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Jack Graham - Good, Good Father


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    Jack Graham - Good, Good Father
TOPICS: Essential Gospel

All right, take your Bibles and turn with me, the eighth chapter of Romans, the great eight, the eighth chapter of Romans. This is our ESSENTIAL GOSPEL series in times like these we need to know the good news of Jesus Christ and how He can change everything. The chains-breaker, the way maker; He's all that we need. And the title of this message today from Romans chapter 8, verses 14 through 17, is "Good, Good Father". I read recently that 67 percent of professing Christians, people who say "I'm born again", so called evangelical Christians, 67 percent said that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being.

So between 60 and 70 percent, many who are church-goers, church members are saying that the Holy Spirit is a symbol; a symbol of God's power, or maybe a symbol of God's presence, or perhaps a symbol of His influence; an "It", if you will, a force in people's lives. Nothing could be more counter to the Scriptures than that idea, because God is Father, God is Son and God is Holy Spirit. He is the great three in one, and the Holy Spirit is God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! It certainly must grieve the Spirit of God to be neglected or to be misunderstood or misrepresented. It certainly must quench the Holy Spirit to suggest in any way that He is not real, that He is not present, that He is not alive!

So Romans chapter 8, this blessed chapter, one of the great chapters, some say the greatest chapter in all the Bible if you could compare them, this eighth chapter of Romans is all about this life in the Spirit, in the Spirit and the presence of God. We've seen that this presence of Jesus is alive in us; that we are walking in the Spirit, and the Spirit is with us always. Verse 14 says, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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".

Yes, pain is always a part of the process of walking in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit of God. Right in the heart of this passage are these words that we now cry "Abba! Father"! That's the title he's a "Good, Good Father" I guess I could have entitled it "Good God Almighty". The Holy Spirit! The fact that we are led by the Spirit who assures us of our salvation, that we are a part of the forever family of God, that we are the sons and daughters, the children of God who has adopted us into His family forever. The fact is, you have the Holy Spirit if you have Christ in your life. He said, "As many as are led by the Spirit, these are the children of God". He earlier said in Romans chapter 8, Paul that is, that "If anyone has not the Spirit he is none of His".

So if you do not have the Holy Spirit in your life, you do not belong to God! You have the Holy Spirit if you're a Christian, if you are a believer, a follower in Jesus. And, of course, the question that we raised the last time that we were together is this: Does the Holy Spirit have you? You have the Holy Spirit. He is present in your life. But the question is He persuasive, is He powerful in your life? I know that Christ is in me because His Spirit testifies to the reality and the security of His love and His grace in my life. So the first thing that I want to show you in this text is that we are led by the Spirit. That's verse 14: "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God". Because we are His children, therefore, we live by His leading.

Now the primary focus here of being led of the Spirit, is not the gentle direction of our lives; certainly, that's included in the work, the ministry of the Spirit in us, but primarily this is talking about what he's been saying earlier. In that we are now being sanctified. We are no longer continuing in sin. Now we're being led by the Spirit. We're not led around by the flesh. We are now led by the Spirit. He leads us. And I want to mention five ways, very quickly because we don't have that much time. But you may want to write these down because these are five ways that we are led by the Spirit as the children of God.

Number one, connecting us. The Spirit of God connects us to God. His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ enables us to know God, to have a personal relationship with Christ Himself. The Apostle Paul who said, "It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me". So we have this relationship with God because of this work and witness of the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit leads us by connecting us. In just a few moments I'm going to be giving an open invitation for you to receive Christ as your Savior. The Holy Spirit is already moving and already leading. Someone shared Christ with you. You've been reading the scriptures; you've been searching God, searching for the meaning of life. And the Holy Spirit has been moving and working and maybe even striving with you, and His purpose is to connect you with God! And you're going to have that opportunity to make that connection because the Holy Spirit is moving in your life. Connecting us.

Secondly, perfecting us. The Holy Spirit leads us by perfecting us. Philippians 1:6 says, "He who began the good work in you will perfect it, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ". That's the idea of maturing; perfecting us, making us more and more like Jesus. As I was saying, the whole point of the sanctification or Romans chapter 8 is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our life. So He is perfecting us, maturing us, making us more like Jesus; more Christ-like, more God-like. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is not our work. I can't, but He can!

