Romans 8.22-28

Title: The Work of the Spirit in the Spirit-filled Life!

Text: Romans 8.22-28

Introduction: Thank you, Joshua, for reading our text.

Tough days. We all have them. Some are worse than others. Like the one, the hard-hat employee reported when he tried to be helpful. Maybe you heard about it too; the account actually appeared on a company accident form. Bruised and bandaged, the workman related this experience:

When I got to the building I found that the hurricane had knocked off some bricks around the top. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple barrels full of bricks. When I had fixed the damaged area, there were a lot of bricks left over. Then I went to the bottom and began releasing the line. Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks was much heavier than I was—and before I knew what was happening the barrel started coming down, jerking me up.

I decided to hang on since I was too far off the ground by then to jump, and halfway up I met the barrel of bricks coming down fast. I received a hard blow on my shoulder. I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers pinched and jammed in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground hard, it burst its bottom, allowing the bricks to spill out.

I was now heavier than the barrel. So I started down again at high speed. Halfway down I met the barrel coming up fast and received severe injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground, I landed on the pile of spilled bricks, getting several painful cuts and deep bruises. At this point, I must have lost my presence of mind, because I let go of my grip on the line. The barrel came down fast—giving me another blow on my head and putting me in the hospital.

I respectfully request sick leave. (Chuck Swindoll quotes Michael Green in his book: The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart.)

Sounds like he needed some help! I think we all do, from time to time. Amen?

Our text this morning is all about the Spirit of God rendering aid to us in our time of need. We are not alone in this life. We are not alone in this struggle. And because of Him, we are not silent when we don’t know what to say or even how to say it.

Our text is sandwiched between the hope we have as believers and the knowledge of what we know about our current suffering: that God works all things together for good.

  • We know our hope is in heaven.
  • We know God works all things for good.

Or,

  • Our hope of the hereafter
  • Our hope of the here and now

Our hope is not in this life. Our hope is not in our possessions, our job, or prestige, our position, our home, or our accomplishments. Our hope is not in our parents or in our children. Our hope is the redemption of these frail bodies to a new body in a new heaven and a new earth. Paul says that The Creation has been groaning while in this present time – the time between the perfection of the garden and the perfection of heaven. And, he says, we, too, groan in this present time, as we wait eagerly for the redemption of these bodies. We suffer in hope because we know our future. So note the groaning going on here: The Creation, we (ourselves), and in our text the Spirit, who is acting on our behalf.

Transition: Let’s look at our text to see how the Spirit acts on our behalf. Rd v 26a:

I.     The Spirit helps us in our weakness:

Exp.: 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. I was sharing with someone earlier this week that a literal translation of this verse is: In a similar way the Spirit renders aid to our weakness. Think with me for a moment about our weakness. Back up in verse 3, we see this word weakness used: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. The point is that our flesh is our weakness. Sin has weakened us. And yet, we have to live in these bodies. We live in this weakened state. Therefore, we are subject to all of the struggles that come with living in the flesh. They are unavoidable. We exist in this body and so it becomes our focus. That is why Paul says to set your mind on the things of the Spirit. But that is so hard.

Consider that most of our prayers are for the physical things of this body. Thank you for this food. Provide for my needs. Lord, I need a pay raise. Lord, my health is failing, my eyes are weak, my body is weak, I’m sick. God, help my friend who is sick, who is in financial straits, or open this door or open that door. Guide us as we travel. Most of our prayers are focused on this weakened state we’re in. Sometimes, this weakened state of ours is worse than others. Sometimes it is almost unbearable.

But not the Spirit of God, he intercedes for us in ways that are spiritual. He intercedes for us in ways that are in line with what God wants and wills for us.

Lit.: v 26 reads: In a similar fashion, the Spirit renders aid to our weakness. And then Paul tells us just what our weakness is in 26b: The Spirit helps us in our weakness:

A. Because we don’t know what to pray or how to pray it.

Ill.: Maybe that was the direction one of the disciples was going when he requested of Jesus: Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples (Mt 11.1). The text says there in Mt 11 that Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he had finished the disciple requested of him, “Lord, teach us to pray like John taught his disciples.” I love that he was watching the Master pray and wanted to know how to pray in a similar fashion: to be a pray-er like Jesus and to pray like Jesus. And then he taught them The Lord’s Prayer.

Maybe that is where the disciple was coming from: Lord, with all that is going on around us, I don’t know what to pray or how to pray it. I want to pray like you.

App.: We’re blessed to have the Spirit of the Living God rendering aid to our weakness, helping us overcome the weakness of our flesh, which is where our focus is when we suffer.

But this is where it gets really interesting for me. God is at work for us, and we didn’t even know we needed it. This parallels the Gospel so closely. You guys know the Gospel.

  1. God is holy and we’re not.
  2. Our sin separates us from God.
  3. There is nothing we could ever do to repair and recover this separation.
  4. So, God acted on our behalf and sent his Son Jesus to die for us. God in the Flesh. That’s what the beginning of this chapter states: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. God punished sin through his son, Jesus.

In a similar fashion, I think this is what Paul is teaching now about the Spirit in v 26-27; God moves and acts on our behalf:

  1. You and I have no clue what to pray for or how to pray for it. And this is probably because we’re not like God. He is perfect and we’re not. He is holy and we’re not. We ask for things that are no good for us and we don’t even know that it is not good for us.
  2. So, God acted on our behalf and sent his Spirit to live in us and to commune with our spirit and to communicate for us in accordance with his will.

And we’ve seen this action of the Spirit multiple times here in Romans 8:

  1. In verse 2, The Spirit has set us free
  2. In verses 5-6, The Spirit helps us walk according to the Spirit
  3. In verses 9-11, The Spirit takes up residence in us and makes us alive when we become believers.
  4. In verses 12-17, The Spirit adopts us into the family of God
  5. In verses 16-17, The Spirit bears witness that we are his Children and heirs with Christ.
  6. In verses 26-27, The Spirit now groans for us when we don’t know how to pray or what to pray so that we pray according to God’s will.

26For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, and it continues but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

This is the 2nd way the Holy Spirit of God helps us in our weakness: The Spirit helps us in our weakness:

B.     By interceding for us with groanings that are too deep for words.

For me, this is what brings this passage back into the context of suffering. Yes, we know that our hope is heaven – our home. And yes, we know we’ll be there soon enough. But, in the meantime, when all hell breaks loose against us, when sin is victorious and we find ourselves speechless before our Master, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

I don’t necessarily want to go where I need to go for a moment, but I do feel it is necessary because this passage is sometimes confusing. Let me clarify a couple of questions that might pop up later in some discussion.

  1. Some people think this means ‘speaking in tongues’. But, I would disagree simply because the gift of tongues is only for certain believers – it is limited in scope. Tongues are used in a worship service and there is a translator. But, this particular act of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8 is for every Christian – especially in these times of suffering. Remember, that’s our context. Speaking in tongues is in the context of worship. So, don’t apply the gift of speaking in tongues
  2. Some people think that this means the person must groan. They would argue or teach you to moan and groan when you don’t have the words. I don’t doubt that groaning comes during suffering, but I don’t think that is what Paul is saying. The groaning is of the Holy Spirit, not the believer. Please hear me, I’m not saying you won’t hurt so bad that you groan. You just might. I hope you never do, but you could. But that isn’t what this verse is saying.

App.: Simply put, you don’t know what to pray or you don’t know how to pray and you don’t have the words to communicate what is going on in your spirit.

And when you’re in this place of suffering, something absolutely amazing happens in your spirit. Rd v 27; 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

As I mentioned before, God acts for us because we’re incapable of acting on our own behalf. So, he intercedes. He sends his Spirit to live in us. And he who searches hearts… he knows.

There are so many wonderful verses that declare the work of God in searching out our hearts.

  • 1 Sam. 16.7: … for God does not see man as man see man; for man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.
  • 1 Chron. 28.9: … for the Lord searches all hearts
  • 17.10: 10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
  • Rev 2.23: … And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

This has always amazed me and keeps me on my guard. What are my motives in a matter? God knows. I can fool you. I can sometimes even fool myself, but I cannot fool God! I can tell you one thing and convince you that I’m too busy, I can’t make the time, I don’t have the money, and I have other obligations, that isn’t my ministry, I’ve been called to something else, I’ve got another engagement, no one else is available to help.

I think sometimes we fool ourselves when we pretend we are in a certain mode and can’t do something. We say this and it becomes an excuse – a valid excuse, but, in my heart I know I’m only lying. Sure, it looks good to you and I feel justified because you’re convinced. But God, who searches the heart and the mind, he knows!

Why don’t we just say – don’t come over because my house is a mess and I don’t want you to see. Why don’t we just say, I’m embarrassed because I didn’t prepare; I didn’t get that done.

  • Luke 9.47: … 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts,
  • Luke 16.15: … “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.
  • Acts 1.24: … “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
  • Acts 15.8: … And God, who knows the heart,
  • 1 John 3.19-20: … 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

Rd 8.27: and he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit… He knows our hearts in those troubling times. He knows our needs in those times of suffering and he knows the mind of the Spirit. Aren’t you glad that God knows the mind of the Spirit! The Spirit only wants good things. He only wants God’s glory. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

This is the 3rd sub-point: The Spirit helps us in our weakness:

C.     By interceding for us according to the Will of God.

This is the hardest part of surrendering, isn’t it? The hardest part in surrendering is giving up our will – giving up what we want. We might not say it out loud; but deep down inside, that is the way we feel. Outwardly, as people look at us, we want them to think we are really good Christians. But, inwardly, we’re just as rebellious as Adam and Eve. So, on our own, it is really hard to pray that God would not do what we selfishly want and to do what he wants for us.

Ill.: As a believer, there has always been a prayer in the Bible that fascinates me. Jesus has acted and responded in Scripture multiple times, not because he had to, but for our benefit. These actions, these responses have always fascinated me. One, in particular, is Mk 14.36: 36 and he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

This is fascinating to me because Jesus has known his purpose: to suffer, to die, to be buried for three days and to rise again. He has told his disciples repeatedly that he is going to happen. He says it so much that Peter even rebukes Jesus for such negativity and Jesus said get behind me, Satan. The moment comes and what does Jesus pray? “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Jesus says this in Mk 14.36 when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He comes back to where Peter, James, and John are supposed to be praying with him and what does Jesus find them doing? Sleeping! And Jesus says something we often repeat, but I wonder if we truly understand the depth of their meaning: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Doesn’t this apply to us in our suffering? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. And guess what – The Spirit helps us in our weakness! because we don’t know what to pray or how to pray it. And, the Spirit does so with groanings that are too deep for words. And, the Spirit does so according to the will of God.

What is the will of God? The Spirit knows. It is up to us to trust.

But how? I’ve jotted down some thoughts as take-a-ways for today:

Review: the context is groaning, but rather still, the overarching context of suffering. As we suffer, just like creation with all of its storms and thorns, hurricanes and tsunamis and other types of natural disaster, we sometimes suffer in ways that create for us a situation in which we don’t even know how to pray. We don’t know what to ask. We can’t see God in this mess. We can’t hear God through the raging storm. We’re in an unnatural position and we’re clueless in what to do.

  1. First, Look at the next verse: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Bear this in mind. We don’t know his will, well, he does and he is working all things for good – according to his purpose.
  2. God is with you in your suffering. Even if you can’t hear him, feel him, see him, or even sense him, He is there. And I think this next take-a-way follows closely…
  3. God hears our prayers – especially the prayers of ours produced by the Holy Spirit.
  4. God’s Will only needs to be known by him. You don’t have to know! It is enough to trust that God is working his will in your life. He is. Trust Him!
  5. God searches our hearts and knows the mind of the Spirit. Let that just wash over you for a moment. You’re weak. You’re imperfect. You’re speechless before him. You don’t understand what is happening. But you don’t have to know. He who searches out the heart, he knows the mind of the one who is interceding on your behalf.
  6. God’s work is not limited by your situation or circumstance. It may feel that way. It may feel that your pain, your suffering, your experience is going to hurt, limit or mar God. Don’t believe it. There is nothing you can do or have done that can limit the work of God. Nothing. If you think that, you’re thinking too highly of yourself!
  7. Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind. It’s about changing us to align ourselves with God Will. God is already perfect. His will is perfect. Perfection doesn’t need change. What needs changing is imperfect us. But sometimes we just don’t know how to do that.

 

One great way to experience that this morning is to give your life to him. Repent of your sins – that means changing your mind about you and acknowledging that God is right about you. Come to Christ this morning. As always, the decisions and commitments we make are unlimited as God works in each of us. I’d love to visit with you about that. The way we do this is we dismiss for a time of fellowship in the back of the church. Grab a donut or a cup of coffee and let’s visit.

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Filed under Christian Living, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon, Sin

Colossians 1.15-20

I had the privilege to preach at the BMA Seminary in Jacksonville this morning. I was deeply honored that Dr. Charley Holmes would invite me back again this year. I wanted to post this message, but warn any regular readers that I’ve sampled some recent illustrations from my Sunday morning Romans 8 Series Sermons to fill in with some great examples. 🙂

Title: Boys, Do what you’ve been called to do, because of what you know to be True.

Text: Colossians 1.15-20 ESV

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

I want to thank Dr. Holmes for giving me the hardest text of Scripture to preach on to a bunch of young theologians… I wonder if more denominations and cults have been started from these few verses than from any other few verses grouped together in Scripture? Let me just affirm that using an archaic word with a contemporary meaning can bring a lot of confusion! It is so easy to use a word that sounds one way, without understanding its meaning in the appropriate way.

Misunderstandings can happen, but they can also leave a lot of damage.

  • Autocorrect on your phone can contribute to some of this.
  • Not totally understanding what someone is asking for is how we got Potato Chips. The story goes that a man wanted French Fries. The cook didn’t know what French Fries were. The man did his best to describe what French Fries are. When his plate came out, he had on his plate what today are called Potato Chips.
  • World Magazine issue February 28th, 2019 reported that a young Kentucky man, Allan Harris, wanted to get his wife, Nina, what she wanted for Valentines. He did his research. He found out what she loved and wanted for Valentines. He knew she would be happy with them, after all, it was what she asked for. Then, he went and searched high and low for her special gift. When he showed up with a few turnips, she clarified it was tulips she had wanted.

My hope this morning is that I would not be misunderstood.

Let me quickly show you the words that bother me; words, I’m afraid you might mistake.

  • Verse 15: Image. We see the word image and we think it is a reflection to some degree of what the real thing looks like. But it isn’t the real thing – it is just an image of the real thing. uuuuuuu….
  • Verse 15: firstborn; (cf.: 18). We see this word and think that it was the first of its kind. Sounds like it was created first of all things…. Uuuuuuuuuuu…
  • Verse 20: reconcile all things to himself; this has a universal sound to it. Like ‘all’ things and no ‘things’ will be left out. Uuuuuuuuuu….

Let’s deal with this first misunderstanding: image.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And it was good. Along with all of this, God created man. The Text says: 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

                27         So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

Made in the image of God… I wonder what that was like? You know, when it was all still good. You know, before the fall. Too bad they couldn’t have done things right. Too bad they couldn’t just obey. But they fell for the lie – you know the lie: the one that says, “you’ll be like God”.

