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6.18.17 Romans 8:14-17
- Intro: Adoption
Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons 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. (ESV)
This is a picture of Eli and his mom Breann taken last week.
Eli was born four years ago in an African field and left there to die.
He lay in the dust for hours, breathing it, swallowing it.
He was found that day and taken to an orphanage where he coughed and vomited dirt for his first week.
Four years later, on his birthday he left that orphanage…he was adopted into a family…he arrived in Wichita yesterday.
For the Romans adoption was an important legal institution.
When a child was adopted he or she became the legal heir to everything that the adopting person owned.
Eli is not a second-class member of the Ochs family, neither are any of the children who have been adopted by members of River…they are equal heirs to your homes and hearts.
The Roman emperor Julius Caesar adopted a young man named Octavian, who by that act became the heir to the Roman Empire.
He became Caesar Augustus…the Roman emperor at the time of the birth of Jesus.
Paul’s discussion of our freedom takes a turn toward the personal today…he says that we are adopted as sons and daughters.
He has used imagery of liberty and slavery throughout his letter.
Slaves to sin or slaves to Christ.
Now he makes a more dramatic contrast…the slavery to fear vs the confidence of full heirs…our adoption as sons and daughters.
With that adoption comes all the privileges of being a child of God…as well as the responsibilities.
In Africa, Eli had few privileges compared to what he will have here.
But likewise he had fewer responsibilities than he will have a member of his new family.
As he grows, these responsibilities will become even more obvious to him.
This will flow out of weighty questions that will someday puzzle his mind.
Why was I saved from the dust?
Why was I taken from an orphanage and brought into a family who loved me and showered me with grace…what did I do to deserve this?
Why did other children not experience this?
These questions will puzzle him and challenge him…but like many questions that are larger than our understanding ever will be.
He can live the answers even if he cannot accurately articulate them.
“Why? I don’t fully know.”
“How? Here’s how I must live.”
- Live with gratitude…I was adopted because of my parent’s love not because of anything I had done.
- Life with faithfulness…I have been given much, much is required of me.
Let’s look at what it means to be adopted by God…what are the privileges and what are the responsibilities of being his sons and daughters?
Privileges of adoption that we see here in this passage are: Direction, Affection, Protection
- The privilege of direction
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
One of the great privileges children get from their parents is direction.
Unfortunately it is not always seen as a privilege, sometimes its seen as punishment.
When children grow and if they have loving and wise parents, then direction becomes a cherished thing.
We realize it keeps us from harm and leads to good things our lives.
Teens…If I thought it would help I would lecture you on this…but I don’t think it would so I will simply say that as you grow wise, you will cherish the direction God gives through adults in your life…especially parents.
As Sons and daughters of God we have access to special direction from the Holy Spirit…if we are wise…we will cherish it.
John 14:25 (Jesus said) “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you
Counselor(encourager)=Parakaleo: to call alongside.
We have a resident, all-knowing…encourager…the Holy Spirit…calls us alongside Him.
Some believe this being “led by the Spirit” refers to special, incidental insights.
“I felt led to call him.”
“I felt led to share my story with her.”
Others believe it means overall life orientation.
A continually surrendered life
I think it is both…here’s why
- I do think it is about a life orientation, or a “mindset”
-Paul talks frequently in this chapter about a Mind set on what the Spirit desires.
- I believe that a person who is continually oriented to God will have both the “ears” to hear God and the “will” to obey him.
If I am paying attention to God, living in a conversational relationship with him…then I am positioned to hear him speak…to lead my life.
If my heart is surrendered to him, I am learning to want what he wants…then I am positioned to act on what he says.
In addition I am less likely to “make stuff up” and blame it on God.
I’ve known people who told me something they believe God told them…sometimes it was just outright wrong…didn’t jibe with Scripture.
Other times it was seriously suspect…it seems that they had decided what they wanted to do and conveniently believe they had the Holy Spirit’s affirmation on the matter.
Its important that we don’t play games with this.
If we want direction from the Holy Spirit…then we must pay close attention to having a surrendered heart.
We must really want him to tell us what we need to hear…this is a heart issue that is largely imperceptible to all but you and God…but of course God sees clearly what is in our hearts.
