Romans 9:19-23 Objections to Gods Sovereignty, part 3

Romans 9:19-29
Objections to Gods Sovereignty pt 2

Good Morning! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please take one from the back table and let that be our gift to you.
Now, as we are turning to Romans 9, I want to kind of sum up what we have already seen in this chapter. Kind of collate the information. Paul, coming off of Romans chapter 8 has brought us to the top of the hill, if you will in regards to what we are hearing about God. God is good and faithful, there is no condemnation. The Holy Spirit works in us and through us and even prays for us and through us when we don’t know what to pray. God works out all things to His glory and has done so since before the begining of time. And when we are in Christ, nothing, ABSOULUTLEY NOTHING can remove us from the love of Christ.
Thats what Paul just gets finished with when he moves into, what we know as chapter 9. He didnt write the letter with Chapters. None of the books in the Bible had chapters originally. The closet thing to it would be the Psalms. The chapters and the verses were added later to help us navigate the text. And he finishes what we know as Chapter 8 and moves into what we know as Chapter 9.
At the very beginning he expresses so heartbreak and grief for those who dont know Christ, we are outside of his love and therefore in line to experience his just wrath. Those that are outside Christ included some of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham. Stemming from that, three questions are brought up that object to Gods sovereignty.
First, stemming from Israel not being fully, corporately saved, the question is brought up, Had Gods Word failed? There was question whether or not God’s promises were really trustworthy? There was question whether or not God had fail to deliver on what he said he would do.
Pauls response is that God is sovereign and his Word does not, will not and cannot fail. We may misunderstand some of the things that he promises, or who he promises them to, but his promises will be fulfilled. In this case, the promise is made to the spiritual descendants of Abraham, which may or may not include physical descendants of Abraham. Its Gods right to chose.
The second objection is that it is unjust, it is unfair for some to be saved from their sins and the eternal consequences there of, but for others to not be saved. That salvation is left solely up to God, his wisdom, his providence and his sovereignty, with no dependence on human will or exertion, is in fact unjust. It is only by his mercy that we do not get what we deserve, his wrath, but instead, we may receive his mercy and eternal life with Him. He pours out his mercy, “that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Verse 18 here, the last verse we looked at last week, Paul writes, So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. He decides in his perfect and infinite goodness and justness and holiness and mercy, who will respond to his call and who will not.
The third objection is the one we will look at this morning. We will pick up and read Romans Chapter 9, verses 19-23 as Paul continues on. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 9:19-23, Paul writes:
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

So the third object that Paul is responding to here is an exercise on If, If, If… If God is sovereign, and IF he has mercy on whom he has mercy and IF he hardens whom he hardens, then we don’t have a choice to accept or deny. And IF we don’t have a choice, then how can he find fault with those who he decides not to save?
Now, this is a tough question and its one that Paul response to excellently I think. Remember about Paul. Paul’s writings can be tough, they can be somewhat “In You Face”, when needed, they can be blunt, as a matter of fact. But Paul writes out of love and compassion. He writes with a shepherds heart. HE started this chapter crying out in great sorrow and unceasing anguish over his lost brethren. And he answers here, with words inspired by the Holy Spirit, with the Words of God. He takes great care in how he answers this objection and he answers it with 3 responses.
First, the first part of verse 20, he lays it out, saying,But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Now this may be the least gentle or compassionate of the three responses, but it may also be the most true. We, as human beings, as the people who God created, as his creations, we have no right to argue with him about anything that he says or does.
God shows us throughout scripture, that he is the boss and what he says goes. With Moses numerous times, both before and during the Exodus that his word is final. He rebukes Job when job tries to overstep his bounds. Jonah, so many of the prophets, the same thing. In the New Testament, through the Apostles, through Paul, Peter, James and John especially, God says it. End of discussion.
And one thing that God says throughout the scriptures, can seem like a contradiction on the surface. It can seem as if he saying two different things if we are looking for contradictions and errors in the scriptures. But the Bible, being the Word of God is able to hold two tensions together and them both be true.
It does so often with a variety of things, in this case, two truths are both truths. God is sovereign and nothing happens outside of his will. He has Mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens whomever he wills. Only those whom he calls will respond to his saving grace, and all that he calls will respond to his saving grace. Thats truth number 1.
Truth number two is that Man is responsible. He is, we are responsible for our actions, for our thoughts, our sins, all of our decisions. Gods grace is poured out on us through faith. He has given us the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, His Son. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. That is the only way to be saved is by hearing the Gospel and responding to it in faith.
All of us have that opportunity, to either respond or to reject. And we are responsible for our decisions. John 5:39-40, Jesus, talking to the Pharisees, says “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Jesus puts the responsibility on each individual if they refuse to come to him. We see in both the Old Testament and the New, the idea that those who reject Jesus as the Messiah, reject the cornerstone, reject the foundation of the faith. Again, the onus, the responsibility is on those who do the rejecting.
God and his Word are crystal clear. Yes God is sovereign and Yes man is responsible.

The second way that Paul responds to this objection is with an illustration, one that God himself uses in Isaiah and Jeremiah. God is the potter and we are the clay. Paul in the second half of verse 20 and verse 21, Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
My Aunt and Uncle in Pennsylvania are potters by trade. I have seen them mold something, and they saw imperfections that I could not see. It looked so good to me. But they knew better. They saw something I didn’t see and they decided to undo the whole thing and started over. Is there anyone that can say that they didn’t have the right to do that? They were the potters who take the clay and mold it into something useful and something beautiful, something that is worth making.
They create out of the clay their creations. Their clay doesn’t look at them and say, I am going to be a mug, or I am going to be a bowl. They decide what that clay will become.
As such, we, as Gods clay, as what is being molded by God, we don’t have any ability or right to question why God has molded us into what he has molded us into. As the Potter, he says what we are going to become. He knows what he has planned and what it takes to make us into that. He knows and has every right to decide that some vessels are designed for wrath and some vessels are designed for glory.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. God created.  The earth was without form and void. God took this clay without form and void and molded all of creation. He took the dust from the ground, formed Adam and blew life, breathed his Spirit into him, creating Mankind. He is the Creator, we are the creation.
It is hard for us to remember that order. We forget that we can’t tell God what is right. We forget that we can’t tell God what to do. Timothy Keller reminds us that “If your God never disagrees with you, you might just be worshipping an idealized version of yourself.”
God is the Potter, we are the clay. God is sovereign, Man is responsible. Those are the first two responses Paul gives. They flow right into the third. Basically, because God is sovereign, and because he is the potter, the Creator, he knows how it will all work out. Because we are the clay, because we are the creation, we don’t know how it will all work out.
Go back for a moment to the vessels that my aunt and uncle mold and create. The bowl that they create doesn’t know what it is going to be used for. It doesn’t know if it will be a cereal bowl, a soup bowl, a storage bowl, whatever.
In that same vein, we, as the clay, as the creation, don’t know what God is going to use us for. Paul points out that from the same lump, some are made for honorable uses and some are made for dishonorable. Some vessels made for wrath and some for glory. Both categories show Gods grace and mercy. Both categories give glory to God. We don’t know what God is going to use us for.
We looked at Romans 8:28 recently, that God uses all things for good for those who love him. God works it all around and pulls it all together to achieve his glory and to show his power and to exhibit his goodness and mercy.
Now, we can rarely see this things playing together in real-time. God, who is outside of times, see it all, knows it all and orchestrates it all. We see things around us and wonder how this can all be a part of Gods plan. We see the absolute evil in our families, our communities and in the world and we question Gods will, and his timing.
2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God is patient. He wants as many people as possible to be saved and to join him in glory in eternity future. We don’t know who those will be. We don’t know how God will use us.
In Acts chapter 8, we see God work out so many variables to bring Phillip to a place in Samaria, where he happens upon a eunuch riding by, who is riding the scriptures, but needs someone to explain them to him. Philip is more than happy to oblige and the eunuch hears the Gospel. He believes and wants to be baptized immediately.
If we watched that mans life, before Philip showed up, we would have assumed he was bound for destruction. But God knew better. God used Philip and the scriptures and everything else to call the eunuch to him. For his part, the eunuch heard the Word of God. He believed the Word of God. He trusted in the Word of God, Gods goodness and forgiveness and respond to the call of God.
And that’s the biggest key. One Systematic Theology says “People do not learn of Gods choosing them by prying into his eternal councils but by embracing Christ as offered in the Gospel.”
Now the cross, the gospel, the saving faith of christianity is foolishness to those who don’t believe. And it is foolishness to us, its counterintuitive. It goes against what we as humans believe, what we think and what we would expect. It goes against what we think is fair.
The way that changes is that, when we respond to the Gospel, the Holy Spirit makes Gods Word real to us. God changes our hearts from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Jesus and his perfect and complete work on the cross brings us from death into life.
So we are going to finish with a quick refresher of what, exactly is the Gospel? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, verses 1-5: Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
And thats what we respond to. We have the repsonsibility, now having heard it to say, Yes, LORD, yes God, I believe in what you Word Says, I repent of my sins and put all my trust in you, knowing that I cannot do anything to earn this gift of grace, of forgiveness and of eternal life.
Or you can say, No thanks. I don’t believe I’m a sinner. I don’t believe I need to repent. I don’t believe in Gods Word. I can do it all myself. I can be good enough, do enough good things that I don’t need to put my trust in Christ.
I repeat and emphasize what paul started out this chapter for those who fall into that second grouping.  I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Ultimately, if you trust in Gods Word, we can have a foundation on things like this that transcends our feelings or our instincts. And we can submit those to the truth of Gods word.
Lets Pray
O Lord, we bow before You and we ask that You would open our eyes to understand hard things, things that are not intellectually hard to understand. The reason and the logic is impeccable and clear, but these things are hard for our hearts to get around. Some of us resist them. They just don’t sound right. They’re counter intuitive. Others of us are in the process of resisting Your grace and using this type of a teaching to do it. Still others of us have never tasted the joy of salvation because we don’t realize how gracious and how sovereign You are. To all of these we pray, O God, You would speak in Your word today. For we ask it in Jesus name. Amen.

Romans 9:13-29, pt 1 Answering Objections to Gods Sovereignty

Romans 9:14-18

Objections to Gods Sovereignty

Good Morning! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans Chapter 9. If you don’t have a Bible, if you do not own one, we have a couple on the back table there that we would love for you to have. If you do not own a Bible, please let that be our gift to you.

Now, as we get into what Paul is writing here in Romans chapter 9, it is easy for us to have the intellectual answers and responses, but it is much harder to have the right, true emotional, instinctual and reactionary answers and responses.

We look at what Paul has been showing us about God, not only over the course of the last chapter and a half, but over the last 9 chapters, building from the beginning of this letter and still continuing to build as he writes chapter 9 here.

Paul is hammering home the point, in many different ways, with many different applications, that God is completely and totally sovereign. That what he has determined, not just seen, but determined before the beginning of time has zero chance of not happening. That God has chosen, strictly in his Goodness, His grace and his Mercy, He has chosen to save some of us from the eternal punishment deserved from our rebellion against him and our sin.

That doesnt always sit well with us. In fact, in our emotions and our human understanding we do whatever we can to reject this idea. We reject what God has clearly taught. We call him a liar. We say that things are not fair because we dont understand them. We attack Gods character.

Ultimately, we dont want to come under authority, and God demands that we submit to his authority. In all this, human objections to Gods authority, to his will, to his goodness and fairness pop up all the time. Romans chapter 9 addresses 3 of those such questions. We addressed the first one last week.

