Well, I think probably most of us here know who Alan Jackson is. He was a well-known country singer in the 1990s, but in 2001, his career soared to a completely new level when he wrote and performed a song about the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The song was entitled, Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.
The song won Single of the Year, it won Song of the Year, it won Alan Jackson a Grammy, but the reason I bring Alan Jackson's name up is because he wrote another song that I want to point out to you today. The title of this song that he wrote is, We Are All God's Children, and I'd like to read a little bit of the verse to you. Here it comes. I would sing it, but you don't want that. Here we go.
Here's how the song goes. It says, Here comes a Baptist. Here comes a Jew. There goes a Mormon and a Muslim too.
I see a Buddhist and a Hindu too. I see a Catholic and I see you. We're all God's children. We're all God's children.
We're all God's children, so why can't we be one big happy family? Now, you know, most of secular America agrees with the theology of Mr. Jackson as expressed in this song. For example, in an interview on MTV, then presidential candidate John Kerry said, and I quote, Americans have a right to be who they are. We're all God's children.
In a speech on July 13, 2003, President George W. Bush said, and I quote, We base our history and our decision making, our future, on solid values. The first value is we're all God's children, end of quote. In her New York Times bestseller, Embraced by the Light, Betty Eadie tells about her near death experience where she met Jesus, who told her to come back and to tell the human race that we're all God's children, that we're all divine, and that we're all going to heaven. Speaking for the gay and lesbian community, Christopher Sellers said, and I quote, I pray that one day, sooner or later, the church will remember that we're all God's children, gay or straight, for better or for worse. And finally, I turn to that eminent theologian, Jalen Rose, NBA player for the Toronto Raptors, and I quote, The thing about life is you've got to give the next man his respect, because we're all God's children, end of quote. Now, the question is, friends, is that right?
The question is, are we all really God's children? And that's what we want to talk about today. Remember that we're in a series entitled Jesus's Most Outrageous Sayings. We're going through the gospel accounts, and we're picking out 12 of the most radical things that Jesus ever said, and we're spending a week on each one of them, and we're asking the question, well, so what? We've already done 10, and if you missed any of the 10, I hope you'll go to the bookstore and get the CD or the tape. Today we're ready for number 11, and for that, if you brought your Bible, I want to ask you to open it to John chapter 8, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, fourth book in the New Testament, chapter 8. And if you did not bring a Bible, here in our main auditorium, we have a copy of the Bible you can borrow right under the armrest next to you. We're going to be on page 758, page 758 in our copy of the Bible, John chapter 8 in your copy.
And while you're turning, let me give you a little bit of background. Here in John chapter 8, the Lord Jesus is involved in a heated argument with the rabbis. The issue they're arguing about is whether Jesus is really the Messiah the way He claimed to be. And as the argument grows nastier, the rabbis make a crude remark about Jesus's virgin birth.
Here's what they say. Look at verse 41. They say to Him, We are not illegitimate children.
The New American Standard translates it. We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, they say, even God. And this comment by the rabbis now creates a whole new level of discussion, a new discussion about who is really a child of God and who isn't, who really has God for their Father and who doesn't. And I want you to see what Jesus says to them about that.
Look at verse 42. Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God. Now the key word in this sentence is the word were. Jesus didn't say, If God was your Father, indicative mood. Jesus said, If God were your Father, subjunctive mood. Now just in case you forgot, since you were in high school English, let me go back to the American Heritage Book of English usage and remind you what the subjunctive mood is all about. In that we find that we use quoting now the subjunctive mood to describe an occurrence that we assume or presuppose to be false or contrary to fact. So, for example, we say, If He were sorry, but He's not, He would have apologized by now.
We say, If America were still a British colony, but it isn't, we'd all be drinking tea for lunch. And Jesus said in the same way, If God were your Father, but by using the subjunctive, He makes it clear that God isn't their Father. The point is that from the very beginning of this discussion, Jesus's position is that these rabbis are not God's children.
