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I’m a Christian—Now What?
Romans 8:12-17
Skip Heitzig

Romans 8 (NKJV™)
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

Once you decide to repent from your past, say yes to Jesus Christ, and invite Him into your heart, you begin a lifelong relationship with Him. Nothing stays the same. Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Conversion is the gateway to transformation. Let’s consider four clear experiences that happen in the life of everyone who believes.

Over 175 million people in the United States need some sort of vision correction. From glasses to contacts and corneal reshaping to corrective surgery, there's no question that seeing clearly improves people's quality of life. But what about our spiritual vision? With so many religious, philosophical, and ideological lenses to look through, how do we find the right lens? In this series, Skip Heitzig brings the core doctrines of Christian faith into clear focus. These are the truths that define who God is, who we are, and the choices that every person has to make.

Outline

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  1. Position: Adopted into a Family (vv. 14-16)

  2. Progress: Victory Over the Flesh (vv. 12-13)

  3. Proof: Increase of Fruit (v. 16)

  4. Promise: Glory in the Future (v. 17)

Study Guide

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Connect Group Recap Notes: November 22, 2020
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "I'm a Christian—Now What?"
Text: Romans 8:12-17

Path

Once you decide to repent from your past, say yes to Jesus Christ, and invite Him into your heart, you begin a lifelong relationship with Him. Nothing stays the same. Paul wrote, "Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Conversion is the gateway to transformation. Pastor Skip considers four clear experiences that happen in the life of everyone who believes.
  1. Position: Adopted into a Family (vv. 14-16)
  2. Progress: Victory Over the Flesh (vv. 12-13)
  3. Proof: Increase of Fruit (v. 16)
  4. Promise: Glory in the Future (v. 17)
Points

Position: Adopted into a Family (vv. 14-16)
  • Romans 8 is the crown jewel of the New Testament. If Scripture was a ring and Romans the diamond, then Romans 8 is the sparkle on the diamond.
  • In the last teaching, we saw a panoramic view of our salvation: we were once dead but are now alive in Christ (see Ephesians 2:1-7).
  • In Romans 8, Paul listed the stages of our salvation.The first is our position: we are adopted into a family.
  • Adoption is an act of God whereby He makes us members of His family.
  • Before we were saved, our relationship with God was detached and distant. But in Christ, we are delivered from our fallen humanity and made new; we have a new position of relationship.
  • All people are God's children by creation (natural birth), but only Christians are His via adoption (second birth, born from above).
  • As with natural-born children, adopted children are coheirs of an estate, appointed to receive God's promises according to His will from the foundations of the world (see Ephesians 1:4-5).
  • Once adopted, we have the right to call God AbbaDaddy.
Progress: Victory Over the Flesh (vv. 12-13)
  • Once saved, we begin conquering the old patterns of our life.
  • This second stage is sanctification, a progressive work of God and humans that makes us freer of sin and more like Jesus.
  • It doesn't mean we're sinless, but that we sin less—sin's grip on us lessens.
  • Here are the general stages of the Christian life:
    • Regeneration: God awakens you to your need.
    • Justification: God declares you're right before Him.
    • Adoption: God places you in His family.
    • Sanctification: God cleans you up; you become more Christlike and mature.
  • We're not passive in sanctification. We actively cooperate with the Holy Spirit for victory over sin and evil (see Romans 6:11-14).
Proof: Increase of Fruit (v. 16)
  • The fruit of our faith demonstrates that God is at work in us and we're living a Spirit-directed life.
  • As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit will lead us in truth and comfort (see John 16:7-15).
  • The Holy Spirit validates our sonship; He witnessed our regeneration and is leading us in our renewal.
  • How do we know He is working in us? The fruit of the Spirit, the benchmarks that we're His (see Galatians 5:16-25).
  • Jesus said that "every tree is known by its own fruit" (Luke 6:44).
  • John Stott said, "The Christian should resemble a fruit tree, not a Christmas tree! For the gaudy decorations of a Christmas tree are only tied on, whereas fruit grows on a fruit tree."
  • The Holy Spirit is like a conductor, leading His orchestra in beautiful music. Do we let Him lead us?
Promise: Glory in the Future (v. 17)
  • We have an amazing promise: eternity with God, where we are "joint heirs with Christ."
  • Everything that Jesus receives by divine right, we receive by divine grace.
  • John Stott said, "The sufferings and the glory belong together…. They are welded; they cannot be broken apart."
  • Stott said this partnership characterizes the two ages: this age and the age to come (see 2 Corinthians 4:17).
  • We have no right to expect better treatment from the world than Jesus did. In fact, suffering is a mark of our Christian walk (see 1 Peter 4:12-14).
  • We may suffer here, but glory awaits—eternity with Christ.
  • Here's a summary of the Christian life: God saved you, adopted you, and is working in you via the Holy Spirit, directing and producing fruit in you until the day He takes you to glory.
Practice

Connect Up: Discuss the outline of salvation as presented by Pastor Skip.
  • Regeneration: When were you awakened to your need for God?
  • Justification: When did you come to Christ?
  • Adoption: How has God's family—His church—played a role in your life?
  • Sanctification: How has God cleaned you up over the years? What sinful habits have been left behind?
Connect In: Christians are called to be producers of spiritual fruit. Beginning with love (see 1 Corinthians 13), discuss the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). How is this fruit cultivated in your life? What keeps the Spirit from producing this fruit in your life?

