Monthly Archives: March 2018

Romans 5.5

Title: The Love of God

Text: Romans 5.5

Opening story: We’re in Romans chapter 5.

Retired Navy SEAL, Admiral William H. McRaven tells of the summer before his senior year when he was out in California. He was in the ROTC program fulfilling his summer obligation between his junior and senior years. He had obtained permission to visit the base in Coronado, California where men became Navy SEAL’s. While waiting for an appointment with …. He walked the halls. The halls were filled with pictures of SEAL’s in combat, in training. So he patiently filled his time looking at those pictures of men who had gone before him, dreaming of what it would be like for him in just one year when he graduated from college. As he waited he saw a hippy staring at the pictures, too. (rd from pg 31-32). Evidently, McRaven thought to himself that there was no way this guy could ever be a SEAL. He was simply in the wrong place. Not only was he a civilian hippy, but he was just too small to make it in that place where real men were made.

Introduction: I want to talk to you this morning about a spiritual experience. It’s very subjective in that there is nothing outside of the moment that will allow me to confirm this experience in your heart. Time, of course, will bear it out, but in the moment, I only have your word. And, that’s hard. Many people make such a claim and time sorts it out for us. But in the moment, all I have is your word.

What I’m talking about is when a person comes to know Christ as Lord and Savior. That’s what Paul is talking about in our passage this morning. This section began with an explanation about Justification. Going back to chapter four w see that we have the faith of Abraham and so we are justified with that same faith. He then begins Chapter 5, verse 1 with this statement, Since we have been justified… and he outlines four benefits or blessings we now possess as believers. First he says we have Peace with God. He’ll come back to that in verse 9. Since, therefore, we have now been justified–note how it comes back to the justification part–by his blood (Paul’s referring to verses 6-8 where Christ died for the sinner) and he continues: much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. That means we are at peace with God.

Next, Paul tells of the blessing or benefit of God’s grace and that we now have access to him. Then, Paul tells the Romans of the rejoicing believers experience, rejoicing in hope and in suffering. Fourth, Paul declares hope as a benefit or blessing. And that’s where we’ve been camped out… in hope. Paul outlines a process by which hope grows in the believer: Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Now, don’t think that someone doesn’t have hope until they get through the process. That’s not what Paul is saying, but rather, hope is there in the beginning and grows through it all.

But there is something more about his hope that I want to pick up with this morning and that is (you see it there in verse 5: and hope does not put us to shame… the NASB, the CSB and the NIV all translate this: and hope will not disappoint us. The thought going into this translation is that one day, as you and I (believers) progress through suffering, as we endure through suffering, revealing our character, we will one day either die or Christ will return. And on that day, there will be no shame. We will not be disappointed. That which we have trusted God in will become a reality and there will be no shame.

Wow… can we just rest on that for a moment. I needed that! The suffering you feel right now, the struggle you’re going through right now… it will not end in disappointment!

ill.: Steven Hawking passed away last week. He was an avowed atheist. I have felt sorry for him for many years. He had tremendous faith – in the wrong thing. He had no hope in this life and no hope in an afterlife. The God he mocked will now hold him accountable. The end he is experiencing, based on what he taught his whole life, is very disappointing.

But for us… those who have been justified, those of us who hope in the glory of God… hope doesn’t disappoint.

Why? Paul then tells us. Are you ready for the answer? It’s quite simple really. The answer: God Loves Us… Look at v5: …because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. We see the answer also in v8: But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5.5-8 tell us about the demonstration of God’s love toward us. Verse 5 explains the spiritual experience and verse 6 explains the physical demonstration of the love. Verse 6 is a very intellectual thing and you can intellectually discuss it with me. Verse 5 is harder for some to discuss because it is an experience one has. Some people just aren’t feelers. Verse 5 deals with the subjective part. Verse 6 deals with the Objective part. Verse 5 deals with the experiential and feeling part. Verse 6 deals with the factual, historical and physical part.

I’m so glad God gave us both.

