Today we are going to talk about the greatest purpose ever that a man could ever dream of. There have been very laudable ideas and purposes dreamed by man. Most of it has to do with what is going to happen to him here and now. How great a person can be, what he can do, what he can create, how much he can create and the kind of power that he could perhaps have, many times for supposedly – or the way it starts out – for the good of everyone. It doesn't always turn out that way because of simply what man is and there is a reason for that. God, Himself has a purpose for humans.
Today we are going to talk about the greatest purpose ever that a man could ever dream of. There have been very laudable ideas and purposes dreamed by man. Most of it has to do with what is going to happen to him here and now. How great a person can be, what he can do, what he can create, how much he can create and the kind of power that he could perhaps have, many times for supposedly – or the way it starts out – for the good of everyone. It doesn't always turn out that way because of simply what man is and there is a reason for that. God Himself has a purpose for humans and if you are deceived on this point, that is you do not know what that purpose is, you are deceived on all other points of the Christian religion. You have to understand this one point because it all is a part of a package if I can put it that way.
What is God's purpose? Why did He create man on this earth as we read in Genesis the first chapter? Why did He form the earth for man to live? He even created a garden with nature so ordered in such a way to give the man who was created on the sixth day after everything else was created, a wonderful life. That garden was utopian as we would describe it. It was as it were created for the man and his family and we do read then on the sixth day, in Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×, the man then – I don't want to leave women out of this because that is included of course. It is simply the way it is stated. Man was created in God's image it says, and after God's likeness was man created.
It is a very inspiring thing to understand that when God created man he was a very special creation. None of the other animals were created in the image of God. We have to ask the question: What was God doing at this point? Why was He creating man? And we might go on to ask the question: If He didn't have a very special purpose for man, why was the devil there because it seems like the devil then was trying to thwart God's purpose, turn man against God so that God's purpose would not be accomplished. So if God was doing something special with the man and His family why was the devil allowed to even talk to His family in the first place?
You might also ask the question why does God allow so much suffering? How does this fit in with God's purpose? What about the violence we see, the disease, the war, crime, genocide, the injustice, the oppression by others who are able to gain power over other people and subdue them at their expense of course. So if you know God's purpose, and that is the key to it, you know what all of these other things mean and how you should understand the world in which we live in today because it is an enigma. It has a lot of contradictions. It just doesn't quite fit in with what most people would try to understand as a loving God. Why would He even permit such a thing to happen? Why is there evil as the question normally goes and it doesn't quite fit in. It is important then to understand God's purpose, His great purpose that He has for man and how He intends to accomplish or fulfill that purpose.
Now rather than the circumstances that you find yourself in, and we all do find ourselves as we live in this world – sometimes our circumstances to be debilitating, sometimes quite discouraging - you would be able to rise above it because you know that there is a purpose that God is working out with you and in fact with the entirety of the human race and it gives you personally purpose in life. That was what it was meant to do and so it is very important to understand what that great and wonderful purpose is.
Let me just say this is quite an enormous subject to understand all the ramifications of it but it is important that we do at least get a grasp of what God is doing today to give us, let's say, a clearer picture. We don't want to ever forget what He is doing. We want to always have in our minds His purpose for man and what and how He is doing it. Things do tend to clear up quite a bit in our hearts and our minds as we live life in a world, the present evil world, as it is called, if you understand what that purpose is.
God began to reveal a very important phase of His plan that He was going to accomplish directly with people with the beginning of the New Testament. That is where I want to start. You may have read something of this in the Pastor's Update as I sent it out yesterday.
In Luke the first chapter is where we find the very first incident in chronological order that begins the events of what is called the New Testament or more correctly the New Covenant, because there is going to be now a New Covenant. It is going to be made and Christ would come then to sow order and establish that New Covenant. So we read in Luke chapter one, the first incident that begins the whole process that I am referring to, that is going to tell us what that grand purpose is. It begins with the message from the angel Gabriel to Zacharias who was a priest serving in the temple in his order, that is his time in which he was scheduled to serve as they were divided up in the 24 courses during the year. This was Zacharias' time. He was a priest of God and he then was to be the father of John the Baptist. John was to be the one who would precede the Messiah as we read, and he would teach repentance for sins committed and baptism for the remission of those sins. Here is where it would start.
