you ain’t much, whatever it might be.

Most often we think of belonging to a family by virtue of blood, maybe employment, common affiliation. That’s our family.

But what about the most important family in the world?

If we had time to look at what Jesus says about the family, we’d see pretty quickly that as important as mother, father, children are, Jesus relativizes that family. He says “Who are My mother and brothers and sisters? It’s those who do the will of My Father in heaven. They’re My mother and brothers and that’s my family.” Jesus relativizes. There is no doubt that what we call the nuclear family is absolutely essential, it is the building block in any civilization, and yet at the same time it is not the most important family. It is not, but definition, eternal, transcendent.

There’s a difference between orthodox evangelical Christianity and Mormonism.

No, what is the most important family? It is not the family that you have by blood, it is not the family that you may drive home with later this afternoon. It is the family of God. It is the family that has God as their heavenly Father, Jesus Christ the Son as their elder brother, and the Holy Spirit bringing us together in community. That is the most important family, and if you belong to Christ this morning, no matter how far away your family is, how estranged you may be, how tenuous it may seem right now, you belong to the most important family, the eternal family of God.

So how do we define this family? How can you tell who belongs in the family? You can’t just say, well, they have a certain skin or a certain hair or they dress a certain way. What do you have to do to get into this family? And who is welcome to join?

That’s what our text this morning is about. If you turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter 11. Last week we looked at Acts chapter 10, the long story repeated several times of Peter and Cornelius and the vision, that what has been unclean is now clean, and we looked at that story from the individual level. What did this mean for Cornelius and who was he and what happened? And now we have another retelling of the same incident, and this is going to invite a bigger picture view of things.

So follow along as I read, Acts chapter 11.

“Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, ‘You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.’ But Peter began and explained it to them in order: ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as He gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?’ When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.'”

As I said last week, this is one of the critical sections in Acts. We see that both by the length of chapter 10 and the number of repetitions. First it happens, Cornelius tells that it happens, now Peter retells it again. Chapter 10 and 11 tell the same story, but they focus on two different elements. Chapter 10 we looked at Cornelius, his individual story. Now here in chapter 11, what does this mean for the Church?

Notice though the story is the same, you don’t find the name Cornelius in chapter 11. There’s mention that a man, but clearly the focus is now not on this man Cornelius/what happened to him, but rather what does this represent for the work of the Gospel and the expanding nature of the family of God?

I want to look at this text in three parts. The challenge, the change, and the chance to belong. And as we month through, I hope we will have an answer to that over-arching question: What does it mean and who can belong to the family of God?

So first, look at the challenge that’s presented in this text. We see it in verse 1 – apostles and brothers. Notice there the familial language. And Judea heard it. So the message got to Judea before Peter did. How did that happen? They didn’t have telephones, they didn’t have internet, but somehow the word spread quickly from person to person, running ahead. This was a big deal. Peter was up on the coast in Caesarea. And the word spread, and it seems that it was favorably received throughout Judea that the Gentiles had received the Word of God. At least elsewhere in Acts where it uses that language as receiving, it’s generally a favorable impression, but not all were favorably disposed.

Verse 2, the circumcision party. Now this is not a party that has circumcision. Hardly a party. But it is an informal sort of group of critics, naysayers. They’re ready to greet them. Don’t you hate it when this happens? Some great moment in life, feeling good, riding high, ready to share with others, and then boom, right there, your critics. Well, here it was for Peter the circumcision party. Not an organized group at this point, maybe a nucleus that would later be a faction. But these were the people, the Jews that were especially concerned about keeping Jewish rituals, the food laws, the celebrations, and in particular circumcision. They already had a reputation for being particularly fastidious. Perhaps it was the recycling party or the non-GMO party or some such a group with very particular convictions.

So circumcision is just a symbol of bigger completes. Their real concerns were food and fellowship. That is not what it means to be a good Jew. That’s not what it looks like to be the people of God. You’re going to eat that food and you’re going to fraternize with these people?

