Main Idea: As we walk with God, we more fully realize the close relationship we have with Him in which we relate to God as Father and child.
When you ask most people where God is, they’ll tell you one of three things. They’ll either tell you that God is nowhere, that God is everywhere, or that God is in heaven. And each of these things says a ton not only about what they believe about God, but also about our ability to relate with God.
So I want you to stop and think for a second how you would answer that question. Where is God?
Those that say that God is nowhere usually mean one of two things. Either God is completely disconnected from His creation, in that God does not exist or operate within any realm that we can comprehend, or else they mean that God doesn’t exist at all.
For those that say that God is heaven, they’re pointing out that God is entirely separate from us. We think God must be far away, because God is holy, because God is so pure, and righteous, and we are definitely not. Therefore, there’s a huge gap between God and man, and if we have any hope of entering God’s heaven, we need something to bridge that gap.
Of course, we know that God is in heaven, but that’s not the only place where He is.
As Christians, we believe that God is omnipresent. That means that He’s everywhere, but I’m not sure that most Christians really believe that. Because many Christians say hell is separation from God, which means that there’s a place you can go where God isn’t, which means that God would not be omnipresent. David prayed in the Psalms, “if I were to make my bed in Sheol,” the grave, some versions say hell, David says to God, ”You are there.” Which makes sense because God Himself is a consuming fire.
Anyway, it seems that when most Christians say that God is everywhere, they don’t really mean it. And for people that say that God is in heaven, well, that’s a huge gap.
So, have you ever felt far from God? I want you to know this morning that God doesn’t want you to feel that way. He wants you near to Him. So although we’re sinners, and our sin separates from God, God still loves us and God did something about that gap.
For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17)
Our Father, who art in heaven, and who art omnipresent, help us to cry out to You not as though You are far away, but knowing that You are very near to us. Stir us up to rejoice in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
I read a story about a man named Bill Baker who was widowed, and he ended up marrying Edna Harvey, who just happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother. His granddaughter Lynn Harvey pointed out how confusing this was in a newspaper interview. This is what the granddaughter said:
“My mother-in-law is now my step-grandmother. My grandfather is now my stepfather-in-law. My mom is my sister-in-law and my brother is my nephew. But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle and my own children are my cousins!” – Lynn Harvey
Maybe your family is just as confusing as this one. Maybe it’s more so. Either way, no matter how crazy your family is, and this might seem even crazier, but God invites you into His family.
For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. (Romans 8:14)
When the Bible uses the word “sons” here, it’s really referring to sons and daughters. When you receive Jesus as your Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into your life to guide you, and you become a son or a daughter of God.
I used to be really confused about what it meant to be led by the Spirit. I used to think it meant getting a little nudge from God to do something random.
When I was living in the dorms in college, one time at 2 am, I couldn’t sleep and I felt like God was telling me to go down to the foyer of the dormitory, where people come and go at all hours of the day and night. I wondered if there was someone there that God wanted me to talk with at 2 am who needed encouragement, or even just someone who needed a friend. So I went. I got out of bed. I got dressed, walked down the hall, down the stairs, into the foyer where people come and go at all hours of the day and night, and no one was there. I mean, it was absolutely quiet. I even looked outside. There was no one around. So, was I being led by the Spirit, or did I mishear God? To this day, I still don’t know.
Maybe I was led by the Spirit to do that then so that I could talk about it in a sermon illustration now. I don’t know.
But I have come to learn this: that being led by the Spirit of God has less to do with random nudges at 2 am, and more to do with who I am every hour of every day because the Spirit lives in me. Being led by the Spirit is about following God’s lead, which is about obeying what God has clearly told us in His word. It’s about loving others just as God has loved us. It’s about finding our identity not in who we can make ourselves, but trusting in God to make us who He wants us to be. Because, you see, Paul wrote that all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Being led by the Spirit of God isn’t an unknowable, random, mystical experience. In fact, Paul tells us exactly what those who are led by the Spirit of God will do. Verse 15.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
This seems so incredibly simple, but it says that if you’re led by the Spirit of God, then you will call God your Father.
It’s really a shame that “Abba” isn’t usually translated in our English Bibles. “Abba” is an Aramaic word, and it’s the first word that nearly every baby in the entire world says, regardless of the language they speak. As babies begin making noises, they naturally, almost universally, start by cooing, and then by making the noise “abababa.” Abba, in Modern Hebrew and likely Ancient Aramaic, means, “Daddy.”
It’s interesting to me that just about every language I know of has a name for “father” that’s so easy a baby can say it. In English, it’s “Dada.” In Chinese, it’s “Baba.” In Swedish, it’s “papa.” In Korean, it’s “appa.” And it’s interesting to me that when Jesus cried out to God on the cross, He used that word. “Abba! Father!” Dada.
It feels kind of weird for us to call God, “Daddy.” But why is that? Do we think God is more distant than that, or He wants us to give Him more respect than that? Why aren’t more Christians comfortable calling God our daddy?
The more I think about it, the more I realize that there’s sometimes deeply wrong with Christianity if we don’t call God our daddy. I’m not saying we necessarily need to use that word, because languages change, and different words mean different things to different people. But somewhere along the line, it seems as though we stopped thinking about God as our close, personal, intimate Father.
Verse 14 says, “For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.” So, the question is, are you being led by God’s Spirit? Do you not only talk the talk, but are you seeking to walk the walk?
