Unexpected Jesus #2 - Who are God's Children?

Dr. Terry Thomas, professor of Biblical Studies at Geneva College & part-time Teaching Pastor at Orchard Hill, looks at our relationship with light and dark and how we enter into a relationship of adoption with a Father God.

Message Transcript

Hi everybody. Well, it's good to have you here today, and in case you don't know, we're beginning ... we're at the very beginning sort of a new series. It's a series called Unexpected Jesus. You know, sort of. It's really about the Book of John, and oftentimes, people say that if you want to get a real nice picture of the life and teaching of Jesus, the Book of John is a great one to ... is to get to. And so we decided we're going to have a series. It'll be going on for awhile. We'll be ... because there's a lot of chapters in John. But there's a lot of great stuff and I think we're ... right now, we're at the very, very beginning. We're just at the prologue of the Book of John. Sort of getting a start. Getting a picture of kind of where it's going and that kind of stuff.

And, but I think you'll enjoy it. Hey, by the way, I hope you've enjoyed the service so far. There's been some pretty spectacular music here today, wouldn't you say? Yeah. I agree. And, how about that song? Susan Randall wrote that song, the first one, the Redeem song. Unbelievable. That's a ... Now today, was the first time that was ever sung here in church, but the first time it was ever performed was at the last worship night. It was in the fall. And, the worship night is coming up again in a couple of Fridays. So you might want to get to that. Who knows? There might be new music there. I might write something, you know? Okay. Maybe not.

So, anyway. Let me do this first. I'd like to re-read, even though we had Christopher Plumber there reading for us, I'd like to re-read this passage in the Book of John that we're going to talk a little bit about. And this is from a different translation. This is from a translation called The Message. Guy named Eugene Peterson wrote it. It's a little more of a free translation, but I like it because it has a cool way of saying some stuff. So here it is. This is John 1 again, from The Message.

There once was a man, and this man's name was john and he was sent by God to point out the way to the life light. He came to show everybody where to look, who to believe in. Now John himself, he wasn't the light. He was there to show the way to the light. The life light, was the real thing, every person entering life, He brings into light. He was in the world, and the world was there through Him, and yet the world didn't even notice Him. He came to His own people, but they didn't want him. But whoever did want Him, who believed He was who He claimed, and believe that He would do what He said, He made to be their true selves, their true child of God selves. These are people who are God begotten. Not blood begotten. Not flesh begotten. Not sex begotten. Begotten by God.

So that's the passage. It's sort of an introductory piece, and we want to look at a little bit of ... couple of different things. I really have three things I want to talk about here in a little bit. First one is about sort of light and darkness. The second one is about becoming a child of God which, oftentimes, other places in the Bible, it talks about this idea as being the idea of adoption. Being adopted by God. And then the third thing I want to talk a little bit about is about what specifically, when it says this, to those who believed He gave the right to become the children of God. So, what does that believing look like specifically?

So, hopefully I can get to those three things, and we'll talk a little bit ... it'll set up it nicely for things that are going to come and things that you'll see that Jesus says as we look through the Book of John later. Let me talk about darkness first. Darkness and light. Anybody here ever been in a really, really dark room? I mean like, you can't see your hand in front of your face. How many have been in there? Okay. All right, well that's a lot. I don't know, where are you guys hanging out, seriously? But now did you ever notice that when people are in that room like that, they usually move very slowly, right? And they put their hands out.

Very rarely in the dark room do people go, you know, with their face forward. But, it seems treacherous. It seems dangerous. You don't quite know what's going to happen. There ... And yet, here's the deal. We spend a lot of time in the darkness you know? We spend a lot of ... Matter of fact, I'm going to make this comparison because this is what the Bible says. It says we love oftentimes, we love the darkness rather than the light. You have to ask yourself, why would you love the darkness rather than the light? And I think I got a good answer for this. Right away, maybe you can relate to it. I think that we love the darkness rather than the light because we think we can get away with things in the darkness that we can't get away with in the light.

We're afraid if a little light comes on, a little ... people will see what we're ... we'll be ashamed. We'll be embarrassed. We'll feel about ourselves that we're less than what we thought about ourselves. And by the way, we like to think really highly of ourselves, don't we? And so as a result, we kind of like the dark because we can kind of play whoever we wanna be and we think we can kind of get away with it. You know, I was thinking about this the other day, and the reason why I thought about this was because I had a cramp. I had one of those cramps you know you get. I don't know why. The reason ... I was dehydrated, I guess. I don't know why it is. I just only drink two Diet Coke. But anyway. I had this cramp and it reminded me back in my late 30s of one weekend, when my wife and kids were going to go away for the weekend and I was going to be at home by myself. And my wife said, "Terry, you only got one thing to do."