Now, from our side of the Jew-Gentile divide, separated by 2000 years and infused with American ideals, most of us are quick to roll our eyes at such “perfunctories.” It’s easy to feel morally superior to the circumcision party. Think, “Oh, boy, these people are really uptight. They’re bent out of shape. It’s just pride, it’s jingoism, it’s just bigotry, it’s just they don’t like strangers and they don’t like other ethnicities.” But you have to understand where this division, Jew-Gentile, came from. There was a noble purpose behind it, or at least at the beginning there was. It may have morphed into something else, but think of the language in Exodus 19 at the foot of Mount Sinai when God says “you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” In other words, “You’re a people who are for Me, you’re set apart.”

And then with the giving of the 10 commandments, that prologue, “I brought you out of Egypt, therefore you shall have no other gods before Me.” The Jews were His special people, with special requirements.

Turn, for example, to Leviticus chapter 20, verse 22. You see this language throughout the Pentateuch. In Leviticus 20, third book of the Bible, verse 22, “You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things and therefore I detested them. But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore separate the clean beasts from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. You shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.”

We see something similar in Deuteronomy chapter 7, over and over again there is this refrain, “You are a treasured possession, a holy people, I separated you, I don’t what you to be like all the other nations, I’m going to give you their land.”

So many of the Jews, quite rightly, we might think, were intent on maintaining their unique identity as God’s chosen people. Now, it may have morphed into a kind of ethnic pride and jingoism, but at least in its pure form, it was about being holy as God was holy. It was about keeping themselves free from the taint and the syncretistic practices of the nations.

So put yourself in their mindset. Now, let me say clearly, this is not the case today, but it would feel to us like this. Somebody says, “You know what? I had a vision and I met this person and from now on sex before marriage, go for it. It’s clean. Have fun. Go at it.” Okay, don’t take that off the internet somewhere and do that clip. That, that’s not the case. That hasn’t changed. But can you, can you feel that? I mean, the weight of that would be… Now maybe there’s a few people quietly “yay,” but most people saying, “Um, that was your last sermon, Pastor. Congratulations. That doesn’t sound right. That is not what we have been dealing with. We are a holy people.”

So, it, it felt to them, it landed on them, with that kind of weight. This is who we are, this is what it means to follow God. So there is a challenge. This was not simply, “Hey, would you just love people? Would you just be nice to people?” And you know, we hear that message all the time and diversity and multicultural, inclusion, it’s everywhere. This seems like the most obvious no-brainer. In fact, why don’t you, you know, put this on your banner as a church and it’s gonna be good PR. You’ll probably get corporate sponsors. That’s not how it felt to them. It’s not how it would have felt to most of us.

So there’s a challenge, but go back to Acts, there is a change. Now the accusation against Peter is no small thing. Verse 3: “You are eating with these uncircumcised men.” Peter has a lot of explaining to do, so he tries to lay things out in order. They’ve heard by apostolic telephone, but now he wants to give them straight. The Cornelius event is described again in chapter 11 in such a way as to leave no doubt that God was enfolding into one new people of God Gentiles along with Jews.

Now, put a finger there in Acts 10 and 11 and then flip back to Acts 2. Let me show you a few things, so you can see what’s going on. Look at Acts 2:38: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” That’s what happens at the end of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost.

You go back to chapter 10:43: “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

So Peter’s sermon at Pentecost ends the same way his little mini sermon for Cornelius ends.

I’ll show you again. Go back to Acts 2:11: “Both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.'”

And then verse 46 of chapter 10: “For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.”

So both incidents have speaking in tongues. Peter recalled Christ’s words about being baptized, so this time go back to chapter 1, verse 5. This is Jesus saying: “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So that was Jesus saying, “Here’s Pentecost.” Pentecost is the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s word about being baptized by the Holy Spirit.

And then go to chapter 11, verse 16, and you see there again: “I remember the Word of the Lord.” K? So I remember what Jesus said in Acts 1:5. Acts isn’t written yet. John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Do you see in these connections what we are meant to see plainly is that the event with Cornelius and his household is the Pentecost for the Gentiles. Acts 2, we remember the birthday of the Church, but most of our Gentiles here, Acts 10 would be the birthday of the Church for people like us. So Acts 2 you have preaching for the forgiveness of sins, the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s words, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in tongues, and then in chapter 10, you see the same thing: Preaching for the forgiveness of sins, remembering John the Baptist’s words, speaking in tongues.

