Who’s Your Daddy?
(The Path from Guilt to Glory)
May 30, 2021*
By Pastor John Partridge
Isaiah 6:1-8 John 3:1-17 Romans 8:12-17
For a time, there was a well-known taunt that asked, “Who’s your daddy?” That phrase was popular enough to appear on playgrounds, high school hallways, pick-up basketball games, sitcoms, and Hollywood movies. Sometimes it was intended as an insult, often it was used in good humor, but there is truth buried inside of it. If we are to be secure, confident, and comfortable in who we are, is important for us to know where we came from. Likewise, knowing where we came from can help to stay out of trouble, and guide us toward our goals for the future. And so, as the followers of Jesus Christ, it is helpful for us understand where we came from and how we got where we are, so that we can better understand where we are going and toward what goals we should aspire. We begin this morning with God’s call of the prophet Isaiah that we read in Isaiah 6:1-8>
6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah knew that he was unqualified to speak for God because of his sin and imperfection. But God came to Isaiah and did for him what he could not do for himself. He purified his lips, took away his guilt, and atoned for his sin so that Isaiah could speak for God. And afterwards, Isaiah relents and says, “Here am I, Send me.”
But as we’ve been discussing for the last couple of weeks, the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and the coming of the Spirit of God bring about a transformation in the way that God relates and communicates with his people and with his church. We hear Jesus explain a part of that transformation to the Pharisee, Nicodemus, in John 3:1-17:
3:1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spiritgives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘Youmust be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still, you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things, and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Jesus says that following God is not enough but that the followers of God must be born again by being born of the Spirit by putting their faith and trust in Jesus. This is the extension of what we saw in Isaiah as an individual, to all of God’s people collectively. God came to Isaiah, purified him, and atoned for his sin so that he could serve and speak for God. But through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus atoned for our sins, and purified us, so that we can serve God and do his work. And, with the gift of the baptism of the Spirit of God, we are given the strength of God and equipped for service.
But that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about for the last two weeks so none of that is particularly surprising. We discover the interesting part when we start tracing our lineage, finding our history, and begin to understand how that heritage, a how that path through history, helps us to understand who we are. In Romans 8:12-17 Paul begins to connect those dots for us when he says:
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Paul says that the coming of the Spirit of God is evidence of our adoption, by God, as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and heirs of God. Which, incidentally, means that God is our Daddy. And that adoption completes the lineage that scripture has been drawing for us since the time of the prophets in the Old Testament where we first discover God at work for, and among, his people. But then God sends Jesus to bring removal of guilt, and atonement for sin and after his ascension into heaven, Jesus, in turn, sends the Spirit and the Spirit brings about our adoption as sons and daughters of God. Put another way, scripture describes how God has moved us from condemnation and guilt and toward our perfection and our eternal home. We are moved from guilt, to adoption, from adoption to inheritance, and from inheritance to glory.
But, Paul says, our adoption also brings us an obligation for the indescribable gift that we have been given. But Paul also notes that this obligation is not an obligation to flesh, that is, not an obligation to principalities, or powers or, people, or priests, or pastors, but it is an obligation to live by the Spirit of God, to live the way that God calls us to live, to do the work of the Kingdom of heaven, to share in the suffering of Jesus, so that we might also share in his glory in our eternal home.
It is that obligation that brings us full circle from where we started because as we move from guilt to adoption, from adoption to inheritance, from inheritance to glory, and from glory to service, we hear God asking us the same question that he asked Isaiah:
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And because we our guilt has been atoned for, our sin has been washed away, and we have been adopted by God as sons and daughters, with God as our Daddy, as co-heirs with Jesus Christ, and filled, equipped, and strengthened with the Spirit of God, we hear Paul urging us to answer as Isaiah did:
“Here am I. Send me.”
You can find the video of this worship service here: https://youtu.be/0qlBh7ZpXvY
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*You have been reading a message presented at Christ United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page. Rev. John Partridge is the pastor at Christ UMC in Alliance, Ohio. Duplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. Letters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Street, Alliance, Ohio 44601. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. You may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at secretary@CUMCAlliance.org. If you have questions, you can ask them in our discussion forum on Facebook (search for Pastor John Online). These messages can also be found online at https://pastorpartridge.wordpress.com/. All Scripture references are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.