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?
Intro: There were three friends rushing inside a busy airport to catch their flight after a business conference. One of the guys bumped a basket of apples with his carry on and scattered all the apples on the floor. The girl selling them was blind. None of them stopped to pick up the apples and help the girl because they would miss their flight. They barely got there on time to board the plane but one of them said, “Please tell my wife that I will take the next plane out.” He went back to the girl at the stand who was still sobbing, picked up all the apples and gave her some money to make up for the damaged apples and apologized for his friend. Then the blind girl said, “Sir, are you Jesus?” The man got home very late in the evening.
I got this story from my e-mail. I’m not sure whether this is true or not. However, I was touched by this story because it illustrates that this girl, though she was blind saw Jesus by faith because of what this man did. Isn’t this what God has predestined us to be? To be conformed to the likeness of His Son? Isn’t this what God saved us for? So let us ask this question.
“Am I becoming like Jesus?”
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who have this hope in himpurify himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3
When a baby is born, isn’t it that our first observation is whether he or she looks like either the father or the mother. No doubt there will be a similarity. And who would have the joy to welcome this baby? Family members, close relatives and friends. The world does not care because it neither knows the father and mother. This is also true when a sinner is born again in the spirit. Only those who are already in God’s family rejoice over one who is saved.
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10
What caused God to save this sinner that resulted in all the angels rejoicing?
“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Eph. 1:4c-6
This is victory for Jesus that another child is added to God’s family by adoption. The adopted child gets full rights as though he were natural born.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Rom. 8:17
Isn’t this the most amazing and the greatest thing that can ever happen to anyone? To a sinner who deserves to spend eternity in hell? We sing this hymn of His “amazing love” that God would die for sinners such as you and me. So now that we are loved what is our response to His love? To love Him for this very reason, “We love because He first loved us.”
We already took up last Sunday that God saves sinners to conform them to the likeness of Jesus Christ and this should be something every Christian should examine and test himself whether this is happening. This is the predetermined purpose of God. However on our own we cannot make ourselves like Christ. When Jesus Christ became flesh He had the nature of God. Unlike all humans when one is born he or she inherits the nature of our first father Adam. Adam when he was created was pure but his nature was marred and infected after he sinned. After Cain was born who did he look like? Like his father Adam. He inherited the sinful nature of his father and not long after as he grew up, he became disobedient and rebellious against God and committed the first murder. What drove him to kill his younger brother Abel? Jealousy, envy resulting in hatred that made him do what he did. Did we not have these same feelings before we got save and sometimes still feel the same way. We all inherited from Adam his sinful nature but after one is born again he now has another nature, God’s divine nature. This nature is spiritual after God gave life to our dead spirit. This is what Jesus referred to as being born again in the spirit. It is again because after our physical birth our spirit died the moment we sinned, it died just as it happened to Adam. That’s why Jesus requires this as a must. A spirit that is dead cannot become like Him, although one can imitate, talk and even preach the Word but in the end they will fail and are exposed. Here’s what Jesus said about this to warn us so we are not deceived because there will certainly be True and False Prophets and how we can tell one from the other.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” Matt. 7:15-20
Likewise, there will also be True and False Disciples. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Matt. 7:21-23Now, what did John mean from our text when he wrote “what we will be has not yet been known.” I believe he is referring to a future calling in ministry and the work of service that God has prepared for us. After I became a Christian I did not know that one day my Lord Jesus Christ would call me to preach and be a missionary. This was the work God planned for me and He has a plan for everyone He saves to serve God in His kingdom. This He will reveal as we grow up in knowing God through His Son and seek God’s business what to do in the Church and outside in the world.
We grow in our spiritual life by knowing Christ as we read and study His Word. Then as we become obedient to all His commands we will become more and more like Jesus. Becoming like Jesus does not happen overnight. It is a process of getting to know Christ and the will of God. There will be growth because there is life, the spirit that has been made alive.
“This is eternal life; that they may know the true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3
And this is the first sign of life, a love for Jesus expressed by a heartfelt desire and action to worship Him. The next will be a hunger for the Word to feed the spirit that is now alive. Spiritual growth will come in stages and phases. So John wrote this for us in his letter to see and evaluate where we are in our spiritual life and to press on to what God has predestined.