God promised Abraham that his descendants would be the recipients of the promise. Not all of the Jewish people, the physical descendants of Abraham, were saved. So then, has Gods Word failed? No! We, in our human wisdom, see the promises that God makes and assume they will be fulfilled in a certain, specific way. God says otherwise.

In this case, the promise is not made to the physical descendants, though they have many advantages, but to the spiritual descendants, all who believe in Christ. All whom God has called to him, will receive the fulfillment of the promise of God and Gods Word will not have and has not failed.

This morning we will take a look at two more of those objections. Overall, we will end up looking through verse 29. We are going to start with verse 13, which we also touched on last week, some of that overlap I was mentioning. We will start with verse 13 and in this first section and read through verse 18, looking at the first objection. Romans chapter 9, verses 13-18. Paul writes:

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

So, in its essence, the argument here is that it is unfair for some people to be saved and for some to not be saved. The argument usually comes along like this, “It is unfair for God to choose to save some and not choose to save others.”

Now, if you think this as well, if this question, or objection is a struggle for you, or if you hear this objection and want to know how to respond to it, or if you have any other questions and objections, or hear from others various questions and objections, I’m going to show you today how we answer and respond to those questions. It’s the same way Paul responded to those questions and objections.

We look at what the Bible says.

Simple and clearly. What does Gods Word say? If we limit it to that question, we can see the answers to our questions very easily. Paul here, very simply answers this objection. He says, “No, it’s not unfair, nothing about God is unfair!”

And Paul shows that this is what Gods Word says. Many places, in many ways. Now, we see that said very simply and clearly, but, who wants to raise their hand right now and say, “But God…” But you don’t know my situation. You don’t know what I’ve been through. But my brother, but my sister. But my child, but my grandchild…

That answer God gives us through out scripture, the answer that Paul gives us here is simple and clear. We make it complicated. Our sin nature, that we are all born with, makes it complicated. This fallen, broken world makes it complicated. When I read this, I make it complicated. Im willing to wager, more often than your willing to admit, when you read this, you make it complicated.

The answer is simple. The situation, the context, the application can all be complicated. So let’s try to keep this simple.

Hope brought up a point this week. We were watching something together this week, I don’t even remember what it was. But it was a couple of episodes of something in a row. She went to skip one of them. At some other point in time, she had seen the end of the episode, the last few minutes or so. She knew what happened, She had been spoiled to the ending. That ever happen to you? See the end of something before you see the whole thing? Or someone spoils the twist, the surprise of a movie you have been waiting to see? Whats the point of watching it then, right?

God never gets spoiled in that way. He is never surprised by the ending. And it isn’t because he sees the whole picture, it isn’t even because of his omniscience, his knowledge of everything. God does not see the episode or movie all at once and know the future if you will. No, God wrote the script. He wrote it with the ending already in mind. He wrote the ending, and in a way, it is the purpose of the story.

Again, it’s not that God sees all and knows all, but he determines all. He creates all. He has authority over all. He gets to determine what happens, he gets to determine when it happens and he gets to determine who it happens to. He and he alone has the right, the ability and the authority to determine anything, let alone everything.

God says, simply and clearly, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” and Paul again, makes crystal clear that because of this, it is based on God, his mercy and his character, his perfect mercy and his perfect character, and not on anything about us, no human exertion, no human will. His mercy is based on him and him alone.

Paul bring sup Pharaoh. It is interesting to me. We see Pharoah in the beginning of the book of Exodus. Pharaoh was again and again presented with the truth of Gods Word and with Gods plan and Pharoah continually rejected it. It’s very telling, I believe that the language the Bible uses alternates between Pharaoh hardening his own heart, and God hardening Pharaohs heart.

They are both used. They are used interchangeably. And they are used with no difference. The Bible makes no distinction between God hardening his heart and Pharoah hardening his own heart. And I think that’s a key thing to keep in mind when we remember and acknowledge Gods sovereignty and authority. It doesn’t take away our responsibility.

John Piper says, Results are God’s business. Obedience is ours. And this is true obedience that he is talking about here. This is not checklist obedience. This is not righteousness based on obedience. This is an obedience out of love, out of thankfulness, out of passion and out of submission to a greater authority than ourselves.

That means obeying to the best of our ability. That means obey, not just enough, but all the way. That means obey just like we love, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

That means that we plant seeds. We plant them with love and passion. We plant them anywhere and everywhere. We plant them in all times and places because we don’t know which ones he will water. We don’t know which one will be on rocky ground, on shallow soil, on fertile ground. We don’t know who he is calling to himself. We do not know the end of the movie, who gets saved and who doesn’t. God knows because he wrote the movie. God knows because he determined it.

And He determined it for a specific purpose. Look back at what Paul quotes, what God said to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

To the Glory of God alone.

The purpose of Gods revealed will. To show his power in us so that his name might be proclaimed in all the earth. This specifically is not talking about salvation. That would be real easy to take out of context. God shows his power in us, his followers, us healing people and doing miracles so that we can bring people to Christ. That would be a wrong interpretation and application of this text.

God raised up Pharaoh. He made this man the most powerful man in the world at that moment in history. He put him in charge of the greatest nation in the world at that point. And he hardened his heart. Pharaoh was not and would not be a believer. He would not know Gods mercy and grace. And God used him, in his wickedness, in his evilness, in his sin, to show Gods own power. He showed his power for his own glory. He showed us power so that his name would be proclaimed in ALL the earth.

He showed us his power because one day, in the end, all will eventually submit to Gods authority. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is LORD. But not all will bow and confess in time.

God is for God. All of Gods choices, while he works all things together for the good of those who love him, all of Gods choices are made to glorify himself. All of Gods choices are made with the perfect knowledge of a perfect God, who is perfectly good, perfectly merciful, perfectly just, perfectly perfect. There is no unfairness in God.

Just because we can’t see everything he sees, doesn’t mean he is wrong. Just because we don’t see everything he determines, doesn’t mean he doesn’t determine it. Deuteronomy 29:29. The secret things belong to the LORD. He doesn’t reveal everything to us. He is under no obligation to.

That doesn’t change our responsibility, shouldnt change our obedience. There is quote that is often sourced to Charles Spurgeon that says: If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.’” Jesus says, “and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Results are Gods business. Obedience is ours. To be obedient, we need to submit. To be obedient, we need to acknowledge his authority. In order to rightly obey, we need to forsake any authority that we think we have the right to lay claim to.

We insert what we think is our right to have authority over or in place of God in a number of ways. Lets start with this. What is the name that God has given himself in the Scriptures?

Gods name, Yahweh, translates I AM. I am what? Thats part of the problem. We want to finish what we see is an incomplete sentence, an incomplete description. But for God, I AM is a complete sentence. For us, we try to fill in the blank, we speak for God where he has not spoken.

We try to label God, to conform him to what we want or what we expect. We do what we have no right to do. We do what we have no authority to do. Only God has the authority to define himself. Only he has the authority to declare what is true. And he has. And he has revealed to us what he has declared true. He has given us his inspired word, inerrant, infallible and fully sufficient. He has given us the Bible.

This book, his Word, reveals all that is needed to be revealed for us to do what we are supposed to do. It is fully sufficient for matters of life and faith. And it gives us the answers that we need. It does not always give us the answers we want. That works two ways. Sometimes it is silent, not answering the questions that we ask of it. More likely, more often, it answers the questions we ask. It answers simply and clearly. But it does not give us the answers we want.

We can intellectually and verbally affirm we believe that the bible is true, fully true and completely true, but if we take Gods answers and we change them to fit what we want them to say, then we are not being obedient to God. We are not submitting to his authority.

When Paul answers this objection, that God is unfair because some are saved and some are not, when Paul tells us there is nothing about God that is unfair, and that all his choices, which are not dependant on human will or exertion, but on God himself, when Paul shows us that simply and clearly that God is completely and totally sovereign and has planned all things out before time began, and that ll his choices and decisions and determinations are done for His Glory and His Glory alone… When Paul tells us that, we don’t like it.

It can trigger some fatalism in us. Thats the attitude that, since God has predestined it all, I don’t have to actually do anything. I don’t have to submit. I don’t have to obey. I don’t have to evangelize. I don’t have to repent. I can continue to sin. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, Eat, Drink, for tomorrow we die.

God squashes that pretty hardcore if you read anything in the Bible. Gods sovereignty does not negate man’s responsibility. Gods sovereignty does not negate your responsibility.

This is the next objection that Paul responds to. Dealing with what responsibility we have and why should we bother doing anything. We will dig deeper into that next week.

As we come close to finishing up this week, want to come back and emphasize, we don’t always like what God says in his Word. We don’t have to. We do have to submit to it.

We have to do what he has told us to do. He doesn’t make that optional. And when we are saved by God, when he has chosen to show us mercy and compassion, we want to do what he tells us. Not in order to achieve righteousness, not to earn favor or salvation, not to be worthy of mercy and compassion, but because he has already shown it to us.

We are not saved by obedience or by works, or by human will or exertion. But we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, by Christ alone, as revealed in scripture alone, all to the glory of God alone.

We show that salvation, we show our faith with obedience, with works, with our human will and exertion, powered by the love of Christ which compels us.

That means that we put to death the sins that live inside us. In our salvation, our sins have been crucified and we are new creations. Our sins have been forgiven and we are to pursue holiness and sanctification. But they have not all been driven out.

We still have sin inside us. They can include sins that we are working through, trying to drive them out. They can include sins we don’t want to let go of. They can include sins that we have hidden or denied so much that we don’t recognize them as sins. What sins are you hiding from others, including yourself? What sins are you justifying based off your situation, your circumstances? Or based of what you want the Bible to say instead of what it actually says.

Anger, pride, sexual immorality, apathy, indifference, idolatry, and so much more. But not only killing sin, but also, in the positive, doing the good works that God has prepared for us. Creating disciples, do justice, love kindness, taking care of widows and orphans, sharing the good news of the Gospel, studying the Word, praying and so much more.

Gods word is clear. What he says is often and mostly simple and clear. Allister

Begg likes to say, “The Main things are the Plain things and the Plain things are the Main things.”

Our job, our responsibility is to do all things to the glory of God. And to do that, we need to submit to Gods authority and his will as revealed through his word, the Bible.

Lets pray

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Casey

Romans 9:1-13 Gods Word has not failed

Romans 9:1-13

God chooses the Children of Abraham

Good Morning, please go ahead and turn with me in your bibles to Romans chapter 9. Please know that if you do not own a Bible, there is always one for you on the table in the back as our gift to you.

Romans chapter 9. This is a chapter that many people on different sides of various theological fences both use against each other to try to prove their points. In that regard, this is a worrisome chapter to preach through. I may, as we go through this chapter, the next couple of chapters even, I may upset some of you. I may teach or preach what I see as the plain meaning of the text and it may go against what you see and believe as the plain meaning to the text. Here’s the thing, that’s ok.

I’m not going to not preach and teach what the Bible says in fear of upsetting some of you. And I hope you aren’t going to just take what I say from up here as Gospel without pouring over the scriptures yourself. There are things in the Bible that we can disagree on.

Wherever you end up after going through Romans 9, the one thing I ask is that you read in the context of building right upon the promises and assurances and the complete sovereignty of God that Paul built up in Romans chapter 8. Remember the context and recognize your own presuppositions. We talked about this on Wednesday morning. What you go to the Bible looking for, you will get out of it. If you go into the Bible looking to prove the theological point that you already assume, you will find evidence for that point. If you go to the Bible asking God to reveal the truth to you, to speak his words to you, which is what the bible is, If you go in, with no human assumptions, looking genuinely, earnestly and completely to seek Gods Will and Gods truth, then that’s what you will get out of the Bible.

