In this sermon Tim continues our series on God’s Empowering Presence by looking at how the Spirit pours his love into our hearts, and assures us of our adoption into God’s family as sons and daughters!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday July 10, 2022.
05/02/23 – John 12:20-33 Following Jesus & Intro – by Tim Giovanelli – The Farewell Discourse Series – Manly Life Church Podcast
- 05/02/23 – John 12:20-33 Following Jesus & Intro – by Tim Giovanelli – The Farewell Discourse Series
- 29/01/23 – The Glory of Christ – Greg Beech
- 22/01/23 – Luke 15:1-8 God's Heart for the Lost – by Lani Daniel
- 15/01/23 – 1 John 4:11 Friendship In Church by Tim Giovanelli
- 08/01/23 – Philipians 3:17-4:4 Stand Firm in 2023 – by Peter Brooks
I am speaking today on the role of the Holy Spirit in assuring us of the love of God.
- Now I am aware that we represent a lot of families here in this church community… and many of our families, mine included are far from perfect!
- And yet hopefully in some way, in glimpses or regularly… we experience something of unconditional love with our children or parents.
- But of course the gift of God, is that we all get access to His unconditional and unfailing love.
- So I want to start today by showing a video that is kind of a modern retelling of the Prodigal Son.
- And it poses the question: what does it mean to experience the unconditional love of a heavenly Father.
- Show video…
So we are doing a series on the Holy Spirit…
- So far we have talked about the story of the Holy Spirit through the bible and how He is now available to all of God’s children.
- Kirrily spoke on Ezekiel and God’s promise of a new heart and a new Spirit.
- Last week I spoke on Pentecost and then mainly on Ephesians 5 and the exhortation to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”
- And I talked about how the similarities and differences between being drunk on wine and filled with the Holy Spirit… let’s just say you had to be here!
- But one of the lovely things that has been happening has been the ministry times and extended worship!
- God wants to meet with you!
I want to talk today on the love of God and our adoption into God’s family
- And specifically the role of the Holy Spirit in assuring us of this love and adoption into God’s family.
- Ephesians 1:5 say “in love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ”
- Romans 5:5 says “God’s love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
- Romans 8:15 says “the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
So it is the Holy Spirit’s role in helping us to know that we are God’s children and to encounter and be filled with the love of God…
- A love that is evident in our adoption into this amazing family of believers around the world. About two and half billion people at last count.
- And a love that is made tangible… or felt… or assured by the role of the Holy Spirit in making this real to us.
- As it says; “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
- So God is not just a concept or an idea. God to us, is like a Father, one who can be an experienced reality of love.
- Are you with me?
Gordon Fee: “salvation… as effected through the death of Christ… is the outworking of God’s love. And this is appropriated experientially through the gift of the Spirit, whom God has given to us and through whom we actualize the love of God in Christ.”
Right? What he is saying is that the love of God is a historical fact. It has happened.
- We are not left in the dark about who God is, or whether he is for us.
- It’s most lavish and expansive expression is shown through his Son, Jesus Christ’s death for sinners like you and me.
- Right? How do we know God is love as it says in 1 John… we know this because we look at the cross.
- Jesus in love pays for your debt and my debt through giving his life. He takes our punishment and reconciles us to God.
- The love of God is a historical fact!
But as Gordon Fee says; “neither is such love merely an object historical event. God’s love, played out to the full in Christ, is an experienced reality in the heart of the believer by the presence of the Spirit.”
- So we know God’s love because of the cross.
- But then we also know God’s love because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the presence of Jesus poured into our hearts.
- This is an experienced reality for the children of God!
And to be honest, that’s why it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to laugh in church. That can be such powerful moves of the Holy Spirit at work within us!
- In my church in London, I remember one particular Sunday where I came in having not walked particularly well or closely with God that week.
- Worship leader at the end of the service must have kept playing just for me, because when I came out of what felt like a trance, I realised everyone else had left the seats of the church.
- But as I worshipped I had waves of sadness and joy sweep over. And that manifested as uncontrollable laughter followed by tears… followed by laughter, followed by tears…
- Over and over again.
- And I think what was happening was something like a deep reassuring of God’s love over my life.
This is more than just a worked up emotionalism… I don’t think that is our chief threat in the Western church!
- This is a deep knowing and assurance and experience of God’s great mercy and love towards us!
- It’s the difference between being an outsider of a family, and that of belonging… of being brought in… of knowing a permanent place in the family of God.
- And just like in our earthly families we feel things deeply…
- So in God’s family, it is a heart felt reality!
Ephesians 1:5 “In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ”
- So what is all this adoption talk about?
- Just a quick note, the language in some of these texts is very male.
- But don’t worry as, in other places, the same author Paul uses the phrase sons and daughters when referring to the family of God.
For instance 2 Corinthians 6:18 ““I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
- And of course at Pentecost and the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy that “your sons and daughters will prophesy.”
- OK… so this is referring to all of us. Not just the blokes.
- But sometimes, even though the truth is for both males and females, the bible doesn’t always use the most gender inclusive language.
