Adopted Children of God, Part 1 (Romans Sermon 52 of 120)
January 20, 2002 | Andrew Davis
Adoption, Life in the Spirit
The Lavish Love of Adoption
Please, if you would, take your Bibles and look with me at Romans Chapter 8. We're going to be zeroing in this morning at verses 14-17, which testifies to us with joy that we are adopted children of God. Isn't that incredible, that we are adopted children of God. Now, it being Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, I think it's important for us to give thanks to God for His providence that this is exactly where we are in Romans, and the confluence of Biblical truth and the current events is just so beautiful. Our God is a sovereign God. There was a time earlier in my Christian life that I was involved actively in the pro-life movement up in Boston. There are many people up there who do not understand our position on this. They are not in favor of what we teach and I would go down every Saturday morning with other Christian men and women, and our purpose was only to engage them in discussion to try to change minds and hearts. We wanted to bring the truth of God there. We knew that if you didn't win the mind and the heart, you hadn't accomplished anything. And so, we desired to be there and to talk.
And one of the things that struck me more than anything was despite all of the pro-choice rhetoric of those that opposed us, so many of the women in that situation spoke of having no choice. Isn't that remarkable? With all the pro-choice rhetoric, they speak of having no choice. And when you're speaking of having no choice, you're really speaking the language of hopelessness. You feel like there is absolutely nowhere you can turn. You feel that there are no resources big enough to meet the life situation that you're in. It's a language of hopelessness. I was reading recently a book entitled Adoption Nation. It was in light of this truth that we're going to learn this morning about being adopted children of God. It's a secular book, but it talks a lot about adoption and it speaks about this woman, Donna. And many people are in the situation that Donna found herself in. She was lying on a surgical table at an abortion clinic in 1986 when she realized that adoption was the only alternative that she could live with. She could barely believe she'd walked into this place to begin with. Just a few years earlier, after all, she had been president of a Right to Life Chapter at her high school. "I was on my back there for what seemed to be the longest time talking to God out loud, asking Him, What am I doing here?" She recalls. When the doctor finally approached her, Donna bolted upright and raised her voice and said, "You will not touch me."
Donna had fallen in love with Mr. Wonderful while she was a 20-year-old junior at the University of Kentucky, two months later she was pregnant, he was gone, and her sister persuaded her to temporarily move in with her in Nashville, so that she would have some support while considering what to do. And after she left the abortion clinic that day, Donna began to learn about adoption. The thing about adoption is that it is a ray of hope into the midst of two hopeless situations, isn't it? The hopeless situation of the young woman who finds herself with no answers, and then of a possibly of an infertile couple that's been praying for a child forever and nothing is coming. And so, they turn to adoption. And so, in the midst of two hopeless situations, all of a sudden adoption speaks God's hope. And that's what Christians are meant to do in this world. We're meant to be hope bearers to hopeless people. And no greater word of hope could ever be spoken than the word of the Gospel that gives us an eternal hope that can never be shaken, no matter what we face in this world. We're supposed to be the messengers of that hope, that word of hope in this world. But I feel the church has retreated from that.
II. Adoption: The Highest Honor of the Gospel
I'm going to urge us today to step back up to it and do it. That we would be messengers of hope into hopeless situations. And I would like you to bring the truth of Romans Chapter 8 when you go. That you speak of a hope that is unseen, but it's true hope that is an anchor for the soul that can never be moved, no matter what the circumstances. And I believe the truth of adoption, to be the very child of God, may be the highest, most stunning blessing of the Gospel. Now, the Gospel has many blessings, doesn't it? There's a whole treasure trove of blessings in the Gospel. And in a way, I feel somewhat week after week, especially in Romans 8, that we're just taking out all of these diamonds and rubies and goblets, and just looking at them one after the other. But this one, I think, shines the most brightly. It's stunning to me that the holy God would adopt people like us into His own family. Isn't that incredible? And that's the truth we get to look at. The adoption, the highest honor of the Gospel. Now, the Gospel promises us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms is given to us in Christ Jesus. Now, we've been talking for a long time about one of those blessings, namely, justification.
