Dr. Adrian Rogers: Most Christians are trying by behavior modification to be accepted. They think, you know, if I could live good enough, if I could pray enough, if I could work hard enough, then God would love me. There is nothing you can do that will make Him love you any more. He loves you! By grace! By grace!
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John Fuller: Well, I hope that encourages you. This is Focus on the Family and today we’re featuring a message of hope and grace from Dr. Adrian Rogers. Your host is Focus president Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, this is a real faith-building message from Dr. Rogers, who died in 2005 after serving as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee for 50 years. And he also served here on the board of Focus on the Family for about a decade. And I’ll tell you what, Dr. Rogers was always such an encourager to me. I mean, at the breaks at the board meeting, he’d grab my arm and we’d have a chat and always full of wisdom and full of encouragement.
This is a great message about knowing our identity in Christ because when we understand who we really are, it changes how we engage the world around us, including our families, our neighbors and our co-workers.
John: Yeah, it’s a game changer and as you said, Dr. Rogers passed away in 2005. He spoke to our staff not long before he died at a monthly chapel service. Unforgettable time. And here now is the late Dr. Adrian Rogers on Focus on the Family.
Dr. Rogers: Thank you, and it is a wonderful, wonderful joy to be here today and to share, and of course, you know that we love Focus, and we love each of you, and it is a distinct joy to be able to speak in chapel today. And I want to get right to the subject. If you have a Bible and would like to follow along, you might turn to Ephesians chapter one. But just a few verses and I’ll read them clearly, you may just want to listen carefully. But I want to talk to you on this subject: ”The me I see is the me I will be.” It’s very important that you understand just who you are in Christ because the key, the secret to living the Christian life is to see who you are in Christ.
We were building a building down in Florida when I was a pastor down there, and every pastor loves to see these buildings being built, and it was nighttime. All of the other staff had gone home. The building was up. They had not turned the electricity on in the building, but the walls were up. The doors were hung. I wanted to see, so the sun was setting, but I walked across, began to step over the construction materials, got inside. There was a room I’d not yet been in. I pushed open the door, and no doorknob was on it, but a door closer had been put on it.
And so, when I went in, the door closed behind me. I reached back and there was no doorknob. It was absolutely dark in there, but not being afraid of the dark I said, “I’ll wait awhile, and my eyes will get used to the dark.” And so I waited awhile and focused, and then I saw that there was another man in there. Now it bothered me that I had been in there this long, and he’d not said a word. And so I squinted to look at him, and he was…seemed to be about four inches taller than I and kind of a swarthy-looking guy, kind of ugly, and I challenged him with this question: “May I help you?”
Now he didn’t say a word, and I felt the adrenaline begin to rise, and my heart begin to thump like that (thump, thump). I thought, “I can’t act afraid,” so I challenged him again. I said, “Pardon me, what are you doing here?” He didn’t say a word. I reached back. There was no doorknob. I didn’t know where the door was now. And I thought, “I’m in serious trouble, but I’m not going to act afraid,” but I was afraid.
So I thought, “I will move toward him,” and when I did, he moved toward me. And I said, “Dear Lord, I’ve got to have light.” And I squinted a couple of times, and then I recognized him. It was me. I was looking in a mirror. He wasn’t nearly as big and twice as ugly as I thought he was. All I had was this weird distorted image of myself
A friend of mine said that he saw something, and he told me about it. He said they took a Great Northern Pike–he saw this on a film–he said they took a Great Northern Pike, captured it live, put it in an aquarium, gave it exactly the right ambience of one of those Canadian lakes, and he got it home, and then they began to pour minnows in there, the kind of minnows that he loved, and he was gobbling them up. My friend said he was moving so fast you could hardly see him move. He thought he’d died and gone to pike heaven.
And then, they did something to Mr. Pike. They put a glass tube in the middle of that aquarium, filled the glass tube with water, put the minnows in the tube, not swimming free. He started after one of them, thunked his snout, backed off, started after another and another and another, and he finally came to the conclusion he would never have another minnow in his life. So he settled down to the bottom of that aquarium and quit trying for the minnows.
And then they removed the glass tube, and the minnows swam around again. My friend said, “Adrian, it was incredible.” He said, “A minnow would swim right past his eyes, and he never moved for it. And the pike starved to death surrounded by minnows!” You see, ‘the me I see is the me I’ll be.’ He had it in his mind he’d never have another minnow.
Now let’s talk about you.
Here are three things that you want in life. You want significance. Don’t tell me you don’t. Number two: you want sufficiency. You want to know that your needs are going to be met. Number three: you want security. Those are three things you want and they’re three things that God wants you to have and all of those three things are found in Christ.
