Letters to My Students was very obviously written by someone who is a gifted teacher and passionate about preaching, and preaching faithfully God and His Word, the Bible. Jason Allen draws on Scripture as his main resource, as it should be, but also draws heavily on his influences, including Charles Spurgeon and Dr Steven Lawson, (Two of the very best in my opinion!). He also shares his experiences in preaching and preparing to preach. He shares the good and the bad, the wins and the lessons learned. And he is called and passionate about helping to raise up, teach and encourage the latest batch of pastors and preachers coming up.
And that’s who this is ultimately aimed at, pastors and ministers in training. In hat, I have not read a better book on preaching and preparing sermons. It goes into the call of preaching, sermon prep, the benefits and necessity of Expository Preaching, when there are right and wrong times for Topical Sermons, lessons learned, and so much more.
Throughout the book, in all the lessons, Allen keeps the focus squarely on preaching Christ, in all, and above all. He draws heavily on Spurgeons illustration regarding being able to draw a straight line from any scripture directly to Christ. Jesus should not just be an add on at the end of the sermon, nor should the Gospel.
With that, in my opinion, the best paragraph in the book starts and ends like this:
“Christian Preachers ought to preach Christ-centered and Christ-exalting sermons. If a Rabbi could preach my sermon, I still have more work to do….If you have preached a sermon without featuring Jesus, then you haven’t preached a Christian sermon.” (pg. 106)
Ultimately, I am further along in my pastoral career than the target audience of this book. However, I still learned quite a bit, was reminded of things Ive forgotten and encouraged by a lot of what was written here. I also don’t tend to highlight, underline, make notes, etc in the books that I am reading, but this book is highly marked up!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about preaching, who is training to be a pastor (in seminary, for example) or who is early in their pastoral career. And I would also recommend it to any one who preaches, whether regularly or occasionally, whether for a few years now, or a veteran preacher.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Good Morning. Please open up in your Bibles with me to Romans chapter 9. We jump back in this week to our series through Romans and we finish up the 9th chapter here as Paul is addressing objections to Gods sovereignty. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, if you dont own one, please help your self to one from the back table there as our gift to you.
Now, The first sections in Chapter 9 we saw Paul address three specific questions dealing with Gods sovereignty and we came away with three very clear points. First, Gods Word and his promises have not and cannot and will not fail. What he says will happen, is guaranteed to happen. Second, Gods decisions, on who he calls to himself and who he chooses to save are just that, his decisions. And He, as God, as perfect and just and merciful, his decisions are right and just, or more accurately, full of grace and mercy to those he saves and just to those he doesn’t. third, He is the creator God, we are his creations. He has every right to mold us as the potter molds clay, and to form us into what he wants and what is best. And all of this, not only the third point, but all of Chapter 9 is showing that all that God does is for His Glory.
So, as we finish up chapter 9, we see Gods glory on display and we see Paul is re-emphasizing two of his main points that he has been preaching all letter long. Gods Word is the foundation and the bedrock of everything. And Salvation belongs to the LORD and is available to people of all nationalities, background, race, sex, all of it. No one group of people has a hold on Christ and his redeeming work, to the exclusion of others.
So, with all that said, we are going to be looking at Romans chapter 9, verses 24-33 this morning. Since verse 24 starts in the middle of a sentence, to help with the context, we will start reading with verse 23, which is also in the middle of a Paul sentence, but adds context. We will read through the end of the chapter, and just notice, Paul quotes numerous Old Testament passages in these 9 verses and alludes to quite a number more.
So, without further ado, lets read Roman 9:23-33 and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, Paul writes:
in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel[c] be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,
“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”
30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[d] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Amen? So, Paul quotes a lot of scripture in this passage here. And that makes us wonder, why would he focus so much scripture on this passage? What point is he making that needs that scriptural emphasis to combat the questions and objections? I think we can pull out three points from this passage, two of which Paul is saying and one of which he is showing by example.
So lets start with that last one, the point that Paul is showing by example. Scripture is the foundation of all that we believe. If the Bible says it, its true. We believe the Bible. It is the inerrant, infallible, all-sufficient word of God. I think one of the main things that Jim was saying last week, what his underlying premise for everything he was saying was the Gods Word is true. In everything, and everything that it says is trustworthy and has only been verified throughout history, never disproven.
The Bible was written over 1600 years. It was written as 66 separate books or letters by over 40 authors, in 3 languages on 3 continents. But in all that, 1 main story, the restoration of our sinful selves to God and his glory through the perfect righteousness of his Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, In Jesus Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone, as revealed by the scriptures alone. The motto of the Reformation, the pillars that the Reformation was built on, that Biblical, true Christianity is built on.
And so, we need to look at what the Bible says, in its totality. Not just one verse here or there. Paul knows this. And so, to help his point, as an Apostle, as a messenger of Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writing scripture, he brings in the Old Testament scriptures to show that he wasnt just making this up. To show that he wasnt going against what God had previously said. Instead, Paul is showing that these things he is emphasizing here in Romans, and chapter 9 especially, have been established and planned from the beginning. It’s not a new plan that God came up with. This is not plan B, this is a continuation of the one and only plan that God has had. And scripture itself testifies to that.
And the first point that Paul makes in this passage is that God will call his people from all nations, all Peoples and every tribe of the World. And that was the plan from the beginning. Not from the Jews only, but from the Gentiles also. Gentiles, simply being any one who is not a Jew. God sent his Word and his prophets and his Son, our Messiah through the Jewish people. The physical descendants of Abraham hold a special place in Gods heart and were given a special calling.
But Salvation belongs to the LORD and is promised to the Sons of Abraham, but as we looked, not the physical sons, not the biological, genealogical, physical sons of Abraham, but to all who have the faith of Abraham, the spiritual sons of Abraham. Gods plan from the beginning was for all people groups to be represented in Perfect eternity.