Better to say “God I’m struggling to want what you want on this…but here I am…lead me, speak to me…change my heart and direct my ways.”
Than to say “I want nothing more than your will”
-When you both know, it really isn’t true.
A good prayer is like the man prayed to Jesus “I believe, help my unbelief.”
If you are a Christian, you have the privilege of direction.
Story of the Motor home
Story of Gene
Story of email
- Stop and listen…QT are good for starting the day centered and surrendered.
- Do the math…If the impact is potentially large…get input on an impulse before you take action.
-God speaks clearly, we don’t always hear clearly.
- If you have nothing to lose…go for it (send an encouraging email, share your faith, don’t tell that joke, do pray that)…learn to hear and act on the Spirit’s leading.
- Learn Scripture so the Holy Spirit will have more to remind you of when you need it.
Remember…the realm of his power (including his communication) is the realm of his will.
So…its not “What do you want and I will decide if I agree.”
It is “The answer is ‘yes’, now what do you want?”
- The privilege of affection
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!”
Abba is the Aramaic word for “father” or some paraphrase it as “Daddy”
Jesus likely knew some Greek and Hebrew but would have almost certainly spoken Aramaic as his native language.
When he was in great distress of soul during his night of prayer before his crucifixion he cried out…
Mark 14:36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
What Jesus said in his distress was “Daddy, father…please give me another way, but if there is no other way…I want what you want.”
Paul uses this language in describing the privilege of the kind of affectionate relationship we have with God.
It would have been rare for a Jew to use this term in referring to God…it would have, for the most part, felt too casual.
But Jesus used it and Paul, a thoroughly Jewish man said we too can and should cry “Abba”
The word he used here is not “say or pray Abba” but “Cry”…it means to “shout, exclaim, call out”…”Daddy, Father”
It could be in worship and joy or in times of distress…it could be in neither…just driving down Kellogg or falling to sleep…we can call him “Father”
This is not a staggering thought for the most part, because we have a limited perspective regarding God.
Most people would be impressed, proud, thrilled, overwhelmed if some human they greatly respected afforded them direct access.
Maybe a world-renowned entertainer, a national politician, a billionaire businessman, or world-class athlete.
I understand, and people who achieve great accomplishments often deserve respect for what they have done…however, they breath air, they can only be in one place at a time, their ashes will weigh a couple of pounds when they die…and they will die.
We must do the mental work to continually remember who it is that has said that we can call him “Abba”
Its not Bill Gates, or General Dunford, or Tom Hanks, or Kevin Durant…it is God.
The God who made billionaires and Generals and academy award winners and MVPS.
You have been given the privilege of affection, which means you have the privilege of access.
My Dad was a VP at Koch when I was in College…I lived on campus and sometimes I would go see him at his office.
I remember walking past his secretary, and at times past people waiting outside his office to see him…right into his office.
I admit, I was often oblivious to how I probably should have done things…but his affection for me, provided unique access to me.
Because of what Jesus has done for you…you have God’s affection and you have access because of that affection.
- The privilege of protection
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
The Holy Spirit inside of us, confirms, affirms that we are God’s children.
How do we know we will not be “caste” aside?
Because we are his children and his Spirit inhabits us.
But what if we walk away from him?
If you are now his child, you will forever be his child.
You will not walk away from him fully and finally.
“But Terry, I have known people who were genuine believers who walked away from their faith.”
Here are a couple of thoughts on that:
- God’s spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are his kids.
-TWT…a long track record and a Christlike lifestyle is a good indicator…but God knows for sure who belongs to him.
- The jury on how they will respond to God is still out…its not over till its over.
So we must have humility in regards to others and their final destiny.
But in regards to your own life…there is warrant to have humble confidence…as his Spirit indwells you and gives you eternal protection as a son or daughter.
Humble…because it is the work of God.
Confidence…because it is the work of God.
If he has you now…he will keep you then.
Your work is to stay pointed his direction…his work is to keep you.
People become insecure about their relationship with God when:
- They don’t understand they have grounds for confidence, not in themselves but in the gospel.
- They are living in willful rebellion. Sin causes insecurity.
-The Holy Spirit indwells Christians but he is able to be “grieved.”
Eph. 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Notice two things here:
- Security of the Spirit: You were sealed for the day of redemption
- Sadness of the Spirit: He can be grieved.
