Category Archives: Romans 8

Romans 8.31-39

Title: If God is for us, who can be against us?

Text: Romans 8.31-36

Introduction: This week I read a story about a woman named Karen, age 35, who found out two years ago that she had cancer. She opted out of chemo and radiation and lived her life to the fullest. So, she says.

To hear her story is encouraging in a way. It makes you think about yourself and what you’d do if you had a death sentence hanging over your head. For Karen, she decided to live her life to the fullest. From what she recorded in her obituary, which was written by her, she did just that.

Our text today is similar in a way. The truth is we all do have a death sentence hanging over us. Physically speaking, we’re all going to face death at one time or another. Thank you, Adam and Eve. Spiritually speaking, too, we’re all facing death, unless, of course, Jesus faced that death for you. That’s where Paul is headed in our text.

Now that we’re at the end of chapter 8, how did we get here?

  • 1-17: A Regenerate Spirit because the Holy Spirit has come to live in you.
    • A new mind; a new mindset: life and peace.
    • A new hope: that the spirit will raise your bodies, too, just as Christ from the dead.
    • You are now part of the family of God because God has given you the spirit of adoption.
      • For this life
      • For eternal life
    • 18-30: There is hope now and it is not dashed to pieces because of suffering.
      • Suffering is all a part of our sin-soaked world.
      • Suffering is temporary in comparison to the hope of glory.
      • And, this Holy Spirit in us (Spirit of God; Spirit of Jesus) intercedes for us when we don’t even know what or how to pray, praying for us according to God’s will. And, God’s will culminates all of our experiences for Good.
      • Because of Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God has established his new covenant with those who love him. He foreordained, He predestined, He called, He justified and He glorified them.
    • 31-39: A crescendo of hope swells and culminates in these final verses as Paul asks: What shall we say to these things? And he answers his question with a question: If God is for us, who can stand against us? The simple answer is: no one! That is the answer to the message. You don’t have to pay attention anymore! Just kidding! But look at his answers:
      1. v 33: No one can bring a charge against us.
      2. v 34: No one can condemn us because God has declared us not guilty.
      3. v 35: No one can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. No one and No thing! Even in the face of suffering.

Do you know what happens when someone goes to court and there is no charge to bring against that person? Case Dismissed!

Paul knows a thing or two about cases being dismissed. He lived it! He was accused, beaten, imprisoned and then the magistrates responsible said – ah, let them go. Paul said, uh-uh! You have falsely accused us, beaten us and imprisoned us without cause. We’re Roman Citizens with rights. You’ve neglected to give us our rights. We’ll leave, but you have to come and lead us out. Those magistrates were scared. They’d broken the law and could have faced serious problems themselves. They had no case against Paul and he knew it.

Do you know what happens when a person stands in a place where there is no condemnation? The verdict is read: Not Guilty! So, there really is nothing to fear. But, what about the suffering? Doesn’t it seem that our suffering indicates that maybe the jury is still out? Even in suffering – in trial, in tempest, in tribulation; in facing sickness, in facing sorrow, in facing the sword; even as sheep who face being slaughtered (so says v. 36_ – we cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

How? How is that even possible? For the very reason we’re here this morning: Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, hallelujah! That’s how it is possible. The very reason we’re here! It’s Easter!

If God is for us, who can be against us? And before he answers his own question, he states the reason for his answer. rd v 32; 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Really, is there any greater gift that God could have given us than redemption? And yet, there is so much more…

Opening Story: Can I just offer a side note here? I think we miss out on so much of what life has to offer. We get bogged down in the ways of the world and wrapped up in the ways of the world and we miss so much that God has graciously given.

I think we miss the simplicity of a butterfly sitting on a flower; we miss the miracle of a single raindrop that falls from thousands of feet above and lands just where it lands; we miss the rustle of the leaves as the wind moves it where it wants. We miss the miracle of each moment. We miss out on so much of what life is meant to be.

Ill.: This week a woman I was visiting with was telling me about her two year old. She said she couldn’t find her keys. She knew where they were, but someone had moved them. A single mom with only one child, that leaves one other person in the house. She was running late, searching high and low. Guess where she found them? Behind the couch!

Now, that can be frustrating. But I also know another young lady who would give everything she has for a little boy who would lose her keys behind the couch. She and her husband have been trying for years to have children and it appears that it isn’t going to happen. Really, that heartbreak of not being able to have kids is like worse than having a son who grabs your keys and loses them behind the couch.

How might one look at a moment like that (2-year-old tossing your keys behind the couch) and be able to cherish losing your keys? Anyone here who is older and looking back can most definitely identify and would have some words of wisdom and help you see that moment as a precious memory. Remember George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, how he wanted to throw that headpiece to the banister every single time he walked up the stairs, but when he was changed, he kissed it?