Revelation 7:9 & 10 shows what it will look like when we are worshipping the LORD for eternity. John recorded:
I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
All tribes. All Peoples. All Languages. God will call who he decides to call. Or maybe more accurately who he has decided to call before the creation of the world. And its an incomplete reading of the Old Testament to think that Gods salvation was limited to one people group during that time.
Thats what Paul is pointing out here. Gods invitation, his call to salvation of all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike is not a new revelation that the Apostles or Paul came up with. Paul quotes Hosea and the sentiment is echoed in the book of Ruth as well, in verse 26 here:
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
Shortly after I became a Christian, after I started going to church, I heard this and I have been saying it ever since. Christianity is very exclusive, because it has one door, one method of salvation, one way, and that is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way to know the Father or to access him except through his Son. But, Christianity is the most inclusive religion out there as well because the invitation is given to all, whosoever may believe. The invitation is not limited to any group or any people.
We know that his Word does not return void, meaning that exactly what God set out and planned from before the beginning is exactly what is going to happen and has happened. And what he has planned to pur his grace out on all people’s groups, on people from every tribe, every nation and every language.
Now some people hear what I’m saying and they think it means dismissing the Jewish people. They think the argument is that the Jewish people times has come and went. Paul points out that isn’t true either.
Paul quotes twice Isaiah here and points out that not all Israel will be saved, but that there will be a remnant, there will be some of the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, who are called by God and will turn to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Messiah and they will be saved. They are a part of Gods plan and have been from the before the creation of the world, just like you and me. Call upon the name of the LORD and you will be saved.
Now, Paul makes that point and then goes on to point out to things keeping many of the Jewish people from knowing Christ as their Messiah. First, Israel recognized, because God was clear in the Old Testament that righteousness was required to Know God. That the only way to be reconciled to Him is through righteousness.
The problem was where Israel thought that the required righteousness came from. They pursued righteousness by the following of the Law that was given down by God. And yet they couldn’t achieve that obedience to the law, couldnt achieve or acquire that needed righteousness.
And Paul points out where the needed righteousness comes from. It comes through faith. Faith in Christ. And in fact is Christs righteousness that is able to be put on us, so that the Father sees the needed righteousness, from his Son when he looks at us. This righteousness cannot be achieved or acquired or earned. Paul says the gentiles did not pursue it. It is by grace through faith.
And that faith in Christ is a stumbling stone for many in this world. And more specific, that faith in Christ alone for our righteousness. Many don’t want to trust in Christ alone. It is not in our human nature to trust in Christ alone. It’s barely in our nature to trust in Christ at all, let alone to trust in him alone. And what happens when we trust in anything other than Christ alone, we stumble over the corner-stone. We trust in works. We trust in ourselves.
We are wrong. Paul says it here. There are those who think they will be saved in the end. That they will have the required righteousness as if it were based on works. There are many who think they will enter the Kingdom of Heaven who will be denied and rejected.
Jesus says in Matthew 7, verses 13 & 14: the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
It is harder to trust in Christ alone than to try to trust in ourselves and to earn our righteousness, narrow and hard is the way that leads to life. But many are on the wide and easy path and they think they are on the narrow and hard. There is a day coming when we will either be accepted, trusting in Him alone, or rejected, trusting in our works even if we believe in him.
Jesus talks about this later in Matthew chapter 7, verses 21-23, a famous passage. Jesus tells the crowds:
“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.’
The issue here is not whether the people believed that Jesus was LORD. They had the intellectual knowledge and probably believed in their heart. The issue is that they were trusting in their works. They were trusting in the fact that they prophesied, that they cast out demons, that they did mighty works and they expected that those works were good enough to get them into heaven. Jesus calls those works that they trusted in, lawlessness.
Trust in Christ alone. Thats the way through the narrow gate. Not Christ plus works. Not Christ plus heritage. Not Christ plus political views. Not Christ plus race. Not Christ plus anything. Theres a saying, Jesus plus anything equals nothing.
Paul is clear in this passage. All whom God calls, will respond and will trust in Christ alone. His Word will not return void. And God will call his people from everyone who was not his people. Every nation, every language, every people. No matter who or where you come from, there is no salvation outside of faith in Christ alone. The scripture says this from the beginning of the Bible and continues to say it throughout the New Testament. God didn’t have plan A and Plan B. He doesn’t have one plan for now, one plan for then and one plan for later. It’s all the same plan. Scriptures speak to it and are our foundation for everything spiritual. Trust in Christ alone, not works, not plus anything. Not even Jesus plus communion. This is a time to reflect on your faith. Is it Christ alone, or Christ plus anything. Do you know who Jesus is, or do you know Jesus?
We are going to celebrate communion this morning. A time of remembrance. Who Jesus is and what he has done. Very God and Very man. Jesus spoke to his disciples saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” What does it mean to “follow” Jesus? For the modern Christian, we obviously can’t literally walk behind Jesus as the apostles did, but we can still follow his commands.
One of the last commands he gave was to do this in remembrance of Him. To remember. We do this because he first loved us. And we remember Jesus has thousands, even millions of disciples all over the world. Followers of Christ, black & white. Hispanic and Asian. Native American and Middle Eastern. Male And Female. Jew and Greek. All spiritual descendants of Abraham and all Children of God. And we gather as a local gathering of his family to do this together.
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.
And thats the caveat, right there. Communion is for those who have chosen to Believe and follow Jesus Christ as our sole and total means of salvation. Gods grace poured out on us, because his wrath was poured out on His Son.
We are commanded to remember because otherwise, we forget. When we forget, we put other things before God and that was one of his very first commandments. have no other gods before him.
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.
(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 inheritancethrough 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 promiseof 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.