Speaking of the Word of God, before we go any further, let’s go ahead and read the passage for this week. I am going to read Romans chapter 9, verses 1-13. This chapter is so interconnected that we will have overlap from week to week, so next week wont necessarily start with verse 14. We may not make it all the way through verse 13 this week, but because of the interconnectedness, we will read through these 13 verses today.

So Romans Chapter 9, verses 1-13, Paul writes:

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

Paul starts off, finishing up what we looked at last week, knowing that Gods promises are true, that he is faithful, that he had it all planned out since before the beginning of time and that there is but one way to God the Father and that is God the Son, Jesus Christ. We lays all that out, and then coming off of the highest of highs, he expresses the great sorrow and unceasing anguish that is in him.

Why does he have this pain, suffering and sorrow? This great sorrow and unceasing anguish? Because his flesh and blood, his Jewish brothers and sisters who had so much advantages, as Paul points out in verses 4 & 5, they have negated those advantages, those privileges.

Paul’s statement in verses 2&3, summed up, say that he loves his brothers so much, that we would switch places with them in a heart beat, if it meant that they would be saved. He says “I wish that I myself were accursed,” implying that they are accursed, the word in the Greek is Anathema. Accursed, cut off from Christ. Paul wishes that he could be cut off from Christ, if it would mean that his kinsman, his fellow Israelites would be brought back into the fold of God the Father.

Two things that jump out to me about Paul in these first few verses. First, he knows that he cannot switch places with his fellow kinsman. Paul’s sacrifice, if he were to lay down his life, thinking that it might save anyone, would have no meaning. At least, it would not accomplish anyones salvation. Oh how Paul wished it would and wished it could, but he knew what Christ had said, and what he had written just chapters previously in this letter. Christs atoning death on the cross and his resurrection, allowing for the forgiveness of sin is the only single thing that can save any one. Period. Outside of Christ, there is no hope, no heaven, no salvation from sin.

And in this, since a vast majority of Israelites rejected this Jesus guy as the promised Messiah, that means that they had rejected salvation, they were accursed, cut off from Christ, and therefore, were doomed to punishment in Hell instead of eternal glory with Christ.

That broke Pauls heart. And it should break ours. It’s easy to have our heart-break for our close friends, or family that don’t know Christ, knowing the eternal future that awaits. Its harder to look at our enemies, whatever that actually means in our life, and to weep for them as dead in their sins and eternally lost. Its harder to look at people who have physically, mentally, or emotionally done us wrong, have hurt us in whatever ways and to pray for their salvation. To love them enough to be willing to eternally doom ourselves to hell so that they would have a chance for eternity with Christ. Its harder to look at people we fought against in wars, people we voted against, people whose beliefs and behaviors may disgust us, it’s harder to have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in our hearts for them.

And yet, that s exactly what Christ calls us to do. To love and pray for and minister to those who we don’t want to, who “dont deserve to be forgiven,” just as we didn’t deserve to be forgiven. To reach out to the very people that we try to pull away from. Our hearts should break for every single soul to dies outside of Christ.

The second thing that jumps out to me is how steadfastly Pauls clings to Gods sovereignty and faithfulness. He knows what God promised, as we wrote in this letter. Those who are in Christ, are forgiven and will reign as co-heirs with Christ for eternity future. Those who die outside of Christ are not, and will spend eternity suffering the wages of their sin and feeling the full force of Gods wrath.

God is faithful. God keeps his word. God keeps his promise, The Promise. But if God keeps his promise, how can some of Israel not be saved? Israel, the Israelites, the Jewish people were the physical descendants of Abraham. God made his promise to Abraham, back in Genesis 17, verse 7: And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

So, the argument by the Jewish people was that BECAUSE they were Jewish, BECAUSE they had the advantages mentioned in verses 4 & 5, because they had & kept the law, they didn’t need that grace through faith thing that the gentiles needed. They saw the coming Messiah as an earthly, political, geographical, national savior as opposed to an eternal, spiritual, individual savior.

And so, if God has not saved the whole nation, every physical descendant of Abraham, then he hasn’t fulfilled his promise, right? Paul says, No, the Word of God has not failed. God’s promises are still fulfilled, totally and completely. What he promised will happen, happens. But what was commonly understood as how it would be fulfilled is, in fact, not the way that it would be fulfilled. Again, what they wanted to see from the scriptures is what they saw from the scriptures, even if it was inaccurate.

This part in Romans right here is just one of the spots where Paul shows that the promise given to Abraham about his descendants, about Israel, is not given to his physical descendants, but to his spiritual descendants. Here in romans 9, the second half of verse 6, through verse, Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

Paul also spends much of Galatians chapter 3 & 4, within the context of comparing righteousness by faith or works of law, showing us who the promises of God were made to. Again, looking at Galatians 3, starting with verses 7-9:” Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The Word of God has not failed. As Paul explains this, again, we remember the context. God is sovereign over all. Only what he allows to happen, happens and he continually shows that, despite our human perspective at times, his Word does not fail. Many of us know Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.

Our understanding is fallible. And especially when we try to focus in on certain verses our passages, without paying attention to whats going around in the scriptures around it.

John Piper speaking on Romans 9, he says this:

Romans 9 is an explanation for why the word of God has not failed even though God’s chosen people, Israel, as a whole, are not turning to Christ and being saved. The sovereignty of God’s grace is brought in as the final ground of God’s faithfulness in spite of Israel’s failure, and therefore as the deepest foundation for the precious promises of Romans 8. For if God is not faithful to his word, we can’t count on Romans 8 either.

Here is what I see as one of the points here. Paul spent Romans 8, as I said at the beginning, showing what Gods promises and how we can have faith and hope and assurance in God and his promises. But some came up with a concern. They came and wondered, how can we trust in those promises with these concerns, with seeing many Israelites not being saved? It was a valid question.

And so Paul is showing here what the response would be to that concern and why, even with that, we can still have hope and faith and assurance in God and his promises. Those whom have faith in Christ, in the person and work of Christ, in his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. We are the children of the promise. We are Abrahams descendants. We are adopted as the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

Paul uses two examples from Genesis to show that God’s Word, no matter how crazy it may sound to us, No matter what we think we see that seems to negate Gods word, no matter how far-fetched it all is. The Word of God has not and will not fail. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

When he tells a 90-year-old woman whose life has proven her to barren, that in 1 year, she would have given birth to a son, that sounds crazy. Why would we believe that? Of Course, that s exactly what happened, and Isaac was born. Then, when Rebecca was pregnant by Isaac, God knew it was twins, knew which would be born first, which would be born second, told Rebecca that the older would serve the younger and both in their physical, individual lives, but in relation to their lives and descendants and the line of Christ, “For Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

All of this, before either one had a chance to do good or bad, to show that is not based off works, but on Gods grace and sovereignty. He says something and it happens. Because and for his glory and his purposes. When he says something, we can trust it to but fulfilled fully and completely and perfectly, even if not how we foresee it.

Remember, none of us could foresee his grace and mercy poured out on us. Not with who each and every one of us is outside of Christ. Not with our natural sin nature. Again, what Paul has been repeating in this letter. Romans 3, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The sins that identified us and caused us to suppress the truth of God, that is intrinsically known to all. Romans 1. Romans 6, The wages of sin is death. But. but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 5 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 10, which we will get to coming up, verse 9-13:

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. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Not deserved, not foreseen, not predictable. But promised. According to his will and his purposes. Christ poured his blood out for us. He willingly took the place that we deserved. He died on the cross, for us, for the forgiveness of sins. To show us his love, his glory and his goodness, his Holiness.

Normally, on the first Sunday, this month, instead today, we remember and celebrate this. Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy.

Jesus knew ahead of time. God planned from before the begining of the world, that this would happen. It was the way it had to be. It was the only way it could be. And Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Romans 8:31-39 Nothing Separates us from God

 

Romans 8:31-39

Nothing Separates us from God

Good Morning! Please go ahead and open up your Bibles to Romans chapter 8. If you do not own a Bible, we do a have a pile on the back table that you are free to help your self to, as our gift to you.
So, this week we come to the end of our sub series through Romans Chapter 8. We have spent the last month and a half in this chapter, since before VBS, in fact. Not only is this the last section in Chapter 8, but what we are looking at today is the very wrap up of what Paul has expressed, argued and taught up until this point.
In these final verse if chapter 8, Paul puts the final nail in the point that he has been building to. Paul puts the complete and total emphasis on the faithfulness and promises of God. He started the chapter reassuring us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
And one way to describe the one of the main points he makes through chapter 8, culminating in the emphasis today, is that if you are in Christ Jesus, there will never be any condemnation because once you are in Christ, you will never be out of Christ.
Last week, Paul showed that all things work together for those that love God. That the Holy spirit works inside of us and through us as we continue progress in our walk and our growth. And Paul showed that God knows and determined all things before the beginning of time, so we can have a peace and rest that, pulling from Philippians 1, what God has stated and what he has started will, fully, completely, and without exception, come to perfect fulfillment. If he started saving you, you will be saved. In fact, because of who God is, in his time, in his eyes, its already done. It is finished.
With that in mind, lets go ahead and read the last section of Romans 8, this weeks passage, Romans chapter 8, verses 31-39. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. In Romans 8:31-39, Paul writes:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 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? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Bad things happen to us. There is spiritual warfare going on all around us. This world is fallen and broken and we are fallen and broken. Sin is our first and only response with out Christ. Suffering and pain are a part of this life. But God has a promise for us.
As he says in verse 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. God promised those of us that are in Christ Jesus eternity future in perfect paradise. And not only that, It will be so much better there & then than it is here & now, that we wont even think about or remember or pains and struggles from now.
Thats the hope and the promise that gets us through now and gets us til then, but that doesn’t lessen the pain and suffering from now, and so Paul last week and this week helps us remember things that can get us through the stuff of today. Last weeks point was that God works all things together for good and what he has planned, what he has promised, what he planned, not only will happen, but has happened. We can have trust that he fulfills his promises.
What then shall we say? That spiritual warfare going on all around us, the pain and suffering that is the result of the enemy, his demons and sins that are perpetrated against us are designed to cast doubt and fear in us. Designed to make us forget Gods promises, his goodness, his power and control over all things. It is designed to cause us to neglect to give Glory and honor to God the Father.
One of the biggest doubts and fears that can pop up in a Christians mind, as it did for me, is, “Am I really saved? Am I really a Christian?” And that can be a valid question in certain circumstances. Im thinking especially in light of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23, where he says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
And Paul, tells us that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But we also see in the Gospels that, when Jesus was in the desert and Satan came to tempt him that the devil knows his scriptures. He knows them, I guarantee, better than you and I, and so he twists them. He knows how to use them to try and make them say things that they don’t say. He pulls out of context. He can use these scriptures to make it seem like God is saying he can never be sure about our salvation, when God makes it clear in numerous places that this is just not true.
Just a quick list, you can write these down and look at them later, a quick list Of scriptures that show that we can indeed be assured that we are saved. Romans 10:9 & 13, John 5:24, John 3:36, John 10:28, 1 John 5:10-13, Acts 2:38-39, Titus 3:5, & John 20:31. And the best of all, in my opinion, this passage right here that we are looking at.
If God says something, who can say differently? If God says that we are his children, that we are free from his wrath, than we can take that fact to the bank. If God is for us, then who can be against us? The love of God for us is shown, that he did not even spare his own son from His wrath, the wrath that we deserved but his son didnt. Paul says three chapter s previously, Romans 5:8, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
What does he save us for, or maybe what does he save us towards? He saves us for his glory. He saves us for the aforementioned glory that is to be revealed to us. And he saves us from his wrath. He saves us from condemnation. He saves us from fear and doubt and sin and death.
The LORD God created all of creation. Everything, every single thing, from the biggest galaxies, universes, down to the tiniest things, smaller than atoms. All of it created by God. Included me and you. Including the perfect and holy standard of which he has the right to judge us. With God being the only one who can judge, he is the only one who can declare us guilty. Where God has forgiven, there is only forgiveness.
If God has declared us innocent, if he has justified us, what else can anyone, ourselves included say to that? If Christ died for us, if we have been given His righteousness, if He is interceding for us, who can say anything? We can’t, Satan cant, society certainly cant. We have been tried and judged and if we are in Christ, than we have been declared innocent and have been welcomed in to Gods family as his children and into his loving arms.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Nothing that we go through in this life and in this world has the power to separate us from the love & goodness of God. All the things that the enemy throws at us, that are legitimately painful and meant to destroy us, our relationship with God and the good works that Christ prepared for us. These things that are meant to foster fear and doubt and worry. These things, as bad as they are and as real as the fear and worry feel, it can  do nothing to separate us from God and his love.
In dealing with these things, Paul says that we are more than conquerors, though it is not us who are good enough or powerful enough or anything of the like, but we are more than conquerors THROUGH him who loved us.
It is the power and the blood and the person and the work of Christ who brings us through these things. It is through him that we are able to come out the other side. It is through him, that we not only have our eternal security, but we also have kids of victories today. We have the choice about weather we let the enemy steal our joy about what Christ has done for us, whether we let him steal our peace about who we are in Christ.
Paul tells us some of the things that we have received here and now, to help us in this world, to fight these trials and suffering in the well known passage in Galatians 5 about the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; All things that the enemy tries to steal from us, if we let him, but Christ has already given us victory, we are more than conquerors through Him.
But when we forget these things, when allow the worries of today, how are we going to get through this month, where are we going to sleep, will we have enough gas, our food or whatever. Those very real and very scary worries that affect how we live and what actions we take. We let those fears cloud our thoughts about who God is. We let those doubts make us forget the goodness, the faithfulness and the holiness of God. And we forget the promises that he has made that not only has he already fulfilled but that he will fulfill in the future as well.
We forget what Paul says in the last 2 verses here, For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gods Word is truth. Gods Word is fact. We dont always feel the truth of these words that Paul writes to us. We dont always feel the truth of Romans 8. Within that reality, that we dont always feel the truth of Gods Word, we can rest on the bedrock, on the foundation that Gods Word is truth no matter what we are feeling at that moment.
This is a mistake that we often make, we filter the scriptures, and what they mean, what the truth is, we filter them through our feelings and our emotions. Instead what we are supposed to do, what we need to do is filter and adjust our emotions and feelings through the truth of the Scriptures.
The World is telling us that we should follow our hearts we should be true to ourselves. As Paul has been showing us throughout Romans especially that our hearts are not to be trusted, Isaiah says that the heart is deceitful above all things. So the Bible tells us , when our heart and our feelings dont believe it or dont remember it, that we can still know it and be assured of the truth of this fact, nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ill give you one of my other favorite quotes, not the Jonathon Edwards one, but one from RC Sproul, who says, When there is something in the Word of God that I Dont like, the problem is not with the Word of God, its with me.
No matter what we want, what we think, what we feel, the Word of God is truth and nothing surpasses that. Now, for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to the importance of putting scripture in context and how long we have been in Romans 8 and broken it down in to so many separate passages, I want to finish up today by reading through the whole chapter. I think its important, especially in a chapter like this that we dont end up losing the forest for the trees. We have gone through 39 verses, taking over a month and Paul had a theme here. He had a cohesive message that he was writing to the churches in Rome and I think that it sometimes does us good to read out loud, as it was written, the whole passage so that we can see the bigger themes that the Holy Spirit has inspired the writers of the Bible to put down in paper and pass down to us.
So Im going to read Romans chapter 8 and then I will close us in prayer.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 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,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 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. 5 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. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 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!” 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.
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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
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. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 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? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lets Pray.