That because of faith in Jesus Christ, we need fear no condemnation on Judgment Day. Look again at verse 1 of this chapter, Romans 8:1. It says in Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, no fear any longer of Judgment Day if you're in Christ Jesus," but then it continues, of course, and describes who that person is. For those who are in Christ Jesus, who in Verses 2-4, "Walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." They don't live like they used to. They don't live like the world. There's been a transformation in their lives. And so, basically, I feel like the rest of the Chapter is describing the kind of life that is true of those for whom there is no condemnation, so that you might have assurance that it's true of you. It wouldn't be good to know that there was a banquet, a feast out there and know that you didn't have a place at the table. What good is that? You want to know, do I have a place? Am I invited, can I sit at that banquet?
Is there a place for me in Heaven? Well, Romans 8 testifies to how you can know, it's an assurance chapter. Verse after verse describes the kind of life lived by those who are not Christians, who are still under condemnation. Contrast it with the kind of life lived by those who are Christians, who are born again, and the center of it all, I believe, in Romans 8 is the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been given by God to bring assurance right to you as a child of God. And He does that in a variety of ways. But we're speaking of the blessings of the Gospel, and this may be the greatest of them all. I think John thought so. In 1 John 3:1 and following, he says, "Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us that we should be called Children of God. And that is what we are… 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." Isn't that beautiful? He almost can't get over it, that we, we should be called children of God, can it really be? And I almost want to stress that. Who is the "we" that we're talking about? Have we not met ourselves in the Book of Romans, so we understand who we truly are? Haven't we had some law work done on us so that we can really understand who we are, apart from Christ? I know it's unpleasant, but it's true.
It says in Romans 3:10 and following, "There is no one righteous. No, not one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God, all have turned away. They've together become worthless. There is no one who does good. No, not one. Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit, the poison of vipers is on their lips. Ruin and misery mark their ways. Their feet are swift to shed blood. There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Now, if you're a Christian, you look in that mirror and say, "That's me, apart from Christ. That's who I was, apart from Christ." It's true. That's who I was. And yet, and yet God has adopted me into His own family. How great is the love the Father has given to us that we, even we, should be called Children of God. Now, I believe God could've justified us, could've brought us to Heaven as His slaves, and we would've been honoring, amazing, we would still sing Amazing Grace, because we didn't deserve it. We are rescued from hell, from eternity and condemnation, and we would not have to suffer it. And just to be there, just to see it, just to hear the songs and not even to be allowed to participate would've been grace. Amen. Just to be there, but how much more that we should be adopted children of God. Incredible that God should do that for us.
Liberal Theology: A Misunderstanding on the Doctrine of the Fatherhood of God
Now, I think there has been a misunderstanding of this doctrine of the fatherhood of God, to be a child of God, what it means. Over 100 years ago, there was something in vogue called the Social Gospel. Liberal theology brought it to us, and the basic idea is the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man. You know what I'm talking about, that God is the father of everyone and that we're all brothers in God, brothers and sisters, all of us. And there were good things that came out of that movement. Good things. There was a lot of social work that was done, a lot of ministering to people's bodies. Soup kitchens were set up, agencies for the poor and the needy were set up. The widow and orphan were looked after greatly. There was an awful lot of ministry done to the body, but of course, there was no need for a ministry to the soul in particular, because if we're all children of God, then there's no danger of hell, is there? And so, we don't really need the Gospel message, we just need our physical needs met. That was the Social Gospel.
