Luke 9:37-43 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Does what He does

Luke 9:37-43

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Does what He does

 

All right, please turn with me to Luke chapter 9. If you do not have a Bible, please see me after the service and I can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

We are in the middle of this chapter of Luke’s Gospel and Jesus is the midst of changing his direction and focus from ministering to the region of Galilee to heading down towards Jerusalem. But in that change, Jesus doesn’t take his eyes off of what he has been focusing on, which is the people. Individuals. The negative affects that sin has had in this world.

Jesus and the inner three disciples, James, John and Peter, went up on the mount and they saw the transfiguration, the majesty of God reflect from and out of Jesus, the Son of God. They saw Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah, the embodiments of the Law and the Prophets, THE most import people (aside from Maybe Abraham) in the Jewish culture and religion. And they saw Jesus as greater than and the fulfillment of both.

So, we are going to pick up right where we left off as we always do. This morning we are going to read Luke chapter 9, verses 37 through 43. Ill be reading, as always, from the English Standard Version, though the important thing is for you to read for yourself in your Bible, whichever translation you prefer.

Luke 9:37-43, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

So, the very next day. Luke will sometimes be very specific with the timeline in his Gospels. Sometimes he will be very nonspecific as to the timeline as well. This is one of those very specific times. The very next day from James, Peter and John seeing the glory of God, the very next day, the descend down the mount.

I want you to think of a major happy moment in your life. More specifically, a moment in your spiritual life where you felt closest to God, where you witness an event or a moment of clarity where God was as real as he has ever been, where Jesus is as real as he has ever been to you.

That’s where Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ 3 closest friend, were after the passage we looked at last week. They were up on a mountain alone with Jesus, they saw an amazing preview of Gods glory peeking out of Jesus during his transfiguration. They heard God the Father speak audibly, confirming the Jesus was God the Son, and that they needed to listen to him. They had some private teaching with Jesus, and they started down the mountain. They were on top of the spiritual world, confused about some things to be sure, but on top of the spiritual world.

And as they descend, there is a great crowd awaiting them. More accurately, there is a great crowd awaiting Jesus. Mark tells us that there was an argument going on, but that doesn’t concern Luke.

Instead, we see that Luke records that a man, a dad, calls out to Jesus. Please, look at my boy. My only Son. Please see him. Don’t let him go unseen, uncared for, unhealed.

He tells Jesus what’s wrong with his son and it’s a heart-breaking scene for a father to see, especially over and over. One commentator describes the boys’ issues thusly:

When we piece the Gospel descriptions together, we get a heartbreaking picture. When the demon seizes the boy (Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39), the child screams (Luke 9:39). The spirit throws him to the ground in convulsions so that he foams at the mouth (Luke 9:39). He grinds his teeth and becomes stiff as a board (Mark 9:18). Many times, he had been cast into fire and or water by the evil spirit (Mathew 17:15), and he is covered with scars. Even worse, the spirit has made him deaf and dumb (Mark 9:25). The poor boy lives an aquarium like existence. He can see what is going on around his pathetic body, but he cannot hear or speak. His father concludes here in Luke, “It…shatters him, and will hardly leave him.” (v. 39) – literally, “it is crushing him.”

 

As a father, especially to think about that on Father’s Day, it had to tear this dad up. HE tells Jesus, I asked your disciples to heal him, but they couldn’t. This would appear to be the other 9 Apostles while the inner three were up with Jesus. Some things we know and some things we don’t. The Apostles were given authority to cast out unclean spirits back at the beginning of Luke chapter 9. So why couldn’t they help this dad and his boy? It appears, as most commentators agree, that the Apostles were forgetting that it was Jesus who was casting out the unclean spirits through them. They were trying to do it by there own power, through there own methods. They were trusting the methods and the process as opposed to trusting Jesus. That’s what appears to have happened here. Scripture doesn’t spell it our for us, BUT scripture is clear that the Apostles were not able to do this because they lacked faith.

Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Jesus shows us all what appears to be frustration. If so, we know its righteous frustration of course. Jesus is without sin, so we know that anything he did and anything he said was righteous and sinless. I don’t know a better word for it, so I’m going to use frustration even though it doesn’t feel quite right. But who was he frustrated with? Again, it appears that it is the Apostles specifically and the generation around him generally. He knows that once he is gone, which is what he and Elijah and Moses were discussing by the way, that some of these healing’s won’t happen. He knows that his Apostles are very imperfect people and all his followers, us included will have moments where we lack the faith that Jesus is referring to here.

