Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 20: Creating a Distinctive People
October 4 2002 by John Tagliarini , Exodus 19:5-6; 20:14,7-10a,12-17

Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 20: Creating a Distinctive People | Friday, Oct. 4, 2002

Friday, Oct. 4, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for Oct. 20: Creating a Distinctive People

By John Tagliarini Exodus 19:5-6; 20:14,7-10a,12-17

What sets Christians apart from other people? Is our distinctiveness to be found in actions, beliefs or doctrines?

While the distinctiveness of the Christian will be reflected in one's lifestyle, the primary distinction is that we are God's people. We are in vital relationship with the Almighty. Orthodoxy and obedience flows from this relationship.

As God reminded the people whence they came to Him, the point is that He brought them to Himself, not just to Mt. Sinai, or simply out of Egypt, but to Himself (Ex. 19:4).

For the Christian, the Ten Commandments, which are part of this covenant, are meaningless outside of a proper relationship with God. "Do not try this at home" if you are not committed to a faith relationship with God.

Call to be distinctive (Exodus 19:5-6) The call to be God's "special treasure" fills us with value. It is clear from Scripture that neither the Israelites nor Christians were chosen because of their own self-worthiness (Deut. 7:7; Romans 5:8). God's election of us passes beyond our explanation. Nonetheless, His choice imparts a particularity that we cannot escape.

Part of this distinction involves a job description. We are to be to God "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Christians are called to serve God in behalf of this world. Our missions emphasis turns on this truth. Our ministries are defined by this truth, and our worship pivots on this truth. We represent God to the nations by living as His children.

Distinctive relationship with God (Exodus 20:1-4) The first two commandments clarify our relationship with God. Do not miss the surrounding text.

First, it is God who spoke (vs. 1)! Our religion is revealed to us by God Himself. No other source counts.

Second, God acted on our behalf, securing our release from slavery, be it Egyptian servitude or slavery to sin (vs. 2; Rom. 6:6).

Then, the first commandment sets forth the ultimate aspect of the relationship, namely, God is ultimate. The priority of God in our lives supersedes any other priority.

The second commandment flows from the first. "You shall not make for yourself an idol ..."

Again, the surrounding text is indispensable. No earthly forms should distract from our worship or service because God is jealous. He will not share His glory with any other.

Second, you can be assured of the negative consequences of idolatry (vs. 5).

Third, you can be equally assured of the grace of God. The Lord your God will show "... loving kindness to thousands ..."

Distinctive reverence for God (Exodus 20:7-10a) The third and fourth commandments express our reverence for God. Though often our emphasis on the third commandment is limited to speech, I cannot think of this command without dealing with the contradictions my actions and attitudes might show. If I claim Jesus as Lord while showing contempt for my fellow human being, have I not taken God's name in vain?

I confess a greater struggle with the fourth commandment. Though Sunday is not the Sabbath, the principle remains. Our celebrations of the Lord's Day ought to bring us significant rest from the routines of life, profoundly closer to the Lord of life, and more deeply connected with the "children of life."

Distinctive treatment of other people (Exodus 20:12-17) Commandments five through 10 turn our focus toward human relationships. Honor for our parents is cited in the New Testament as the first commandment with promise (Eph. 6:2). Murder and adultery are addressed by Jesus as mirroring hearts of hatred and lust (Matt. 5:21-30). Lying is also addressed in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus enjoins us not to manipulate others by our words.

Not to steal receives affirmation in several New Testament passages, but Paul's mention of coveting in Rom. 7:7 really grabs my attention. Of all 10 commandments, Paul chose the 10th to support his defense of the law. Because the command not to covet hit so close to home, Paul came to understand the need for the law and the power of sin.

May these six commandments help us see the desperate needs of our hearts as we relate to one another with the distinctiveness that becomes the people of God.

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10/4/2002 12:00:00 AM by John Tagliarini , Exodus 19:5-6; 20:14,7-10a,12-17 | with 0 comments
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