As you get older, you see that those deadlines you were late for, and many of the other rungs in the ladder were really tertiary matters behind your wife, your kids, and your family.

Wouldn’t you just love to live your life in such a way, that you could get to the end and look back to see that you truly enjoyed what matters most? Finding Christ early on is a huge help in this regard. But you might be asking: just what has Jesus dying and rising again have to do with, and make it where no one can stand against us? Well, the first answer is found in v 33; 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

  1. No one can bring a charge against you because Christ has justified you.

Exp.: to be fair, Paul’s context is totally eschatological. That means he talking about the end times. One day, we will all stand before God and be judged for this life. And if you are a Christian, if you’ve given your life to Christ and found your sins forgiven – that is, you’ve been justified – then, there will be no charge brought against you. Your case was taken care of by Christ – no charges means case dismissed.

In comparison, these people were standing before earthly judges and having their property confiscated. They were being beaten and mistreated. They were being thrown in jail. And they were suffering by being entertainment by being thrown to the Lions and other cruel forms of persecution. That’s the persecution Paul is referring to in the previous verses. But that suffering, that persecution for them, really pales in comparison to the end time when they stand before God and hear him remind them that He has already declared them Not Guilty!

Ill.: The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken has been a real reminder to me of the tremendous persecution going on in the World – greater than any time in history since Christ was here.

App.: Live life backward… with a view of the present as if you could take the advice of the older people. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

t.s.: His 2nd answer is found in v 34; Who is to condemn?

  1. No one can condemn you because Christ was condemned in your place.

Exp.: To be fair, once again, Paul’s context is totally eschatological. That means he talking about the end times. Again. As these believers were standing before their judges and being declared guilty for following Christ, Paul was reminding them of the temporal aspect of this life. It really does go so quickly. Here, Paul is reminding them of why No accusation will stand because:

  1. Christ Died
  2. Christ Arose
  3. Christ Ascended
  4. Christ Intercedes.

Ill.: Here’s what we see: Satan stands and accuses you. You’re a liar, you use foul language, you cheat, you steal, consider the 10 commandments:

  1. No other Gods
  2. No idols
  3. Do not take the Lord’s name in Vain – profane God’s name
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day – to keep it holy
  5. Honor your Parent
  6. Don’t Murder
  7. Don’t commit Adultery
  8. Don’t Steal
  9. Don’t Lie
  10. Don’t Covent

App.: So, just one of those commandments, broken just one time, makes you guilty. You see, God is perfectly holy and just one sin separates us from him as far as the east is from the west.

t.s.: So who brings a charge against you: No One! Say it together, out loud, nice and loud… who brings a charge against you? No One! Who is then to condemn you? No One! Well then if no one can bring a charge against you and no one can condemn you, then maybe someone or something can separate you from God’s Love – so let me ask you: Who can separate you from the Love of God in Christ Jesus?

  1. No one can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

Exp.: Look at v 35 w/ me; Paul’s pretty clear isn’t he? But sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way – maybe that is what the Romans were thinking. To read about the Roman suffering is pretty distressing. Those believers were experiencing all of the above, but so had Paul. If you locate 2 Corinthians 11, beginning in v 16 and making your way down through verse 28, you’ll read that Paul experienced these exact struggles. He wasn’t talking about something he didn’t understand. That really comes out in v 36; rd v 36; take a moment to look at your references in the middle column, or maybe to the side of the page in your Bible. You’ll see that this is a quote from Psalm 44.22; The Jews had experienced these struggles, too. They were unsure of God’s presence. But Paul is using this to say, yes, in this life, you will have struggles. You will suffer. You will have your property confiscated by the authorities who don’t want you to be a Christian. And for sure, they don’t want you to tell them about their sin and their need for forgiveness. So the best thing to do to shut you up is to make you suffer.

Ill.: Consider the Christian Cake Bakers in the US. Really, though, our persecution doesn’t begin to touch what most Christians around the world are suffering. And Paul’s message must mean so much to them. It doesn’t matter what the world throws at you – even to the point of killing you. No One and no thing can ever separate you from the love of Christ.

App.: rd v 37-39

Conclusion: Craig Wiseman – you don’t know him but, you know who he is, anyway – Craig has this friend who goes to the doctor and the doctor reads this X-ray and identifies a mass. Craig’s friend is devastated. He’s counting the days, he’s thinking of radiation, he’s thinking of chemo, he’s thinking of his hair falling out, he’s thinking that he’s too cotton-pickin’ young to die. More than that, he is a young father. There is still so much he wants to see and do with his family. He’s thinking that if this is bad and that he doesn’t have much time left, he has certain things he wants to do. He’s got a bucket list. He didn’t know he had a bucket list, but he has a list of things he’s never done, never tried – and now that his time is short, he wants to experience life.