“I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on the account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him from the beginning. I write to you,young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:12-14
Just as we grow in the physical life this is also how our spiritual life will grow. Jesus Himself did not start his ministry when he was a child even as a young man. He had to grow both in his physical and in wisdom by studying the Word of God. He worshiped and learned from the teachers of the law as a child, just as we have Sunday school for all ages. And at the right time God called Him to do what He came to do. I have already shared this before but we need to be reminded and challenged in our spiritual growth not to remain as children even as young men but aim to become mature as fathers. So, where are you in your spiritual life? Everyone who has been born again is in a certain level. Our lifetime goal should be to become like Christ. This takes a lifetime to become mature in the faith that’s why it is very important to be a part of a body of Christ, a church whose head is Christ for this is God’s will according to His plan that everyone matures spiritually.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for work of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph. 4:11-13
This is God’s will to achieve His predetermined purpose. For whose glory and benefit? To the praise of His glorious grace resulting in…
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Eph. 4:14-16
Today, there are no more apostles and prophets. They have accomplished their purpose. The Bible is complete and Paul was the last of the apostles.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” Eph. 1:1
He was also a prophet who was given revelations of what is to happen and future events like the rapture. The last of the prophets was John, who had the privilege of seeing the future that has not happened yet, and then told to write down what he saw. So what is yet to come is a replay of what has already happened as God has planned it written in the book of Revelation.
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw – that is the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Rev. 1:1-2
So now, what is left by God for His church are evangelists, pastors and teachers. The evangelists seek the lost by telling them the good news. Once they are saved, God combines them to a local body of Christ, His church.
“God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it… In fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” 1 Cor. 12:24b, 18.
I purposely cut the verses in parts to highlight the work of God in the church He gave to His Son. For those God has chosen to be adopted as His sons, He gave them to His Son to save and to build up in His body.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours: you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” John 17:6-10
After Jesus resurrected and sent the Holy Spirit He promised His disciples, they preached the gospel with boldness and the first evangelistic crusade harvested many souls who received Christ.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to the number that day.” Acts 2:41.
Added means God knew who are His to give to the church. This was the birth of the New Testament church. Is God’s plan continuing to this very day? Yes, and this is happening in the body of Christ. And one day,“we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” What does this mean? Will we look like Jesus as they painted him with a beard and long hair? No. Because we are becoming holy in our walk we will see our resemblance of Him in His glory. When we see Jesus we will know and recognize Him just as John did.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Rev. 1:17-18
The blind girl said, “Sir, are you Jesus?” No. I can never be Jesus, there’s only one, but you and I can become like Him. Is this possible? Yes, when we grow up in knowing Him and purify ourselves. How?
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
This is why God saved us for, that we live for the glory of God as we are being conformed to the likeness of His Son. He is the firstborn and we are His offspring, brothers and sisters to participate in God’s divine nature produced in us by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.
And this is only true when one is born again. Have you been born again?
Intro: Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. We are reminded of the evil man has done which is now history. However today we will focus on the future of what is going to happen to every child of God born from above by God. Last Sunday we learned how good God is. Two Sundays before that we took up what offering pleases God. Today we will tie these truths together and see how God will work out His will for those He has saved and what is the responsibility of every one He has already saved. The event of 9/11 has already happened and there is nothing we can do about that. However, in the Christian life after the new birth has happened in the past, God is not yet finish because the future is still ahead and being worked out to bring glory to God. And that’s what we will focus on today, the future for the believer that God will carry out according to His purpose and will.
“God Will Finish What He Started”
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1:3-6
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:9-11
This is the 9/11 we will talk about. After God saves a sinner, God’s work in salvation is not yet done. Jesus finished His work and purpose in coming when He died on the cross and has fully paid every sin that a sinner has committed and even will commit. His last word was “It is finished”, meaning that what He came for, He fully accomplished. But what about the work of God in saving sinners which He begun, is it finished? When a sinner enters the door of the kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible refers to him as having been born again. Like our physical birth he is a newborn babe. What he has received is forgiveness of sin and the right to become a child of God. He is now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God while still on earth. Does he have a responsibility? Yes.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matt. 6:33
This statement by Jesus is not referring to how a person gets saved. We did not seek God. It was God who sought us. He drew us to His Son through messengers of the gospel. Once Jesus Christ is believed, trusted and by faith enters into a relationship with Christ, that’s when he enters the kingdom and become a citizen of the kingdom of God. Seeking God’s business in the kingdom is now what is expected of every citizen of the kingdom, where Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings. As kingdom citizens we are brought to a new life that is entirely different from the life we were living in. There is a new moral order, God’s standard and righteousness. Going back to what we offer that is pleasing to God we are given this command.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom. 12:2
The pattern of the world we previously lived in were our sinful activities, our views of who God is, what is right and wrong and bad attitudes. How is this changed? By renewing our mind. We are to dislodge or push out what has been put in and has accumulated over the years in our brains. This new program is found in the Word of God. We are not to empty our minds like those who practice yoga. When you empty your mind you don’t know what thoughts will come in and take over your mind. The renewing of our minds refer to putting in the Word of God to push out the trash that has been deposited by our knowledge and understanding coming from the world in the past years. When we do that and adjust our thinking then do the will of God, God will prove to us the truth and goodness of His Word. We may not even realize it but we will experience how good is the will of God, pleasing to God and to men and perfect that leaves us with a clear conscience.
