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Worship Theme: Questions about Life in the Church: Who Is God?
Sermon Theme: Our Adoption into God’s Family
By age 14, Ethan had already been in a dozen foster homes. His mom died from a drug-overdose when he was five. No one knew who his father was. Things weren’t looking so great for Ethan. You see, by the time a foster child turns nine, his or her chances of being adopted fall to below 50%. At 14, Ethan’s chances were even less. And pile on top of that the fact that he was a problem child, and his sad future was pretty well written. He had had a few “run-ins” with the law already – drug possession, shoplifting, vandalism. He was a mess – a mess that no foster parent would volunteer for. It was almost inevitable that he would bounce from place to place and wear out his welcome quickly. Then when he turned 18, he would be on his own with no family to support him. He was pretty convinced that his life was a dead-end. Things were hopeless for him. He knew that his future was bleak – with jail or worse the only place he could imagine.
Ethan had given up on himself, but not everyone had. You can imagine his surprise when his social worker called him to tell him she had found him a home. He asked if the parents knew about his troubled past, his arrest record, his problems. She said they did and they wanted him anyways. “I know the drill. I guess I’ll be their foster kid for six months until they kick me out!” Ethan said. But the social worker told Ethan that this time it was different. This couple isn’t just volunteering to give you a place to sleep. They want to be more than your foster parents. They have already begun the process to adopt you! They want to be your real, your legal parents! They want you for good. They want to love you! The surprise left Ethan speechless.
Ethan’s story is not all that dissimilar to your own. Now each of you has a different family story, a different version of how you came to be who you are and how you ended up here. But the story that brought us all here involves an adoption.
Today we’ll look to see that we were adopted into the family of God. And that was a life-changing event for us. When we were hopeless and helplessly lost, God found us. He took us and welcomed us into his family. He adopted us to be his sons and daughters and intends on being our Father forever.
On this Trinity Sunday, these words from the book of Romans are a great comfort to us. They remind us that our triune God is worthy of all our praise. He is worthy of our worship because of the relationship that we have with him. It’s a relationship that he began and that he won’t stop guarding until the day that we rest at his side in the glories of heaven. Today let’s consider what Our Adoption into God’s Family means. We’ll look at three things. It means that we are: (1) Led by the Spirit. It means that we are (2) Children of a Heavenly Father and it means that we are (3) Co-heirs with Jesus Christ.
Paul draws a distinction in this first portion of Romans chapter 8 between those who are Christians and those who are not. He says that those who are Christians are motivated to a different life. Those without Christ have only one option, and that is to live for themselves. Their life is all about how much joy and pleasure they can bring into their own lives.
There is a difference in who is leading the lives of Christians and non-Christians as well. A non-Christian goes into the journey of life without a leader. They end up playing the role of life-leader on their own although they are ill equipped for the job. However, the Christian embarks on the journey of their life, led by the Spirit.
If a person wanted to learn how to pilot a sailboat, it would take years of studying, training, and being led on excursions by people who are vastly more experienced than they are. It would be worse than a rookie mistake to try to go out on your own the first time. It would be a disastrous folly to sail into the ocean on your own.
Yet that is exactly the attitude that many take in life, “I want to lead myself!” And it’s not just unbelievers, we who have been adopted into God’s family, and we who know of a life that is led by the Spirit sometimes say that as well. We know where God’s laws lead us, but too often we think we can get to happiness on a different path. We hear what God has to say about sex outside of marriage, overindulging on alcohol or experimenting with illegal drugs, yet we see others around us who seem to be enjoying their walk down the opposite path, and so we follow them instead of the Spirit of God. We hear the gossip and slander that those around us seem to live for, and so we follow their example instead of following the Spirit’s lead.
My friends, choose wisely who you will follow in life! Don’t chase after the lies and empty promises of the evil one. Don’t allow yourself to led by your sinful nature. Don’t ignore the Counselor who wants to lead you down righteous paths. Be led by the Spirit, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
And being led by the Spirit is a safe place to be, because we know his goals. He wants only what is best for us. His main goal is to lead us to our Father’s side. And that’s exactly what he does. We who are adopted into God’s family are led by the Spirit and we who are led by the Sprit are led onto the lap of our loving Father. Our Adoption into God’s Family means that we are children of the heavenly Father.
Is it a good thing for a child to be in the presence of his father? I’d say yes, with the only exception being when the child is in trouble. The older sibling will drag their brother or sister before their father and say “do you want to know what so-and-so did?” The mother who has had enough says “You wait until your father gets home!” It’s not so good for the child to be in the presence of an angry father.