Which is why in Acts 11:15, “‘As I began to speak,’ Peter says, “‘the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.” He means at the beginning of this outpouring of the Spirit, namely for us that day of Pentecost.

Peter retells the story, and it’s told by Luke in 10 and 11, to make plain that this was Pentecost for the Gentiles just as had had happened for the Jewish diaspora gathered in Jerusalem in chapter 2, now happens for Cornelius and the Gentiles in Acts 10. Luke is not suggesting this is the normative pattern for all Christians at all times in all places. He rather traces these corporate experiences of the Spirit to show the fulfillment of prophecy and to trace the continuing movement of salvation history.

Just show you one more thing. Go to Acts chapter 8. We skipped over this passage; we’re not doing all of Acts. But look at Acts 8:14: “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for He had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”

Where are we in Acts 8? We are in Samaria.

Where does the Gospel go? Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth.

So these episodic events of the Holy Spirit coming, and often with the speaking of tongues, are to mark out in this beginning of the church age the spread of the Gospel, first there in Jerusalem. chapter 8 to Samaria, and chapter 10 in a way is to the ends of the earth because now Pentecost has been poured out on the Gentiles.

Now notice what Peter says to reinforce this. He doesn’t just say, “I have a big, massive change and I was just, I was praying about it by myself and God gave me this word.” Rather, he says over and over, “God hit me with this.” So this is not just a subjective experience that he is going to then leverage upon the whole Church. He says, in verses 4 through 6: “I saw a divine vision.” Verses 7 through 10: “I heard a divine voice.” Verses 11 through 14: “I received instruction from the divine Spirit.” Verses 15 through 17: He witnessed divine manifestation. All of that, over and over, is to say, “God said this, God showed this, God did this, and it wasn’t just me. I’m not just telling you a private revelation that I had. But we were there and the six men sent me. And it wasn’t just me, but Cornelius,” he doesn’t His name, “but he also had received an angelic vision.”

So this isn’t to give credence for people now or since or later to say, “Well, it seems to me that we ought to do this because God told me,” but rather Peter has it, Cornelius has it, the Gentiles have received it, and Peter tells the story to say, “This was not my idea, this is not my doctrine, this has obviously been orchestrated by the Lord from start to finish. I was not looking for this. God is making known He is the God of the Jews and the God of the Gentiles.” It’s a massive change.

Which leads to a question which is probably worth considering for just a few minutes, and I’ve heard this often, maybe you have as well. People will look at changes like this in salvation history and often this particular episode in Acts 10 and 11 and say, “Well, why can’t this happen again? Why can’t God change our way of thinking again?” And then often there’s something about perhaps changes in how God views sexuality, or how He views marriage, or desire. And people will say, “Well, look, Peter received a vision that what was for all those years was unclean was now clean. Who’s to say that God might not do a similar Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit? And tell us to change and tell the Church hey, you’ve been doing it one way, but now you’ve gotta do it another way. And just because everyone in Church history until 10 minutes ago said that kind of relationship and that kind of behavior was unclean, now the Spirit’s doing a new thing to say it is clean, and we have precedence for God doing that in Acts 10 and 11.”

How do you assess that logic?

Let me give you a few thoughts. One, notice that no one was looking for this change in the early Church. It came to Peter while he was in a trance. This is important. It’s not as if the cultural mood among the Jews was everyone is sort of pressing them to be more accepting of Gentiles. This is far different from voices today who always seem to want a Cornelius kind of change just at the exact moment when the culture wants that kind of change. There was nothing in the culture saying “change, change, change, change, change” and Peter went looking for and got a vision. They weren’t looking for this.

Second thought, as you assess this logic, is to remember the finality of God’s revelation in Christ and in the Scriptures. That sort of revisionist argument may sound good, but it undermines the sufficiency of Scripture. And remember the sufficiency is somewhat different than the authority. People may say, “Well, I believe the Bible is all true. I believe in the authority of Scripture. I’m not questioning the authority of Scripture.” But what they are questioning is the sufficiency of Scripture. Has God given us enough? Has He given us sufficient, or do we believe in open canon or continuing revelation?