Because here’s the thing. Scripture never refers to lost, unbelieving humanity as God’s children. It talks about the fatherhood of all mankind in a general sense, because He created all people, but the Bible is clear that you become God’s child when you have faith in Jesus. And when you have faith in Jesus, you begin to be led by God’s Spirit.
God’s Spirit inside us transforms us. God’s Spirit inside us gives us a new outlook and attitude in life. As it says in verse 15, “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”
Adoption is such a beautiful picture of how God relates to us. I get comments from time to time on Raelynn’s YouTube channel asking about Raelynn’s “real parents.”
[Picture of a YouTube comment about adoption]
Now, I don’t get offended by those kinds of comments, because they truly just don’t know what they’re saying, but one time I responded, “We are her real parents. That’s what adoption is all about.”
As believers, we’ve been adopted into the family of God. We’re His kids! And we’re not just kind of His kids. We’re not His kids by name only. We’re 100% God’s children. So with God as our Father, and God’s Spirit inside us, we truly have nothing to fear.
And that’s truly an awesome change! Because of our sin, we certainly have a reason to fear God, don’t we? God is holy, and perfect, and righteous, and our sin has offended His character. And God takes that offense very seriously. God doesn’t wave it off as if it’s no big deal. No, the penalty for sin is death and hell, and we’re all deserving of that.
But God, in His infinite mercy, came down from heaven and became a man, Jesus Christ, and took the penalty for our sin upon Himself. He did this to bridge the gap. He did this so that we would not be separate from God, but see that He’s very near to us, because He loves us.
I talked with the youth recently about God’s transcendence and immanence. God’s transcendence means that He’s entirely different from us. He’s big and holy. And in our finite minds, we cannot possibly comprehend the greatness and vastness of God.
But God is also imminent. That means that He’s near to us. While God is unknowable in the sense that He’s beyond our comprehension, He makes Himself knowable so that we can have a relationship with Him. And not just a distant relationship in which you seek to obey Him out of fear. God invites you to have a personal relationship with Him based on love.
So, do you fear God? I’m not talking about a reverent awe of Him. Of course we should always continue to have that, and that’s what the Bible is often talking about when it talks about the fear of the Lord. But are you scared of Him? Even as you trust in Jesus, are you scared of your Father?
1 John 4:18 says:
There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. (1 John 4:18)
The Bible is absolutely clear that God loves you. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what kind of family you come from. God loves you. So if you’ve trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, you ought no longer be a slave to fear. You’re a child of God.
As we walk with God, we more fully realize the close relationship we have with Him in which we relate to God as Father and child.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)
The Bible says that being God’s children means that we’re given an inheritance. And this is absolutely crazy to me, but it says that we receive the same inheritance as Jesus Himself. We’re co-heirs with Christ. We receive the riches of heaven, crowns, eternal life, and so on. But in order to receive this inheritance, the Bible says, we need to suffer with Christ.
We often think about salvation as being saved from suffering. And that’s true in many ways. We’re saved from the sufferings of hell. We’re saved from many sufferings that we bring upon ourselves. But having faith in Jesus in many other ways comes with it the willingness to suffer with Jesus. He tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. But even throughout this suffering, we look forward to our future glory.
When we’re given the option of either suffering or not suffering, I’m pretty sure most of us would choose not suffering. Given the choice between the two, would any of you choose suffering just for the heck of it? I think I need to schedule some counseling with you.
No, none of us in our right minds would choose suffering! But if the cost of not suffering is high, or the reward of suffering is great, then not only will we suffer, we’ll gladly suffer. In fact, we’ll even rush toward suffering for the sake of our Lord. And if that sounds crazy do you, consider this example.
How many of you would step in front of a moving vehicle just for the heck of it? I hope no one would. But how many of you would step in front of a moving vehicle in order to save someone you love? I think almost everyone.
You see, suffering is a mark of a Christian. It’s not because we love suffering, but because we love our Lord. And with that being the case, we normally won’t even see suffering as that big of a deal. We’ll see it as light, momentary affliction. We’ll see it as a light burden, because as we follow Jesus, we find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
All I’m saying is that God calls us to obey Him, and even suffer for Him at times, because as we follow Jesus, we follow Him through it all. We follow Him through the good times and the bad. We follow Him because He loves us. And as we’re led by the Spirit through all these things, we look forward to the great glory that’s coming soon.
Because check this out. The end of verse 18 says that if we suffer with Jesus, we will also be glorified with Jesus.
Stop to think about what that’s really saying, because it’s mind-blowing. Jesus truly deserves all glory because He’s God in flesh, and He humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross for our sins, so God the Father exalted Jesus and gave him the name that is above every name. Jesus is and will be highly exalted, and glorified, and Paul is saying that we share in Jesus’s glory as we walk by the Spirit, following Jesus our Savior.
So Jesus deserves all glory, and we deserve no glory, and yet Jesus invites us to receive all the benefits of what He deserves, and we receive these things by grace through faith.
You see, salvation is far more than one day going to heaven. It’s enjoying all the benefits of resting in God’s love for you, because He’s your Father.
So if you’ve never done it, I invite you to trust in Jesus and become a child of God.
Pastor Chris Huff has been with us since July 2009. He and his wife, Abby, have four children. Chris is originally from St. Louis, MO and even though he was raised as a city boy, he has a small town heart. Chris is all over the internet, so you can find him on Facebook, Twitter,… (read more)