God's Longings for Your Life #2: Relationship
Hebrews 10:15-17, John 14:16-23, John 16:5-11, Romans 3:19-26
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 7, 2014
*We are taking a look at some of God's greatest desires for our lives, and last Sunday we started with God's rescue. God wants to rescue us from our sin and eternal death. And His commandments help, because they teach us how much we desperately need to be rescued by God. You see, no matter how hard we try to obey God's laws, we can never keep them all. So vs. 1 tells us that God's "law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect."
*Nobody but Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has ever lived a totally perfect life. And the only way He could rescue us was to come into the world as a man. That's why in vs. 5-7, we hear God the Son speak to His Heavenly Father about coming into the world:
5. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.
6. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure.
7. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come in the volume of the book it is written of Me to do Your will, O God.'''
*Our rescue never could have happened without Jesus coming into the world, but even that wasn't enough. Our rescue could only be possible through the cross of Jesus Christ. That's why vs. 10-12 tell Christians that by God's will:
10. . . we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices (i.e. the same Old Testament sacrifices), which can never take away sins.
12. But this Man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
*One of God's greatest desires for your life is to rescue you from eternal death, and He will, if you will trust in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for you. God wants to rescue you. But that's just the beginning, because God also wants to have a relationship with us. Think about this great truth as we read vs. 15-17.
*When I explain God's plan of salvation to people, I like to use my hand, because every finger tells part of the story. And my ring finger highlights the fact that the heart of Christianity is a personal relationship with God. The Bible uses human relationships to help us understand God's desire for us to have a personal relationship with Him.
*The Church is called the Bride of Christ, Jesus wants to be our best Friend, and God the Father wants to be our Heavenly Father. This is the heart of Christianity: God the Father wants to have a close, personal relationship with us through His Son Jesus Christ.
*Nothing could possibly be more important. Listen to what Jesus said when He was speaking to His Heavenly Father in John 17:3: "This is eternal life, that they may KNOW You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
*God wants to have a close, personal relationship with us. How do we know this is true?
1. First in today's Scripture: we know by Holy Spirit's witness to us.
*Verse 15 tells us that the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit "witnesses to us." But who is the Holy Spirit? The Lord wants His followers to know, so in the hours before He died on the cross, Jesus had a lot to say about His Holy Spirit
*Please turn to John 14:16-18. There Jesus said:
16. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever
17. the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
18. I will not leave you orphans (or comfortless); I will come to you.
*Then in vs. 22, one of the disciples asked the Lord: "How is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" And in vs. 23, Jesus said: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
*One of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that God the Father and God the Son come to live in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, so the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is not an "it," though sometimes the Bible uses that pronoun to describe Him. The Holy Spirit is God.
*He is not just a source of power like electricity. The Holy Spirit is God the "Helper" or "Comforter". And when Jesus said, "I will send you another Helper," the original word means "another of the same kind." And since Jesus is God, then the Holy Spirit is also God. He is God everywhere. He is God here with us right now, and He is our witness!
*The most important way that the Holy Spirit witnesses to us is by the Word of God. Peter made this truth clear in his second letter when he wrote:
20. . . that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,
21. for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
*The Holy Spirit witnesses to us through the Word of God. And over in John 16:5-11, Jesus gave us more crucial insight about how His Holy Spirit works. Here Jesus was talking about the fact that after He rose again from the dead, He was going back home to be with His Father in Heaven, and Jesus said this to His followers:
5. "But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?'
6. But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
8. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9. of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10. of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
11. of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."
*After Jesus went back to Heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to the world in a brand new way.
 And He sent His Spirit to witness to us, first of all, about our sin.
*Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit "has come, He will convict the world of sin, because they do not believe in Me." God's Holy Spirit witnesses to us that all of us are sinners, that the wages of sin is death, and that we must believe in Jesus to escape the eternal death we all deserve.
*Without Jesus Christ, you are on a dead-end road in life. The Holy Spirit helps us to see that. That's what happened to me way back in the summer of 1972, three years before I got saved. I was going down a road, headed to work. It was a road that I had been on many times before, and it ended at a stop sign, where you had to turn left or right.
*Just as I came to the end of that road, a song came on the radio. It wasn't a spiritual song at all, and I can't even remember which song it was. But just as that road ended, I heard some words from that song, and suddenly it dawned on me that I was on a dead-end road in life. My life had no purpose, and there had to be more to life than the life I was living.
*That may not seem like much, and it was 3 more years before I got saved, but it was a huge step for me. For the first time in my life, I started searching for the truth, and the Holy Spirit was patiently leading me to the Lord. The Holy Spirit witnesses to us about our sin.
 But also about Satan's defeat.
*Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit "has come, He will convict the world . . . of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." The ruler of all the corruption in this world is Satan, and he may be causing trouble today, but his days are numbered! The Holy Spirit witnesses to us about Satan's defeat.
 But also about our Savior.
*Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit "has come, He will convict the world of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more." Jeremiah 23:6 says this about the Lord: "This is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." Christians: Jesus Christ is our righteousness! He is our only real source of righteousness. And God wants us to know that, so the Holy Spirit witnesses to us.
*Randy Aly told about a lady who needed the Holy Spirit's witness. She was a Christian, but she was very backslidden, and her husband had never come to faith in Christ. When they moved to a new community, they were visited a couple of times by members of the local church, but this couple rudely said they wanted to be left alone.