It was 10 days before he could get in to see his oncologist. Ten days is a long time when you are staring at a ‘mass’ and you don’t know what it is. He has some tests run, some more X-rays done and then the doctor comes in. “Dude, you’re fine. This is a little birth mass. Everyone is born is one, but they usually dissipate over the span of your life. Yours just didn’t. Really, you’re ok.

But that experience really spoke to him. It spoke to his friend Craig Wiseman, too. Craig has another friend, Tim Nichols. You don’t know him either, but you know of him. Craig calls Tim and tells him about their mutual friend. Tim tells Craig about this lady he saw on the News who was told she was going to die. She said all she really wanted to do with her time left was to climb some mountains in the Rockies. For those of you who know me, you know I get that.

Tim’s uncle was diagnosed with Leukemia. He’s fine now, but what that diagnosis did was cause him to quit his job – that is, to retire and do some of the things he always wanted to do.

As Craig and Tim were visiting about this, Craig grabbed his guitar – and you know the rest of the story…

I went Sky Divin’ I went, Rocky Mountain climbin’

I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu

And loved deeper and I spoke sweeter and I

Gave forgiveness I’d been denying

And he said someday I hope you get the chance

To live like you were dying.

You know that song, right. Well, there’s a freedom there. There is a knowledge about something that changes the way you’ve been living. You get perspective!

That’s what Paul is trying to get them to see. This life is so short. And the things of this earth will all fade away. There is nothing you possess or will acquire that you will take with you. But look around. People are all that you’ll take with you. Your kids, your family, your friends.

A sideline to this story is that Tim McGraw never knew his father growing up. He didn’t actually meet his father until it was toward the end of his father’s life. It was about the time Tim got this song from Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols that he found out his father was dying. And his dad died shortly thereafter. That is why this song was so very personal for Tim McGraw, that’s why it hit so close to home.

I have no idea what your relationship is with your earthly father, but did you know that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you deeply. He loved you before you even knew him. He loved you so much, that when you were helpless to do anything about your sinful situation, he sent his Son Jesus to die in your place. That’s what Easter is all about: that Jesus died for your sins and then rose again from the dead, proving he is God. You can know your heavenly father. You can know the promise of Heaven and Eternal Life.

Will you respond?

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Filed under Purpose, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 8.29-30

Title: The “Those”

Text: Romans 8.29-30

Introduction: Let me begin with an outline of my process this morning:

  • Summary of the passage
  • A couple of thoughts to begin
  • The Work of the Spirit Step by Step in the Spirit-Filled Believer
  • Take-a-ways

Allow me to summarize the text to this point in short fashion: in 8.26-27, those who stand no longer condemned have hope in this life and in the life to come. Their hope extends to points beyond their present suffering. In their suffering, when they don’t even know how to pray or what to say, the Holy Spirit intercedes for them. In 8.28, we see that God combines their life experiences and causes those experiences (good or bad) to work together for good – no matter the circumstance. This is why I encouraged you last week not to tally up your life’s score at the halfway point. God isn’t through with you yet. Where you’ve failed him, own up and fess up! Then, live up to the calling you’ve received. There is more on this calling in our verses today.

The prayers of the Spirit on behalf of the ‘those’ are that they be conformed to the image of God’s son, Jesus Christ [the Spirit intercedes for ‘those’ the saints according to the will of God (27) and all things work together for those who are called “according to his purpose” (28) and that purpose is that they be conformed to the image of his son (29)]. “Those people”, that is the called, they can be confident that God will bring all of this about because he works all things together for good. They can be confident because he has set his covenantal affection up them:

  • He has predestined them to be like His Son, Jesus (i.e.: according to God’s will, according to his purpose, to be conformed to the image of his son)
  • He has called them to salvation,
  • He has justified them in that salvation,
  • And He has glorified them (aor. tense, as if it is already done).

A couple of Notes about our text before we look at that work of God:

Relationship

I want you to note that Paul is talking about certain people in this text, not everyone. Romans 8.1: There is therefore now no condemnation for… what does it say? … for those in Christ Jesus. There are those who are in Christ Jesus and there are those who are not in Christ Jesus. The people here are those in Christ Jesus.

He repeats it many times in our text today so that you’ll know this is a specific group of people: for those who or for those whom. 6x’s!

This all presupposes a relationship. What does Paul say about those people? They love God. And what does Paul say about God in relation to them? With God, he has called them. Relationship. Note the two ‘those’ phrases:

  • Those who love God. It sounds like they made that choice. And, that is true, they did. This has always been a prerequisite for God’s people – to love him. Have you ever heard of the Shema? Deut. 6.4-6; Love the Lord your God with… Classic Judaism. 2nd
  • Those who have been called. This sounds like God initiated the contact. This is His Action toward us. That’s why Paul says we cannot boast about our faith because God has acted on our behalf. No one saves himself. Eph. 2.8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

Mystery

The 2nd item to note is mystery… This dichotomy is a mystery. The free will of man and the sovereignty of God work simultaneously.