And I think that that is a false understanding of Christianity. It's part of it. Didn't Jesus minister to the body? Did He not feed the 5,000? Did He not cure diseases? Of course he did. He ministered to the body, but I think it's interesting, make a note of this. Mark 6:34, right before Jesus fed the 5,000 it says, "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things." How did Jesus show His compassion for the needy? He taught them the Gospel, He taught them many things, and then He fed them. Of course, the next day they showed up for another meal, you know how it is. They were on the other side, and they bumped into Him, and they said, "Oh, when did you get here?" And He said, "I'll tell you the truth, you're not looking for me because you saw a miraculous sign, because you ate a meal and you've never had such a bread as that." There was never such fresh bread as those barley loaves that they ate that day. "Oh, it was delicious. Give us another meal." And Jesus said, "Don't work for the food that spoils, but for the food that lasts to eternal life, which I have come into the world to give you." They said, "What must we do to do the works of God?" He said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
And so, Jesus was always lifting them up off their concern for their stomach and their bodies, to their concern for their soul. And this is exactly where the Social Gospel fell apart. Now, the Gospel talks of the fact that we are children of God as an immense privilege, isn't it? And it is not true of every single human being on the face of the earth. Now, it is true that every single human being is created in the image of God, that is true. We are special creations of God. That is true, but not in this sense, in Romans 8 and in John 1, the sense of being an adopted child of God, that is not true of all. So therefore, with this immense privilege, the incredible promises, the great responsibilities of being a child of God with all of the whole status before God of eternity laying before you, does it not become obvious?
III. Am I a Child of God?
The most central, most important question of your existence is this, "Am I a child of God or not? Am I a child of God? Have I been adopted into God's family? The Bible teaches that all of humanity is divided into two groups, children of the Devil and children of God. There's no third group, no third category. Jesus said to the Pharisees who sought to kill Him, John 8:44, He said, "You are of your father the Devil and you want to do the desires of your father, he was a murderer from the beginning." 1 John 3:10, "By this, the children of God and the children of the Devil are obvious. Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God nor is the one who does not love his brother." So you see John and Jesus both divided the human race into these two categories, children of the Devil and children of God. The amazing thing is that all of us at one point belonged to the Devil's family. We were natural born sons of the devil.
That's what it says, we were born into that. Ephesians 2:1-3 and I think the NASB has it a little better here. Ephesians 2:1-3 it says, "And you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working, listen, in the sons of disobedience." Verse 3, Ephesians 2:3, "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind and we were, by nature, children of wrath just as the rest." So, we're children of disobedience, children of wrath. We are children of the Devil naturally. And God rescued us and transferred us into His own family. He adopted us into His own family by simple faith in Jesus Christ. John 1:12-13, "As many as received them. To them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God."
Those Who Receive Christ by Faith
Note, the right, the privilege to become a child of God is given to you simply by faith. So, what are we going to do with Romans 8:14-17? We are going to take two weeks on it. Today, we're going to look simply at one question. How can you tell? How do you know whether you are a child of God? Romans 8 is given for that reason, 14-17. How can I tell? And we're going to look at five things. Five ways to know whether you're a child of God. Next week, God willing, we're going to look at the privileges and the responsibilities that come to you if you're a child of God, that's next week. But let's zero in on the first one, and that is the question, am I a child of God? And first, the answer to the question is, you are a child of God if and only if you have received Jesus Christ by faith.
I'm going to read John 1:12-13 again. It says, "As many has received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor the will of the flesh nor the will of man but of God." So simply by faith, you become a child of God. Now, there's no clearer statement of this in Romans, but the whole Book of Romans has been teaching the same thing, hasn't it? Romans has said that, "We are justified simply by faith." Paul says in Romans 3:28, "We maintain that a man is justified by faith, apart from observing the law." Romans 4:3, "What does the scripture say?" By the way, that's always a great question to ask. I know I'm taking it out of context, but you should always ask, Romans 4:3, "What does the scripture say?" Moving along, I know I want to keep to the point, but we've got to ask, what does the scripture say and what does it say concerning our justification?
"Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." Romans 5:1, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." So it teaches that we are made right, we are justified with God by faith alone, but Paul says it more directly in Galatians 3:26, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." Did you hear that? You are a son or a daughter, a child of God simply by faith in Jesus Christ. So, how do you know whether you're a child of God? Well, have you accepted Jesus Christ by faith, by simple faith? Do you believe that He's God in the flesh? That He lived a normal human life doing miracles and free from sin. That He was a physical human being on earth, did miracles, walked on this earth, never sinned, died in your place on the cross, suffering the death, the condemnation, the wrath that you deserve? He died a physical death. On the third day, He rose again, bodily raised from the dead, ascended to heaven. That one and that one only is your savior. Have you received Him by faith? And if so, you're a child of God.
Those Who Are Led by His Spirit
Secondly, the Bible says that those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. And now we get right into Romans Chapter 8, those who are led... Look at Verse 13-14. It says, "If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die." That means go to hell. "But if, by the Spirit, you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live," that means go to heaven. It means far more than that, but it does mean that. Now, what is the first word of verse 14? "Because," or "for," that is an unbelievably important word, because here he's going to explain who the children of God are. What does it mean to be a child of God? It means that you are led by the Spirit. Well, what does it mean to be led by the spirit? Look backward. That's what the word "because" or "for" means, look backward to verse 13. What does it mean to be led by the spirit? It means to put sin to death. Do you see that? "Because those who are led by the spirit of God…" Go back to 13. To put to death the deeds of the body, those are the children of God. Do you see what I'm saying? And so therefore, if you are not led by the Spirit of God in the way that it means in verse 14, you're not a child of God. Those who are led by the Spirit of God, are children of God. You see that. And so, the word "because" or "for," tells us what the leadership's about, and it's about a holy life. It's about putting sin to death. It's about never waving the white flag before sin at all.
Where you say instead, "I will fight sin to the day I die. I'm going to battle, I'm going to struggle, I may stumble and fall." We all stumble in many ways. It says in the Book of James. It's not about sinless perfection, but it's about a war, isn't it? And we are never going to give in. And that's what it means to be led by the Spirit of God. And if you're not led by the Spirit of God in this way, you're not a child of God. You haven't been adopted. For or because all who are being led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Now let's talk about this leadership, the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We know the Holy Spirit comes in, He dwells within us, He lives within us if we're children of God. But what is this leading about?
Well, I want to put some scenarios in front of you to help explain it. Suppose that you were in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th. You were on the fifth floor, let's say. And let's say the aircraft hits it, the lights go out, there's screaming, there's darkness, the emergency lights are going on and off and you're trying to make your way to a stairwell to get down, and you don't know where you are and there's all kinds of frenzy. Then suddenly, in the middle of all the smell and the smoke and the darkness and all of that, you see a uniformed New York fireman standing there. And he grabs you by the arm and says, "Follow me, I'm going to lead you to safety." Would you follow him? Oh, you'd better believe you will. And when you get out and you're on the sidewalk when that building implodes, you will thank him for your life. He saved your life. And that is some aspect, I think at least, of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He comes and leads you down the five flights of stairs and out of the dangerous place. What is the dangerous place? Is there a dangerous place for us as Christians? Yeah, it's called Vanity Fair, it's called the world. You're still there. You're living here now. Do you need leadership through the world? Oh, absolutely you do. And He has been sent by God to lead you through this world until you come home, like that fireman who will lead you to safety.
Or another analogy, a military one. General Washington, one of the heroes of American history, December 26, 1776, he crossed the icy Delaware River to attack the Hessians at Trenton to win a minor victory, but major in terms of the morale of that army. They were falling apart. And he prepared the battle plan, figured it all out, figured what they would do, when they would do it. He trained his men, he motivated them, he told them what they were going to accomplish and then he got in the boat and led them to do it. And so also the Holy Spirit leads us in holiness. And He leads us into battle. He's not leaving you to sit back at home, He's leading you into battle with sin. He's going to say, "We've got to fight sin. And so we've got to cross this icy river, and we've got to fight at night, and we've got to do what's necessary." And so, He is General Washington to us. He's leading us. And not only that, but we're going to go on to Princeton a week later and we're going to fight there too. And He keeps moving, He keeps saying, "I'm the commanding officer, I'm the General. We're moving out, we're not going to take this lying down. We're going to fight sin." And so He leads us. Those who are led by the Spirit of God to put sin to death, those are children of God.
