Father Heart of God#3
"THE FATHER HEART OF GOD#3"
(A Series on the Father Heart of God)
Westgate Chapel 6/16/91 p.m. 2 Corinthians 5:19
- THIS mini-series on the Father Heart of God has been extremely important for one very important reason....it approaches the Christian life by asking the right question.
- IT has been a pursuit of "who" God the Father really is.
- I DON'T know if you realize it, but that is not the way most of us approach the Christian life.
- MOST of us approach the Christian life asking the "how" question.
- LET me explain this to you.
- GO to your local Christian book store, and look at the titles of the current books.
* How to put sizzle back into your marriage.
* How to drop two belt sizes through prayer.
* How to witness to your neighbor.
* How to operate in your gifts.
* How to receive your healing.
* How to pray for one hour.
* How to be single and stay saved.
- AND at Waldens there are even more titles on being successful in everything from diets to drag car racing.
- HOW TO books are the best selling books in America.
- WE are a culture that has become obsessed with finding answers to the pragmatic questions.
- IN your Christian life and mine, if we begin with the "how" question, you will usually end up with the wrong answer.....because it is true that the way a question is couched will have a lot to do with the answer.
- LET me give you some examples.
* Regarding being born again, if you start with the "how" question, look where it leads you.
* Well, to be born again, you must repent of your sin and turn to Jesus Christ in faith.
* Now, that is not a false statement in itself, but is being born again really something that happens when you repent and pray? Is that the moment of salvation, or was it two thousand years ago on a cross when Jesus came to show us how much the Father loves us and wanted to heal our broken lives.
* No, regarding being born again, it is the "who" question that is far more important. That is the question that will take you to the grace of God, the love of Christ on the cross, and your salvation.....then repentance is elicited by the Spirit in you as a response to grace.
* Look at this in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost.
* Verse 17....Peter stands to address the crowd and says, "In the last days, God...."
* Verse 22....He continues, "Jesus of Nazareth, was a man accredited by God to you by signs and miracles...you crucified Him...but God raised Him from the dead..."
* What is Peter doing, addressing the "who" question.
* Then in verse 37 the crowd cries out, "What shall we do?"
* And Peter says, "Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins."
* How are you healed? This is another example of the "how" question that should first be asked with a "who" question.
* How to find inner healing? Start rather with the "who" question.
- THE problem with the "how" question is that it controls your pursuit of God as if it has priority.
- AND God becomes the One who is understood in terms of how He handles the "how" problems we present.
- IT is a utilitarian Christianity that ends up just feeding the self-gratification of our day.
- GOD is the One who saves me, heals me, provides for me, gives me eternal life, a Cadillac and a home with a view.
- THE Bible begins with the "who" question....who God is, who the Father is, who Jesus is, who the Holy Spirit is....and when you and I pursue the "who" question we always end up at the right place with the right "how" issues being resolved in our lives.
- THAT is where Paul started on the Damascus Road.
* No one came up and told him that he needed to reform and stop persecuting Christians.
* No one took him to a Persecutors Anonymous class.
* No one said, "Now Saul, you really need to improve your image. Have you tried Dale Carnegie's course on how to win friends and influence people?"
* No, he was on his way to Damascus and a light blinded him and a voice said, "Why are you persecuting Me?"
* And the first words out of Paul's mouth were "Who are you Lord?" The "who" question.
* And in Acts 9:17, when Annanias goes to pray for Paul the first words out of his mouth are to tell Paul that it was Jesus that he encountered on the road....the "who" question.
- NOW, that is a long introduction, but I spent as long as I did on it because I believe it is one of those nuggets that can change our whole approach to the Christian life as we try to apply it.
- MAKE sure that you ask the "who" question first in your relationship with God.....and you will always end up in the right place doing the right thing.
- THAT is the whole purpose of this mini-series, the "who" question.
- WHO is God the Father?
- SO much of our answer to that question is distorted by our life experience with those in authority who abused their position and us in the process.
- AS a result we look at God as arbitrary, angry, unpredictable, unreliable, frightening.
- AND we spend our lives cowering in a corner afraid to venture out.
- TONIGHT, let's look at the "who" question.
- WHO is Father God?
ii. he is the father who says "yes" to you and me.
- TURN with me to 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. And as I read, ask yourself the "who" question.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them."
- WHO is it that is responsible for the whole work that Jesus did, in coming, living, caring, loving, touching, healing, dying, being raised from the dead?
- VERSE 18 says that "all this is from God..." And in the Greek "all this" is translated in some versions as "from first to last."
- IN other words, from first to last this work is the Father, all the way.
- AND the reason that Father did all of that is because He wanted us reconciled to Himself.
- WE ran off and He wanted us back and was willing to pay any price to do it.
- LISTEN carefully to John 3:16-17, now looking for the "who" question.
"For 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
- WHO is it that loved the world? Father.
- WHO is it that gave His only Son to save the world? Father.
- WHO is it that wants to give eternal life, not grudgingly, but at great personal cost? Father.
- LOOK at verse 17. "God did not send His Son to condemn the world."