Romans 8:26-30 God is Sovereign

 

Romans 8:26-30

God is totally Sovereign

Good Morning! Please go ahead and turn with me in your Bible to Romans chapter 8. As always, if you do not own a Bible, if you do not have one, please take one from the back table as our gift to you.
So, Romans chapter 8. We have kind of camped out here for a while. From what I figure, we have this week and next week left in Romans chapter 8. I said when we started this chapter that many consider this the greatest chapter in the Bible. Paul has packed so much in this section of scripture.

Paul wrote this letter to the churches at Rome. He loved the churches in Rome, and he wanted to come to them, wanted to meet them, wanted to spend time with them. As of yet, he had been unable. And so, in this letter, Paul lays everything out here. Everything that you need to know about the human condition, about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Everything you need to know about sin and death and salvation and the cross. Everything you need to know about the promises and assurances of God. Everything you need to know about practically living life as a Christian.

And while there is theory and practical in both sections, Chapter 8 seems to be the crux of that. It is the combination of it all. It brings together everything that Paul has been talking about prior to this chapter and it lays all the groundwork for what is to come.
And what we looked at last week, is an incredible sense of encouragement and assurance from God. There will be suffering, there will be sin and pain, there will be death, but Paul says in verse 18,
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
God promises us that, those of us who are children of God, those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, those who have repented and believed in the [perfect and all-sufficient work of Christ, what is waiting for us in eternity future is so far beyond what we can even begin to imagine that when we get there, the things we are dealing with today will pale in comparison.
God makes that promise and we look forward to the answer, the fulfillment of that promise, we have put our hope in that guarantee that God gives us. That hope, that knowledge of Gods fulfillment of his promise is one of the biggest things that helps us get through today.
So with all that build up, let’s go ahead and look at the passage of scripture we will be studying today. Paul’s picks right up in Romans chapter 8,and we will look at verses 26-30. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:26-30.
Paul writes:
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. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
So Paul here in this section is looking at some more of the specific things that we can take assurance in, that we can hang our hope on and how we can do that. First up is the Holy Spirit and prayer. This first verse here, verse 26 is a verse that I read wrong for a long time.
I read this verse as saying if we happen to not know how to pray in that moment. When you stumble over your words in prayer. In those moments and in those times, The Holy Spirit will pick up your slack. But that’s not what the text says. There is no IF in the text. instead it says simply, We Do Not Know What To Pray For As We Ought.
We don’t. Not if or when. We don’t. We pray as best we can. We pray to petition God. We pray to lay our hearts and our wants and needs out to Him. We pray to align ourselves with his will. We pray to confess our sins. We pray to thank him for his grace and his blessings. Prayer is an expression of all that we think and feel about God. But we don’t pray on our own.
Just like we can not achieve our salvation, we can not receive salvation without God giving it to us. We cannot receive salvation without the Holy Spirit changing our hearts from stone to flesh, without Jesus lifting the veil from our eyes. Just like that, we cannot know what to pray for as we ought, not without the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Our weakness. That weakness which makes God such a great and grace filled, merciful God. Paul recount is 2 Corinthians 12:9, that the LORD said to him,
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
We see in scripture that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. The same role, the same description, the same wording that was given to Eve in the Garden as the Helper to Adam is Given to the Holy Spirit. We helps us with out walk, helps us with our sanctification, and so much more. And he helps us with prayer.
Now, how often do you go to pray and you find that you just cant. So much is going on. So much that we only get glimpses of, or rumors of. Things that we don’t know what the will of God is.
But the Holy Spirit helps us in that weakness. The Holy Spirit knows what the will of God is because the Holy Spirit is God. And he takes our heartfelt, deep, guttural, internal prayers that we can’t communicate and He takes them and delivers them to Jesus Christ, who is our intercessor, our advocate, THE WAY to God the Father.
The Holy Spirit is who gives grace to our imperfect prayers. The Holy Spirit is who give mercy to our wrong prayers. The Holy spirit is the one who changes our prayers over time. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us in our weakness, which is to help us pray the will of God.
Words are easy to say. To believe and to mean the words that we say, that is hard. It is easy to say, “God, your will be done.” We say it all the time. We pray it all the time. But do we really mean it? Do we really mean, LORD, Not my will, but your will be done.
Because the natural tendency for human beings is to chose to twist Gods will, or ignore Gods will. It is to choose to hear the Gods will is what we already want to do, what we are comfortable with or what we are already doing.
Jesus of Nazareth, as in addition to fully 100% God, was also 100% fully, physically human, was a perfect example that he would rather not do what God the Father was having him do. He says in the Garden, right before he is arrested, says this very thing. He says, Father, I know this is the only way to achieve what we decide needed to be achieved, but if there is any other way, I would rather do that. But there’s not, so not my will, but your will be done.
Perfect submission to Gods will. Thats what we are called to. Thats what the Holy Spirit will help us move towards. And Gods will does not always have to be a mystery towards us. It is in certain circumstances, certain situations, maybe even certain seasons.
But God has perfectly revealed his will to us. He has given us his Word, the Bible. The Bible is all sufficient. It is complete and it is perfect and there is no special revelation from God outside of the scripture. And so, how does the Holy Spirit help us? The Holy Spirit helps us to have a desire to know Gods Word. He gives us a want to know what Gods will is. He helps us to rightly understand the scriptures, so that we can rightly understand from the bible what Gods will is. He opens our eyes, helps us to see things in scripture as we read, as we mature, as we memorize scripture, the Holy Spirit helps us to see things in the scripture that we had not seen before. His glories are new every morning.
The Holy Spirit reveals the meaning of scripture to us as we read Gods Word. And so we have access to Gods revealed will. We can know what his will is in a great many things and situations, IF, IF we are willing to submit to Gods will. Jesus knew. He said it first, he said, I don’t want to do it. But I know its Gods will so I will.
But why? Why would we do Gods will if we don’t want to? Why would we choose to suppress his will? Why would we submit to his will if it isnt good for us? Well, Paul addresses that here too. First, 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.
Those that love God, another way of identifying the children of God, genuine, legitimate Christians. For those, Gods will, when it plays out is always for the best. Always.
We could say, and give lip service to we do Gods will because God said so. And that’s technically true. But why does it matter that God said so? Who is God? What are his motivations, his purposes?  We could  try to use human leaders as examples. If King David told us that we were to do something, we know that he was a godly man, a man after Gods own heart. Not perfect mind you, no human example will be. but we can generally trust him to have whats best in mind when he, as King, gives us a command. We can do what he said, because he said so.
But what about the other side. It would be easy to use recent or current American Politics here, but I’ll resist that temptation. Instead, imagine living in Eastern Europe in the 30’s and 40’s. Hitler is reigning supreme. He says to do something. You know that he does not have whats best for anyone other than himself in mind. IF you chose to obey what he says, it would generally be done out of fear, fear for safety or causing waves or being noticed. You may choose to obey, but there is no confidence in the motivations or the purposes behind his commands.
We are shown that God is perfectly Good and perfectly just. God is perfectly perfect. And God works all things together for the good of those who are called, according to his purposes. I shared last week, this does not mean that all things are good. It does not negate the pain, the suffering, the hardships that we are going through today. But it means the same thing Joseph said to his brothers in Egypt back in Genesis 50, verse 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. God is not the author of sin or evil, but he has authority over it and will use it to bring about his purposes, to bring about good.
Now, many know that verse, Romans 8:28. It’s a popular verse and many know that God works all things together for good. But we also need to remember the context. The verses before and after. So I will often say you can’t read, or maybe more accurately you can’t understand the right meaning of Romans 8:28 without Romans 8:29.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
As we have looked at over the last couple of weeks, we have to go through SOME of the discipline and problems that we go through in order to be sanctified, to work through our sin and to kill the sin that keeps coming back at us. And we see here, some more details regarding that. All those things that God works together for the good of those who are called. The good that is being done is that we are being conformed to the image of his Son, the image and likeness of Christ Jesus.
What our sin means for evil, to tear us away from God, to give in to our flesh. What our sin means for evil, God uses for good. And one of the overarching points, which will become even more apparent in verse 30, is that what God wills, what he willed before the beginning of the world, will come to pass. Period. Whatever God said is going to happen, will happen.
Those whom he foreknew, he also predestined. This can be scary for many people. God knows all. And he knew it all before the beginning of time. He is omniscient. He knows all. But if that was all, then we could not be assured that what he has determined as his will will come to pass, but also, that means that he only knew but didn’t cause it to happen. If he only foreknew, he would be omniscient, but not omnipotent, all powerful. All it would mean is that God could see the future.
But not only can he see the future, but he is in control of all things. He is in control of what happens and so, not only can see the future , but determines it as well. And if he determines it, we can trust in it and we can, as we dealt with last week, put our hope in the future, because we know that God leaves nothing to chance, but works all things together for good.
And so, if you are in Christ, if you are a fellow heir with Christ, you can rest in that, you can be assured of that, secure in that because God determined that it would be so from the beginning of time. And that leads us into verse 30, where we will finish up today.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
And this is where we can stand firm with assurance. This has the same point, different process, different context of what is being talked about, but same point as what Paul is saying in Philippians 1:6,
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
We see a bit of a timeline here in Romans 8:30. First, before the beginning of time, God predestined those whom would be saved. Again, if you struggle with that term, that phrase, that doctrine, Paul points it out as a comfort, as a reassurance, it is designed to give you peace about your salvation.
But that determination by God comes first. Then, at some point in our life, at some point God calls us to him. We don’t start by searching for him, he reaches out to us and calls us to him. sometimes that process takes a long time. Sometimes it starts to take effect, it changes something in us, and we do start searching for him. Sometimes we resist. Sometimes we respond quickly and emphatically. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit ends up dragging us kicking and screaming to God. But those whom he calls will, ultimately respond to that call, and they will be justified.
Remember some of these words Paul has spent time establishing earlier in this letter. Justification is what happens when we respond to that call. It is what happens when we believe, when we are saved through faith alone by grace alone, in Christ alone. We are justified. Our sins make us guilty in the eyes of God. That guilt required blood atonement. We cannot provide perfect enough blood to cover it ourselves. Christs blood on the Cross, his death on the cross covers it for us. When we are justified, that blood is applied to us. And So, when we are justified, we are no longer seen as guilty in Gods eyes, but he sees Christs righteousness covering us and we are declared innocent.
And those whom he justifies, he also glorifies. This is the end. This is when we pass from our broken sin filled bodies to our physical, spiritual, glorified, perfect, eternal bodies. This is when we enter into the eternal Kingdom of God where we will eternally worship and reign with christ for eternity.
It is interesting that the past tense of glorification is used here. We already mentioned Gods omniscience, his omnipotence and now we see his omnipresence. This is the fact of God that he is in all places at once. He is everywhere at the same time. But that’s not all. I feel like an infomercial, But wait, there’s more!
Not only is God everywhere all at once, but he is at all times at the same time. He is outside of time. He created time. That means he is in the Garden with Adam and Eve at the same time he is protecting David from his enemies, at the same time he is telling the crowd at jesus baptism that he is please with his Son, at the same time Christ is crucified, at the same time he is right here, right now, at the same time he is at the end when all will stand before him in judgment and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Which means, for the purposes of this section of scripture, that our glorification is already done. Not in our timeline because we are not in all times, we are not outside of time, But in Gods eyes, we are already glorified. The job is done. It is finished. Nothing can undo it.
And that glorification is when the glory that will be revealed to us will render the sufferings of this present time over and dead. God shows us his revealed will and he gives us all we need to know at the moment, in this time, as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 13,  
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
God through the Holy Spirits inspiration of Paul, writing this letter, is giving us assurance. If you are a Christian, if you have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, if you have been justified, if you have been saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, then you will be glorified. You will spend eternity with Christ. As we read earlier, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Lets Pray