God is not their Father, which is why He used the subjunctive mood instead of the indicative mood. And now, having set that up, Jesus goes on to say one of the most outrageous things that He ever said. He says, verse 43, Why is it that you don't understand what I'm saying? Well, verse 44, here comes this outrageous saying, It's because you are of your Father, the devil.
Now, wow, do you understand what's going on here? Jesus is speaking not just to Jewish people, my friends, Jesus is speaking to the religious elite of Israel, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, the teachers of the law, these guys would have been akin today to the Pope and the cardinals in Israel. And He says to them in public, You are not children of God, you are children of your Father, the devil. Verse 47, Jesus goes on to say, He who belongs to God, hears what God says.
And the reason that you guys do not hear is because you guys do not belong to God. Let's make sure we fully grasp what Jesus is saying here. He's saying to these guys, even though you're Jewish, and even though you are the religious leaders of Israel, and even though you are dripping with religious performance, even with all of those kudos to your credit, Jesus says, verse 44, God is not your Father. And verse 47, He says, You do not belong to God. So here in John chapter 8, Jesus makes it clear that in God's mind, all of the human race can be divided into two categories.
You're in one category or the other. You are either a child of God, we're either children of God, or else we are children of the devil. This forms the basis for what the Apostle John said in 1 John 3, verse 10. He said, This is how we know who the children of God are, and who the children of the devil are.
And then he goes on to explain the distinguishing marks between the two. And friends, what this means is that Alan Jackson is wrong. What this means is that John Kerry is wrong. What this means is President George W. Bush is wrong. What this means is that Betty Eady is wrong. The gay and lesbian community is wrong.
Jalen Rose is wrong. As human beings, we are God's creatures, yes. As human beings, we are God's creation, yes. But every one of us are not God's children.
I'm sorry. To be a child of God is a privilege that is reserved exclusively for people who place their personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ and what He did for them on the cross. It's then and only then that we enter into a family relationship with God. It's then and only then that we become God's children and He becomes our Heavenly Father. Now you might say, Lon, are you sure you're not reading way too much into the subjunctive mood here? I mean, really.
Well, wait a minute. The whole rest of the Bible says the same thing. John chapter 1 verse 12, to every person who believes in Jesus Christ, to them, and I might add to them only, God gives the right, God gives the authority to become children of God. Writing to followers of Christ in Galatia, Paul said Galatians 3 26, for you are all children of God, but notice how you are children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Writing to the believers at Ephesus, Paul said God predestined us to be adopted as His children through Jesus Christ, Ephesians 1 5. Writing to the believers in Galatia again, Paul said Galatians 4 4, when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, to redeem us so that we might be adopted as His children. Writing to the believers in Rome, Paul says Romans 8 15, so then, you have not received a spirit of slavery, but you have received the spirit of adoption as children, by which you're able to call God Abba, which means in Hebrew, Father. Friends, you see, nobody is born a child of God.
As a matter of fact, for the very opposite is true, Ephesians chapter 2 verse 1 says every one of us is born spiritually dead. Every one of us is born alienated from God, separated from God, children of the devil, and to become one of God's children, we must be adopted by God, and He adopts us when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. Now this is the great news of the Bible, my friends. The great news of the Bible is that God loved me so much, He loved you so much, He loved every human being in the world so much that He came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ and died on the cross so that the option would be available to us that we could be adopted into the family of Almighty God. And that's why John says, 1 John 3 1, how great is the love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God when we believe in Jesus Christ, and that is exactly what we are, John says. Now if you're here today, let me take a break and just say, if you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus in a real impersonal way, then, friends, this is what God wants to do for you.
He wants to adopt you into His family. He wants to make you His child and become your Heavenly Father, and He will do that if you'll just give Him the opportunity. There's a lot more that comes our way when we trust Jesus Christ than just going to heaven. We get God as our personal Heavenly Father.
