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The Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit
Heirs of God
Romans 8:17-18
 
I came across a thought this week that really caused me to take some time and think about its impact and I want to share it with you to set the stage for our study tonight. 
 
Her it is:
 
The Holy Spirit is the deity most intimately involved in the life of a believer. 
 
That challenged my thinking because we typically think of closeness and relationship in regard to Jesus.  After all, He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother.  He is the One Who lives and dwells in our hearts.  We are invited and encouraged to develop a close and personal relationship with Him. 
 
But the truth is, all of that happens through the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that gives us new life.  It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates us.  It is the Holy Spirit who adopts us into the family of God.  It is the Holy Spirit who then sanctifies us.  It is the Holy Spirit who, from within us, empowers us by His filling.  It is the Holy Spirit who places us, through spiritual baptism, into the body of Christ. 
 
It is the Holy Spirit who illuminates us and teaches us the Scripture which He Himself is the author of.  It is the Holy Spirit who one day will glorify us, one day raise our bodies to eternal life.  All of this ministry is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 
And through all of our lives as believers, He is in the process of conforming us to the standard of holiness that is the very image of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He does that, according to 2 Corinthians 3:8, by moving us from one level of glory to the next, until that day when He perfects us in heaven.  This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 
 
And in sharp contrast to what we see and hear about in today's culture, it is not a ministry of silliness.  It is a ministry of holiness.  From start to finish, that is His responsibility in our lives.  The goal of God is to produce holiness in us.  And to that end, He has initiated this process called sanctification that eventually leads to us being like Christ.  
 
Now, in Romans chapter 8, we’ve seen a number of elements of this.  The Holy Spirit brings us into a relationship with God that results in no condemnation.  We are absolutely clean before the Lord.  That's verse 1.
 
Then, the Holy Spirit frees us from sin and death.  We looked at that in verses 2 and 3.  The Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the law, verse 4.  The Holy Spirit changes our nature, verses 5 to 11.  The Holy Spirit empowers us for victory over sin, verses 12 and 13.  And then last time, the Holy Spirit adopts us into God’s family as sons, verses 14 through 16.  All of this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit for which we give Him praise and thanks.
 
The next section, which is verses 17-30, shows us how the Holy Spirit secures our eternal glory.  Then, following that, in verses 31 to 39 we have the greatest summary statement regarding the glories of salvation that is found anywhere in the Scriptures.  And it is nothing more than a response to the mighty work of the Holy Spirit.  We’ll see that before too long.  But tonight and for the next few studies, we're going to look at how the Holy Spirit secures our eternal glory. 
 
To begin with, notice a phrase found in
 
verse 23
 
Notice the phrase, "the firstfruits of the Spirit".  That’s a very important concept.  A farmer always knew what the crop was going to be like when the first fruit showed up.  The early fruit would be a sign of what the rest of the fruit would be like. 
 
So follow the illustration:  The very first gift God gives us after salvation is the Holy Spirit.  And everything He brings to us and does for us, all the blessings and glories, that He brings is only a first fruit, only a pledge, only a taste, only a guarantee of the rest of the things that God has prepared for those that love Him.
 
Elsewhere the Holy Spirit is called a pledge and the word that is used to describe that is the word for an  engagement ring or a down payment.  The Holy Spirit is the engagement ring that proves the wedding is going to come to pass.  The Holy Spirit is the down payment, the guarantee that God’s going to make the rest of the payments when we get to glory. 
 
 
 
 
The Holy Spirit is also called the seal.  He is God’s stamp of authenticity, authority, ownership.  In 2 Corinthians 1 verse 21, “He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God who has sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”  There you have seal and pledge in the same verse, 2 Corinthians 1:22. 
 
So the Holy Spirit is in us to seal us to be the down payment, the guarantee of our coming eternal glory.  This is His ministry to us. So we are sealed by the Spirit, we have the pledge of the Spirit, we have the first fruits of the Spirit.
 
Now let's put that together in regard to what we've learned so far about the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit from Romans 8.  He has brought us into a no-condemnation status before God, given us freedom from sin’s dominion and the power to do what is right, showed us through the life of Jesus Christ how He will be with us every step of the way, and assured us that we belong to God by adopting us into the family.
 