Somehow, they missed that they already were like God. He had made them in his image. I want you to ponder that thought for a moment. They were made in the image of God, but Satan fooled them into distorting that image.

  1. Perfect Creation: made in the image of God and marred in the Fall. They were supposed to be the image of God, but Satan said: Don’t listen to him! He knows that you’ll be like Him when you eat of the fruit! This is the lie of Satan. He wants to distort the true image of God.
  2. God’s Children, Israel, commanded to image God and be holy as he is holy. They were to not make idols and not worship idols but instead chose to worship the creation instead of the creator. They worshipped images of things made by men, instead of the perfect, holy God. Like Adam and Eve, they failed to image God perfectly. Enter Jesus…
  3. Jesus imaged God perfectly! 2 Cor 4.4; In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Hebrews 1.3a; He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Col 1.15;

He is the Image of God the verse says, but to clarify Paul continues: of the invisible God. So, what we see is that – what was invisible has now become visible. God, who is invisible has become God visible before us. He is the divine representation of God. That is true, however, I like the phrase, the divine manifestation of God here on earth even better. Or, as we said when I lived in Hawaii: That’s mo’ bettah! If we go to John 14 we find some strength for our understanding when Philip, in a bit of frustration, said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Just by itself, that request doesn’t seem so bad. But, Jesus appears to demonstrate a little frustration toward Philip in his response: Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

For me, that’s pretty clear. I wish I could say to people who ask me to show them Jesus: Dude, how long I have been your pastor that you still don’t know me? Whoever has seen me has seen Jesus! How can you say to me: Show us Jesus?

I feel more like Adam or Israel in this regard – I’m a poor image of the Messiah. Because you see me in a fallen state!

Paul is declaring that Jesus is God right here. Now, he strengthens his remark with another one, which is my 2nd concern: the firstborn of all creation.

I told you this is my second concern because I’ve personally seen this one totally misunderstood.

Ill.: Our church began a small group of women who were having Bible Study and losing weight. I was fine with it because this Bible Study was purchased from our Denominational Bookstore. The ladies were in a few weeks when my wife asked me about something that the teacher said. I didn’t like it, made the correction and we moved on. But then I got word that the Bookstore, which by the way is Lifeway, was pulling it because the author declared that Jesus was the first created being. The author misunderstood this verse. She quoted from it in her defense. As the pastor, without talking to the ladies, canceled the Bible Study. One woman from the study was furious with me. She had lost more weight doing this study than by any other diet.

Every translation I looked at translates this firstborn of all creation. But firstborn doesn’t mean born first. The Dictionary of Biblical Languages states that this Gk word πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos), ον (on): adj.; and it means birthright, pertaining to the inheritance rights of the firstborn; in other words, it isn’t a position in the order of birth, it is the position in order of importance. It deals with the right of the firstborn, which we know, isn’t necessarily the one who is born first (Ishmael, Isaac; Esau, Jacob; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah). But check it out, it continues: existing before (Col 1:15); 3. LN 87.47 superior (Col 1:15), as in showing position.

We see this used exactly this way in the Old Testament – of those who were not the ‘firstborn’ sons in the family, but the title is used of them to give them a position of inheritance. It is used to show their prominence. Consider Jeremiah 31.9 where God says: …for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. If you know birth order, you know Manasseh was born first. But, Grandpa Jacob, did a switch on Manasseh and Ephraim. The point is that it isn’t about the first to come into being – it is the one who is given the rights and privileges of the one who has this position.

Herein is our first point of the morning. Paul is declaring that Jesus is Lord over all creation.

1. The Supremacy of Christ in Creation (15-17)

exp.: first he created it all; Jesus is the agent by which all things came into being; rd v 15-16; I love to quote John 1 here: All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Jesus made it all!

That makes him a really big God! J. MacArthur expounds on Creation in his commentary series on Colossians: By studying the creation, one can gain a glimpse of the power, knowledge, and wisdom of the Creator. The sheer size of the universe is staggering. The sun, for example, has a diameter of 864,000 miles (One hundred times that of earth’s) and could hold 1.3 million planets the size of earth inside it. The star Betelgeuse, however, has a diameter of 100 million miles, which is larger than the earth’s orbit around the sun. It takes sunlight, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, about 8.5 minutes to reach earth. Yet that same light would take more than four years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, some 24 trillion miles from earth. The galaxy to which our sun belongs, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars. And astronomers estimate there are millions or even billions of galaxies. What they can see leads them to estimate the number of stars in the universe at 1025. That is roughly the number of all the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches and deserts. (Colossians and Philemon, J. MacArthur, Col. 1.16)

Consider that we’ve not even really been able to search out the farthest most remote places in our Universe and the Bible says he created all of that.

But v 17 tells us even more; rd v 17; He is not only the one who created it all; he is the one who holds it all together. The Supremacy of Christ in Creation tells us that he is the Creator and the Sustainer.

I feel a song coming on! Worthy of Worship (Blankenship)

Verse 1

Worthy of worship worthy of praise
Worthy of honor and glory
Worthy of all the glad songs we can sing
Worthy of all of the offerings we bring

Chorus

You are worthy Father Creator
You are worthy Savior Sustainer
You are worthy; worthy and wonderful
Worthy of worship and praise

The fact that Jesus created all that is, and is still moving. Consider the fact that he sustains all things, too.

Ill.: Being here today brings back wonderful memories for me as I think about my years of Seminary training. I was privileged to sit under some of the most wonderful minds in Theology. I’ll bet some of my professors wrote some of your textbooks. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me. One such professor was Dr. Bill Tolar. He’s gone to be with the Lord now. He passed away this past December 29.

I want to encourage you to Youtube Dr. Tolar’s message: Creation. Chance or Choice? Good stuff. In that message, he lists 10 different scientific facts about the earth, the moon, and the sun. And, he demonstrates how life would not be able to exist if any one of those facts were to change. Here are some of those:

  1. The earth is tilted at just the right angle (23.3o ) – straight up and down, life couldn’t exist
  2. It is spinning at just the right speed (1,000 mph) – a little slower and things would burn up; a little faster and things would freeze – life couldn’t exist.
  3. It tilts back and forth just far enough, going no more than 3o in either direction; any further than that, then life could not exist.
  4. It is just far enough away from the sun. It spins and encircles in an oval rotation – perfectly. If it was any further away, most of life would die, probably from starvation. But we need plants to make oxygen. Any closer and the plants would burn up. We would burn up.
  5. The moon is just far enough away. It regulates the tides. If it were closer or further away, then the tides would either pull back and make too much ground or the waves would crash against the Rocky Mts.
  6. There is just enough water in the oceans…any more/ any less by just three feet!
  7. There is just enough land and just enough of the earth’s crust. If the earth’s crust were just 10 feet thinker life couldn’t exist the way it does. And the earth’s diameter is about 8,000 miles. But just 10 ft would make that difference so dramatic, life couldn’t exist as it does.
  8. I highly recommend his message, but listen, here’s my point: Christ not only made it all, but he also holds it all together!

Transition. 1st, We see Christ’s Supremacy in Creation as Creator and Sustainer.

2. The Supremacy of Christ in the Church.

Exp.: we stand and look at Creation and are all in awe of Christ. Well, Paul says that there is something as wonderful that Christ created and it is His Church. Rd v 18; When you read that, it almost sounds like he’s talking about two different things: one, the church and 2nd, something about being resurrected from the dead. But consider this: these are really about the same thing. They cover the same topic.

If Christ had not risen, what difference would there be? Ladies and Gentlemen, I propose to you that it would make all the difference in the World! The Resurrection is a vital part of our Faith. Indeed, if you remove the resurrection, what do you have? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ has not been raised, we are still in our sins, our faith is futile and we’re to be pitied above all men!

The Resurrection is important because it is the basis by which all other matters rest. Without the resurrection, the church falls flat on its face. But consider this: those who are in this body, of which Christ is the head, they have the hope of the resurrection. Christ is simply the first to be raised and never to die again. His resurrection demonstrates for us that we too will be raised on that day. Here again, we see position: that he might be preeminent. That he might be in the first position. He’s the boss. He’s Lord. There is no one above him. There is no one who outranks him. The buck stops with Him. But, just so you don’t miss what Paul is saying, he brings more clarity: rd v 19; He’s God in the Flesh; rd v 20; So,…

In this passage, we see His Work in Creation and His Work in Redemption.

You know I began my message with the Creation story. The Fall marred it all. But here we read that Christ is reconciling the world to him. This doesn’t mean that everyone gets to heaven. This is a reference to what shall be.

Ill.: If you’ve not been to a Simeon Trust Preaching Workshop, I highly encourage you to go. If you’re a woman here, they host workshops for Women, too. But, one of the lessons we learn in a Simeon Trust Workshop is about books and finding the theme or topic in a book. One such way to locate your theme is by locating the top and the tail. It isn’t just the book, but it can also be used for a pericope or a passage. It helps us to determine what the theme or topic might be. An example we use is Mark. Mark begins with: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The introduction climaxes with God proclaiming in v 11: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – So with the introduction, you have this claim that Jesus is the Son of God. Throughout the book, demons and spirits call him the Son of God. Before he is crucified the High priest asks him if he is the Son of the Blessed. And Jesus says, yep. And at the book’s climax, as Jesus dies on the cross, the Centurion witnesses the entire events and says: truly this was the Son of God. You can then go back through the book of Mark to see if this is a theme that flows through the entire book and wah-lah! There is… Demons declare him to be God’s Son. Remember the Gadarene Demoniac: “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most-High God? That’s just one example.

I’m preaching in the book of Romans right now. Let me show you the theme in Romans: read the introduction. Observe 1.5: Paul is declaring the Gospel is preached to the nations to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name. Now look at Romans 16.25: 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—

There you have it. You do a little research on Romans and you’ll see that this is exactly what the Letter is all about: The preaching of the Gospel to all the nations in order to bring about the obedience of faith.

So, what am I getting at? At the beginning of this book (The Bible), you have the story of Creation. A topic near and dear to this passage. In that beginning, we see perfection. Then, there is the fall. Everything falls apart. The couple is banished. Perfection is lost. Thorns, weeds, storms, chaos, murder. Sin has corrupted what was perfect. But, Paul is telling us about the end of this book. In the beginning story, you have a unique relationship with God. In the end, that relationship is restored. You have a river in the garden in the beginning. Look, you see the same at the end. There is a tree in the midst of the garden in the beginning. What do you know? There is a tree in the end, too. Coincidence. No, that is the melodic line of this book. God is reconciling a fallen world to himself. And, in the end – that is exactly what will be! There will be a new heaven and a new earth. All things will be reconciled.

Conclusion: So, is all of this theology important? You bet it is. Not just because you’re going to be preachers and teachers of God’s Word. But it must apply to your life and to the life of those you serve.

Many years ago, when I was first in ministry, there was a man who came to see me. Pastor? You got a second? Sure. This man hadn’t been going to my church for very long. His beliefs were different than ours, but he loved our worship and was complimentary of my preaching.

He began to pour out his heart about his struggles. He had been a member of the Hell’s Angels gang in the Los Angeles area back in the ’60s and ’70s. The hard life had left him in constant pain. As an addict, he shied away from drugs. So, he lived with the pain. He told me he had a certain amount of money in the bank, in a savings account. He gave me the number of the account. I wasn’t sure where he was going.

He asked me to explain my theological understanding of suicide and, as a pastor, would I ever let someone who committed suicide to have a funeral in the church. He told me that he would be ending his life in a couple of days – he was going to commit suicide. But, the money, that was for the funeral and to make sure his boys were taken care of. He still had two sons at home. They were pretty close to being able to take care of themselves…

I was caught off guard. I knew I couldn’t let him just kill himself. I didn’t know the laws, but I was pretty sure this guy needed help. He needed help beyond what I could give. I was this young buck just fresh out of seminary.

But, the moment he noticed me interceding, he threatened me. Did I tell you guys that he was a former member of the Hell’s Angels? He was more than twice my age, but I also knew that he knew how to put a hurt on me if he wanted to do so! It didn’t matter. I knew what I needed to do.

Then he said if that is what you’re going to do… Then I’m going to go home and kill myself in front of them.

I was scared. I didn’t want that.

Now, at this moment, how does your theology impact your actions?

You study that Christ is God. He is the creator of all that is. He is the sustainer of this whole thing. He is the head of the church. He is the first to be resurrected and has shown us exactly what it will be like for us on that final day when we, too are resurrected to a new life. But does that help you at that moment?

You bet it does! Your theology grounds you in what you do as a pastor. And trust me, your theology will conflict with your experience. You know God is sovereign, but what about the day that it feels like he isn’t. You know that Christ is in Control. But, what about the day it feels like he’s lost control. You know God is powerful. But what about the day he doesn’t display His power in your life.

I told you when I began that I don’t want to be misunderstood. Hear me now and once again: You can go and serve where he has called you because you know this is true. He is Lord over all Creation and Lord over his Church. And because of this, you know that he is Lord over eternity. And he will sustain you in whatever you go through. Boys, Serve Him well and do what you’ve been called to do because of what you know to be true about Him. Let’s Pray…

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Colossians, Creation, Scripture, Sermon, Worship

Romans 8.22-25

Title: The Permanent State of Hope

Text: Romans 8.18-25

As I began last week, I want to remind you that I don’t come to you this morning from a wealth of experience in suffering. I can only tell you stories of those I know who’ve walked that journey. I can only tell you what the Bible says about suffering and hope that you can come to a place of understanding, so that, when you suffer, whether great or small, your suffering will be endured with a proper perspective on life and eternity.

Today’s message is about hope. Hope, I believe, is something about which I know a little more than suffering. In this regard to hope, we all stand on the same, level ground. None of us here has seen what will be. So, in that regard, no one here has a leg up on any other person. But again, because of this, what I share is what I know from God’s Word. His Word gives us hope.

And hope is so very important. I think of the passage where Paul talked about those who grieve at death as those who have no hope. We are not like those people, though. Because we have this hope and this hope is something that keeps us moving forward.

Suffering is a strange phenomenon that knows no boundaries. It lays itself on anyone and everyone. No one is exempt from its attack. There are no riches, no age, no race, there are no social or cultural boundaries it cannot encroach. And this is why Hope is needed. This is why hope is given.

Now last week I noted how Paul mentions suffering in v 17&18, but then he doesn’t address it. He says suffering is not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us. And so he doesn’t. Instead, he gives us a history lesson.

In the beginning, all things were perfect, but in chapter 3 of Genesis, we see the fall. And, ever since that fall, sin has impacted and affected everything in this world. That is why we suffer from one degree to another; some, more than others; some, more public than others.

