Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on March 11, 108
Let us begin this morning by reciting our March memory verse. Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” In your bulletins should be an insert that contains our current memory verse, as well as all past memory verses since we began our journey through the book of Romans. As I have said before, I hope that you hang that on your fridge and you are your family are intentional about storing that Word upon your heart.
Today, we continue our study of Romans 8. “Great Eight” as it is called. And hopefully, as we walk through his chapter little by little you are seeing why it is called Great Eight. Our text for this morning is Romans 8:12-19. If you will, please stand in honor of God’s Holy Word.
The Revealing of the Sons of God
The title of my sermon today is “Sons of God” for this is what verse 12-19 is primarily about. And as we begin, I want us to begin at the end. Verse 19 says, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”
Many of you, perhaps, have never in your Christian walk come across this verse before, or at least have never pondered it very deeply, so let us do so this morning. Let this verse sink in. “creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”
The word “revealing” in Greek is apokalypsis. It is the same word used as the title for the book of Revelation. Revelation 1:1 says, “The revelation (apokalypsis) of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants.” Apokalypsis means to uncover, lay bare and in some context, to make naked. It is a word that describes pulling the curtain back to show the audience what lies behind. It is a word that describes the existence of an object that has not yet been put on display.
Now with that in mind, verse 19 becomes all the more interesting; for it say that the Sons of God are the ones who will be apokalypsis, revealed. That the sons of God are the ones who will be uncovered, laid bare, displayed to all creation.
This amazing verse should cause us to ask several questions, should it not? First, who are these Sons of God? Second, when did these Sons of God first come into being? Third, how is the curtain pulled back, thereby revealing the Sons of God.
The first question is simple. It is answered in verse 14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” If the Spirit of God is in you, you are the Son of God. Who has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Those who have repented of their sins and placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore the Sons of God are those who have placed their faith in the son of God, believers.
The second question is not as clear, at least not in our text for today. It will become clearer as we get farther into chapter eight, specifically verse 29. IN fact, let us look at it now. Verse 29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Unpacking verse 29 and 30 will come later, God willing, but for the purposes of today, we need to understand that verse 29 tells us that the Sons of God (brothers of Jesus) were foreknown by God before they were called and justified. Called and justified is just another way to say, before they heard the Gospel and believed in Christ and were forgiven.
Therefore, the Sons of God, existed as an object in the mind of God before they existed physically and before they put their faith in Jesus. That is what it means when it says “he foreknew.” Foreknew just means that he knew them before there was a them. I realize that this is heavy stuff, so let us look at a few other passages in God's inspired, inerrant, in infallible Word that tell us the same thing.
First Ephesians 1:3-5. Listen to what it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”
So did you hear it? “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” God selects certain people to be made holy through Jesus before he created the world. Verse 5 says that God predestined us for adoption to himself as Sons. To predestined means to ordain our destiny. This is the same teaching as what we saw in Romans 8:29. That he foreknew us, predestined us.
Lets look at a second text. Revelation 13:8. In this text, John is talking about people who worship the symbolic creature known as the beast. In my opinion the beast represents the world. But listen to what is says, “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” So there is a book. This book has a name. Its name is “The book of life of the Lamb who was Slain.” Obviously that is Jesus' book. In Jesus books are names. These names are written in Jesus book before the foundation of the world.
This is the same teaching that we saw in Ephesians 1 and the same teaching we saw in Romans 8:29. Which means, the Sons of God have existed in the mind of God before the world was created, and I would actually claim eternally, but we will not spend the time this morning going to those verses.
The great Baptist theologian John Gills says, “They that are the sons of God, are his sons before by divine predestination, and through the covenant of grace; as such they were given to Christ; and under this character, and as standing in this relation, he assumed their nature, and died for them, in order to gather them together.” Therefore the Sons of God existed before time.
The third question that we posed earlier is how are these sons of God revealed? How is the curtain pulled back? The answer to that question is the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” I think it is our tendency to read this verse backwards. We think that being led by the Spirit is what makes us the Sons of God, and in a sense I would agree with that. It is the Holy Spirit that the application of sonship is applied to us, but sonship actually existed in God's sovereign plan prior to us being born again. In the mind of God we are first Sons of God, destined for adoption, and that is why the Holy Spirit awakens certain men and not others to the grace of Christ.
This is what Jesus was talking about in John 3 when he was teaching Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit. John 3:8 says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Jesus is telling Nick that the wind has a will, and it blows where it wishes. Which means that the Holy Spirit is sovereign over who is born again, over who becomes a Christian. It is not ultimately up to the individual, if the wind blows upon him. He is passive in its activity. This is not to say that the individual does not have to repent of his sins and believe in Christ. That of course is still the condition, but the only way in which that condition is met is by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So how does the wind pick whom to cause to be born of the Spirit? Romans 8:29, “ For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Those who the Spirit causes to be born again, are those whom God foreknew. Ephesians 1:4, those he chose in him before the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8, those whose names were written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the lamb that was slain.
