September 30, 2018

The Son of God

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Series:
Passage: Romans 1:3-4
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I want to begin by first directing you to Romans chapter 11:33-36

This is a passage we will reference often throughout our study of Romans because it serves as a major transitional statement between what we would call the theological teaching section of Romans and the practical applications section.

After diving deeply into so many core doctrines of the Christian faith, Paul pauses to say these words.

Romans 11:33-36

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
   or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
   that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

 

In this statement, Paul conveys his own humility in regard to the things he is teaching. God is beyond our judgments. We do not know his mind fully, nor could we ever counsel him in how he should exist or act. We are subject to his revelation and his plan and we respond with praise and thanksgiving that he might show us glimpses of his glory. I pause to read that passage because there will be several moments throughout our study and even in today’s message where we will bump our heads against divine mystery - the deep things of God which are not explained but are only proclaimed for us to believe.

So as we acknowledge God’s inscrutable ways, I want us to begin this morning as always by pausing to pray for this glorious God to grant us understanding so we might live lives that are pleasing to him.

So let's Pray

Romans 1:1-2

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, Called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son

Paul has introduced himself in verse 1, and he has begun now to introduce and describe the theme of this great letter - the Gospel of God.

Last week we saw that Paul first emphasizes that the Gospel of God was promised beforehand in the Word of God.

Paul assumes that:

  • The Bible is God’s breathed word
  • The Bible is Holy
  • The Bible reveals the good news of salvation from beginning to end.
  • The Bible reveals the Faithfulness of God by making promises thousands of years prior and then fulfilling those promises in God’s timing..

But now Paul shifts from addressing the location of the Gospel to the content of the Gospel

The Gospel Concerns God’s Son

Truth #1 There is No Good News Without Jesus

When Paul says that he is set apart for the Gospel of God, he does not stop and then move on to another thought, rather he clarifies what he means by “the gospel of God."

This gospel is not good news about God in general. This gospel is good news about God in particular, as God really is, as God really has revealed himself. The gospel is good news concerning HIS [God’s] Son - Jesus Christ Our Lord. Paul will later define the gospel as the power of salvation to everyone who believes, but this salvation is only for those who have at the center of their gospel - the person and the work of Jesus.

I am afraid that many people in our community, and even more frighteningly, people that attend our church every Sunday are what I would call “God Generalists”.

They believe that God exists.

These people are not atheists. They are not Muslim. They are not Hindu.

They believe in one God who is pretty powerful but who is also loving.

They even believe in good morals, respecting people, and showing love when they can.

They have a Christian heritage, therefore, they claim to be Christians.

But..., they do not know God because their relationship with God is not on the basis of God’s Son - Jesus Christ.

Faith in the existence of God in general does not save you from the Holiness of God. In fact, God’s existence is not necessarily good news for you. If God is merely a good God, it's bad news for us because if God is good and we are bad then that's not good. A good God will not fellowship with a sinful people without then becoming a bad God. Pastor and missionary, Paul Washer once stated, “the scariest thing in the world, is that God is good and we are not.” The good news of God is that God made a way for us to be in his presence despite his goodness and our badness and that way - the only way - is through God’s Son.

Jesus the Christ is the good news that God has deemed good for all humanity. Jesus is the climax of the good news that God is offering to the world. Jesus is the Christ is mentioned over 70 times in these 16 chapters of Romans. He is the main character of the gospel, of our faith, and of our lives.  If Jesus is whom this good news concerns, then he must be what concerns our lives. We have to know him. We have to know what he is like. We have to know what he accomplished. We have to know what he expects now.

To be a Christian is to be a Jesus person. In fact, later in verse 6 ,which we will look at in detail two weeks from now, Paul summarizes the Christians in Rome as “those who are called to belong to Jesus.” I have heard a lot of talk, even among people here, about people who are ok spiritually because they are pretty good people, or because they believe in God, but the good news is not good news unless their faith is in the gospel concerning Jesus. So what must we believe about Jesus?