Two points of clarification that I’m not sure I made last week:

  1. We do not suffer because God is punishing us. Someone may very well ask if God is punishing me because of something I did – and more specifically, a sin I committed. The answer is no.
    1. The effect of sin on us is not the same as punishment. I’m not saying that God doesn’t discipline his children. He does. Hebrews is very clear on that. God disciplines his children and brings them back into line with His Will. But that is a very different scenario than God punishing us. The punishment for sin is Hell.

ill.: a friend of mine many years ago told me about his life and the decisions he had made. He had been unfaithful to his wife and had married the woman he had been in a relationship with. These two came to faith some years later. He even apologized to his first wife and asked her forgiveness. She, too, had been remarried and had become a believer with her new husband. Anyway, this friend said that he was afraid that God would now punish him for his actions. I asked him what he meant. He said he was afraid that God would kill his little girl to punish him. I think this was born out of the David and Bathsheba story.

app.: My friend had a wrong perspective of God. I told him that it isn’t to say that his little girl would never die, but the punishment of sin is reserved for end times.

  1. The effect of sin on us is because of the fall. That is what our text says: v. 20, for the creation was subjected to futility. God told Adam and Eve that their rebellion would end in death. That effect still has an impact on us. That’s what This present time is in v 18;

But, all of this might be just too much for you, especially if you’ve never dealt with this issue. Let’s say you’re new to this Christianity thing and you’ve had a friend or a family member die way too soon. Maybe it was an accident that should have been prevented. Maybe it was a heart attack or cancer, and you’ve got questions.

  1. Let me help here: You need to see God from a proper perspective. What I mean is that God is huge! He is so much bigger and higher in reality compared to our experience and our intellect. Maybe that is what Paul is doing by mentioning creation in each verse here…

ill.: John MacArthur writes in his commentary on Colossians 1.16: By studying the creation, one can gain a glimpse of the power, knowledge, and wisdom of the Creator. The sheer size of the universe is staggering. The sun, for example, has a diameter of 864,000 miles (One hundred times that of earth’s) and could hold 1.3 million planets the size of earth inside it. The star Betelgeuse, however, has a diameter of 100 million miles, which is larger than the earth’s orbit around the sun. It takes sunlight, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, about 8.5 minutes to reach earth. Yet that same light would take more than four years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, some 24 trillion miles from earth. The galaxy to which our sun belongs, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars. And astronomers estimate there are millions, or even billions of galaxies. What they can see leads them to estimate the number of stars in the universe at 1025. According to Dr. Bill Tolar, that number is roughly the same number of all the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches and deserts and along every shore of every river and every lake.

 

When I was in seminary, I had Dr. Tolar as a professor. He was a man with a brilliant mind. Actually, I had quite a few like that. But this professor, Dr. William Tolar, was especially intelligent. He studied science before being called into the ministry. He now has a famous sermon, Creation, Chance or Choice and it is available on Youtube. But here are some points he makes in that message. As God created all that is, he created:

  • The earth is at just the right angle (23.3o ) – straight up and down,
  • He created it spinning at just the right speed (1,000 mph) – a little slower and things would burn up. A little faster and we would be thrown off!
  • It tilts back and forth just far enough; life couldn’t exist if it straightened or dropped more than 3o in either direction!
  • It is just far enough away from the sun. And it spins and encircles in an oval rotation perfectly. It couldn’t handle being any closer or any further.
  • The moon rotates and spins at just the right distance. It’s just far enough away and just close enough. If it were closer, the waves of the oceans would come crashing upon the Rocky Mts or if it were further away, they would be pulled back exposing too much ground.
  • There is just enough water in the oceans…any more/ any less would make it where there would be too much oxygen or too much Carbon Monoxide.
  • There is just enough crust in the earth’s crust.
  • Photosynthesis – couldn’t work as it needs to if any of these were out of whack. We need enough plants, we need enough water, we need enough light. But, the inverse is true too. We can’t have too many plants, compared to too much water, compared to too much darkness.

Why am I saying all of this? Because I fear your perception of God might just be too small! We sometimes want God to fit into a box that you understand. But when we create God in our image, we fail to see how magnificent and terrific he truly is.

Your first step in finding hope is gaining a proper perspective of how great God is and how small we really are.

When this happens, you can begin to understand God’s righteousness and justice in subjecting the world to futility. The passage continues in v 20: God did so in hope. And then Paul eventually gets to this hope in v 24. 24 For in this hope we were saved. This hope is what he’s been talking about since v 18. Let’s backtrack for a moment.

  • V18: Glory to be revealed; this is the hope for us, that it is something we have out there in our future. Can I encourage you to see this as a promise from God? Promise #1: There is a glory in our future that far outweighs our current situation.
  • V19: for the revealing of the sons of God. That is, those of us who are believers. We’re Sons and Daughters of God. Verses 12-17 told us about how God adopts us and puts his Holy Spirit in us. Can we call this Promise #2: In that glory, we will realize our full understanding of our position as those who’ve been adopted into the family of God.
  • V20: brings these thoughts together and tells us that our hope is the freedom from the bondage of corruption (that’s the sin and its effect on us here) and the freedom of the glory of the children of God (that’s the place where sin will no longer have its impact on us). That’s heaven. Let’s call this promise #3: God has been at work and he will fulfill and complete his work. He is not delayed, as some see this ‘waiting’; God did what he did with purpose and intent. God has been at work and he will fulfill and complete his work.
  • V23 gives us more promises; rd v 23a; the firstfruits of the Spirit means that we have something that those before Jesus didn’t have! We have the Holy Spirit of God in us: that in this groaning and in this suffering, we have been given a precious gift as a down payment, as an earnest of our future inheritance… here’s promise #4: we’ve been sealed by the Holy Spirit of God.
    • This means that you don’t suffer in vain. There is purpose in your life. There is value in your life.
    • This means that you don’t suffer alone. Just before Jesus ascended to be with the Father he said: And, lo, I am with you always…even until the end of the age. He’s with us by giving us his Holy Spirit to live inside of us.
  • The next part of v23 states that we wait for the redemption of our bodies. The Corinthian church was having a tough time with this concept, so Paul spends a good deal of time sharing with them what that would be like. But for now, just in this text, Paul is saying that we have these bodies that are wasting away. They’re hard to manage. They’re imperfect. Sin is bringing about this body’s decay. The eyes are giving out. The bones are becoming brittle. The circulation doesn’t work like it used to work. These bodies are fragile – yes, truly magnificent, but fragile. And the older we get, the more fragility we see. We become weaker. We get slower. But our hope is in the redemption of these bodies. And this is Promise #5: Something far greater awaits us in glory. Bodies, that we can only use our imaginations to try and comprehend, will be ours.
  • But to conclude his remarks on hope, Paul identifies and defines for us what hope is. Hope isn’t seen. Hope isn’t wishful thinking. Our hope is the knowledge and certainty of what we cannot see. And God is so good to give us earthly examples for our comprehension.
    • Wind: we don’t see it, but we know it blows. Ill.: the banner out front and the roof on Jules.
    • Radio and television waves.
    • Current and electricity: just one movement or a shot of lightning isn’t seen by the human eye. Of course, today, with our modern technology, you can watch YouTube videos of how a lightning bolt hits the earth. I watched a video in super slow motion and was amazed at all that takes place in one lightning strike.

Oh, the promises of God and the hope he gives. Hope in these struggles. Hope in this pain. Hope in suffering.

Conclusion: Chuck Swindoll uses an illustration by Arthur Gordon, who relates a story of a man who had been stricken with polio at the age of three, and his parents, probably depression-poor and overwhelmed, had abandoned him in a New York City hospital. Taken in by a foster family, he was sent to stay with their relatives in Georgia when he was six, in hopes that the warmer climate would improve his condition. What improved his condition, though, was Maum Jean, an elderly, black woman who took that “frail, lost, lonely little boy” into her heart. For six years, she daily massaged his weak legs; administering her own hydrotherapy in a nearby creek; and encouraged him spiritually with her stories, songs, and prayers. Gordon writes:

Night after night Maum Jean continued the massaging and praying. Then one morning, when I was about 12, she told me she had a surprise for me.

She led me out into the yard, placed me with my back against an oak tree; I can feel the rough bark of it to this day. She took away my crutches and braces. She moved back a dozen paces and told me that the Lord had spoken to her in a dream. He had said that the time had come for me to walk. “So now,” said Maum Jean, “I want you to walk over to me.”

My instant reaction was fear. I knew I couldn’t walk unaided; I had tried. I shrank back against the solid support of the tree. Maum Jean continued to urge me.

I burst into tears. I begged. I pleaded. Her voice rose suddenly, no longer gentle and coaxing but full of power and command. “You can walk, boy! The Lord has spoken! Now walk over here.”

She knelt down and held out her arms. And somehow, impelled by something stronger than fear, I took a faltering step, and another, and another, until I reached Maum Jean and fell into her arms, both of us weeping.

It was two more years before I could walk normally, but I never used the crutches again…

Then the night came when one of Maum Jean’s tall grandsons knocked on my door. It was late; there was frost in the air. Maum Jean was dying, he said; she wanted to see me.

The old cabin wasn’t changed: floors of Cyprus, Windows with wooden shutters–no glass, roof of palm thatch mixed with pitch. Maum Jean in bed, surrounded by silent watchers, her frail body covered by a patchwork quilt. From a corner of the room, a kerosene lamp cast a dim saffron light. Her face was in shadow, but I heard her whisper my name. Someone put a chair close to the bed. I sat down and touched her hand.

For a long time I sat there; now and then Maum Jean spoke softly. Her mind was clear. She hoped I remembered the things that she had taught me. Outside, the night stirred with a strong wind. In the other room the fires snapped, throwing orange sparks. There was a long silence; she lay with her eyes closed. Then the old voice spoke, stronger suddenly, “Oh,” said Maum Jean, with surprising gladness. “Oh, it’s so beautiful!” She gave a light contented sigh, and died…

All that happened a long time ago. I now live in another town. But I still think of Maum Jean often, and the main thing she taught me: Nothing is a barrier when love is strong enough. Not age. Not race. Not disease. Not anything.

And so it is with suffering in this life: Nothing is a barrier when love is strong enough. Not age. Not race. Not disease. Not anything.

And indeed, so great is the love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God. And that is what we are… provided we suffer with him.

Maybe you’ve never given your life to Christ. If not, then you don’t have the promises I’ve talked about today. You don’t know the hope we know. Won’t you give your life to Christ?

Maybe you’re in the midst of struggle and pain. Maybe, you’re suffering now. Would you trust Christ with your pain? Would you ask him to use it to show others of his great love and mercy?

Over recent weeks I’ve been challenging out people to choose someone who doesn’t know Christ and begin praying for their salvation. Just one person! I asked: Who is your 1? I have some business cards to help you with this. I want to ask ushers to come forward and pass these out. Will you pray that God will give you someone to pray for? Just 1 person, 1x a day, at 1 o’clock, for 1 minute.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 8.18-23

Title: The Temporary State of Suffering

Text: Romans 8.18-22

Introduction: We’re in Romans 8 (pg. 888 in the Pew Bible). The Subject this morning is Suffering. And my sermon doesn’t come from the tremendous depth of experience, but rather, it simply comes from God’s Word. The sermon this morning won’t have all of the answers on suffering. I’ll only cover what’s listed here in Romans.

I make no apologies in this regard, but rather count it a blessing and thank God that I have not had to suffer as so many in the world do. I’ve never been to prison for my faith. And I have been relatively healthy – able to do the things in life I want to do. I enjoy the physicality and thought that goes into reaching summits in Colorado. I ride my bike, jog, walk as much as I want and not as much as I should. I take one pill a day – and that is for my thyroid. My doctor says that dosage will increase with age, but for now, I feel blessed.

So, as I think about suffering, I have to ask myself… and I think, we should ask ourselves as we look at this text: what is the context of suffering here? Is it cancer? Is it sickness, illness? Or, is it imprisonment, mistreatment, and punishment for being a believer? Well, contextually, I think it has to do with suffering for being a Christian. As for application, I think this applies to both: You can trust God in your sickness and in your illness, too.

I don’t say this lightly. I’m very aware that many of you are suffering now. Some of you may suffer for being a believer – you’re passed over for work or promotions; you’re placed in an awkward position; moved to a different location.

On a side note: It was good to hear the State of Colorado dropped their case against the Christian Baker, who refused to create a transgender anniversary cake. The same baker, by the way, that won a Supreme Court decision last year. But, I think more persecution is coming.

Added to these types of persecution and suffering, I know that many of you are suffering health wise – you or a family member.

I don’t enter into this subject lightly because it is something my family is experiencing. It is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul hasn’t mentioned suffering up to this point. As a matter of fact, he won’t mention it again. You’ll only see it here in v. 17 & 18; Verse 17 is what gives us our context. Rd v 17: 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Flow: There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Why? Because the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death. How? Through Jesus; who died on the cross to pay that penalty on our behalf. V4 says that Jesus satisfied the righteous requirement of the law. The Benefits are tremendous: freedom in the Spirit, Focus for life, The Spirit-filled believer is now alive in Christ – and, as we talked about last week – The Spirit-filled believer is adopted into the family of God!

But then Paul ends with this odd statement: provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Paul is definitive on this topic of suffering: in this life, we will suffer as believers. Period. We don’t all suffer the same way and we don’t all suffer the same thing – but, understand this: if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will suffer in some fashion.

Why is that? And where does it come from? And, what is its purpose?

Well, that is a topic that is rather large and most definitely something we cannot possibly accomplish completely today. And we shouldn’t try. Paul doesn’t. Paul has good reason to do so, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t make his focus about suffering. Instead, he acknowledges it but then turns his focus elsewhere. And so should we. He mentions suffering and then gives us a history lesson.

Let me repeat: he mentions suffering and then, doesn’t talk about it, but rather gives us a history lesson. He comes back to this idea of how we suffer now when he talks about the Spirit and the Spirit’s intercession in our lives – who helps us in our weaknesses (v26).

Read with me v 18-23 (pg. 888): 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

What is Paul saying? He’s letting us in on something absolutely incredible. I’ve been taught, as have many of you, that when you’re looking for the theme of a book you’re studying, you read the beginning and the end. Usually, there at the beginning of the book or letter, and repeated in the end, you will find the melodic line that flows through the book. A great example is Mark, a book we studied a few years ago. Mark begins with: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The introduction climaxes with God proclaiming in v 11: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – So with the introduction, you have this claim that Jesus is the Son of God. Throughout the book, demons and spirits call him the Son of God. Before he is crucified the High priest asks him if he is the Son of the Blessed. And Jesus says, yep. And at the book’s climax, as Jesus dies on the cross, the Centurion witnesses the entire events and says: truly this was the Son of God.

So Mark’s theme is Jesus is the Son of God. Is this true for our book, Romans? Let me show you: read the introduction. Observe 1.5: Paul is declaring the Gospel is preached to the nations to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name. Now look at Romans 16.25: 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—

There you have it. You do a little research on our book and you’ll see that this is exactly what the Letter is all about: The preaching of the Gospel to all the nations in order to bring about the obedience of faith.

I mention these because I think that is what Paul is doing. I mention these to raise one last question about beginnings and endings: is this book (the Bible) like these others – does it have bookends which identify for us a theme? And, does that theme flow through the whole of the Bible in such a way that it acts as a melodic line of sorts? Well, let’s look.

