Hallelujah! Jesus Lives!


6th Sunday of Easter

April 27, 2008

Hecla


Text: John 16:23b-30 “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again I leave the world and go to the Father.”

            His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”


Theme: “Our Father Who Art in Heaven...”

                        - Why we can call Him “our Father”

                        - Why our prayers are heard

                        - What we pray for


Dear fellow children of the heavenly Father, to whom the Father says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me,” dear fellow redeemed,

            While our government has it’s weaknesses, when you compare it with the various governments and rulers throughout the history of the world, we have a pretty neat thing going here. History teaches us that the rulers of most nations were either born into that position (like a prince and a king) or they were appointed - such as Caesar appointing Pontius Pilate to govern Judah in the days of Jesus. However in our nation we have the opportunity to actually chose our leader with a vote. That elected leader is in the government on our behalf, to represent us. This goes for the local mayor, to the governor, all the way up to our president.

            Now since the president is suppose to represent us, can you pick up the phone any time you want and tell your president what is bothering you? Can you walk up to the White House, knock on the front door, and ask to see the man in charge? Of course not, that would never happen. The Secret Service would stop us before we even got over the front gate! And I don’t think telling the men with the guns that you voted for him or her would change their minds. Though we elect our leaders, rarely are we able to go to them with our problems.

            As Jesus prepares His disciples for His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, He clearly tells us that there is someone else we CAN go to. Three times in our text Jesus speaks of “asking in My name.” In particular He tells His disciples about praying to the Father. Therefore as we consider this portion of God’s Word we will be using those familiar words of the address to the Lord’s Prayer as our theme - “Our Father who art in heaven.” Let us examine why we can call Him OUR Father, why He hear us, and what is it, in particular, that we pray for. Let’s examine God’s word on this matter and pray that He would increase our faith that we may learn to call upon our Father in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. Amen.


WHY WE CAN CALL HIM “OUR FATHER”

            I think most of us knows why we call our dad, “father.” Likewise we know why Jesus called God the Father “My Father.” Jesus Himself says in our text, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world.” It was God the Father who sent His Son Jesus into the world. But what gives us the right to call the God of heaven and earth OUR Father?

            Scripture is absolutely clear that there is nothing anyone of us can do to make God our Father. In fact everything we do on our own separates us from God. Conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity we were not born children of God, in His image, but in the sinful image of our father Adam. We were born sinful enemies of God. Because of that sinful image we inherited from our parents there was no Father-son or Father-daughter relationship between us and Him.

            So what gives us the right to call Him “our Father?” We must go to the cross of Christ to begin to see why. There on the cross we see what God the Father allowed to happen to His Son. And why would the Father do that to His beloved Son? To reconcile us unto Himself. To remove that sin that separated us from God. By raising Jesus from the dead the Father declared that the job was done. Our sin had all been paid for.

            Now through the Son, and only through the Son does God become our Father. Hear what Paul writes to the Galatians chapter 3, For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:26) When God brings us to faith in Jesus Christ He makes us His sons. This is something the Father planned already before He created the heavens and the earth. To the Ephesians Paul writes, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. (Eph 1:5) Think of it! The reason you believe in Jesus as your Savior from sin today is because God from eternity chose to adopt you! Though you were outside of His family, His household, He selected you, adopted you, and made you His son! What an act of amazing grace!

            Paul expands on this relationship when he writes to the Romans, For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Rom 8:15-17) Again, this was an act of grace by a loving God. He chose us, He adopted us, He made us His children, and thus we can now call God “our Father.”

            Jesus speaks of this change in relationship in verse 27 - “for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came from God.” See how this Father-child relationship is tied together with faith in Jesus Christ? Because of this relationship, Jesus says that the Father HIMSELF loves us. The word for love that Jesus uses here is phileo love, the love of natural affection. The love that a parent naturally has for a child. The love that a brother naturally has for his sister. Phileo love is the love that was lost in paradise. When Adam and Eve sinned they broke that family relationship God had with His creation. Instead of natural affection because of sin there was only enmity, wrath, and condemnation. But Jesus came and restored what was lost. His death removed that sin. Now Jesus says that the Father HIMSELF has this natural affection for you. He is our Father because He has made us His children through Jesus Christ.