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether I speak on my own.” John 7:16-17
The will of God that really matters in life is the salvation of our souls. If one is not save, even though he does what is good and right in his eyes all these will amount to nothing. Good works will not save anyone. Here’s the will of God that counts. This is a must in response to the call and God’s invitation.
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40
Furthermore, God spoke audibly to three of the disciples of Jesus as His will.
While he was still speaking a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Matt. 17:5
Here’s the test Jesus gives everyone to prove whether they are genuine.
“If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32
Whose responsibility is this to hold on His teaching? After I was born again, I started to discard the wrong teaching I learned from the teachings of religion when my mind was renewed by the teachings of Christ. This set me free from error and sin and I’m holding on to it. It is also a must we obey the will of God.
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God.” 1 Thess. 4:3-5
Every born again believer has this responsibility and yet on our own we have no power to obey, nor even understand the Word of God. Unlike the Old Testament people of God, they failed to keep the law and God’s decrees because they were only operating on their own strength. But for us today after Jesus returned to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. This is His ministry to every believer in order to accomplish the will of God. The Bible calls this sanctification. This is the work of the Holy Spirit to conform us to the likeness of the Son of God as revealed to us by God’s prophet.
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Isa. 11:1-2
The shoot points to Jesus when He became flesh. He was a descendant of Jesse the father of David. Jesus as human needed the power of the Holy Spirit so that He can do the work of God and accomplish the will of God. He affirmed this at a worship service of the Jews on a Sabbath at the synagogue.
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21
Jesus had to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s will. After His sacrificial death, He is now the mediator of a new covenant in His blood. Jesus did away with the sacrifices of bulls, goats and lambs by His death as full payment for sins that we cannot pay. And because He is alive,
“Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Heb. 7:25
Therefore, everyone who has entered into a covenant with Jesus is indwelt by the same Holy Spirit to do what He did to Jesus throughout His ministry.
And this is His continuing work in us.
“For it is God who work in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:13
What then is God’s ultimate purpose in saving sinners?
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Rom 8:29
Is God’s work finished after you and I were saved? Jesus finished His work but God the Father has just begun and will continue until His purpose in saving us is accomplished, until we are conformed to the likeness of His Son.” How long with that take? A lifetime. This is a process called sanctification. This is not mentioned in this verse because it is an ongoing work of God by the Holy Spirit to conform us to the likeness of His Son.
Now notice that in Rom. 8:29, Paul writes the work of God in the past tense. Foreknew is God knowing before hand whom He will save. When was this?
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Eph. 1:4
God already knew whom He will save and His purpose in saving them, to be holy and blameless in His sight, not in the sight of men. We can think that we are holy but only God can see whether we are holy in our walk and blameless. Who is the only one who was holy and blameless? Only Jesus, and this is God’s purpose to work in us to conform to be like Jesus.
Predestined means God has already a predetermined plan for every one He chooses to save. In the assembly plant of cars, the company has already the finish product planned. All the workers work together to do exactly and in detail the specific product. The difference between a car and a human being is, cars do not have life. It does not decide anything, nor feel and get hurt and does not know how to love. Humans have feelings and decide what to do or respond. We have the freedom of choice. However, there is a confusion and misunderstanding whether we are free to will in salvation. An unsaved person cannot will himself to be saved. He has no power to save himself because salvation is in the spiritual realm and everyone who has sinned is already spiritually dead. That’s the reason one has to be born again and this is the work of God and He is the one who wills it. Salvation is the work of God. But after one is saved, we now have the will to obey. Just as Jesus chose to do the Father’s will and not His will. So why should we not?