The faithless and twisted generation that Jesus references here goes all the way back to Moses and the Israelites. And it fits all the way to today as well. There will be no faithful generations until the LORD comes back.

Each generation fulfills and upholds beliefs and values that go against what God has clearly told us he desires. RC Sproul writes:

The culture into which Jesus came was twisted. It was distorted. The values they held dear were things that were noxious to the LORD God, and what was precious in the sight of God was despised in their culture. Theirs was a twisted culture because it was a faithless culture.

When human beings fail to trust God, they twist their lives into all kinds of crazy shapes.

Sound familiar? It sounds quite a bit like today. IT is the same with every single generation that has come about since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There is no perfect generation. There is no “Christian” culture or nation.

Sproul continues:

Consider our own age. The sanctity of life has been twisted; the sanctity of marriage has been distorted. We are twisted. We’re distorted and therefore faithless.

The world we are living in is in terrible shape. I know it seems as if it’s worse than it’s ever been. But it’s been in terrible shape since the time of Jesus, and thousands of years before. During the first century we see atrocities such as King Herod killing all the boys aged two years or younger. We see an occupied people try to come up at revolt for their freedom and end up crucified, lined up along the road for miles upon miles as a deterrent to others who might thing that silly word, “Freedom.” We see Jesus, according to the ruling authorities at the time, a crazy man claiming to be God, be crucified. We see the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Compare that to today, and roll the White House, the Capitol building, the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell, The Statue of Liberty, and whatever else you want to throw in there. Roll them all into one and let some other country take over and destroy it. Completely destroy it, Leaving not even one stone on top of another. We see the Jews organized almost a genocidal search for “heretical” Christians, stoning them to death if they would not renounce Jesus as LORD.

The world was terrible then and its terrible now.  World Wars 1 and 2, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Japanese Internment camps here in America. Vietnam, 9/11, Taliban, Isis. Turn on the news. People were looking for a savior then and they are looking for a savior now. Even after we know Jesus is our Savior, we look for saviors within the world as well. Even as the First Century Jews were looking for a Warrior King to free them from Roman Occupation, we look to flesh and blood people to save us.

I have bad news. They can’t. Donald trump can’t save us. Joe Biden can’t save us. Barrack Obama can’t save us. George W Bush couldn’t save us. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, FDR, Lincoln and Washington couldn’t save us. And yet we keep expecting them too. Sometimes we do so consciously and sometimes we do so practically.

 

 

But Jesus is not going to let the lack of faith around him prevent him from pouring out grace and mercy on those who need it. He tells the dad to bring the boy to him.

Dr Luke describes what we see as the boy is brought to Jesus. The unclean spirit, the demon messes with the boy one last time. He knew the boy was going to Jesus. He knew he was going to be healed and the spirit was going to be cast out. So, he gave the boy another episode. TO me, this story reads as if the boy had legitimate medical conditions that the unclean spirit was triggering, as opposed to the boy being possessed or the symptoms being caused purely by the spirit, but that is just conjecture.

What we do see is the demon trying to do as much damage as possible while he can. As one commentator notes and many of us can attest, especially those of us who came to Christ later in life than childhood:

The demon made one last desperate attempt to keep him away from Jesus. Stan never gives up any of his victims without a fight, and often it is right before someone comes to Christ (whether literally or spiritually) that he makes his most violent assault.

 

That’s what we see happen here. But when Christ calls someone to Him, he will never be denied. When Christ calls someone to Himself, that person is already secured, in the long-term perspective. It’s called the Effectual Call of God, or Irresistible Grace. In short, the effectual call is understood as God’s sovereign drawing of a sinner to salvation. The effectual call to a sinner so overwhelms his natural inclination to rebel that he willingly places faith in Jesus Christ. 

(https://www.gotquestions.org/effectual-calling-call.html)

 

          Jesus sees what is happening to the boy and rebukes the unclean spirit. He sends him away and then heals the boy, fully and completely. No more convulsions. No more foaming at the mouth. No more deafness and dumbness.

 

And Jesus reunites father and son. Now, I don’t know if this was intended to be THE point, but it fits. Jesus unites and reunites his true spiritual family. The Father, God and his sons and daughters, the children of God will be united through THE Son, Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit.

This unity is despite our differences. This unity is not uniformity. He has purposely made us different, as scripture points out, different parts of the body, different spiritual gifts, different callings. This unity is also, and maybe most especially, despite whether we like each other or get along.