Truth #2 Jesus is the Son of God

Paul firstly identifies Jesus as uniquely and eternally God’s Son.  Jesus is God’s Son in a very different way then we are God’s sons and daughters.

 

  • Jesus is co-eternal with God the Father - Meaning Jesus always existed with God the Father.

 

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

John 8:58-59 ”  Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

 

 

  • Jesus is co-equal with God the Father

 

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”

 

Somehow, someway, beyond our human capacities to understand there exists within the very essence of God three persons - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. God is in himself and with himself a co-eternal relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit.

Is the Father God? Yes

Is the Son God? Yes

Is the Spirit God? Yes

Are there three God’s? NO

 

Somehow the very nature of this one great big God is Father, Son, and Spirit - three persons all wrapped up in the inconceivable nature of one God. This is not something that is thoroughly explained in the Scriptures, rather it is a mystery that is exhaustively proclaimed in the Scriptures.

 

  • Jesus Claimed to Be God’s Son (over and over)

 

John 3:16 “For God So loved the World he gave his only son.”

  • God the Father Claimed Jesus as God’s Son

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Mark 9:2-8 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

 

  • The Apostles Believed Jesus was the Divine Son of God  

 

Colossians 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

 

  • The Demons Acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son

 

Mark 3:11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.

 

  • The Angels Proclaimed Jesus as God’s Son

 

Luke 1:30-33 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Jesus’ divinity as the Son of God is displayed in his:

  • Power to forgive sin
  • Power to control the weather
  • Power to heal disease
  • Power to raise the dead
  • Power to cast out demons
  • He wields authority like no one else wields authority because he is himself the authority - the divine Son of God.

When Paul describes Jesus as God’s Son in verse 3, he is describing a non-negotiable belief for the Christian.

John the Baptist puts it this way:

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

The gospel concerns God’s Son… and if you do not believe Jesus to be Divine, you cannot have eternal life.

Romans 1:3

concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh

I want you to pay careful attention to the wording here. Paul is packing big-time theology into small phrases.

First, let's look at the significance of “from David." Last week I referenced briefly that God had made a covenant promise to King David thousands of years before the birth of Jesus. God promised that there would be one to come from the lineage of David who would sit on a throne over a Kingdom that would have no end. That promise occurs in 2 Samuel 7, but promises about the descendant of David occur everywhere throughout the Old Testament.

Listen to just a few examples:

This King from David would establish eternal peace

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

This King from David would establish eternal Justice and righteousnes

Jeremiah 23:5-6

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

This King from David would bring God’s presence forever

Ezekiel 37:24-27

24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Truth #3 Jesus is the Promised King of Kings

The Old Testament was awaiting a King who would when the final battle over all enemies. This King would establish a kingdom that would no longer be under any threat of poverty, famine, attack, or disaster.

With the phrase, “descended from David" Paul is identifying Jesus as that King.

  • Jesus is the King whose rule will never end.
  • Jesus is the King who will conquer every enemy.
  • Jesus is the King who will establish everlasting peace for God’s People.
  • Jesus is the King who will usher in a Kingdom where God is present with his people.

There is a lot more we can say about this subject and the theme of Kingdom that runs from the beginning of the Bible to the end, but we took an entire sermon last Christmas to follow that thread from Genesis to Revelation.

So let me pause and just say this about the significance of Christ’s Royalty for us as individual Christian people in the here and now.

In Romans 1:1-7 alone Paul either directly or indirectly references Jesus as:

  • His Master
  • The Christ
  • The Divine Son of God
  • The Fulfilment of Old Testament Prophecy
  • The Royal Descendant of David
  • And last but not least, the Lord to whom all Christians belong.

Its safe to assume, that for Paul, becoming a Christian meant prizing, worshiping, treasuring, following, submitting to, serving, KING JESUS.

