Who Is It? 誰?

‘Ore ore’ calls. Fraudulent calls in which con artists pretend to be someone else.

We all conceal ourselves. 私たちは自分自身を隠します。
Happy masks, beauty masks, academic masks, comedian masks, tough guy masks, business masks, religious masks, normal masks (to hide our pain) and so on.
To some degree, we all wear masks.

We all reveal ourselves. 私たちは自分自身のことを話します。
In one way or another, to various degrees, we do this. But how do we do it?
If I were to meet someone for the first time, how would I reveal myself to them?
They ask me ‘Who are you?’
I could say:
I’m Andrew – I’m Toyoko’s husband – I’m Remi’s dad – I’m an Australian
I’m a pastor – I’m an English teacher – I’m a Christian

We do this, don’t we? We identify ourselves primarily by our vocation or our work status, our marital status, our nationality, our faith. 私たちは自分の仕事や職務、結婚暦、国籍、信仰によって自分が誰なのか明らかにします。

Each of these might be true, but they are still masks (or hats) we use to reveal ourselves to people in the way that we want to be seen but none of them tell the full story of who we are.
Some people go a long time – even a lifetime – covering up the real person inside. Hiding insecurities, hiding sin habits, hiding shame. And covering it up with some of the masks we saw a minute ago.
Humour – Academic achievements – Business success – Popularity – Beauty – Tough guy

The problem with wearing masks like this is that while we wear them, we can never have real friendships. We can never develop meaningful relationships with others – even in our own families. Even with God. Because our life is just a version of the deceitful ‘ore ore’ calls that we make backwards and forwards to one another to conceal the parts of our lives that we don’t like so much. このようにマスクを着けると、着けている間は人と本当の関係を持つことができないのです。

Who are we really? 私たちはいったい誰なんでしょう?
The good news is that God knows who we really are. He made us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees through the masks and under the hats we wear.
And the really good news is that despite seeing the weaknesses, the insecurities, the lies, the lust, the greed, the hate, the envy, the shame, the sin, He still loves us so incredibly much.
He sees to the very bottom of our hearts and still loves us so much that He is willing to receive us, forgive us and fill us with His love. More on this in a minute.

We’ve been looking at the question ‘Who are we really?’.

There is a bigger question:
Who is God really? 神はいったいどんなお方なのでしょう?

How is God Himself going to reveal Himself to us? There are so many facets and qualities to God, when He finally reveals Himself, how will He do it? Who is God really?
We have an answer.
About 3000 years ago, God appeared to a shepherd out in the desert in the Middle East. His name was Moses. He was tending his flock when God appeared to Him miraculously in a burning bush. The bush was on fire but it didn’t burn up. A voice came from within the bush and it called his name. Moses was so in awe that he hid his face. As they talked, Moses asked the big question: Who are you? Who shall I tell people you are?

God gave an extraordinary answer. He said, ‘Tell the people, I AM’. (Exodus 3:14)
神は‘わたしはあるという者だと告げなさい’と言いました。
That’s it.
God is effectively saying, ‘I am so big and so mighty and so holy you cannot comprehend anything beyond this. ‘I AM.’ That’s all you need to know.
In time, God would reveal more of this name:
I AM the Lord Almighty.
I AM the Creator of the world.
I AM the Giver of life.
I AM the Holy One.
I AM the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
I AM your Provider.
I AM your Hope.

I AM!

If this is where God left it, we could simply be in awe and go on our way. But there’s so much more. You see,

Moses (as such) made God real. モーセは神を現実にしました。
But
Jesus made God personal. イエスは神を個人的なお方としました。

God is a Spirit, so we can’t see him with our eyes.
Jesus was God in the flesh, so those living at that time could see God with their eyes, hear God with their ears and touch God with their hands.
And when Jesus walked the earth, how did He identify Himself?

People came to Him and asked, ‘Who are you?’
He said (John 8:58) “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!”

Jesus used this title emphatically:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(John 8:12)
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”(John 10:11)
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”(John 11:25-26)
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Jesus doesn’t mince words! No-one speaks like this! These are the words of God in the form of a man, Jesus Christ.

And Jesus declares something more. He says, ‘I know you. Before you were born, I knew you. I planned you long before you were conceived. I know you. I see through the masks and I see under the hats. I see everything. I know it all. And I love you with a love that you can’t even begin to fathom.’

Our situation is this: we are all separated from God by our sins. God is perfect and holy; we are sinful. We are separated from God by our sins. 私たちはみな罪によって神から離れてしまいました。
But this separation breaks God’s heart, so He provided a way for our sins to be removed from us. Jesus, the God-man, took them [our sins] from us when He died on the cross in our place. But even that’s not all. By His death, He paid the penalty for our sins but by His resurrection, He conquered death and brought new life for all who call on His name, and choose to follow Him.
When we confess our sins to Him and invite Him into our lives as Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit enters us and He saves us from our sin and gives us a new heart and transforms our minds. しかし人となられた神、イエスは私たちの代わりに十字架にかかって死に私たちの罪を取り払ってくださいました。よみがえることによって、死に打ち勝ち、イエスに従う者にはすべて新しい人生を与えてくださいます。罪を告白し、イエスを主、救い主として受け入れるなら、聖霊が私たちのうちに入り、罪から救ってくださり、新しい心を与え、私たちの思いを変えてくださるのです。

But this gift of His Spirit and of new life is not automatic. It requires something. So what’s the catch? It’s not money [image] because you can’t buy it. It’s not hard work [image] because you can’t earn it. しかし聖霊の賜物と新しい人生の賜物は自動的にやってきません。何か裏でもあるのでしょうか?

It’s a gift. So it has to be received. It must be received by faith and prayer.
それは贈り物です。なので受け取らなければなりません。
You could leave tonight thinking how nice it is that Jesus died for my sins and brings new life. But that would come to nothing if you didn’t repent from your sins and invite the Holy Spirit of Jesus to take over your life and give you new life in God. And that’s what I want to encourage you to do tonight.

I want to encourage you to repent and be baptised into Christ to receive the forgiveness of sins, to receive the Holy Spirit and to receive the promise of new life. Know that you can’t add Him to your collection of loves and trusts. When you give your life to Christ you forsake all else. 罪の赦しを受け、聖霊を受け、新しい人生の約束を受けるために悔い改めキリストのうちに洗礼を受けてください。あなたの愛と信頼のコレクションにキリストを加えるようなことはできません。人生をキリストにゆだねるとき、ほかのすべてのことは捨てるのです。

In a minute I will ask you all to come forward and receive the elements of communion. The bread and the wine are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ and taking them marks a person’s entrance into and belonging to the body of Christ and the life of His church. If you have never taken communion before but tonight would like to give your life to Christ, I invite you to come forward with the others and receive prayer and the elements.
このあとすぐに聖餐式にあずかるよう前に出てきてもらいます。パンとぶどう酒はイエス・キリストの体と血の象徴で、それらを受けることによりキリストの体とキリストの教会生活に属します。今までに聖餐式を受けたことがないけれども、今晩、キリストに人生をゆだねたいと思う方は、いっしょに前に出てきて祈ってもらい聖餐にあずかってください。

If you feel the call of God tonight, come forward and enter new life.
今晩、神が呼んでおられると感じるなら、前に出てきて新しい人生を始めてください。

Take a moment to examine your lives and when you are ready, please come forward.
自分の生き方をよく省みる時間を取って、準備ができたら前に出てきてください。