How Does the Spirit Lead Us?
Now, how does He lead us? Well, there's a highway of holiness, isn't there? It says in Isaiah 35:8, "A highway will be there. It will be called the way of holiness. The unclean will not journey on it. It will be for those who walk in that way. Wicked fools will not go about on it." And then Isaiah 20:21-22, "You will hear a voice behind you. Whether you turn to the right or left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it." That's the leadership of the Holy Spirit. There's a way of holiness, isn't there? Or there's a way to live through this world. It's a way of wisdom, a way of righteousness. He gets you on the path and He says, "This is the way, now walk in it." And so we're called to live by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16 and 25, "So I say live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Let us stick with Him as He marches. We're going to march too, we're going to stay with Him on the way of holiness.
Now, how does He lead? Well, the same Greek word is used in Matthew 21:2, in which it says, "Jesus said to His disciples, 'Go into the village ahead of you and at once you will find a donkey tied there with her colt by her. Untie them and lead them to me.'" Is that how He leads us? Absolutely not. It's the same Greek word, but there's a different sense of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We know that because it says in Psalm 32:8-9, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or mule which have no understanding, but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you." Don't be like that. It's a leadership of understanding of wisdom, so that we see that sin is evil and terrible and we need to get rid of it, and that wisdom is beautiful and delightful and we need to walk in it. It's a way of understanding. He leads by a way of understanding. He instructs you and teaches you in the way you should go.
Psalm 23 says, "He leads us by paths of righteousness," what? "For His name's sake." He's leading us to live a certain kind of life. He leads by wisdom, by truth, by teaching you step by step. He also leads you and entices you by love and by goodness. There's a personal aspect now, isn't there? It's not just the law written on these stone tablets external to us anymore. There's now very much a person there all the time. And that has a tremendous influence. It says in Hosea 11:4, "I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them." Imagine, if you would, just by way of illustration, that you are in a room and you see somewhere a door and it looks interesting to you, and there's a big sign on the door, it says, "Do not Enter." That's called law. And immediately, you're wondering, what? I wonder what's behind the door? And so there's a struggle, back and forth. And gee, "Do not enter, you'll see all the things behind this door what you must not see." Oh, boy, this is getting worse, the more the law goes, the more you want it.
But suppose your best friend stood there and said, "Please don't enter that door." And kept standing there. Which of those two is harder to disobey? The personal one, isn't it? The person standing right there, it's not an affront against something printed on a page. It's an affront against a person. And the indwelling Spirit makes sin very personal, doesn't He? He makes it hurt. You get a sense of betrayal. Jesus is wounded by the sin, it hurts. And so, He's grieved by it and He includes you in His grief. You're going to feel what He feels when you sin. Conversely, speaking positively, you're going to feel a joy and satisfaction when you do right and put sin to death. It becomes very personal. And so He leads you that way.
Those Who Cry “Abba, Father” by His Spirit
Thirdly, those who cry, "Abba, Father" by His spirit are children of God. Look at verse 15, it says, "You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you'll receive a spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry out Abba, Father." So we have the indwelling Holy Spirit and He is crying out from within us, "Daddy, daddy, Abba, Father." There was a time a number of years ago, I don't remember exactly what church it was, but I went to pick up one of my children. And when you're at a strange church and they don't know you, procedures are important at that door. They're not going to just hand over a child to just anybody. Well, as I went to that door and started doing the procedure, the child looked at me and said, "Daddy," with her arms out. And it's hard to beat that as evidence. This came so naturally from within, but I still did the cards and we did all that, but there was no question in the heart of the workers there, who were doing their job, rightly so, that I was that child's father. And so that's what the Holy Spirit does within us. There's a testimony, a crying out that God is our daddy. He's our Father, it's the Aramaic word for daddy. It's not a spirit of slavery.