What I’d like to do is spend the rest of the morning looking at the Subjective part – God’s Love being poured into our hearts… verse 5. We’ll touch on this 2nd part as well, but have to leave it and come back to it next week: The Objective part – God’s Love being shown on the Cross of Calvary… verse 6.

In v 5 we find four (4) principles concerning this spiritual experience. The first Principle #1 is:

I.     The Love of God is only experienced through the Holy Spirit (5)

exp.: The spiritual experience of trusting God at His Word is that He demonstrates his love to us by pouring his His Love into our hearts by way of a very special gift… the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the early days of Christianity, God gave great signs to the believers who received His Holy Spirit. There was the speaking of tongues and other fantastic outward expressions. In the moment the people received the Holy Spirit, God gave to them outward signs to demonstrate that inward experience.

To be sure, God gives gifts to us, too, with the same purpose in mind. Now, let me pause and say, we have to be careful not to start chasing rabbits. It would be easy here. So, let’s stay focused…

app.: So what does this mean? Well, I think it means for us that this isn’t a human thing. It is a Superhuman or supernatural Experience. When I use the word Super, I mean ‘over’ or ‘above’. You can’t manufacture it. We can’t do something in this worship service to make it happen in anyone. God does it.

Two words in our verse tell us this:

  1. Given: God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. When you come to Christ God gives you his Holy Spirit. There is another word in this sentence I want you to notice and that is the word
  2. Through: God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

app.: God provides the love and the conduit by which he chooses to get His love there.

t.s.: The Spiritual Experience can only happen through the Holy Spirit. The 2nd principle:

II.    The Love of God is very personal (5)

exp.: note the pronouns in our verse: God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. His Holy Spirit has been given to us; His Love has been poured into our hearts; The justified, the believers are a special people. No one comes to Christ and has to live without the Holy Spirit. You can’t be a believer and not have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in your spirit.

The Holy Spirit has many names. 1 Corinthians 12.3 calls him the Spirit of God; Acts 16.7 calls him the Spirit of Jesus; Romans 1.4 calls him the Spirit of Holiness; John calls him the comforter or counselor. Whatever you choose to call him, he is given as a gift for God’s love to come through. This is how you know you’re saved. You have the Holy Spirit of God living in you!

app.: And it is an experiential thing… and it is very personal. I can’t make it happen for you. This is your decision to believe God or not. And when you do… God pours out his love into your heart by way of the Holy Spirit whom he give to you as a very special gift to affirm your salvation.

t.s.: But there’s more here. The 1st principle is that this can only happen through the Holy Spirit. The 2nd principle is that it is a personal experience. Third,

III.   The Love of God is experienced with a one-time gift of the Holy Spirit, but the pouring out of God’s love is experienced continuously. (5)

exp.: I wish the English could somehow convey what is expressed through the original language. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

In the English you have these two phrases:

  • Has been poured
  • Has been given

You would assume they’re the same… but they’re not: one is a participle, and the other is a verb. Let’s look at the participle first translated has been given. This is an Aorist Passive Participle. Someone gave to us the Holy Spirit. The Aorist Tense means that it happened in the past. It was a one-time gift. You prayed to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior and wah-lah, God gave you the Holy Spirit.

The Verb here is has been poured. The verb translated pour is perfect passive indicative. Let me break that down for you.

  • The Perfect Tense describes a present state of being based upon a past action. The pouring is a current thing that began some time before the present moment.
  • The Passive Voice states that someone is receiving the action (us, our). We have nothing to do with the action – we are passive in the activity. We are simply receptacles. So, this isn’t something we’re doing, we’re receiving here…

ill.: Let me illustrate it this way… this is my iPad. Let’s pretend I give it to you. This becomes yours. You can mark down the date. Some time in the future someone would say, “cool iPad”. You’d say. Thanks, Fred gave it to me last week or whenever. Then, let’s say when I give it to you it begins to make this noise (set off alarm). And it doesn’t ever shut off. Never. Next week, someone might say, “Hey, cool iPad.” Or maybe they’ll say, “Hey, that’s a goofy iPad”… anyway, they’d ask about the ringing and you would say: it started ringing and it is still ringing today.