Don't you hate it when your wife tells you what you gotta do? Don't answer that question. Okay. So I said to her, "What is that?" She said, "Well, you know, so and so had a baby and you need to take dinner over to them on Saturday night", and so forth. And I was like, "Okay." And I thought to myself, I could take it over early, and then I'd have the whole night to myself to do ... all of a sudden, I was in the shadows. You know what I mean? I was like, who knows what I will do! You know? And even before the night came, I thought to myself, I'm not going to church on Sunday. Nobody here to know whether I went or not. So I'm already deciding I'm not going, so whatever I'm doing it's going late into the night, you know?

So, Saturday comes and I take the dinner over. I'm driving back home. We lived in Mt. Lebanon at that time. I'm driving back home and I drive past the Mt. Lebanon Park and that's where we always go play basketball. There's high school, college, adults play there all the time. I'm driving by. Look, hey, guys are playing! Thinking to myself, 6:00, I can play for awhile. So I pull up. I go down and play and it's a nice night. It's nice and warm, you know. And I was on fire. I couldn't miss. We were winning game after game after ... I mean, finally the lights come on. We're still playing. We're doing great.

Finally, one high school kid says, "I gotta get home. My mom told me I should be home before midnight." I thought to myself, midnight? Went over and looked at my watch. It was a quarter to 12:00. I thought to myself, I've been playing for almost six hours! And I was thinking, you are the man! You know? I mean, some old timers might not be able to ... but you got it, still! You know what I said? I said I'm going to keep playing. And so I played until everybody decided they were going to leave. It was after midnight. And being the good athlete that I am, when I left, I stopped at 7-Eleven, got a big Slurpee to re-hydrate myself and so forth.

And I got home and it was like fantastic. I go and shower, and I thought to myself, you know what? I'm tired from playing a little bit. I'm just going to go to bed. I'm going to sleep in. I'm not even going to go to church tomorrow! Turn the clock around. Nobody gonna tell me ... I'll do whatever I wanted. You got that? This is what you like to do in the dark, so nobody sees. Nobody ... I was feeling really self-sufficient. Man, you still got it. Hey, you're in control and you get to decide what you got to ... That's the darkness, in a way. And so what happens is I get into my bed and in those days, we had a water bed. Okay? It was the times. What are you gonna do?

So, I get in the water bed and I don't know whether ... I don't know if you've ever had a water bed or you ever slept in a water. I know a couple of you did. I could tell. But anyway. Here's what happens, though. When you lay down in a water bed, especially if there's nobody in the water bed with you, and it has that motion ... Oh, it's so ... And then all of a sudden, what ever position you go to sleep in, that's the one you wake up in. Because it perfectly fits your body. And so what happened was, I went to sleep and I slept solid. Like a rock. So the next morning, I wake up and ... my first thought was, I'm not going to church. Then I thought, I should probably get up.

And I made that first move to get out of bed. I made that first move. When I made that first move, I got an unbelievable cramp in my hamstring. I mean, it was like someone stuck a sword. I'm rubbing it. I'm rubbing it. I'm rubbing it so much, I get a cramp in my arm. Like ... you know, so I'm doing everything I can figure out how to ... I'm doing my Lamaze breathing. I tried making out. It's back now! I get a cramp in the other hamstring. I get them both. Again. Finally, I said to myself, Terry, you gotta get up. Because when you're in a water bed, you can't ... there's nothing to push against, so you can't stretch those muscles. So finally I think to myself, I just gotta throw myself out of bed so I can stand up, so I could stand up and do stretches ...

So finally I throw myself out. It's terrible. I get ... I hobble over to the shower. I'm in the hot shower for a half hour or so. I come back and I sit on the edge of the bed. I'm thinking to myself, what is that on my foot? And I turn on my foot. I got a blister on the bottom of my foot that looks like the State of Rhode Island, you know what I mean? It's that big. How did I ... Look ... Got one on the other foot too!

This is why you like to be in the dark. Because when you think, hey, I can do whatever I want to do. There are no consequences to the things that I do. You don't want anybody to see how stupid you really are. And when my wife came home, you know what the first thing I said to her was? I got the meal over there on time. And that was it. Didn't wanna shed any light on that. No, you know what? Here's the deal. Because just a little light can make you feel stupid. Just a ... Have you ever heard a joke ... I tell you it's a joke because sometimes Kurt doesn't tell that it's a joke beforehand and then nobody laughs. So here's the deal.

So, there's a guy. He breaks into a house to rob this house, okay? And he's going around quietly, and he's stealing things right inside, you know? And all of a sudden he hears a voice that says, "Jesus is watching." And he thinks to himself, the people are in the house. He stands real still. He's nervous. And so ... but after awhile, nothing happened. So, he continues to go on. He goes into the next room. All of a sudden he hears the voice again. "Jesus is watching." He realizes, wait a minute, that voice is in the ... So he's got a little flashlight in his pocket. He pulls the flashlight out and he turns it on. He looks over and there's a parrot in a corner. And the parrot looks at him and says, "Jesus is watching."

And the guy, "Oh man." He walks over, he says, "Have you been talking to me?" And the parrot says, "Yes." And he thinks to himself, this is unbelievable. So he figures, he says, "Hey, what's your name?" Parrot says, "My name is Ishmael." And the guys says, "Ishmael? What kind of an idiot names his parrot Ishmael?" And the parrot says, "Same kind of idiot that names his Rottweiler Jesus." Sometimes you'd just rather be in the dark, you know what I mean? Little light really throw you off. Okay?

See here's the point. The point is this. Jesus is ... Here's who He is. He's the image of the invisible God. The very likeness of the creator of the world in flesh. That's what we just come to discover. He's the word of God. The presence of God. The will of God, made flesh, to live among us. And when He comes, the light comes on. But people like the darkness rather than the light. And so they try to stay away from it. They try to get away from it. They keep away from these things. Hey, by the way, it's not just like bad people, you know? Like you. It's not just bad people that try to stay away from the light, that like the darkness.

It's people who think of themselves as good people. It's people who think of themselves as religious people. You know? Matter of fact, in the darkness, you'll try to use Jesus against somebody. That's how dark we are. I got a friend who, he had a little boy, was like six years old, and he was a student at the seminary where I went. And one night his dad was trying to study and the kid was being crazy and doing all kind of wacky stuff. So finally he says to the kid, "Hey, that's enough. That's it." He tells him so many times, the kid won't listen. So finally he says, "That's it. Time out. You get the time out chair. Sit in the time out chair." So the kid's over, sitting in the time out. And of course, you know a kid in the ... He's all mad. He can't ... He doesn't wanna be in the timeout chair. And the dad keeps looking over at him, doing his work.

And finally, here's the darkness in our hearts. The kid, and you don't have to be old to do this, the kid does. He looks at him, he says to his dad, "Jesus loves me." That's cold! That's cold saying to your dad. You don't love me. But Jesus loves me. Thank goodness his dad had read the Bible, because dad turned to him and said this, he said, "Well, if he does, it's not because anything you ever did."

And that's the truth. The truth is it's not because of anything we ever did. The light comes into the world as the grace of God, as the expression of the love of God. The world likes the darkness. But God likes people better than themselves, than they like themselves, than they love themselves. And so what He wants is He wants the best for them. And so He breaks that ... that light breaks into the darkness. So even ... And by the way, here's a little passage from the Book of Matthew about this.

One day, it says this, Jesus said, there's another story. Listen closely. There was a man, a wealthy farmer, who planted a vineyard and he fenced it in. He dug a wine press and he put up a watchtower. And then he turned it over to some farmhands and he went off on a trip. And when the time for the harvesting of the grapes came, he sent his servants back to collect his profits. Well, the farmhands grabbed the first servant and they beat him up. The next one, they murdered. They threw stones at the third one but he got away. The owner tried again, sending more servants. They got the same treatment. The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. Surely, he thought, they'll respect my son.

But when the farmhands saw the son arrive, they rubbed their hands in greed. This is the heir, let's kill him, and have it all for ourselves. So they grabbed him and they threw him down and they killed him. Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he'll do to those farmhands? That's what Jesus asked these people that he was speaking to. And they said, "He'll kill them, the rotten bunch. Good riddance to them", they said. Then he'll assign the vineyards to farmhands who will hand over their profits when it's time. And Jesus said, "Right. Now can you read your own Bible?" Then he quoted about a Psalm 118. The stone the masons threw out is now the cornerstone. This is God's word. Rub your eyes. He could hardly believe that it's happening.

He was talking about his own arrival into the world. Then it says this: this is the way it is with you, Jesus said to these people. God's kingdom will be taken back from you. You remember the passage that said, He came to his own, but His own didn't want Him? He's speaking to the Jews now and to the leaders among the Jews. He says, He came to ... The kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to people who will live out the kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this stone, He's talking about Himself, whoever stumbles on this Stone, will get shattered. Whoever the Stone falls on, will get smashed.

Now here's how the story ends. When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them. They wanted to arrest Jesus and put Him in jail, but intimidated by public opinion, they held back because most people thought Jesus was a prophet. The most religious people of the day wanted to stay in the darkness. Even when the light showed up. And even when He explained to them what the wrong response was, and they recognized it, they still didn't want to get involved with it. And so He says, hey listened, this can be opened up to a larger group of people who want to step into the light. Because you know what happens when you step into the light?

Three things, right away. One is this, one is you see the way things really are. That's what happens when the light ... when the lights come on, and you step into the light. You see the way things really are. Secondly, you see where you stand in relationship to the way things really are. By the way, in our world today, a lot of people think, will claim that they have the light. A lot of religious leaders and people who are famous and people who think they got it all together. And you know? It's like being in that dark room, and all sorts of people think they know the way out of the room. There's one door. There's only one door. But, all of them are claiming that they know where the door is.

And you hear a voice over here that says, "Oh, come over here. This is where it is." And you hear some knocking over there and you think to yourself, oh, they're knocking on the door to get the people to open the door. And so you go over. Now what you don't know is, there's no door over there. It's not the way into the light. It's not the way to where you want to go. Okay? Actually what people are doing is they're banging their head against the wall, and you are standing in line to get your chance to bang your head against the wall. Now here's the deal, in that situation, you want it to stay dark. Because it's embarrassing to think that you're standing in line waiting for a chance to bang your head against the wall.

When you see where you stand, all of a sudden you gotta make a decision. Am I going to go to the light? Or am I going to stay in the dark? So you see the way things really are. You see where you stand in relationship to the way things really are. And then here's the deal, the third thing is, you get the idea. This is where you want to go. This is the direction that you want to head in. And so you make that decision to move in that direction when you see those things. So this is what the light is about. The light coming into the world is about light that's gonna shed light on darkness. Tell you, hey, this is the way things really are. This is where you stand. And if you want to go into the life, and what life's all about, it's this direction. I'll show you the way.

I'll show you the light. Okay. So the first thing is, is that. There's that light darkness thing. Jesus has talked about a lot about as the light of the world, and it's what John will talk about this a couple of times more in the Book of John. What we'll hear about it. But anyway. The second thing we want to talk about a little bit is the idea of being adopted. Because here's what it says. It says, for those people who are interested, not the ones who don't want it. Not the ones who would rather stay in the darkness. Not the ones who are embarrassed or the ones that want to stay in control of their own life. Not them. But here's the thing. To those who believed in Him, it says He gives them the right to become the children of God. To become a child of God.

And then He goes on to say, it's not a child of God by some sort of legacy in the sense that you were born into the Jewish race and so as a result, you are a child of God because Abraham ... God made a covenant with Abraham. If you're one of his people, you are one of the children of ... No. It's not about the heritage sort of thing. It's not about birth. It's not about how somehow you got born into a religious family, and somehow because they're religious, you happen to be religious and you go through certain religious activities. I always say it like this, just because you're born in a donut shop, doesn't make you a donut. And so it's not about that one birth. It's not about that second kind of birth. You know what it's about? It's about a birth that God creates inside you. It's about God initiating by His Spirit a new relationship with you.

It's about God saying, hey, you were this. You are now this. And so as a result, this, becoming a child of God ... interesting the way He says it. You have the right to become a child of God. And that's where, I think, we get the idea oftentimes, and this notion about adoption as an image for what it means to be in a right relationship with God. That we're adopted by God. By the way, one of the great things about being adopted by God is it's something that He initiates that we don't have to earn or deserve. We sang about this so many times. We heard it in the passage here. My friend told it to his son, if He loves you, it's not because of everything you ever did.