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit leads not only by connecting us and perfecting us, but by protecting us. And what I mean by that is, the Holy Spirit guides us and guards us. His living presence around us protects us from evil and the evil one. We are confident that He is keeping us and protecting us and that there is this security of our faith in Christ because this is the work of the Holy Spirit. I can't hold on but He holds on to me. The perfecting work and the protecting work. In coming weeks we're going to be talking about the eternal security of the believer in Christ. "He who began this work in you will perfect it, He will perform it" and He's going to be protecting you and keeping you all the way.

Fourthly, correcting us. It is the Holy Spirit who may prod as you're reading the Scripture and provoke you to seeing your own sin and to confess it and to turn from it. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to show you purity of life and holiness of life, and therefore, correcting us. and the Holy Spirit right now may be moving in your life because there are areas of your life that are weak or wounded or willfully disobedience to God, and the Holy Spirit is convicting you of that and calling you to repentance. Correcting. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God".

And then, of course, directing us. The scripture says "You will show me the path of life; in your presence with fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore". And God in His presence, by His Spirit is directing us to know and to do His will. So the Holy Spirit is speaking. The question is are you listening? Now there are two primary ways that God speaks to us as believers: objectively, God speaks to us through His Word inspired by the Holy Spirit. So when you are reading the Scripture and meditating upon God's Word, this is the Spirit of God speaking to you. But the Holy Spirit also not only leads us objectively, this is inspiration and revelation from God, but He leads us subjectively, inwardly, internally and that's call illumination. Got it? Good! I don't have to say it again.

God has revealed Himself, He does it in creation; He does it in nature, the wonders of what He has made and is making. You see it in the birth of a child, the beauty of new life. So many ways God reveals Himself naturally. But then God has revealed Himself perfectly in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father". He is the Living Word of God! God showed up in the person of Christ and the Word was with us. God was with us, and that's Jesus! So that's revelation. And then inspiration is God has preserved His word, He's protected His Word, He has prompted us to know and love His Word, and, therefore, this is inspiration. BUT, it's possible... Are you with me? It's possible to hear the Word of God, even right now, to hear it preached and to read the word of God. It's words, the living Word of God, it's possible to read it, to hear it, even to know it at some level, and yet not hear the Spirit speaking in God's Word.

What did Jesus say to the churches in Revelation? "He that hath ears to hear," listen to what the Spirit says. So always when you’re opening God’s Word, ask God to open your heart to what the Spirit is saying. And the Spirit is speaking. And the Holy Spirit speaks internally. Now what God says internally by His Spirit will always square with Scripture. But there are many things that God may show us to do, that the Spirit may lead us to do, where there’s no verse and number on it. "Who am I to marry"? "Should I take that job or not"? "Should I walk across the street and share Christ with my neighbor"?

Well, that’s actually verse and number. We’re all told to be witnesses. But there are many examples I could give you where we don't know what to do and there's no verse. But what we have are principles in God's Words and precepts in God's Words and promises in God's Word. And these principles are used by the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom to know and do God's will in our lives. The questions that I get most often as a pastor over all these years is something about "What should I do next"? "What should I do now"? "Where should I go"? "Who should I marry"? "What’s God’s will for my life"?

Well, God the Holy Spirit will lead you to know and do His will, assuming that you want to do it. Don't expect God to show you His will and then you debate or decide whether you're going to do it or not. If you sincerely say "Not my will, but Your will be done, O God," then the Spirit of God will show you when the obvious answer is going to be yes; when the inclination is yes. I'm not saying there are not struggles at times and at times we wrestle with things to get through it, to make sure and to know. But the fact is if you will listen, the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Remember, this is a believer's benefit. The Spirit of God is in you and He’s not silent. He often speaks with a still small voice in a whisper, with a nudge, with a prompting. You’ll hear a voice as psalmist said, behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it".

I can testify that through the years that the Lord has led me all the way. I didn’t always understand the path, but by God’s grace, He enabled me to take the path and when I got off track, He got me back on. Because the Holy Spirit has promised to lead us all the way to glory. But you know what needs to happen? You have to be willing to turn off your technology, to shut off the noise, and the screams, and the racket, and find a quiet place and give God time to speak to you. Because I assure you, He will speak to you if you will listen. The psalmist said, "I delight to do your will, O God". You were made on purpose and for a purpose.