Connect Out: As Christians, we want all people to experience the promise of glory. Talk about how this message can act as a template for outreach and evangelism:
  • Position: explain how people are separated from God and in need of a Savior.
  • Progress: share the gospel and live a Christlike life.
  • Proof: talk about the proofs of the Christian faith, focusing on the existence of God and the historicity and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Promise: Jesus promises that the person who receives Him will be with Him forever.

Transcript

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I'm a Christian—Now What? - Romans 8:12-17 - Skip Heitzig

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

God isn't really something to worship.

He's just waiting to destroy all of us.

I guess there's a God out there somewhere.

I hope there is a God.

God isn't really something to worship.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

[CLICK]

God is everywhere.

Well, welcome to Calvary Church. We're glad you can join us. This is a little bit different for us because we were on lockdown. Then we reopened the church.

Then for this weekend and next weekend, we're told to stay at home and shelter in place once again. And then there's going to be a reopening, so we have been all over the map. We really wish you were with us in person.

We cannot wait for a couple weeks when you will be here in person. We want to invite you back. Until then, you're seeing this at home on your computer, your device, wherever you might be, different parts of the country, different parts of the world.

So once again, welcome. And we have a few people here in the sanctuary, what we are allowed to have, some of our staff and volunteers. So if you hear noise and people in the background, you're hearing them-- don't be alarmed.

But we can't wait till we get back together again. I know it's been crazy. I know it's been inconsistent. We feel the same way.

We feel that, in many ways, the government's approach has been inconsistent and has been haphazard and has been largely ineffective in many ways. And we have shown that we can gather safely together and proceed with caution, loving one another but definitely giving people an opportunity to gather together, pray together, hear the word together, worship together as the Bible commands us to do. So we can't wait for that.

We invite you to turn in your bibles this weekend to Romans, the 8th chapter. Romans chapter 8, we're doing a series we call 20/20-- Seeing Truth Clearly, and it's basically a doctrinal series. We've looked at the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Then we looked at the life of the believer, the fallen person, then salvation last week, and we continue ahead this week.

Romans chapter 8, we're going to be getting at verse 12 and going six verses down to verse 17. One of the most exciting things that you can ever see, ever witness, ever be a part of is a live birth. Now I say that as a spectator, obviously, an onlooker. Those women who have had babies who are viewing this and have been in labor, they have a very different perspective than that, but nonetheless, it is very, very exciting.

And I will say not only as a parent but especially as a grandparent because grandparents get all of the joy but none of the responsibility really. Somebody once said that the job of a grandparent is to fill their grandkid with sugar and give them back to their parents, which I have done on many occasions. There is a story, a legend of God having a conversation with our first parents, with Adam and Eve.

And it's like the first parent talking to his first two children, Adam and Eve. So after creating the heavens and the earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing he said to them was, don't. Don't what, Adam replied. Don't eat the forbidden fruit, God said.

Forbidden fruit? We got forbidden fruit? Hey, Eve, we got forbidden fruit. No way. Yes, way. Don't eat that fruit, God said. Well, why? Adam replied. Because I'm your creator, and I said so, God told them, wondering why he hadn't stopped after making elephants.

A few minutes later God saw them taking an apple break in the garden, and he was angry. Didn't I tell you not to eat that fruit? Uh-huh, Adam said. Then why'd you do it? I don't know, Eve said.

She started it, Adam insisted. Did not. Did so. Did not. Did so. Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own.

Now we expect children to grow up and to have a life, but until they do that, we give them lots of leeway. There's a lot of things that they do that we let them get away with. And let's face it, babies can do some things that are not attractive, but we excuse them. We humor them because they're babies.

Here's a list. They're demanding. They're unable to feed themselves. They love to be the center of attention. They're driven by impulses, like hunger and pain and sleep.

They're irritated when they're dirty even though they made the mess, and you've got to clean it up. They have no manners. Somebody once said, a baby is simply a digestive apparatus with a loud noise at one end and no responsibility at the other. But that's natural.

That's what babies do, and that's OK, but when you see an adult acting with those mannerisms, it's not so cute. It's not funny. In fact, it's tragic. Simply stated, a birth should lead to a walk. When you are born again, you should see spiritual growth.

You see it in the physical world. You expect it. You should see and expect it in the spiritual world as well.

