An Easter Sunday service was held in Oceania OC. Pastor Faith Yang, the General Secretary of Olivet Assembly Oceania, delivered the sermon titled ‘Inseparable Love of God in Christ Jesus’, casting the hope of glorification through the precious teachings in Romans 8.
Here is the summary of the sermon:
The sermon raised a question for the audience: “What is your perception on the day of glorification? Does it just happen after we die, and then we enter a shining place without any sins and pains? Is Christian’s hope of glory only an after-death one?”
In the time of Jesus, Jews got a similar concept – this world was full of injustice and suffering, so they hoped the Kingdom of Heaven which suddenly fell on the earth and the true King could end all the injustice in a blow. But Paul saw a different hope and a different Kingdom – salvation received both ‘already’ and ‘not yet’.
In the ‘ALREADY’ side, Romans 8:1-17 demonstrated an assured glory which has already been achieved in Jesus Christ: no condemnation and debtless to the requirements of the law, a new heart in the Spirit as the children of God, and the identity of the co-heirs with Christ.
No Condemnation and Debtless to the Requirements of the Law (Romans 8:1-13).
There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. Under the lawful system, Satan misused the holy Law of God to accuse us, directing the whole world to focus on what we failed and put us into deep shame. It is just like a teacher who only marked the wrong answers out on our exam paper and deducted our marks, and told us that we failed. But Jesus came and paid all the debts we owed in the lawful system. He used his perfect life to redeem us and his blood washed us clean. Moreover, he opened up a new era of the Gospel, so that we can be freed from the law of sin and death, and focus on bearing fruit to glorify God. A teacher who looks at what you have achieved and encouraged you to overcome the weaknesses will guide the students to progress step by step with a joyful heart. Same as this, when God focuses on our fruit for him, our lives are overwhelmed by the joy of harvest every day. In this joy of salvation, we will have the strength to submit ourselves to the Spirit and kill the mortal body, so even the mortal body will be given life again and overcome the sinful habits.
A New Heart in the Spirit as the Children of God. (Romans 8:14-16)
Let’s see a group of contracts between the old life and the new life. The old lives under the law but the new lives under the Gospel; the old has the heart of a slave but the new has the heart of a child; the old does not sin because of fears but the new chooses to live a God-pleasing life because of the love towards the Father. Outwardly, the old may look better sometimes, but underneath there are great fears and hatred. The new may look immature and makes mistakes sometimes, but with a peaceful and bold heart, it desires to live a Christ-like life.
The Identity of Co-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17)
All the love, authority, commission, and abundance that Jesus has, will belong to us – this is the meaning of co-heir. Jesus Christ inherited the life of the Father. He claimed that he and Father is One – firstly it is a proclamation of the Trinity, but secondly, it is about the close relationship of love the Son has with the Father. Jesus received overflowing love from the Father, and now as we are also the heirs of God, we received the same love. Jesus claimed that all the authority above heaven and on the earth have been entrusted to him, and he dispatched his disciples to the end of the earth to be his witness. The authority and commission Jesus has about the mission of God, have been given to us fully as well. In the same way, the abundance in Jesus’s life now is given to us in this eternal life. Therefore, we will willingly and joyfully bear of the suffering of Christ together with him, and we will receive the same glory with Him.
In the ‘NOT YET’ side, Romans 8 gives us hope for the future and the gifts on the path: the restoration of the whole universe and the redeemed body, the intercession of the Holy Spirit, the predestination and the inseparable love.
The Restoration of the Whole Universe and the Redeemed Body. (Romans 8:18-25)
When human beings have fallen, the whole universe suffer. All other creatures, though are not fallen, have lost their positions and meanings, because man has lost his position to be the son of God. Men do not worship God, but instead, they worship the created beings and got enslaved by Satan through self-centered desires. All other creatures, including the angels, should be the servant to serve the children of God, but the fallen ones are serving the creatures. However, as the redeemed ones reveal and restore the correct order according to God’s original creation, the whole universe feels its freedom and purpose. There are still groaning, but it is the groaning of childbirth pains with the hope of future glory. In the same way, the whole body of Christ, including the Church and each individual believers as the bodies, will eventually be fully redeemed and shine with glory, just as the resurrected body of Jesus on the day of Easter.
The Intercession of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:26-27)
The intercession of the Holy Spirit is not merely a help in our time of prayer, but also applies to all the fields in our lives on this earth. We have new hearts to live a God-centered life, yet we have numerous weaknesses in the flesh which causes us to groan. However, God’s help is always here and he works everything for the good of the ones who love him.
The Predestination and the Inseparable Love (Romans 8:28-39)
We may often focus on our failures, but before we even do anything and before we were even born to the world, God predestined us, and the final destination of this predestination is the glorification. Paul did not forget the long path of sanctification after the justification, but he ‘jumped’ from justification to glorification directly to emphasize the love of God has swallowed our failures completely. Thus following this predestination, there comes the triumph of the inseparable love in Christ Jesus.
This Sunday sermon was delivered through the Internet to the congregation who listened to it online. It is part of the online retreat held by Oceania OC over the Good Friday to Easter weekend, themed ‘The Righteous Shall Live by Faith’ covering the Scripture from Romans 1 to 8.