The first thing that people had to do would be to turn from sins and have their sins remitted. Not just atoned for through the law but now remitted through repentance. Here is what John is going to begin to preach: Luke 1:76-77 Luke 1:76-77  And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
 To give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins,
American King James Version×. It is quite a long chapter. Here is Zacharias who was speaking for the first time after he was struck mute by the angel Gabriel because he didn't have, let's say, an adequate belief to believe what the angel was telling him, that his wife who was quite old and so was he, would bear a child. The child was born and Zacharias speaks then for the first time and says his name is going to be John and then in verse 76 is a part of what we call a prophecy or inspired teaching or preaching under the influence of the Holy Spirit as Zacharias at that point was filled with the Holy Spirit. One would image as I suggested yesterday, a transformation on the part of Zacharias over a period of nine months. After all if you get struck mute for nine months you would have a few things to think about over that period of time, wouldn't you, and so he did and so here is one of the things he says:
Luke 1:76 Luke 1:76And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
American King James Version×And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
V.77 – To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins.
That is what John was going to begin to preach. Now we are going to see that was considerably different than what was spoken before. We have someone out here who was born in a miraculous way, it is understood to be that way, by a priest, someone well known in the community in Jerusalem and here is what he said. It is recorded for us what he says and in chapter 3 then of Luke, it says:
Luke 3:1 Luke 3:1Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
American King James Version× Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, These are just simply dates for people who know and who understand at the time that all these things were to be so.
V.2 – while Annas and Caiaphas were high priest, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
So we understand that this is where this young man was. As he began to grow up and as he became independent enough he had moved into the wilderness as we are told in another place. And so the word of God started to come to him and he said this:
V.3 – And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
V.4 – as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.
That had to do with the preparation of John and so John preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
The Jews had a baptism as such where they themselves would go down into a pool of fresh water. We saw on our trip to Israel, we saw many of these pools where we went into the various ruins of various towns. Every one of them had a pool with steps leading down. Twenty, ten, twenty, it depends how far down it was. It was a sizeable pool in which the person simply went and got in himself and he came out of that after he had submerged himself and went to the place, the synagogue of worship, on that particular day. Sight after sight we saw had, what we call, these cleansing pools and the person would go down to these pools, as I said, submerge himself and come out and worship.
This wasn't done just one time as you and I understand repentance today and baptism. As we understand we do baptism once. We do it in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They did not do it that way. They did this quite often. It was a part of their cleansing or their purification as we read the term: purification of the Jews. That is how they understood that.
So now John is coming and he is saying something different. John is teaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Now this is something Jesus would do, except that when the Messiah would come it would be understood that it wasn't a matter of God remitting sin through only repentance and baptism but that the Messiah himself would die as the sacrifice for sins. John only referred to the One who would come after him whose shoes I am not worthy to latch-up or even undo. He says: I am not even worthy. I don't even reach what this Man is or who this Man is. I am only doing baptizing for the remission of sins. He didn't go into details to what He would do. We do understand later that the Messiah Himself would be the One to die for those sins and His blood would be shed for the cleansing of that as we read in 1 John 1:7 1 John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
American King James Version×, the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sins.
Something new was about to happen. I want you to notice in verse 6 of Luke 3 this quotation from Isaiah 52.
Now this is different, quite different. The people of Israel expected salvation in the form of deliverance - deliverance from their enemies and salvation if understood from an Old Testament point of view, which should be understood as deliverance from enemies. Salvation could be a person saved from that type of evil or calamity and that would apply to the entirety of the nation.
Now it says all flesh shall see the salvation of God, which tells us we are not talking about a physical salvation or saving or deliverance. We are talking about something more than that; something that would befall all flesh. And what would befall all flesh would simply be, well, everybody is going to die. So how is one saved from death? How do you live beyond that? Is there life after death? So now when we come to the New Testament we understand salvation in that way. With the beginning of the establishment of the New Covenant as He came to bring, something more is going to be done for people. Now it is called the salvation of God.
Now before this God worked through a nation. He showed that the nation whom God ruled prior to this, as He had intended, would be a nation like no other. I am simply talking about a physical nation based on ethnicity and in this case the twelve tribes of Israel being the sons of one man, Israel, and that would be the nation. That would be God's nation. If they obeyed God, there would be blessings from God. God would rule that nation. It would be a nation like no other nation that existed. They would keep His holy and righteous laws and they would not be defeated by their enemies.
However, this was not the major work God had in mind. This was only a forerunner in many respects, of a people that He had established for Himself to eventually be a spiritual nation. Here is what He was doing. You and I and most people, if they don't understand this, can be very excited over the power that their nation would have and the blessings that their nation would have. You can become very excited about this and indeed we would be very blessed and one of the reasons we have them here, of course, is because God provided those kinds of blessings for us through His promise that He made to Abraham.
I want to show you that even in the promise to Abraham, as we get on into the sermon today, that was not the end. That was only a part of what He said. It was only a forerunner. The type of God using Israel was something that was to come before something greater that He was going to do, and that is: He was going to establish for Himself what is called a spiritual nation.
