Take your Bibles this morning and turn to the book of Romans, and I want you to find Romans 8 as we turn there. And I’m excited about the message this morning. Now how many of you read – be honest – how many of you read Romans 8 each day last week? Let me see where your hands are. All right. About 20 of you. All right. You're going to get a prize after church. I have to think about what it is. I don't know what it is. Now the rest of you, what is up with that? You say are you trying to guilt us? Absolutely. That's exactly what I'm trying to do. So now if you were in school and you got that assignment you would never pass your class. Right? So some of you, I mean you did fairly well in school so we're going to try it again.
Now everybody, I'm going to have your attention, how many of you would say, pastor, if I would do it for an English teacher, a geometry teacher, a history teacher, surely I would receive the assignment of God's man. And therefore, I will commit to reading Romans 8 each morning from now until next Sunday when we open it again. All right. I'm trying to be clear. I'm trying enunciate. I'm trying to get it across here. So I want you have an assignment to read Romans 8, just one chapter of the Bible. I want you to say I'm willing to do that. I can read 39 verses a day for 7 days. Pastor, count me in. All right. Let's try it again. How many of you are going to do it? All right.
Now some of you like I don't commit, you know. I don't commit to nothing. Right? Oh, so you've never bought a car, you've never bought a house? Come on now. How many of you say I'll read Romans 8 this week? All right. Let's try it one more time. Let's see. That's better. All right. Good, I want you to read it. I want you to get the essence of it. I've been studying this chapter. And we started a series back in the spring called "New Life Today" and there is three studies left. We're going to be preaching from Romans 8 for three more weeks on new life in Jesus Christ. Then we start a brand new, wonderful series coming up next month called "Happiness Is" and you're going to find happiness is knowing Jesus. We're going to finish the year all on this theme of "Walking With Christ".
Let's stand together right now for our scripture reading as we turn to Romans 8, and this – this is the chapter that we're all going to read together this week. Right? Romans 8:16-18. Let's read these together this morning. If you're a guest with us, and by the way I see several parents bringing students to the college, and we are super excited about this special year. It's out 25th year of Christian education here at West Coast Baptist College, and so many special things in store. So thank you for being here, and looking forward to a great, great day tomorrow as well.
Romans 8:16, "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and join heirs with Christ. If so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together, for I reckon" – he was, Paul was from North Carolina, did you know that? He said, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Let's pray, Lord we thank you for Romans 8 and for the glorious truths throughout the chapter. And I pray this morning as we look at this subject of what it really means to live as your child, that that relationship would be strengthened this morning as my prayer, or for someone it may begin today. So whatever your will we pray that it would be done, and we ask this in Jesus' name, Amen. You may be seated.
Well this year we've been studying the essence of what it means to be alive in Jesus Christ. What does it mean to have new life and to experience new life in Jesus Christ? Really, what is the difference between the daily life of the saved and the unsaved? Really there is nothing more disconcerting than to meet someone who claims to know Jesus, but their life is in indistinguishable from a nonbeliever. There is no joy. There is little in the way of fruit from their life. And what we're learning is that God truly intended for us to have new life today and new life every day.
Now as we began this study we found some amazing truths popping out at us here in Romans 8, and you're going to see them six times this week when you read Romans 8 in your morning devotions.
All right. That's kind of like a liberal church with a lady pastor, but I'll take it. I'll take what I can get this morning. All right. You're going to find these truths popping out at you when you read Romans 8. The first truth we saw is in verse 1, there is, therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. How many of you are thankful that your sins are forgiven today?