*Then one day the wife was looking out the front window, and she saw the postman delivering mail. As she watched him, he stopped right in front of her mail box, and sat down on the curb to eat his lunch. Then the mailman bowed his head and thanked God for his meal.
*The Holy Spirit used that simple act of faith to melt that woman's heart. She talked to her husband. They decided to go to church. After hearing the sermon, they both came forward. She joined the church, and her husband trusted in Jesus! The next week they brought their parents and they trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. (1)
*Thank God for that mailman who loved the Lord enough to be thankful for his food. But also notice how the Holy Spirit used that prayer to witness to that hardhearted lady. God wanted to have a closer relationship with her. And He wants to have a close relationship with you. We know this by the Holy Spirit's witness to us.
2. But also by the Lord's work in Christian lives.
*Back over in Hebrews 10:16, the Bible shows us part of the work God does in the lives of those who trust in Jesus: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.''
*Now, in order for God to do this work in us, He has to give us a new heart, because an unsaved spiritual heart is too hard for God to do the work He wants to do in our lives. That why in Ezekiel 11:19-20, the Lord said:
19. "Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,
20. that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
*This is what happens when we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The Bible says we are born again. We are the Lord's creation, new creatures in Christ! Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
*When you trust in Jesus, God gives you a brand-new spiritual heart. A Nazi soldier discovered this great truth in 1945. His name was Kurt Wagner, and before he got saved, Kurt served as one of Adolph Hitler's bodyguards. Can you imagine that?
*Kurt adored that evil monster Hitler, and actually gave him reverence as a god. But it was the end of the war. Hitler had committed suicide in a Berlin bunker. Kurt's faith in Hitler was shattered, and he planned to commit suicide, too.
*But Kurt decided to go for a last cup of coffee, and that's where he found it: A Gospel tract someone had thrown down. And I love how God works. All Kurt wanted was one last cup of coffee before he killed himself, and he would have spent all eternity in hell. But Kurt picked up that little booklet, and began to read about Jesus. He read carelessly at first, but then with growing interest.
*Kurt was so moved that he searched until he found a pastor who was able to lead him to Jesus. And Kurt Wagner became a new creation in Christ! (2)
*Now as vs. 16 says, the Lord could begin to put His laws into Kurt's heart, and write them in his mind. Kurt was transformed from hate to love, from violence to peace, from darkness to light, and from death to real life! He was transformed from worshipping one of the most evil men who ever lived to worshipping the greatest man who ever lived: The God-man, Jesus Christ. And the Lord wants to do the same thing for you! Christians: God is writing His laws in our hearts and minds. That's the way He transforms our lives, so we can have a closer relationship with Him.
*God wants to have a close, personal relationship with us. We know this by the Lord's work in Christian lives.
3. But also by the Lord's willingness to forget our sins.
*As He says in vs. 17: "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.'' Or as the KJV says: "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." This is one of the best promises in the whole Bible, and it's for you, if you have trusted in Jesus Christ as you Lord and Savior!
*King David explained it this way in Psalm 103:
10. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
*God separates us from our sins as far as the east is from the west! He justifies us, so it's just as if we have never sinned. The Apostle Paul explained Christian justification in Romans 3, when he said this:
19. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22. even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24. being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25. whom God set forth to be a propitiation (or sacrificial offering) by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
26. to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
*When we trust in Jesus Christ, the blood of His cross washes away all of our sins, our past is washed away, and we are being justified, so it really is just as if we have never sinned.
*Wendell Sellers helps us understand with a story he heard from his childhood pastor. When the preacher was a little boy in the first grade, the teacher asked the parents to buy coloring books for their children. All the kids were supposed to color, but this boy didn't want to be called a sissy. So he started scribbling all over the pages, and he was on page ten when his teacher caught him.
*Each day after that, she helped him color until the book was finished. Then parents' night came. And when that little boy walked in the room with his mom, his heart sank because those coloring books were out on the desks.
*The preacher said, "My mother picked up my book to look through it, and I shouted, 'Oh no, Mother! -- Look at the book Jane colored!' But she wanted to see my book. As she turned the first 5 or 6 pages, I saw a tear roll down her cheek, and I knew this was the end for me.
*But then she smiled, picked me up, kissed me, and said, 'Son this book is beautiful. I am so proud of you.' I didn't understand this at all. So when she put the book back on my desk and started looking at the other coloring books, I had to pick up my book and look at it again, because I remembered what the first ten pages looked like.
*I was really surprised to see that all the bad pages were gone. My teacher had torn the bad pages out, and you couldn't tell they were ever there. Only my teacher and I knew the truth."
*Then the preacher said: "It doesn't matter how many sins, or how dark our lives may be, Jesus wants to forgive us, wash our sins white as snow, and make the rest of our lives beautiful." (3)
*His teacher had taken all of those bad pages away, and it was just as if he had never messed-up. Are there some pages in your life's story you would like torn out and thrown away forever? Put your trust in Jesus Christ and receive God's ultimate forgiveness.
*And never forget that the only reason God can forgive and forget our sins is because they are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the highest price on the cross, so that our sins could be forgotten forever. And when we trust in Jesus, nothing stands between us and God. That's the way He wants it. God wants to have a close, personal relationship with you.
*Get to know God by receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior. And get to know Him better, as we go to God in prayer. Remember that James 4:8 says: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Would you please bow for prayer.
(1) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Randy Aly
(2) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Bruce Howell
(3) Adapted from SermonCentral illustration contributed by Wendell Sellers