That brings us to Romans chapter 8. This brings us to a section of scripture that could be called the crown jewel of the New Testament. Somebody once said that if the Bible is like a ring, then Romans chapter 8 is the diamond on the ring-- or the book of Romans is the diamond on the ring, and the eighth chapter of the book of Romans is the sparkle on the diamond.

Now last time we got together, we looked at salvation out of Ephesians chapter 2. We called it once dead, now alive. And we looked at the stages that every saved person goes through. In fact, every human goes through some of those phases, but a saved person goes through all of them. But once you're saved, now what? Or as I've called this message, I'm a Christian. Now what?

And the now what is that that birth, that salvation should lead to some distinct experiences. And we have outlines that are available online, and I've outlined this for you online. You can pull that down and see it, but the four experiences are position, progress, proof, and promise. And we're going to look at all four of those beginning in Romans chapter 8, the 12th verse.

We begin with position. We have a new position. God adopted us into his family, and we are now children of God. Verse 12 says, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors-- not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh"-- that is, the fallen nature-- "you will die-- but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, that we also be glorified together."

There's some words in that six-verse paragraph that I want you to notice. A couple of little phrases. First, in verse 14 is the term "sons of God". We are sons of God.

In verse 15, he uses the word "adoption". That is the analogy that he's drawing off of. So we are sons of God. We have an adoption, or we are adopted. In verse 16, the word, "children" or the phrase, "children of God".

Now, adoption is an act of God whereby he places you into his family. He makes you members of his family. It is a relational term. Before you were a saved person, your relationship with God was not an intimate one. It was a distant relation. It was a separated relation.

Like it says in Isaiah 59, God said, my hand is not short that it cannot save. My ear is not heavy that it cannot hear. But your sins have separated you and your God. So yes, we had a relationship with God but not close, not intimate, not like the one described here. In fact, you could say it was like this-- God, human. That was the relationship.

Or better yet-- holy God, fallen human. You and I were at enmity with God, the Bible says. Or in the words of last week's text, we were by nature the children of wrath even as others. But now things have changed. Now we said yes to Jesus Christ, and we are saved. The relationship has changed.

Now it's not God and human. It's Father in heaven and child of God. That's a brand new position of relationship. Now this adoption is what John had in mind at the very beginning of the Gospel of John when he said, "As many who received him, to them he gave the right or the power or the privilege to become children of God to those who believe in his name."

Now I hear, from time to time, leaders or activists say things like, well, we're all God's children. Everybody in the world. We're all children of God. That's wrong.

It's right only in one sense. Creatively, we are children of God. We are children of a God by the fact that he made us all in his image, but that's where it ends.

Redemptively, we are either children of God or children of the devil. In the New Testament Book of John, John chapter 8, the enemies of Jesus Christ, those who rejected him, the Jews who wanted nothing to do with him claimed that God was their Father. And they had a relationship with God, and they had an argument with Jesus over this.

And they said to Jesus, "We have one Father, even God." To which Jesus replied, "If God were your Father, you would love me, but you are of your father, the devil." So the relationship was God and fallen human, holy God and fallen humanity.

Now the relationship has changed because of Jesus Christ. Now its Heavenly Father and child of God. We have been adopted into his family.

Paul liked that term. In fact, he uses it five times in the New Testament, adoption. It literally means to place as an adult son, to place in a family someone who is considered an adult son. It is not a natural birth. Once again, we were by nature the children of wrath. The Bible says, even as others.

But we have been adopted into his family. So when Paul uses the term Paul has in mind Roman adoption. He's writing to the Romans. He's using the background of their culture, and the apostle has in mind the process of a Roman adoption ceremony. Now, in a Roman adoption, the son who is being adopted loses all of his rights from his previous family but gains all of the rights of the new family he's being adopted into so that even if in that family there are natural born children, the adopted child is considered equal, co-heirs of the estate.

One of the New Testament scholars that I read, F.F. Bruce said, "In the Roman world of the first century, an adopted son was deliberately chosen by adoptive father to perpetuate his name and to inherit his estate. He was in no way--" that is, the child-- "inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of nature and might enjoy the father's affection more fully and reproduce the father's character more worthily."

So to be adopted in a Roman culture was a high status symbol. It meant that you have equal footing with natural-born children in that family. There was a teacher talking to her first-grade class about adoption, wanted them to understand that there could be kids in the class who are adopted and what that means in society so that they would accept one another.

And one little girl said, I think I know something about adoption. I've been adopted. And she said this is how my mother explained adoption to me. She said, when a child grows in your heart instead of your tummy.

I think that's beautiful, actually. And I think that's a good description biblically of adoption. God had you growing in his heart for a long, long time.

In fact, the Bible says in Ephesians chapter 1 that God "chose us in him before the foundation of the world-- having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." There it is. You are growing in God's heart. God predetermined that he would bring you into his family, and that's adoption in the New Testament. He chose you before the foundation of the world.