This unity occurs when we eliminate gossip, slander, anger, unforgiveness from our church body, from within each other. This unity only occurs when we make the conscious decision to act loving towards each other regardless of anything else, because this is what Christ calls us to.

At conference, one of the speakers gave this illustration that has struck me and stuck with me. We know that the church, which is all believing individuals, is the bride of Christ. How would you feel if someone was talking to you, telling you how much they loved you, liked you, respected you, wanted to be your friend, but, they said, I just can’t stand your spouse?

That’s what it is like when we complain about a fellow Christian, even if its just in private with God. I love you but hate your spouse. That’s what its like when we fight with each other and refuse to love and respect each other. How long would you let that go on, if someone was saying how much they didn’t like your spouse? How long can we expect Jesus to let us continue to talk bad about his spouse?

 

Spiritual warfare is all over this story. And its all around us today. Just as it is shown trying to separate father and son, it is working hard today to divide the body of Christ. It is not solely a battle between unbelievers and believers either, unfortunately. Even we, as family, as followers of Christ, even we can act in the enemy’s interest. Even we can do things that go against the same Jesus that we claim to and attempt to follow.

We remember just a few weeks ago, we saw that Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ. In Matthews recording of that story, when Peter heard Jesus say that He, as the Messiah, must go to Jerusalem and die on the cross, Peter tried to convince Jesus not to go, that he didn’t have to go and die. Jesus’ response, “Get behind me Satan.” Peter was doing the work of the enemy in trying to support and save Jesus.

When we fight, when we argue, when we complain about fellow Christians, we are doing the work of the enemy, creating division and disunity within the body of Christ.

 

Now, Luke ends this section beautifully and with a bow on the top of both of the last two sections we have looked at. Verse 43, And all were astonished at the majesty of God. God revealed his majesty up on the mount at the transfiguration to the inner three Apostles. Here, he shows his majesty through Christ to the rest of the Apostles and the crowds and especially the father and son in this story.

It is revealed to all who will see it. His majesty shines on the mountain top and it shines down in the valley. God won’t let us not see his majesty. In our lives, it will be easy to see God’s glory and majesty, his grace and his mercy when we are spiritually up on the mountain tops. But it is harder to see when we are down in the valleys of life. But its still there. All we have to do is see it.

We will see when God shows it to us. And we will see it easier and more often the more that we have seen it in the past. The more we see God’s majesty, the closer we will grow to him, being conformed to the image of his Son. And the closer we grow to him, the more we will see God’s majesty. I’ll end with 2 Corinthians 3:17-19:

Now the Lord[d] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[e] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[f] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

 

 

                            

Luke 8:26-39 Jesus is the Son of Man: Demon Possessed Man

Luke 8:26-39

Jesus is the Son of Man

Demon Possessed Man

 

All right, lets go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. IF you do not have a Bible or you know someone who needs one, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

It is interesting to me, when we read through the Bible, there are parts that are more difficult to believe, more difficult to imagine, and like this week, more difficult to explain. Most of the time, what sections these are for each of us depends on our spiritual background, what church or religion we grew up in. It also depends on where we were born. For example, the story we will look at today, will be harder for those of us born in Western society to come to grips with than those who were not.

In the Western world, I see two main things that define the way we look at scriptures. Both will be address in this passage. First is that we tend to go to one of two extremes when it comes to Satan, demons and the spirit world.

According to C.S. Lewis, There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist and magician with the same delight.

The first extreme is that we give them not enough power. We dismiss demons, we dismiss Satan as if he doesn’t exist, he isn’t real. One of the greatest quotes, this is by an old poet and I was unable to find his name again so forgive me, but in one of his poems, he said, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” Scripture shows us that Demons, Satan, angels are real, they are real, they were real then, and they are real now. They also have power. They can influence people and things of this world.

The other extreme is that we give them too much power. Anything and everything that happens is because to the devil. We end up putting him almost on par with God. We think of them as two sides to the same coin. That God is the good God and Satan is the evil God. But again, going to what the scriptures say, Satan is not even close to the same level as God. He is a created being, falling under the authority of God, the creator. He will be defeated, and Jesus won’t break a sweat doing it.

The second thing that we tend to do in Western society when reading the scriptures is to make them about us. They are not. First and foremost, the scriptures are about Jesus, his power, his authority, his love for us, his death for us, his manhood and his godhood. Now, often there are secondary features of the stories in scriptures that we can apply to ourselves and our lives. But the most important thing to remember is that we and any application to our lives is secondary.