So it's important to listen to God and let God lead you. It's important that you don't get ahead of God. God sometimes directs us with delays and sometimes denials and other times detours and even dead-ends. Stay in step with the Spirit; walk in the Spirit. Mark Batterson said this: "Nothing slows us down like getting ahead of God". I like that. "Nothing slows us down". Ask Moses. He spent 40 years on the back side of the desert because he got ahead of God. The Bible says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord". This is Psalm 37: 23 and 24. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord;" a righteous man or woman. God is orchestrating and organizing and ordering our steps. So stay in step with Him, knowing that if you fall down and slip up that he’s going to pick you up, at times even carry you. But His Spirit is leading you always, always, always.

Secondly, we are liberated by the Spirit. And that's the Scripture which we just read which says, verse 15, I'm reading this now in the New Living, "So that you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, 'Abba, Father.'" You are now liberated, set free because the Spirit is not the spirit of fear, but the spirit of love and power and a sound mind, as the Scripture says. And therefore, because we have life and we are liberated from our past, we're liberated in the presence from the power and the clutches of sin and Satan. We are no longer slaves; we are sons and daughters of God!

This is one of the most brilliant and beautiful Scriptures in all of the Word of God! No longer slaves. God is Father! And you have been elevated and lifted to this status of being an adopted child of God. We’re told in the Scriptures that we are born again unto this living hope. Jesus said, "You must be born again". So one picture of our becoming a child of God, a child of the Father is that we are born again like infants, getting brand new life. But here adoption is different. It takes a different turn, a different twist, if you will because adoption is speaking of an adult child. Here it is speaking of a fully adopted child.

F.F. Bruce said this, the great Bible scholar: "The term adoption may smack somewhat of artificiality in our ears, but in the first century A.D. an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adopted father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate. He was no wit inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary force of nature, and might well enjoy the father's affection more fully and reproduce the father's character more worthily". So look at it this way, it is in our adoption as sons and daughters of God that our God becomes a filial, a Father to us, strengthening us as His children, that He is no longer distant or far away.

One of the problems that people have today, maybe you walked in here with this problem, is that God seems far away. This might be a result of the last months in your life. God seems distant. "Where are you, God"? Where is God in the darkness when we can't see Him? The invisible, invincible, eternal work of the Spirit is to bring God up close and personal to you. So that we cry out, "Abba, Father"! Which is a name (Abba) for Daddy. It's a diminutive for Father. Abba. If you travel in the Middle East today, you will hear children chasing their daddy, saying, "Abba! Abba! Abba"! It's the word Jesus taught His disciples to use when they pray. And all of us in the model prayer, "Our Abba, Father, hallowed be Thy name".

It was on the lips of Jesus in the Garden in the great struggle of suffering, presenting Himself willingly to the cross when He said, "Abba. Father, if there be anyway, let this cup pass from me". So the same connection, communion that Jesus Himself has with the Father in prayer, He gives to us as a blessing, as the benefit of knowing Him and calling Him, "Abba, Father". In closing he says this: That we are assured of this by the Spirit, for verses 16 and 17 says, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God".

Look, I know that I know that I know that I know that the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus is in my life! I know that I am saved! Do you know this? You know it if the Spirit of God is really in you, because the Spirit of God is testifying in your spirit that you are the child of God! You know it! Some people think you can have salvation and not even know it! That means you could lose it and never miss it. Right? No! You know it! And you are assured for heaven as if you were already there because the Word of God says that "His Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are heirs, heirs of the Father and joint heirs", we share this Sonship with Jesus.

Now, does it get any better than that? Does it get any better than knowing that our future is secure because our Father has given us the inheritance of His Son, and then sonship. We are enriched by this; we are elevated by this; the Spirit lifts us in this. So in that sense we are led by the Spirit and we are liberated by the Spirit and we are lifted by the Spirit into the very presence of God because we know that we are a child of the King! You're a child of God. And because you are a child of God, live like it, love like it! Give your life to follow Him, your Abba Father. You notice that the secularists, people who don't know our God, never call God Father. They may say, "Oh God"! But we call Him Father because we know Him and we know He loves us. That's who He is and that's who I am: a child of God.
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