I've always loved what Spurgeon said about this. He said, it's a good thing God chose me before I was born. He probably never would have picked me after I was born. Now do you know a lot of famous people have been adopted?

For example, John Lennon was adopted by his aunt Mimi after his mother died. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, adopted. Nelson Mandela, the first Black president of South Africa, adopted. Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth, Faith Hill, Jamie Foxx, Eleanor Roosevelt, all were adopted children.

We are adopted into God's family. That gives us a certain privilege of access. Notice verse 15. "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out Abba, Father." Abba is an Aramaic and a Hebrew word that literally means daddy. It's not just "father".

It's something much more intimate. You still see, in Israel today, little Hebrew boys and girls running around the streets when their parents are close saying, Abba, Imma, Daddy, Mommy. So we now have a right to approach God as our heavenly daddy, something that Jesus allowed when he said, when you pray say, our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Jewish people never did this at the time of Jesus. They never referred to God as "my Father" or "our Father". He was too distant. He was too powerful.

He was too sovereign. So they would simply use the words, "HaShem", which means "the name" whenever they would refer to God. They would never say, "my God" or "my Father".

But Jesus, in the gospels, 70 times referred to God as Father, the Father, our Father, my Father, but also gave us permission to use it. So that's the first experience-- position. We've been adopted into the family.

The second experience after salvation, after position is progress. And what I mean by progress is we get victory steadily as time goes on over the flesh. In verse 12, Paul says, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors-- not to the flesh"-- that is, we don't owe the old nature anything-- "to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to this fallen nature, the flesh, you will die-- but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

Now I'm referring, in particular, to a process that takes place after regeneration, after salvation, after adoption called sanctification. That's what theologians call it. It's a million dollar word, "sanctification". I've had people come up to me, have you been sanctified? Yes, and I am being sanctified. It's an ongoing process.

What it means is-- what Paul means here in these verses is we don't have to live like we used to. We can conquer old patterns, and we can grow continuously and spiritually. So sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes me more free from sin and more like Jesus Christ. I want to give that to you again. It's a very important definition.

Sanctification is a progressive work of both God and man that makes me more free from sin and more like Jesus Christ. Now don't misunderstand that. That doesn't mean we become sinless. It does mean we sin less. As we go on, more and more, we're like Jesus Christ. Less and less, we're gripped by sin's dominion.

One of the first things I heard as a young man before I gave my life to Christ is that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. That was good news to me. But then I found out something else. The devil hates you and has a miserable plan for your life. And they're often fighting over souls.

Of course, God gives us the choice to say yes to one or the other. But the devil hates you, and he wants you to be miserable. He wants you to be stuck in the mire and the muck of your past.

And unfortunately, a lot of Christians are. They kind of grow a little bit. Then they stop. There's no really continual progression.

Somebody once said, a Christian is a man who feels repentance on Sunday for what he did on Saturday and is going to do again on Monday. Let me tell you, that's not a definition of a Christian. That's the definition of a defeated Christian.

Now, after regeneration, let me give those words again to you-- after regeneration, after God awakens life in us, and we see our need for Jesus. And then you come to Jesus, and we go from regeneration to justification, which means God declares you righteous. Then we go to adoption. He places you in the family.

Then, then there is this. There is sanctification. We become mature. We grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Now I want to clear this up or make it clearer for you. Justification is instantaneous.

God declares you righteous. You say yes to Jesus-- child of God, put into the family of God. Justification is instantaneous. Sanctification is not. Sanctification is continuous.

Justification is entirely God's work. You can't earn it. You can't add to it. It's something he does.

But sanctification is with human cooperation. So this is where we are working together with God to grow holier. That is, we are not passive when it comes to our sanctification. We don't just kick back, let go, and let God. We have to actively cooperate with the Holy Spirit for victory.

Now the question is, how do we do that? What do we do? Well, here's a nice little summary for us. Paul says also in the book of Romans, this time in chapter 6, verse 11 and in 14, he says, "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin."

What does that mean? Reckon yourself. It means consider or count on this as a fact. This is an established fact. Reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, "but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts-- For sin shall not have dominion over you."

Now the way that is worded shows me that there is an element of human control. Don't let sin reign. Reckon yourselves to be dead. Reckon yourselves alive to be God. This talks of cooperation.

God wants to do it. God gives us power to do it, power to grow, power to mature. We have to cooperate with that. Too many Christians live on the right side of Easter but the wrong side of Pentecost. Too many Christians live on the right side of pardon but the wrong side of power.

Too many Christians are out of Egypt, but they never make it to the promised land. They wander in the wilderness, continually wander in the desert. Martin Luther said, you can't stop birds from flying around your head, but you can certainly stop them from building a nest in your hair. So we must cooperate with what the spirit wants to do and make progress. Not sinless, but we sin less.

So we have two distinct experiences post-salvation. We have position-- adopted into God's family. We have progress-- victory over the flesh. Let me give you a third. Proof. Proof. This now is the positive, not the negative. The negative is saying no to certain things.

But now, the positive is the proof-- what we display that others can see. This is the increase of spiritual fruit. So verse 14, let me take you to that. Paul puts it this way, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God."

Just let that soak into you for a moment. As many as are led by the spirit of God. Here's the idea. We are to have a spirit-directed life. A spirit-- not a flesh-dominated life. That's the negative. The positive, a spirit-directed life.

That's possible. We have the best helper in the world, the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, when the helper comes, he will be with you. He will be in you, and he will guide you into all truth.

He's going to direct you. He will lead you. Even Jesus himself, it says in the gospels, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness.

The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. I hope you know that. He doesn't force you. He doesn't cajole you. He doesn't drive you. He doesn't bully you. He leads you.

Some people talk about being driven. I'm a driven person. I'm driven by the Spirit. No, you're not. Well, it's a purpose-driven life. No, it's a spirit-led life. The Holy Spirit leads people. And that's the idea-- he is leading you, directing your life.

Now as you are led, as you are directed by the Holy Spirit, instead of your old nature, the fallen nature, the result of that spirit-directed life is fruitfulness. That's the proof I'm talking about. Now I'm going to take you down to verse 16 and put all these thoughts together. Verse 16 continues, "The Spirit Himself bears witness"-- or brings testimony, testifies. "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God."

Let me tell you what Paul's talking about. Paul is referring, once again, to a Roman adoption ceremony. That's the overall genre of this paragraph-- Roman adoption. In a Roman adoption ceremony, there were always several witnesses, people who would be there to watch what happened and testify what happened.

Now why was that necessary? Because let's suppose that the new father, the one adopting the son into the family, dies later on and a dispute arises over inheritance rights, land rights, who owns what. Well, this isn't a child of the family. There is going to be a witness, or several, who will step forward and go, I was there when it happened.

I saw the whole ceremony. That is an adopted child. That child has all the same rights. I testify to the validity of that position so that if even other sons, natural born sons who were born and part of the family before him, that would not affect the adopted child's right as a co-heir or a joint heir in the family.

With that in mind, look at verse 17. "And if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, that we also may be glorified together." Now let me just tie up a couple loose ends. In Judaism, this was different.

If you know the Old Testament, you know that in Judaism, if you had a couple of sons born in the family, the oldest son got a double portion, double the inheritance, much more than the second-born son, not in a Roman adoption. In a Roman adoption, all the children were equal, natural born and adopted.

So God adopts us into his family. The Holy Spirit was present when it happened. I've had people say, how do you know you're saved? Easy, I was there when it happened. But not only that, the Holy Spirit was there when it happened. And he brings testimony.

He is a witness. He validates my adoption. He validates our sonship or daughtership. So when he says, "The Spirit of God"-- verse 16-- "bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."

Listen, Paul doesn't have in mind some mystical voice whispering to us from the Holy Spirit going, you're really saved. Really, you are. This is the Holy Spirit. You're saved."

He doesn't mean that because I know a lot of people who've heard that voice and think they're saved who are not. The idea's much simpler than that. I think it is referring plainly and simply and obviously to what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit, that's the proof.

I want to show you that. Go to Galatians chapter 5 for just a moment where Paul the apostle speaks of spiritual fruit. It's a classic section of New Testament scripture. Galatians chapter 5, verse 16, Listen to how Paul puts it. "I say then-- Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

For the flesh lusts"-- or wars-- "against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. These are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are-- adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contention, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like-- of which I told you beforehand, just as I have told you in times past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Now this is very similar to what we just read in Romans, if you live according to the flesh, you will die. You live according to the spirit, you will live. Verse 22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

He's speaking about spirit-dominated life, a spirit-controlled life. And these are the character traits. This is what the Holy Spirit produces in our lives.

And when he produces that in our lives, those things give us assurance. They are benchmarks that we belong to him. Jesus put it this way, every tree is known by its fruit. Every tree is known by what it produces.

It's not by what a person claims. I said some words 10 years ago. I prayed this little prayer. It's not by the bumper sticker they have on their car. It's by the fruit that is being produced by the Holy Spirit. This is the proof-- the increase of spiritual fruit.

John Stott, one of the best commentators I've ever read, a man who is now in heaven, said, "The Christian should resemble a fruit tree, not a Christmas tree! For the gaudy decorations of a Christmas tree are only tied on, whereas fruit grows on a fruit tree." When it comes to spiritual fruit, it's really a matter of just sticking close to Jesus, being led by the Spirit.

You can look at it this way-- I'm just going to stay close to Jesus. Jesus put it this way, if you abide in me, you will bear much fruit. So just abide in him. Just stay close to him. Have you ever watched a fruit tree give fruit? They don't sweat.

Fruit trees don't go, oh, man, this is going to be a hard day. They don't go out there and go [GRUNTING] poof, apple. All they do, the branches just hang in there. The ends of the branches just hang in there. The little apple is just growing, just hangs in there, just stays close, stays connected. And you bear forth fruit.

So this brings up this issue. When it comes to being led by the Spirit, you have to want to be led. Again, he will not drive you.

He will not force you. He will not bully you. You have to have an act of your own will and submit to him. Think of it this way. It's like a conductor with an orchestra.

The conductor knows all the right moves, the right beat, the right cadence. Knows when there's a break, when there's a turnaround, when there's a key change, and gives that direction to the orchestra. But if somebody playing an instrument in the orchestra doesn't want to follow the conductor, there's going to be a train wreck. There's not going to be harmony. There's going to be disharmony and disarray.

Imagine, for instance, in the orchestra, the tuba player wanting to just break away from the pack and give a tuba solo. There's nothing good about a tuba solo, just sayin'. Here's a guy that wanted to blow his own horn.

So the issue is, are you watching the conductor? Are you looking to the Holy Spirit? Is your life-- do you allow it to be led by the Spirit of God? When you do, proof will be there. Fruit will be there.

So position, progress, proof. Adopted in the family. Victory over the flesh. The increase of fruit. Brings us to the fourth experience, and that is promise. Promise. We have glory in the future.

In verse 17, he says, if we are children, then we are heirs-- "heirs of God"-- here's that great phrase-- "joint heirs with Christ"-- I'll touch on that in a minute-- "if indeed we suffer with Him"-- here it is-- "that we may also be glorified together." Verse 18, let's just skip ahead. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Now back to that phrase, "joint heirs with Jesus Christ." It's really an amazing turn of phrase that we are joint heirs with Jesus Christ, meaning everything that Jesus received by divine right we receive by divine grace.

That's part of the adoption process, including glory. So though we may suffer now on this earth, one day it will be eclipsed, not just by incomparable glory but the same kind of glory that Jesus has right now with the Father. John Stott once again said, "Suffering and glory belong together."

One characterizes this age. The other characterizes the age to come. This age, suffering. A lot of us know about that the last eight, nine months-- the world knows about that. But for those of us who are adopted children of God, glory. Glory.

That's the perspective. That is the compensation, and Paul always makes reference to something coming ahead. Second Corinthians 4, verse 17, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Suffering now, glory later.

You go, why suffering now? Not just because we live in the world, but principally, because we follow Jesus Christ in this world. And we have no right to expect better treatment from this world than Jesus got from this world.

They misunderstood him. They're going to misunderstand you. They mocked him. They're going to mock you. They said bad things and did bad things to him. They're going to do it also to you.

That's why Peter said, first Peter chapter 4, "Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ. So that you may be overjoyed when the glory is revealed." Suffering, present age. Glory, future age.

In fact, it is an honor to suffer for the right reason. It's even an indicator that we belong to him. Didn't Paul say to Timothy, all those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. That's part of the promise. The promise referred to here is glory, but part of the promise is will suffer persecution, which just makes the glory all the more appealing.

So to sum it all up, God has saved you. He has adopted you. He has given you the Holy Spirit to lead you, to direct you, to restrain you in your sinful passions and to produce fruit in your life. He has even made you heirs with Christ, even promising you the same glory that Jesus Christ now has.

So once again, you're on your way to heaven. But, but will you do something until you get there? Yes, you're going to heaven, but will you do something for the kingdom of God?

Will you make it your aim to seek first the kingdom of God, to be a fruitful believer? Until you get to heaven, will you be committed to growing in Christ? In fact, ask yourself, over the last six months, over the last eight months, with all this pandemic, have I progressed in my Christian life?

Because I've discovered if you haven't progressed, you're regressing. I love to ride bicycles, but when I come to a hill, I have to really engage in that gear system. Because I've discovered if I'm going up a hill and I decide to just do nothing, I'm going to go backwards.

I have to press ahead. So you're going to heaven. Be fruitful till you get there. Be committed to Christ in his case and his cause and his glory until you get there.

I read a story years ago and I've read it since, and I've actually talked to different people at the aquarium about this. It could be just a certain species of shark, but an interesting thing about a shark, in some cases, is that if you catch it small enough and you confine it, it will stay the size proportionate to its environment so that it's possible to have a shark that is only six inches long and yet fully mature.

It's only a tiny, little shark. If you release it to a large environment like the ocean, it will then grow to its normal length of about average 8 feet. I've met the cutest little 6-inch Christians. Oh, they're Christians, but they don't grow very large. They swim in the shallow, and they swim in puddles.

Go deeper. Be committed. Go deeper. Position, progress, proof, promise. Go deeper. How? Live for Jesus, and live for others.

Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you for your truth. We thank you, Lord, for the unfolding of your will in human lives.

And we thank you that, though we are fallen, we can be redeemed and redeemed, even though we are imperfect, even as believers, forgiven but imperfect. The Holy Spirit lives in us, and we are the receptacle, we are the temple of the Spirit of God. Because of that, Lord, so much can be accomplished in this world for your glory, for your purpose.

So, Lord, I pray that you will cause us, as we abide in Jesus, to be fruitful, not being sinless but sinning less, hanging in there with Jesus, staying close to him, and continually bearing fruit that others can see and be refreshed by, knowing, Lord, that no matter what we might suffer on the way to heaven, heaven is still waiting.

It is our home. There will be glory. There will be rest. There will be reward. And I pray that that would motivate us in this present life. We ask it in Jesus' name, and all God's people who are in this auditorium and at home said, Amen.

[APPLAUSE]

Let's all worship together.

We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/14/2020
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Seeing Truth Clearly
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Hiram Johnson said, "The first casualty in war is truth." God’s people have been in a cosmic battle since the fall. Satan’s first allegation against truth was in Genesis 3:1: "Has God indeed said...?" Deception regarding truth is Satan's primary occupation. We now live in what might be dubbed a post-truth culture wherein the very idea of absolute truth is considered archaic and even offensive. In this series, we will look to the "Scripture of Truth" (Daniel 10:21) to reinforce our foundation and engender biblical literacy. Here at the end of Paul's life, he could foresee the abandonment of truth, and he gave Timothy this antidote: "Preach the Word!"
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6/21/2020
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Seeing God as Father
Luke 11:2
Skip Heitzig
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God is presented in Scripture by a variety of images. He is called our Rock, our Refuge, our Warrior, our Shepherd, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Redeemer, our Fountain, our Husband, and our Vinedresser. But no motif is as powerful and personal as seeing God as our Father. With this title, the invisible God becomes the intimate God. Today, on Father’s Day, we consider the singular phrase "Our Father in heaven" as an introduction to the doctrine of God. Let’s turn over each word and mine the depths of the riches contained in this great verse.
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6/28/2020
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How Can I Relate to God?
Exodus 32-34
Skip Heitzig
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The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, I think we’ll be both lifted up and humbled all at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe. Let’s examine five stages of this relationship.
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7/5/2020
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Biblical History: Fact or Fancy?
Dr. Steven Collins
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Dr. Steven Collins serves as the dean of the College of Archaeology at Veritas International University and a consulting research professor at Trinity Southwest University. He is also the director of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan, which is believed to be the location of Sodom.
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7/12/2020
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Hello, I’m God!
Exodus 34:5-9
Skip Heitzig
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People have written and spoken about God for millennia. It’s what I have done for nearly four decades. But today we get to hear from God Himself as He gives to Moses His own autobiography. Here He introduces Himself by stating His name and His occupation as God. He states His primary character traits, thus framing what our relationship with Him is going to be like. This is a primary passage of Scripture, meaning other biblical authors make reference to it later on in their writings. Let’s find out what God says about Himself.
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7/19/2020
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Knowing the God Who Knows You
Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24
Skip Heitzig
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A person with knowledge can be intimidating. They spew facts and figures and can dizzy us with information and understanding. But rightly seen, a study of God’s comprehensive knowledge can be a source of great comfort to us. In this series, 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we come to grips with the fact that God sees everything most clearly. His knowledge is vast, infinite, comprehensive, specific, and personal. But let’s observe how God’s omniscience can become inspiring rather than intimidating.
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7/26/2020
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Here, There, and Everywhere
Psalm 139:7-12
Skip Heitzig
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One of the Beatles’ most melodic hits expressed a couple’s romantic desire to be together at all times and in all places and was simply titled, “Here, There and Everywhere.” This title also expresses a unique attribute of God (what theologians call an incommunicable attribute). He is everywhere present in the totality of His being! This may be one of the hardest-to-understand characteristics of God, but one that brings great comfort to us.
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8/2/2020
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The Unrivaled Power of God
Psalm 139:13-18
Skip Heitzig
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God is called Almighty fifty-seven times in Scripture. It means that the resources of His power are boundless. He is unlimited in His ability and unconstrained in His capacity. God’s attribute of omnipotence is helpful for us to remember when we are feeling overwhelmed with threatening circumstances. Just as we feel confident when our mobile devices have plenty of battery power to spare, we can live confidently knowing that our great God has power for any of our problems.
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8/9/2020
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Holy, Holy, Holy!
Isaiah 6:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Holiness sounds scary. Thoughts of dusty, cloistered halls of a monastery fill our minds when we hear the word. We might think of chants and long prayers rather than anthems and short prayers. It hardly seems like an appropriate word for the twenty-first century! But according to one theologian, God’s holiness is the one attribute that binds all His other attributes together. This is the characteristic that most uniquely describes God. Let’s consider it today.
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8/16/2020
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One Plus One Plus One Equals One?
John 14:1-18
Skip Heitzig
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One of the most fundamental yet challenging truths in Scripture is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Try to explain it and you might lose your mind, but try to explain it away and you might lose your soul. The Bible openly teaches the plurality within the Godhead—three persons who are distinct from one another yet perfectly One in essence. How are we to think about this? And how should it affect us personally?
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8/23/2020
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Pain: God’s Biggest Problem