And you know, no matter how hard you try any other way, there's only one way to get adopted into the family of God, friend, and that's through faith in Christ. If these Jewish leaders, remember, these were Jewish people by birth. Most of you aren't.
These were rabbis and religious leaders in Israel. Most of you aren't. And if they were not children of God by their own human and religious effort, certainly you Gentiles aren't going to be. You understand what I'm saying to you? I'm saying that if those guys couldn't get in on their own to be children of God, we're certainly not going to make it, but there is a way to make it that has nothing to do with our performance, friends, or our religious activity. It's when we trust Christ, God adopts us. What a wonderful deal. And if you're not an adopted child of God through faith in Christ, then I'm here to ask you, what in the world is holding you up?
I don't understand why you turn a deal like that down. Well, I hope you'll think about that. Well, that's as far as we want to go in our passage right now, because I want us to stop and ask our most important question. And you know what our most important question is, so are you ready? Are you ready? All right, ready? Here we go.
One, two, three. So what? Yeah. You say, Lon, so what? Say, you know what? I still don't understand the subjunctive mood, Lon. I still don't think I could get it right in a sentence. And frankly, I didn't come here for an English lesson. So what in the world difference does any of that make to me, what you just said?
Well, let me try to bring it home to you. Did you know in the New Testament that God calls Himself our Heavenly Father as followers of Christ over 260 times? He refers to us as our Heavenly Father. I believe the reason God repeats this so much is because He wants us to understand that He's serious about His role as being our Father. And if you're a follower of Christ here today, and you had an earthly father that was not so good, and you're not so proud to claim Him, and maybe you don't even know who He was, He walked out on you, well, I got great news for you. God wants to be the Father that you never had, and He's serious about that role in your life.
And even if you're here today as a follower of Christ, and you had a pretty good father, friends, when you gave your life to Jesus Christ, you got another father, a new father, who wants to take the ministry of being a father to a whole new level in your life. When we come into that kind of family relationship with God where we're His children and He's our Father, man, the benefits come all over the place. And I want to tell you about a few of the benefits that come from being a child of God by faith in Christ.
Here's some of them. Benefit number one, we get a father, number one, who loves us unconditionally. We get a father whose love is not based on how we perform. We get a father who loves us and values us and treasures us just for who we are, who loves us in a way that sets us free and heals us to be healthy people. Romans chapter 5, verse 8, God demonstrated the kind of love He has for us in that while we were yet sinners, while our performance really stunk, Christ died for us because God doesn't love us because of our performance, friends. He loves us just because we're us. Number two, second benefit we get is we get a father who promises never to abandon or forsake us, to desert us. Hebrews 13 five, Jesus said, I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.
What that means is no matter how bad it gets, no matter how thick the bullets are flying, no matter how deep the black hole is that we feel we're in Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father is standing there right beside us every single moment of every single day, because that's His commitment to us as our father. Number three, benefit number three, we get a father who promises to meet all of our earthly needs. Matthew chapter 7, verse 11, if you then know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give what is good to his children? Number four, we get a father, benefit number four, who is tender and patient with us. Psalm 103, verse 13, just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. Number five, we get a father who's more merciful and more forgiving than you and I deserve. Psalm 103 continues, the Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve. Stop for a minute.
Is that good news or what? The Lord does not treat us the way our sins deserve. Please don't ever tell God you want what you deserve because if He gave it to you, you'd be very sad about Him giving it to you. You want from God what you don't deserve. You want mercy. You want grace.
You want kindness. And the beautiful thing about it is when we have God as our Heavenly Father, that's what we get. The verse continues, nor does He repay us according to our wrongdoings.
Thank God for that. Benefit number six, we get a father who's emotionally available to us, a father that we can go to with our pain and our suffering and our hurt, who will connect with us in that pain, who will comfort us and sucker us in that pain. Hebrews 4, verse 15, we have a high priest, Jesus Christ, who can sympathize with our weaknesses for He, when He was here on earth, was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sinning. Therefore, let us approach His throne of grace with confidence that we may receive mercy and grace in our time of need. And finally, benefit number seven, we get a father who cares about us and takes a genuine interest in our lives. Peter says, 1 Peter 5, 7, cast all of your cares on Him.