Let's turn to 1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
American King James Version×. Peter refers to this. All of the Apostles began to understand very clearly what God was going to do; what God was doing through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
American King James Version× But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
We see right now the indication is this is not a nation such as the nation of Israel or any other nation for that matter. Here is a nation of special people, he says. They are called out of darkness, meaning the world. He is dealing with the world now. He is not dealing simply with one nation. Now He is calling people out of the entirety of the world. It doesn't matter what their ethnicity is. He is opening this up to non-Jews and many of the prophecies quoted from Isaiah show that this was, in fact, going to happen. This was on the cards.
Now you would have people who were not Jews who would then be called for a special purpose. Now they didn't understand fully what that meant but we are going to see now that God is doing something different. He is not establishing a physical nation. He is calling people to inherit eternal life. You will see that over and over again. I am not going to turn to any particular passage especially in the book of John where you find the term “eternal life” mentioned over and over again. You will find in the book of Matthew the idea of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven as he says there in other places and such as Luke and Mark, he uses the term Kingdom of God. Now, this is where He is going with this. It is not just the Kingdom of Israel. It is not just a nation now that He is dealing with. Now He has a holy nation as such. This is what He is talking about here.
V.10 – who once were not a people but are now the people of God – I am putting emphasis in a certain way here because that is how it is intended – who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Again, this is not the physical nation of Israel.
V.11 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.
Oh, now we have something that when they are called out of the darkness that they are supposed to be careful of. He says here: you are strangers; you are pilgrims. You don't have a homeland as such. The Jews have a homeland. The Jews today still fight for their homeland. They claim it as their own. This is their territory. People of the Church - I want to introduce that particular term a little bit ahead of the game but I think you know where we are going with this - do not call a particular territory their own. They do not. They are pilgrims and sojourners here on this earth but what you are supposed to do is to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.
So what are we talking about here? We are talking about the whole mind, the attitude and the character of the individual here. It says now here is what you have to be careful of: that which wars against the soul, the fleshly lusts. In other words, there is a way of this world. There is a way of the lust of this world; the pride of life and so on as it is called so many times. Here are the people who are called out. They have to see what is against them. They cannot be a part of that. They have to realize there is a greater purpose now to which they have been called.
V.12 – Having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Now that is very revealing of itself. It says that everybody is not going to receive this calling but people will see what you do. People will have an association with you. They will be familiar with what you believe and how you live. So this is what God, or Christ, is calling now, a church.
He uses the term church, ecclesia, meaning those who are called; are called out of many people. He says I will build my Church and He says the gates of hell will not prevail against it and this would be the church, the called out ones. The very root idea of the word ecclesia which is translated church, simply meaning those who are called out. To be called out, that means there has to be a greater number, a greater group, but we also find whenever Jesus Christ comes, there is not going to be a need for a calling as such because everybody's mind will be open and it will be available to everybody.
Calling out means it is not available to everyone at this point. So there would be firstfruits, as it is called. We are a kind of firstfruits as James says. James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
American King James Version× – that He has begotten, He has called, He is dealing now with that which is first meaning there are others but these are first. There are those who go before the rest. As we read on we begin to see what it is He is doing.
Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version× For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Now He is talking about sons: bringing many sons to glory. This is what His intentions are now. For that to happen the captain of their salvation, whom we know to be Jesus Christ, has to be made perfect through sufferings which may seem a little bit strange to us as to why that is so. We read in another place as Paul explains it, He learned through the things that He suffered. How could that be so? How could the One who became flesh, the Word that always pre-existed with the Father, then needed to be made perfect through suffering? Well, He was now learning perfection; perfection or maturity, which simply means that you then now are mature enough to make the right choices. You are mature enough to make the right choices. This is why the word should be mature or teleios.
We find people who perhaps are still teenagers - nothing against teenagers - but you might not be mature enough to make the right choices. Now when you get old enough you ought to be able to make the right choices. I didn't say that you would have the strength to carry out those right choices necessarily but you are now able to make the right choices because of a more mature mind. So when a person is perfected they are able to make the right choices here. The captain of our salvation was then perfected through sufferings, one might say testing. Jesus was tested. It says Jesus was tempted in all things just like we are. Jesus went through this. He was the captain; He was the first one to go through and He became the firstborn of God from the dead through a resurrection – Romans 1:4 Romans 1:4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
American King James Version×.
Jesus then developed everything about the mind of God as a human being. He was already who He was. Now as flesh He learned obedience as we are told and so in doing so He shows us that men can do the same thing. We can then achieve the same perfection or maturity but we do so through suffering. There is something very special then that God is doing with the people whom He is calling and it is a very special thing. It is a holy nation as Peter said.
I want to focus in on what is said in a number of places: in bringing many sons to glory. Now the word sons here, we will explain it for the sake of our women, the word is the same as children. Many boys or girls or men or women – it refers to both. It is simply the translation of how it is translated here.