You've been forgiven. You've been justified, and what a blessing it is to see that right in verse 1. That's worth reading the chapter all by itself, just to be reminded of the wonderful work of God. There is no condemnation. Thomas Cranmer, one of the early British English reformers, he was one of the Catholic priests who awoke to the fact that salvation was through Jesus Christ and stood forth for the truth of the gospel. And he wrote these words. He says, "This is the honor and glory of this, our high priest wherein he admitted neither partner nor successor, for by his own oblation he satisfied his father for all men's sins and reconciled mankind unto his grace and favor." What a great truth that is. You see, when you live under the load of guilt of sin it frenzies the soul, but grace calms the soul and grace brings forgiveness flooding into our heart, and so we're thankful today but there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.
The second great truth that just jumped out at us several weeks ago was found in verse 9 and it said this. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his. And if Christ be in you the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness." The second great truth that we learned was this truth, that the Holy Spirit of God is dwelling in us. That he has quickened us and that we have the very presence of God in our earthly tabernacles because of the Holy Spirit.
And then the third truth that we saw down in verse number 14, "As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God for ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father." What wonderful truths. There is no condemnation to the save. We are completely forgiven and under the grace of God. We have received the spirit of God in our lives. We were born again by the spirit, and with that spirit we can come to God the Father and we cry unto him, Abba Father. It is in the sense a very reverential daddy relationship. Abba Father. He wants us to know today of his acceptance and of his love for each and every one of us. What wonderful truths.
So here is a diagnostic question for us as we begin. Is the Holy Spirit of God welcome in your life like the owner of a house should feel in his own home? Is God free to work in your life? Are you walking in his presence today? Or is the Holy Spirit a threat to you? An intrusion upon your autonomy. How is your relationship today with the Lord? Sometimes you can have a period in your Christian life where the reality of the Abba Father relationship, the daily abiding is not what it should be, perhaps because of trials, perhaps because of sin. Just not what it should be. Sometimes we are well aware of the very presence of God. It may be through prayer. It may be through a song. It may be through preaching. It may be in a time of trial that we hear that still small voice of God and he comes to us and ministers to us as our adopter, as our father. But one thing is sure, the spirit is life and not even death can take that life away because it is eternal life.
And so this morning I want to speak to you about what does it mean to live as a child of God? To know what he wants you to know as your heavenly Father on a daily basis. I believe there is three areas where the Lord would minister to us this morning and where he wants us to understand the reality of this relationship, because I think there is some people that have a relationship with people in the church. They have a relationship with church. Maybe they've said the sinner's prayer. Maybe they're even saved, but they're not experiencing that relationship that God intended for them. What is God's desire for us today?
I want you to notice first of all this morning his desire is that we would experience his presence. He wants us to experience his very presence. Now notice in verse 16 the words of our text, "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit." Let's say that together.
Congregation: "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit."
The spirit of God is a person of the God head who is personally involved in our lives. Now this phrase here, I meditated on this for so many hours really over this summer. This one phrase in verse 16, "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit". How does that work? You ever thought about that? The spirit bears witness with our spirit, but how does that work? Well let's think about it for a moment. First of all I want you to remember that God is spirit. The Bible says in John 4:24 "God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him spirit and in truth." Second Corinthians 3:17, "Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
So when we referred to the Spirit, capital S, we are referring to God. We are referring to the third person of the trinity. In every way and in every attribute whether it is omissions, whether it is omnipotence, the Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of deity. And as such he knows us and he in dwells us. He is our life." The Bible says in John 14:17, "The spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, but ______ him, for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you." And at the time of the day of Pentecost the Spirit of God came down and empowered his already existing church, and at that time the Holy Spirit of God took up residence in the lives of every believer and since that time all who have called on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ have received the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in their lives. God is a spirit. Secondly, we are spirit.
Now this is simple, but let's pause to think about how does God's spirit bear witness with our spirit? Well first he is Spirit. Secondly, we are spirit. The Bible says that we are a trichotomy. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ." God created us as spiritual beings. We are body, soul and spirit, and so it is that because of his creating us as a spirit there is a spiritual void that only God can fill. Now some people try to fill it with drugs, or sinful relationship, or activities of all kinds, but that spiritual void can only be filled by the presence of the Lord in our lives. And so it is that God is spirit, and then we are spirit.