Now, I want to read some Scriptures to you. Ephesians 1, verse 1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” Now, verse 3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” And then skipping down to verse 6, he says, “He has done this to the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Now, I’ve read three verses, and those three verses deal with the deepest needs of human nature. And they tell you who you are in Christ.
Now, the little word ‘in’, the little preposition, is a small word; it’s a small word in the Greek language. But a small key can unlock a door that leads to a vast treasure. And the key is understanding just who you are in Christ. Now, first of all, we say that you want- you want significance. Well, if you want significance, then you need to: one, recognize your righteousness.
Now, I want to ask a question. How many saints are here today? Now, don’t lift your hand, but how many saints are here today? Well, you say, “Adrian, I’m saved, but I’m not a saint.” Well, friend, if you’re saved, you’re a saint. There are only two categories of people in the world: the saints and the ain’ts, (laughter) and you are one or the other. If you are saved, you are a saint. A saint is somebody who’s been set aside by God. Now notice what the apostle Paul says here to those who are living in Ephesus. He says, “To the saints, which are at Ephesus.”
Now you need to understand that you’re a saint. You say, “Well, I’m not blameless. I’m not sinless.” No, you’re not, but you are a saint. Now, I’m not talking about your swaggering. The apostle Paul says, “For I say by the grace given unto me to every man that is among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
Let me tell you what the grace of God will do. The grace of God will exalt you without inflating you, and it will humble you without debasing you. And you can say, as the apostle Paul said, “I am what I am by the grace of God,” and you, my brother, you sweet sister, you’re a saint. You need to see who you are in the Lord Jesus Christ, and by his precious shed blood, I want to tell you on the authority of the Word of God you are a saint, and that gives you significance.
You can call me “Saint Adrian” if you want to or “Prince Adrian.” I’m also a king. (laughter) We are somebody, and we need to understand that. That’s not arrogance at all. We have a deep need for significance. You’ll never have any higher significance than to be a saint, a child of God, one of the blood-bought. Amen?
Now here’s the second thing. Look in verse three. Not only do you need to recognize your righteousness, but you need to rely on your resources. Listen to verse three. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath”–that’s past tense, already done–”who hath blessed us with”–A double L, ALL– not some, not might do it in the future, already has–”blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” I want to ask you some questions. Again, don’t lift your hand, it might be embarrassing. But how many of you have all the patience you need? How many of you have all of the wisdom that you need? How many have all of the love that you need? How many have all of the faith that you need? Well, you say, “No, Adrian, I don’t, I don’t have all that I need.” Well, now didn’t verse three say that God has already blessed you with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus? Is not faith, love, patience– aren’t those spiritual blessings? Well, you say, “Adrian, if I… if I have them, why don’t I have them?” I’ll tell you why you don’t have ‘em, you haven’t possessed your possessions. You say, that’s double talk. No it’s not.
You know, when God told Joshua to go into the Promised Land, He said that I’ve already given it to you, now go in and possess it. It’s yours! Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given you! I haven’t– it’s not “I’m gonna give it to you”, it’s already yours, now go in and take it.
I’ll give you a good illustration about possessing your possessions. How many of you have books in your library that you haven’t read yet? Alright, you have not possessed your possessions. The problem with many Christians is that we’re asking God to give us what we already have because the Bible says–and Peter says it–”He’s given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” Our duty, our joy, our privilege is to possess our possessions.
John: The late Dr. Adrian Rogers on Focus on the Family and we’ll have more in just a moment but let me be sure to mention, you can get a free audio download of this program so you can listen again or share it with a friend. That’s available to focusonthefamily.com/radio. More now from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers on Focus on the Family.
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Dr. Rogers: We were having a Bible conference, and I had a preacher. His name was Peter, and he was preaching and doing a wonderful job, and we had an intermission. When he went out, Peter went down to Deacon Gene Howard, and his wife, Betty, had gone to the rest room. He said, “Gene, is that Betty’s Bible?” “Yes.” He said, “May I use it, and may I borrow it for just a moment?” Gene said, “Sure.” And so Peter took Betty’s Bible, and he put a five dollar bill in it. I don’t have a five; I have a 10, but for the sake of illustration, he put a five dollar bill in it and closed it like that.