Hebrews 2:11 Hebrews 2:11For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
American King James Version× For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.
What we are seeing then are people then who are now being called; who are called to follow Christ as He is their captain; they are following Him, the forerunner, the one who goes before and shows the way as a human being now. He calls them brethren. That puts them on equality in that sense. This is very interesting to where He takes humans then who are called for this very special purpose and elevates them to the place as brethren of Jesus Christ. Let's read on and He uses the term again:
V.13 And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children (as it says) whom God has given Me.”
V.14 – Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, (He shared the same) that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil.
So as a human being then He nullified the power of death. That is He defied death. Oh, the devil was successful in having Him killed but He was resurrected a few days later. He wasn't so successful in that sense.
Christ then is the firstborn among many brethren. Paul is very clear on this. Paul is one of the writers who really understands the idea of the firstborn but he understands also the idea that humans who have been especially called then are on the same footing as Jesus Christ. Now it is not that they have the same authority as Him, not that He is not above them, that is not what he is saying at all. We are talking about in the manner of existence. Those human beings now are going to be given the same privileges of sharing in the inheritance that Jesus Christ has. Now we are told that.
Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version× And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
This is a very, very important idea here. First of all we see that there are those who are “the called” and you are called according to His purpose. He has a purpose. He is calling people and that purpose sometimes is very confused in the minds of people. They don't know what that purpose might be.
Is it simply going to heaven? Could that be it? If so, what do you when you get to heaven? Can you explain that? Is there something in the Bible about that? Now you can look and you won't exactly find it. You can find vagueness about that sort of thing but you will find that that is not exactly what the Bible says. Is it the fact that a person is reincarnated? They come back as something else, something higher or lower in well, from where they are, and this happens over and over again and so we have an entire religion based on that. Is it a soul that simply goes to heaven? Is that what it is? Or goes to hell for that matter and then burns forever? I don't know how a soul experiences pain but there we are. Then you have various other ideas or concepts around as to what happens after death. Some people don't believe anything happens after death. You simply go to the grave and that is the end of that.
God has a purpose. Now to understand that purpose is so very exhilarating and it has to do more than simply what is happening here.
Now let me just give you another idea that tends to predominate quite a bit and that is what Jesus does for you now. That is, right now, in this life I want a better life and we have to be very careful about this. Why do you – well, I obey God and I expect to have all of these blessings. Well He talked about suffering for a moment, a moment ago. How do we understand that? How do we understand sufferings and how does that fit within the purpose of God? If we say well, I am very grateful that I am called by God and now I expect the blessings, and so if you will – I subscribe to a number of what you call Christian websites in which I read what they have to say and they are dominated mainly by what they expect God will do for them here and now and make life better. Now they say they don't do this but they really do if you just simply tally it all up you will find that this is the emphasis here.
What you will find in the Bible is that there is a great purpose for life that has to do with eternity and what we are to be for all eternity and that this is what ought to be foremost in a persons mind in getting them through the sufferings or the tests that a person experiences here and now. This is what you will find in the Bible. You simply want to tote it up, if I can the term, and see what is mostly talked about in the Bible then this is what you will find: The promise of eternal life, the promise of life for ever as we are going to explore here in just a moment in a very few brief scriptures, that this is what He is holding out to people and He says this is what He wants you to have in your mind and this is what is going to help you get through the suffering.
Jesus said He understood that the sufferings were there but He understood what the reward was; He understood what was to come after that. He had an experience with God the Father for ever in the past. He had that experience. He had the memories of that. I don't think He had forgotten about it or that somehow was erased – it wasn't. He knew what He had prior to His fleshly human birth. He was aware of all of this.
This undoubtedly would have been a great help and support to simply know that: to know that He was going to be reinstated once again to that but on a different basis; now based on the fact that He was able to attain to the mind of God as a human being. He was going to be led by the Spirit of the Father in Him. This is what He says. Everything that I have done I have done through the Father. The Father did it within Me. He is not a, let's say an entity as it were as He was before with the authority to do anything and everything of and by or because of who He was, He had relinquished that, put it completely into the hands of the Father and now would live a life as a human being through the Father living within Him. It says now the Father does the works. It is the Father in Me who does this.
Now He said this over and over again and He explains now the basis on which He is going to have eternal life. It is through the Father and so now when He applies that to us He says: I will now live within you. You and I can't say it is me or I, anyone of us then, who will be successful in all of this or who won't be. We have to rely upon Jesus Christ living within us so He says I will not leave you alone. I am going to come and dwell within you. In fact I and the Father will come and dwell within you and we will make our home, we will make our dwelling within you.