Romans 8:18-25 Waiting with a Purpose

Romans 8:18-25

Our hope is our Assurance

Good Morning! Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 8. As you hear every week here, If you do not own a Bible, please let us gift one to you from the table in the back. Please take one if you do not have one.

So, we are continuing through Romans chapter 8 this week. Paul is establishing our identity, who we are in Christ, who the Holy Spirit is and what His ministry is. He is establishing what God has promised and assured us of and what we can expect to see coming up in our Christian walk.

Last week, we established that those who know Christ, those that have been changed by the Holy Spirt, Christians have been given the right to be called children of God. And with that, God is our father. And with that, as our Father, and as Perfect and true in all forms and senses, once were are in Gods arms, he will never let us go. Romans 8:16 & 17, the end of what we looked at last week, Paul tells us: 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.

We are given a promise, an inheritance now, that we will receive in the future, at the right and proper time. But, in the mean time, for a variety of reasons, some of which we touched on last week, we will endure suffering. That suffering, those trials, the things that we are dealing with every day, Paul is going to tell us later in this chapter that it will all work together for Gods glory and that it will help conform us to Jesus’ image. But that doesn’t always help us in the moment as much as it is supposed to. Paul is going to remind us that our focus is not to be on this world, but on God and his Glory in eternity.

Lets go ahead and read this mornings text. Ill be reading Romans chapter 8, verses 18-25, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:18-25, Paul writes:

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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Pauls first point here is that, yes, there are sufferings, there is pain in this present world. Some of the things we have touched on over the last couple of weeks that manifest this pain and suffering include, but are not limited to spiritual warfare between the enemy and his forces and God and his forces. It includes times when God disciplines us, either punishing us for things done wrong, or, and I think more often than that, growing us in discipline, disciplining our bodies to be conform onto the image of his Son, to grow in holiness and sanctification. It includes the evil of people and things around us having an effect on us, due to nothing that we have done. It includes the consequences to good and bad decisions, results of our sin and persecution and mockery for our holiness. All of those and more fall into the fact that we do indeed experience pain, suffering and troubles in this world.

But Paul says its not all bad news…And he is certainly not dismissing the pain and the struggles. What he is saying is that whatever it is that each one of us is going through, no matter how bad it is, no matter how tough things seem to be, how infinitely greater it will be when we get to eternity future and get to spend it reigning and ruling along side our co-heir, Christ Jesus, the King of Kings, the LORD of Lords.

Humanity got a glimpse of this, to what extent, we honestly dont know, but we got a glimpse of this in the Garden of Eden. God created, God spoke creation into perfect existence. Scripture records that after God created different aspects, It was good. When God created Adam and Eve, they were made perfectly in his image and likeness. Creation, including mankind, was made to perfectly reflect his glory and his majesty.

But, as we know, from the Bible of course, but also, just by opening our eyes and looking around us, humanity and creation do not stay in this perfect, glorified state. Sin came and brought death, corruption, entropy, decay, imperfection.

We became sinful and we fell from Gods favor. We lost all righteousness. We spent the past 7 plus chapters looking at the results of the moment in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve sin in their lack of faith in God and his Word. And people go back and forth. People try to have both sides. They want to believe that people are generally and naturally good. That left to their own devices, people will do the right thing. The Bible says thats wrong. Paul has pointed out numerous times in this letter that this is wrong. Read chapters1 & 3, its crystal clear. The heart is deceitful above all things.

And so, for 6000 plus years, creation and mankind have failed to fully and rightfully reflect Gods glory and power and have failed to give Him the full honor that He is deserved. And yet, something in creation remembers. Psalm 19:1, David observes and points out, 19 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Something inside of us knows. It is deep down and sometimes just beyond the edge of our mental awareness, but something in us remembers. We just don’t do anything with it. Way back in Romans 1, Paul writes in verse 18, that by our unrighteousness we suppress the truth.

But the truth is there. And it is known, remembered even. We have a desire to get back to that, though our heart and our mind lie to us about how to get back to that. And so, when we attempt to fix the ails of this world, while listening to our hearts and our mind, we are desiring to build heaven. We are desiring to return to Eden, the perfect utopia that we were created to inhabit. We intrinsically know that this world is wrong, that it is broken and we either try to take advantage of that, the “every man for themselves,” mindset, the survival of the fittest idea of evolution. Do unto others before they do unto you. That’s the broken part of the world. Some people give in to that and give in to the desires of the flesh. That’s how the enemy helps to keep them from examining the brokenness of the world and trying to do something about it.

Others go a different route. Many genuinely see the brokenness of this world, they see inequity, they see injustices, they see systems and processes that are designed to protect those who take advantage of this broken world and its vulnerability. They see these things that are not right and they want to fix them and they fight for those whom they think are being oppressed, where they think they see injustice. This means things like racial inequality, this means businesses and owners oppressing the workers. This means equal rights for all, unless you disagree with these “rights.” This means righting wrongs, whether real or perceived. This stems from a desire to fix the world of its brokenness and recreate the Garden of Eden. The desire that this stems from is there as a remembrance for Genesis 1 & 2. But without God, the one, true God, with the Gospel, with out the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, without the truth being “un suppressed,” by the Holy Spirit, without those things, it is nothing. It is a failure, before it ever gets started. Often, its perceptions of what is right, what is being fought for, and its perception of what is wrong, what is being fought against, those perceptions are just plain wrong. But the desires to remake, to recreate, to bring us back to Eden are there.

CS Lewis wrote, If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

And that’s true. We are made for a different world than this. Partly. I want us to be careful with this. As with many things in the scriptures, if its is misunderstood or misconstrued, it can sound like permission to be unbiblical. We are not here by accident. We are not here simply to wait for Christ to come back. We are not here to wait until we die and then go to Heaven. We are here, right here, right now, to glorify and honor Jesus Christ as LORD and to do the will of the Father.

We are here for a reason. We are to be in the world, not of it, but we are to be in it. God is in control of everything in the world, in the universe and beyond and in control of time and everything else you can think of. He put you right here, right now for a very specific reason. We may or may not know what that very specific reason is, but we can rest assured that it exists. We have a God given purpose, as does creation. So we are created for this world.

But we have also been created for a different world. Not “out there,” or “up there,” but this world, only different. Revelations tells us that in the end, this world will be cleansed by fire, whether thats literal or metaphorical is for a different day, but out of that, God will recreate the world, we will have New Heavens and the New Earth, there will be a New Jerusalem. This world, creation itself, that has been broken and fallen, will be recreated into what it was always, and originally created to be.

But we are not there yet. Creation recognizes it better than we do at times and Paul says, it eagerly waits, it cries out, it groans with labor pains for that moment when we, as adopted children of God, get to redeem our bodies and take hold of our inheritance.

We have talked about that, Already and Not Yet. The tension that this creates. The tendency of us to forget about today, to ignore it and just focus on getting to heave. Or the tendency to forget about eternity and simply focus on living our best lives now.

But one of the terms that Paul uses to describe our longings and waiting and crying out is the pains of childbirth. Having, of course, not experienced this physically, my self, but having been with Hope for 5 births so far, having talked to her about this phrasing, having heard her and other moms, especially among themselves, talking about their experiences, some things about this make more sense than they used to or otherwise would.

One of the things that was explained, maybe expressed would be a better word, hopefully accurately out into my own words, is that labor has a similar tension of the already and the not yet. There is the intense focus on what is going on right there at the moment. There is the inability, and I don’t say that as a bad thing, but the inability to see past that purpose and that moment and reason why God put you in that spot. And there is pain, there is tiredness, there can be frustration. It can, at times, feel like it will never end. I can feel like all the work, all the pushing, is for nothing and its not working. It can feel like there is no progress being made. It can feel that way, In That Moment.