And he said, “Now just leave it here. When Betty comes back, I’m going to ask for a volunteer, and I’m going to choose Betty. Don’t tell her I’m going to choose her,” but he said, “Make sure she brings her Bible.” So he’s preaching along, and after a while he said, “I need a volunteer. You lady, would you come up here?” So she came up. Gene said, “You’d better take your Bible,” so she took her Bible. She’s standing there. He said, “Betty, do you believe I’m a man of God?” She said, “Yes.” “Betty, do you love me?” “Yes.” “Betty, do you trust me?” “Yes.” “Betty, do you believe I’d lie to you?” “No sir. No sir.” “All right Betty, if I were to ask you to do something right here on the platform, right now, something very easy that you could do, and I asked you to do it for me, would you do it?” She said, “Of course.”
He said, “All right. Would you give me $5?” She said, “Well, let me go get my purse.” He said, “No, I said you could do it right here.” But she said, “I don’t have $5 with me right here.” He said, “Didn’t you say you trust me? Don’t you love me? Didn’t I tell you it was something you could do right here? Would you give me $5?” She said, “But I don’t have it.” He went through it again. She said, “Gene.” He said, “Don’t call Gene. I said do it right here.” She said, “But I don’t have $5.” He said, “Is that your Bible?” “Yes.” He said, “May I see it for a moment?” She said, “Yes.” He took the Bible and opened it up and, uh… boy, I hope I can find mine. (laughter) He opened it up and pulled out that $5 bill, and she looked at it. She said, “How’d that get in there?” He said, “I put it in there.”
And then he told her what I want to tell you, precious friend. God will never ask anything of us that he has not already given us. Now remember this. Every demand upon your life is a demand upon the life of God in you. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. You run out of your patience, run into his. You run out of your love the next time some cantankerous, obstreperous, vituperous [sic] individual comes along you can’t get along with, and you know that person needs love; the Bible says the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Try this. Say, “Thy love, Jesus, thy love,” and let the Lord Jesus Christ in you who has blessed you with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places and in Christ Jesus, let him love that individual through you.
Friend, in Christ–in Christ–we are complete. Now, you want sufficiency. You have sufficiency. God has blessed you with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Now here’s the third thing you want. Not only do you want significance, you’re a saint. Not only do you want sufficiency, God has blessed you with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. But the third thing that you want, and thank God you have, is security.
Now listen, why God did this, verse six. God did this to the praise of the glory of his grace. Now listen. “Wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Now, who is the beloved? The beloved is Jesus. And in Jesus, you have acceptance and security. Did you know that it is human nature to feel rejected? That’s systemic in the human race. We feel rejected, and we just have that inborn feeling of rejection. That’s the reason why kids leave a perfectly good home to go live in a commune somewhere because they feel rejected at home when they’re not.
A boy starts smoking cigarettes–and girls–when they’re 14, to feel accepted. They take drugs and stick needles in their skin, at first, to feel accepted. I mean, adults are in difficulty financially because their neighbors keep buying things that they themselves cannot afford, and so they’re trying to keep up with the neighbors. It’s easy to imagine rejection. How wonderful it is to know that we are accepted in the Lord.
Do you know what most Christians are trying to do? Most Christians are trying, by behavior modification, to be accepted. They think, “You know, if I could live good enough, if I could pray enough, if I could work hard enough, then God will love me.” Friend, God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
There is nothing you can do that will make him love you any more. He loves you by grace, by grace! Listen. God is not changing you, so he can love you. He loves you, so he can change you.
Don’t get the idea that holiness is the way to Christ. You’ve got it backward. Christ is the way to holiness. You just come to him and say, “Lord, I am accepted in the beloved.” Who is the beloved? Jesus. Where are you? You are in Christ. How does God think of you? God thinks of you as God thinks of his own dear Son: you are accepted in the beloved. Now, I’m going to tell you something you’re going to want to scream “blasphemy,” but it is true. How much does God love you? God loves you as much as he loves Jesus. “Oh, no, no, no!” Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Jesus prayed in John, chapter 17, “Father, help them to know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” How does God love his Son? “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
When you come into Christ, where are you? You are in Christ. You are a member of Christ, and God looks upon you as he looks upon his own dear Son, and you, my precious friend, are accepted in the beloved. That’s neat, isn’t it.
Now let me just show you how this security frees us up, when we know that we’re accepted. You see, let me just walk you through something, and I’ll sit down. Here it is, now listen.
Grace is God’s acceptance of me. Okay. It doesn’t mean he accepts sin. He accepts the sinner, by his grace, when I receive him as my Lord and Savior. All right? Now watch it. The Bible says he has done this, verse six, “To the praise of the glory of his grace.” Grace is God’s acceptance of me. Faith is my acceptance of God’s acceptance of me. Do you get that? Faith is my acceptance of God’s acceptance of me.