So as Jesus then attained Himself; became the firstborn of God from the dead; the firstborn of God from the dead. He died, that is what He says. I was dead. He says He was dead. I simply choose to take His word for it. He was dead. He became the firstborn from the dead because in, as in the flesh, He lived by and through the Father. Now so too you and I have to live through Christ. That is the only way you and I are going to get by. We don't have the ability. Humanly we cannot deal with the world. Now it is a fact that Jesus Christ Himself lives within us; we have been begotten, as it were, by the Holy Spirit; then we have become a child of God; a son of God.
Let me make it very clear here that just because you were born as a human being by virtue of the creation, does not make you a son of God. That makes you a created being. That is all that makes you. You might say I am a son of God by virtue of the creation – well, you could say that. This is different. We are talking about now being made a son of God because He now dwells within you. This is quite different. This is not a creation. Whenever He created Adam – Adam did not have the Holy Spirit. He could have if he had chosen the tree of life but he didn't choose the tree of life. He could have been begotten by God. God could have lived within him and Eve and the family had he made the right choice. That choice had to be presented to him. Choices are always presented to us, are they not? They have to be.
You and I then attain to the resurrection of the dead because He lives within us. Because He lives in us we are now His sons. It doesn't happen to anybody else. It happens to those in whom He lives. How is it going to happen? John the Baptist has already discussed that: You have to repent for the remission of sin; you have to be baptized for the remission of those sins and Jesus adds later on that the Holy Spirit is going to come. Peter adds later on - he adds the formula to repent: Be baptized for the remission of sins and you shall receive the Holy Spirit.
Now the Holy Spirit was to be given after Jesus Christ was resurrected and He couldn't dwell within them as a human being. Jesus being a human being, looking at them before He died says: I will dwell within you. So, He has to die first. Now He is in heaven on the right-hand side of God on His throne and now He is able to dwell within multiple people at the same time through the Spirit that comes through Him; from the Father and through Him. You can read this in Romans 8. I am not going to get into all of that.
If you are called then, you are going to be among many brethren.
Romans 8: 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
So it tells us then what we are supposed to be doing. For those who are called we are to be conformed, which is a process - it doesn't happen overnight - to the image of His Son so that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. We are conformed to the image of His Son; there are going to be many brethren. This is basically what he is saying here. So the firstborn implies there are going to be others who are going to come later.
In the same chapter – let's begin at verse 13.
V.13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
So there is now a Spirit, meaning the essence of God and Christ Himself now living within us and one then has to live by that.
V.14 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
To be led by the Spirit of God implies that it is something that is there as Christ Himself is present in your life; you are led by that Spirit which is able to influence you and to lead you. It does not say it will take over your mind. It doesn't say it will do it for you. It doesn't say anything like that. It simply says “led”. That is the correct word here – led.
V.15 – For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
So God now is our Father by virtue of a begettal through His Spirit, not by virtue of the creation. Now you become a child of His through a begettal of the Spirit. First you have to be called; you have to, as a result of that calling, repent; you have to have your sins forgiven; you have to be given then the Holy Spirit. And when you are given the Holy Spirit then that makes you a child of His. The word “Abba, Father” is more of an intimate term that Paul chooses to use here. It is a term used by the Hebrews: Abba is more of endearment; a term for the word Father.
V.16 – The Spirit Himself – which you can translate, if you wish, in the masculine which they chose to do here does not make it a person – bears witness with our spirit that (what?) we are the children of God,
V.17 – and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, - now notice what it says here: joint heirs with Christ. People say, well, that can't really be. Well, yes, it does. It means exactly that. You are joint heirs on a basis in which you share in the inheritance. He is the firstborn; He is given preeminence over all things. This was the custom of the firstborn – no question about that. However, you still share in the inheritance.
V.17 …. If indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. So you wonder why you have to suffer. You suffer with Him.
It is a process. It is not something that of course, automatically happens. People say well, if I get saved why do I have to stay around? Well, first of all you don't get saved all at once. You may be saved and that is the beginning of God's salvation. You have to still go through that process and that includes suffering, it includes testing, on the part of God.
Now what it is showing here is this: You are not going to escape that. There is still going to be suffering; there is going to be testing; there is going to be testing generally in areas that we wouldn't want to be tested in - we don't like to be tested in, but it happens. It could be pain, physical pain and suffering; disease - it doesn't mean that sometimes the way we tend to do that. It could be another type. It could be a humiliation of some kind; it could be poor treatment; it could be oppression; it could be any number of ways in which you suffer in similar ways that Jesus Christ Himself suffered. He experienced suffering, was tempted, and was in all things like as we are. So whatever man experienced Jesus Christ Himself also experienced that, so that He knows exactly what you and I go through and so He wasn't above that and neither are we.