But, God designed this all for a reason, for a purpose. And God has given that purpose to mothers along with the knowledge that, in just a little while, all of it will be over and the mom will be in a euphoric state holding their newborn and, Moms, testify to this, in that moment, holding your baby, the pain that you felt while in labor, and while you were pushing, the pain is completely forgotten. Now, alter as the kid is growing up, terrible twos, not napping, waking up at 4 AM EVERY MORNING, or in their teenage years, hormone riddle, sure, you remember, in your mind, the pain, and you make sure that the kids know what you went through to bring them into this world, but when you are holding your baby, feeding that newborn, seeing their perfect little faces, their perfect little fingers holding onto ours, none of that pain, exhaustion, struggle, none of it exists.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

There was a Christian pop rock band when I first became a Christian called Reliant K. In one of their songs, that has stuck with me since I heard it, they are in a conversation with God and their lyrics here could have been inspired by this passage of scripture. Listen to this:

And you said I know that this will hurt
But if I don’t break your heart
Then things will just get worse
If the burden seems too much to bear
Remember the end will justify
The pain it took to get us there

Read more: Relient K – Let It All Out Lyrics | MetroLyrics
https://youtu.be/9rUtyfB6gVU

I love that. God has a purpose for everything that we are going through. Careful, that doesnt mean that everything we are going through is good. We go back to last week. Sometimes is God doing things to discipline or get our attention. But, sometimes, sometimes it is an attack from the enemy. Sometimes, its a result of others sinning against you. Sometimes its a result of our own sin. Not everything we go through is good.

It hurts. Its painful. It breaks us down. It stinks. Out of that all, John Piper sums up this passage with three words; Its Worth It. All that stuff, when we get to see the glory of God that will be revealed to us, It will be forgotten and it will be worth it. We will be redeemed and glorified to the glory of God and not only us, but ALL of creation will also be freed from the corruption and bondage that is here and now because of sin.

Thats what creation is waiting for and thats why we are going through this life. We are in this life for a reason and purpose. We are to make sure that we are focusing on why and where God has placed us. We have jobs to do here in this world, and that job is not to bunker down, with our admission ticket to heaven and wait for Christ to return. Our job is to do the will of God in the community, on the family, in the job or the school where God has placed us.

That might seem like a natural stopping point, but we still have a couple of verses that we haven’t touch on. Lets reread these verses, starting in the second half on verse 23:

we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We finish up this passage with Hope. And our Hope is in the promises that God has made to us, that we are the adoptive sons of God and that, as the sons of God, we will receive the redemption of our bodies. Again, our hope is in the promises of God. Which means that our hope is in the character of God, because if God makes a promise, he will keep it. Our Hope is in what God has done, not what he have or will do. Our hope is in Jesus Christ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. For in this hope, we are saved.

Now, Paul uses the word hope very purposefully. Because Hope that is seen is not hope. We are looking forward, we are longing, desiring the promise of God to be fulfilled. We know it will be, it already has, but we are not there yet. We have it already, but not yet. Hope is not a wish. Hope, as used in the Bible, is not used as, I hope this thing happens,” when it might not. Instead hope is the knowledge that it will happen, it just hasn’t yet.

Look around, we don’t hope right now that we are all getting together for worship this morning. We already are gathered together, as a part of Gods family. We hope that next week, we will get together again, for worship and fellowship. We don’t hope that we have the Word of God from which to learn Gods will. We hope that we will encounter and spend eternity with the Word, and the Word was God and the Word is God.

Paul finishes this passage if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. We hope for Jesus to come back. We hope for the new creation. We hope for the redemption of our bodies and of creation and we hope to be eternally in the presence of Gods glory. We don’t see that right now. We see our broken, disease riddled, decaying bodies. We see the broken, sin filled world around us, the injustice, the inequity, the attempts to fix it in our own power and the temptation to take advantage of the brokenness. We see problems in nature. Animals going extinct. Forests burning out of control. Pollution, droughts, smog, all sorts of things.

All of which will disappear when our hopes are realized. All of which will disappear when Christ comes back and this world, creation itself and each and every one of us who are sons of God will be redeemed and created anew. All of which will disappear when Gods promises are kept and fulfilled and he is glorified above all.

We do not yet see what we hope for, and Paul says that we are to eagerly wait for it with patience. Does that sound contradictory to you? On the surface it absolutely does. But to me, it fits. We are here and now, doing the will of God, and we can and should be excited and waiting eagerly for Christ to come back. But we should be waiting eagerly with patience.

One of the things that Hope and I tell the kids, when we are teaching them when they are young, is What is patience. Patience is waiting with a purpose. We can and should eagerly wait, but we do so with a purpose. We eagerly wait while focusing on why we are here. We eagerly wait while fulfilling our purpose. We eagerly wait while doing Gods will and living our lives for his glory. We eagerly wait, and we wait with a purpose. It will be worth it.

Lets Pray

Romans 8:12-17 Heirs of God, co-heirs of Christ

Romans 8:12-17

We become Children of God

(Editor’s note: Having some issues uploading the audio. As soon as it is available, I will edit this post and add the audio to it. Thanks for your understanding)

(Editor’s note: Audio is now included! Thanks for your patience.)

Good morning! Please go ahead and grab your Bibles. Just a reminder that if you do not own a Bible, we do have a stack on the back table that we would like to be our gift to you.

As you turn to the book of Romans, we will be in Chapter 8 this morning. Paul, the author of this letter, has been pointing out the line that is drawn by God. You are either in Christ, or you are in the flesh. You are either aligned with the world or you are aligned with God. He has started to show the person and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, developing the theology of the Trinity. He has shown how, in Christ, we are free from the power and bondage of sin and death.

Paul is going to follow up on all these things, even in the section we are looking at today, but throughout the rest of the chapter especially, of basically, who we are in Christ. He has established, in the section we saw last week, the difference in Christians and non Christians, In walking in the Spirit and walking in the flesh. Paul keeps mentioning, IF YOU are in Christ, IF YOU are in the Spirit, IF YOU…

And that’s what Paul is picking up with in this section today. Lets go ahead and look at the verses we are looking at this morning. Im going to read Romans 8:12-17, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:12-17, Paul writes:

So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 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!” 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.

Amen? So, a lot of great things in there. A lot of encouragement, and looking to the eternal future that we get to share with God. He lays down one last, dividing line, IF. If you live by the flesh, or if you live by the spirit. And as we looked at last week, the physical, earthly results are the same. We live in sinful bodies, in a broken world and our bodies will die a physical death. What happens after that depends on that IF. if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Again, not physical life and death in this world, but spiritual life and death in eternity. If you live by the flesh, you will experience the same death that God told Adam about, that would be the result of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What Paul is writing in the section we are looking at today is the wonderful encouragement, the light at the end of the tunnel, if you will, the hope that we trust in and look towards IF we are sons of God.

And what are going to look at today are things that Paul assures us of if we are on the right side of that IF. So Paul points out 4 things that are true to all believers here. 4 things that are true if we are on the right side of that IF. If we have repented of our sins and trusted in Jesus Christ and his sufficient and complete work on the cross.

First, If we are led by the Spirit, then we are Sons of God. Now, this can be tough for some of us to think of and understand for a variety of reasons. First of all, everything in this world, all of the things that point to God, all of the things that we say or understand about God, all of the analogies, illustrations and examples in this world are incomplete. We live in a sin corrupted, broken world.

God gives us things in this world to understand him better, to understand why and how we should relate to him and to point towards him. In this case, the example would God as our Father.

But that tough for us to imagine and understand. Because God the Father is a perfect Father. He is what Fathers are supposed to be. And one of the reasons we have fathers is to point us to who God is and what he is like. So, what’s the obvious problem? Our human fathers. What’s their problem, well, they’re human. Even the best of human fathers fall woefully short of the example that God the father sets for us.

The role of father is a type, its a shadow, its a pointing towards the character of God. As such, its not going to be a perfect representation. The author of Hebrews talks about the correlation between our human fathers and God the father. Hebrews 12:7-11 reads:

 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Now, this is also going to come in to play later on with one of the points we look at, but just want to quickly point out a couple of phrases in here. we have had earthly fathers, & they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good.

Our fathers are supposed to do the best that they are able. They are supposed to do whats best for us and that is supposed to point towards Christ. But, how many fathers are actually like that? One of the most common problems that believers have is in seeing God the Father actually as a Father. The reason is because of who they had as their human, earthly fathers.

Many of the people in this room, I can say this confidently, even without knowing most of your stories yet, many of you in this room have experience what could be most politely described as terrible. In more truth, many of the fathers have been absolutely evil. Many more have been misguided, incompetent or indifferent. Some precious few have been good. If you have an evil father, how can you see God as a good, good father?

Again, the scripture will address this. Im not saying there does not need to be healing. Im not saying its easy. But Jesus tells us that God the Father is infinitely a better father than us and our earthly fathers. Matthew 7: 9-11, Jesus says:

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

God is our perfect father and he loves us perfectly, in ways that all of our human earthly fathers fall short, to whatever extent. He loves us. He saves us. He disciplines us, as we saw in the passage in Hebrews. He guides us, and teaches us. He created us and knows what’s best for us and provides for our needs. Jesus’ half brother James reminds us that every good and perfect gift is from God above. Psalm 68:5 says: Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. And our father will never turn his back on us. He will always welcome us into his arms, and nothing is strong enough to rip us from his hands. God is our father. We are his children.

The second if, If we are in Christ, you have received the Holy Spirit. And, as Paul writes here, you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons

Im going down a planned rabbit trail and I think this is a good spot for it. God is our Father. We are his children. Who is We? This phrase gets tossed around today as if it applies to every one. That all who God created are his children. Scripture doesn’t say that.

Now, before I go any farther, All Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. All human beings are image bearers of God. Therefore, all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. But, not all who are created in Gods image and likeness are Gods children. Paul writes to the Galatians, chapter 3, verse 26: for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

More explicitly, in Johns Gospel, he writes in chapter 1, verses 9-13:

 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

So, if you are in Christ, if you receive him, if you believe on his name, if you have the Holy Spirit, you have been giving the right to become Children of God. 1 John 3:10 tells us : By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

And we cry out to God as Father by the Spirt of Adoption, the Holy Spirit. The term Adoption is used here to denote and whole new relationship. God has adopted us as his children. He has justified us, as we have seen in previous chapters. We are now in a right relationship with God. Our relationship that was broken the moment that Adam and Eve fell.

Another we have seen as we have gone through Romans, is that this new relationship, this promise of eternal life, these promises that God has made and will fulfill, are not necessarily fulfilled in this physical, immediate instance. But God the Father gives us the Holy Spirit almost as a down payment. He gives us the Holy Spirit, as the courts official stamp on the adoption papers, making it legal and binding and forever. Ephesians 1:14 says that the Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory”

What God has not given us is a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. The Holy Spirit is an assurance of the promises of God. He is the sign of the freedom that we now have, the freedom from death, the freedom to live. The freedom from the law, the freedom to follow the law. The enemy, while engaging in spiritual warfare, sends fear and tries to keep us in slavery.

Not all spiritual stuff is from God. God tells us that we are to test the spirits by the scriptures. God gives us certain spirit, but not others. 2 Timothy 1:7,  for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Fear is not from God. Freedom, power, love, self control. Those things are form God. The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are indeed the adopted children of God.

Thirdly, if we are in Christ, I we are the children of God, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. So that leads to the question, of what are we heirs to? What do we inherit? Galatians 3:29 tells us: And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Then a moment later in Galatians 4:7:  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

We are heirs to the promise of Abraham. We are heirs to the kingdom of God. We are heirs to eternal life. We are heirs to salvation. We are co heirs with Christ.