Everyone God has chosen to save will be called. Everyone who has been saved ought to know when he was called and responded to the call.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” Matt. 4:18-20
Why did they follow Jesus? Isn’t it unusual to be called by someone you don’t even know much about that you will leave and drop your work or job? What made them decide and caused them to do that? God the Father did.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37
Peter and Andrew responded to the call because God the Father gave them to Jesus. It is God who calls and when He calls can we resist?
Justified is the act of God having accepted the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf to save those He has chosen. The debt was paid and the law was satisfied so now God can accept us when we received Jesus by faith after we heard the gospel and the Holy Spirit made us alive to respond to the call.
Glorified is because we share the glory of Christ who is in us. It is His glory not ours and God the Father sees us glorified because He sees Christ in us.
“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27
This is our hope and confidence that God will finish His work in saving us.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”Phil. 1:6
When is that day? When we are called to join Him in the cloud if we are still alive at the rapture or when God calls us home through death of our body. That is the day of Christ Jesus when we see Him face to face for,
“God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Heb. 11:40
This is the end of our faith when we are with Christ forever and ever. God is faithful and able to finish the work He began with His chosen ones.
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more! Amen” Jude 24
So here is our 9/11, remembering the One who died for us. And because of this may our love for God grow and abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. This was the prayer of Paul inspired as the will of God. We love because he first loved us. Have we realized how much we are loved? Here’s another prayer Paul prayed for believers as the will of God.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the full measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17b-19
What about you? You may be here today and your 9/11 has not happened yet. You are here not by accident but by His will and God is calling you.
Intro: Many are asking today, “Why do bad things happen to good people.” Is there any truth in this? There is but if it not qualified it could mislead people to a false hope. A bad thing also depends on man’s perspective of what is bad. We are now reading from the book of Job in our “Everyday with Jesus Bible”. If there is any bad thing that can happen to a person, nothing comes close to what Job experienced. First he lost all his assets and many of his servants were killed. A tornado demolished the house his children were feasting in and all ten died at the same time. Nothing like this has happened today. Then he was afflicted with boils from head to foot. Can you imagine everything that happened to Job that came one after the other. Loss of wealth, loss of family except his wife and affliction in his body. If this happened to us, how would we take it and how would we view God in all these? But here’s Job’s response. Twice he responded this way,
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” …“In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Job 1: 1:22; 2:10b
Job at that time did not have the Bible to claim God’s promises. And what happened to him was not the result of sin. In fact, we have the privilege today to know what went on in heaven. There was a dialogue between God and Satan. God said to him that Job is blameless and upright and there is no one on earth like him. Did Job know what God saw in him and thought of him? No. God was proud of Job to tell Satan about him. Today, we thank God that we have His Word to read this account, a great blessing to know our God and why bad things happen to His people. I have shared something like this in the past but I believe God wants us to be reminded of this truth.
“God is Good”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”Rom. 8:28-30
In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina there were many people interviewed both Christians and non-Christians. And you can tell the difference in their responses to the calamity. Christians accepted the reality without blaming God but expressed their hope in God to help them recover from their loss. And recently along the path of hurricane Irene, I am sure among those affected are Christians who also suffered losses. Was God good in all these? Yes, He is but not to everyone. The good that will come out as a result of this calamity to Christians may not yet be seen but God knows what He was doing for their good. I stand by this truth that God is good. From our text here are the important truths and points.
Born again Christians ought to know this. “And we know.” If you do not know this yet, now you will know. This knowledge as to where we base our faith that results in confidence is a family secret. Confidential secrets in Pentagon, is only given to those who have security clearance and it will say “For your eyes only.” What then are we to know?
“In all things.” God knows every event that is happening in the whole world and to every person and the reason for a specific purpose. When we look back at the events in the Old Testament concerning God’s chosen nation, we read that when they became disobedient and commit the sin of idolatry, God calls the nations surrounding them to punish His people. Some are killed and some are taken captives. Then He judges those who have persecuted His people. Why does God send calamities in different places in the world today, in the past and what will happen in the future. First, let us see and know more of our God, His authority and power to do as he pleases.
“I am the Lord and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the Lord do all these things.” Isa. 45:7
And where was God in the recent floods in the East coast brought by Irene?
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Ps. 29:10-11
Does God have a purpose in sending calamities? Yes.