Ill.: I love the picture Brother Ken Brown painted for me when I was at Kirby Baptist Church as a young believer. He said something like:

Imagine you are walking along in life and you come to an entryway to somewhere. You see written over the entryway, “Whosoever shall come, may come.” And you do. You say, “Hey, that invitation is for me.” You make the turn and walk through the entryway in the Kingdom. But, as you make your way through the gates and to the other side, you pause and look back at the opening through which you just came. And on the other side, you read above the entryway, “Chosen before the foundation of the World.”

On the one side of this entryway, you and I, as lost people, we heard God’s call. Something inside us communicated God’s love to us and we responded. The Holy Spirit of God was wooing us. We didn’t know that was what it was, but we were being drawn. So, we entered in through the gate into this glorious salvation. And, it is only on the other side of this decision, this entrance and journey into the light, that we even become aware of God’s activity.

So our context today is that this popular verse isn’t just a slogan for hurting people – although it can be that for sure. It isn’t a mantra to be repeated by people who are going through a tough time – although it can be that, too. It isn’t just used by self-help gurus and sages. This is for a specific people: those who love God and those who are loved by God… aka, the called.

This bit of information is pretty overwhelming. There is nothing we’ve done on our part to deserve this ‘call’. God has initiated the call and we’ve simply answered. But you might be struggling with this concept, with this theology. It is truly mind-boggling. But, Paul knows that. Turn with me a couple of pages over to chapter 11.33:

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

So, if you are having some trouble already – that’s OK. Paul tells us that you can’t wrap your mind around something so grand, so large, so incredibly complex, so God-sized. That’s OK! No one really can. What you know, even if you don’t understand and comprehend is: God is at work in all of these things causing them to work out for good in the lives of his people.

The question for us this morning is “How?” How is he at work? Look at what Paul lists as God’s work in “those” people:

  1. He foreknew them
  2. He predestined them
  3. He called them
  4. He justified them
  5. He glorified them

Let’s begin with #1…

I.     God Foreknew

Exp.: v. 29… for those whom God foreknew… now, stop right there. I think this verse gets hammered, particularly this word. Some people think that ‘foreknew’ means that God knew beforehand who would get saved. While that statement would be true (that God knew beforehand who would get saved, because he did and he does), it means that God foreordained those people to be saved.

Two reasons we have it translated this way:

  1. That is the lit.: pro – before; Gnosis – knowledge. My guess is that this is where we get our English word ‘prognosis’ from…
  2. That is what the word has always been translated. The problem is that this word doesn’t mean the same thing in its original context as what “knowing beforehand” means today.

To be quite honest, that’s a given that God knows. God is omniscient. So, yeah, he already knew. But this word has a deeper meaning in its original use than what 21st Century Christians water it down to.

The best way I can think to communicate this the idea of foreknowledge is by using the phrase in Genesis 4.1: Adam knew Eve and she conceived and bore him a son. You read that and you know it means more than just he saw her and said, oh, hey, I know her! BTW: you see that again in Genesis 4.25… Adam knowing Eve in this context infers relationship – a deep, intimate relationship. What I’m getting at is that ‘know’ means something different in a different time and language. Know doesn’t mean that God conceptualized in his mind. Knowledge is something deeper.

Amos uses this same wording about God and his people (Amos 3.2): You only have I known of all the families on the earth. Is God saying that he didn’t know anyone else on earth except the Jews? No, he created every single person on earth. He knows them all, but he has a special relationship with His people.

Write that one down: God has a special relationship with his people.

That is what foreknowledge means: Foreordained. #2…

II.    God Predestined

Exp.: Let’s keep reading; Rd 29; Keywords here: image, Son, brothers. God has chosen to put together a people that he will call his own. A family of sorts. He is the Father. He has a Son. The Son has many brothers and sisters who are being conformed to His Image. Knowing the Old Testament and the way he chose Israel – the way he put together a people that he would call his own, does this surprise you? God has blessed us with stories and actions that demonstrate for us his work. One example is that He gave us ‘types’ of Christ so that we would recognize him when he came (David; Jonah; Moses; Zerubabbel). This is similar to that.

I like Ephesians 1 as a parallel passage to Romans 8. Turn there. If you’re using your pew Bible, it’s pg ?? beginning in v 3; Rd v 3-13; [Compare and Contrast these two passages]

While we’re here at predestined, let’s add called.

III.   God Called

Exp.: to be fair, this is a hard doctrine. I’m thinking that those who are believers don’t necessarily have a tough time with the understanding that you were once lost, God called you from your lost state…wherever and whatever that was. You knew, somehow, that God was calling and you responded. You knew because God used someone or something to clearly communicate to you. You knew who you were and you didn’t want to be that way anymore. You sought Christ’s forgiveness and you’ve run to him time and again as you found yourself in need.

Ill.: this hits home for me from an earthly standpoint. Lisa and I were friends before we dated. As a friend, I loved and cared for her – as a friend. Yes, she was the prettiest girl in school. I mean that. I’m not just saying that because she’s my wife now. I would dare say that most of the guys in our school would agree with me. But, she was only my friend.

But Lisa didn’t feel that way toward me. She ‘fell in love’ with me way before I knew she felt that way. Now, for her to say to me, ‘Fred, I loved you before you ever knew me…’ doesn’t make me mad.

App.: Now, that is a weak illustration, I know. Here’s where I’m going:

  1. The Doctrine of election and calling is tough when you try to limit it to human understanding. But even then, does it upset you that God loved you before you even knew about him – before you drew your first breath? That’s absurd?
  2. This idea of election and calling is here in the Bible, so we don’t just skip it. We do our best to understand it. But the truth is, we just can’t totally grasp it with our small minds.

Let me offer you some guidance here. Paul’s purpose here is an encouragement to the one suffering. So, keep that in mind. Because Paul is simply trying to encourage those who are suffering, here in Romans, let me offer you some encouragement, too. The Father’s higher ways are not shared with us to make us feel elitist. So, do not use this doctrine as a battering ram. Do use this doctrine as a roadblock for fellowship or evangelism. Let this doctrine be a strong tower where you can run to and feel safe.

Caution: Some have said that if God truly predestined “the called,” then we need not evangelize. I would say, ‘You haven’t been reading your Bible.’ They would add that God is going to save those who he is going to save, so we don’t have to do anything. But, I would say, the same God who told you that you were saved from the foundation of the World has also said to you, ‘Go and make disciples…’

There is a phrase, I believe it comes from Spurgeon, that is so helpful to me: The One who determines the ends, also determines the means. God, who foreordains and predestines and calls, he has determined that the Gospel is the tool that will be used by the believer to convince a lost world to come to Christ. So we go because we’ve been commanded. That is the tool that God uses to call others. And then, they too, find that Christ loved them from before the mountains were formed or even the earth was brought forth.

Can I take a moment to ask you if you’ve been praying for someone who is lost? Who is your one? ? UR 1

If you’re not focused in on someone, would you? Set aside one minute every day at one o’clock to pray for your someone.

Paul says the purpose in this is that we be conformed to the image of his Son. There are pictures here of the Garden. We were created in his image. The Fall has marred that image. Christ is the perfect image of the Father – the radiance of his glory. God has purposed in all of this to conform you to the image of Christ. That is what he does through the doctrine of Justification… and that’s #4

IV.    God Justifies

Exp.: 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified… I love that Paul calls all of this a mystery. God foreordains all that is. God predestines believers to salvation, to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. He calls us to believe through the preaching and teaching of the Gospel. And, when we believe, he justifies us by declaring us no longer guilty. Christ has paid our punishment in full and the Wrath of God has been satisfied. We are now in a right standing of God.

Finally…

V.     God Glorifies

exp.: and those whom he justified he also glorified. Aorist tense or past tense; He says it as if it has already happened. It was the first verse we read in Ephesians 1: who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. In Ephesians 2 Paul says that God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places. Paul is saying what will be as if it has already happened. Don’t that just push your mind to the point of collapse? Its as if God has already seen it all and knows it will happen. And, by the way, he has and he does.

Closing Thoughts:

  1. There is no such person who wants to get saved but can’t because he isn’t predestined to be saved. That’s ludicrous. The very notion that a person desires to be saved is evidence of God’s call upon that person’s life.
  2. And, There is no such person who hates Christ and his church, who detests God and wants nothing to do with him, but will be forced into salvation because God will make him because he has been predestined. And he will continue in that vein, hating Christ, hating the church, but go to heaven. That, too, is ludicrous.
  3. Sovereignty vs. Free Will – I like to explain it this way: we know that there are times in Scripture when we find two truths which appear to be contradictory. But, we know both to be true. But there have been those in history who have established one to be a doctrine over the other. The deity of Christ. Was Christ God? Yes. And, some have said that because he was fully God he could not be fully man. Because he was not fully man he did not live in the flesh here on earth. Because he was not fully man, he could not fully die for our sins. But, you and I know that Christ was fully man. That he lived on earth and suffered and died on the Cross of Calvary. He got thirsty. He got tired. He got hungry. He was just as we are in human form, yet was without sin. He as 100% God and 100% man. Two truths which appear to be contradictory to Humans. But it isn’t to God. And neither is the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.
  4. The Doctrine of Election should set you free to evangelize with greater fervor – really, for two reasons.
    1. You now know that someone else’s reception of the Gospel isn’t up to you.
    2. You now know that someone else’s rejection of the Gospel isn’t because of you. If you are rejected, it isn’t you or your presentation. Your job is obedience to the Great Commission and you leave the results up to God.

Ill.: I tell my CWT class of the time I botched a presentation of the Gospel. I thought there is no way on earth this person is going to accept Christ. No way. My presentation isn’t even understandable to me. And when I offered an invitation, that person got saved. I was like, are you sure?

  1. Who is your one? ?UR1

 

 

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

Romans 8.28

Title: Our Hope in Suffering

Text: Romans 8.28

Introduction: Joseph; all things seemed bad; actually, they didn’t just seem bad; they were bad; they were actually very bad; Consider:

  • His brothers hated him. Most of them wanted him dead.
  • They didn’t kill him, but they made his father think that he was dead.
  • They sold him into slavery. Human trafficking.
  • Purchased by Potiphar to serve in his household.
  • Falsely accused of rape – or attempted rape.
  • Thrown in prison and forgotten.

When Jacob had died, his brothers got scairt! They knew their deeds had been wrong. They feared for their lives. They said: rah-ro! Now that dad is gone, Joseph might want to repay us the evil we did to him. So they concocted a story – it might be true, but I’m not so sure it is. “Hey Joseph, Dad said that you should forgive us for the evil we did to you.”

But Joseph was very insightful and said: “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Here’s an interesting understanding of God’s activity and our activity. I don’t fully understand it all, but I see it here very clearly: God is at work accomplishing his will, his purpose, his plan. And somehow, he does that through our actions in life.

God took all of the bad things that happened to Joseph – which were the result of this brothers’ evil toward him – and worked it for the Good. God had intention in their actions.

That’s deep!

Joseph’s story is a great illustration of our text: And we know that, for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I love this verse (Romans 8.28). But I do worry that too many believers take a popular verse like this and apply it to their liking outside of its framed context. This is a real Danger for us. Not just for this verse, but for any verse, really… As we journey into this message and take a closer, deeper look at this verse, I want you to consider right now, that you’re seeing a caution sign. Caution: Don’t take this verse out of context. But maybe that isn’t strong enough. Maybe our sign should read Danger: Don’t take this verse of out of context.

Note: 2 parts – Sovereignty and the Free Will of Men & Context of Suffering

And speaking of context, the context for Romans 8 has not changed; the overall arching context of our passage is suffering. He hasn’t dwelt on suffering, but that is the context. The theme or the topic is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s activity in the life of a believer. Paul is writing about certain people and that really comes out in the next couple of verses. Note how many times it says: for those who or those whom. 6x’s! And just who are these those? It is those who love God, those who have been called according to his purpose. If you go back a verse, to 27, you see the Holy Spirit intercedes for these same people in accordance with God’s Will, in accordance with His purpose.

This presupposes a relationship. I would like to stop right there and save this discussion for next week. For now, I want you to know that there is a special relationship between God and his people. Now, even though we won’t discuss them until next week, we need to remember that “those” people are who this verse applies to.

 

Our verse is 8.28: 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.

This morning I simply want to look at this short phrase (all things work together for good) and talk to you about what we know because of whom we know. We are God’s and with that knowledge of him, we experience confidence. It comes back to the old adage: It’s not what you know, but whom you know!

It says in v.28 And we know (perceive; not experiential); in the original language of Gk there are these two different words for what we translate ‘know’. Other languages differentiate between these two understandings of this word. English, not so much. One word is γινώσκω and it is experiential knowledge. The other word is οἶδα and it means to perceive something.

Ill.: let’s say a boy is watching his dad hammer in a nail. The dad misses the nail and hits his thumb. The dad now knows by experience that when you hammer in a nail and miss the nail and hit your thumb, it hurts. That’s the word γινώσκω. The son, who is watching, he’s never hit his thumb with a nail. But, he’s watching closely and he sees his father’s reaction. He hears his father cry out. He sees his father recoil;  he grabs his thumb; he drops his hammer. The boy percieves his father’s pain. He knows (oida) that if you hit your thumb with a hammer it will hurt.

Paul writes: We know (we perceive) that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Because we know God, we can be confident that all things work together for good. But what if it doesn’t seem like it at the time? all things work together for good… Listen you can have confidence that just like Joseph, God is working his plan, just as he did for the people of Israel.

  1. πάντα: all things
  2. συνεργεῖ: work together
  3. εἰς ἀγαθόν: for good

How do you think we would live if we truly believed that God was sovereign? Some of you are getting scared! You’ve heard these verses and predestination, foreknowledge, election, and calling, those terms scare you. But don’t be. This is just a simple question: How would we live if we truly believed that God was in control of this world, even down to the bottom of our lives?