And now He is reminding us that one day, we will become the finished product that He designed and He guarantees it's going to happen through the firstfruits of the Spirit. 
 
As Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, “He that began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  In other words, the work has not only begun, it is as good as completed,  That’s why Paul begins the chapter by saying, “There is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ.” 
We are assured of no condemnation; we are secured against any future condemnation by the promise of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.
 
So the Holy Spirit is in us to secure us through this life to the end and then bring our spirits into the presence of God and one day raise our bodies to join those spirits so that forever we will stand in the full blazing glory of the presence of God in the heaven of heavens and serve Him and worship Him there.  We’re on the road to glory and the Holy Spirit is our protector in the process.
 
You want to know something?  If there was any possible way for a human being to lose salvation, I would lose it.  If it was possible to disqualify myself from salvation, I would get disqualified.  And so would you. I can’t save myself and I can’t keep myself saved.  I can’t be righteous enough to save myself, but neither can I be righteous enough to keep myself saved. 
 
So if I'm going to heaven and if I'm going to wind up like Jesus, then God’s not only got to save me by grace, He’s going to have to keep me by grace.  And that’s exactly what He's promised to do and He does it through the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.  
 
We are headed for glory and according to 1 John 3:2, “We’ll be like Him when we see Him as He is.” 
As Paul said to the Philippians, “We’ll have a body like unto the body of His glory.”
 
So what is the point of salvation?  In a phrase, it is to bring fallen mankind into a right relationship with God so they be with Him forever.  
 
Literally, we will be brought into the presence of God to stand before Him and see the fullness of His glory, blazing from His throne in the new Jerusalem, in the center of the new heaven and the new earth and be with Him forever. 
 
Now that is quite an accomplishment!  When man came into the world, God shared His glory and image with him.  We sinned it away and as Paul says, "We fall short of the glory of God." We have no glory of our own.  But in Christ we can have glory.  In Christ we can become glorious.  In Christ we literally share the very glory of God.
 
Now we're not there yet, but we are in process.  We have tasted of that glory.  That glory has come into us through the Holy Spirit, but we're veiled.  We're covered. 
 
Folks can look at us walking down the street, and most of the time, even on a good day, they don't see any glory. But one day, we will be fully glorified and we will be like Christ.  And everyone who sees us will say, "Only God could do that!"  That is the goal of salvation and that's what we'll see once we get over to verse 30.
 
But in the meantime, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us to keep us secure all the way through the sanctifying process to glory.  He is the seal, the guarantee, the engagement ring, the down payment, the first fruits of our coming glory.  And this is all based on the fact that we have been made sons so that the glory which will be ours one day is given to us as an inheritance from our Father. 
 
We have been adopted into the family of God.  We have been born into the family of God.  We’re sons both ways and we are sons in order that we may receive glory.  We are the children of God with full rights to share all that God possesses.  It’s a magnificent reality.
 
Now, let’s look at verses 17 and 18 and what they have to say about our inheritance. 
 
verses 17-18
 
Notice that verse 17 begins by talking about being heirs and 18 ends by talking about glory that has not no comparison.  Now don't miss the connection.  Understand that the inheritance is God's glory.  See what he's saying?  We are heirs of God, fellow heirs with Christ, and what we inherit is glory.  Let's break that down a little bit with a simple outline.
 
First, let’s talk about
 
1.  The Fact of Our Inheritance
 
verse 17
 
Underscore the phrase, "if children, then heirs"
 
Now this is a promise to every child of God.  If you are a child, then you are an heir.  And the best way to understand the thought being presented is to read "if" as "since". 
 
What we have here in the Greek language is called a fulfilled condition and a fulfilled condition is not an “if” condition, it is a “since” condition.  So the verse is properly read as “And since children, then heirs”. 
The big subject in the verse is not are you or are you not an heir, but rather, "Are you a child?"  That's what we've just been covering in verses 14,15 and 16.  We know we are children of God because of what we are told in those verse.  After all, we've been adopted.  We have every right to cry, “Abba, Father,” and since we are children, since that is a reality, since is a fulfilled condition, we are then heirs.
 
Now, remember, according to Roman adoption laws an adopted child was not inferior to a naturally born child in the family. In fact, adopted children were often adopted because the parents wanted a superior child to the ones they had. 
 