We are going to be glorified together it says. Notice the words “glorified together”.
V.18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Now that tells you a lot right there. There will be sufferings of this present time. It is just a fact. It happens. It is going to happen. It is going to continue to happen. None of us can predict what is going to happen to us. We really can't. If that is the case well, then He says I want you to think about this: Whatever it is, it is not to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. Now that is what He promises. This is part of a purpose that He has for human beings and He wants human beings to understand, who are called now during this age, during this time, prior to the thousand years, prior to the great white throne judgment, prior to any other time, that a person can know God.
We have to know God now while still living in this present evil world. We are His nation now. We have to deal with the lusts and the pride of life, the lust of this world, the lust that is within us, all the while being subject to the temptations of the devil. This is what
we have to deal with. The firstfruits have to experience this and there is a very good reason why the firstfruits have to experience this – because He wants them now to know what it is like to resist the temptation, to be perfected through making the right choices now.
When you are subject to this kind of temptation, I think we should understand that when Jesus Christ returns to this earth He sets up His Kingdom during the thousand years - where is the devil? Not there. You have a whole society ordered that where you know, the teachers of God are going to be and so plentiful it is going to be kind of hard for a person then to create some type of culture or some type of philosophy that is going to be outside of God's. You are not going to be tempted by that. You are not going to have a mis-education; you are not going to have some wrong influences coming along. It simply won't be there. The devil is not going to be there. The right teachings will be there.
The people of God who were the firstfruits will be the teachers. They will be the priests of God, a teaching priest who will teach God's way and teach God's laws. So the people then, coming up in that, will they be tempted in the same way people are now? No, they are not. They won't be.
This is why you find that the people here are going to sit with Christ on His throne and they have to overcome just as He overcame. You can't say that the people in the millennium will overcome in the same way that the people overcome now. They just won't but these are the people that He can rely on; people He can trust in, because they have made those choices and even experienced suffering because they made those choices. Once that happens then God knows where you stand. God knows there is a character here in this person. God knows that here is a person that has chosen God's way above his own personal welfare, his own personal safety sometimes, and we will simply choose God's way. We have many people, followers of Christ, who lost their lives when they made choices such as this. Now, can He trust them in the Kingdom of God? Yes, He can. He knows that. So there is a glory then that He speaks of here that is going to be revealed in us.
V.19 – For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
This is quite fascinating in the way it is put here. You mean the sons of God have to revealed? You mean the world doesn't know who they are? That is exactly right. They don't know who they are. Who are the sons of God? A lot of people out there might claim to be but I tell you they are the ones in whom the Spirit of God dwells. They are the ones who are making the right choices; who are prepared to go through suffering, if that is the case; make those choices and develop the character to obey God in a time when everything is against them. Now I am not painting a bad picture of our calling. I don't want to do that. There are many, many blessings and we ought to be recounting our blessings all the time. I am just simply saying that we live in a time where there is such a great deal of temptation in our lives.
V.20 – For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it to hope;
V.21 – because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Children of God have been released from that. They are not in bondage to the world. They are not going to throw in the towel at the expense of their own lives. They simply won't be doing that. So they are not in bondage to the world.
V.22 – For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now.
V.23 – Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, - meaning the Spirit is going to be given to others at a later time, at a later date. Right now there are some who have the firstfruit of the Spirit. - …even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Now that is a very interesting thought of itself here. We want to go over to 1 John 3:1 1 John 3:1Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.
American King James Version×. None of us like our bodies especially as we get older. We like them less and less. I know as a young person, and some of you are quite young, you say I really like my body. You may be very happy with it. The older I get, the less I like it. Just look in the mirror every day. I don't like this very much. Why is it doing that to me? So my body betrays me and I suppose God in His great wisdom made it that way, did He not? To where you see this is not where it is at. There is something more. There is a greater purpose in mind here. That great purpose is the point of the sermon today. It is what keeps us going in a world that we know for us is going to come to an end. We know the world itself, that is of course the age in which we are living, is going to come to an end. It is not going to succeed and there is something more.
1 John 3:1 1 John 3:1Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.
American King James Version× Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
I like the way the Nelson translators in the New King James Version put an exclamation mark behind that. What manner of love. How can we even begin to imagine the kind of love that God has given to us, granted us, that we should be called the children of God. How did we of all people become the children of God? How could this be? Well, Paul says it wasn't because of anything we did, it was given and that is why we say we are first of all called (by grace) and then, of course, we are given eternal life by grace and so, as it says, how could this happen?
V.1 ….Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Nobody's recognizing the children of God, who they are. Nobody recognized Christ as to really who He was. It was very hard, very difficult for Him to do that.