  • When you read v 19-23, what stands out? The Creation. Where is The Creation Story in the Bible?
  • We see in chapters 1-2 of Genesis that the world is created and everything is perfect. The Creation the way it should be. Or, the world as it was designed to be.
  • In chapter 3, we see the fall. Sin enters into the world and everything is marred. Everything. Sin now brings death, disease, and dysfunction. Cain murders his brother, Abel. Weeds, thorns, storms, sickness, struggle all enter the picture. Animals are no longer friends with man, but rather, animals fear man.

What we see in the introduction is Creation, and then, creation falling apart, or de-creation. So, what do we see at the end of the book, in Revelation? We see Eden restored. We see re-creation. So, do we see some of the same elements in the beginning and in the ending? God is in the beginning doing his work and he is in the end doing his work. There is a garden in the beginning. There is a garden in the end. A tree – a tree; a river – a river; Ezekiel 25 tells us of the garden of God, Eden. It tells us of the precious stones and gems and colors. We see the same thing in Revelation in Heaven, Eden restored. So is that the melodic line of this book? That God creates, Sin destroys and God will recreate in the end? All we have to do is look throughout the book at the stories that are told.

  • Adam and Eve are in the garden; they sin and are banished into exile from the garden. Do you see times in Scripture where there is a desire to get back to the garden? Absolutely.
  • God creates for himself a people, through Abraham. He promises them a land. A land flowing with Milk and Honey. It is a picture of the return to the garden. But do his people obey – do they live out the obedience of faith (as it says in Romans)? No, So look what happens to Israel. It becomes a desert wasteland.
  • But there hope is that it will be restored. For you and me, we know that restoration isn’t a “Mighty Israel” here. It is a new heaven and a new earth.

This is what I think Paul is doing: I think he is visiting the melodic line of the Bible for us: There was perfection with God. Sin entered into the picture and destroyed that beauty. It continues to wreak havoc, but one day, Eden will be restored. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. And that – out there in our future – is what Paul wants us to focus on!

  1. Creation Present: Read v 19; we longingly, actively wait with eager expectation for glory.
  2. Creation Past: read v 20; creation waits now in the present because it was subjected to futility in the past. That verse is talking about the fall of man – the story of Adam and Eve.
  3. Creation Future: read v 21; it was subjected in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption (that’s sin and the effect it has on us now) and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (that’s heaven, where there will be no more sickness nor sorrow, no more pain and tears, there will be no more thorns, no more tornados, no more earthquakes, no more hurricanes, no more cancer, no need for glasses.

Why is that? Because creation will be restored. Paul is reminding us of the big picture. Suffering in this present time is temporary. Heaven, where there is no suffering, will be eternal.

So, here is the problem: we’re stuck between the now and the not yet. With this bit of information, how then shall we now live?

A few comments about these verses:

  1. In v18, the verse reads: 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 1st, this word consider – it is the Greek word for which we get our word logistics. Paul is being logical about suffering and he’s working through the problem. 2nd, There is a word in the original language that isn’t in the English and it’s the word ‘about’. Lit.: the about to be glory. The idea is that it is just right out there beyond us. I believe when we’re there, we’ll look back at this time and think about how brief it really was. We worried about a lot of stuff that didn’t really matter that much.
  2. In v19, we read: For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. I already told you that I’d translate this: actively waits with eager expectation. The word wait here means a deep sense of waiting with passion and longing. Also, the word in here revealing, is the Gk word from which we get our word Apocolypse. And, normally, that word is scary, but, not for the believer! Because what will be revealed for us is a wonderful thing!
  3. In v20, it says that the creation was subjected to futility… The idea is that this isn’t so much a result of what Adam and Eve did, but more about the plan of God. See, if you keep reading you’ll read: not willingly, but because of him who subjected it… Who is this ‘him’?
    1. Some folks say Adam. He was the one who sinned and by which all sin has been passed on to us. The read the verse this way: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Adam who subjected it…
    2. Others say no, it is Satan. Satan was the one who wreaked havoc on the world by leading Adam and Eve astray. These people read the verse this way: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Satan who subjected it…
    3. But there is a third option and I believe this is the correct understanding: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of God who subjected it… And I say this because of the next couple of words: in hope.
      1. Satan would never offer hope, so that knocks him out of the running.
      2. I don’t think Adam actually thought to himself: I’ll eat this fruit in disobedience to God’s command in order that those who follow after me will have hope in God. That’s ludicrous.
  • It can only be God. God did this, subjected creation to futility in hope of our future glory.

Now that’s a pretty powerful statement. God did this because he had a plan.

  1. In v22 we read about this momentary affliction. Paul uses the terms of a pregnant woman giving birth. The idea is that the pain is very real, but a momma endures such pain for the joy that is before her. She knows that after she has endured, after she has given birth, she will get to hold this precious little one. There is pain and struggle in the moment, but joy comes in having given birth. To use what seems to be an oxymoron: this is a joyful pain. And so should our suffering in this current world be. Joyful in that it is temporary. Joyful in that it is preparing us for the glory that is yet to be revealed in us. It is hard now, but hang in there. There is joy coming! And that is what he says in v 23; rd v 23;
    1. Consider the disciples who declared it a joy and a privilege to suffer for Jesus!

Application: Paul tells us about suffering:

  • How we suffer: The Creation actively waits with eager longing as we suffer.
  • Why we suffer: The Creation was subjected to futility (to this suffering) unwillingly
    • God did so in hope
      • of freedom from bondage to corruption
      • of obtaining freedom of the glory that is to be revealed in us
  • Conclusion about suffering: The Creation groans with a pain that ends in joy – because joy is coming. You’ve just got to hang in there!

Conclusion:

  1. Suffering is temporary: this present time (kairos). The difference between Kairos and Chronos is like the difference between a minute and a moment.
  2. Suffering is an extreme opposite of what we’ll experience in the “about to be”: There is no comparison
  3. Here’s the incredible truth about suffering and sin: We can grasp the incredible grace of God because we know what sin and suffering is.
  4. I’d like to say a word about what suffering is not. Sometimes, I’m convinced that we think we’re suffering and we’re really not. Let me ‘splain.

In life you have expectations. You’ve had them already today. You come and you expect certain things to happen or not to happen. You have expectations. You expected to sing songs this morning. If we hadn’t sung any songs, you would have responded. Some of you: negative. Some of you: positive. But there are expectations and you respond to those expectations based upon your experience. Maybe you come to worship expecting a normal service, but we show a video. Your experience is different from what you expected and maybe you’re happy or maybe your sad. You respond to your experience based upon your expectations.

But here lies the problem. Sometimes, your expectations aren’t met and you become unhappy. You think you’re suffering. But are you really? You’ve come expecting there to be seats. What if you came in this morning and there were no seats in the worship center? How would you respond? Some folks would be like: Cool, we’re doing something different! Others would be like: this is so uncool! Honey, go find me a seat. If I said, we’re sitting on the floor this morning, some of you would feel like you had to suffer today. But, do think there are churches gathering today somewhere in the world where there are no chairs? Would you say they’re suffering?

Here is my point: sometimes you think you’re suffering, but you’re really not. You’re just selfish and you’re not getting your way.

Your expectations are about you. Hey, listen, I’m no different. I know it. I sometimes pray and act like I’m suffering until my eyes are opened and I realize that I’m just being selfish.

Suffering Requires:

  • Perspective: An vantage point of the whole, big picture – and you see what’s coming (18).
  • Patience: Wait eagerly for adoption to come to fruition (19).
  • Knowledge: we know that this was done in hope of freedom

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Filed under Christian Living, Creation, Eschatology, Faith, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon, Spiritual Formations

Romans 8.12-17

Title: Adopted by the Spirit!

Text: Romans 8.12-17

Introduction: We are a peculiar people. That is, we Christians are a peculiar people.

Vernon McGee tells the story about the peculiar man who thought he wasn’t peculiar. A preacher was trying to describe this idea of peculiarity to another man who was insistent that he himself was not peculiar in any way. The pastor said that everyone is peculiar to some extent. Everyone. But the man demanded that the pastor was wrong about him – he was perfectly normal and had no peculiarities. The pastor said, “I can prove you are peculiar.” The man said, “Go ahead” as if to accept the challenge.

How do you stir your coffee…with your right hand or with your left hand? Without hesitation the man replied. “I stir my coffee with my right hand.” The pastor quickly responded: You see there, you are peculiar. Most people use a spoon.

Peculiar means: 1) strange or unusual; or 2) particular or special. When I say we’re a ‘Peculiar’ people, I mean special, we are particular; we’re special.

This is what Paul is communicating to us in Romans 8.12-17 – the passage that Henry read for us earlier.

Paul began in v 1 by declaring that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. How that has come about is because the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death. And he did that through Christ Jesus. In v5-8 Paul expanded on this freedom in the Spirit to the idea that living life in the Spirit gives the new believer focus: a focus he or she has never had before.

When the Holy Spirit comes to live in the believer, the Spirit brings Freedom and Focus. Then, Last week we looked at the first of a two-part sermon:

  • Alive by the Spirit! And today,
  • Adopted by the Spirit!

AIM: This second message really builds upon last week’s. First, we’ve been made alive by the Spirit of God. But, he doesn’t just quicken our spirits – he moves in and takes up residence. And then, to add to the beauty of it all, he adopts us, and makes us his Children. Paul will build upon this doctrine in chapter 9. Let me show you quickly. Turn over to the next chapter and look at v 22-23; So, don’t take any of this out of context. You need to understand the Romans 9 is all about the Sovereignty of God. It asks: who are we to question the way God does what he does to accomplish his purposes. It is all for his glory. He knows best how to glorify himself, even if we don’t get it. He doesn’t do what he does with our permission or even within the realm of our understanding. But this is what he does make clear: he quotes from Hosea 1.10 & 2.23. rd Rom 9.25-26; 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

So, Paul’s aim here is to declare that God is going to adopt his children and make them his own. How? How will God fulfill his promise to his people? And, how will it include those who aren’t even Jews? Answer: Adoption. When we become Christians, we become children of the living God!

Ok, now, let’s look at our text in Romans 8.12-17 (p. 888). In this passage, Paul says of those of us who are being filled with the Spirit of God…

  1. We are obligated to the Holy Spirit (12-13)
  2. We are sons of God, our Father (14-15).
  3. We’re heirs with Jesus (16-17).

So, let’s take these one at a time…

For those of us who are being filled with the Spirit of God…

I.     We are obligated to the Spirit.

exp.: You see that in v 12. Now, this sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? In v2, he said we have been set free. And here, it says we are debtors? Well, think about it for a moment. What it says in v 2 is that we’ve been set free from the law of sin and death. We’re no longer enslaved to sin and death. 2ndly, this word debtors means we’re obligated. Our obligation now lies with the Spirit of God, not our own sinful passions and desires of the flesh. We’re obligated to the Holy Spirit to live our lives now according to his purpose and plan.

ill.: Truth is, we’ve all tried it our way and we failed. That is usually what brings us to God. We live our lives in pursuit of our passions and we make so many mistakes. These poor decisions usually lead to pain and anguish. It is in this despair that we reach out to God.

exp.: he tells us how we fulfill this ‘obligation’ in v 13; you see, when we pursue the flesh, we live life the way we want and that destroys our lives. When we surrender our lives to Christ, his Holy Spirit comes and lives in us. Then, as we live out our lives in Christ, he begins to show us things that don’t fit into our new lives with him. We come under conviction for our actions and behaviors. As that happens, we must by the aid of the Holy Spirit… well, read v13… by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body.

ill.: I’m often reminded of my sweet friend who I told you about that went to the doctor routine check-up. She was asked how her treatments were going. She asked what treatments? The doctor said your treatments for cancer. She said, “I don’t have cancer.” The doctor said ‘oh, no’. You see, at that point, it was too late. Fourteen months of inaction left her cancer to spread. Of course, you know now that she has since gone to be with the Lord.

I wish that was the only story I’d ever heard like that. I heard a story recently of a man who heard that his PSA number was high, but he was told that it was nothing to worry about. By the next checkup, it was too late, cancer has spread to other significant parts of the body. He died a few months later. You hear stories about women, too. Its probably only a spot, I wouldn’t worry about it. The lady takes that to mean – don’t worry about it. She doesn’t follow up because she doesn’t think she’s supposed to worry about it. And that inactivity of the person leads to hyperactivity of cancer and soon… death follows.

App.: I’m here to tell you that you have a type of cancer called sin. You need to worry about it. You need to deal with it. It will kill you! Satan lies to you and tells you that your sin is small. It’s only a spot. Those numbers are small compared to others. But, listen dear friend: You cannot let it run unchecked in your spirit or it will destroy you.

A 2nd Word on death to the deeds: I’m reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 9, as we talk about putting to death the deeds of the flesh: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. When we become believers, it isn’t as if all of the troubles go away. In this life, you will find struggle, toil and difficulty. There may be suffering involved. That doesn’t just go away. It won’t go away this side of heaven – not as long as we live in these bodies. That is why we must make a conscientious decision every single day to die to ourselves. That is why Jesus said daily.

app.: Your spirit lives in this tent called a body. Inside this body you have thoughts. You talk to yourself. That’s why, when you become a Christian, two things take place. One is internal. The other is external. Romans 10.9-10 says, because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. You make that decision inside, but you manifest what’s inside of you through expression. Your life is always a manifestation of what’s inside you. And when you confess, “Jesus is Lord” with your mouth, it is an external expression of an internal experience.

t.s.: The Spirit takes over our lives, from the inside out. Then, when that happens, the next verse says we become sons and daughters of God. For those of us who are being filled with the Spirit of God…

II.    We are sons and daughters of God. 

exp.: rd v 14: 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. So, you confess your sin and invite Jesus into your heart. You see that – when we give our lives to Jesus and His Holy Spirit moves into our hearts and lives, God adopts us into His family. We become children of God. 1 Jn 3.1-3: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

So, you give your life to him and he purifies your life. Really, in two ways: 1. When you get saved. He washes you clean as freshly fallen snow. That covers every sin you ever committed and every sin you’ll ever commit. All washed away through his forgiveness. 2. As you walk with him. You’re now his child and he will guide you in his path of righteousness for his name’s sake. He shows you what he doesn’t like and as his child, you surrender those things, whatever they are, to him.

Rd v 15; 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” So now, as a child of God, because we’ve been adopted, we can call him ‘Abba, Father’; it is interesting that up until the time of Jesus, the Jews would never call God, “Father.” Even though he has referred to himself that way with them. God was too big. It seemed to irreverent. How could anyone approach the creator of the Universe and use such an intimate title? Abba is like saying, “Daddy”. Jennifer and Christopher call me Daddy. Still today. Stephen calls Lisa – Mama. Still.

I don’t know about you, but that is just Amazing to me. God, who created the Universe, who spoke the worlds into order, who is powerful and awesome and will judge the nations – this same God, loves me so much that he adopts me and then creates this intimate relationship with him where I can approach his throne and call him, Daddy!

ill.: there is a scene in Anna and the King where the king’s little girl has a problem. She runs away from the chaos of the classroom and runs to her father. He is on his throne and there are dozens of people surrounding him, all bowed down to the ground. But, the little girl isn’t fazed. She has a relationship with her dad that is so different than those people. She runs right up to him with her problem.

