Recent Sermon
Trinity Sunday-- May 26, 2024

Romans 8:12-17

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

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.

A children’s book titled, “Are You My Mother?” tells the story of a baby bird that hatched while its mother was away from the nest.  The baby bird left the nest in search of its mother.  Along the way he came to a kitten, a dog, a cow, an old car, a tug boat, a plane, and, finally, a crane.  The bird would ask, “Are you my mother?” when it came to each of these.  The crane lifted the bird back up to its nest and his mother returned.  The bird then knew who its mother was.
          In analytical terms today we would say that the baby bird was “having an identity crisis.”  He didn’t really know who he was until he found his mother who raised and nurtured him.  People today may experience their own personal “identity crises” as they try to figure out where they fit in the world around them.  They might go through a number of different phases before they “find” their place in life.
          People can suffer spiritual identity crises in their lives.  They might find themselves searching for inner peace and joy and may sample a number of different religions or philosophies.  Today, as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, we will see how our triune God provides that peace and joy.  Let’s hear from the Apostle Paul as he points us to the efforts of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to enable us to…

“Live as Children of God”
I.  Led by the Spirit
II.  Loved by the Father
III.  Heirs with the Son

          Paul contrasted people who live by faith with people who do not in the beginning of this chapter (Romans 8).  He pointed out the key difference between the two when he said, “…those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  God’s Holy Spirit possesses the same divine power as God the Father and God the Son.  He uses that power to reclaim us, taking us away from the devil and making us “sons of God.”  He removes us from a life of selfish sinfulness and leads us in ways that honor God instead of self.
          We are on a path to true and lasting peace and joy, eternal peace and joy, because of the work done by the Holy Spirit.  That isn’t the path that we were on when we were born.  The Bible tells us that we were born spiritually blind, enemies of God, and dead in sin.  Such a life leads to eternal death, the punishment for living in sin.  Paul warned, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die….”
          God sent his Holy Spirit to redirect our lives and change our identities.  He set us free from our lives of sin and gave us new lives that lead to eternal life.  Paul wrote, “…but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”  The “misdeeds of the body” lead to the wickedness and evil that we see in the world.  It is what led Adam and Eve to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit.  It led Cain to kill his brother Abel, King Ahab to kill Naboth over a vineyard, and Judas to betray his Lord to his enemies.  “Misdeeds of the body” fuel the headlines that we see every day that report crime and hatred and evil that comes in all shapes and sizes.  “Misdeeds of the body” identify people as “sinners,” and unrepentant sinners will face the wrath of God.
          The Spirit rescued us from that fate.  He enabled us to “put to death the misdeeds of the body.”  He made us “sons of God,” and Paul tells us that as children of God “we will live.”  There is no doubt in his statement.  There are no conditions that need to be met.  There is nothing that we still need to do to complete the process.  We can live in the confidence of knowing that the Holy Spirit has made us God’s children and will continue to guard and guide us on our journey to heaven.
          The fact that God wanted us to be his children says a lot about how he feels about us.  It proves that we are…

II.  Loved by the Father

          There can be many reasons that people will want to form relationships with others.  Some of these reasons are positive and genuine, but others can be selfish and deceptive.  The relationship of master and slave was common at the time of our text.  Usually when we hear the word “slave,” it brings up negative thoughts, thoughts of people being forced to do things for others.  They obey out of the fear of punishment.  We might think of the Children of Israel who were forced into slavery in Egypt laboring under the heavy hand of the taskmasters.
          Sin makes people slaves of the devil.  It puts us under his control and leads us along a path that we don’t want to travel, a path that leads to eternal death.  The kingdom of hell is described in terms that make us shrink in fear, weeping and gnashing of teeth in a lake of fire that cannot be put out.  The Rich Man longed for a single drop of water to provide a brief moment of relief from the indescribable suffering.  Worst of all, there is total separation from God and no hope that the situation will ever change.
          That is not the type of relationship that we have with our heavenly Father.  We have a duty to honor and obey him, but it is not one driven by fear.  Paul assures us that we did not “…receive a spirit that makes you slaves again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, and by him we cry ‘Abba, Father.’”  Children of God do not live in fear of God.  We see him as “Abba,” the common term that Hebrew children would use for their fathers, a term that we today would probably translate as “daddy.”  Jesus taught us to address God as “Our Father” in the Lord’s Prayer to stress the loving relationship that God has with all of his children.  We eagerly seek to obey him because we know the blessings that he gives us, not because we are afraid of him and what he might do if we disobey him.  We obey because we know that we are loved by our heavenly Father.
          John emphasizes God’s divine love for us, love that is far greater than any love that we can show, in the familiar Bible verse, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16).  Yes, God “so loved” the world that he sacrificed his “one and only Son” so that we could be his sons and daughters by faith.  We now live every day under the love of God that will, as Martin Luther wrote, give us “all that [we] need to keep [our] bodies and life.”  One day our lives here under God’s care will become our lives in heaven under God’s care.  God’s great love for us has made us…

III.  Heirs with the Son

          God has promised to take care of us as long as we live and beyond.  After the Flood of Noah’s day, God promised that “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Gen. 8:22) The earth will never drift too close to the sun or the polar ice caps will never melt and flood the earth.  God has promised to preserve and protect his world and govern it with his divine power and love.
          But then what?  What happens after this life?  That is a question that haunts many people.  It doesn’t haunt God’s children though.  Paul reminds us that “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  Our “identity crisis” came to an end when the Holy Spirit connected us to our Savior by faith.  Our destiny is defined through our connection to Jesus and all that he has done for us.  Our futures are secure.  Paul wrote, “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.” 
          As heirs of God, we will be taken to heaven, just as Jesus “ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” Every tine that we confess, “I believe in Jesus Christ,” we show the confidence that we have in the promises that God has given to us.  These words that Isaiah wrote to the Children of Israel were also meant for us and all who believe.  He wrote, “But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (43:1)
          God pointed to Jesus several times and said, “This my Son whom I love.” (Mt. 3:17, 17:5) As co-heirs with Jesus, we hear God the Father saying the same thing about us, “This is my son/daughter whom I love.”  When God called us to be his children, we were called into the same relationship that Jesus has with his heavenly Father.  We are his and he is ours!
          The little bird in the children’s book found his mother and “lived happily ever after.”  All who are children of God through faith in his Son by the work of his Holy Spirit will also “live happily ever after.”  We are blessed as we live under the care of our triune God knowing that we are children of God.  The words of hymn 617, often called “The Common Doxology” which means “Word of Praise” are fitting for all who are children of God.  “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise him all creatures here below.  Praise him above, you heavenly hosts.  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”  Amen.