V.2 – Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
So you don't see angels now. You wouldn't see Christ now but I want to tell you once you are given the spirit body that he speaks of here, you will. It is quite a glorious thing.
In 1 Corinthians 15: There are a number of verses we can go to here but I just very, very briefly (will) get into it.
1 Corinthians 15:44 1 Corinthians 15:44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
American King James Version× It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
V.45 – And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
We would like a spirit-body. Doesn't get sick; doesn't experience pain; doesn't die. It says those who are in the resurrection of the dead, in Revelation 20, I think in verse 5, the second death has no power. There is a second death from which there is no life but the second death has no power which means that these people do not ever die again. They are given a spiritual body.
V.47 – The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
V.50 – In which he describes this again: Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
Up until now, I haven't used the term, only once I believe: the kingdom of God; but this is what Jesus was talking about. When He came preaching the good news or the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, that is a special kingdom.
What other kingdoms might there be? In chemistry we talk about the mineral kingdom, do we not? We talk about the plant kingdom; we talk about the animal kingdom; we talk about the kingdom in which life exist other than plants; there's animals, and science throws us in with them. That is not true. Man was a very special creation as I think I have already pointed out to you, that is the kingdom of man. You could have the various categories – we studied them in biology. I think you did too. I did. And then you have God who is in His kingdom. The angels are not a part of God's kingdom. They live on a certain level of angelic beings, spirit beings, spirit bodies, don't die, but they are angels. Human beings are made, what? Lower than the angels, we are told that in Hebrews 2, but everything is going to be put into the subjection of man. He is going to be raised up to the God kingdom, being made children of God. Your children are just like you – fortunately or unfortunately! They look like you; they have the same characteristics as you; your children are always human. Don't doubt that. They are always human.
When God has children they are His. They are not human anymore, they are not angels, they are His children. They are the same as Himself. They are now of the God family. This is what he is saying here.
V. 50 - …… flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
How was that distorted? They say the kingdom of God is here now. You entered the kingdom of God if you are in the church. Not so. Jesus always spoke in terms of entering the kingdom of God meaning something that has to be done later on and Paul here is nailing it down that you enter the kingdom of God not as flesh and blood, but you enter the kingdom of God through the resurrection of the dead, as he goes on to say.
V. 50 ….. nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
V.51 – Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, - that is simply remain dead – but we shall all be changed.
That is very interesting the way he puts that: changed. Changed from what you were before as human now to something else.
V.52 – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
So when the dead is raised here in this resurrection they are raised incorruptible. They don't die anymore; they don't deteriorate; the bodies don't get old; they don't suffer pain.
V.53 – For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
V.54 – So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” So there is no more death here.
So this is the kingdom of God and here is what Jesus came to proclaim. This was His message: the kingdom of God and what He is saying now is that the kingdom of God is at hand, repent – just like John said – believe this gospel: which means they had to turn from their sins and from their ways; they had to then believe in the teachings of Christ; they had to believe in Christ Himself for the remission of those sins and then they had to live that life that Jesus Christ has pointed out to them. Over and over again that's what we are told.
Now we are being called now. We have become the recipients of the great promise made a long time ago, that was promised to Abraham.
Galatians 3:26 Galatians 3:26For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version× Once again Paul repeats this so many times. It is almost so hard to misunderstand what he is saying.
It is not matter of being born as an Israelite. It is not what he is saying. ….through faith in Jesus Christ.
V.27 – For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
John never said that. Christ says this later on. He said He authorized His disciples to baptize disciples who were made in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, because they were going to receive the Holy Spirit. So you have to put on Christ. You don't stay as you are.
V.28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Women are not at a disadvantage because they are women. In some cultures they are but in Christ they are not. It is all the same and I know sometimes we are unfortunate because in the way which we live today, that is not clear and there are forces, physical forces, that women may not feel that there is really this equality and there has been this big move towards where women want to claim a certain equality.
A person is judged by what they do with what they know and you are rewarded according to your works. That is what it says and there is no distinction. Male or female; it could be a slave or a master – one who owns the slave; it doesn't matter if you are a Jew – being a Jew you may have had a head-start, knowing about God, you were converted; or a Greek who was steeped in paganism and you had to make a huge change there that the Jews didn't have to make. It doesn't matter. It is simply saying you are rewarded by what you do with what you know and what you have been given. Just a lot of teachings from Christ bear that out.
V.28 - ….for you are all one in Christ Jesus. We are all heirs with Christ; we are all sons of God or children of God if you choose to use that term.
V.29 – And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
What promise? There was a promise here. He promised that this is what He would do. The promised made to Abraham in Genesis 12 was indeed to make a nation out of Abraham's descendents. Now that was a promise. That would have a number of ramifications all the way up into our day. No question about that but in that was also those who would believe by faith in Jesus Christ. They would also be the sons of Abraham. So a Jew then couldn't claim well, I am a son of Abraham that means I am in. He says no, it doesn't mean that at all.