That’s the love of God. You’re given the Holy Spirit and you possess him. God pours out his love into your heart the moment you receive him and he never stops pouring out his love into your heart. Never!

app.: The Greek says something like this: God continually pours out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to you.

t.s.: The third principle in this Spiritual Experience is that God is continually pouring out his love into our hearts through this precious gift called the Holy Spirit. Finally,

IV.    The Love of God is observable through the historical event of the Cross (6-8)

exp.: God pours his love into our hearts. Now, he presents a visible demonstration of what we experience with the physical aspect of Christ’s death. We experience the love of God in Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We then see the love of God demonstrated – acted out, if you will, in the death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Rd v 6; rd v 8;

Conclusion: As William McRaven sat in the SEAL’s office asking questions and learning about the SEAL’s, the young hippy in the hall walked by the office. The SEAL talking with McRaven recognized the young man and called him in to the office. As it turned out, this young man was actually a hero from the Vietnam War.

He was famous among SEAL’s.

McRaven knew he had misjudged the young man and he determined that you can never look at a person’s height or stature, their hair or their clothes and judge what is in their heart.

That’s how it is with God’s love when he pours it into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It is subjective. It is spiritual. So, in order that you might see the Love of God displayed, God sent His one and only Son to die on the cross of Calvary and we’ll pick up with this part of the message next week.

Application: I don’t know if we talk about this enough. I wonder if we share this enough. My guess is we push away from the touchy-feely side of the Gospel. But, the truth is: God loves you. When you surrender your life to him, when you find the forgiveness of sin, He puts His Spirit in you and pours his love into your heart! And so you could have a reference point, God sent his Son to die on the cross to demonstrate that love.

God Loves You and you can see and experience his love through his two very precious gifts…

  1. He demonstrates his love by giving his one and only Son to die for you.
  2. He delivers his love by way of the Holy Spirit.

If you’ve never received Christ as Lord and Savior, I’d like to offer him to you this morning. In a moment, we’ll be dismissed. The church will gather for a time of fellowship in the Cornerstone area. I’d like to talk with you more about this. If you’re looking for a church home or feel maybe that God is calling you into the ministry, will you come visit with me or one of the elders about this?

 

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Romans 5.1-4

Title: Building Hope

Text: Romans 5.3-4

Introduction: we’ll also be in 2 Cor 12.1

Our text has taught us that Justification comes through faith in Christ. There is this moment when we surrender our wills to God’s. And through faith, by grace, we surrender. We’re saved. We begin this new, wonderful, beautiful life with God. But is life then, perfectly wonderful? Well, in some respects we can say yes. But in other respects, we would say no. For sin still dominates us and we struggle. Trials, Tribulations, Struggles, Afflictions – they all come at one time or another.

Growth occurs for the believer. Slowly. Steadily. We grow. We begin to experience benefits or blessings: Peace, Grace, Joy and Hope. We looked at them last week in v 1-3. Rd. 1-3; Some of these can be possibly seen in a dualistic way…

It is this last one (hope) that we pick up with and continue this morning.

  • Rejoice in hope of the glory of God –
  • Rejoice in our suffering, because it builds or strengthens our hope.

We’re going to look a little closer at this idea of hope and how it is strengthened in our lives this morning. In our text we find a three-step progression which produces hope:

  1. Suffering produces endurance
  2. Endurance produces character
  3. Character produces hope
  4. Hope doesn’t disappoint

Let’s look 1st at this topic of suffering:

Topic: Suffering (3)

exp.: rd v3; Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, not only what? 2we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. I believe this is a reference to heaven – which is what I expressed last week and where we ended the message. So we pick up here… Not only that (rejoicing in hope), but we also rejoice in our sufferings. To be honest, the first one makes sense. When we talk about heaven, yeah, there is rejoicing – but in suffering? Who rejoices in suffering? Well, according to Paul – you and I should! Suffering here on earth leads us to hope – the hope of glory. Paul is making a connection here, through these steps, from hope to heaven.

Hope is a theme that sticks out in this passage and if you make your way to chapter 8, you’ll see that 5 and 8 serve as bookends to this theme of hope in suffering. He pulls it all together again in 8.18-24a: 18I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us…24For in this hope we were saved.

Side note: If you missed it somehow, (if you didn’t get the memo) we have been warned ahead of time that, as believers, we would experience suffering in the world.

  • We are not greater than our master John 15.20
  • If the world persecuted him, it will persecute us, too. John 15.20
  • There will be suffering in this world. John 16.33

To be sure, these instances deal with suffering for being a Christian. But I think suffering can be felt and experienced in so many ways. At this time in the history of the world – so much suffering is coming from Christian persecution. But I think Paul’s context for suffering covers even more. Turn to 2 Corinthians 12.1-10. In this passage, boast is the same Gk word in our passage that is translated ‘rejoice’. Paul declares that suffering is so much more than just persecution. He says: weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.

ill.: I have a friend – a partner in the ministry who texts me every Sunday morning to let me know he has been praying for me before I enter the pulpit. I told him about my back and he shared this verse with me.

app.: I don’t know if you’re suffering right now – or even if you’d classify what you’re going through as suffering. But suffering isn’t just being persecuted as a Christian. Paul lets us in on some pretty broad categories that cover this topic of suffering. Remember that. It fits this context of suffering.

t.s.: So we begin with suffering and we see it produces in us Endurance.

I.     Suffering produces Endurance (3b)

exp.: endurance is the first effect of suffering; rd 2b-3; we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 sometimes this word is translated as patient expectation. Let that just wash over you for a moment. You might say it this way: Suffering produces patient expectation.

You’re probably most familiar with it’s use in Rev. 1.9: I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient (expectation) endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. To endure and persevere is one thing, but I think this word means more than just putting up with something for an extended period of time. There is the patient expectation of something more to come. Most of us will endure anything if we believe something more is coming in the end. The waiting must be worth the reward. And for believers, we know that it is.

ill.: David expresses to us his suffering in Psalm 5 and really brings out this idea of expectant patience. We especially notice it in the NIV. Beginning in v1 of Psalm 5 he says: 1 Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. 2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

app.: Suffering, with an eye to the future, produces in us a certain patient expectation – a patient endurance.

t.s.: And endurance produces…

II.    Endurance produces Character (4a)

exp.: we see that in v3b-4a; we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character… Character is hard to define. The Gk word δοκιμήν is defined as the quality of being approved. So, it is the idea of proven character. A person lives out their life in front of others and proves themselves over time to posses this quality we call Character. In Philippians 2.22 Paul writes: 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. You could read this: But you know Timothy’s character…

I’d like to clear up a misunderstanding about this word, Character. Character is something you either have or you don’t. There isn’t good character and bad character. It isn’t like everyone has character and it is displayed as either good or bad. There is either character or a lack of character. And character is something that is proven. A person doesn’t just say they have character – they prove it with their lives and actions. Character is identified. Like Timothy: You know his proven worth…

ill.: In this same passage in Philippians chapter two, Paul refers to Epaphroditis in the same fashion. Paul goes on and on about his work and how he has proven himself.

app.: Consider those you know who possess the quality: Character. My guess is, as you think through their lives, you can trace this pattern of suffering to patient endurance to character.

t.s.: and Character produces hope…

III.    Character produces Hope (4b)

exp.: rd 3b-4; Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope… Now, the question for us would be: just how does that happen? I think it is a natural progression as a believer. This progression appears to me to be a growth process. We suffer. We suffer and patiently endure. We patiently endure with a sense of expectation that God is at work in it all. Over time, character is revealed. If you’re a baby Christian, this isn’t a set of hoops you jump through and wah-lah, you’re there. This is like creating a beautiful piece of pottery.

ill.: The clay is chosen and kneaded. And then, it is worked. It has to go through pushing and prodding. It is turned in and out, over and over again. It is made soft and pliable. Then, it is shaped. This is a long and slow process – this shaping. It takes patience and time. It takes pressure on the inside and the outside. The master presses on the clay from both sides, tenderly molding and shaping the piece of clay into something useful and beautiful. But it isn’t done. Then it has to go through the fire. Then, and only then, does it become something useful – something strong.

app.: That is a lot like hope and how it is borne in us. And, that is why we can rejoice in sufferings.

Not only that (rejoicing in hope of the glory of God), but we rejoice in our sufferings,

knowing that suffering produces endurance,

and endurance produces character,

and character produces hope,

and hope does not put us to shame,

because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

t.s.: And this is the final effect – hope that doesn’t disappoint or put us to shame.

Conclusion: This should be our final point this morning, but we’ve come to a good stopping point. Paul says here: your hope, born out of struggle, patient endurance and the revealing of character, will not disappoint you. It will not be put to shame. For God has given us the precious gift of the Holy Spirit.

We’ll come back to this specific topic next week. For now, let’s look at some take-a-ways

Application: When life’s struggles come your way:

  1. Don’t doubt God. He knows what he is doing. I wonder if too many people have bought into the lie that only good things happen to Christians. God wants you to prosper. They quote Jeremiah 29.11: 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Maybe they continue on with verse 12-13: 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. And all the Christians say Amen. But what is missing is context. Verse 10 says: 10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. Oh, that changes things. And v 14 says: 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. I say this because I don’t want you to fall for the lie that God will only prosper you. He might not. And when hard times come, do you trust him
  2. Pray. There is reason for rejoicing. Rejoice in what God is doing. Yes, be active and do everything you can. But pray like it all depends on God – because it does (Henry reminded me of this, this past week). do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  3. Patiently endure. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. I want to encourage you to endure because I believe Paul is teaching us that suffering has a purpose in our lives.

 

My thoughts are scattered. And if mine are, I’m guessing yours might be also. There is a lot to take in here. I’d love to visit with this about you one on one. I know our elders, our staff, and other members would love to visit with you about this, too.

In a moment we have a time of silence before being dismissed. We’ll have a time of fellowship at the back with some coffee and cookies – maybe some doughnuts. Let’s meet back there and talk. I’d love to answer any questions you might have. If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I’d like to offer him to you today. Maybe there is another decision on your heart. Let’s talk about it.

 

 

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Romans 5.1-3

Title: Four Benefits to Justification

Text: Romans 5.1-3

Introduction: The Major Prophets warned of false prophets who declared: Peace, Peace, when there was no peace. Indeed, peace has been the cry of many a philosopher and preacher since the dawn of humanity.

This past week Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, shared with us in his Daily Briefing, a story about Vladimir Putin and his State of the Union Address. Dr. Mohler states that the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism was supposed to bring a time of peace. The United States would be the only Super Power and the result would bring about World Peace.

In Validmir Putin’s address he mentioned a weapon that Russia has which can be launched and fly indefinitely because it is nuclear powered weapon. Furthermore, it can overcome any American defense. It will launch fear in the heart of every American and American ally.

Before you get too concerned about Putin’s hyperbolic language, I think you should seriously consider the size of such a temporary weapon. The reality of its existence is pretty far fetched. I refer you to Mohler’s Briefing for a full description and explanation.

Mohler’s purpose in mentioning this was to emphasize for us that the hopes and dreams of those who thought Peace would come with the end of the Cold War would probably be disappointed. Those cries for peace, of course, never came and Putin’s inflammatory speech this past week presents evidence again that peace isn’t likely to come.

WW1 was to be the war to end all wars. It was suppose to usher in a time of world peace.

In 1795, Immanuel Kant issued a philosophy sketch entitled: Perpetual Peace. Kant stated that this era of Perpetual Peace would bring about a society that needs no armies or assassins. Enlightenment would usher in this era when all would see how foolish armies are. We would be too smart for all of that nonsense.

