Share Christ’s Inheritance

May 27, 2018

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:14-17

The battles that shaped and preserved this nation came at a heavy cost. Tomorrow our country pauses to remember those who gave their lives to defend us. I was reminded this past week that Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day have two distinct purposes. Memorial Day is about remembering the fallen, while Veteran’s Day is about thanking those who have served who are still with us. All who served pay a price to keep this land free for the next generation. We owe them a debt of gratitude. In this country, we are also blessed to have the freedom to gather together to hear about what our Savior sacrificed for us and what we have through him. In our second lesson from Romans 8, we are reminded that through the Spirit you and I Share Christ’s Inheritance.

Paul’s letter to the Romans centers on the concept of righteousness. Paul spends the first quarter of the book talking about humanities’ lack of righteousness or lack of goodness. Paul basically shows that all people do bad things, don’t listen to God and are sinful. Then, in the next quarter of his letter, Paul reveals Jesus’ work to make all people righteous. Through Jesus, all people have forgiveness and through faith they take hold of that forgiveness meaning they are without sin or righteous and will inherit eternal life in heaven. Then the second half of Paul’s letter to the Romans deals righteousness in a Christian’s life. Essentially, Paul answers the question,

“What are the results of God’s righteousness in my life before I get to heaven?”

In our section of Roman’s chapter 8 for this morning, Paul’s answer to the question, “What are the results of God’s righteousness in my life before I get to heaven?” focuses on the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of Christians. Paul said it like this,

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Paul reinforces all he said in the first half of his book with these words. The Spirit led us to be God’s children. When we were helpless to save ourselves, the Spirit gave us saving, life-giving faith and now we are God’s children. Paul said,

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.

Before the Spirit brings us to faith, we are slaves to sin. Paul used that word to illustrate that sin completely owns us controlling our thoughts, words and actions. We have no free will under the slavery of sin, it controls all we do and we serve it as our master, but now that the Spirit has worked inside of your heart, you are free. You are no longer slaves, but children of God who cry out to God,

“Abba, Father.”

Hearing the good news that we are God’s children fills us with joy until we realize that as children we grow up. Many times, I’ve spoken with other Christians and have thought about it myself that on the one hand we are truly blessed to have been saved by Jesus and called to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, but then the waiting to get to heaven feels like too much. While we wait for heaven, we have work to do and it is hard. Before we get to heaven, we are called to fight against our sinful nature, the devil and the broken, sinful world, all still slaves to sin and hard at work to steal away our faith. Since we face these enemies as Christians, the believers on this side of heaven are referred to as the church militant. Whereas, those Christians whom God has called home to heaven through death are called the church triumphant. In other words, those who are in this world are still fighting, while those who have gone on to heaven enjoy the triumph of being free from the fight against sin and are living at peace in heaven.

These terms of the church militant and the church triumphant are like the difference between active service and Memorial Day. Once you are a member of the military, you are either active service or one of the many we honor on Memorial Day. First, those who are active in the service face the heat of battle every day or at least the threat of it. Their lives are on constant alert, restless and eager for peace. Second, those who have passed away no longer fight. They are no longer on alert, restless or fighting for peace.

As Christians, we are called to be on active duty in the church until we reach heaven. God has called us to be his people and we now do battle using God’s Word to win more hearts with the message of Jesus. It’s a hard battle though, which makes many Christians wish there was a middle ground where they could stop fighting and just wait for heaven. Many wish they could live as Christian “veterans,” if you will, no longer fighting, but still restless for the future of the church and praying for peace. (Not that veterans are eager to get out of the fight or are not work anything after they leave the service or are not able to help and encourage active military supporting the safety and future of our country) The point is that many Christians struggle with growing tired of the fight to live as Christians and share Christ with others.

This thought of retiring from living as God’s children often weighs heavy on the hearts of Christians as they grow more mature in their faith because they realize that the fight will not end until they are at home in heaven. Young boys and girls realize that the world they are growing up in doesn’t treat them with love and kindness, instead competition and comparisons dominate their every move and strain their spirit. Adults bear the weight of raising their children in an increasingly faithless and unchurched world, while keeping themselves connected to God’s Word without offending friends, family, coworkers or even complete strangers, plus caring for their ageing parents. Older Christians have fought for so long that they are tired from battle as the world grows darker around them and the loneliness grows fueled by sickness and weakening body and mind. These battles make it hard to live as God’s children. Where does our help come from?

Our strength to keep on living as God’s children comes from Paul’s reminder that our sufferings will end in glory through Christ. Paul wrote,

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Paul encourages Christians with their relationship with God as his children and therefore his heirs. Believers are heirs with Christ meaning that we have an inheritance waiting for us, the same inheritance as Christ, which is eternal life. This is a great blessing to be counted as an heir to eternal life, but it will mean suffering as Christ did before sharing in his glory.

Nicodemus whom we heard about in our gospel lesson from John 3 knew what it was to suffer as a believer. He was a Pharisee, one of the spiritual leaders of the Jews, the vast majority of which were against Jesus. Yet, Nicodemus wanted to learn more from Jesus and went in secret at night to ask him more questions. Nicodemus was right to be afraid that if he was caught speaking with Jesus, there might be great suffering for him because a few short years later the anger of the Pharisees brought about Jesus’ death on the cross. No doubt Nicodemus lived in fear after coming to faith in Jesus. He also saw first-hand the results of the suffering Jesus endured on the cross to free us from our sins, as he was one of the men who prepared Jesus’ tortured body for burial.

Nicodemus like all believers was able to endure the suffering and fear of persecution because he had something more powerful to fight with than even threats against his life could not stand up against. Paul said,

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.

Through Jesus, you have been adopted by God as his own children. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross offered his relationship and perfect righteousness as a trade for our rejection of God and eagerness to live in sin. Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross with his life and gave us eternal life. Through Jesus you have the greatest inheritance waiting for you in heaven forever.

The battles that shaped and preserved this nation came at a heavy cost. Tomorrow our country pauses to remember those who gave their lives to defend us. We owe them a debt of gratitude for preserving our freedom to gather together to hear about what our Savior’s sacrifice for us. Now you are a child of God through the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus’ sacrifice and until you reach heaven, we do battle here. We answer like Isaiah the prophet who heard God’s call,

“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

and Isaiah said,

“Here am I. Send me!”

You and I will face troubles like Nicodemus, but we will share in Jesus’ sufferings because through the Spirit you and I have a Share Christ’s Inheritance of eternal life. Amen.

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