We're going to talk next week more about this, so I'm not going to leave it alone, we're going to go back to the freedom of fear that we have. But we've got this beacon within us that just keeps crying to God, "Daddy, Daddy, I want to be with you. I love you." And it just keeps beaconing again and again, the indwelling Spirit saying, "Heaven is my home. God is My Father, I want to be there." And He never stops that work in us. And so, if you've got that indwelling Holy Spirit crying out, "Abba, Father," then you're a child of God.
Those Who Receive the Internal Witness by His Spirit
Fourthly, those who receive the internal witness by His Spirit. Not only does the Spirit cry out through us, "Abba, Father," but He cries to us and testifies to us that we are children of God. Look in verse 16, it says, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." This is a testimony from the indwelling Spirit. You are a child of God, and He speaks to your spirit. Now, what does it mean that He speaks to your spirit? Well, you have a new creation spirit. You have a new entity within you.
"If anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come," 2 Corinthians 5:17. So you have a new creation entity within you, a spiritual entity. He speaks to that and says, "You are a child of God. You're a child of God." He testifies to your spirit and He testifies with your spirit because your conscience is bearing witness also that you're a child of God. A change has happened in your life. You are a child of God, but you know there's no limit to this testimony. Some of you may remember, a while ago when we were looking at Romans 5:5 that the love of God is poured out into our hearts by His Holy Spirit whom He has given us. He's just pouring out His love. And so I talked about that. Remember? I talked about the 'whoosh,' how the Holy Spirit can just take you somewhat into the Heavenly realms. There's no limit to what He can do.
And testifying that you're a child of God. 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talked about this, "I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago was caught up to the third Heaven, whether it was in the body or out of the body, I do not know. God knows. And I know that this man, whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, but God knows, was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to talk about." Wow! Remember what we said at that time? Inexpressible things that people are not permitted to talk about. You can't put it in words and you're not allowed to try. Wow! And the Spirit can just bring that kind of a testimony directly to your heart, if He chooses. Remember I talked about the Puritan Thomas Goodwin who described this very thing. He described, remember? I'm going to tell the story again, because it's so effective, so powerful. A man and his child walking down through the woods in a path. And they're hand in hand and the little child knows that he's the son of the father. The father loves the child. There's a good relationship. There's no problems, they're enjoying the walk together, when all of a sudden, moved by some kind of hidden impulse, the father, swoops that child up into his arms, kisses him, hugs him, just gives him love, sets him back down. And they continue to walk hand in hand.
Is there a difference before and after in the experience of that child? You better believe there is. Have you had God do that to you? Just whoosh you, pick you up and just assure you that you are a child of God, maybe not like Paul. Caught up to third Heaven in paradise and all that, that's up to God if He wants to do something like that, He can do it. Blaise Pascal had an experience like that, Jonathan Edwards had one, DL Moody had one, many people from history have experienced this. If you haven't. Maybe you didn't ask for it. You don't have because you don't ask God. Ask Him for it. If you who are parents, you know how to give your children good things. How much more will your Heavenly Father give something like that to people who ask and ask and ask and ask and ask, He's going to give it to you. He's going to lavish blessing and love, and it will be different. Everybody's different, but He gives you an internal witness that you are a child of God.
Those Who Suffer With Christ by His Spirit
The fifth proof or evidence that you're a child of God is suffering. Not just suffering, but a special kind of suffering. Look at verse 17, it says, "If we are children then we are heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. If indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him." Suffering is required. There's no getting away from it, there's no escaping it. If you don't suffer with Christ you will not inherit with Christ, that's what the verse says. If indeed we share in His sufferings, in order that we may also share in His glory.