We can be secure and feel insecure because we are choosing to live in sin and thereby grieve the Holy Spirit.
Last week I was outside with three of my grandchildren when a thunderclap, loud one…terrified them, especially little Chris.
He ran for the house, and long after the danger was past, even after he was in his car seat in the car…he continued to cry.
He was secure…he did not feel secure.
Believers are secure in Christ, but when we grieve the Spirit…we can fail to feel secure.
When we live in ways that dishonor God…then surely we “grieve” the Spirit.
He is not going to shout above our pride, he will whisper to us in our humility.
Sin is, if nothing else…pride.
I know better than God on this.
It is possible you are insecure because you have not yet become a follower of Christ.
Believe the Gospel…transfer trust from self to Christ alone…you will become a transformed child of God.
His Holy Spirit is his seal of protection, you can live and die secure.
Three privileges here: direction, affection, protection…look now at our responsibility.
We are to follow Jesus in his suffering
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.
This seems odd to me:
So I am an heir…but only provided that I suffer with him?
So…I am secure in Christ, but only if I pay a price through suffering?
I am sure that is not what this means, because of the clarity of what Paul has said about grace and earning.
So ruling out that we do not earn our relationship with Christ and security in Christ by suffering…what is he saying here?
Let’s go back to Eli.
Scott and Breann are not going to say to Eli…”You are adopted into this family as a full heir. There is nothing you can do to earn our love and now that you are our son there is nothing you can do to lose our love.”
“However, you will need to pay a price for our love…you will need to do some suffering…if you suffer enough, you can be sure you really are a son.”
Take a different look at this:
Scott and Breann say to Eli…”You are adopted into this family as a full heir. There is nothing you can do to earn our love and now that you are our son there is nothing you can do to lose our love.”
Then Eli says to them…”Good to know, glad to hear it…because I do not intend to do anything that would even look like I could earn or lose your love. I do not intend to pay any price whatsoever to enjoy and experience and express your love…I don’t plan to resemble a member of this family or to reflect your values at all.”
What would Eli in effect be saying to them?
“Thanks for the offer, but no thanks.”
I believe the issue here is not that we must pursue suffering in order to earn security in Christ.
I believe the issue is that saying “Yes” to this freely offered adoption will require that we join God in his will and his ways…we are part of his family.
We are not adopting him, he is adopting us.
When Jesus said “Abba, Father” what was the context?
Following his Father’s will to cross for the good of others.
The family we are adopted into is a family of eternal values…sacrificial, other’s seeking love
And in a fallen world, of broken people that way of life…will always mean suffering…and joy.
The responsibility is to join in his suffering and in his glorification…his joy.
Look at another passage that speaks of Jesus and his suffering and joy.
Heb. 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
His endured suffering for the greater joy.
Remember, he did not pursue suffering…and he even asked for a way out.
But he did not run from it either…because his joy was in being in line with his Father’s will.
Eli will suffer to be a part of the Ochs family…not because they will require it of him…but because their values will require it.
There is always a great cost to thrive in any family, in any love relationship.
If you follow Christ, if you are to thrive as his adopted son or daughter there is no price to pay for the relationship…yet it will cost you everything.
Students…you will suffer for your faith if you really live your faith at school and home.
*And you will experience a kind of life that others around you can’t imagine.
As adults, If you live your faith around angry, resentful co-workers or family members…you will suffer…they may see you as naive, weak…
You will suffer because you have to forgive others who wrong you, and you would prefer to make them pay.
You may suffer direct harm someday because of your faith.
You may suffer because you die to a dream because you have discerned that God’s will is taking you in an unexpected and maybe unwanted direction.
You get the idea…its not earning your adoption through suffering…its a matter of being adopted into a certain kind of family.
And this family you have been adopted into…shares the Father’s values…like putting the interests of others first…and going to the cross.
God’s family values…are costly and they bring his joy.
For God so loved the world that he gave…love is our father’s great family value…love lived in this world is always costly.
Our Father’s family values include sacrifice and suffering for others.
And his family values bring unique relationship with him…our adoption brings direction, affection, and protection.
In every healthy relationship there is a privilege/responsibility balance.
This is true of our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus.