Sermon for 3/15/2009
Phineas could not sleep. He was up before the sun. He had his bag packed, and he was downstairs, ready to begin the day. The year was 1820. Phineas was finally to see an island- his very own island.
Phineas had received the island as a gift from his grandfather. As a baby, Phineas had been given the deed to an island in Connecticut called Ivy Island. At an early age he had heard about his island from his parents. They would joke with Phineas and beg him not to forget them when he became wealthy. Phineas had grown up dreaming about his island and anticipating the day when he would see it. He would have his own property, build a fine house, run a farm, and raise some cattle.
If you owned an island, wouldn’t you want to see it? Of course, and Phineas begged his parents to take him to see his island. Finally, his father agreed. In the summer of 1820, the father and son began their trip to see the island that belonged to Phineas.
Once they started the trip, Phineas kept asking “Are we close? Can we see it from the top of the next hill?” His father kept telling him that they would soon be there.
Finally, his father pointed to a wooded area and said, “It’s located just beyond those trees.” Phineas jumped from the wagon and raced to the trees. Without hesitation he entered the woods and ran through them to see his island. He eventually came to a clearing. At last he could see his Ivy Island.
What Phineas saw stunned him. His Ivy Island was nothing more than 5 acres of snake infested marshland. He had been told for years that his island was the choicest land in all of Connecticut, but it was worthless. It was just a joke- a cruel hoax. Phineas turned and looked at his father, who was roaring with laughter.
Phineas did not laugh. He never forgot the feeling. The sense of loss lingered. He never completely recovered. In fact, Phineas grew up to make a business of deceiving people.
You probably know Phineas as P.T.- not a landowner, but a promoter. He made famous the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and he spent his life showing how true that statement is. Phineas became P.T. Barnum of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame.
Story from Max Lucado’s Book "He Still Moves Stones"
A. I feel that pain, don’t you! You might not have been promised your very own island, but you were counting on something, weren’t you?
B. Took marriage vows and now have a terrible scar.
C. Gave your best years to the company. You trusted them.
D. We live in a world of broken promises and shattered dreams. This world promises us “islands” that disappoint us.
E. It is not that way with God. God never makes a promise that He does not keep. (Heb 10:23) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
F. You can’t fool me, I want a guarantee! How can I be 100% sure?
G. Last week we talked about our inheritance in Jesus Christ! Is it just Pie in the Sky?
H. We have a written guarantee and that is the Bible!
I. Some might say, "But I want to feel that guarantee deep in my spirit and soul!" Okay, let’s talk about that!
Thesis: God guarantees His people an incredible inheritance that will bring glory to God forever.
I. The Ground of our inheritance
A. In this section of Scripture, Paul is emphasizing being in Christ. In fact, the phrase “in Christ” occurs in some form 9 times in the immediate context of 1:3-14. Being in Christ makes all the difference. It is the ground of our inheritance.
B. How does a person get into Christ and receive the promise of the inheritance?
1. (Rom 6:3 NIV) Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?(Rom 6:4 NIV) We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
2. In baptism we take a trip to Calvary. Just as Christ said on the cross, “It is finished,” in baptism our former life is finished. In baptism we join Him in the tomb. In baptism we join Him in resurrection to new life.
C. Remember two things:
1. Outside Christ- (2 Th 1:8) He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.(2 Th 1:9) They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power
2. In Christ, every spiritual blessing is received, including the inheritance.
II. Receiving the Spirit establishes the guarantee of our inheritance
* Vs. 13 and 14 say this about the Holy Spirit:
A. The Holy Spirit is the seal in the life of a Christian.
1. We know about notary seals. A person who serves as a notary witnesses the signing of a document and then puts his seal on the document to signify its authenticity.
2. Seals in the NT were a little different. Had hot wax and then put ring into wax. However, it meant the same thing as today. The person with the ring will testify.
* Seals in the ancient world communicated 3 things:
1. Ownership. Seals functioned as a brand on animals or slaves. There were like a seal on a book which indicates the real owner. The Holy Spirit comes to indwell a Christian to indicate that this person is now God’s own possession.
2. Protection. An official seal placed on an object warned people that it was protected by the power and authority of the persons represented by the seal. Pilate sealed the tomb of Jesus. His seal warned people not to move the stone. The warning was backed up by Pilate’s official position and power. The Holy Spirit in the Christian acts as a warning to Satan and to all the powers of evil that this person is protected by God.
a. A seal affirmed the genuineness. The Holy Spirit in the Christian affirms that this person is God’s child, an heir to the inheritance. Vs. 13
b. Birth certificates are important documents, aren’t they?
c. When this world ends God will not ask to see our birth certificate, God will be looking for the seal- the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the unique seal that comes only from God and that God gives only to those in Christ.
* Trademark is the Holy Spirit. When anyone sees a person who claims to be a Christian, but there is no evidence in their life of a change of heart, an attitude of service, and actions of faith, then you can know the person is “counterfeit.” He’s a forgery, a cheap imitation; the trademark is missing in that person.
When you look in the mirror, don’t see a person who is sinful and fallen and can’t get up. See someone who is sinful and forgiven and can’t give up because the Great Seal is there.
B. The Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.
1. This word was common in this day in reference to a deposit or down payment. It was part of the purchase price for something. It guaranteed that the rest of the payment would come at the appropriate time. Earnest money or pledge money.
2. What we have in Christ now is just a foretaste of what is to come. Knew my sins are forgiven. Times of worship. Times of fellowship. Think of the love, the joy, the peace, and the fruit of the Spirit that have appeared in your life up to this time.
* Christians will not end up as Phineas did with his island. Life will not turn out to be a bad joke or a big disappointment. What we now have in Christ is just the down payment. It is just a glimpse of the incredible inheritance God has promised to us.
III. Praising God identifies the goal of our inheritance (Vs. 14)
A. One day we will be giving praise to God as we should. (1 John 3:2 NIV) Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
B. I don’t know all that we will be doing in heaven, but I know part. (Rev 5:13 NIV) Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
D. Depression seems to be widespread today. Someone you know is suffering from it, or you personally are suffering from it to some degree. Everyone has down days and this is talked about a great deal in the Bible. Look at (Psa 42:11 NIV) Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Same verse mentioned three times)
E. In a recent Guideposts it contains an article from John Sherrill who struggled in coping with his wife’s depression. One day John’s editor, Grace Oursler, called him into her office. John confessed to his wife’s condition and then Grace said this, "I have only one thing to suggest, John. It may sound ridiculous, but one day you’ll know what I mean. Think about the difference between thankfulness and praise. Thankfulness is us centered; when things work out the way we want, we’re thankful. Praise is God centered; praise means becoming aware of God in your life right now... even as you hear Tib (John’s wife) crying. Praise is the beginning of healing."
Conclusion and invitation:
(Rom 8:9 NIV) You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
(Rom 8:16 NIV) The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.