Would financial distress scare you? Would sickness, illness or even death scare you?

I read a story this week about some folks, some Moravian Christians, who were traveling on a ship sometime in the 1740s. They had gathered for worship on deck when a storm swirled up out of nowhere. The story goes that the storm wreaked havoc and many aboard the ship thought they would die. That is to say, many on board with the exception this small group of Christians who had gathered for worship. They just kept singing and worshipping. As the storm raged, they worshipped. One observer was amazed as he watched what he thought would be his last moments on earth, this band of believers singing without a care in the world.

As the storm subsided, these worshippers finished their time together. The young man who was observing them couldn’t help but stop and ask some who passed by him: Weren’t you scared? Weren’t you terrified during the storm? They calmly answered him: No. He pressed them: What about the women and the children? Weren’t they afraid? One of them stepped forward and said: No, our women and children are not afraid to die.

That astonished the Englishman and it stayed with him for days. He would later identify that moment as one crucial step in his becoming a Christian. By the way, the Englishman? John Wesley.

I often wonder at how my theology has affected my witness and how my witness has affected other non-believers observing my life and my struggle.

You see, I ask this question about God’s Sovereignty, but not as a preacher. I ask this question out of my personal experience. Most of you know my brother’s wife passed away from her struggle with cancer. But did you know that my biological mother passed away on Thursday? As I reflect on my life, I’ve got a bunch of questions that flood my mind. But not about God! And I don’t doubt or worry about what God has done and is doing.

Now, how is it that Christians can behave in a manner that doesn’t fit with their suffering? How is it that believers respond to suffering, death and what appears to be chaos in this world with total confidence? Like the Moravian believers on the ship? It is because … look at v 28… it is because we know that for those who love God … he works all things together for good.

We know… contrast this with what we saw in v 26; 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. We may not know what to pray, but what we do know is that God is at work, working all things together for good.

Let’s take a moment and look at these word pairs:

  1. πάντα: all things
  2. συνεργεῖ: work together
  3. εἰς ἀγαθόν: for good

Even when we don’t know a lot about what is going on in this life, we still know that God is working all things together for good…

These two words in English, all and things, are really one word in the Gk. ‘Things’ is added to complete a thought expressed in the Greek, but not really communicated in English. The idea is that God is taking the totality of your life and doing something special with it. Let that sink in for a moment.

Ill.: The idea is that God is taking the totality of your life and doing something special with it. Have you ever thought about that? The good, the bad, the ugly… all things. Those mistakes you made? God is using them, too. Those poor choices you’ve made – let’s just call it what it is: sin. When you sinned against God and rebelled against his desires and commands – well, God is using those situations and circumstances for his glory and he’s working it out for the good.

Do you see those 2nd set of words: working together

These two words in English, working and together, are also one word in the Gk. This Gk word is the word from which we get our English word: synergy. Syn (συν): with; and εργός: work.

Ill.: As you guys know, this past week I was in Arizona to be with my brother who lost his wife. My job was to be there for him. So, I did my best to be available when I was needed. During this time, two people made theological statements. Their intentions were to encourage the family. These remarks were in passing and I don’t think they meant any harm. But these two people, really nice people made statements about God that just are not true.

I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t my place and I know these people had good intentions. But this is what crossed my mind: Sound, healthy doctrine is important. I can’t tell you why bad things happen to good people and what God’s purposes are in all matters. I don’t know why some people get cancer and die and other people get cancer and live. I don’t why a tornado hits a neighborhood and one house is demolished and the other house is untouched. I don’t know why two people make the same bad decision and experience two different outcomes. But I do know that God is at work in your life. And I know enough to tell you not to tally up your points halfway through the game of life. All things not just some things, all things work together for good.

This is what we know as Christians: God is working all things togetherfor good…

All things: the good and the bad, the expected and the unexpected, the suffering and the rejoicing, in laughter and in pain – those experiences; God is working all things together for good.

When I was on sabbatical, I read a few leadership biographies and autobiographies. One man I enjoyed reading about was Harry Truman. What I didn’t know about him was his sense of humor. He tells the story of a man who was hit on the head and the people took him for dead. This tells you how old the story is! He was picked up by the undertaker and taken to the funeral home. He woke up in the middle of the night and sat up in his coffin. He looked around and said, “Good night! What’s going on? If I’m alive then why am I in a coffin. And if I’m dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom so bad!”

Don’t judge what God is doing in your life in just one moment of your life. Because if you try, the totality of it all will not make sense.

Friday I got a call that my biological mother passed away. I knew this day would one day come. I mentioned it to Lisa when we talked through some decisions I had to make years ago. Let me explain.

I was abandoned by my mother at a young age. I don’t know the whole story because I was just a baby. There are six of us kids who share the same mom and I think they would all agree with me that her decisions and the decisions of our fathers really messed us up.

Now, I’m an external processor and I’m not trying to process this in front of you. The pulpit isn’t a place to do that. And, I don’t want to go into all of the gory details that have created this man of dysfunction that you’ve come to know and love. But I want you to know a little, so what I say will make sense.

As a young man, my biological mother blamed me for her messed up life – like it was my fault she did this and did that. As with all of her children, each of us was made to feel like we somehow were the cause of her failures. I abandoned that line of thinking and made the conscious decision to not put myself in harm’s way ever again. So, I’ve not spoken to my mom in decades. That was my decision. And she made it easy because she never called me. The last time we spoke, I called her. She wrote me two letters in my life. Once when I 18 years old and once when I was 50. I saw her at my grandmother’s funeral, which was about that same time (the 1990s).

So I get this phone call Friday morning that she has died and I look at this wake of destruction in the life of so many people. I’ve heard that she was going to church regularly these past few years. I’m glad. I can’t say this morning that she was or wasn’t a believer because I don’t know. I’ll probably hear some good stories in the days and weeks to come.

I’m reminded of a funeral I did for a woman in my church in Worland. It was probably my first funeral there. Rowena was in her 90’s. I’d know her for a very short period of time, but I what I knew of her was that she loved the Lord. She prayed for me regularly. She was reading her Bible and studying her Sunday School Lesson when she died. At the funeral, I told of my experience with her and stories other church members shared. I told people how much Rowena loved me, loved the church and how much I was going to miss her.

But after the service, her daughter approached me and told me that she didn’t know that woman. The woman she knew was not a believer and had left a wake of destruction in her life.

As I reflect on that, I remember now hearing stories about my Nana from her younger years. She, too, had made many poor decisions and hurt many people. I imagine some of my dysfunction can be traced back to her decisions. But that isn’t the woman I knew. The woman I knew read the Bible with me every night I was with her. She would rise early and make me a hot breakfast – always, a hot breakfast. Cold Cereal was for Saturday mornings and late night snacks. After she fixed breakfast, she would enjoy a cup of coffee and read her Bible. That’s the woman I remember.

So what I say to you today isn’t just some mantra I repeat that gets me through the tough times. It isn’t just some cliché I throw out with no feeling. This statement is a fact of my life. All things work together for good, for those who love God, who’ve been called according to his purpose.

Let me offer some take-a-ways:

  1. All things: Consider Joseph’s life, what a mess! Some might consider that he brought some of his struggles upon himself! He shouldn’t have been so arrogant toward his brothers or his parents. Bad things happened, and no matter who is responsible for those struggles, those experiences all work together for good.

Some of you might be thinking that I just don’t know all of the bad stuff in your life. I don’t have to! We hide that stuff well, don’t we? Our dysfunction? Our Sin? Our rebellion?

  • Some kid might say to you, ‘Dad, you got mom pregnant and then married her.’ Who are you to lecture me?
  • Or Mom, you were living with dad and you weren’t even married.’ You have no right to…
  • Or, ‘I remember when you stole that stuff.’
  • You used to smoke. Or cuss, or… .fill in the blank.
  • Your life hasn’t always been a model example of what a Christian is.

Listen, that’s what Grace is for. Tell those who know you best: Yes, Yes, and Yes. I did do that. I was that man. I was that woman. But it isn’t the gory stuff I want you to focus, but rather the grace of God that forgave this pitiful, wretched person.

You may not see it. You may not even be able to comprehend it. But God is working all things!

  1. Working together: Unless you’re dead this morning, your story is still being written. And if you’re dead, please let one of the ushers know. They might just think you’re sleeping through my sermon. Listen, your story is still being written. Don’t write it off! Let God do his work in and through you.

If you’ve messed up, own up to it. Confess it. Let it be an example of God’s incredible, amazing Grace! And then, trust that God is going to use, not just that experience, but the totality of your life to work all things for the good. This moment might be a struggle, but it will pass. Trust that this is one chapter of God’s book about you for his glory.

  1. For good: even when it seems it is so bad. There will be tears. There will be pain. There will be sorrow. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Whatever you’re going through, hang in there. And then we come to these last words…

  1. For those: Who are the ‘those’ in this passage? Well, it is a topic I’d like to visit next week. But in short, it is those who love the Lord. Those whose lives have been committed to him.
  • If you’ve never done that, I want to give you the chance.
  • Maybe you just need prayer.
  • Maybe you feel the Lord’s calling on your life.
  • Maybe you’re interested in joining the church. We have a new member’s class scheduled for the 17th of May.

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Funeral, Purpose, Romans, Romans 8, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon

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

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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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, Romans 8, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel