While on a ministry trip to Vanuatu in 2013, I preached a sermon that dealt with our identity and recently I was reminded of it when my pastor brought up Isaiah 5 and the story of a vineyard…I revisited the sermon and felt prompted by Holy Spirit to share it here. Enjoy!
It seems to be a question that plagues mankind often. We are constantly bombarded with the question: Who are you? The Holy Spirit is whispering to us daily “Who are you?” and the Adversary is always asking us…”who do you think you are?”
People go on journeys to “find themselves”, wear clothes, hairstyles and jewellery to express who they think they are. We choose things to suit our personalities, we all work so hard to be “someone”, yet very few people ever get to a place where they happy to be a “nobody”. You ask children today what they want to be when they grow up and they mostly want to be rich and famous. We pay counsellors to tell us who we are; we choose to surround ourselves with people whom we hope will help us discover our identity…that which makes us unique.
We wear ourselves out, but we neglect to look to our Maker, the One with the blueprint. In the book of Jeremiah, chapter 2, verse 21a the Lord says “Yet I have planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality.” (NKJV)
I grew up in wine country and I’ve heard the term “noble vine” but I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, so I did some research. For a vine to be classified a noble vine, it has to have perfect balance and harmony, to be superior and distinguished, not only possessing the right credentials but also having an impressive stature of its own – to be of perfect structure, high quality and breeding. The term also applies to great wines at any stage of its development.
I was wondering why seed quality is so important? I read up about that too. Seed is alive and can change over time and in various conditions. A seed of good quality is critical in the establishment of a uniform plant; it is the first and most crucial step in producing a successful crop. Because seed is alive you have to handle it correctly to keep it alive and thus you protect your investment.
What does this mean for us? It tells us that God, by His own hand, has planted us on the earth, “plants” with perfect balance, able to express ourselves in harmony with each other, that we are superior and distinguished, that we do not only have the right credentials, breeding and quality, but that we have all of these at any and every stage of our development as Christians. We are filled with immense potential!
1 Peter 1:23 tells us “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.” (NIV)
God expects a harvest, therefore He has “cultivated” us from incorruptible seed, seed of the highest quality, able to produce uniform plants and He is more than able to preserve our viability as we navigate our way toward our final destination, spiritual maturity and an eternity with our King. A seed of greatness lies in each one of us, we have the DNA of God himself residing in our DNA. We have greatness in obscurity, because we have been born of imperishable seed, through Jesus Christ.
In the book of Genesis, chapter 3 verse 22, we see that God says something very profound about Adam and Eve – and mankind as a whole. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
At the fall we became like the God-head – not gods – but we have the capacity to “know”. We can discern between good and evil, we can know the will of the Father, we can know the presence of Holy Spirit, and we can recognize the voice of Jesus. Like Jesus, we can live out our lives in holiness, being transformed into His image. We are capable, because we have the incorruptible seed in us. Like Jesus lived in human form, sinless and set apart, we have the capacity. Why then do we see all the pain and suffering caused by sin all around us?
Even inside the church sin is rampant. We fight and argue, we do not love one another, there is stealing, divorce, drunkenness, adultery, fornication, abortion, murder and every vile sin as much in the church as in the world. It is sometimes hard to discern Christians because their fruit is as rotten as the fruit of the world. What is going on?
I believe part B of Jeremiah 2: 21 have the answer. Let me read the whole verse this time. “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?”
Through the prophet Jeremiah, Gods says to the children of Israel and to us that we have forgotten who we are. We have turned from a noble vine into a degenerate plant – a weed. It happens to us when we forget who we are and when we hear the voice of the enemy asking us “who do you think you are?” we don’t know the correct response.
So what is it that we have to believe?
There are some many lies that make up the foundation of what we believe. Religion tells us that we are right with God is we dress a certain way, if we speak a certain way, if we have certain sorts of friends, if we give a certain amount. It goes on and on. We make God into our image and we embrace a gospel that is not the true gospel. Father God never intended for us to stick to a set of rules. That’s why he gave us the law. He knew we would never be able to keep the law and he had every intention for us to fail when we tried, because when we fail we have nowhere to turn, but to Jesus. God made us to be in a love-relationship with Him.
And Jesus is the answer to the question of what we are to believe. In John 14:8, 9 we see a question about the Father. Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
We need to consider what we truly believe about the Father, about ourselves and about our position as sons.
Jesus tells us that the Father
- Is good
- Is an ever-present help when we are in trouble
- Concerned about us
- Will never leave or forsake us
- Wants to heal our diseases
- Wants us to be with Him forever
- Makes a way for us to come into His presence
- Cannot lie
When we believe that the Father is good, we will trust Him. When we believe the Father does not lie, we will be secure in His love. When we believe the Father wants His children to be healthy and whole, we will have confidence to pray for the sick. If we truly believe that the Father will never leave us and help us when we are in trouble, fear will not be our master.
We need to examine what we believe about ourselves, for the truth is this:
- We are children of the most high God. Made in His image (Gen 1:27)
- His offspring (Acts 17:28)
- Fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139: 14)
- Loved, as Jesus is loved (John 17:23)
- Ones who have the same authority and ability Jesus has (John 14:12: Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.)
I can go on for a long time…quoting scripture after scripture. The Bible is full of promises and descriptions of who we are and what we are called to. But if we do not read the Word, if we do not believe what it says, we cannot embrace our true identity.
When we believe that God does not lie and the voice of the enemy comes and asks us “who do you think you are” we will be confident when we say “My Father’s son, or my Father’s daughter”. When Satan speaks through our friends, or enemies asking us “who do you think you are” to pray for the sick, to study the Word, to preach, to teach, to rebuke…we can boldly say “called of God, sons and daughters, beloved”. We have passed from slaves or servants to sons and daughters.
Consider what the Word says about our position. We are
- Co-heirs with Christ
- A royal priesthood
- With kingdom authority to tread on snakes and scorpions
- Seated in heavenly places
- Called, equipped and commissioned
- Authorised to heal
- Holding the keys of the kingdom, to lock and unlock
When we understand our position in Christ, we take heart, we become courageous and we take our rightful places as conquerors. We can become a great force for good in our communities, towns, cities and our nations, as we have always destined to be.