Summary: The Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts.
Fellow redeemed children of God and co-heirs of heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord,
How much are you willing to pay? How much can you put away? These are questions that an investment counselor inevitable will ask. He will ask you to figure out your estimated worth and your annual estimated income. He will lay out a number of possible retirement plans and investment strategies. All this is to help you to be prepared for the future; to be able live comfortably and securely when you retire. He will urge you to make financially wise moves now so that you will be safe in the years to come. In the end, however, he cannot tell you that you can be 100% sure that your investments will pan out for you. There are always risk factors like a poor economy and who knows, maybe even war. In the end, a little doubt, a little uncertainty always remains.
Many people feel that way about their spiritual future also. When the question comes up, "If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?" Many will answer that they are not certain. Yes, even people who attend churches that claim to be Christian churches outwardly may not know the certainty which the good news about Jesus Christ gives. Today, the message from the letter to the Romans tells us that we can be certain of our spiritual future, because we have been Secured by the Holy Spirit! For he alone convinces us that we are God’s children and also he convinces us that we are heirs of glory.
The letter to the Romans was written by the Apostle Paul from the city of Corinth near the end of his Third Missionary Journey. He was writing to a body of believers that he had not started. There was no evidence that the churches in and around Rome were being led astray by false teachers. In fact, Paul states in the opening of the letter, "Your faith is being reported all over the world" (1:8), and again near at the end of the letter, "Everyone has heard about your obedience" (16:19). Why then did the Apostle Paul write this letter to the believers at Rome? Paul tells them in the beginning of the letter that he wants to visit them so that they may be encouraged by the preaching of the gospel and that they might encourage him in turn. You see the Apostle Paul knew that the Holy Spirit worked through the message about Jesus. He knew that the Holy Spirit alone convinces us that we are God’s children (11-15)
How does the Spirit convince us? Does he give us warm fuzzy feelings? Does he give us the gift of tongues? After all, the early Church had the gift of tongues. Tongues were frequently given to the early Christian Church believers after the preaching of the gospel. But not any more. Tongues were never a proof of faith. If that were the case, salvation would be pretty questionable for many believers today. How then does the Spirit convince us? Well, he does give us spiritual gifts. No, not speaking in tongues or prophesying, but the fruits of the Spirit. Where there is fruit, there is life. Paul wrote,11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. The Spirit created faith in our hearts through the message of Christ Jesus. He has given us assurance that we are children of God by giving us spiritual life, by raising us from our state of spiritual death. He has replaced our sin-rotted hearts with new and living hearts.
If that were not enough proof that we are God’s children, the Holy Spirit shows us how we as sinners and rebels became members of God’s family; how our sin-hardened hearts came to believe the gospel. He assures that we have been given the Spirit. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." He is with us and strengthens to follow the Lord’s Will.
We need not feel like we are less than full-fledged children of God. We never need to be uncertain about the status of our soul for eternity. Some children who are adopted later in life, actually rebel against their adoptive parents. Counselors call it misplaced aggression. Sometimes, we who have been adopted into God’s family do the same thing. We rebel against our loving adoptive Father and our Savior. We grieve the Holy Spirit by living rebelliously in sin which we know is wrong. Paul warned that this should not be our attitude for it has serious consequences. "12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live," We have no excuse for living rebelliously. The Holy Spirit is living in us and gives us the strength to live holy and God-pleasing lives. When we consider what pains and torments Christ underwent for us, suffering for our sins and dying that we might live, our new hearts desire to live as he wants us to live. Christ came that sin and sorrow no more would reign. By the message of the cross, the Holy Spirit convinces us that we are now secure in salvation as dearly loved children of God.