This is good news. The good news is that you don't have to earn or deserve being adopted. You don't have to act so in some way, this could tired you out. Acting so good, looking so great, that you're hoping somebody will finally love you. God loves you just as much on your worst day as on your best day. And He initiates that, He goes and says I want to adopt you. He takes you down to the courthouse and signs the papers. He initiates it and He creates a relationship that is binding with you. Now, some of you know something about adoption, because in a crowd like this there's gotta be some people who either they personally were adopted or have adopted some ... How many people? Okay. There's a few out here.

Hey, by the way, I don't know if you ever heard the joke about ... It's another one, see? The joke about the woman who she had twins and she decided to give them up for adoption. So the one child she gave up to a family in Egypt and they named the child Amal. And the other kid, she gave up to a family in Spain and they named him Juan. And then several years later, as oftentimes adopted children they'll try to find their birth mother. And Juan tracked her down and he finally sent her beautiful letters. She was so happy to get it. And she saw in it was a picture. Here was a picture of Juan. And she was like, oh, you know? And she said to her husband, "I wish I could have a picture of Amal, too." And her husband said, "Why? They are twins. When you have Juan, you have Amal."

When you have one, you have them all. Yeah. You're going to use that joke tomorrow. Maybe today. Uh-huh. Laughing now. Here's a question, what happens, what changes when you do get adopted? Well, sometimes you get a new name. Sometimes ... You might say it like this, in terms of our kind of metaphor of adoption, you get a new identity. You are not who you were before. You're somebody new now. You gotta ... Hey, no matter what your past was, that's put behind you. Now you've got a new future. You know, sometimes the brokenness that was part of ... Hey, by the way, I talked to somebody last night who was adopted. They said this, "You don't want to apply that just because somebody adopts you, you don't have any problems in your life. Of course you do."

And there are issues to be dealt with that they come from the brokenness that creates that kind of situation. But the good news is, is that the new situation is on the movement to be restored. You know what happens is that now, you have a relationship with a father who supposedly, at least, cares about you. In a relationship with God, we know He cares about us. There's no question what so ... Hey, it's not that He just doesn't care about us. That He just cares about us. He wants the best for us as we could possibly have, and He'll do whatever it takes to get us to the best. Including make us maybe suffer a little bit along the way. Because sometimes that suffering is what we need to bring about a sense of making sure that we're going in the right direction.

And so, yeah, in adoption, a person becomes a new ... they get legal rights. You know one of the legal rights is? You become an heir to your new family. You don't just get the family. You don't just become apart of a new community. By the way, that's true in adoption as a Christian as well. You become part of a new community. You get a new family. You don't even just get a loving father. You should get a loving family, as well, that you get to be part of. And so as a result, you get a new trajectory for what your life is. Here's the way the Bible says it: Jesus is the light of the world. When you step into the light, when the light comes into your life and turns it on and shows you where you stand and then tells you ... I mean, shows you the way things really are and then shows you where you stand, and tells you how you can get to where you want to go, okay, here's the deal. When you move into that direction, you know what you become? You become the light of the world.

That's the transfer. You become who Jesus is. You're restored to what God wants people to be. In the image of His own son. To look like that. And God begins to get to work internally, inside you, to be able to get you to want to be that kind of a person. You become ... Hey, you know, sometimes we say it involves a little of suffering. There's an image in the Bible, several times, where it talks about a purification process. And they use fire as a kind of symbol, or as an image of purification. Because in ancient Middle Eastern times, oftentimes what would happen is if you would have gold, okay? I don't know if anybody's wearing a gold necklace, but if you got like a 14 karat gold necklace, you can get a 24 karat gold from that necklace.

And the way you do it is, you put it into a pot or whatever thing ... I can't remember what they're called. And you heat it up and then what happens is, the impurities rise to the top and you scrape the dross, the impurities off and you throw it away. And then you have the pure stuff there. This is what God's doing to people's lives. He's making them into the image of His son. He's taking the light of the world, and He wants to shine it so bright in their life that they become lights to the world as well. Paul says it like this, he says you become like stars in the sky shining in a perverse generation. You know what you become? You become somebody who is a kingdom person. Carries the agenda of God now into the world.

You know when you pray when you go to bed at night, you say God, your kingdom come. Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. And I'm one of your guys. I'm your kid. I'm gonna be about that. Hey, by the way, you know how the guys who do the purification of the gold, you know when they knew that the impurities were often ... it was the way it was supposed to be. This is the way that they would do it. They would look into the gold, they would look into the purifying gold, and when they can see their face, when they can see the reflection of their face, they know that the impurities is what it's supposed to be.

You see the image there? Here's what God wants to do. He wants to work in our life. He wants to welcome us into the light, and then as the light takes over more in our life and we become more about what that's about, he's working sometimes when it hurts, and He has to burn some stuff of of us because of ... What He's looking for is to be able to see His face in us. Because that's the way you have ... what children are like. You see your ... Hey, that's even adopted children are like that. And in this case, adopted children are like, you see the face of the father, the loving father. The father that has a plan for life and life abundantly. You see that.

So, what happens is, is that you ... this adoption carries with it these certain ... Hey, by the way. One of the rights that I think is most impressive is the right to become a heir of God. This is a passage from the Book of Roman and it talks a little bit about this right of what you will inherit becoming an heir. This is Romans 8, it says this: Therefore brothers, we have an obligation, but it's not an obligation to our sinful nature to live according to it, not in the darkness, for if you live according to the sinful nature, you'll die. But if the Spirit is put that to death, the misdeeds of the body that is, then you'll live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. They've been adopted by God. They got a new nature. They get a new identity. They're in a new relationship with God. They get a new future in front of them. For you, a slave ... I'm sorry. For you to not receive a Spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of son-ship and by Him we cry, "Abba, Father", the Spirit Himself testifies with our Spirit that we're God's children.

Now, if we are His children, then we are His heirs. Heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we might also share in his glory. And then it says this: I consider these present sufferings not to be compared, not worthy to be compared, with the glory that will be revealed to us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. That is the adopted children of God to be revealed. The very creation says [inaudible 00:31:43], for the creation was subjected to frustration not of its own choice but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay, and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. That is, the adopted heirs, children of God.

Here's what it said. The creation, life, and what life is supposed to be like, is being frustrated by the way we live and so here's what God wants to do. He wants to see His sons, the one's He can see His face in, the ones that want to act like Him, he wants to see Him take his will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. The creation wants that too. Then it says this: We know that the whole creation has been groaning as if in the pains of child birth, right up into the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, we are the first fruits of the Spirit. We grown inwardly as we await eagerly for the adoption, for our adoption as sons. Full sons. The full experience of the adoption, children of God, in the sense that we get that inheritance.

And then it says this, that is the redemption of our bodies for if hope ... For in this hope, you were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has, but we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way. Now get this, in the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We don't know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches out hearts know the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

Now just, let me unpack this by saying this. You know what it is? I don't know what the future is for your life. When you step into the light, I don't know what kind of purification still needs to be made. I don't know what kind of excited things God is going to invite you into, what He ... As you as an heir, as a child of God, He has in mind for you, for you to be involved in His kingdom. I have no idea what it is. And probably you don't either. I get very little idea of what is going on in my own life. But I do know this, God comes ... He not only creates in us a desire to be this kind of person. Responds to the love that He gives graciously to us. He not only creates us like that, but you know what He does? He says, I'm going to help you become the kind ... You can't do it on your own. It isn't about what you do. This isn't mustering up religiosity. This isn't trying to be Mr. Super disciplined. No. I'll change you from the inside out by the work of my Spirit.

Now here's the deal. The Spirit knows things about you that you don't even know about yourself. And so occasionally the Spirit, when you're praying, the Spirit says, don't listen to Him. You should ... I'm telling you what's going on here and blah, blah, blah. And here's the deal. Those words that He's saying to Him, we can't even here them yet. We don't even know what they're about in some way, you know? Basically, the Spirit said, okay, okay. He's saying to me, just be quiet. Okay? I got this. I will intercede for you and groans to God too deep for words. You couldn't even understand them if you heard them. For you, for God to do what only He can do, make you the full adopted child. Right down to a new resurrected body.

Right down to being a person who is light to the world, the same way my son is. Okay. So here's the ... So how does that happen? The third piece we're talking about a little bit. Just a wee little bit, is the idea of believing. Because it says this, to as many has received Him, He gave the right ... I'm sorry, to many who has received Him, believed in His name. He gave the right to become children of God. It's about believing. Now I'll give you the short version because we don't have a whole lot of time. But here's the deal. We'll talk about this again when we move into John later on, because there's a lot of talk about faith and believing in there.