Show clip of Anna and the King daughter jumping into the lap of her father.

app.: If you’re a believer, if you’ve surrendered your life to Christ – that’s your new life! The Spirit-Filled Life now makes it possible for you to enter into the Throne Room of Heaven and sit on your Daddy’s lap and converse with him.

t.s.: Your Heavenly Father has made that possible! But there is so much more than just this moment in life that God has blessed us with…

For those of us who are being filled with the Spirit of God…

III.   We’re heirs with Jesus. You see that v 16-17.

exp.: rd v 16-17; heirs w/ Christ! That means we have the promise of heaven. I think Heaven is a wonderful promise – and I know someday that will be mine. I suppose for many, thinking of heaven gets them through the tough times of suffering on earth. Next week, we’ll talk more about suffering. I’ve got that on the radar for the next sermon pair:

  1. The Temporary State of Suffering
  2. The Permanent State of Hope

For now, I want you to think deeply about this gift of the Holy Spirit that allows you to access to God. It’s as simple as bowing your heart before him and lifting up your requests to him. And that is possible because:

  1. The Holy Spirit has moved into your life and has taken up residence. He has been leading you to follow him and you have been, daily, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, in order that you might walk closer to him.
  2. This presence of the Holy Spirit has made you a child of God. You’re his child – a child of the King and that grants you exclusive rights in the Kingdom of Heaven. You have his ear and his heart.
  3. We’re now, Co-heirs with Jesus
  4. This access that you now have is only needed for this moment. Because one day you will be in presence in such a way that you will see him face to face. And you’ll be change – for you will be like him.

And all of this is what I think makes us Peculiar. Special.

Application:

  • My guess is that there are some here who have never surrendered their hearts to God. You don’t have the kind of access I’ve been talking about because you’re not his. Let me offer you an opportunity to respond to this invitation. Come to Christ!
  • Maybe there is another decision on your heart and you’re ready to share that with someone. You’re ready for them to begin praying for you. Maybe you desire to join Calvary, roll up your sleeves and get involved in the ministry here.
  • I have a challenge for our members. It’s called Whose your 1? Here’s how it works: you pray for your someone, once a day, for one minute, at one o’clock.
    1. Pick someone. No more than one. Who is your one?
    2. Set your timer or alarm or notifications to alert you at 1 PM every day.
    3. When your alarm or alert goes off.. quietly intercede with all the gusto you can muster for that one person to get saved.
    4. And do so for one minute.

Some of you are like: I’m going to pray for 10 people for 10 minutes… Listen, this is hard enough. Don’t even pick two people. Just focus on one person to pray for every day at 1pm for one minute. And see if God doesn’t open up doors…

ill.: imagine with me for just a moment. What if Jesus came to you in this moment? What if he said to you: I’m going to answer every prayer request you’ve brought to me this past week. What would that be like? Would anyone get saved? What transformations for the Kingdom would take place?

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 8.9-11

Title: Alive by the Spirit!

Text: Romans 8.9-11(pg 888)

There is a King who lived long enough to see his great-grandmother serve as Queen of England and, his niece, the current reigning Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth. The King? King Edward VIII. He was born during his great-grandmother’s reign in 1894. In 1952, he watched his niece at her coronation. What a link! He saw both Queens, the two longest reigning monarchs in British History, in their two subsequent centuries. Queen Victoria began serving as England’s Queen in 1837 and ruled for 64 years, surrendering her throne in 1901. Today’s Queen, Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne since 1952. So, as of February 6th, she has been reigning for 67 years. So, I suppose it isn’t too unusual that a man would see these two women serve as Queen. But, it is pretty unique that a King would see two reigning queens. You see, for a woman to become queen, the King would have to die.

You might be familiar with the story… King Edward VII reigned from 1901-1910 when Queen Victoria died. His Son, George V, reigned from 1910-1936. When George the V died, his son King Edward VIII became King. But he didn’t really want to be king all the time. He had a real problem.

He was told that there were two people in him. There was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David who was the Prince of Wales. The other man was King Edward VIII. He couldn’t be both. One would rule over him and the choice was his. The truth was he couldn’t be both. And, for one to reign, the other had to die. The problem was this man wanted to be able to let the passions of the playboy prince reign. He only wanted King Edward VIII to rule sometimes. But the other man he was – the playboy, the man who was mixing it up with a married woman – that man like to drink and party and pursue his passions. And, that’s the man who won out. So, after 11 months of faking it, he gave up his throne and was given a new Title: The Duke of Windsor. He lived out the rest of his life as the Duke of Windsor. That is why he was able to see these two Queens.

Transition: He has the dubious distinction of being the only King in British History to abdicate his throne. And he did so because he couldn’t give up his passions.

In a similar fashion, that’s what Paul is writing to the Romans in our text: You cannot walk according to the flesh and walk according to the Spirit at the same time. You have to surrender one and let the other reign. There is only room for one to sit on the throne of your heart. And Jesus doesn’t storm the gates of your life and take the throne by force. It is something you have to abdicate. Either you’ll be Prince of your passion chasing the lusts and desires of the flesh or Jesus will be King and you will live your life according to the Spirit.

As we come to our text this morning, you might note there is a change in the grammar. Maybe you noticed it when it was read earlier. To be specific, the pronouns change. See v5, for those… He identifies two groups: those who live life according to the flesh and those who live life according to the Spirit.

But now, He turns from teaching to dialogue. He is speaking to them directly.

I’d like to speak with you directly. I feel like I know you… most of you fairly well. Paul cites 5 Truths about these Roman Christians and I’d like to share them as directly with you as Paul did to them.

Truth #1: You, however, are in the Spirit.

He is speaking to Christians. At least there seems to be an assumption that his readers are indeed, believers. Rd v9a; You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the spirit. To get where he is coming from, you’ll really have to go back to v 7 and read through the first part of v9. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit…

So, his audience is the Church at Rome: Christians. You can see their names listed in Romans 16. Turn a few pages to the end of this letter. Read Romans 16.1-15; His terminology identifies that many he believe to be saved, or, at least, there are those who are saved in that household. I count 27 people. The mother of Rufus is mentioned, but not her name. Still, I counted her. Paul doesn’t do anything near this in any of his other letters. I think it is safe to assume that he believes many of the people in the church at Rome to be Christians. Or, more specifically, those who are ‘in the Spirit’.

But, Paul is clear not to assume that all are believers. rd 9b; if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. That’s a big ‘if’. I’m sure there were some in the Roman Church who were not believers. Do you see in our text here the word ‘if’? It is a different word for ‘if’ than the usual word in Greek. This word shows emphasis. He doesn’t use it very often; only three times in this letter and 6 times in all 13 of his letters. We’ll see it again next week when we talk about adoption into the family of Christ by the Spirit. Look to v 17; rd v17; provided… ESV uses a word that is more intense to clarify its meaning. And so in our text today, the translators of the NASB add the word indeed. The ESV adds in fact. The NIV doesn’t really do anything to add emphasis. But here’s the point: you are in the Spirit, if, in fact (and that’s a big if) the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Transition: and this is the 2nd truth Paul presents…

Truth #2: The Spirit is alive in you.

That means, he communicates and acts in you. When you don’t feel right about something. When you feel guilty about an action or decision. When you feel the need to go talk to someone or pray for them in that moment. In those moments, you’re under the direction of the Holy Spirit who is alive in you. Oh, brother and sister in Christ – don’t squelch that! So many times, we, who possess the Spirit of God in us, we’re directed by the Holy Spirit to act in some fashion. That’s because the Spirit of God is alive in you!

Now, perhaps you sitting here today and you don’t feel that. Perhaps you’re thinking that it has been so many years now since last you felt the Spirit’s leading in a matter or in a circumstance. Maybe it has been so long, you can’t even remember when the last time was. Oh, dear friend, be afraid of that. That should strike fear in your soul. It might be that the Spirit moved in you so many times, but you said no so many times in return, that the Spirit stopped prompting you. That is cause for great concern.

Look at this verse in our text; rd v 9a-b: You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Paul sounds definitive about them but then adds this subordinating conditional clause – if, the Spirit of God is housed in you. (v1, 4). To clarify, he means anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ… there is a very real possibility that there are some in the presence of the church at Rome who do not know Christ as Savior. Their sins have not been atoned for and they walk according to the flesh and the World.

But, for those who are Christians, they have God living in them. To be clear, Paul uses all three persons of the Trinity to clarify this teaching. He says, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, i.e., the Holy Spirit is housed in you. That’s the term he uses.

Ill.: οἶκος is the word for house. It is a noun. You’ve probably noticed it on a container of Oikos Greek Yogurt. I don’t know why they named the Yogurt “house”, but nevertheless, you’ve probably seen it. That is the word here in our text, only it is in verb form. Here is the Truth Paul is teaching: When you become a believer, the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence in your soul.

This really shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus promised this in John 14. He has gone to prepare a place for us and one day he will return to take us home to be with him. This is really some pretty deep theology but bear with me. Until that time when he returns again, he says beginning in v 16:

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Transition: which brings me to the 3rd truth this morning…

Truth #3: You now belong to Christ.

Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me. Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.

You are not your own. This is derived from the opposite of what is stated in the rest of v9: anyone who doesn’t have the spirit of Christ, does not belong to Christ. But you, when you came to your senses and realized your desperate need for Christ, you surrendered all of what you know about yourself to him. Now you belong to him.

But, maybe you haven’t. That was the problem King Andrew VIII had. He had been in a long-term relationship, out of wedlock, with a woman and he abandoned her to pursue a married woman. This was his practice throughout the 1920s and ’30s. To become king, he had to give up his old, wicked, philandering lifestyle and begin living like the King he was born to be. But he couldn’t. It wasn’t that he didn’t try. At least it looks like he tried. He became King upon his father’s death. He held the throne for 11 months, but couldn’t quit his old ways. His passions and lusts overwhelmed him to the point that he abandoned any thought of being king and abdicated his throne to his little brother, Albert, Elizabeth’s father.

Let me ask you today: Do you belong to Jesus? Is he the King who sits on your heart’s throne? Have you surrendered all that you know of yourself to him? Or, are you just trying to fake it: saying the right words, but the actions of your life really scream, “liar!”

Let me implore you now to surrender your life totally to Christ. If you never have, I want to talk with you about it. Would you come to talk to me? After the service, please come talk with me. You’ll find me back near the Cornerstone area. Just come up and say: Can we talk?

Transition: Truth #3: if you are in the Spirit, you now belong to Christ.

Truth: #4: And if Christ is in you, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Rd v 10; I think Paul is referencing v 4 above; (cf.: v4; righteous requirement); although, the body is (still) dead because of sin, your spirit is alive because Christ fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law. Did you catch that? You’re both dead and alive at the same time. A living contradiction, you are!

So, the Spirit gives life to your spirit while you’re in a dying body. If you’re younger, you probably don’t feel like you’re dying. As you get older, you come to realize that this life is rather temporary and the body is giving up on itself.

Something that happens to you as you get older is your sight gives way. Looking around you see dark figures move across your eyes. At first, since you don’t understand it, you might think you’re seeing things. As you get older, these dark figures get more pronounced. You have to stop and ask yourself if you just saw a mouse run across the floor or are your eyes betraying you!

A friend shared this discovery with me and declared: I’m watching myself die from the inside out! That is so true. This body is dying. The truth is, none of us gets out of this thing called life alive.

Let me show you a picture: show picture of the women and children on the front steps at the Old Calvary.

Some will live longer in their bodies than others. But, unless Christ returns before your time runs out – your body will give up on you and you will be left to be remembered in Photographs. But this verse reminds us of something very important: even though the body is dying because of sin, the Spirit is alive in us!

Transition: which brings me to Truth #5

Truth: #5: The Spirit will also give life to our bodies when we die and we will be raised, just as Jesus was.

Let me ‘splain: rd v 11; When I was a teenager, Russ Taff, singing with the Imperials, said: the Bible says that same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, also made us alive in him. I think his statement came from this verse. While that is true, I don’t think that is what Paul is saying here. He has been saying it, yes. But this verse, this verse is a continuation of the Spirit’s activity in our lives:

  • When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, he comes to live in us by way of his Holy Spirit.
  • The Spirit takes up residence in us. He lives, he dwells, he is housed in our spirit.
  • He communes with us. He guides us in paths of righteousness. He convicts us in regard to sin. He illumines our hearts and minds to give us an understanding of his truth. We are now under his sway and leadership.
  • And when this body gives out and dies, the Spirit won’t die. And, in reality, neither will we. The body, which lies dead in a grave, will be resurrected just as Jesus’ body was raised.

Turn to 1 Cor 15.1 (pg. 903) think our area code: 903. Rd 1 Cor 15.

Application: So, what do we do in light of this information: 1 Cor 15.58: 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

  1. Steadfast: remain firm in your faith!
  2. Immovable: don’t chase after the passions of the world which flow in and out of your life. Plant your feet and remain immovable!
  3. Abound in the work of the Lord always: consider the work God has called us to as a body and let us not stop.
  4. Remember: our work is not in vain. It might appear that way at times, but it is accomplishing things we can only imagine. God is using us. We are seeing people saved overseas. We are seeing people saved here in Tyler. We will continue to see these things.

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. There will be coffee, donuts, and cookies in the Cornerstone area following a benedictory prayer. I invite you to join us. Come visit with us. And, if there is something you want to discuss, please, let’s talk. If you want to know more about faith in Christ or membership at Calvary – come talk to us.

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Filed under Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 8.5-8

Title: The Spirit-Filled Life brings Focus!

Text: Romans 8.4-9 (pg. 887)

Introduction: The Spirit-Filled Life brings Focus! Last week we began to dig into Romans chapter 8 as we took a look at The Spirit-Filled Life brings Freedom! This week: We look at the 2nd part of the Spirit-Filled life for the new believer: Focus. Romans 8. If you’re using a pew Bible, I’m on page 887-888. By the way, if you’re sitting near someone who doesn’t have a Bible, help them find one near you.

IN the 2018 News of the Year Edition of World Magazine, a lady in Duquesne, PA was reported as driving on the train tracks. It was last November 21st, and local police were summoned and when they tracked her down they did, in fact, find that she was driving on the train tracks. The police reported that she was sober. No alcohol or drugs in her system. She seemed perfectly fine. Why then was she on the train tracks? She was simply following her GPS, which had told her to go that way. And she did! She was so focused in on following the directions from her GPS that she followed directions down the wrong track… pardon the pun.

BTW: she got a ticket!

I think that’s a good way to describe the difference between living your life according to the flesh and according to the spirit. The Spirit of God will never steer you wrong!

But to be fair: this doctrine of the Holy Spirit living in us is a hard concept for us all. Isn’t it? Consider the man in John 3, Nicodemus – who comes to Jesus by night. John calls him a ruler of the Jews. Jesus calls him the teacher of Israel. And yet, when Jesus tries to explain spiritual matters to him, he still thinks in earthly terms.

Jesus told Nicodemus: flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit. Nicodemus struggles intellectually to grasp the concept that Jesus is laying out for him. He says: that which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. So consider: we are speaking of earthly, physical matters and heavenly, spiritual matters. The physical matters we get. The spiritual… they’re much more difficult to grasp. The difference can be like trusting your life to a human or a machine.