John 9:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Perhaps the biggest impediment to believing in God (as stated by those who don’t) is the presence of pain and suffering in the world. How can there be a God who is benevolent and omnipotent with the sheer volume of grief, misery, travail, and torment at any given moment? Today we explore the theme of a loving God in a universe pockmarked by pain. As Jesus was in Jerusalem with His disciples, they came across a blind man. I’d like to show you four features of this most common and universal of human experiences.
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8/30/2020
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Christ Jesus Our Lord
Philippians 2:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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At the very center of history’s stage stands Jesus Christ. He has no peers. The Father in heaven sent Him on the mission of redemption and He humbly surrendered. When it was accomplished, He conquered death itself by resurrection and returned to glory. In what is considered by many to be the greatest single statement about Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Paul succinctly framed His humiliation, His exaltation, and His example to us.
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9/6/2020
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The Atonement: His Death, Our Life
John 12:20-33
Skip Heitzig
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Wasn’t there any other way for God to save human beings than by sending His Son to die? The very idea of a bloody crucifixion sounds brutal and barbarous to some, yet it is the centerpiece of our faith. What is the big deal about the atonement? Why the cross? Why had it been the plan of God through the ages? Today we examine the death of Christ for us and, in His own words, His own estimation of its necessity and consequence.
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9/13/2020
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He’s Alive! Proofs of the Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Skip Heitzig
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Just as your own heart is the pump that brings life-giving blood to your entire body, so is the resurrection of Jesus that gives life to the gospel message. Without it, our faith would be totally useless; our message would be utterly powerless. The resurrection is also what separates Jesus Christ from every other spiritual leader and would-be messiah. It validates His teaching. It authenticates His claims. It substantiates His promises. And it corroborates our confidence in Him as our Savior and Lord.
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9/20/2020
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The Holy Spirit in the World
John 16:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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We are not alone in the universe! That’s the premise of most sci-fi documentaries, but I’m not referring to alien life from another galaxy, rather to the living God Himself. In particular, I am referring to the Holy Spirit. He has a particular role when it comes to working in this world, and that is to awaken people to their great need for Christ. In our series 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we will turn in the next few weeks to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. What is His role in the life of the unbeliever and the life of the believer?
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10/11/2020
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Who Is the Holy Spirit?
John 16
Nate Heitzig
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There can be a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding the Holy Spirit. When we look to Scripture, however, the third person of the Godhead comes into clear focus. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig describes the person of the Holy Spirit, His work both at scale in the world and individually in the hearts of believers, and how He helps you gain a deeper understanding of God's Word.
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10/18/2020
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Help Has Arrived!
John 14:15-18
Skip Heitzig
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Someone said to me this past week, “Life is hard, but God is good!” We all know it’s true. To live for God in an ungodly world is challenging, sometimes daunting. But God never intended for us to try it alone! He has provided for us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who is not only at work in the world around us but is very busy working inside of us. Let’s drill down into the promise Jesus gave to His disciples in the upper room about the coming Spirit.
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10/25/2020
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God’s Purpose for People
Genesis 1-3
Skip Heitzig
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After spending several weeks considering God’s nature and character, we now turn to mankind. What is the purpose of the people inhabiting this planet? How can we fulfill the God-given destiny that He originally had in mind when He placed us here? Someone once said that the two most significant days in one’s life are first, the day we were born, and second, the day we discovered what we were born for. Let’s go back to the beginning.
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11/1/2020
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The Dark Side
Romans 3:10-26
Nate Heitzig
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God created humans in His own image. But even with God's imprint in humanity, people have a dark side—a sin nature—because of Adam and Eve's rebellion. One consequence of our rebellion against God is guilt, but in today's society, many people try to minimize both sin and guilt by casting them in a deceptively benign light. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig looks at what the book of Romans has to say about our true condition and its only remedy.
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11/15/2020
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Once Dead, Now Alive!
Ephesians 2:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Of all the doctrines that adorn the New Testament, salvation is the most personal and the most transformative. Below are the various stages that every saved person goes through in coming to Christ. Today, try to remember what it was like for you when Jesus became real to you and you realized your need for Him to save you, then answer this fundamental question: How has your conversion changed your contentment?
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11/29/2020
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The Angels of God
Hebrews 1
Skip Heitzig
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Angels are largely relegated to the realms of mythology and childhood fantasy. Most people never think about them. But angels are very, very real. Martin Luther commented, “An angel is a spiritual creature created by God without a body, for the service of Christendom and of the church.” He was partly correct, but angels serve an even greater role than being strictly for the church. Their ministry objective is principally concerned with the glory and majesty of God. Let’s explore some of the noteworthy traits that angels have.
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There are 21 additional messages in this series.
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