Why? Because He cares for you. You know, I think maybe some of us are around the Christianity and the Christian faith and the Bible so much that we begin to take simple truths for granted sometimes. This is a simple truth. He cares for you and me.
But friends, God help us never to take that for granted. Think about that. The God of the universe who made every atom, every molecule, who keeps them all sticking together. The God of the universe who keeps Pluto from bumping in the Neptune out there somewhere. The God of the universe cares about you and me and the little tiny trivial things that go on in our lives. He cares about that. I'll tell you, that is an amazing truth that in 35 years of walking with Jesus Christ, I have never gotten over that He cares about me, the God of the universe. You know, I didn't have a dad like that growing up.
Maybe that's why this is so amazing to me. My dad growing up took no interest in my life at all. I was like a picture on the wall in my house.
I was like a piece of furniture in my house. My dad would pass me in the hallway, but he wouldn't stop and relate to me any more than he'd relate to a piece of furniture. And you know, I would lay in bed at night as a child, I can still remember this, and I would fantasize about what it would be like to have a dad who really cared for me.
What it would be like to have a dad that I could talk to about my problems in school, my struggles, my dreams, my hopes, what I wanted to grow up and be, and a dad who cared enough that he would partner with me to say, Son, let's see if we can't help you reach that goal in your life. I laid there in bed and thought about it, but you know what? I knew that was never going to happen with my dad, and you know what?
It never did. And because I had a dad like this, I turned out to be a very sick human being. I mean, at 21 years old at age, I was so dysfunctional that if they were giving out trophies for dysfunctionality, I would have won the Heisman.
That's all I got to tell you. But when I gave my life to Jesus Christ in 1971, I found that my new Heavenly Father came into my life and He began to go back and repair some of that damage that I had suffered from having such an imperfect earthly father. And God's re-fathering of me over the last 35 years has been the most healing and the most restorative and the most wonderful experience I've ever had in my life. Now, how healthy I am today might be a matter of debate, but I'm definitely better than I was 35 years ago when the Lord picked me up.
In fact, I'm a lot better. And this is what the Bible says, Psalm 68, verse 5. It says God is a father to the fatherless. And friends, that's what I was. I was a fatherless human being. And God says, Come on over here, son, I'll father you now. And maybe that's you.
Maybe you came from a home where you had a dad like I had, or maybe you came from a home where you had no dad. Well, friends, I got great news for you. Your Heavenly Father will start repairing that damage. He will start offloading that baggage. He will heal your life and father you as no one else can father you, if you'll just give Him the opportunity to do that.
Let's summarize. Being a follower of Christ involves a lot more than just getting a ticket to heaven we've seen. We've seen it means being adopted into God's very own family. It means being loved by the greatest father in the universe.
It means being cared for, perhaps for the very first time in your life, just because you're you. But I've got one more aspect of God's fatherhood I want to give you before we quit this morning. And it's found in Romans, Chapter five, verse one. Therefore, the verse says, Since we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we have been granted access by our faith in Christ to this gracious position with God in which we now stand.
You say, What does that mean? Friends, what that means is when you give your life to Christ, God gives you access, He gives you entry into a whole new position in God's sight into a whole new standing in God's sight. When we become adopted children of God, God grants us this special position that He calls a gracious position, meaning that the position we have with God always enjoys God's grace. It always enjoys God's kindness and His mercy. It means that everything that happens in our life, we can be sure God will always treat us with mercy, with tenderness and with undeserved kindness, because we have a new standing in His sight. We are now His children. You say, Well, I'm not sure I understand exactly how this works.
Can you kind of put some handles on it practically for me? Love to. You know, I have three sons, my middle son, Justin, who is just a wonderful son. I love him to death.