Thirdly then God moves on our spirit. God speaks within our spirit and the wording in verse 16 is, "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit." Now how many of you find that verse as intriguing as I do? To think that the Holy Spirit within me is bearing witness to the spirit within me. What an amazing thought. That God desires that level of intimacy with me and with you. Now beareth witness means to bear joint witness, to commune with us, or to assure us. So God's spirit is assuring us of his love, his presence, his care as an Abba Father. He wants you and me to know that today. It's assuring, and God the Father, by the presence of his spirit wants you to know the blessed assurance that Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine.
Now I can't give you the assurance of your salvation, but God wants to bear witness with your spirit. If you are safe he wants to bear witness with you. Now if one of your kids came up to me today after church and maybe let's just a seven or eight-year-old little boy and he came up and he gave me a big old hug and he said, hey daddy. I'd look at him like hi. Nice boy, but obviously slightly misdirected. Maybe he didn't recognize me. If he kept calling me daddy and coming up to me, and then I'd think something like maybe he wants money? Maybe his dad is having trouble. I'd try to psychoanalyze a little bit, but I mean I'd be nice to him. Don't get me wrong. If he came up to me and said hi daddy I'd be nice to him. I'd pat him on the head, but I'm not going to bring him into myself and say hello son. I'm just not going to do that. I'm sorry. I might say other nice things, but not hello son.
Now what if one of my children came up to me in the same fashion? Let's say my oldest daughter, Danielle, and she and Peter are over at our satellite ministry in Rancho Vista today and the work there, but let's say that she surprised me and she walked right out on this platform and she came up and she said hi dad, and she maybe put her arms around me. And oh I tell you what, I'd draw her into myself and I'd say hi sweetheart, it's so good to see you. I sure love you. You see, God assures his own. He bears witness with those that are his own. He doesn't treat you like, what do you calling me dad for? But he bears witness with our spirit. He, his presence is personally with us. In the days of the Roman Empire a Roman adoption would have been witnessed by someone, and the Holy Spirit is the witness that we have been adopted. He is witnessing with our spirit that we are children who have the privilege of saying, Abba Father. His presence bears witness.
Secondly his fruit bears witness that we are the children of God. His fruit bears witness within us. You see, sometimes when someone gets saved or accepts Christ as savior, some people will say man, that guy is not even the same person. Wow his mouth has really cleaned up. He doesn’t go to those places he used to go. He's really been different with his kids lately. And by the way, isn't it a wonderful thing to see Jesus change someone's life?
That's why we want to invite men and women, and boys and girls to church and share the gospel, because Jesus can make anyone a new creature. And wonderful, it is wonderful to see that when someone accepts Christ, suddenly there is fruit that comes from their life, Galatians 5 calls it the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, long suffering. Things that they were not commonly known for but now they're exhibiting in their life, and sometimes perhaps you've had this as I have, either in witnessing and the Lord gives you verses, or thoughts, or maybe in life the Lord prompts your mind. And it's not something that you would have been prompted to do by yourself, and you know that was God working in your life and he bears witness with our spirit by his presence. He bears witness with our spirit by the fruit that he brings through our life, and we know that is not us.
And he bears witness with our spirit thirdly by ministering to us. The Bible says, "He is our comforter", John 15:26. "He convicts us", John 16. "He teaches us, he leads us." The spirit led Phillip to go to the Ethiopian, and all of these are indications that God is working within our lives, and it is my prayer that those of you who are saved are experiencing the inner working of God, that you're enjoying that father, son, father, daughter relationship today. God says, I want you to experience my presence. I don't want you to just come to church and check with me on Sunday. I want you to allow me to bear witness in your spirit on Monday. I want you, when you open my word to know my love. I want you to be bearing fruit. I want this to be real Christian living. Experience his presence.
