Intro: There are so many controversies about human rights, the bill of rights, gay rights and the right even to remain silent in court that might incriminate you. Have you also experienced your rights being violated? What about, what rights have you given up lately? After I became a US citizen, the first right I was given was the right to vote together with many rights that are good. The right to free speech but is slowly slipping away. I have heard and learned from one of the seminars I attended that there is only one right given to Christians by Christ. And I fully agree.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husbands will, but born of God.” John 1:12
From this passage, it is very clear that there is only one person who gives one the right to become a child of God. It follows that since Jesus Christ is the one who saves us, it is Him who gives us eternal life and the right to son-ship. He affirmed this in His prayer to His Father as the will of God.
“For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” John 17:2
So there is no one other than Jesus Christ who saves and gives eternal life. But can anyone claim to be a Christian? Yes. But does anyone have that right to confer that on himself? No. In the same way anyone who is here in the USA can claim to be a citizen. I can claim to be one even though I was not born here because I have a certificate of naturalization issued by one in authority. And every one who is born again is a citizen of heaven.
Today we will look at what this right of son-ship that the Lord Jesus Christ has given us entails. And most of all what right did Jesus have as the Son of God and Son of Man had and exercised when He lived on earth. We have many privileges as a child of God but a privilege is not the same as rights. An example is we have the privilege to worship, pray and serve the Lord.
“The Right of a Born Again Christian.”
Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them. “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of his Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:18-27
So, if we believe and are to follow Christ as Lord, He being the Son of God while in the flesh, what rights did He have and gave up? Three things Jesus said of Himself before He was crucified.
“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Heb. 2:10
Next of His rights that He gave up was not to feel the pain of rejection. How did Jesus respond to the rejection especially by religious leaders and among the people of His hometown? He was despised, insulted, even accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Didn’t He have the right to be heard and defend himself and take revenge? No, He gave up his right to defend himself to false accusations nor take revenge for the insults he received. How about us? When we are falsely accused when we are innocent, insulted, despised slandered by gossip that hurts deep inside, how do we respond? Here’s how the Psalmist expressed his feelings.
“You are my God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go on mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” Ps. 43:2
We can feel just as the Psalmist felt that God has rejected us. But God will never reject those whom He loves and have been called according to His purpose. Whatever circumstances He allows to happen to us, it is for His purpose and for our good. We can also be rejected when we share the gospel but actually we are not the one rejected but Christ. Jesus knew that he would be rejected as was already written in Scriptures.
“Haven’t you read this Scripture: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Mark 12:10-11
Then the last right that He gave up was to be saved from the cross. Didn’t He have the right to life? What about us don’t we have the right to life and be protected by God. Many today demand their right to medical treatment in order to live and prolong their lives. When Jesus said to His disciples that He must be killed Peter quickly rebuked Jesus and said,
“Never, Lord!” he said, “This shall not happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matt. 16:22-23
When Judas led a large crowd armed with swords and clubs sent to arrest Jesus, one of His disciples struck the ear of the servant of the high priest.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?” Matt. 26:52-54
Jesus gave up His right because He knew this was the will of God to fulfill what was written about Him in Scriptures. So then Jesus gave up His right to life, He must be killed and die. He was still young at age 33 to die. Recently, there was a man who was sentenced to die in Georgia by lethal injection. He was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder punishable by death. Many people protested the execution and pleaded for his life to be spared. He lost his right to live because of the crime he committed and the law must be satisfied. Jesus also was condemned by the high priests and religious leaders to die not because of any crime He committed but because to them he broke the law of God.
Then the Lord said to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. Say to the Israelites: ‘If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death.”Lev. 24:13-16a
Those who did not believe Jesus as the Messiah, found Him guilty of blasphemy. They did not believe that He is the one promised by God way back in Genesis to destroy the devil and his work.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Gen. 3:15
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Heb. 2:14-15
Satan and his seed and the seed of the woman who was Jesus to be born through a virgin will crush Satan’s head at the cross because Satan failed to make Jesus sin and His death is the payment for the sins of man. Despite His relationship with God His Father He gave up His right to life.
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” Heb. 5:7-9
And yet, at the appointed time in the garden of Gethsemane, even though he pleaded with His Father three times if there was another way that he could avoid the cross, His Father’s answer was there is none. So then, He gave up His right to His will, but yielded to do His Father’s will He already knew.
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.” Isa. 53:10
So then, if Christ though He was the Son of God gave up His rights to Himself, how much more those who have been saved by Him, follow in His steps? So here’s what he requires of those who have come after Him.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
Now what does it mean to take up our cross daily? Cross to the Christian means death. But didn’t Jesus give us life so that we enjoy both this life on earth and in heaven? Yes, He did. But the only way we can enjoy this life is when He is the one living in us. Think about your life before you were saved. Did you enjoy and found satisfaction in that life of sinful living? The pleasures of sin were only temporary and passing but after that it brought problems, misery, sorrow and regrets. How much more for one who loves his life of sin and will not give it up to Jesus in order to be saved will spend eternity in hell forever. Taking up the cross means dying to our old self. When we heard the gospel of our salvation what was the first thing Jesus required? Repentance by turning away from all our sins and self and give them all up to Jesus. We give our life of sin in exchange for His life of righteousness. We give up and He takes them all. Then He gives us eternal life and we receive Him into our hearts as Lord. Now this is truth.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20
What did we do when we surrendered our lives to Christ to save us? We died to self. The picture of that is at our baptism. We died to our old life was buried and raised up to a new life in Christ. Was this to be done only when we came to Jesus? No. The gospel is to be applied and lived daily on earth.
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
How did we avail of this gospel that saved us? We believed, we trusted and by faith in Christ we received Him as Lord. By giving our sins and self to Him it also died with Him and our sins nailed to the cross. Our baptism identified us with Him and so our old self has died. If it died then I am dead. We have to take this truth, believe it and live it daily.
“I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
By faith means we believe, we trust Christ to do what he said to live in us and let Him be. We make this commitment daily to Him so that we live our lives as he lived. Our commitment to follow Him will be worked out in us by the power of the Holy Spirit who now lives in us representing our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the fulfillment of what God promised beforehand.
“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezek. 36:27
So who controls our life after we have chosen to be crucified? “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if one does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Rom. 8:9-10
Because you have been set free from the power of sin and the devil what right are you giving up? Are you willing to give up your right to yourself and let God do whatever he pleases that will give glory to His Son. We do this by offering our bodies as living sacrifices after we have died to self and so Christ is now the one who living in us, empowering us by the Holy Spirit to do the will of God just as Jesus lived His life. And this will bring glory to God, the purpose for which He saved us.
God the Father gave up His right to save His Son
The Son of God, Jesus gave up His right to be saved from the cross.
What are you willing to give up as a child of God?