 

Before we get to this story, lets catch up with where we are coming from. Jesus has spent the whole day preaching and teaching and was naturally exhausted. He told the disciples that they were going across the lake instead of finding some place to sleep. During the boat ride, Jesus did sleep, at least until a huge storm came out of nowhere. The disciples woke Jesus up and he told the storm, literally, Be muzzled, and the wind and the waves were instantly calm. The disciples were afraid and asked, “Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey his commands?”

So, we will go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 8, verses 26 through 39. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along and read in your preferred translation. Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit records this passage:

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes,[c] which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus[d] had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed[e] man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

SO, I struggled with that while preparing this sermon this week. This story is easy to repeat, easy to recount. The story itself is pretty straightforward. But I’m not the only one who struggles with this passage. RC Sproul, in his commentary of Marks Gospel on this same passage, says this: “I cannot help but ask a speculative question: Why did the Holy Spirit choose to inspire the Gospel records of this event? In other words, what value is there in this text for us?”

 

We are going to try to answer that question this morning.

 

So, Jesus finishes up an exhausting day of preaching and teaching, sleeps for a little bit on the boat, the disciples wonder about him and fear him, but he gets to the other side of the sea and steps of the boat and is instantly confronted with this man.

Essentially, Jesus, a Jew, walks into, possibly, the most unclean situation possible. This man was demon possessed, he had unclean spirits inside of him. He was a wild man. The people had tried to contain him, but he had unnatural strength. He was breaking the chains and shackles that the town had tried to use to control him. He was aggressive and when he was exiled to the tombs, he would take that aggression out on himself; self-mutilating himself with rocks and stones. In a word, the man was chaotic. He was also helpless and hopeless.

The people of the surrounding area couldn’t control him or tame him, so they exiled him to the tombs, which added another layer of uncleanness. The Israelites were not allowed to touch dead bodies, based on God’s commandments. In an effort to not even get close to that and to be even more Holy, or more safe from the accidents or temptations, their tradition was if you touched anything related to death, be it coffins, tombs, etc. that meant you were unclean. This man was living in the tombs.

This man was also a gentile, not a Jew. He was unclean from birth. He did not know the true God, even before the demons got a hold of him. And yet, he saw Jesus from far away and knew instantly who he was. He ran up to him and fell down before him. How did he know?

He knew because of the unclean spirit inside of him. The spirit knew exactly who Jesus was, the Son of the most High God. See, demons, fallen angels, whatever you call them, they know the scriptures. Their theology is solid. Angels, demons and Satan know the scriptures from Genesis through Revelations. They know that God is God and Jesus is the Son of God. They know they can’t win.

They fight and they try to destroy as much of Gods kingdom as possible, but they know how things will turn out and they show that here. Jesus tells the spirit to come out of the man, and the spirits throw the man on the ground, and start begging for mercy.

Why would you beg someone for mercy? Because they had the power and the opportunity to do something to you that you don’t want done. The power and opportunity to destroy you.  That’s what the unclean spirit is doing here.

It knows that Jesus has ultimate authority over him/it/whatever. It knows that Jesus can order it out of the man, and it has no choice but to obey. He thinks Jesus is coming for it and he begs that Jesus not to torment of them. Jesus then asks the name of the spirit. The response is “My name is Legion, for we are many.” As I was looking at this this week, I found that a Roman Legion can be anywhere from 3000 to 5600 to 6000 troops depending on what commentator and historian you ask. Ultimately it means, “A lot.”

This man has a lot of demons inside of him. He was out of control. He was hopeless and he was chaotic. The demons knew they were not long for this body, but they also knew that it was not time for the final judgment, the final battle, the moment when their ultimate defeat would occur. So, they asked Jesus for something. Since it was not the time for their destruction, but they had to leave that body, how about sending them into that heard of pigs over there?

Now the herd of pigs is another unclean aspect of this story. As you likely know, the pig is one of the unclean animals that God command the Jews not to eat, to touch or to have anything to do with. One of the things this is showing is that this further shows that we are not in Jewish territory anymore. We are in Gentile territory. And this man and these demons recognize who Jesus is. And they would rather be sent into a herd of pigs than to deal with anything else Jesus could do to them.

Now Jesus does a couple of things here. Number 1, he once again demonstrates his authority over the spirit world. He gives Legion permission to go into the pigs. The 2000 pigs then run over the cliff and drown themselves in the Sea of Galilee. They couldn’t do this without Jesus’ permission. If he had said no, they wouldn’t be able to do this.

Jesus is also showing the proper order of dominion. He is showing how important each and every one of us are to him. Jesus put people above animals. The soul, the body, the well-being of this possessed man meant far more in the kingdom of God than the herd of pigs. It was more loving, more merciful and more just to send the unclean spirits into the pigs and have the pigs drown than to allow this unclean gentile to continue to suffer. His redemption was more important than animals. Every human soul matters. Every human soul is created in the image of God and deserves to be thought of and treated as such.

Now the death of these two thousand pigs had some repercussions. The men that were in charge of these pigs ran off and told everyone what happened. Crowds came from the country and the city to see what happened for themselves. And what do they see? Notice that it doesn’t say anything about the sight of 2000 dead pigs floating in the sea. It doesn’t say anything about the money that the dead pigs cost their owners. It doesn’t say anything about the effect on the water supply that 2000 dead pigs would have.

No, what it says is that they saw was this man, if they even still considered him a man. This man who was running wild. This man who was terrorizing everybody he would see. This man that was breaking chains and shackles and beating himself with stones. They saw this man calm. The saw him dressed. They saw him sane. And it terrified them.

Showing you how bad this man had been, the sight of him in this new, calm, sane state was way more shocking than the sight of 2000 dead pigs floating in the see. This scared them more than any emotion or reaction about the dead pigs.

Jesus’ power is scary. This is second story in a row that the scriptures show us this. Last week, the disciples saw Jesus calm the wind and the waves and they were frightened. They were afraid because of the power of Jesus. The demons, Legion were afraid of Jesus power and would rather be sent off into a herd of pigs that end up drowning than face the wrath of Jesus.  Now here, this community, this town or whatever. They see that Jesus has transformed this man from the out of control, chaotic, wild, demon possessed man into this calm, well dressed rational man. And they were afraid.

I said this last week, but I think it bears repeating. The word here for fear is not the same word used in situations like Proverbs 9:10 or Psalm 111:10, which both say, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;” That word is along the lines of awe or reverence. No, the word here for afraid, means afraid or fear, or frightened. These men were scared of the power of Jesus. His power is scary. We are going to come back to that in a moment.

But first I want to finish this story. The people of this area were so scared they told Jesus to get back in the boat and go back across the sea. The man that Jesus had rescued, saved, changed, whatever word you want to use, the man ran up to Jesus and wanted to go with him. He wanted to learn from him, serve him, travel with him and be one of his followers and disciples. Now, what would be better than being a new believer and having Jesus standing right there… A chance to learn from the man that just transformed your soul. A chance to follow him and serve him. What would be better, more noble, wiser than that?

Jesus said No. Instead, what he said to the man was this, ““Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  Jesus once again shows us that no matter how great our plans seem to be, no matter the motivations behind our plans to worship and serve the LORD, if that’s not what God has for us to do, it is wrong for us to do it. The same thing happened to Peter as well. At the transfiguration, Peter, James and John were with Jesus, and in addition to seeing the transfiguration, they also saw Moses and Elijah. In Matthew 17. Peter has an idea and says: And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” We don’t see any rebuke here or even Jesus’ answer, but we know that it’s a no. There are other plans that God has for the besides hanging out with the Messiah and the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament.

Jesus has better plans for us than anything that we could come up. The problem is that his plans can be scary. They can be hard. What would have been easier for this man to do. Get in the boat with Jesus, follow him like the rest of the disciples, or to stay where he was, to go back home to his family for the first time in who knows how long? The go and be able to have simple conversations with people he growled at and chased away, let alone telling that what the LORD did for him. To live day after day, knowing what he did to these people, terrorizing them and knowing that many of them didn’t trust that he had truly changed. Jesus’s way is the harder way. Matthew 7:13 & 14 read “13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For 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.”

          Jesus’ way is hard, and it can be scary. His power is amazing. We see the stories here, written on paper, but they were real events, happening to real people, real miracles. Jesus, while he was here on earth, voluntarily limited the power that he accessed. He was still God, and he was able to do anything, but he limited himself to what God the Father sent him to do. And even with that, look at his power, that scared these people.

Do you get scared when you see God’s power? I know what most people will say. Not all, but most will say, “I’ve never seen God’s power work in that way.” I say that you have. If you are a child of God, you have seen it. Jesus transformed the man in this story from a demon possessed, ravaged man and he transformed him into a man who could reflect the image and glory of God, who could go out and show his friends, his family and those around him the mercy that God showed on him.

That is the power that scared these people. That is the power that he exhibited in you. You may not have had legion in you. But you and I were in the same spiritual and eternal condition that this man was, before Jesus transformed him. You have seen that power take place inside of you. And if you have seen that power, Jesus says to testify to that power. God is calling you to do something difficult. It will be accomplished with the power of Jesus, not through us. It will not be done in our comfort zone. It will be scary. It will be what God has called us to do.

If you have not witnessed that power of Jesus in your own life, in your own heart. You have the opportunity to see it. My guess, and that’s all it is, a guess, is that you are not filled with legion. But, as I said, you are in the same eternal condition as this man was. Jesus can change that. But it’s going to be scary and fulfilling and rewarding and incredible. It will not be like you see on TV, where you become a Christian and everything bad in your life goes away and things all fall into place and life is good. No, it will be hard. There will be spiritual warfare going on all around you. It’s not going to be “safe.”

CS Lewis addressed this in his book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Aslan is the Christ character type in the book and one of the kids is going to be taken to him. The kid asks if Aslan, a lion, is safe. This is the response. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

          Jesus limited his own power as he was here on earth, now that he is ascended back into heaven, he has unlimited access to that power. If it was that scary then, how scary powerful is he know? If he is that powerful and that good, which side do you want to be on? The time to pick sides is now. It won’t be easy, but it will be right. It won’t be safe, but it will be good. Take this opportunity to see God’s power work in you for the first time, securing you eternal security. Take this opportunity to remind yourself of when God’s power worked in you, changing you what you were, to who you are now. And then listen to what God is telling you to do. And do it. He has you in his hands. Even if it’s scary and hard and dangerous, you are in his hands. If you are in his hands, you will be there for all eternity. He is not safe, but he is good.

I don’t know what specifically God has planned for you here and now in this life. I know that if you are Gods, I know what he has for you eternally, but I don’t know his specific plans for your life here and now. I do know that it will be scarry. It will push your boundaries. It will pull you out of your comfort zone. And it will be worth it.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

Daniel 10 God of All Nations: A Glimpse of Gods Glory

Daniel 10

God of All Nations

A Glimpse of Gods Glory

 

          Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Daniel chapter 10. IF you do not have a Bible, if you do not own a Bible, please grab one from our table in the back as our gift to you.

Well, we have entered the endgame now. Chapter 10 through the end of chapter 12, which is the end of the book, are all telling about one vision that Daniel would receive.

As we get into this mornings text, we wont actually be getting into the vision yet, that will start next week as we get into chapter 11. This week we will set the scene and we will be introduced to some angels and possibly more. We will see a lot of behind the scenes ideas and revelations regarding spiritual warfare and prayer. One commentator says that this chapter shows that life is hard, and it shows why it is hard, and it shows us that we are not alone in this battle.

Sinclair Ferguson writes, “As we shall see, chapter 10 contains vital biblical insight into the nature of reality. It emphasizes that human causes and effects are not the only forces or influences operative in the history of the world.

 

          So, with that being said, lets go ahead and take a look at the start of our scripture this morning. WE will be looking at all of Daniel chapter 10, but we will be starting with verses 1-9. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I do encourage you to read along in your Bible, whether that’s the same translation, or another one that you prefer.

Daniel 10:1-9, Daniel records:

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict.[a] And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed,[b] and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

So, we see from the beginning that this chapter and the rest of the book takes place two years after the events of Chapter 9. I don’t know if it has any theological or practical application, but one thing I did find interesting is the pattern with the visions over the last few chapters. We had visions taking place in the first and the third year of Belshazzar, and now we see the visions taking place in the first and third years of King Cyrus.

Now, we do know that the timing of this does have some importance. See, in Ezra 1, taking place in the same year as Daniel chapter 9, we see this in verses 1-3:

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.

 

So, some had already made their way back to Jerusalem from Babylon. They would have gone and been back in their home city and their home country. Now, we also see that they would have troubles back home as they attempted to rebuild the temple.

But Daniel didn’t go back to Jerusalem. There is no indication as to why. Likely he was too old. Certainly, God still had work for him to do here in Babylon. As we see through this chapter, God needed someone, Daniel, who would do, as one commentator says, “The hidden and strategic work of prayer for the defense AND the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

Daniel knew about the troubles that they were having in Jerusalem. He had, at this time, dedicated himself to three weeks of mourning and prayer and fasting. The way that he says it, it seems Daniel is adhering to the same diet he spoke of and held to in Chapter 1. My guess is that he didn’t just randomly remember this event from 70 years ago, but this was a regular or semi-regular thing, too fast in this way.

Ezra 4:4 tells us:  Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build.

 

          We know that in this world, in our spiritual walk, we will have ups and downs. We will have spiritual highs and lows. Daniel was excited to see the fulfillment of Gods promise. He would have been overjoyed to see those in Exile return to their homeland. And he would have likely been heartbroken and for sure disappointed to see and hear about the struggles going on in Jerusalem.

But what Daniel took from all of this was not a lose of faith, or to doubt God, but all of what happened, highs and lows, good and bad, all of it drove him to prayer. And Daniel knew a truth that St John of Chrysostom put into words about 8 centuries later when he said, “God is everywhere. You decide whether you are close to him or not.”

          Daniel knew that God was still at work. He knew that God would continue and finish keeping his promises.  He knew a spiritual principle that one commentator says this way: Knowledge of Gods work of grace in the past encourages us to trust Him and seek His blessing in the present and for the future.

 

          V4 gives us the exact location and date of Daniel when all this happens. He was on the banks of the Tigris river, possibly only 20 miles from Babylon. Still well within the Persian empire. We can figure out through the date that the three weeks that Daniels was fasting and praying included the Passover. That’s how serious he was, that he did not observe and celebrate the Passover. Again, the Passover was to celebrate God leading his people out of slavery and a foreign land and leading them back to their homeland, the promised land.

 

As Daniel is there by the river, he lifted his eyes up and saw an appearance. He looks up and sees one described like we saw in the scripture reading this morning in Ezekiel 1 and like described in Revelation 2.

Did he see Jesus?

Did he see Gabriel?

Did he see Michael?

Did he see someone else entirely?

None of the answers are satisfactory, they all have reasons why not. Michael is mentioned separately in v 13. Gabriel has been mentioned before and not described like that. I lean towards it being Jesus. The reasons being, the description Daniel gives, the clothing and the appearances, give the impression of Jesus threefold office of prophet, priest and king. We haven’t talked much about this before and we don’t have much time today, but we see each of these offices from God in the Old Testament and Jesus is the fulfillment of these offices. He is the better prophet, the better priest and the better King. Also, the type of reverence, the reaction to seeing the person that Daniel saw is usually reserved for an appearance of Jesus.

Ferguson says about this, “More important than identifying the figure- it was, aside from that indefinable reality, a vision- is recognizing the impression the vision is intended to create. Even if the figure is not divine, Daniels vision is still essentially theophonic in nature because it communicated to him a sense of the omnipotence and all-gloriousness of God.

          And Daniel was the only one who could see him. This is very similar to Acts chapter 9, where Saul was on his way to Damascus and Jesus appeared to him. Those who were with Paul heard and knew something was going on, but only Paul could see Him. Daniel was the only one who could see this vision, this appearance. The rest of those with Him turned and ran away.

 

We see in scripture that the typical response to seeing an appearance by an angel or a heavenly body is usually the same. We see fear and trembling. We see Awe and shock. Daniel says here that he had no strength and that his appearance was fearfully changed. And he heard the sound of words, which along with what we will read in verse 11, seems to imply that he was not understanding the words being spoken at that point.

 

Let’s go ahead and read the rest of the chapter and continue our journey through the text. Daniel 10:10-21, he continues:

 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute. 16 And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

18 Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.

 

          The touch makes Daniel fall to his knees and tremble. But he tells Daniel, you are greatly loved, now understand the words that I am saying. Your prayers have been heard from the very beginning. He is saying, your prayers worked, they were heard. I am here because of your prayers.

I’ve always lived what EM Bounds has to say about prayer:

What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.”

 

And from this, we see the curtain pulled back a little bit. We get a glimpse of the spiritual warfare going on between angels and demons. We see behind the scenes, into the unseen world that is not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.

This is why it took three weeks for this appearance, for this vision to come to Daniel. OITs not that Heaven is three weeks from Earth, but rather that there were obstacles and diversions that needed to be dealt with.