Christ, who is the firstborn of all creation, is the rightful heir to all that is the Fathers. With our adoption into Gods family as children of God, we take our place along side Christ as heirs to what is his.

Gotquestions.org sums up:

The New Testament portrays Jesus Christ as God’s “firstborn” Son; that is, Jesus holds the “birthright” and is the heir of all the Father has. God has given Christ all of creation as a gift, because all was created for Him. The inheritance that Christ receives includes believers, those whom the Father has given to the Son.
Believers are co-heirs with Christ. Meaning, believers have been given the privilege of sharing Christ’s inheritance. As adopted sons of God, Christians are treated as firstborn heirs. Our inheritance includes salvation, eternal life, and even a measure of the throne of Christ.
The heirs of God’s promises receive their inheritance through faith: “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith”. The promise given to Abraham concerning his “offspring” was a promise of Jesus the Messiah. So an heir of God is someone who, through faith, receives Christ, who fulfilled the Abrahamic promise of being a blessing to all nations

What wonderful, undeserved, encouraging news! If we believe, if we trust in Christ, if we, as Jesus says, repent and believe, we will receive the Holy Spirit, we will be justified, we will be adopted as children of God and we will be heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ.

Paul ends verse 17 with reminder of physical present reality mix in with the promise and the hope of what is to come. The last IF. IF we suffer with Christ, we will also be glorified with him.

A couple of notes on this before we wrap up here today. Becoming a Christian will not make all your problems go away. In fact, in many cases, especially in the short term, it may make them worse. I should see a lot of heads nodding out of understanding from experience to that.

Jesus says we will face persecution, not going to get too deep into that right now, but it is what Jesus said and it is something we can expect. Paul talks often about the spiritual warfare gong on around us. We talked about this Wednesday morning and Dave even shared about the Armor of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians chapter 6. Some suffering is given to us by God as discipline. We read a section of Hebrews 12 earlier, just rereading verse 11 real quick, For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

I see God using the word discipline in this section in both understanding sof the word. It is to correct wrong behavior and change us from who we were to who we are to become, to make us more like Christ. And it is used in the sense of an athlete or student who disciplines themselves to do the work needed to accomplish their goals.

That discipline is hard. Read your Bible every day. Spend time in prayer everyday. Turn to God and his word first, before other things. Wake up Sunday morning, maybe even Wednesday morning to make it to gather with the fellow saints. It seems painful, but produces fruit.

One commentator, while speaking on this verse, and also looking ahead to some of the verse for next week says,

Suffering is not evidence of separation from God, but a sign of living in the conflict zone between “this present time” and the “age to come,” a sign of being indwelled by the Spirit of God which is at odds with the rule of sin and death (Romans 8:1-10). It is a suffering we share with the whole creation in bondage, waiting with eager longing for “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:18-21). We, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan together with creation “while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).

The thing I keep pulling out of the section In Hebrews 12 is that the discipline that we are facing is a reminder that God is loving us and working on us. It is a reminder that he has not turned us over toour sins and that we are indeed his children.

Lastly, Ill leave you with this reminder that what we see and experience now, is but a foretaste of what is to come:

Jesus Christ holds the position of firstborn and is the heir of all creation. What’s truly amazing is that He has promised to share His inheritance with us. When He returns in glory to take up His rightful place as King of Kings on earth, we will rule with Him, under His authority (Revelation 2:26-27). The Christian life is filled with undeserved favor. What we experience now of God’s grace is only the tip of the iceberg.

Lets Pray.

Romans 8:1-11, pt 2 The Holy Spirit

 

Romans 8:1-11

The Spirit is Greater than the Flesh pt 2

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn to Romans chapter 8. If you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please take one from the back table as our gift to you. After a brief break last week, to look at VBS and our responsibilities to plant and sow the seeds of the Gospel, this week we pick back up looking at Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome.

Two weeks ago, we started looking at this passage. The passage this week is Romans 8:1-11. We started looking at it but we focused on the very first verse. Paul has spent the past 7 chapters dealing with practical and deep theological issues, such as salvation, justification, sanctification, regeneration, Original Sin, total Depravity, a whole lot of big words for clear, sometimes simple, sometimes not, Biblical truths. And he continues here into chapter 8, with this first part, the part we are dealing with this morning. Paul will deal especially the freedom we have in Christ and the Holy Spirit who gives us that freedom. He deals with the difference between the flesh and the Spirit.

He has, most recently, been showing what the law is and is not designed for. And within in that, how we can or cannot keep or fulfill that. And we get some answers here in this section of Romans. Lets go ahead and read the text. Romans 8:1-11, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Paul writes:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 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,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 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. 5 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. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

There is a lot in there, in those 11 verses. We spent the last sermon, two weeks ago, just looking at verse 1. That, IF we are in Christ, there is no condemnation, that we are forgiven and we have been justified, regenerated and adopted in the family of God as His children. IF. And the rest of this section is all predicated on that IF. If you are in the flesh, or if you are in the spirit. That’s the distinction the Paul is drawing here. And then, IF you are in Christ, what does that look like? And he brings in some new elements that he hasn’t truly focused on as of yet in the letter.

Paul here begins to show us the ministry, the power and the role of the Holy Spirit in what’s going on here. Now, Paul has mentioned the Spirit 4 times over the previous 7 chapters. So this is not coming out of nowhere. The Spirit has been a part of Paul’s theology and his writing from the beginning. However, in these 11 verses, Paul mentions the Spirit 11 times.

We definitely see a shift in emphasis here. We will continue to see the Holy Spirit emphasized over the course of, especially the rest of this chapter. And over the course of the next couple weeks, as we look at this chapter of Romans, we will learn a lot of about who the Spirit is and what he does.

To start off, before we start looking at what Paul is saying here, just a couple of introductory bullet points about the Holy Spirit. First, the Holy Spirit is God. He is one-third of the trinity. One God, Three Persons. Not One God, three personalities. Not three Gods. One God, three distinct persons. God the Father is not God the Son. God the Son is not God the Holy Spirit. God the Holy spirit is not God the Father. But they are all God and there is only one God.

If you don’t fully grasp this, don’t worry. Theologians have been trying to study this and figure out the specifics and the intricacies of this for 2000 years now. It is something that is described in Scripture enough to know what I just shared, but its also something that is, what’s called an Incommunicable attribute of God. Gods attributes come in two categories. Communicable and Incommunicable.

Communicable attributes are the ones that we can know, not just intellectually, but take part of and share. Of course, not to the perfect extent that God has them, but humans can know them, can experience them. These are things like love, mercy, jealousy, hate, justice, knowledge, and many more. You and I can love. You and I can have mercy. You and I can be jealous, can hate, can have knowledge. You get the idea.

His incommunicable attributes are ones that we can’t identify with, we cant have any part of, we cant experience in any way. God’s Omnipresence, for example. We cant, in any way shape or form, be in more than one place at once, let alone everywhere, at the same time. God’s omnipotence. We cannot do whatever we want. We are bound by physical and intellectual limits. We can be in relationships with others, but we cannot understand the eternal, perfect, equal, relationship of the trinity.

So, you don’t have to understand the Trinity in full. But, this is a key doctrine to Christianity, you must understand that the doctrine is true, You have to believe that the trinity is true, because the Bible says it is, even if its full grasp is beyond us in its totality.

Another bullet point truth about the Holy Spirit, and this is intricately related to the first. The Holy Spirit is a person, He is referred to as a He every single time in scriptures, not as “it.” The Holy Spirit is not some mysterious “force,” it is not the wind, or anything like that. The Holy spirit is a person with all the qualities associated with the personhood of God.

Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in John chapter 16. he says in verse 7, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Then down in verses 13-15,  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

There is so much more to say and share and teach about the Holy spirit and we will get to some more of that in the upcoming weeks as Paul continues to talk about the Spirit. But for now, we will look specifically at what Paul is saying here.

So, we see Paul here differentiate between the law of the Spirt of life and the law of sin and death. This is what we have spent some time looking at over the last few chapters. We have been looking at what the Law does and does not do. We have seen that adherence or obedience to the Law, the moral law that God gave down to Moses back in the book of Exodus, obedience to that Law does not and cannot save us.

Attempting to earn our salvation, to earn forgiveness, or to live perfectly enough to not need salvation or forgiveness, instead of freeing us, actually binds us to sin and death. When we accept Gods grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, the bondage to sin and death is broken and we are given life eternal through the acts and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

God did what the law could not do. The Law, will good and holy and given by God for our good, was then corrupted by our sinful flesh. And so, again, the law cannot and would not save, would not and could not give us righteousness, especially the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus says is required to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

And so, he sent his Son. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, making the same point as he does here,  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. God the Father, sent God the Son, to be born a human, fully man, wrapped in the same flesh we are, though himself sinless, took the punishment of our sin. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law. Jesus showed his perfect righteousness, the righteousness required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God the Father did so because we cannot have our own righteousness by ourselves, but we can have Christs righteousness through the Spirit.

But there is a requirement for receiving Christ’s righteousness. We need to walk, not in the flesh, but walk in the Spirit. So, we need to be good to earn it? We need to do something in order to receive it? No, the Holy Spirit is the Key.

Back to what Jesus said in John 16, that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. He reveals the truth of Scripture. He reveals in our hearts and in our minds that Jesus is God, that He is the Christ, the Messiah and that Jesus is the Word. The Spirit is the one who reveals to us, by revealing what Scripture says, how we are to live, how we are to act and how we are to believe. The Holy Spirit is the one who changes us from the inside, who changes our heart and desires, who breaks the bondage to sin.

And so we again, see a clear distinction, a clear divide between the many, who reject the Holy spirit, reject Scripture as the all sufficient, and inerrant Word of God, who reject Jesus as our savior and reject God the Father as the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent sovereign deity that created us and those of us who accept and affirm those facts.

One of the things that we pull out from what Paul is saying, is that we will walk with what our minds are set on. We will align ourselves with what we are walking with. So, what is that? Is it the flesh? Or is that the Spirit?

We all start out walking with our minds set on the flesh. We care about man’s acceptance. We see things through the lens of the culture. We seek out the wide and the easy path. We live life as if there are no consequences. We live a life hostile to God. The author of Hebrews writes that, without faith, it is impossible to please God.

But, Paul again, brings up the IF, verse 9,  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

If we are in the Spirit, we are in direct opposition to walking in the flesh. God changes us from the inside. He calls us to a higher standard. He does so because he has given us grace through faith, not to get the same grace. The mind set on the flesh does not submit to the Law. That’s what Paul says. Instead of submitting to it, the mind set on the flesh can trick itself into thinking its mind is set on God and it tries to conquer the law, tries to master it and fulfill it.

But the mind set on the Spirit is learning the truth and it will know better. AW Tozer writes, The Holy Spirit never enters a man and then lets him live like the world. You can be sure of that. He doesn’t just change the behavior, that wouldn’t be enough. He changes the heart, changes our desires. He changes what we set our mind on and we turn from the flesh, to the Spirit.

How many things can you say that have truly changed your life? What can you talk to any stranger about, whether they are interested or not? Sports, Nutrition, music, kids, work, love, etc Where is Jesus on that list? Where is the Holy Spirit on that list? Where is the Bible on that list?

Because, sure, events, or thoughts, or circumstances or whatever happens when we are focused on the flesh, some of those can change some of our life here and now. Look again at verses 10 where Paul writes,  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11

Paul brings it back around with that big, long, huge word, IF. If Christ is in you. There is no both. Fact one, the body is dead because of sin. That is true either way. Whether you have been saved by Grace through Faith in Christ, or whether you have not. Whether you have a mind and a life set on the Spirit or a mind and a life set on the flesh. The body is dead because of sin. What happens after that?

There are only those two options. Leading to only two different results in eternity. If the Spirit is not in you, than your eternity will be spent feeling the eternal pouring out of Gods wrath on you. Eternity in Hell.

But, Paul writes in verse 11,  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Citizenship in the kingdom of Heaven. Adoption into Gods Family. Fellow Heirs with Christ. New, Heavenly, Immortal bodies. Perfect, sinless bodies. Eternal worship and glorification of God. Perfect communion with Jesus Christ on the throne. No pain, no tears, no hurt, no death. Eternal life.

If Christ is in you, if your mind is set on the Spirt, not only do you get these benefits, the best of them all, but your life today will also reflect it. You will be at odds with the world, at odds with the flesh. You will have to turn away from everything this world has to offer, and say, NO. What you, the world has to offer is death. I choose life. I choose the Sprit, I choose Christ.

And many wont understand. Many wont agree or appreciate it. Many wont see that the choice has to be either/or. “Well, I am a Christian and I still…” How often do we here that. Or, Love is more important than being right. Its not true, but even if it was, it wouldn’t be in the way that they say that. We are to do all things in love. Especially when dealing with people who continue to choose to have their mind set on the flesh. We cant respond back at them how they respond to us.

We are to do all things out of love. And it is loving to warn people that if they do not turn from their life set on the flesh and turn their lives to be set on the spirit, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone.

It is love to have a right doctrine on what the Bible says. It is love to love God first, and to then let the love of Christ flow out of us. We cannot love without knowing Christ.

What do we know about Christ. Romans 5:8. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, we will remember here this morning as we do every first Sunday of the month.

Jesus not only knew ahead of time, the Trinity planned before the creation of the World that this sacrifice, this act of perfect love would be required and how it would take place, but Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Romans 7:1-6 Freed from the Bondage of the Law

Romans 7:1-6

Dead to the Law

Good Morning! Lets turn in our Bibles to the Book of Romans chapter 7. One of the first things that we will see this morning is that the section of Romans 7 we are looking at, Paul directly parallels with a chunk in chapter 6. In chapter 6 he addressed sin. He addressed our need to die to sin so that we are free from sin. He used an illustration, inspired by the Holy Spirit to try to communicate Godly spiritual truths to our limited human ability to understand.

Here in Chapter 7, Paul is going to do the same thing, except instead of addressing sin, he will be addressing the law. He is going to use an illustration to communicate his point. He is going to address our need to die to the law so that we are free from the law. And he is going to show how who and what we are in Christ and what he has done for us is infinitely greater than anything the law could ever do for us.

We are only going to be covering a couple of verses this morning, but we are going to be looking at Paul at some of his clear and yet confusing best here. Before we go any further, lets look at the text this morning and then we can dive deeper. We will be reading romans chapter 7, verses 1-6, and I will be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Paul writes:

Or do you not know, brothers[a]—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.[b] 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

So, Chapter 7 takes place in the middle of a section where, Paul’s point is kind of, The Law is there for a purpose. The purpose is not what you have all assumed for however many years, but it is there for a purpose. He has addressed the arguments that since god is good and grace will continue to exceed sin, we should continue to sin so that Gods grace will continue to grow. He has addressed that the law doesn’t matter so we don’t need to follow it. He has addressed the idea that the law is what will save us and bring us righteousness. It wont and it can’t.

And so, if we look at the law as our way to God, if we see obedience to the law as a way to earn our own righteousness, if we see the law as what we need to do in order to be saved, then we have a wrong understanding of the law. Paul points out here that when we have a wrong understanding, when we put our trust and faith in the law and when we think that we can earn anything by keeping, even when we think we can keep it, it is basically a millstone around our neck. It is bondage, it is death.

He has established that if we are justified, if we have been saved by grace through faith, if we have put our hope and trust in Christ, His righteousness and His completed and finished work on the cross, then the law has no hold on us.

The idea here breaks down like this. When we die, we will stand before God and we will be judged by his righteous and holy judgment. We will be judged on 1 of two things. If, as I just said, we are justified and trust in Christ, then we will be judged by Christs imputed righteousness, His blood covering up our unrighteousness. God will look at us and judge us by the finished work of Christ on the cross.

However, if we never did repent of our sins and believe in the Gospel, if we never did see that our works accomplish nothing, if we continued to put our hope and trust in our righteousness and our obedience to the law, then the law and the demand for perfect obedience is the standard by which we will be judged. A God sees all. He will strip everything down and we will stand before, and everything that we have done in the dark will be brought to the light.

And if there was one point that we sum up that Paul has made so far in this letter it is that none of us have any of our own righteousness. We have all broken the law. We have all failed to meet the perfect standard that God has laid out.

Yes, God is a God of love. Yes, God is a God of Mercy. Yes, God is a God of Grace. But God is also Holy. Holiness is the top of the food chain when it comes to Gods attributes. It is the only attribute of God that is repeated multiple times, in succession. Namely, in Isaiah and in Revelation, the Lord our God is referred to as Holy, Holy, Holy. He is never referred to as Love, Love, Love. He is not referred to as merciful, merciful, Merciful. He is not referred to as Jealous, Jealous, Jealous. All his other attributes he is completely and they are true. But one rises above the rest. That is his holiness. Holiness requires meeting that perfect standard and we cannot do that.

So, what ever we put our hope and our trust in, whether Christ’s righteousness or our own, that is the standard by which we will be judged. With one, we cannot succeed in reaching the standard. In the other, Christ cannot fail in meeting that standard.

And it is with that ground work laid down and established that Paul moves forward in these 6 verses. And his main point is that, just like we die to sin, we need to die to the law. Again, he is not saying that we are not to follow the law. God gave us this moral code, this Right and Wrong, this standard of behavior for a reason.

But when we are trusting in the law, when we think we can keep and therefore earn our salvation, then we are bound to the law. We are slaves to it and it keeps us captive, just like sin does. In order to be free from, just like sin, we need to die to it. We law only has that binding power so long as we are alive in it, meaning so much as we are giving our lives to it, depending on it, trusting in it, to do what only God can do. So, we must die to the law.

Here again, Paul uses an analogy here, a Holy Spirit inspired analogy, to try to communicate to our minds what God is telling us here. Last week, he used the analogy of slaves and masters. This week he uses the language and idea of marriage to bring out his point.

Lets be clear for a moment. Just as last week was not about actual slavery, especially in the way we think about, Paul is using marriage as an example, he is not teaching on marriage here. Context matters. If we are married and bound to the law, then we cannot be bound to anything else, especially and including the grace and righteousness of Jesus Christ. What releases us from that binding? Death. A spouse dies and a person is then free from the marriage covenant. The person is then free and can go and marry another person.

So it is with the law. Again, if we are married to the law, we cannot be married to grace and to Christ. Once we die to the law, through death our covenant of works is broken, then we are free to enter into another, a different covenant, the covenant that God had in store for us from the beginning.

John Calvin, in his commentary on this passage in Romans, noted this about the way Paul used this analogy. Calvin wrote, “He (Paul) might have said, in order to make the comparison complete, “a Woman after the death of her husband is loosed from the bond of marriage: the law, which is in the place of a husband to us, is to us dead; then we are free from its power.” Calvin through out his commentary also used language such as that, in death to the law, “The bond of the law was destroyed, ; not that we may live according to our own will, like a widow who lives as she pleases while single; but that we may be bound to another husband; nay, that we may pass from hand to hand, as they say, that is, from the law to Christ.”

Paul, after issuing this illustration, continues in verse 4,  Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

Paul again uses language and arguments that goes back to the previous chapter, when he brings in the symbolism of baptism. Now, we didn’t really spend much time on this, so let’s go back and read Romans 6:3-5, where Paul writes, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Jesus came down from heave, incarnated as a man, not primarily as an example, but instead as a sacrifice, as a substitute. However, he is also an example. He was baptized by John the Baptist to show that us being baptized is an important part of our spiritual relationship with Him. And we see in the act of baptism some incredible symbolism and parallels to what Jesus did here on earth. We see in the act of being baptized, death, burial and resurrection. The reason that we get baptized after we are saved is to show outwardly, symbolically, what has happened inside us. That we have died to sin, and as we see here, to the power and bondage of the law. That our old, sinful selves are buried and done with. And we are resurrected, or born again as married or bonded to Jesus Christ. We are new creations in Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

So we have died to the law, and have been brought back to life through and with Jesus Christ. And Paul gives and application. He gives a why here at the end of the verse. In order that we may bear fruit for God.

Thats our mission while we are here on Earth. Of course, if we are bearing fruit for God in our lives, that will fall under the umbrella of what our created purpose is, the reason God even created human beings, and that is to give glory to God in all that we do and in all who we are.

Paul again brings out the before and the after. He shows the only two choices. Death or life. Sin or righteousness. Christ or Law. Works or Grace. When we are in sin and bound by the law, the fruit that we bear is fruit for death. We have referenced numerous times throughout Romans the works of the flesh, which could be other wise called fruit of death, that Paul wrote down over in Galatians 5. Do you remember that? Verses 19-21:

9 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Charles Spurgeon writes “Sin is the transgression of the law. Therfore, out of the law, by reason of our corruption, springs sin. And in our past lives, we did indeed find sin to be very fruitful. It grew very fast in our members and it brought forth much fruit unto death.”

Without dying to sin and without dying to the law, being bound to the power and consequences of the law, we are not capable of anything but sin. And being bound to the power and the consequences of the law, we will therefore be judged in accordance to the law. And as we, and more importantly and accurately, Paul has clearly established, that is a trial that will not judge in our favor.

But, look back at Galatians 5 again for a moments. The immediate verse before the works of the flesh that we just read, verse 18,But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” And then back again to Romans 6, the last verse we are looking at this morning, verse 6, Paul writes, “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

We have been freed and he who is free is free indeed. We no longer serve sin, bound by the law. We now serve God, bound to Christs righteousness by the Holy Spirit. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear fruit of the grace that has been poured out on us by God the Father. We, again, as Paul writes in the last few verses of Galatians 5, what those fruit look like.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

You know, there is a lot going on in the world today, in the country, in our state especially and probably in our jobs or communities that are baiting us, tempting us into behaving as if we are still slaves to sin. We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of evil. Those powers and principalities are hard at work to try to get us to bear bad fruit, to respond to those around us with the same intolerance, vileness, hatred, and lack of civility that is being thrown at us from all directions.

And yet we see here, and elsewhere, all through out the Scriptures, that we are called to rise above that. We are called to pursue righteousness, to follow the commands of God. The Holy spirit will allow us to bear the Good fruit that the Bible itself describes. Others will see this and call us pharisees. They will cry “Legalism!” But the truth is that this is evidence that we are free from the law. We are instead called to pray for our enemies and to love those who persecute us. We are called to, in many places, as so far as it is up to us, get along with everyone around us. The strength to do that is not in us, not by ourselves, but is granted to us through the Holy Spirit.

One more quote from John Calvin, as he says, “We ought carefully to remember that this is not a release from the righteousness which is taught in the law, but from its rigid requirements and the curse which thence follows.”

And that curse is what Jesus Christ has saved us from, if we have in fact believed in the gospel and put our hope and trust in his finished, completed work on the cross. That act of pure love, that god so loved us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, that act on the cross, we will remember here this morning as we do every first Sunday of the month.

Jesus not only knew ahead of time, the Trinity planned before the creation of the World that this sacrifice, this act of perfect love would be required and how it would take place, but Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.