Romans 8:15-16

Last Sunday we gleaned three truths from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians about the process of being adopted into God’s family.

  1. Our adoption was planned from the very beginning:
    Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
    Creation, fall, redemption, adoption
  2. We were adopted despite the fact that from a human viewpoint we were unadoptable:
    Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature, we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
    We are all in a basket of deplorable’s.
  3. A very high price was paid so that we could be adopted:
    He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:7)

Today I am turning to Paul’s letter to the Romans (8:15-16) where he also uses the word ‘adoption’ to flesh out three blessings of adoption

So 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.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

First point; our adoption is irrevocable.

I point this out because there are always Christians who are troubled by the thought that they have sinned away God’s grace. That is, we feel as if we have crossed the line with God one too many times. And that perhaps, as a result, He is through with us.

And so I say loud and clear, that once we are adopted into God’s family, we are part of the family forever; permanently.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes:

So 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. (8:15).

In Paul’s time, slaves constantly lived in fear of being sold or traded;, they had no assurances they were going to remain with the family they were serving. They constantly lived under the threat of being dealt away by their owner.

Paul apparently had good reason to believe that some in the church in Rome were fearing that their inclusion in God’s family could be temporary. So in effect, he says, Don’t worry about being sold or traded, “you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you.” God’s Spirit is His mark upon you that identifies you as belonging to Him. Anyone in Christ has been branded by the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 1, after writing about our adoption, Paul proclaims:

And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him. (13-14).

The Amplified Bible renders the same verses as:

In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God].

Beloved pastor and author, W. A Criswell, in his a commentary on Ephesians writes:

It is a fanciful doctrine when one believes that one can be a member of the family of God, and then not be a member of the family of God, then come back and be a member of the family of God, and then not be a member of the family of God. It is a facetious teaching that one can be saved, and then unsaved, and then saved, and then unsaved, and so on. There is no such suggestion of that anywhere in the Bible. God’s Word says that when we are saved, God gives us everlasting life. If you have ever been born again, if you have ever been saved, you are saved forever. There is a new heart and a new life. There is a new love. There is a new creation in you and you never get away from it. God’s seed remains in you. That forever salvation is precisely illustrated in this doctrine of adoption. When we are adopted into the family of God, we are adopted forever. 1

Now it is true that some might take advantage of this truth by saying, ‘Well then, if I’m in, I’m in, it doesn’t matter how I live, let’s eat, drink and be merry.’

However our branding shouldn’t cause us to run away from God, it should serve to accomplish just the opposite: to draw us nearer to our Heavenly Father in love and appreciation for what He has done for us.

After all, Paul just said, “He did this so we would praise and glorify Him (Ephesians 1:14).

Secondly, once we are adopted into God’s family, we have access to our heavenly Father.

I remind us of this truth for there are always those who are going through tough times. And sometimes we think God doesn’t care about us; that perhaps He has forgotten us.

But Paul writes, “Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15).

‘Abba’ was an Aramaic term which is best translated ‘Daddy’ or even ‘papa.’ It is a term of the greatest intimacy. Abba speaks of intimacy, tenderness, dependence, security, and confidence in the Father’s loving care.

And in the context of this passage where Paul in the next few verses turns to suffering Abba invites us to draw near to God to seek comfort in times of trouble or distress.

One Bible scholar writes, the truth “that God is our Abba, Father is one we must cultivate for the sake of our soul’s health.” 2

Another writes, “Indeed, when we can cry ‘Abba’ even on our darkest days, we are saying in essence that we are willing to trust our Father’s heart even when we cannot trace His ways.” 3

Our model, of course, is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, where the scriptures say Jesus was “deeply grieved, to the point of death” and prayed “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You. Remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Indeed, when we are in severe trials or afflictions, we too can approach Abba, Father in complete confidence, childlike dependence and absolute assurance that He will never, ever desert us or forsake us in our moment of need. Because Jesus cried “Abba,” now all who have been adopted into His family can approach God with the same confident cry.

In 1932, gospel singer/songwriter Tommy Dorsey was leaving Chicago for St. Louis where he was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting. He didn’t want to leave, as his wife Nettie was 8 ½ months pregnant, but she assured him she’d be okay. At the revival, he was asked to sing again and again. When he sat down, he was handed a telegram that read: Your wide has just died.

He returned home the next day to be told his wife had given birth to their son. He was conflicted between grief and joy until his son died later that night. Then he fell apart. After the funeral, he decided that God had dealt him an injustice and therefore he was going to give up writing and singing the Lord’s music.

A few weeks later a friend invited Dorsey to his place and invited him to sit down at his piano, and he did.

Dorsey later wrote: “Something happened to me then. I felt at peace. I felt as though I could reach out and touch my Heavenly Father. I found myself playing a melody and words came to mind:

‘Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn,
Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.’

God healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power.   And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully until that Day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.”

Romans 8:15: “Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.’

Third, we are God’s children together; sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:16).

We could say many things that are implied by this marvelous truth. I want to say that brothers and sisters stand by one another. I know there have been times when for whatever reason a brother or sister has let us down. Sometimes we don’t agree with decisions made, actions taken. Sometimes we lose sleep thinking about them, but we don’t give up on them! We don’t cut and run! That’s what we did when we were kids:
‘I don’t like the way you’re playing, so I quit!’

But when we grew up, we learned that we could work things out we talk it over . . . we forgive . . . we give one another the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because we follow the One who taught us to love one another. Brothers and sisters stand by one another no matter what because brothers and sisters in Christ love one another.

Brothers and sisters value one another because we know that all of us have value to God. We all have gifts and graces to offer the community if faith. To be sure the gifts are different, the time we have available to give differs but we are all invited and encouraged to offer what we have on behalf of our CrossPointe family. We value one another.

Brothers and sisters share the goals of the family together. Our family goal is to ‘share God’s grace with our community.’ What a thrill it is to work together, to accomplish our goal together knowing we are fulfilling the will of our ‘abba’ Father.

I received a wonderful letter this week from Brad Winter. As you know, Brad is a member of our congregation. And he is also the Assistant Fire Chief for our local Fire Department and writes this letter from the perspective of someone in the community.
Dear Pastor K’Meyer, church leaders and the congregation of Crosspointe Community Church,

On behalf of the Lafayette Township firefighters’ association, I am writing to express a sincere “Thank You” for the generous donation.

It is a blessing and a privilege to have Crosspointe Community Church in our community.  You truly live and breath your mission statement of ‘Sharing Gods Grace With Our Community’.  When most organizations seek to reduce expenses by having fundraisers, Crosspointe has fundraisers and gives the money away for the benefit of others.  It would have been so easy for the church leaders to utilize the money raised at the Chippewa Lake Village, Labor Day party to pay nearly a third of the parking lot off, fix up the building or pay down the mortgage, but the mission statement prevailed!

Lafayette Township firefighters’ association will use the money given to us to support our community outreach program. Our community outreach program includes free CPR classes, free fire extinguisher training classes, safety posters, coloring books and handouts, smoke alarms and safety education.

Thanks again for your kind and generous support! Have a safe and blessed day!

Kind Regards,
Brad Winter

What a beautiful letter. What a wonderful perspective. What an awesome privilege we have to join together as one body, the body of Christ, to accomplish His will for our collectively lives in this, the community in which He has placed us!

Together, we are the children of God!

There was a time in my life when I was addicted to . . . baseball.

I was 12 years old and I had built one of those little crystal radio sets and on Saturday afternoons, I would climb this huge elm tree in my backyard and listen to the Indians. I was an avid collector of baseball cards ($4.00 bought 80 packs). I was forever trying to scrounge up a neighborhood game. I wore out my younger brother, Tom, and my dad playing catch. And most glorious of all, I was playing my 3rd year in Little League; alternating between shortstop and first base for the Mogadore Braves. I wasn’t particularly good . . . wasn’t bad either . . . just addicted.

Ralph wasn’t addicted . . . neither was he very good. The kindest way to describe Ralph’s baseball skills is to say he didn’t have any. And so I was relieved when Ralph, as an incoming rookie, was assigned to the Mogadore Orioles because I couldn’t see Ralph helping the Braves become champs.

After two weeks of practice, a friend of mine on the Orioles told me how their coach had directed him and another player to walk Ralph home from practice to have a little chat with him. “Get lost” was the message and that’s exactly what Ralph did.

Now as much as I didn’t want Ralph on our team, I told our coach, Mr. John Raddish, the whole story figuring he would complain to the powers that be and get Ralph reinstated to the Orioles.’ I was wrong; Coach decided that Ralph needed to be on a team that wanted him; one that treated him with respect and would give him a fair chance to contribute according to his ability, so Ralph became a member of the Braves.

I wish that I could say that Ralph pulled a Yan Gomes and got the big hit in the bottom of the 13th with two outs. But he didn’t. Baseballs hit his way out in right field went over him, around him, through him, and sometimes off him.

I learned a lot about how to play the game of baseball that summer, but the most important lessons I learned weren’t about baseball, but brotherhood. That everyone has worth, whether they hit .300 or .030, that we all have value, whether we catch the ball or have to turn and chase it, that standing up for each individual on the team for who they are is what makes your team a winner.

I’m grateful that John Raddish was my coach. It felt good to be on the Mogadore Braves in the summer of 1963. Oh, and by the way, we did achieve our goal of winning the championship.

And oh, by the way, as good as it felt to be on Coach Raddish’s team, it doesn’t hold a candle to how I feel about being on this team.

1 Criswell, W. A. page 36.