But in a nutshell, this is what it is. The classic definition of faith as talk about faith in God. Faith in Christ. Believing in the name of ... This is what it's about. It has three parts. It has knowledge, ascent, and trust. When we say we believe, what we believe is we believe in certain information. We believe in certain knowledge. We believe in certain things to be true. The light's come on and we see the way things really are. You know what we find out? God loves us unconditionally. Graciously. Not because we earned it or deserved it. Unbelievable that He loves us. You know what else we find out? He loves us so much, that He's willing to have his own son die so that we can live.

Well, there's this cosmic swamp kind of thing that goes on in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. This is part of what believing in His name is about. He comes to offer His life as payment for your sin so that you can be innocent. But then not only that, here's what He does. He lives a perfect life and then He says to God, when you look at them, look at them just like you're looking at me and see my perfect life. This cosmic swamp, your sin, and He takes the penalty. His goodness, and you take the credit. It has nothing to do with you. But we believe that that's the case. This atoning work of Christ on the cross. There's a bunch of other things ... But the point is this, there's certain knowledge that's involved in ... But it's not just good enough to know certain things. You have to believe that they are true.

Now there's a lot of people here, though, and here's the deal, who know certain things and they believe that are true. Unfortunately, that's only two third of the way through. You know what I mean? By the way, the Bible says even this, the Bible says, the demons know that God exists and what He's like and they know that it is true. But it doesn't seem to make any difference to them. And so in other words, it's not just a matter of having certain knowledge, and saying, oh yeah, I believe that's true. The important and final piece is that piece of trusting. It's where you say what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna surrender myself to this. I'm gonna no longer try to define myself and hold my life in my own hand. I'm going to give it up and I'm gonna trust you. I'm gonna let you define me. I'm gonna let you be the light that tells me the way things are, where I stand, and how to get to where I want to go.

You be the one who because you love me so much, you've adopted ... I want to be your child. I haven't done anything to deserve it, but I can't believe you've loved me so graciously and so much that you've welcomed me and you've given me the right to become one of your children. Part of the new family. Part of a new identity. A new future. You know what? You've even ... I want to say thank you for that Spirit that you put in me that making me into the person that I could never make myself into. And so as a result, as I see the light I want to trust it. I want to give myself over to it. I had hoped to do a very dramatic demonstration here today of rock climbing. I was going to repel from the rafters up there, right onto your head, I believe, is where I would have come down.

Hey, you know the reason I was going to do it is because it's a good illustration of what it means to really trust. Because you know, you can believe that the actual sort of design of the way that people repel, where they get the rope and they got the belt on, and so for them, it actually works. You can see the technique, and what it takes, and you can believe it actually works. But when you get to the edge of the cliff, it's a different thing. You gotta take the step. You gotta take the step. You gotta trust it. And by the way, you can't trust it part way. There's no repelling a part of you down the hill. It's all or nothing.

And by the way, I've been repelling a number of different times, and I'll stop with this. Here's the deal, I've been with guy, big macho type football player things, you know. They get to the edge. They realize it works. They've seen somebody go down already. They get right to the edge and they're holding onto this rope, the rope kind of goes through a carabiner holding onto it. And then somebody says to them, "Step off the cliff." Does that sound like good advice? And they're thinking to themselves, that's stupid. But they decide to do it. And when they do, they fall the distance between wherever they have the rope in the edge of the cliff. And then what happens is, instinctively, they hold onto that rope as tight as they possibly can.

Because they think they are holding themselves up there. And then their friend who told them to step off the cliff looks at him and says, "You know. Let go of the rope. Because the only way you're getting down is when you let go of the rope." Here's the truth. What you need here today. The light has come into the world. People love the darkness, though, rather than the light. But that light, when it comes on, it shows us the way things really are and where we stand and how to get to where we want to go, if we want to go, and it welcomes us. Not because we deserve it, but out of love it welcomes us to become new people. Children of God. Adopted heirs. If we will let go of the rope. Got enough information? If you don't get more, believe it to be true, if you can't really ... check it out. Look into it deeper to see whether you can trust it.

Got enough information? Think it's really true? Then let go of the rope and make that be your life. Let's pray for a second. Lord, thanks for this time together. We thank you for taking care of us. We thank you for loving us. We thank you for turning on the lights. We pray that you will continue to do that in our lives. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Amen.