But that’s not the father that we have. The Spirit doesn’t lead us to our father for judgment. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. He leads us there for forgiveness. His guidance puts us in the only place where we can receive forgiveness for our sins – before our father’s throne of grace. He leads us into God’s presence where we are covered with the shadow of the cross and where we are covered in the blood of Jesus, which purifies us from every sin. For the times that we ignore the Spirit’s guidance and walk a different path we have Jesus who stayed the course of love and walked perfectly to the cross. For the times that we’d rather guide ourselves through life, we have a Good Shepherd, who left his own agenda behind and laid down his life for the sheep. For each and every way that we fail to be perfect, we have the one who never failed and who was perfect in every way. We have Jesus and that makes all the difference in the world. Jesus is the Son of God, and we have been adopted into that family. We are children of the heavenly Father and brothers and sisters with Christ. He restores our broken relationship with God and sets us free to serve and love him. He redeemed us from an empty way of life, and welcomed us into God’s family and into his house of grace forever.
“The scene is a courtroom. The judge, robed in a black gown, has taken his seat. A prisoner, shackled and shaking, is led into the room. As he sees the judge, his heart quakes, and he is filled with fear. He has good reason to fear, since the judge must pronounce sentence on him for his crime. Then suddenly, a young boy enters the same room, makes his way through the seats filled with spectators, runs up to the judge and whispers something into his ear. The judge reaches into his pocket and gives the lad a coin, and the boy exits in a happy mood. The boy had no fear of the man robed in black. The judge was his father. And so, it is with us. In Christ God is not our judge. In Christ God is to us what the judge was to the little boy—our Father –and we can approach Him fearlessly; He will provide for all our needs. (Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations, p. 201).
Paul talked about that blessed relationship this way. He says, 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. We are sons and daughters of the judge, and we have already been declared not guilty. We have nothing to fear in the judge, because Christ has taken away our fear. We are now sons and daughters of the judge, sons and daughters of the King. Now we can come to him, we can stand in his presence and ask him whatever we want. And our God will hear our prayers. He loves it when his children talk to him with their prayers and petitions, with their thanksgiving and praise.
But the blessings of adoption, the blessings of sonship continue. Not only can we stand in God’s presence and not only can we offer him our confident and heartfelt prayers, but our God saves the best blessing for last. Because we have been led by the Spirit and because we are children of a heavenly Father, so we have a priceless gift in store. Our Adoption into God’s Family means that we are co-heirs with Christ.
Have you ever had to share a gift with someone else? A Christmas gift was given to you and your siblings. Maybe you got a gift – your name was on the card at least - but it was clearly a gift for your spouse! In 1992 that happened to Rob, Jim, and Alice. They were given a gift, but they had to share it! Their father passed away and left them a gift in his will. It’s important to have the details of an inheritance clearly stated in a will, so that the kids won’t fight over the distribution of an estate. That must have been the case, for Rob, Jim and Alice. I am not aware of any fighting over their being co-heirs of their father’s estate. So, either it was clearly laid out for them, or the 8.8 billion dollars that their father, Sam Walton – founder of Wal-Mart –left for them was enough to satisfy their needs. And they’ve grown even richer since becoming co-heirs in 1992. They are the richest family in the world with a net worth of $215 billion. They each as individuals have net a worth north of $60 billion and are each holding a place in the top 20 of the world’s richest people. It’s not a bad life to be a Walton!
We are heirs of an even bigger fortune – a lasting fortune! On the last day, the $215 billion Walton fortune, and every item that’s ever been sold at a Wal-Mart – it all will burn! But faith lasts forever. The riches of the glory of God will last eternally. God has given us what no billionaire can buy and what no philanthropist can hand out. Our God has given us peace – eternal peace. Our God has given us a promise of heaven and a place at his side - in his mansion - to dwell forever. Our God has promised us life after death, a glorious resurrection and an eternity of praising our gracious God. Our God has made us heirs of an out of this world fortune. For the Christian, for the son or daughter of the Father, for the children of our heavenly Father, the future is bright. You and I have been adopted from death to life, poverty to riches, from slavery to sonship.
We have a triune God, three persons in one God - one God in three persons. And those three persons and that one and only true God, are filled with love. They are filled with a love that would plan for, deliver, and seal our salvation. He is a God who would adopt us into his family to change our life on earth and our eternal life forever. We are led by the Spirit, we are children of the heavenly Father, we are co-heirs with Christ. We are followers of and believers in a God who loves us so much and who longs for us to be with him forever. He is worthy of our worship and deserving of our praise. In his family, we are secure and in his house we will dwell forever. Thanks be to our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
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