Just listen as Paul charges Timothy to obey King Jesus in the closing of 1 Timothy

1 Timothy 6:13-16 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

David Platt puts it this way:

Billions of people have come and billions have gone; empires have come and empires have gone; countries, nations, kings, queens, presidents, dictators, and rulers have all come and gone. At the center of it all stands one person: Jesus the Christ…. And if this Jesus is the King of all history, then it follows that He should be the King of your life. When you realize His rule and submit to His reign, it changes everything about how you live. Everything."
- David Platt

He rules our lives presently and will rule the universe eternally.

Will you be one of his people dwelling at peace with God forever, or will you be one of his enemies who will, in the end, be cast out of the Kingdom forever? It will all depend on whether you have faith in the gospel concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh.

Direct your eyes now to the phrase “according to the flesh. Paul uses this word flesh as shorthand for the physical body or the human nature. So Jesus was descended from David according to human, physical nature.

Why the need to clarify?

It would be odd if I reported my son Owen’s birth by saying, Owen was descended from Brandon according to humanity. Why would I describe that which is obvious and already assumed? It is obvious and already assumed for Owen, but for Jesus, this is a surprising description. Jesus, as we have seen already, was and is the Divine Son of God eternally existent before the world began, but at the moment the virgin Mary conceived, God took on physical matter. He became human flesh in a physical body with all its components and all its limitations. Paul is pointing you to another essential doctrine of the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not only divine. He was the divine who became human.

Truth #4 Jesus Became Man

Again we enter into the realm of divine mystery.

Timothy Keller writes this:

If there is a God, and he has became human, why would you find it incredible that he would do miracles, pay for sins of the world, or rise from the dead? …... The incarnation (the doctrine of Jesus’ birth), is the universe-sundering, history-altering, life-transforming, paradigm-shattering event in history.

Tim Keller

Paul states Jesus’ humbling to humanity most clearly in Philippians 2 which was read earlier in the service.

Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 

We could boggle our minds by trying to figure out how God could put on flesh and be born as a human. But again, the Bible does not explain how the infinite God could step into finite humanity. The Bible does not explain how God could eternally exist, or how he could create everything from nothing, in fact, we don’t have the mental capacities to grasp much of what we wish we could.

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

We have to take God at his word and how he reveals himself to us. We must take those realities and live in light of their implications. So we must ask, "what does it matter that Jesus was descended according to the flesh?"

 

  • Jesus’ Humanity was Necessary for our Salvation

 

The price for man’s sin was always death, so God himself became a man and subjected himself to the death that you and I deserved. If Jesus became human, he was able to do what we could not do - living a righteous life, dying a substitutionary death, in our place. If Jesus became human, he was the perfect sacrifice for sin. The God whom we could not rise up to descended to us and made a way for us to be with him.

 

  • Jesus’ Humanity was Necessary for God’s Glorification

 

God made himself known in the most personal way possible by becoming a man. If Jesus became human, then God has displayed the greatest act of love, justice, and righteousness in the history of the universe!

 

  • Jesus’ Humanity was Necessary for Our Sanctification

 

If Jesus became human, then God knows in an experiential way exactly what it is like to live as a human in a fallen world. He is truly with us as we seek to serve him. If Jesus became human, then God has displayed the most astounding step of humility to have ever been taken. He has given us the most perfect model for all relationships and all expressions of love.  No wonder, God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. He took the greatest step of humility and thus, to follow Christ is to walk in self-sacrificial humility putting others before ourselves. He put himself through unthinkable pain, suffering, and circumstances not fit for a King so that he might be reunited with you! He felt the weariness of a hard-working carpenter, the heartbreak of a friend's betrayal, he felt the loss of a dying companion, he felt the injustice of false accusations. He felt loneliness and the lashes of a whip. He felt what it was like to die. Jesus is, therefore, the key to eternal life, and he is the key to how we live our life in the here and now.

 

  • Jesus is the Key to healthy marriage relationships

 

Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

 

  • Jesus is the Key to healthy church relationships

 

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Romans 15:5-7 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Too often our goal for holiness in the Christian life falls so far short from what God desires for us. God desires for us Christ-like love, Christ-like Humility, Christ-like-holiness. Jesus became a man and not only did he die to save humanity from their sins… he lived to show the world what God intends for humanity. Later Paul will unpack this intention in Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son

If we are Christian, we are Jesus people who strive to live Jesus-like lives.