So when somebody chose to adopt a child, it was by intentional choice for the purpose of the future benefit and welfare of the family.  So that child was given all the rights to an inheritance equal to the naturally born children in that family.  The fact was that adopted child was at least equal, and in many cases, even superior to the other children.
 
Now watch this:  In Jewish tradition, the inheritance went double portion to the oldest child.  If there were two sons, the oldest would get two-thirds and the youngest would get one-third.  The oldest son got a double portion of the inheritance. 
 
But that was not the case in Roman law. Instead, all sons were given the same inheritance.  There was an equal level of inheritance in the Roman system, and that included adopted children as well.  So Paul, writing to Romans, uses the case law with which they were familiar to say, "All who are children of God are equal heirs. 
And by the way, according to Roman law, something received by inheritance was more secure than what might be owned by purchase.  The most secure possession anyone ever received was something received by inheritance. 
 
Think about that: Paul is telling us that as the children of God, we are not only equally given the inheritance, it is more secure than anything we could gain for ourselves. 
 
I wish those who believe you can work for and earn your salvation and deserve to have it would just study their Bibles.  You and I ain't takin' nothing with us to heaven that we've done for ourselves.  God it?   
Anything we gain for ourselves, we’ll leave here. 
 
That's why Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount not to "lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  Instead, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."
 
Everything earthly is left behind, including any false righteousness or works people depend on to get them into heaven.  But what God gifts to us by adopting us and birthing us into His family is eternal. 
 
Since we are His children, we are His heirs.
 
Second, think about
 
 
 
 
2.  The Source of This Inheritance
 
Notice the next phrase in verse 17.  We are "heirs of God".
 
In other words, God’s the source.  We inherit what God has decided we should have.  God is the one who gives us the inheritance.  God is the one who laid it up for us in heaven, to quote Peter.
 
So whatever this inheritance is, it’s going to come from the Lord.  It’s His and His alone to give.  So what is it?  What is it that the Lord has left for us?  What is our inheritance?
 
In the most comprehensive sense, it is holiness or blamelessness.  We could describe it as absolute righteousness.  It is the perfection of glorified humanity.  But it is even more than that. 
 
A better way to understand it is to go back into the Old Testament.  Do you remember the phrase that psalmists would use when they would say, "The Lord is my portion"?  We read that in Psalm 16:5 where the psalmist prays:
 
"O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot."
 
Jeremiah used that same phrase in the book of Lamentations.  And what it's talking about is not some commodity the Lord provides; rather it is the Lord Himself.  Is that not what the Psalm says?
 
YOU are the portion of My inheritance and cup;  YOU maintain my lot. 
 
What do we read in Revelation 21:3?  When we finally get to heaven, we are there with and He says, “I will be their God and they will be My people and I will live among them, and I will wipe away their tears.  I'll see to it there is no sorrow or death or dying." 
 
Listen:  The inheritance is God Himself.  That’s the inheritance.  What is waiting for us?  God is!  He is the shining one from the throne in the New Jerusalem, His glory extends to the infinite ends of the New Heaven and the New Earth! 
 
And as His children, we step right into the full blaze of that glory and are not incinerated because we have been made holy and blameless through the blood of His Son.  And all that God is and all that God has becomes ours.  It’s a stunning reality.  We inherit God.  We even share His glory in His heaven forever.  He is the source and He is the inheritance.
 
And just to push that a little, look at the next phrase in verse.  Not only are we heirs, and not only are we heirs of God, we are 
 
17c
 
"joint heirs with Jesus"
 
There we discover
 
3.  The Extent of the Inheritance
 
How extensive is our inheritance?  So much so that we are joint heirs with Jesus Himself.
Again, that emphasizes the Roman custom of equal inheritance.  What a thought – everything that will be Christ’s will be ours. 
 
So what does Jesus inherit?  Oh listen!  He gets everything!  The Only Begotten Son of God gets it all!  Hebrews 1:2 calls Christ the heir of all things! He is the beloved Son in Whom the Father is well-please!  The book of Ephesians reminds us that He is the ruler over all!  Absolutely everything is His.
 