In the Roman world when Ephesians was written, a wealthy man would want to pass on their fortune and their name…
- And if they had no son of their own, or if the relationship was broken
- They would select out of their trusty servants who was often a slave, and they would adopt for themselves as an heir.
- Can you imagine how a servant would feel about that?
- From rags to riches overnight. From being a slave to being the chosen son!
- No longer a servant… but now an heir.
- It would be like winning the lotto… from a place outside the family… to now destined to inherit all the blessings of being in the family.
In listing the riches of the gospel. In declaring the reasons to give praise to God in Ephesians.
- Paul wants us to know, that we, being chosen by God, have been adopted into his family.
- A people that would be heirs to all the riches of God’s family.
- A people that would take on the name “Christians”… which means little Christs. Or children of Christ. Right?
- A people who would take on the family likeness as we are transformed into becoming holy and blameless…
- That this happens through the gift of adoption!
- And what a family… where ever you go… you meet brothers and sisters!
- What do we have in common – we met Jesus, we met with undeserved mercy. We came to believe that he is Lord of all! We became the children of God.
And this happens out of sheer grace, God chooses broken humanity and brings them into his family.
- JI Packer in his book Knowing God says: Adoption is the highest privilege the gospel affords us.
- Adoption is a higher privilege than even justification in which God declares that we are not liable to the punishment that we deserve.
- Packer: “to be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.”
- In adoption, God establishes us as heirs, as his beloved children!
- And in that, we find a closeness, affection and generosity that are at the heart of any good family.
Of course this idea of being a child of God versus being a slave with no permanent place in the family is found all through the Gospels.
- One of the places you find this is in John 8. Let’s have a look…
- In this discussion about who the children of God really are Jesus says;
- “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Now there is a lot going on here in this passage. And it is the contrast between slaves and sons that is most interesting to me.
- So Jesus says the default position of humanity is being a slave. Specifically a slave to sin.
- And we know this right. We know this about our own hearts and the condition of our lives.
- I’ve never particularly had an issue with the doctrine of original sin…
- Paul reflects on this when he says in Romans 7…
- 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
- Does that resonate with anybody?
Right, so we are not born Christians. We are not automatically in the family of God just because of a believing great aunt. Right?
- But as it says here in John 8… if the son sets you free you are free indeed.
- And again, the image here is of a slave being set free and adopted into the family.
- A slave has no permanent place in the family. But hear this!
- A son belongs to it forever. Jesus sets you free into sonship.
So go back to John 1… how does this happen? Verse 12…
- “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.”
- It is a gift. It is the mission of Jesus to seek and save the lost. It is the great story of God…
- Sweeping up every tribe and tongue and gender and class and ethnicity in the big family of God!
- All adopted into a permanent, loving places as heirs to God’s blessings.
Sometimes when people speak about the story of the prodigal son, they use such terms as the scandal of grace.
- The idea being that in human terms, the story is shocking that a Father would welcome back a wayward, disgrace, prodigal child.
- Even that video we watched, you sense in the son, a real unease about what to expect when he returns…
- And yet in one sense, if we know John 1. Indeed if we know the nature of God from the Old Testament
- Think Psalm 86:15 “But You, Lord are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
If we know this…
- Then the prodigal son story is just the fulfilment of what God has always been like.
- Once you’re in the family… no matter how far you may then wander, if you come to your senses, you will never be kicked out or forced to work for God’s love!
- Are you with me?
I was thinking about unconditional love a bit this week… where I have experienced it, and what effect that has…
- My parents ticket home!
- Never did get in trouble, but having that unconditional backing and love frees you from fear.
- And it says that in Romans 8 right… slaves live in fear.
- At any moment if you don’t have that backing and support, you are at the whims of fate and paying the consequences of your mistakes
- But as it says in Romans 8… if you know we are adopted as the children of God, we need not live in fear.
So what has the Holy Spirit got to do with this…
- Well as Gordon Fee says; “God’s love, played out to the full in Christ, is an experienced reality in the heart of the believer by the presence of the Spirit.”
In ancient world… when you were adopted into a family you would often receive the family ring.
- It was a seal or proof that you were the heir to the parent’s name and riches.
- For those with a keen ear, you will know that when the prodigal son returns the Father says this…
- “Quick bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Let’s feast and celebrate, for this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.”
- Did you notice the ring. It’s a sign of sonship.
Well what is the sign of your and mine sonship in God’s family.
- Well according to Paul it is the experience of love poured into our hearts
- And in Romans 8 it is the Spirit of God testifying with our spirit that we are God’s children.
- Or as it says; “the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
- In our adoption we don’t get a ring or a certificate… we get a far better gift and assurance.
- It is the gift of the Holy Spirit coming to reside within us!
Let’s finish with that idea. That God’s residence in our hearts is our assurance of adoption.
- For us the children of God we receive 2 great gifts upon believing in Jesus and becoming a disciple of his.
- Upon the repentance of sins and calling him Lord we receive the gift of salvation.
- And we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- And through these two gifts, God in love, is creating a people for his name!
I want to show one last video… Alpha Holy Spirit video – Romanian girl…