But why believe any of this? It sounds crazy. Why is this religion any more believable than any other religion? Why would I live the rest of my life worshipping, treasuring, following, imitating Jesus especially when it would cost me my preferred lifestyle or even my life?

Romans 1:3-4

concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord

Truth #5 Jesus’ Identity is Affirmed by Jesus’ Resurrection

Paul says that this Jesus who is God’s Son, the Promised King made human was "declared".

  • “Declared” - that Greek verb carries with it nuances of affirmation, appointment, dedication, and definiteness.

Jesus was made known to be the-Son-of-God-in power according to the Spirit of Holiness.

  • According to the Spirit of Holiness” - seems that the Holy Spirit of God is doing the declaring and that the Holy Spirit of God is empowering the resurrection.

The point is this - that God’s Spirit is acting to make known Jesus’ true identity through the Spirit’s acting to raise Jesus from the dead.

It is by the resurrection of Jesus which the Spirit of Holiness now declares the identity of Jesus - the son of God in power.

The eternal God existing as Father, Spirit, and Son is a hard concept to believe. The incarnation of God becoming a man is a hard concept to grasp. The salvation God offers by way of the sacrificial death of Jesus is a hard concept to accept. The Christian life, picking up a cross, and following after Jesus is a hard step to take. But Christianity is not a blind faith in unfathomable realities.

We believe in these doctrines of Christianity on the testimony of a resurrected man!

Jesus proved himself King of Kings and Lord of Lords by embracing a unique enthronement. He received a crown, but it was a crown of thorns. He received a robe, but it was a robe designed to mock. He was exalted up, but it was onto a cross. As King of God’s Kingdom Jesus humbled himself to the point of death on a cross taking the punishment for his people, rather than punishing his people. Theenemy Jesus came to conquer was sin and death, through his sacrificial death and his glorious resurrection. He defeated what no earthly king could have ever defeated. He conquered the true culprit behind all of Man’s failed Kingdoms.

His resurrection from the dead was both the proof of his victory and the down payment of his victory.

The promise we hold to is that Jesus rose from the dead and one day he will return to destroy death forevermore. We look to a future where we too will have resurrected bodies in a world where there is no more death. Paul writes extensively of Christ’s resurrection especially in 1 Corinthians 15.

1 Corinthians 15:1-3 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

If there was any doubt in the mind of any person whether Jesus was truly who he said he was and if there was any doubt that Jesus could really make good on his promise of eternal life to those who believe upon him, that doubt was obliterated with the empty tomb! 

Christianity has not just survived, but has thrived for the past two thousand years because of this fact!!!! The body of Jesus is not in the grave….

This changes everything.
If this is true then Jesus’ claim to be the son of God is true.
If this is true then his teachings are true.
If this is true, then what you believe about Jesus is the most important thing in all of the universe.
If this is true, nothing else matters except for what is done in worshipping and following this Jesus.

Conclusion:

Romans 1:3-4

concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord

Truth #1 There is No Good news without Jesus

Truth #2 Jesus is God’s Son

Truth #3 Jesus is the Promised King of Kings

Truth #4 Jesus Became a Man

Truth #5 Jesus’ Identity is Affirmed by Jesus’ Resurrection

The question we are left with is this. Do you believe that Jesus is the good news of the Gospel?  Without believing and trusting this Jesus as he is revealed to us, there is no forgiveness of sin and there is no good news.

Is Jesus your Lord?

Some need to respond with repentance:

  • You have been living a Christless Christianity having set your sights on your own standards for holiness rather than Christs’
  • Perhaps you have never actually believed in Jesus, and for the first time, you want to surrender to the Lordship of King Jesus.

Some of you need to respond simply with praise. Maybe you have not rejoiced over the God of your salvation recently and you need to take a moment to realign your joy and your affections with what you believe about Jesus.

Let’s respond in prayer together.

 

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