This is the purpose of the Holy Spirit, to apply the sovereign and eternal plan of God, which is achieved through Christ, to God's elect. And I am using that word, “elect” because it is the word that is used later on in Romans 8:33 when posing the question, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” Elect just means those who are chosen.
And the Sons of God, by being led by the Holy Spirit are displaying the eternal reality that God has destined us to be his children forever. The Holy Spirit pulls back the curtain for the world to see. Your life, through the Spirit becomes a testimony to the World of your destiny.
Which leads to the question, is this true for you life? When the world looks at you, do they see evidence that you are the Son of God. Are you being led by the Spirit, or are you being led by your own flesh? Is the character of Christ on display in your life? Do you live for the glory of the father? Do you display a Spirit driven righteousness? Do people come up to you and say, I know who your father is, your a Christian aren't you?
But that is not the only evidence of your salvation. Not only is their an external testimony of Sonship, but there is also an internal testimony. Look at verse 16, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
What does Paul mean by our spirit? He means the deepest part of who we are? Our inner self. Our heart, if you will. And it is to this spirit of ours that the Spirit of God speaks. It is an inward, supernatural, Godly communication to our hearts.
And the words that the Holy Spirit speaks are words of comfort, they are words of assurance. For the Holy Spirit bears witness that we are children of God. To bear witness is to testify, to proclaim under the oath of God what is true. And what does the Holy Spirit speak into our hearts, but that we are children of God.
As verse 15 states, Christians have within themselves a Spirit of adoption. That we who were once hostile to God, have now been brought near to God. So near that we now find ourselves in the family of the Almighty. Despite our sins, despite our rebellion, we have made children of God, with our adoption papers singed by the blood of Jesus. And it is the Spirit of God that testifies to our inmost self this reality.
Now for those who do not have this Spirit of Adoption, to unbelievers, this inner testimony is a truth that is unexplainable. Words cannot convey the deep realization that a Christian has about his place in God's family. When asked, how do you know your saved? We simply answer I know because I know. I have an inner testimony that gives me assurance that I now have peace with God. It is a truth that can only be understood through experience. However, once experienced it is unmistakable. When an unbeliever becomes a believer, and the Spirit testifies to them, they now understand.
For it is the Spirit that gives a Christian the capacity to cry out “Abba, Father.” This is not possible without the Spirit of God indwelling us. For the word Abba is a word of intimacy. It is a word that Jesus used to describe his Father. It is a word that is best translated to Daddy. It is a word of affection, a word of dependence, a word of familiarity, a word of a childlike faith.
For those who do not have the internal Spirit of adoption, they may call God father, but he is not their Daddy. Instead he is a cold, absentee guardian. One who exists, but one they have no loving relationship with. They call God father because they are told his is father, but their relationship with him is mechanical. They see God as fun hating slave driver. To them God is a strict Master, not whom they love, but him who they must obey so that they don't get in trouble. These people are not true Christians. They are sadly deceived.
But this is not how it is for the Sons of God, for look at verse 15, this is what Paul is speaking about, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,” When we are born again, we turn from seeing God as our slave master, and begin to see God as our loving Abba. For the first time we have a relationship that is built on love, not built on penance, and sacraments, and fear. It is a Spirit driven relationship, which testifies to our heart that we have a good good Father. Our love for our Abba Father is evidence that we are truly saved.
The Inheritance of the Sons of God
Which leads us to Paul's final conclusion. If the evidence of our lives, both externally and internally point to the truth that we are God's children, that means that we are heirs to the Creator of the Universe, and not only heirs, but we are fellow heirs with Christ. All that Christ will receive we will receive. Jesus inheritance is our inheritance. Look at verse 17, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” This is what awaits us in eternity.
But what will this inheritance look like? No on living can answer this question. Paul, prior to his death could only say that it is incomparable. That the glory that we will one day experience as children of the Almighty God will be so substantial that it will eclipse everything that transpires here on earth.
Picture the greatest moment you have every experienced in your life and multiply it by infinity, and perhaps you will be getting close. Being in the presence of our Dad is the greatest reward of existence and everything is immeasurably less.
As it says in Psalm 84:10, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” And as the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” This glory is a forever glory. It will not fade, it will not be taken from us, it will not become dull. Standing for all time in the presence of our Dad is not an abundance of boredom, it is an abundance of joy and pleasures forever.
And this is what awaits for us who are born of the Spirit and kept by the Spirit. This is what awaits us who are running the race down the narrow and hard way of following Christ. A finish line that contains a prize beyond your wildest imagination. This is our hope, this is our destiny. It is ours, not by the works of the flesh, but by the works of Christ on Calvary. This is what our brother Jesus purchased for us.