Now, peace is my acceptance of me. You see, if God has accepted me, can’t I accept me? Hey, folks. I hear people say, “Well, you’re not supposed to love yourself.” Where’d you get that idea? It’s all right to love what God loves, isn’t it? Does God love you? Well, you go ahead and love you because God loves you. You know, the Bible says we are to love our neighbor as ourself. Well, if you don’t love yourself, how can you love me? People who don’t love themselves are dangerous. Dangerous.
Now, I don’t mean you stand in front of the mirror and sing, “How great thou art.” (laughter) If you do that, you’re sick. (LAUGHTER) What I’m trying to say is, that you see yourself in Christ. The me I see is the me I’ll be. I am accepted in the beloved. Grace: he accepts me. Faith: I accept that he accepts me. Peace: I accept me. Love: now I’m free to accept you. You know why I can accept you? Because I’ve accepted me.
When I can give to you and love you, there’s no less of me. There’s plenty in me because it’s Jesus in me, and there’s plenty to give away, and I can accept you. Love is my acceptance of you. Now fellowship is your acceptance of me. Do you see it? Grace, faith, peace, love, fellowship. That’s the way God wants us to live. Because we are accepted in the beloved.
Now, folks, this is a weird and wicked world in which we live. And God has his hand upon this ministry. And I can tell you that all of the artillery of hell will be let loose against Focus on the Family. And thank God for it. If Satan had the audacity to come against the Lord Jesus Christ, he’ll have the audacity to come against this ministry. Where is our significance? Where is our sufficiency? Where is our security? It’s in a person. His name is:
Dr. Rogers: Say it again.
Dr. Rogers: One more time.
Dr. Rogers: Lord, in the strong name of Jesus, we thank you, Lord, for who we are because of Calvary. In your holy name, Amen. (Applause)
John: This is Focus on the Family and what a compelling message from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers. And what a great reminder that God accepts you just as you are because of Jesus.
Jim: And for some of you, it’s really difficult to accept yourself. But if you can start with a first step of humility, to say, “OK, Lord, I don’t measure up, I get it. And I know I fall short.” That recognition of Jesus Christ paying the price to cover those sins for you is the beginning. And when you embrace your walk with Christ and let Him become your identity, you’re on the right track. The things of this world can really be distracting– you might be pursuing materialism, trying to get a brand new car, a bigger and better house, maybe that big promotion at the office. Maybe you’re feeling a bit depressed about your appearance and you’re comparing yourself with movie stars or cover models, whatever it might be– and you come to the conclusion that you’re just not measuring up. Let me remind you of what Dr. Rogers said; you’ve got to stop pursuing the things of this world. They will never satisfy that need in your heart. What you need is to remember the voice of your creator who is simply saying, “You’re my son. You’re my daughter and I love you just the way you are. Come to me.” And then you just need to accept yourself. Of course you might have problems, most people do, we all fall short. But in Christ, we’re made whole. Can you accept that simple truth today? I hope so.
Here’s a great verse from The Message version of Matthew 5:48, it says, “Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it! Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Man, that is powerful! That’s the way it should be!
John: I really like the emphasis there in living out your God-created identity.
Jim: Yeah, it’s good. And you know what, here is the bottom line. God loves you. You’re his child if you’ve accepted his son Jesus Christ. You have unbelievable significance in his eyes and you have infinite value and worth– not because of you. I’m sorry to tell you that. It’s because of who Jesus is and what He’s done for you.
John: And if you’d like to learn more about the Christian faith, we have an eBook, a document online for you called Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family. And it very clearly and concisely explains what it means to be a Christian and the steps you can take to grow in your faith.
Jim: And yes, please reach out to us if you’d like to become a Christian, if this has caught your attention. Or if you need to recommit your life to Christ, our staff would love to hear from you and pray with you over the phone. That’s the most important thing that we do here at Focus on the Family. And let me just remind you that we are listener supported, so please pray for us and consider making a financial donation if you can. And we’re offering today’s message from Dr. Rogers as a free audio download so that you can share it with someone who needs to hear it, or listen to it again.
John: And you can get that download at focusonthefamily.com/radio. You can always reach us by phone, our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459.
And if you enjoyed today’s program, please tell a friend to tune in next time. We’ll be discussing the delicate relationship between a teenager and his or her parents.
Mrs. Jessie Minassian: More often we’re seeing these teens who, surprise, have brokenness in their families. And they don’t want to repeat that for the next generation. So they’re wondering how do I get along with my family, first of all, but then also, how do I keep this from entering into my future family?
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