We pick up in v 5 of Romans 8, but I’d like to start in v1. That’s on Page 887-8 in your Pew Bible.

Let’s read that together. If you’re knees work well and you’re physically able, would you mind standing? Let’s begin in v.1 of Chapter 8:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Let’s pray.

The big idea behind Paul’s teaching is pretty simple: there is a contrast between those who are in Christ Jesus and those who are not. That contrast? It is their focus. You see, those who live their lives according to the flesh have their minds set on the flesh. Those who live their lives according to the Spirit have their minds set on the Spirit.

Let’s discuss this latter group first: For those who are in Christ Jesus, verse 1 tells us that we are no longer under condemnation. Why? Verse 2 tells us that we’ve been set free from the law of sin and death. How is that even possible: see v 4 – because God sent his own Son to die for us in the likeness of sinful flesh. That means that God became a man in order to fulfill the requirement of the law. When sin was condemned the punishment was death. Jesus died in our place. He satisfied that requirement. But Paul doesn’t just stop there. Even though that is where we stopped last week. Let’s continue from here… rd v 4; in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. So, it is fulfilled in us – not by us. And then, who is us? Answer: Those who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

You might just be asking yourself at this moment if you are one of those people. How can you know? Paul is going to tell us in v 5&6; So, there are two types of people with two different results in their lives.

1st, to set the mind on the flesh is death. But, it isn’t that way for the believer. For that person, their mind is set on the Spirit – and that brings life. You have two opposites here: death and life. He gives us two others, as well: notice the end of that sentence – and peace. Keep reading and you see its opposite; rd v 7; For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. So, those in Christ have peace and live their lives with a sense of peace that lost people just can’t have and just don’t understand.

Philippians 4.7 says: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. How is that? How does that work? Well, the whole passage says:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.4-7

Does it say: Rejoice in the Lord sometimes? When times are good? When you have money? When you’re healthy! No. Always.

Reasonableness: or gentleness. The idea is when you respond to life and the hits you take from life – respond in a gentle – reasonable way that communicates to everyone your peace. Do you believe God’s got this? Then respond that way. We usually respond out of selfishness, don’t we?

The Lord is at hand. Instead of responding in selfish anger, TRUST the Lord – he knows what he’s doing. Pray about your situation. Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything Pray. And then…rd v7.

Transition: You see that is how the person who lives their life with their mind set on the Spirit responds.

Those in the flesh live in hostility toward God. And, the reason is (rd v 7) that they cannot submit to the law.

Two interesting facts here I want you to note about v6-7.

1st, note the chiastic structure Paul is using in this passage. A chiasm is a form of writing used in Hebrew teaching. You have:

  • death
    • life
    • peace
  • hostility

The emphasis and point here is life and peace.

2nd, note that’s the 2nd time we’ve seen the law in this text. The first one was in v4 where Paul told us that Jesus died for our sins in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. Those who walk according to the flesh live a life hostile to God and (see v7) they cannot submit to God’s law. It isn’t in them to do so. Back up in v2 Paul told us the law was sin and death.

Verse 4 tells us that Jesus fulfilled that righteous requirement. Jesus is the only one who could ever fulfill the righteous requirement of the law. When he comes to live in you by his Spirit, he writes his law upon your heart. That was the promise of the OT. One day he would write his law upon our hearts. BTW: that comes from Jeremiah 31.33: 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

This prophecy, of course, is fulfilled in Jesus. But, the one without the Spirit of Jesus coming into his life – he is filled with hostility toward God. And note these two results now: v7 he cannot submit to the law and v8, he cannot please God.

In reading this I’m reminded of another verse that mentions an inability to please God. It is found in Hebrews 11.6: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

So let’s review these steps:

  1. We now stand no longer condemned.
  2. Why? Because the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death. That Spirit of life is what has come to live in us when we believe, and, he has set us free.
  3. How? Because God did for us what we could never do on our own. He fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law through the sending of his Son. And so now we see two types of people:
    1. Those who live life according to the Spirit.
    2. Those who live life according to the flesh.
  4. These two types of people show themselves to be who they are by the way they live and think. The Gk uses the terms be and
    1. Those who find their being in the flesh will experience death and hostility. They cannot submit to God’s law and they cannot please God.
    2. Those who find their being in the Spirit will experience life and peace. The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in them because of Christ’s work and his presence in their lives. God’s Spirit moves into our lives and God writes his law upon our hearts.

Conclusion: So, why don’t we always live like it?

I think that is because we confuse the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification. Justification declares we’re saved. Sanctification is that process in which we must choose to what’s right. When the Spirit of God comes to live in you, you feel guilty when you do wrong. That’s called conviction.

I think Satan does a great job of deceiving us and he makes us think that because we’re justified we can live however we want. And through that deception, we make wrong decisions and suffer dire consequences. Aren’t you thankful for God’s grace?

This week I came across a video that is 18 years, almost 19 years old now. It is from Passion 2000 and the speaker is John Piper. His now famous speech is entitled: Don’t waste your life. That 7 minutes or so section from his Passion sermon spurred the book in 2003, Don’t waste your life and became a best seller.

I mention this video because I think you should YouTube it. Watch it. But, I also mention it because Satan wants you to do just that – Waste your life! He makes you think that you can never be the person God wanted you to be. You’ve messed up too bad, for too long. You’ve chased the wrong dream for too long. You’ve climbed the ladder up the wrong wall for too long. But it is never too late as long as we are here this side of Glory. The lie is: You’ve already messed up… why don’t you just keep doing what you’re doing!

While researching more information on this video, I came across a blog by a Scottish pastor. I couldn’t find his name anywhere on his site, but, he quoted a story by Octavius Winslow, who lived from 1808 to 1878. This story was used to add emphasis to the idea of Don’t waste your life. The story goes:

A young man, whom he had known as a boy, came to an aged professor of a distinguished continental university, with a face beaming with delight, and informed him that the long and fondly-cherished desire of his heart was at length fulfilled – his parents having given their consent to his studying the profession of the law. As the university presided over by his friend was a distinguished one, he had repaired to its law school, and was resolved to spare no labor or expense in getting through his studies as quickly and ably as possible. In this strain he continued for some time; and when he paused, the old man, who had been listening to him with great patience and kindness, gently said, “Well! And when you have finished your career of study, what do you mean to do then?” “Then I shall take my degree,” answered the young man. “And then?” asked his venerable friend. “And then,” continued the youth, “I shall have a number of difficult and knotty cases to manage: shall attract notice by my eloquence, and wit, and acuteness, and win a great reputation.” “And then?” repeated the holy man. “And then!” replied the youth, “why then there cannot be a question- I shall be promoted to some high office in the state, and I shall become rich.” “And then?” “And then,” pursued the young lawyer, “then I shall live comfortably and honorably in wealth and respect, and look forward to a quiet and happy old age.” “And then?” repeated the old man. “And then,” said the youth, “And then- and then- and then I shall die.” Here his venerable listener lifted up his voice, and again asked, with solemnity and emphasis- “And then?” Whereupon the aspiring student made no answer, but cast down his head, and in silence and thoughtfulness retired. This last “And then?” had pierced his heart like a sword- had darted like a flash of lightning into his soul and he could not dislodge the impression. The result was, the entire change of his mind and course of his life. Abandoning the study of law, he entered upon that of divinity, and expended the remainder of his days in the labors of a minister of Christ.

Now, I’m not in any way suggesting that you’re wasting your life if you don’t pursue the ministry. But, I am suggesting that you’re wasting your life if you’re not following Jesus. Truth is, you can pursue just about any vocation and be an ardent follower of Christ. How you ask? By living according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Too many people will live out their lives in fleshly pursuits and never find true peace and life. I hope and pray you’re not one of them.

Application: So, what would I like for you to take home with you today?

  1. Your walk is reflective of the way you think – i.e., your mindset. What you think comes out in the way you live. You cannot live according to the flesh and according to the Spirit at the same time. These two appear to me to be mutually exclusive. You are one or you are the other. But, you cannot have both. With that in mind, you know if you’re saved or not. If you aren’t, would you come to talk to me about it?
  2. I’d like to go back to verse 8: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. I am by nature a people pleaser. I’ve had to work hard to get to a place where I don’t do what I do to please people. I hope people are pleased because I’ve pleased God with my life. I’m hoping I find God’s pleasure in my life. These verses in Romans 8, about God being pleased or not pleased, strike a chord with me. I see the Father say of the Son, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I like that. When I hear verses quoted like, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I am moved. I think a wasted life would be a life lived that did not find the Master saying to that person, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” As you think about your life as it has been lived out to date, would you consider you’ve lived a good and faithful life? Would God declare his pleasure? Maybe there are some changes needed in your life, in your habits, in your routine. Let’s talk about that.
  3. Maybe there is another decision on your heart: joining the church, maybe you just need prayer. Maybe you’re considering a call to the ministry or the mission field.

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’ll have a moment of silence and then someone will lead us in a closing prayer. If you’ve never given your life to Christ, won’t you do that this morning? Maybe there is another decision on your heart: church membership, surrendering to ministry. Whatever it might be, I’d love to visit with you about that. Maybe you’re visiting with us this morning. Please, come introduce yourself. I’d love to visit with you some. We’ll have coffee, donuts, and cookies back in the back. Let’s fellowship together for a while.

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Filed under Christian Living, Philippians, Romans, Scripture, Sermon, Spiritual Formations

Romans 8.1-4

Sermon Series: The Spirit-Filled Life

Title: The Spirit of Life Brings Freedom!

Text: Romans 8.1-4

Big Idea: We no longer stand condemned, because have been set free by the Spirit of God.

 

Introduction: The Focus of Romans 8 is on the believer’s Spirit-filled life. For the next few months, as we push toward Easter, I would like to focus on this chapter. I will present a series of sermons in repeated ‘two parts’. Let me show you what I mean:

# Sermon Series: The Spirit-filled Life Text:
1. Introduction: No Condemnation Romans 8.1
2. The Spirit-filled Life brings Freedom! Romans 8.1-4
3. The Spirit-filled Life brings Focus! Romans 8.5-8
4. Alive by the Spirit! Romans 8.9-11
5. Adopted by the Spirit! Romans 8.12-17
6. The Temporary State of Suffering Romans 8.18-21
7. This Permanent State of Hope Romans 8.22-25
8. The Work of the Spirit in the Spirit-filled Life Romans 8.26-27
9. The Work of the Spirit Step by Step Romans 8.28-30
10. Who can stand against us? Romans 8.31-32
11. Case dismissed! Romans 8.33-36
12. Conclusion: Nothing Can Separate Us! Romans 8.37-39

There is the intro, which I brought to you a couple of weeks ago. You see #10 and #11 have a ‘trial’ feel to them. I’m still working on a title to go with those two messages. And of course, #12, is our Conclusion.

Romans 8 isn’t how on ‘how’ to be saved – that really is all presented in Romans 1-7, as we covered Introduction. Romans 8 is about your life in Christ Jesus. You’ll see it as the top and the tail to the chapter; rd 8.1-2; 39.

In chapters 1-7 we find the Gospel: God is Holy; Mankind is sinful; Our Sin separates us from God and brings about God’s Just Wrath toward us; In our helpless estate, Christ paid that penalty for us; That payment was totally sufficient to cover every sin of every person who ever lived; There is the Personal Response of the individual by faith in Christ; That individual is then immediately justified and continually being sanctified. And then we come to Romans 8: the Spirit-filled life of the believer. Romans 9-11 deal with The Freedom of Man and the Sovereignty of God. Romans 12-16 will be all about the practical side of the New Believer’s Life in Christ (i.e., loving your brother, serving each other, how we are to now perceive the governmental authorities over us, etc.). But Romans 8, this all about this Christian Life now lived out by the Spirit of God in Christ.

Let me show you the overwhelming emphasis on the Spirit in chapter 8: 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 26, 27 (Romans 7, starting in v 7 has an overwhelming emphasis on I, me, my!).

When you are saved you ask Jesus to come into your life, forgive you of your sin and to take up residence in your heart. Have you ever heard that before? There have been so many foolish debates about this: do you ask Jesus into your heart or do you ask God to live in you or do you ask for the Holy Spirit? The answer is basically yes. The Holy Spirit then comes and takes up residence there – in you.

The Holy Spirit has different terms or names here in chapter 8: Mostly, he is called The Spirit; rd v 9; The Spirit of God; The Spirit of Jesus;

Now, at this point, in my sermon preparation, I paused. You might have already hit the pause button yourself. All of this is – is theology. Teaching, Teaching, Teaching. Doctrine, Doctrine, Doctrine. You might find yourself drifting away… doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, snooze…

But this doctrine is so important. It is vital to the Christian Life. Here’s the way this text breaks down:

  • Declaration: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Why? Because… (NIV: Because, for; HCSB: Because, and then just explains in v 4) the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Answer: You’ve been set free! But then he answers another question that arises.
  • How? Because… For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. In other words, Obedience to the Law was not possible. Indeed, it is insufficient. He continues: By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. So, where the Law was lacking, Christ fulfilled that righteous requirement as set by God. And, so now will live differently. We live by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

That difference can sometimes look the same. What I mean is this: Some folks actually think that the Christian life is following rules and regulations. These same people, well-meaning as they are, say to the new believer, you can’t do this and you must do that. But what happens to the new believer is that they begin to feel pretty good about their ‘doing’. They’re acting like their mentor tells them to act. They’re behaving like their mentor tells them to behave. And so they begin to think that by ‘doing’ they’re demonstrating their salvation. The problem with this is that no one can live that out perfect. Failure comes eventually, and when it does, so do doubts about their salvation. They think, if I were saved I wouldn’t behave this way. Go back to chapter 7: the things I want to do, I don’t. The things I don’t want to do, I do. That’s legalism gone amuck.

Paul says, huh-uh. That’s not how it works. Legalism is a vicious cycle. Go back a few verses to 7.24 and read through. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. And then he makes this declaration:

Declaration: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Transition: Paul then explains the process…

Why is that? And how can it be? Let’s answer that first question: why?

Why? The Spirit of Life has set us free from the Law and from its curse of death (2)

exp.: V 1 is a declaration of Justification. Boom! Immediately, your sins are forgiven. But, v2 then explains why this happens. It happens because (rd v 2) …the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. This is the principle being taught: the law brings sin and death. But, the Spirit brings life.

Paul is giving us some facts about the Law here.