- LET me put it in other words.
- THE FATHER'S word to the world, in all of its sin and hatred and abuse and darkness is a giant "YES"
- TO Saddam Hussein, Father God speaks a "YES." Not to what he is doing, but to the man, because Saddam is part of the world that God wants to reconcile to Himself.
- TO Norman Lear, Father God speaks a "YES."
- TO people I would never speak a "YES" to, Father says "YES" and opens His arms to them in Christ.
- BUT then I am glad Father is that loving towards a lost world, because if He was not, He might not have chosen me to be His Son.
- HE didn't send His Son to condemn the world.
- THAT word would have been a "NO!" of rejection.
- SOME people think of God as speaking "NO" to the world, to them.
- THE Father is the author and initiator of all of the work and plan of salvation.
- HE and the Son share in different ways in the unfolding of the plan, but it is still all Father, from first to last.....saying a giant "YES" to you.
iii.WE are the ones who say "no" in response
- WELL, if the Father is the One who has said "Yes" to us in Christ, and He doesn't condemn us, what about His judgement?
- ISN'T that a big part of our understanding of God....judgement, wrath, punishment.
- I WONDER how many of us interpret sickness, set backs, difficulties, tragedies....immediately as wrath of Gos and we start looking for what we have done wrong.
- THERE is not doubt that we see the judgement of God in scripture....especially in the Old Testament.
- BUT what we miss often in the Old Testament is the incredible patience and mercy of God in dealing with unbelievable societies that were engaging in unimaginable atrocities....for hundreds of years.
* He spoke against the Amorites and their sin, but gave them 400 years before he sent Joshua and the army of the Lord to destroy them and give their land to the Jews.
* He sent prophet after prophet to speak against the sin of Baal worship amongst the Jews who were even sacrificing their children....and waited 400 years for some sign of repentance before He sent Nebuchadnezzar to take them captive and destroy the city of Jerusalem.
- 400 years is a long time to wait. We are used to dealing with months, days.
- BUT what about you and me?
- HOW do we resolve the "who" question when it comes to the judgement of God?
- ROMANS gives us an interesting insight.
- YOU see, God's "YES" is mostly being answered by man's "NO" in our world.
- MAN is speaking a large "NO" to God's grace and God's command, setting himself up in rebellion and disobedience.
- AND God responds with a "NO" to those who are saying "NO" to Him.
- IS that "NO" of God immediate punishment?
- IN most cases I would say, "No."
- IT appears from scripture that when God receives a "NO" from man that He simply abandons that sinner rather than punishing him or her.
- IT is not so much that He executes a sentence of death from above, but rather that His love is withdrawn so that the natural forces of death and destruction, already there in the sin and rebellion begin to operate in a more unrestrained way.
- THAT is the withdrawal that happened in King Saul when he insisted on disobeying God.
- IT is what King David feared, when in Psalm 51 he cries out to Father, "Don't withdraw your Spirit from me..."
- IN Romans 1, wrath and abandonment are very close together.
- VERSE 18 reads,
"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness..."
- HOW is this wrath revealed?
- VERSE 24 says,
"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another."
- VERSES 25-26,
"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones."
- VERSE 28,
"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done."
- NOW, turn with me to Romans 8:32.
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
- SAME Greek verb used in both settings.
- FATHER gave up His own Son, to the death of the cross....the sentence of death.....so that His "Yes" could be made available to us all.
- AND when we say, "NO" so that gift of grace, it is not so much that Father sends immediate punishment, but rather gives us over to the direction we are determined to go....with all of its consequences.
iv. YOUr assurance as a son, a daughter
- NOW, just one last thought about Father God, and the assurance that you and I need concerning our adoption as sons and daughters.
- TURN to Galatians 4:4-7.
"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir."
- THAT is the spirit of sonship, birthed in each of us by the Holy Spirit.
- JUST like the prodigal, however, there are many Christians who come home never expecting to be anything other than "one of your hired servants."
- THAT is not the spirit of sonship. That is being a slave again of fear.
- THESE are people who cower in the background of God's presence because they are afraid that they may have to run at a moments notice if He gets angry.
- THESE people may believe in healing, in the joy of the Lord, in prevailing prayer, but have no practical expectation of these things ever happening in their lives.
- THESE are the people who live in constant condemnation.....afraid of Father, not sure that they are sons or daughters.
- YOU are just not convinced that Father has accepted you, and loves you just the way you are right now, as His child, and will not let you go astray, but will give you what He has promised....
* The robe.....the garment of sonship.
* The ring......the insignia of authority.
* The sandals....that distinguish a free man from a slave.
- THAT is the assurance that the Holy Spirit can give you tonight.
- HOW about you tonight?
- THAT is a little glimpse at the "who" question.
- WHO is the Father?
- ONE who is saying "Yes" to you tonight in His Son.
- ONE who is not so concerned about condemning and punishing, although He will turn His back on the rebellious who say "No" to His grace.
- ONE who will give you the Holy Spirit to convince you of your adoption into the family.
- ARE you willing to trust this Father tonight?