So here, in the apostolic age, where yes, the salvation redemptive history is still unfolding, and God sent His Spirit, Christ sent His Spirit that He might lead the disciples into all truth, to reveal those things to us, but we are in a far different state now that God’s redemption and revelation have been completed in Christ.

And then most important, just a third consideration, you have to remember that the inclusion of the Gentiles had been foretold for all of Israel’s history. Way back in Genesis 12. Abram, you’re going to be Abraham. You’re going to be My people. And what are you going to be? A father of nations.

Isaiah 49: It’s too small a thing that you should be just a suffering servant for the lost tribes of Israel; I’ll make you a light to the nations.

Or Psalm 87: “That on that day those in Babylon and Cush and among the enemies of God, will say ‘this one was born in Zion.”

Or the prediction of the outpouring of the Spirit in Joel chapter 2, or in Mark 7 where Jesus Himself pronounced all foods clean.

In other words, this was not a change that had no precedence anywhere in the history of God’s redemption, that just came out of the blue. This was rather the fulfillment of many, many passages that had already predicted this sort of change, this new inclusion of the Gentiles into the people of God.

So there’s a challenge, there’s the change, and then finally the chance to belong.

So look at verse 18: “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.'”

So here’s the question: How could the Gentiles be included?

Remember, from Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy… The reason for the separation was not originally, you know, Gentiles have cooties, we don’t like people different than us. No, you’re going to be polluted by them. They have their own practices, you have yours. In order to be holy, you don’t associate with them.

So what changed? Well, some people say, “Well, God must have changed, and He decided holiness wasn’t a big deal,” or other people act like the separation was just bigotry from the get-go and now they’re enlightened. But what’s really going on?

What’s really going on is that Christ has fulfilled those ceremonial aspects of the law. Inclusion of the Gentiles didn’t just happen. God made it happen. That’s Ephesians chapter 2.

At first we have our reconciliation with God vertically, that we were dead in trespasses but by grace we have been saved, and then in Ephesians 2:11-16, therefore those who have been reconciled vertically with God can be reconciled horizontally with each other because He has removed these barriers. It’s Colossians chapter 2, that nailed to the cross were these regulations.

The Gentiles can now belong to the people of God, not because it no longer mattered if they were holy, but because Christ could make them holy.

So mark this very well. God did not relax His standards, He expanded His transforming grace. And it’s a transforming grace. He could forgive them, He could include them, and He could make them new. It didn’t just happen. God said, “Ah, enough, this has been really too strict for a long time.” Rather, all of that was fulfilled in Christ, so that because of the work of Christ those on the outside could be brought near.

Let me show you this from Jesus Himself. Turn to Mark chapter 1. In verses 40 through 45, Jesus encounters a leper. “A leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If You will, You can make me clean.'” So right there we’re dealing with these same kind of purity standards. Here it has to do with ritual cleanness, because skin disease made you ritually unclean. In Acts, we’re talking about cleanliness that comes from eating the right food and celebrating the right holidays and having the right sign in your flesh. It’s about being clean.

“Moved with pity,” verse 41, “He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.’ But,” okay, Jesus told him don’t do this. It’s not because Jesus is against evangelism, but at this point in the beginning of His ministry He knows this is just going to make it more difficult, people are not going to understand what sort of messiah He is, it’s going to get Him in trouble before His time has come, so He told him, “don’t mention it.” “But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to Him from every quarter.”

Now you’ve heard that story before, many of you, and you know it as a miracle story, or a compassion story, but have you also seen it before as a story of an exchange? Where were lepers? They were out. They were excluded. They were away. They were unclean. They were a danger, physically a danger of other people catching the disease, but also ritually unclean. So this man, this leper, starts the story and he’s on the outside. Jesus says “be clean.” He’s brought on the inside, now he can go the priest. He can pay his dues.

But do you see what’s happened to Jesus by the end of the story? The leper and the Lord have changed places, so that now Jesus can no longer openly enter a town, so that Jesus is out in desolate places. Yes, because the crowds are coming, yes, because they don’t understand, but thematically Mark is teaching us something. The outcast has become the insider, and the Son of Man is willing to become an outcast so that those outcasts can be brought near to the heart of God. So that the leper can come, Jesus will be cast out.