And when it's all said and done, whatever is His will be ours.  We will literally become fellow heirs with Christ.  In Him, we become the heir of all things.  It’s an amazing reality.  We will reign with Him, Revelation 20 says.  We will sit on His throne, Revelation 3:21 says.  We will bear His image, the image of the heavenly one, 1 Corinthians 15:49. 
 
These are realities that speak of the fact that whatever is Christ’s will be ours.  We will not be deity, we will be glorified humanity, but as far as glorified humanity can share the glory of God and the inheritance of Christ, we will share it fully.
 
Somebody might say, “Well, why should it just be handed to us? After all, He did a lot to gain that inheritance on the cross and He did it by Himself.    Don't you think Christ might be a little upset about that? 
 
No, because He's not like us!  We'd be upset.  We'd want all the glory for ourselves.  We would want people talking about all that we did and bragging on us and we'd just revel in that recognition.
 
But not Jesus!  He chooses to share His glory.  It's not something he is reluctant to do.  He doesn't grudgingly share His glory with us.   Listen to His prayer in
 
John 17:22-23
 
Does that sound like He's mad or upset or reluctant?  Not at all!  He's in on the deal and He fully shares His glory with us without any reluctance.
 
The greatness of this inheritance is absolutely staggering.  It is by grace, not works.  It is by a sovereign work of God, not human effort. 
It is a covenant from God, who cannot lie and cannot change.  This inheritance is not lessened because it has to be divided among many inheritors because the supply of God is infinite glory.  It is glorious, it is comprehensive, it is secure. 
 
We will inherit God, His glory, share His glory, and all that is Christ’s will be ours.  Such is the ncomparable gain of glory and it is guar-on-teed by the Holy Spirit who guards and protects our faith to the end.
 
However, there is a stipulation included in our text that needs to be pointed out. 
 
Go back to verse 17 and notice the next phrase.
 
"if indeed we suffer with Him"
 
Here we see
 
4.  The Preparation for the Inheritance
 
Here we come to another "if", and once again it should be translated "since".  Just as before, "since we’re children, we’re heirs.  And since we suffer with Him indeed, we will be glorified with Him.
 
In other words, there is an inevitability in the life of a believer that that believer is going to suffer.  I’m not talking about martyrdom necessarily, although it could happen.  Obviously today all over the world, people are dying because of their Christian faith.  And we never want to forget the Lord told us "to take up our cross and follow Him".  
 
But more to the point, what this verse is saying is, "Since it is a fact that we suffer with Christ, because we exalt Christ and live for Christ and proclaim Christ in a Christless, Christ-hating, Christ-rejecting world, just remember, since you suffer for the same things for which Christ suffered, you will inherit the same glory that He received also. 
 
I know we’re not being persecuted or boiled in oil or having bamboo jammed up our fingernails.  We’re not being persecuted to that degree.  And we're certainly not being beaten and crucified,  But all of us understand the ridicule and rejection that comes to those who are faithful to proclaim the name of Christ in a hostile environment. 
 
Anyone who has been faithful to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment has suffered to one degree or the other for their faith.  And some have suffered much more than and are suffering right now.  But Jesus warned us that was going to happen.  “In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I’ve overcome the world.” 
“In this world they’re going to treat you the way they treated Me.  They hated Me, they’re going to hate you.”  That’s the way it is. And if we aren't experiencing that hatred and suffering it's most likely because we're not really letting our faith control our words and actions.
 
But remember, such is the pathway to glory and as we fellowship in the sufferings of Christ, as we bear the reproach of Christ, we will then follow the path that He traveled to glory. 
 
This is a far cry from the idea that God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, happy, successful, popular and comfortable.  No! The Holy Spirit is concerned about your eternal glory, and He understands that the path to that eternal glory is to suffer with Christ.  So while we are joint heirs with Jesus, there is some kind of connection between what we do up there in glory and how we suffer down here for the cause of Christ here and now.
 
One final word, and we'll be through. 
 
verse 18
 
What is Paul saying?  Just take what comes for you serving Christ.  Suffer for Christ knowing that it doesn't begin to compare with what's waiting on you when you get to Heaven.  There is an incomparable glory awaiting us in the presence of the Lord and it will be worth whatever suffering you endure.  That is His promise to us, and it is the work of the blessed Holy Spirit to secure us all the way to the end to receive that glory. 
 
Let’s bow in prayer.
 
 
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