Secondly God says, now that I want you to experience my peace. As my child I want you to know my peace. Now look at verse 16 again. It says, "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Let's say that phrase together, that we are the children of God. One more time, that –
Congregation: We are the children of God.
Now the devil is a liar. He's going to tell you you're not. He's going to try to get you to doubt. That's why we've got to believe our beliefs and doubt our doubts and trust the word of God. And if you've been saved, the Bible says, that we are the children of God. Specifically God says, "I want you to have peace about that. That you are my children."
Now I really was thankful to get some time with my children and my grandchildren this summer. We just, we had some wonderful memories and I learned an awful lot. You can learn a lot from kids. My first great grandson, Chandler, he taught me that raisin bran taste a ton better when you put Lucky Charms in the. I never knew that before. Again, he was absolutely right, you know. It's good to be around kids. And I took the kids, we were down in San Diego for a while and that area, and we went down by the water and they had a healthy respect for the ocean, because I kind of scared them and told them about the waves and everything, but they had the little boogie boards that they wanted to ride. And so they would say papa, help me. Papa, hold me. And as long as I was right there helping them everything was okay. There was a sense of security in their heart. Right?
It's like Wednesday when we had the first day of school here at Lancaster Baptist School and all the kids are trying to figure out what's going on and they're all kind of nervously walking around. I went into kindergarten. My granddaughter, McKenna, her eyes were this big. She was looking at all the other students, and then she was looking at all the moms crying. Hello, that helps nothing. And then she looked up and she saw me and I saw her, and I went and I grabbed her in my arms and I said, this is going to be great Kenna. And we had prayer together. We had prayer with the class, and there is just kind of a peace that came over her. I'm just saying that it's the heart of every dad. It's the heart of every grandfather to bring peace to a troubled heart.
You don't want your children going through life wondering about your love. You don't want your children going through life having problems without your prayers and without your support. And God says, I want you to know, I want to bear witness with you that you're my child. I want you to see – it doesn't matter if you come from a broken home. It doesn't matter what your racial background is. It doesn't matter how much you have in the bank. God says, I want to bear witness with you that you are my child. We are the children of God. This begins with spiritual birth. John 3:3, "Accept them and be born again." He cannot enter into the kingdom of God. You're not just automatically a child of God because you're born in America. No, it's a decision that you make to receive Christ as your savior, and when you receive Christ as savior, you're born into the very family of God, Galatians 4 and 6, "God hath sent his spirit of his son into your hearts crying Abba Father." This is a birth that begins life, and this is a life that is an eternal life. It is everlasting.
Sometimes we'll see kids on the playground and maybe they'll drop a little love letter or something, and they'll say love forever and ever and ever and ever. I love you forever. You're my forever boyfriend. You're my forever girlfriend. And it's amazing how forever to a fifth grader is like a month. We use that term kind of, you know, loosely. It's like the gal that wrote a letter to her boyfriend, Johnny. She said Dear Johnny, no words could express my unhappiness since I broke off our engagement. Please say you'll take me back. I love you. I love you. I will love you forever, love Jane. PS, congratulations on winning the lottery. [Laughter] Sometimes that's how love is, you know. It depends on what someone has.
But the Bible says in Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the spirit of God they are the sons of God, for ye have not received the spirit of bondage again under fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, 'Abba Father'".
So God says I want you to have peace that we are the children of God and that we are the heirs of God. Notice in verse 17 the Bible says, "And if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." You see this means we belong to him. It means that what is his is ours. Ephesians 2:6 says, "He hath raised up together and has made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus that in the ages to come he might show us the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
You see, we are heirs of God. He says you're my children and I’m preparing a place for you, and you're going to inherit that. It's going to be yours forever and ever and ever. It's yours. And this is the inheritance. I think of my grandparents and how my grandmother went to be with the Lord on the first part of our time away this summer. And we went out to the cemetery there outside of Cortez, Colorado, and stood at the graveside. I love what my granddad put on top of his grave marker, "Saved by the Grace of God", isn't that wonderful. Let's say that together.
Congregation: Saved by the grace of God.
You know, my grandparents, they never inherited anything. Goodnight, they homesteaded a farm and they had nothing to begin with. And they kind of built their farm and before they died gave everything to their kids and so forth. And you see, it wasn't all about that. What was really important to them was that one day they would see the Lord Jesus Christ and they would enter into his blessed presence and they would find the joy of a home in heaven.
And I want to tell that not only are we the children of God, but we are the heirs of Jesus Christ. And one day we will inherit eternal blessings to be with the Lord Jesus Christ and really, that's what matters in this life. We belong to him, and we are the heirs of God. And this inheritance has been sealed. Ephesians 1:13, "By the Holy Spirit of God there is no one, there is nothing that can take away your relationship with God, your inheritance in heaven. It is signed, sealed and delivered to all who have put their faith in Jesus Christ."
What a blessing. God says I want you to experience my presence. I want to speak to your spirit. I want to assure you in your heart. I want to assure you in your mind that no matter what's going on in your life, you are my children. But notice finally he says, I want you to experience a promise, because sometimes in life we know that the spirit is living within us and we know that God is our father, but because of sin or because of suffering doubts can come and people begin to question. Sometimes they will never admit the questions they have. They begin to question the promises of God. And God says I want you to experience the promise for yourself. Verse 17 he says in the second half, "If so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together, for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Now this morning you may be facing the perfect storm, but Jesus offers the perfect promise of peace. He says I want to settle this for you. He says I want you to know concerning suffering that suffering is purposeful. That there is a purpose in suffering. In verse 17 he says simply to us, "That we may be glorified together." You see, John Bunyan was a Baptist minister who was in prison for seven years simply for not taking a license to preach, and during that time he wrote this phrase. He said, "In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God." Now the devil wants to take those times of trial and cause us to question and pull us apart, but God says, "No, during those times I want to minister to you. I want you to know my promise that I am with you. Lo, I am with you all way, even unto the end of the world" he says.
If we suffer with him and for him we have glorification with him and for him. Many of the early martyrs of the church understood this principle well. We have a book in our bookstore called Mirror of the Martyrs, and I love to study their lives and just try to understand their commitment. There was one man in particular I studied some this summer, Simon Kramer, 1553 in the Netherlands. The Roman Catholic priests came through his town and they were holding a large amount of bread, loaves of bread. In the Roman Catholic tradition the bread becomes literally Jesus Christ. It's called the doctrine of transubstantiation, but to those of us who study the Bible we realize salvation is not in bread or in juice. Salvation is in literally putting our faith in Jesus Christ and to finish work of the cross, you see.
And these priests were walking through the cities of Netherland and expecting people to bow and expecting people to kneel, but the fact was that Simon knew better. He knew that Jesus was not in those loaves of bread, and so he remained standing. And you can see the artist's depiction of it. And the next day history records of Simon Kramer that he was taken by the church authorities outside of the city and there he was tied to a stake and there the fire was lit, and as he burned to death he quoted Psalm 46, Psalm 47, Psalm 48. He gave praise to God. Why? Because he understood that even in suffering it was but for a moment, but that for all of eternity he would be glorifying God for his salvation in Jesus Christ.
You see, this is what Hebrews was speaking about in Hebrews 11:37. It says, "They were stoned and speaking of martyrs as well and those who have gone before us in faith. They were sawed asunder. They were tempted and slain by the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted and tormented of whom the world was not worthy. The wandered in deserts and in mountains and in bins and in caves of earth, and these all having obtained a good report through faith." God says, I want you to know that right up until the very end, even if it's in suffering, even if it's in a sickness, I want you to know that I am with you and I will never leave you, and I will never forsake you. And suffering is purposeful because ultimately it brings glory to God when we are faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice also suffering is temporal. Notice in verse 18 that word I teased about a moment ago. It says, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy." Here is a reckoning that we must make, and we must remember this. Suffering is temporal. This too shall pass. 2 Corinthians 4:15, "For all things are for your sakes, but the abundant race might though the thanksgiving of many renowned to the glory of God, for our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal wait of glory."
And I don't know what you're going through this morning, but I want you to reckon on this for just a moment, that the trials are temporary. The trials are not forever, and that we have something that is forever and it is called heaven. And that this world is not our home and that when times are tough this is one of God's ways to help us be more heavenly minded and remember that we need to live for Jesus while we can with every day that he gives to us here on this earth. In fact he says I want you to compare this. In fact notice there in verse 18 he says, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with glory." He said, "When you're going through the trial and difficulty remember that you need to compare and you need to realize this doesn't matter in light of eternity, in light of the glory of heaven."
You know, I find that people of previous generations thought more about heaven than we do. Lots of their songs were about heaven. Today there is new songs that they're not bad and some of them are about the Lord, but not a lot of thought about heaven. Not a lot of preaching about heaven. Not a lot of preaching about eternity often. When I was a kid we used to sing in Sunday school that little song, "Somewhere in outer space God has prepared a place for those who trust him and obey. Jesus is coming soon", that's all I can remember but anyway it was a great song. And what were they trying to teach us as children? That God is preparing a place for us. They wanted us to live with heaven in mind.
The Bible says that we are to have a heavenly consciousness, Colossians 3, that our mind is to be having affection towards the things that are above. And sometimes when suffering and difficulty comes, it causes us to be thankful, to compare the temporal nature of this life to the eternal nature of heaven. For the Bible says, "That I have not seen nor neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." And I got to tell you, the songwriter nailed it when he said, it will be worth it all when we see Christ. Oft time the day seems long. Life's trials hard to bear, but it will be worth it all when we see Christ. Oh what a wonderful truth.
God says, I want to know you. I want my spirit to minister to your spirit. I want you to have peace in those difficult times that you're always going to be my child. I want you to know even in the times of suffering that it's just for a while, and we're going to be together for all of eternity. I want you to know even in times when you fail, that if you'll confess your sin I'm faithful and just to forgive your sin. Isn't it amazing that God would desire that relationship with us?
And I believe many of you are sitting here this morning saying yes, and his spirit is bearing witness with your spirit. But there might be someone here today and you've never yet accepted Jesus as your savior. And the idea of glorying and suffering because one day it'll be worth it all, that's counterintuitive to you. The life of the Christian is not something you've known. You don't have that peace in your heart. His spirit does not bear witness with your spirit, and listen to me this morning, there is a heaven and there is a hell, and it is appointed on demand one is to die and after this, the judgment, it's very important that we receive Christ as our savior. That we know that his spirit is in dwelling within us. That we have a father in heaven that we can talk to.
And if you don't know that you possess that relationship today it's obvious God wants you to know it, and at the end of this service I want to encourage you, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your savior, to just take a moment, step right up to the front. See myself or one of the pastoral staff and just say, I don't have God's spirit bearing witness with my spirit. I want to know what it means to be saved and to be a child of God. And let me tell you what, that's the greatest decision you'll ever make in your entire life, just to get that settled. Just to get it settled.
But what about those of us who say we know it, but we can go through seven days without saying Abba Father one time? Without reading his word. Without knowing his spirit is bearing witness and trying to direct us and comfort us and guide us. Let's be real. Right? How many of you know America is dying with just people that just do Christian stuff but don't walk with the Lord? You see, this year is about being alive in Christ. Romans 8 is about being alive in Christ through his spirit. It's the pinnacle passage, if you will, of this very topic of being alive in Christ. And I want to challenge you if you are saved today that you would say Lord, I want the normal Christian life. I want that assured, a daily walk with you. And so may it be true in our lives. Shall we stand together this morning?
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