We are heirs according to the promise and it is a promise. If it was by works, how many of us will make is? It has got to be a promise. It is a promise. Let's make that so clear that the promise has been now extended. First of all to those whom God has called now. It is going to be extended as we read in Luke 3:6 Luke 3:6And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
American King James Version× earlier, to all flesh - one day to all flesh. He is simply doing this in phases; He is simply doing this in a particular phase right now. Later it is going to extend to others. It is quite an amazing plan or purpose. I choose to use the word purpose here.
The question then is this: How are you sustained by faith and still living in this world? Jesus was made perfect through sufferings and so are we. We have to build the mind and character of Christ while still living in this world and when a person turns to God through repentance of sins they still have to build the character of God and the mind of Christ. That takes time. It takes knowledge. It takes experience and it takes suffering and it takes being led by the Spirit of God. It takes all of that.
You have just a number of ingredients, if I can refer back to The Master Chef, to make something, this beautiful dessert here – some of you have seen it; you know what I am talking about – it takes time, it takes knowledge, it takes experience, it takes sufferings, being tested, being led by the Spirit of God. It takes all of these things and God knows exactly how to put it all together to get a person to where He wants them to be. You're just not simply saved and that is the end of it. You don't have to worry about things after that.
So when Christ calls you, makes you a part of His spiritual body to accomplish His purpose, you understand then that there is a purpose for everything. That is why we read in Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version× – All things work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose. It doesn't say all things are good. It just says all things work together for good.
When a lot of things happen to you, you say this is not good. Have you said that? I have said that. I don't like some of the things happening to me and I don't think they are good. It doesn't mean it doesn't work together for good and that's why I have to have rolling around in my head and you have to have rolling around in your head too, that there is a purpose.
There is a counsel of God that is being worked out; something that is going to stand; it is there by a promise; it is something that God, or Christ more specifically, is directing. You're alive. He is in charge of the growth that occurs in your life. Life then takes on meaning; it takes on optimism and a belief that you would not otherwise be able to experience and this is the effect it should have. How you respond to what happens to you shows whether you are going to be inward in your mindset and always being so disturbed and upset over what happens to you and what people say to you and how they treat you and how bad life is and how many bad breaks you've got. You can go down that road if you want to but if you understand there is a great purpose in your life, and that is what He is asking you to do, then you are going to be more concerned with the mind of Christ, whether that is in you, that shows that you are more interested in how other people are faring rather than just being so inward about this.
So we are being asked to make a change in our lives and of course this is what He is looking for in the next life, in the very kingdom of God. You begin to have reason to make right choices. You have reasons then to want to obey God. You wake up in the morning - it is different because here is a burning purpose in your life. You know where you are going. You know where you are headed. Without this purpose you are going to have a very hard time of it. Things that happen to you are really going throw you for a loop. You can become emotional about it; you can loose it; all kinds of imaginings going on in your mind. You have to have that purpose. I am serious when I say that. You really have to have this purpose firmly entrenched in your mind that God has that purpose for you and He knows exactly where He is going with you. Now we have to then submit to that purpose. There is a lot more to say about this but I simply wanted to present to you today the concept and an idea of a purpose.
Now let met just conclude with one thing here, and I almost forgot about it. In the latest United News, I was simply taken with the, how many pages – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine pages of the class of high school graduates of 2010 and how some of these people, seventeen and eighteen years old, who have already – they say: what is your favourite scripture? What is your favourite quote and so on, and here are young people who are really ahead of the game. They have really formulated this. I am not saying they are successful. I am not saying they don't have problems or issues in their life, but there it is. I am reading this and I am receiving a great deal of instructions from this in that it tells me that here are kids who grow up with a sense of purpose. They know there is something beyond this. Yes, there are problems in this life, they do the best they can in this life and I believe they will.
Here is one, one girl, whose favorite quote is: When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. Quite amazing, isn't it? How do these kids come up with this? Here are people who have a strong belief in that transcendental purpose. They know it is there. There is hope. There is a desire within them and I read their stories and I read what they are doing and what they are achieving now, the accomplishments that they already – when I was 18, I was not near (where) these people (are). I don't know if you were but I sure wasn't, but I am looking at them and I say this is absolutely fantastic. Look at the head start that they have on all of this. If they maintain that, I say there is a presence of a purpose in their minds- a part of their mindset. I simply wanted to refer to that as I felt very inspired reading that. I hope that you will take the time to go through what some of these young people have done; how they feel about life; their approach toward it. It is quite extraordinary.
Thank you for coming today and we will see you again soon.