He's 24, entering his third year of law school up at the University of Michigan, and I just couldn't be more proud of him. When Justin first got his driver's license at 16, he had four accidents in the first year. Four.
Count them. In fact, he had so many that I actually had the claims department of my insurance company on speed dial on my telephone at home. And he would always come in with an excuse. He always had an explanation why it wasn't his fault that he had this accident. He even left the scene of an accident once and told me the other kid had left.
The other kid did leave after he left. I called the father up and threatened the father that he needed to pay for all of the damages or I was going to turn his kid into the police. Finally, when we got the story right, guess who paid for all the damages? Anyway, in those days, let me tell you what I did. I kept listening to his explanations with patience. I kept forgiving him. I kept fixing his automobile, and I kept paying for his insurance, which went up and up and up.
And I just want you to know if any of you here had done this to me, I would have cut your insurance off in a heartbeat. But let me tell you why I didn't cut my son's insurance off. It was real simple because my son has a special relationship with me that you don't have. He has a special standing with me that you don't have.
He is my child. And as a result, he gets more grace from me. He gets more mercy from me. He gets more kindness from me. He gets more understanding from me.
And he gets more patience from me than you do because he has a special position with me. Now that's the whole point of what God's trying to tell us in Romans chapter 5, that because you are God's child through faith in Christ, you get more grace, you get more mercy, you get more kindness, you get more patience, and you get more understanding from God than the rest of the human race does because you have a special relationship with him that the rest of the human race does not have. And I don't know how it gets any better than that. I don't know how.
I don't know how to deliver you better news than that. Let me remind you what John said, 1 John chapter 3 verse 1. He said, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God.
And that is exactly what we are. Friends, God wants you to understand without equivocation that when you embrace Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you entered into a radically new relationship with God, a relationship that the rest of the world does not have with God. We are not all God's children. Don't you ever believe we are all God's children. Don't you ever go out please and say to anybody, We are all God's children, because the Bible says that is not true.
But if you're a follower of Christ, you are God's child. Now, what does God want you to do with that? Friends, first of all, He wants you to know it. And second of all, He wants you to treasure it. And last of all, He wants you to enjoy it. He wants you to enjoy the special standing that you have with Him. Now, is this an excuse for license? Is having a gracious standing with God, does that mean that we can go out and live any way we want to live because we're His children?
No, it doesn't. Hebrews chapter 12 says God spanks His children too. And you know, I spanked my son Justin a lot.
In fact, when he was 16, I actually thought about restoring that whole process in our family. Please don't think that as His children, this gives us license to go out and disobey God to live any way we want to live. That is not what the Bible is telling us. But what the Bible is telling us is that even when we try hard to obey God, which we should as our Father, even when we seek to do those things that please Him the most, which we should try to do as our Father, friends, we're still going to fall short because we're human. And when we fall short, isn't it wonderful to know that we have a special standing with God that ensures us we will always be treated with compassion. We will always be treated with mercy. We will always be treated with kindness and tenderness in spite of the mistakes that we make. I think that's the balance of the Bible. And that's great news.
And I hope not only will you know it and treasure it, but friend, I hope you'll enjoy it. Enjoy having that kind of safe relationship with Almighty God. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, thanks for talking to us today about who is a child of God and who isn't. Thanks for giving us accurate information to counter the propaganda that we face every day out there in our world.
Propaganda that would seek to lump us all in together in the mind of God when the Bible says that we're not all lumped in together. And Lord, thank You so much for Your love for us that You would come to earth and make a way for us to be adopted as the children of God through faith in Christ. And as Your children, Lord, may we seek to honor You. May we seek to please You. May we seek to obey You in every area of our life. But Lord, thank You for the wonderful news that when we fall short, we can be confident of Your mercy and Your untold kindness because we have a special standing with You that the rest of the world does not enjoy. Lord, thanks for telling us that today. May that bring just a solid feeling and a solid standing to our life. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. And God's people said...
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