This change with the cleanliness laws, this change with the Gentiles didn’t just happen because God woke up and said, “It’s not a big deal.” Christ made it happen, trading His place for ours. So Jesus doesn’t overlook uncleanness, He conquers it. He doesn’t just conquer it, He trades places with it.

Which brings us back to where we started: How do you come to belong to the family of God? That was the Jew-Gentile issue, because they thought, “Well, you’re part of the family of God with these certain Jewish taboos.”

Who belongs to the family? Well, you see in chapter 11, verse 14, “He will declare to you a message by which you will be saved.” It’s the message that will make you saved. So you belong to the family of God in two ways, which are really just one way described two different ways: Faith, repentance.

We see it in chapter 10, verse 43: “To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone [who] believes in Him receives the forgiveness of sins.”

And then in verse 18 of chapter 11, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

So first it’s told as faith that leads to life, chapter 11, repentance that leads to life, because they are two ways of describing the same reality.

Even Cornelius, that devout, decent, religious, respectable man, maybe like some of you, decent, devout, respectable, religious, but not saved, he had to repent and believe.

There are some 25 times in the book of Acts where belief is the required response. There are nine other times where repentance only is given as the required response to the Gospel, and then there are a number of times where the two are brought together. Where one or the other is said to be the means by which you enter the family of God. Repent and be baptized, that’s how you join.

Or Acts 2:44: “All who believed were together.”

Acts 17:34: “Some men joined and believed.”

Acts 11: “A great number turned to the Lord and believed.”

Acts 19: “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling them to believe in the One to come.”

Or Acts 20:21: “Repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There’s only one way into this family, and it’s described with those two words: Faith, repentance.

We must not require less. Some people say, “Hey, were just all God’s children, we all belong to His family.” Hardly. “To all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God who were born not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God.”

So we don’t want to say less, but we don’t what to require more. Yes, yes, yes, faith and repentance, but…. It would kind of help If you looked like me and lived in my sort of neighborhood, came from where I’m from, do the things I do, maybe don’t watch these things, do these things. You know, nothing hard, just kind of be more like me.

And we don’t want to require one or the other. Some kind of repentance but no faith. Or some kind of faith but no real repentance. That’s not the Gospel. That’s not how you enter. Hey, just feel a lot of shame and feel really bad and confess that you’re broken and that your life is off track and, you know, that’s enough. Well, that’s not real repentance and it’s certainly not real faith, because it doesn’t have Christ as its object.

But neither do we want faith without repentance, people just say, “Come to Jesus, believe in Jesus,” and they never tell you “and turn from your sin.” If you put your faith in Christ and never turn from your sin, you didn’t understand what it was to put your faith in Christ, because you cannot have true repentance without true faith, you cannot have true faith without true repentance.

The only way to enter the family of God is by faith and repentance.

Now that’s a narrow gate, but the good news is it’s a gate that anyone can enter. There’s nothing else required. It doesn’t matter who your daddy is, or where you’re from, or what you look like. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, or what you’ve done with your life to this point, or whether you speak this language or some other language. So it’s a narrow gate, but it’s a gate that anyone can enter.

Faith and repentance. There’s nothing you can do to earn it, you can only receive it. And you only receive it by faith and repentance. That’s what it means to belong to the family of God. If you have people in this big room who have repented of their sins and turned to Christ, they are your family. And they will be your family for all eternity. And you have more in common with them than you do with your own flesh and blood who do not know Christ.

Repentance. Acknowledge all that you lack.

Faith. Cling to the only One who can give you all that you need.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we pray that today would be the salvation for someone in this room, maybe someone who’s going to listen to this message online later, that You would move by Your Spirit in the heart of some person to truly believe and truly repent. We pray that as a church we would represent and celebrate this family of God which we were not born into but can be reborn into. And we would love like a family and live like a family and sacrifice as a family. We thank You for Jesus, a friend for sinners, the one who took our place, exchanged with us His righteousness for our filthiness, our exclusion that we might be brought near. So we give thanks, and we pray in His name. Amen.