“When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the Lord.” Isa. 26:9b-10
But for His people, “God works for (their) good.” In the life of Job, what good did it do to Job, his family and to his servants. Was there anything pleasant and good to those who were witnesses of what happened to him? None at all and it seemed to them that Job had bad luck. This is the cause people who do not know God attribute misfortunes. With God there is no bad luck. He knows what He does in detail and His purposes. In God’s sight Job was blameless and upright, so were these his reward from God? Remember Job did not know what was going on in heaven between God and Satan, yet Job did not lose his integrity because in all these Job knew his God and trusted Him fully in what was happening in his life.
“Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him…” Job 13:15aHe left in God’s hand his life because he knew where he was going.
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes – I and not another. How my heart yearns within me” Job 19:25-27
What confidence did Job have? He had a Redeemer and has been revealed of the resurrection of his body. So what was God working in the life of Job? That Job may know Him to the fullest. In the later part of the book, God had an intimate conversation with Job asking him 72 questions. Questions like,
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off the dimensions?” Job 38:4-5a
In the end of Job’s encounter with God, what good came out of everything Job went through, the loses, the sorrow of losing all his children and the worst physical suffering. This is the good God worked for his good.
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2, 5-6
Furthermore, God had another purpose for Job’s three friends.
After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.” Job 42:7-9
Because Job accepted the will of God, God used him to save his friends. Isn’t this what Jesus did for us? He went through what was bad in our eyes but God had a purpose for Him to suffer and die on that cruel cross because of us sinners that God may have mercy and pour out His grace to save us. Weren’t we the cause why God sent His Son down to earth in order to be punished for sins He did not commit?
“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
So what was the reason God sent His Son to the cross? To be punished for our sins. So who put Jesus on the cross? We did. If we did not sin, there would have been no reason for God to sacrifice His Son in our behalf. Did God worked for Christ’s good? Did Romans 8:28 apply also to Jesus? Yes.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:9-11
This was the will of God revealed to Jesus, the good that will come out of the cross for his glory and for our salvation.
“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
Jesus never had physical children, but those God saved through Him have become His offspring. We are His offspring.
Why was God able to work out the good in Jesus’ life? Because of Jesus’ love for His Father, moving Him to be willing to submit to His will.
“But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
“Of those who love him.” God will work out for our good because we have this love relationship with God. Only those who have received Christ as their Lord and Savior can love God with this kind of love that is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. Unbelievers cannot love God until they are born again. Their love is not the divine love that is produced by the Holy Spirit. I believe every born again believer loves God. They may vary in the quality, intensity and level of their submission just as Jesus loved but they have that love. Our love for God grows to the extent of how much we have experienced God’s love. That’s why God uses circumstances that are good and pleasant and circumstances that are painful and unpleasant, for this is when we will experience the full extent of the love of God. It may be painful at the start but in the end we will experience how good God is after His purpose is accomplished. Here’s how Job experienced God’s goodness after the trial.
“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.” Job 42:12-13
The ending of Job’s life is the most important of all.
“After this Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.” Job 42:16-17
God saved us for His purpose. We were called and some are being called today to glorify Christ. This is the will of God in answer to Jesus’ prayer.
“All I have is yours and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” John 17:10
How do we glorify our Lord Jesus Christ? When we become conformed in His likeness, by being totally dependent and obedient to His commands.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among the brothers.” Rom. 8:29
The first thing God will work for our good is to take away anything that will come in between our love relationship with Him. Anything we love other than God is an idol. They come in the form of money as our security that we trust, in activities we love in the past that is ungodly and even family relationships. We are to love the Lord first with all our heart, and with all our strength and with all our minds. God is a jealous God and He will not tolerate any competition. So if you are experiencing a financial reversal after you got saved, God is working and doing this for your own good. Jesus said that His Father is the gardener. Gardeners prune dead and useless branches.
So how should we respond to any circumstance that happens, good or bad.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18
After David’s son died through an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba,
“Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.” 2 Sam. 12:20
In Conclusion. The Lord’s message to us in the last two Sundays was focused in offering our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. When we have come to that place where we leave everything in God’s hand and give Him the freedom to do as He pleases with us, then we will have the confidence of Job to trust the Lord because He knows what He is doing and in full surrender to his will this will glorify His Son in our lives. Whatever God works in us, through us and around us through circumstances especially the unpleasant, He does it so that we become conformed to the likeness of His Son and so He can accomplish His purposes in us. The trust and faith to let God do as He pleases comes from a growing love relationship with God. The ultimate purpose of God is for His Son to be glorified in us for the glory of God. Here’s a promise we can believe, trust and by faith accept.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11
And Romans 8:28 will always hold true.