  1. The Law defines Sin for us. It communicates to us what it means to be sinners. Perfection is the outline. You can’t be perfect, so you sin. You and I would have no idea what sin is if the Law had never said: Thou Shalt not covet. And, once we learn what sin is, something interesting happens. And that is #2
  2. The Law produces sin in us. It communicates the boundaries and we automatically want to cross those boundaries. You hear “don’t covet” and you learn what it means to desire the things of other people. What do you do? You start wanting what other people have. Your neighbor gets a new truck and what do you want? A new truck! And more than that – you want his new truck!
  3. The Law brings death. It can never bring life. Here is the Law. One infraction against it and you’re done. The penalty for breaking this one time? Death. Therefore, the law brings death.

app.: Why? By accomplishing all three as it processes itself through the life of people. We learn what sin is and it produces in us this desire from which we cannot break free on our own. The Law then kills us; it destroys us. But then we come to Jesus. And for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation. We’ve been set free from the Law. The Law loses its power over us and we’ve been given new life in Christ.

t.s.: So here is the review: We come to Christ confessing our sin. Immediately, we’re justified. There is therefore now no condemnation. Why? Because God has given us his Spirit of Life, setting us free from the law of sin and death. But that brings up another question: How? How does all of this happen? How is it put into motion? And that’s our next question: How? The answer is in v.3; rd v 3; Answer:

How:

  • God did for us what the Law could never do. (3a)

exp.: The Law is perfect, but we can’t live out that perfection. And one infraction against the Law condemns us. The Law is holy, but it can’t make us holy because we can never live it out perfectly. Instead, it produces sin in us. The Law shows us, teaches us what holiness is and demonstrates for us our great failure and our great need. There is a recognition at this point that we can never ‘do’ the law in such a way as to save ourselves. Never. We are helpless and left to die because we justly deserve that punishment of death as required by the law because we are lawbreakers!

app.: And since we were helpless, God acted on our behalf.

t.s.: which brings us to more explaining in that answer:

  • God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. (3b)

exp.: rd 3b; God sent His Son in the flesh. There is more theology here, more doctrine. Two very important teachings for us! God sent his own son in the flesh. Here’s the principle: God’s Son equates to his perfection. Alistair Begg says it this way: Paul is safeguarding for us two important truths: His Divinity and His Humanity. His Divinity demonstrates for us his perfection and sinlessness and, his humanity demonstrates for us that he became flesh.

By sending his own Son (His Divinity) in the likeness of sinful flesh (His Humanity) and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,

  1. The Reality of Christ’s Humanity. Jesus is real. He isn’t a legend. He isn’t some fable. His story isn’t told to teach us how we should live – you know, be like him. He was loving. He was kind. Be like him! Yes, but that isn’t the point. The point is that God sent his son in Human form – taking on flesh and bone. And then, there is this 2nd Truth:
  2. The Fact of Christ’s Sinlessness. Jesus, by living a perfect life, became the only one who could do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Listen to 2 Corinthians 5.21: 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

ill.: This is why we sang this morning:

Jesus Paid It All

I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small

Child of weakness watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

Lord now indeed I find, Thy pow’r and Thine alone

Can change the leper’s spots, And melt the heart of stone

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete

Jesus died my soul to save, My lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

Oh praise the One Who paid my debt

And raised this life up from the dead

exp.: the rest of that verse reads: he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. If you make your way back to Romans 3.21ff, you’ll find that God put Jesus forth as a propitiation for our sin.

app.: When I hear the word propitiation, I think of God’s Wrath. The Wrath of God was satisfied in the death of Christ on the Cross. Jesus was that righteous requirement of the law.

Conclusion: So, how does this apply in the world?

There is a recent story posted by FoxNews:

It reads:

A young Manhattan dietitian hanged herself in her West Village apartment after posting a suicide note online in which she apologized to her mom and said she “felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life,” police sources said Thursday.

San Francisco native Tara Condell, 27, was found dead with a cloth around her neck inside the bedroom of her home on West 10th Street around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday after police were called to the residence for a wellness check, sources said.

Worried co-workers called the cops after Condell did not show up for work at the Midtown office of Top Balance Nutrition on Wednesday — and saw that Condell posted the note to her website, according to sources.

One of Condell’s co-workers was waiting outside the woman’s home by the time cops arrived.

In addition to the note left on her website, Condell left another suicide note in a folder in her living room, sources said.

Condell — who, according to her website, is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in general nutrition, weight management, gastrointestinal disease and diabetes care — apologized to her mother at the end of the note posted to her site, saying, “I’m really sorry mama.”

The young woman began the note — which was titled, “I Hate The Word ‘Bye,’ But See You Later Maybe?” — writing, “I have written this note several times in my head for over a decade, and this one finally feels right. No edits, no overthinking. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment, and I am just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired.”

“I realize I am undeserving of thinking this way because I truly have a great life on paper. I’m fortunate to eat meals most only imagine. I often travel freely without restriction. I live alone in the second greatest American city (San Francisco, you’ll always have my heart). However, all these facets seem trivial to me,” Condell wrote.

She continued: “It’s the ultimate first world problem, I get it. I often felt detached while in a room full of my favorite people; I also felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life. No single conversation or situation has led me to make this decision, so at what point do you metaphorically pull the trigger?”

 

You see her picture there: A beautiful young woman who just missed this message. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment. Can I tell you that is true if you do all you can to find your happiness here on this earth? You will be disappointed.

But please, hear the message Paul is giving us. We’re sinful people. Our sin separates us from God. There is nothing on this earth that will satisfy the longing you have inside. Nothing. If you search this young woman’s blog posts, you’ll see she had an incredible life. She was gifted. Beautiful. Intelligent. She loved science. She had many friends. But she couldn’t find happiness here in what earth offers.

And neither will you. Hope can only be found in Christ. As our text here says, he alone can set you free. And if the Son sets you free, you are truly free indeed.

 

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’ll have a moment of silence and then someone will lead us in a closing prayer. If you’ve never given your life to Christ, won’t you do that this morning? Maybe there is another decision on your heart: church membership, surrendering to ministry. Whatever it might be, I’d love to visit with you about that. Maybe you’re visiting with us this morning. Please, come introduce yourself. I’d love to visit with you some. We’ll have coffee, donuts, and cookies back in the back. Let’s fellowship together for a while.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Romans, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Title: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

Text: Romans 8.1

Introduction: View video.

Let me share with you the flow of my message this morning.

  • 1st, I want to talk with you about Cityfest East Texas and the opportunities we have at Calvary to be participants in this Crusade.
  • 2nd, I want to review the book of Romans up to our text: Romans 8.1. That means, I simply review chapters 1-7 – in order that we might gain some context for Paul’s great statement found in 8.1.
  • 3rd, I want to spend the remainder of my time looking at this one verse, Romans 8.1.

In the coming months, Calvary will be asked to work with other churches around the city. The goal is to partner with other churches to have a visual, positive presence in our city. There will so much to volunteer for – that is, so much work around the city. I like the idea. I really do. But, if the gospel isn’t shared, then I don’t like the idea.

Now, of course, the idea behind Cityfest is to do just that – create a positive perspective of the Church in the eyes of the lost. Then, in October, when Andrew Palau comes to Tyler, invite those folks to hear the gospel. But I hope you and I won’t wait to share. I think sharing Christ is a responsibility all the way through!

Ill.: Bud Surles was a good friend of mine when I lived in Worland, Wyoming. He was pastor of Zion Lutheran – an independent church in that town. Bud was reformed and very conservative in his theology. But, he was also very evangelistic. He had a strong opinion about how those two go hand in hand. Well, every year, our ministerial alliance used to provide Thanksgiving baskets for the poor. Many of our churches in the city would gather forces, take up collections and gather in all the goods to fill these baskets. Then, on Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, our members who show up in force, taking these baskets of food to the poor – ensuring they would have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with their families. Great ministry idea, right?

Well, one year, as we were meeting to discuss the details of what would be taking place for the Thanksgiving baskets, Bud volunteered his church to place in the basket video copies of the Jesus Film. Let me just say the liberal force was highly offended! He was shut down. Bud asked if his church could put in pamphlets on the plan of Salvation. Again, he was rejected. Finally, he said, look, we all have Bibles in our churches. Surely, we can agree to put Bibles in the baskets. Nope! I remember in frustration Bud said to the Alliance members: So what is your purpose here – to fatten them up to send them to hell?!?

I think of Bud at times like these. Bud has gone to be with the Lord. He passed away this last year. But his dogma concerning social work and evangelism has stayed with me. As a young pastor, I watched his enthusiasm for the needs of poor people matched by his desire to share Jesus with them.

So, why am I starting my sermon with this bit of information? Because: This year is a very important year in the life of Calvary Baptist Church. This year is a very important year in the life of the churches in Tyler. Cooperating with other churches in ministry is important, but not to the detriment of sharing Christ. Some people believe that being good in front of others is all you need. There are some churches that will be perfectly content with doing good work. But the truth is that none of us can be good enough to save ourselves. How can we ever hope to be good enough to save others?

Some years ago, a popular saying was being thrown around. It would preach well, and so many used it. The quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, but there is no evidence he ever said such a thing. Preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words. But there is a fallacy to this clever quip. If you read the Bible closely, you’ll see that the command is actually to preach the Gospel and to proclaim the Gospel. That isn’t to say your life should match your words. That is true. But actions alone are insufficient.

The Gospel is communicated through words.

Again, why am I bringing this up? (Because) it feels good to serve. You and I can gain a sense of accomplishment by simply helping the down and out. You can go to an area of town that is dirty and clean it up. Then, you can feel good about yourself and rest on the fact that you ‘served’. People see you in your service and smile. They make nice comments about your work. That all feels really nice. But there are two problems with that:

  1. Some of you would rather commit to 1000 hours of community service rather than spend 5 minutes sharing the Gospel with a lost person.
  2. No one gets to heaven because you’re nice or helpful.

People get to heaven because someone shares with them this incredibly good news that Christ has come into the world to save sinners; that God is holy. We are sinful and separated from him because of our sin. But, the Good news of Jesus Christ is that by repenting of our sins and placing our faith in Christ, we can be brought into a right relationship with God. People have to be told that. They don’t just see it.

Transition: We pick up in our text today in Romans Chapter 8.1. And, up to this point, Paul has been driving home the Gospel message.

Basically, this is what Paul has been saying from the beginning of his letter to the Romans, up and through Chapter 7. Let me show you what I mean. Here is a crude outline of Romans:

  • Sin                         Romans 1-2
  • Salvation              Romans 3-5
  • Sanctification      Romans 6-8
  • Sovereignty          Romans 9-11
  • Service                  Romans 12-16

So you see from this outline that we’re in the last part of the 3rd section: Sanctification. Because it has been a while since we’ve gone through this, let me take a moment to highlight the Gospel presentation in these first 7 chapters:

  • Theme: The Power of the Gospel to bring Salvation (1.16).
  • God is Holy, perfectly righteous (1.17)
  • Man is sinful, perfectly unrighteous (1.18)
  • God is just in his wrath toward us, sinners (3.8-10) We begin to see the hope of the Gospel as presented down in 3.21:
    • God’s Character of Righteousness (21-22)
    • Offense of Sin (23)
    • Sufficiency of Christ (24-25)
    • Personal Response (26) – again, he is just in his wrath toward us, and he is the justifier of the one who places their faith in Christ. This incredible story demands, commands a personal response from us. And that is really what chapter 4 is all about: justification through faith – the same faith that Abraham had.
  • Man is justified through faith in Christ. This argument reaches its climax on justification in 5.1: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And chapter 5 is that beautiful chapter on the God love and the Trinity: The Father pours his love into our hearts via the Holy Spirit (5.5) and demonstrates his love by giving his son, Jesus to die for our sins (5.8). To be justified is a declaration of God. It happens all at once. 2ndly,
  • Man is being sanctified through the continued life lived in faith in Christ. Sanctification is different than justification, in that, sanctification is a process. Justification is immediate. It is a simple declaration by God. Not guilty. Sanctification is different. Sanctification is a process we go through. God is sanctifying us in our present state. 6.19: 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. So, the idea is that you keep on presenting yourselves as slaves to righteousness, over and over again in the process. That process is sanctification. And it is a hard process. Daily, we die to the flesh and present ourselves to God.

Paul concludes chapter 7 with this war that rages throughout this process: rd 7.21-24; the answer is in 25: Jesus! Then, we come to 8.1: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Hallelujah! What a promise! Let’s look at a couple of points in this verse:

Therefore

exp.: The NASB puts this word first in the sentence. This is the word that points us forward, from whence we just came. All of what he’s said to this point has been to say: therefore. Furthermore, to understand this sentence, you must understand what was said before. That is the main reason I reviewed for us the 1st 7 chapters.

Now

exp.: Now, something has changed. It was once this way but now, it is presently no longer that way. The state and the condition of the believer are changed. There is a point in time on the timeline continuum that things have changed.

ill.: Consider that. Each of us who’ve given our lives to Christ have done so in such a way that we can identify that point. Maybe you don’t remember the date, but you probably remember the experience. Just like when I committed my life to Lisa. It wasn’t necessarily at our wedding – the truth is that I had already made that decision – that’s why the wedding took place. And, those who were there can give testimony to my commitment. And, hopefully, I’ve lived that out to the point that all of you can attest to this commitment.

app.: Now, having committed our lives to Christ, we’ve signified that, not just with baptism, but with a life lived in faithfulness. But, it all goes back to that moment. And because of that moment, we can say: Now! We no longer stand condemned!

t.s.: I think that is the emphasis Paul places in this sentence. Let me ‘splain!

“No” is the word that takes precedence in this sentence.

exp.: No is the first word in this sentence in the Gk. No condemnation! As the gospel is presented and accepted, the believer no longer stands condemned. Have you ever thought that through?

Consider this: every person is condemned to begin with. Consider John 3.16-18: 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. You see God’s purpose in sending his son in v 17 – his purpose wasn’t to condemn the world. It wasn’t? No! His purpose was to save the world. And the world could only be saved through him. Why is that? Because v 18 tells us that we’re all condemned already. We’re born that way. We’re conceived and born in sin. As sinners, we stand condemned. And, whoever does not believe in Jesus, according to v 18, is condemned already. But, as Romans 8.1 tells us, that anyone who does believe, for those who are ‘in’ Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation.

So, condemnation is the state of every human being, that is, until… until something happens to that person. When that person believes, that is, when that person puts their faith and trust in Christ… boom, at that moment, there is now, NO condemnation!

t.s.: in closing, let’s look at this last phrase…

For those who are in Christ Jesus

exp.: There are a couple of thoughts that come to mind concerning these people – those in Christ.

  1. In: Paul is not a ‘Universalist’. It amazes me that there are some who are still confused about the blood of Jesus. While it is true that Jesus died for the sins of the world, it is also true that the whole world will not be saved. The blood of Christ shed on the Cross of Calvary is more than effective and more than sufficient to remove every sin of every sinner who ever lived or who will ever live. But, while that is true, there are many who will still choose to pay the penalty for their own sin. They will reject the love of God as displayed through Christ on the Cross and they will die in their sins.
  2. Christ Jesus: Paul is not a Universalist and Paul is an Exclusionist. Paul is declaring that Christ is the only way to God. …for those who are in Christ Jesus declares that Christ is the only way to experience this ‘no condemnation’. Some would say that’s pretty narrow. I’d agree. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Jesus himself said: I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me. Outside of Christ, there is no hope. Period. Only in Christ Jesus can anyone hope to experience no condemnation before God.

t.s.: and that brings us back to the beginning…

Conclusion: with the thought of the social work that we’re invited to participate in this year, let us not forget the Gospel. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t participate. In fact, I’m advocating for us to join in the festivities this year. I’m encouraging you to say yes to the many projects the city needs to have done. I hope you’ll be a good witness and that you’ll work hard at whatever we are asked to do. I hope you’ll wear a shirt that identifies you as a member of Calvary. I hope you’ll paint, clean, carry, cook, cut, measure, vacuum, wipe, serve or whatever you do with all the gusto you can muster. But, take your words with you. Say: This is my story, this is my song! When given the opportunity tell them:

  1. God is perfectly holy
  2. And man is sinful and there is absolutely nothing we can do to ever repair this fractured relationship. As a matter of fact, the Bible says that because we’ve rebelled against God, our due punishment is death. But God didn’t leave us in this fallen state.
  3. So God acted on our behalf. He sent his one and only son to live a perfect and sinless life and then to pay the penalty in our stead. He died our deserved death on the Cross of Calvary and was buried in a borrowed tomb where his dead body lay for three days. But, on the 3rd day, he was raised to life, conquering death.
  4. And by taking God at his Word, you can have the assurance and confidence that your sins are forgiven. Just acknowledge the points I’ve just made. God is holy. You are not. Your sins separate you from God. But, by asking Jesus to be your savior, your sins are covered by his blood – washed white as snow.

Application: I hope you’ll share that message with those you encounter. But.

  1. Maybe you’ve never made that commitment.
  2. Maybe you’re feeling a call to be a preacher of this Good News.
  3. Maybe God is moving in you to bring your membership her to Calvary.
  4. Let God have his way this morning.

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Filed under Romans, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel

The Boy, Jesus

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Title: The Boy,  Jesus

Text: Luke 2.40-52

Introduction: The basic events as outlined in the Gospels are stories related by eyewitnesses. And, the writers, themselves were often times those same witnesses (i.e, first-hand reports). They observed first hand, Jesus in action. But stories of his childhood must come from other sources. That is why these stories of his childhood are very limited. Maybe that is why Luke begins this Gospel Account as he does in 1.1-4:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke states clearly that he wants to document his research so that there might be a certainty of the things being taught. I’m glad he did this extra work – going the extra mile, in order that we might know this story. This is the only story we have of his childhood.

**note: there are pseudopigraphic writings containing other-worldly type stories of the childhood of Jesus, but there is none we consider authoritative. Only this one…

I think Luke’s genius in his organization, thought and flow becomes apparent as we look closer at the text. I want you to remember the declaration of the Angel to Mary: 1st, She would bear a Son and his name would be called Jesus. In Lk 2.21, we read that is just what happened: they named him Jesus. 2nd, Her son would be Holy. We see that take place in Lk 2.22-23; 3rd, her son, Jesus, would be the Son of God (1.35). That hasn’t happened yet. As we’ve walked through Luke 1 and 2, we’ve not seen such a declaration, yet. We will see that in our passage today.

Notice how Luke brackets this story with certain phrasing: rd 2.40 and 2.52; growth, strength, wisdom, favor;

Luke is employing his journalist gift by creating a bridge between his birth and the start of his earthly ministry. To do this, he sets up his outline of three marks or traits of Jesus as given by the Angel, Gabriel. This third mark (i.e.,: being called the Son of God), is the purpose in this story and the link between these two separate parts to the book (his birth and the start of his earthly ministry).

So, just how will Luke do this? Let’s read the story together and I’ll then take you through his process, step by step. Read Luke 2.40-52; pray

This story reads like a narrative. Each narrative consists of:

  1. Setting
  2. Conflict or Crisis
  3. Climax
  4. Resolution
  5. Stasis (D. Helm: A New Setting; Simeon Trust Workshops)

See Graph: this is a picture of how a narrative might flow.

Let’s look at each one of these in our story:

  1. Setting (40-42): these people are Jewish and they are faithful to this religious observance.
  2. Conflict (43-45): every narrative has a crisis event where conflict occurs. This story finds the conflict or the crisis when Jesus (as a child) remains in Jerusalem and his mom and dad loose track of him. A search ensues. A return to the city is warranted. The search continues. It is on the 3rd day he is found.
  3. Climax (46-49): the story reaches its climax when Jesus is found and his mom confronts him for this action that has created such worry for them. And in his response, Jesus asks them two questions to demonstrate his childlike naïveté. Luke tells us that his parents don’t get it – they don’t understand his response.
  4. Resolution (50): The story’s resolution isn’t really much of a resolution. It finds its resolution and
  5. Stasis (51-2): The New Setting – Jesus lives out his childhood perfectly in the obedience and submission of the Messiah to his parents. He gets older, wiser, and stronger and is well respected among the people as he finds their favor. Most of all, he has his Father’s favor. Mary has a keen awareness of the fact that something is going on here. She doesn’t totally get it, but she gets that something is afoot.

But is that what Luke wants for his readers? Is his desire to just tell you a story and move on? Did he just think to himself that he had a journalistic problem here and was looking for filler? Or, are their lessons here for us? Is their theology that will help us understand the Messiah? More Questions:

  1. What is the significance of the Passover?
  2. What is the significance to the age of 12?
  3. How can a Mom and Dad not know where their child is?
  4. Was this Jesus so brilliant and smart that he actually became the teacher to these Doctors of Religion (think Seminary Professors)?

As we begin working our way through the text, I find it interesting that vs. 40 and 52 could serve as an outline to the story as well: he grew (v 42; 12 years old), he became strong (v 46; he was three days on his own), God’s grace or God’s favor was upon him (v. 49; about my Father’s business/things).

I hope to answers these questions as I make my way through this passage this morning using our stages of the narrative. Let’s begin with the 1st stage…

The Setting (40-42)

exp.: we continue with our rd in v 41; A reminder of their faithfulness; It appears that they made the trek to Jerusalem each year for the Passover. The OT Law required faithful Jews to make the trek to Jerusalem three times a year to present themselves to the Lord. Exodus 23.14-17: 17 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God. We see it also in Deut. 16.16: 16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. Cf.: Deut. 31.11; this is just one of the three times each year they would make that Journey (or at the very least, that Joseph made). Rd v 42;

app.: what you and I would probably miss is that this particular event is an important time of preparation for a Jewish boy. Sometime over the course of the next year, Jesus would turn 13 and would experience his Bar Mitzvah (Son of the Commandment). He would become a man. This Passover experience was an important part of that Bar Mitzvah experience. There were activities, lessons, experiences he would need on this particular year over the others. The identification of this particular year and this particular season is important in his life as a Jewish boy, who is becoming a man.

t.s.: The setting is a specific time frame, but there is more here than just identifying that it is about 7-8AD. It is a very special time in the life of a Jewish Boy. He’s becoming a man. Now that the setting has been set, the story continues into a time of conflict and crisis.

The Conflict or Crisis (43-45)

exp.: rd v 43-45; So his parents pack up and leave to head back to Nazareth, but Jesus remains in Jerusalem. It would be easy for him to be overlooked because Jesus has just experienced something special and wonderful. He’s in this ‘in-between’ stage of not really being a child anymore and not really being a man. In a traveling caravan like this one, filled with ‘relatives and acquaintances’ the men would travel together and the women and children would travel together. Joseph must have assumed that his son felt more comfortable with his mom and the other children and not yet ready for the rough and tumble world of manhood. Mary must have thought that Jesus felt himself to be ready to travel with the men. But, there must be even more here.

ill.: Have you ever known a child like this, who was found to be self-reliant and self-supportive? A child who needed very little oversight? At the age of 12, Jesus is just such a kid. He is so trusted, that his parents aren’t even that concerned with the fact that he is not in Joseph or Mary’s presence. He can be trusted. If he isn’t with me, then he is where he believes he is supposed to be.

This should be speaking volumes to us at this moment. Jesus is a good kid. He is so good, and so trusted that his parents aren’t even checking up on him. See the end of v 43: His parents did not know it…

exp.: at the end of the day, as the caravan makes camp, they come to realize that Jesus isn’t with them. A search ensues amongst relatives and friends, but to no avail. There is only one logical explanation: Jesus must still be back in Jerusalem.

ill.: Did you by chance catch this week’s biggest story? 13-year-old Jayme Closs escaped from her captor’s home and found a woman walking her dog. The woman called 911 and knocked on a door to a house where they were. Jayme was kidnapped last October by a man who killed both of her parents. The police said that she simply vanished. There was no trail to even begin trying to track her whereabouts.

app.: You and I sit here this morning and think that story is probably our biggest nightmare: one of our children missing – and unaccounted for… And this is where we find these parents: miles from Jerusalem and no idea where their little boy is. All of the sudden, he goes from this perception of “becoming a man” to “he’s their little boy”…

exp.: pick up in v 46; after three days, they found him in the Temple! The 1st day, they weren’t too worried, they figured and expected the best of their son – and it wasn’t until later that evening at their stop that they make this discovery. I’m sure it was a long night, waiting for daylight so that they could return to the city. Did they have to make arrangements for their other children, animals, possessions? They traveled all that 2nd day. That day must have been the worst. But on the 3rd day, and yes, I think there is a hint of the story of the tomb here; But on that 3rd day, they found him in the Temple.

t.s.: and this is where the story reaches its climax…

The Climax (46-49)

exp.: They found him; rd v 46; three participles describing the actions of Jesus: sitting, listening, and inquiring. Two responses I’m supposing comes from a parent at this moment. An overwhelming sense of relief that there he is alive and well. And 2ndly, an overwhelming attempt to hide their incredible anger and disappointment for putting them through this anguish. Mary says as much in v48: Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress. This word in the Gk, translated in great distress, is a medical term which means internal distress and anguish. I’m grateful for the work of William Kirk Hobart in his scholarly book, The Medical Language of St. Luke. The work to produce this book is mindboggling, in that, Hobart did this work in 1882, without the help of computers. According to Hobart, Luke applies this word to three separate stories in four places:

  • Here (2.48), to describe the internal anguish of parents who have lost and cannot find their missing child;
  • Luke 16.24f; to describe the anguish of hell in the Story of the rich man, Lazarus, who is cast into hell. And, interestingly enough, in
  • Acts 20.38, where the elders say goodbye to Paul, knowing that they will never see him again. Their goodbye is filled with the deepest of sorrow because they know their friend is going to his death.

A couple of notes, I think are interesting here: Teachers usually sat in the midst of their students. Where do they find Jesus? Lit. Gk: sitting in the midst/middle of the teachers (professors). So, he appears to be in the position of teacher. But the text doesn’t say that. 2ndly, he is answering their questions and asking them questions that display to them an incredible aptitude for the things of God. Look at the response of these professors; rd v 47;

But, this is what I find so amazing about this story – and it is the response of the boy Jesus to his mother. Rd v 49: And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house.” Gk. Lit.: Did you not know that about the things of my Father, must be me. In other words, I must be about my Father’s things (i.e., his business).

app.: Jesus is totally caught off guard at their anguish. Didn’t they know that he would be right where he was, doing just what he was doing?

I have to pause and say that I missed this in our children. Lisa, she was keenly aware of our children and their child-like state. She understood their little minds. She saw when they acted like Children, that they weren’t being rebellious – they were just being children. Being. That is the word that Jesus uses here.

t.s.: Which leads us to the Resolution.

The Resolution (50)

exp.: in Biblical narrative, I find that the resolution of the story is often quite short, as we find it here. One verse. Rd v 50; If you’ve been a believer for many years, then you know this is common with those who follow Jesus. Often times, as he speaks to them about spiritual things, they just don’t get it. These things were hidden from them and they didn’t fully understand them. And, even with all that has taken place with them, even since before Jesus was born, they’re still trapped in the earthly mindset of human beings.

Consider their responsibility as parents. They might look bad to the others they were traveling with, to the others who have their other children.

Jesus asked them in v 49 – why were you searching for me? Did you not know…. Surely you knew. Jesus is shocked that they don’t grasp what it is that he is doing – and what he came to do. And v 50 clarifies that they don’t! But he does! Even at the age of 12, he knew that he was to be about his Father’s business.

Parents, has your child ever embarrassed you? I think Mary and Joseph are embarrassed, humiliated. But Jesus doesn’t think they should be. They should have known what he would be doing and where he would be. At least, HE thought they should have known. He doesn’t get why they don’t understand. He sees things through the eyes of a 12-year-old – a boy who is turning into a man – but he isn’t quite there yet. He has a childlike naivety that is essential to our faith. It is that ability to trust.

They don’t understand. Mary said… your father and I…, Jesus said my Father’s things.

But, with the Resolution comes a New Setting – Stasis.

Stasis: A New Setting (51-52)

exp.: rd v 51; Jesus goes home with them to Nazareth and lives out his life in obedience and submission to them. Sometime over the next few years, Joseph will die. We won’t know about any of that, because the next part of the story will pick up when Jesus begins his earthly ministry. Until that time, Jesus will take the leadership role in his family. He will serve as a carpenter. He’ll build houses, furniture, plows, and yokes. And all of that will come in handy as he teaches, relying on his experiences to share.

Conclusion: So, what would I like you to take home with you this morning?

Application:

  1. As we consider the Passover and the experience of a 12-year-old boy, I think it is important to remember that God is God over everything in our lives – even the timing of the events that take place. He is neither too slow in moving, nor too fast in resolving matters. His timing is perfect. Time must have been of great concern for mom and dad. But, even in their fear, in their anguish, and yes, even in the timing of it all – God is God.

I’m worried that phrasing may sound too trite. I don’t mean to downplay anyone’s anguish. But, be honest. Is any of this out of God’s control? Do you believe he is in control?

  1. It is also a great reminder for us to consider that each story in Scripture, even though it might only seem to be a simple story, is so much more than just a moral to be discovered. God was at work in the lives of those people, accomplishing his purpose and his glory. Every act and action is vital.
    1. So, don’t think of your life as small and inconsequential. Don’t think that any small part of your life as something too small in the grand scheme of God’s plan. You just might have no idea of what God is on the verge of doing or accomplishing in you or around you. Whether you are the Mary or the Joseph or the Teachers or someone in the crowd – God is in your midst. He’s up to something. And yes, I do believe that. God is up to something and that something is bringing glory to himself through you and the events of your life.
    2. So, let me ask, in all you do, are you about your Father’s things?
  2. I’m keenly aware of this friction between the two storylines of Jesus and his faithfulness to be about his Father’s business and the anguish and distress of these two parents who’ve lost their son and have no idea where he is or what he is going through. But if I might, I’d like you to pull away from the close-up view in the Temple – and away from these parents who are moving back toward Jerusalem as fast as they can, praying as they go. Pull back to the place where God sits and get a ‘God’s eye view” of things. He is there in their anguish. He is there in the mother’s tears and the father’s quiet pleading in prayer for his son’s safety. God is not absent in it all.

As you sit here this morning enduring whatever life has thrown at you, I want to ask you to consider that God is in the midst of your struggle. He knows the outcome. He knows the details. He knows… So put your trust in him.

I’d like to invite you to do that. At Calvary, we sit in silence and reflect upon the day’s activity. We reflect upon God’s activity in our lives. In a moment, we’ll be dismissed to a time of fellowship. We’d love to visit with you about it all.

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Filed under Luke, Messiah, Scripture, Sermon