We know, from scripture, Job 1, etc., that fallen angels, demons, have real power, but their power is limited by God. They could not stop Gods plans or his message, all they could do is delay it a bit. And even that is because God, in his complete sovereignty, allowed it to be so. We don’t know why, we probably never will, but we know it to be so.

There is a lot that we see from scripture that we know to be true, even when we don’t have any idea how it works or why it works. How our prayer affects this unseen spiritual battle is one of those things. But we are told it does. Daniel has been praying. HE is a prayer warrior. He knows and has seen time and time again the evidence of Gods Sovereignty and control over everything. But I don’t think even he could have had any notion of the reality of angles and demons locked in perpetual battle and the role prayer would play in it.

Listen to Abraham Kuyper speak on these things:

If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle ever fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there- that is where the real conflict is waged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.

 

          This is not something we often like to think about. That Satan and his fallen angles are real, and they are active. Our two reflexes are to either credit him too much power or to not give him not enough. HE either give him too much credit by blaming him for everything that goes wrong in this world.

“The Devil made me do it.” That’s the common refrain. The reality is that we are sinful people. We did it because we wanted to. We did it because we did not resist temptation. We did it because of our sinful nature. He does not have the power to make us sin. Especially if we have been set free from sin, we are not bound to sin, we are not bound to give in to temptation. We still, in our earthly, fleshly bodies, still have our sin nature, but we are not bound by that sin.

On the other side, there is a great quote, from somewhere earlier, but I know it from a movie. The Greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn’t exist.  People today don’t believe. If they can’t see it, touch it, feel it, study it, test it, they don’t believe it. And if they don’t believe, then they are not on guard against it and they definitely won’t pray against it.

When Paul writes in Ephesians 6 about spiritual warfare and putting on the spiritual armor, He ends with two things. First is to wield the only offensive weapon listed, the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. Knowing the Word of God and using it. Second, to pray at all times, in the Spirit.

Sinclair Ferguson gives us one warning about how we think of the power of prayer, saying: The power does not belong to the praying or to the prayer, but to God. Prayer has no power in and of itself; prayer is wholehearted dependence on God. It is a confession that we can do nothing, and that God alone can work.

IF we forget this, scripture is clear. God alone has the power. Again, as I said before, sometimes it can be hard to see how the truths of scripture work our mechanically or practically, but the truth of Scripture is that prayer matters and makes a difference and, at the same time, without contradicting, that God and God alone has the power to do anything.

After getting a glimpse of the spiritual world, Daniel again says that he has no strength in him. The vision and message have drained him of his strength. But he was told to be strengthened and he was.

Once we encounter the glory of God, we cannot be unchanged by it. Once we have encountered Jesus Christ, He will change us. And that’s a good thing. That encounter, Gods grace poured out on us, delivered to us by the faith that is given to us in Jesus Christ is what changes us from sinners deserving of Hell, to saints, given mercy and forgiveness by God.

As the messenger gets ready to tell Daniel the vision, he also lets him know that he will have to return soon to continue the battle, first against the prince of Persia, then later against the prince of Greece.

Now, of course we know these are spiritual opponents primarily, but I believe also, based on the vision coming up, a hint as to what’s to come at this point in history. We have already seen numerous visions referring to the kingdom of Greece coming up, and that’s what we will see in the vision that Daniel is about to get.

But the messenger ends by telling Daniel that he is going to tell him truth. Only Michael is by his side as he fights these enemies. This is two angels, or something like that. Two entities doing Gods will, fighting against a whole host of Gods enemies and they are enough. One of the would be enough if God wanted it done, truth be told. But again, God is allowing some power, for a time and for a purpose that we don’t ultimately know. We also don’t know the affect our prayers have on these battles, only that they do have an effect.

And so, prayer is the biggest takeaway today. Praying as if the future and Gods Kingdom depend on it. IT doesn’t, not quite. But God gave us a mission. Going back to the beginning of this sermon. God needs someone to do ““The hidden and strategic work of prayer for the defense AND the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”

If this is scary or overwhelming, I get it. Prayer is not my spiritual gift. But it doesn’t have to be. Be encouraged by Romans 8:26:  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

 

          It doesn’t matter where you start, just start. Let God do the work, you be faithful to him. Pray what you see in scriptures. Pray for his will to be done. Pray for those spiritual battles going on that we have no idea about. Just pray. With the right heart, the right motivation, God will hear, and God will answer.

Speaking of, let’s go ahead and end in prayer.

 

 

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 8:12-17 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.

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