WHY OUR PRAYERS ARE HEARD

            Imagine how neat it is to be Barbara or Jenna Bush. These sisters can pick up the phone, just about any time they want, and talk to the President of the United States. If they need to borrow money, they can call the President. If they have a problem at school, they can call the President. They can do this because they have access to the President - he is their dad. As I mentioned earlier, we realize we are unable to do that because we have no access to the president. And if that is the case with us and the President, what makes us think that we can talk to Almighty God any time we want? What makes us think that the eternal, invisible, God only wise would EVER listen to our prayers?

            Just as most Americans do not have access to the President of the United States, no sinful human has access to God the Father. Again, sin has separated us from God. But thanks be to God we have been granted access. Through the merits of Jesus Christ we can go directly to God the Father and know He hears us. We heard this in our New Testament lesson - For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Tim 2:5) Likewise Jesus Himself has said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn 14:6b)

            Think of what this means! Through Jesus we don’t have access to just a president or king, but to the one true God of heaven and earth. Jesus says in the first two verses of our text, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and your will receive, that your joy may be full.” That is a most certain promise of Jesus. In My name, Jesus says, in My name you can ask the Father, the Creator of Heaven and of Earth, and He will hear you. To ask in Jesus’ name means to ask in faith. It is knowing that the Father does not hear you because of your worthiness or unworthiness, but that He hears you for Jesus’ sake.


WHAT WE PRAY FOR

            But wait a minute pastor, did I just hear that right? Jesus says that whatever we ask the Father in His name that He will give us? That’s can’t be right. I know there are many things I have prayed for that He didn’t give me. In high school I prayed for a corvette and never got one. In college I prayed for a date with Shania Twain and that never happened. Jesus must have mis-spoke!

            Yes there are many things we have asked for throughout our lives that we have not received. And when we look back, wouldn’t you agree it was a GOOD thing that God didn’t give us those things? What was the motivation for asking for such things? Did you ask for such things because you thought it would glorify God or did you ask for such things because you thought they would glorify yourself. In other words was it your new man of faith that was asking for these things or your sinful old Adam that moved you?

            When Jesus talks about praying “in My name” He is not merely speaking about saying the words “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer. These are not magic words, like “Abracadabra” and -poof- what you asked for suddenly shows up. Asking the Father “in My name” means faith. Faith in Jesus and trust in His word. What Jesus is talking about is praying for things that will glorify God and which receiving will make our joy full. That new car or new tractor may bring us joy for a while, but it will eventually break down and you’ll need a new one.

            Instead, what is it that truly will make our joy full? True joy -lasting joy. Search the Scriptures and you will find countless things that will make your joy full. Jesus says to pray the Father for the Holy Spirit and He will give it. Pray for an increased faith. Pray for the spread of the Gospel. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5) Pray for one another. Pray for your Pastor. Paul told us in our New Testament lesson to pray for the government which God has given us.

            Sending the Holy Spirit, increased faith, spread of the Gospel - these all are things which God has told us in His Word that He wants and desires. These are things which hallow His name among us. This is His will which we pray will be done among us even as it is done by the angels in heaven. And having these things will bring us much more joy than any material things in this world could EVER give us. So search the Scriptures. Find out what your Father likes. Above a car or house, pray for those things and let your joy be full as you see your Father giving them to you. Learn the Father’s will for you His child and pray for those things which glorify His name. And yes, you can pray for those other things as well, but always leave the decision in God’s hands - “THY will be done.”

 

            So maybe we can’t just pick up the phone and tell the President our problems and get his help. But we do have a source much closer and much more powerful than any ruler in this world. We have God as our Father. The Father that loved us so much that He put His Son to death to call us His own. The Father that adopted us and made us His children. He Himself loves us. We can talk to Him night or day because He neither slumbers nor sleeps. We can ask Him for aid at home or at school, in the car or in the tractor - He is with us always. And we can pray in confidence, knowing that He will hear us for Jesus sake. Rejoice and take advantage of this privilege you have been given in prayer!

            “Our Father who art in heaven.” What does this mean? God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father and we are His true children, so that we may with all boldness and confidence ask Him as dear children as their dear father. Hallelujah! Amen!