Now, what kind of suffering is this? Well, there are sufferings common to all people, aren't there? Wrestling with the cursed ground every day to get thorns and thistles out of it, that's called holding down a job. And that's common to all of us. Suffering from decaying bodies and from physical sickness is common to everyone. Suffering from death of loved ones and friends is common to all of us, we all suffer that. Suffering from financial trials and from relational difficulties and from the myriad trials of everyday life, power outages, car trouble, floods, fire, famine, all of those things that are insured. All of those things, they're part of this world, but I don't believe that that's the kind of suffering that's in view here. That's common to everybody and we'll talk about that later in 8:18-25. This is a special kind of suffering, a suffering that only Christians go through, and I think it's of two kinds. Christian suffer things the world does not suffer in the way that the Christian suffers it. We suffer when we are tempted, and we suffer persecution. These are two things that Christians suffer that the worldlings don't suffer.
They don't suffer temptation the way we do. Now, yeah, I know they fight sin, they try to give up smoking or give up drinking, or a certain habit, but they do not fight sin the way we do. They don't wake up every day with the burden of you must be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. That's one of the responsibilities of being a child of God, imitating God's nature, and that leads you to suffering, doesn't it? You resist temptation all the time if you're a child of God. Hebrews 2:18 says, "That Jesus because He Himself suffered when He was tempted He is able to help those who are being tempted." There is a suffering in temptation, isn't there? Now, how do we avoid that suffering? Two ways. Number one, we persevere in it in holiness and eventually we resist the devil and he does what? He flees from us, but that may take a while. What's the other way to get out of that suffering in the middle of temptation? Sin, sin, and then, guess what? Temptation is over, but now you got other problems.
So we have to bear up under, we have to be willing to suffer temptation. We also suffer persecution from the world. John 15, 18 and 19, Jesus said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world it will love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, that is why the world hates you." The world hates you. Don't expect a friendly, cozy, comfortable relationship with America. Don't expect it. 2 Timothy 3:12, "Everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." "Dear friends," 1 Peter 4, "Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you were insulted because of the name of Christ you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." And so we've come full circle.
We started talking about the abortion question, and in my prayer I prayed that the church would wake up. I prayed that the church would wake up and be willing to bear the reproach of Jesus Christ outside the walls. Hebrews 13. And pay the price necessary to win the struggle. This is a Christian magazine entitled World. A little baby, isn't he cute, she cute? I can't tell. A little child, a little infant, obviously a new born in somebody's hand. Look at that, isn't that beautiful? It's incredible. The church is called to protect the weak, when the strong threaten the weak. Religion that our God and Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Early Roman Christians used to go along the river and scoop up abandoned babies and raise them. They adopted them. They took them into their families. They literally adopted them, so that they might be adopted by their Heavenly Father.
And the tragedy here, it says, "Row v. Wade at 29," it's 29 years, and then the sub-title says, "The silent stalemate." That just pierced my heart. Is this really a stalemate or are we losing? Which is it? See, a stalemate is two equal forces, let's say, on a chessboard, and they can't get anywhere. They're equally strong and they can't get anywhere and there's no victory for anybody. Isn't that the case that we are losing this battle day after day, week after week, year after year because the laws haven't changed? And because we're not ministering to the needy the way we need to. I would urge you to be willing to bear the reproach of Jesus Christ, be willing to suffer the way He suffered. Not just the internal suffering of temptation, but the external rejection of the world, and you'll get it, believe me, if you're willing to speak up for Jesus Christ.
I just want to close by asking you a question. Are you a child of God? Are you a child of God? Have you by faith received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Was there a time that you accepted Him? Are you led by the Spirit daily to put sin to death, keeping in step with Him, moment by moment? Do you have that indwelling Spirit crying out from within you, Abba, Father? And is He testifying to you, that you're a child of God? And are you suffering with Jesus Christ, what He suffered? If you don't think that you're a child of God, please come and talk to me after the service. I'm going to be standing down here. Come and say to me, "You know, I don't think I'm a Christian. I'm afraid for my soul. I want to know eternal life. I want to know Jesus Christ." Come and talk to me. Don't leave this place without an absolute certainty that you are a child of God. It's free to anyone who asks for it. Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened, this is for you. But if you are a child of God, ask, "Are you willing to stand outside with Jesus and bear the reproach, the suffering that He bore by upholding righteousness in our land?"