But as you already know, the enlightenment and the fall of communism didn’t bring the peace for which people have longed. The Prophets were right: outside of God, there is no hope. There is no hope for peace; there is no hope for joy; there is no hope in life. Outside of God, there is no hope.

Paul, though, offers us a different storyline than the world tells. He tells us of a peace, a hope and a joy that remain. Look with me in Romans 4.23, as we pick up to our passage:

23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Peace with God Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,

Paul is saying here: Peace, Hope, Joy, and Grace… it is available to you through Jesus Christ, who shed his blood on the Cross and bore the penalty for our sins. God raised him three days later and by faith in him, you can be justified before God.

And this Justification by faith leads to many different blessing, four of which we find in this passage: Peace, Grace, Hope and Joy. We’ll look at all four this morning, but 1st, let’s talk about…

I.    Peace (1)

exp.: rd v 1; Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. James tells us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. But, here, the opposite is true: through Christ, we now have peace. This idea of peace is reiterated down in verse 10 where it says we were reconciled to God through Christ.

Peace in OT prophecy mostly dealt with the eschatological peace (that means the end times) promised by God to his people through Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Haggai, Zechariah. I’m sure you’re very aware of this. Does this sound familiar? 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

This promised peace is understood by Christians in the same manner. There will be a peace that comes when Christ returns. When the end comes, it will come suddenly. Psalm 2 hints at this when we read: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” In Revelation we read of how they gather on the other side of the river to make war and then Jesus shows up and it’s over. There is no war – Jesus just shows up! Then, there is peace.

But, as believers, we don’t have to wait for that day. Yes, there is a very real sense that Paul is talking about that eschatological peace of when Christ returns and we spend eternity with him. But, there is a peace that the believer receives now. Jesus told us in John 14 that he would give us His peace. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Paul mentions this peace quite often. In his letter to the to the Philippians (4): Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. That’s right now.

ill.: Please don’t confuse peace with the removal of difficulty. If you’re a non-believer here this morning, let me do my best to explain to you what we believers have come to understand. Jesus said: 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

app.: Life still attacks us. The affects of sin still touch our world. We experience heartache and heartbreak; we know the pain of loss and illness. We see and experience death, divorce and disaster. The difference is that now, even in spite of struggle, we know peace. It is a felted thing. It is a very real thing.

t.s.: The first benefit Paul teaches us about is peace. And, 2ndly he says we have access to…

II.   Grace (2a)

exp.: rd v 2a; Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand… lit.: through him we have (just like in v1) been brought to. “Obtained access” is a compound word. One part of the word means to lead and the other part of the word means to or toward. Some scholar say this word means to be led into the presence of royalty. You don’t just go stand before a King. You must be led into his presence.

This word appears 3x’s in the NT; all by Paul. It’s used here and in Ephesians (2.18; 3.12). In both of these other verses it sounds as if we’re been granted access to the very throne room of heaven. By faith and through Christ’s saving work, we now have been escorted into the very presence of God – having an audience with him. We’ve been escorted into this grace in which we now stand. This, too, has a double meaning.

Consider this passage: But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Consider the actions of God on our behalf:

  • Made us alive together with Christ. This is obviously speaking from a spiritual standpoint.
  • Raised us up with him (again, speaking spiritually)
  • Seated us with him in the heavenly places (spiritually).

I don’t know how to explain the very real sense that you and I, as believers now, we’re sitting here this morning (in God’s Grace), but we’ve also been raised with Christ and we’re seated with him in the heavenly places (at the same time). Just as Christ died – we, too were dead in our trespasses and sins (that is, we were dead spiritually speaking). God quickened our dead spirits and breathed life into us. And, having been resurrected spiritually with Him, we were then seated with him in the heavenlies.

For the Christian, this is a present reality. But this is also a very real promise in the eschatological sense. Physical death is a very real possibility for you and me. There is the very real possibility that Christ could return before that happens. But in either occurrence, the believer knows that we will be ushered into the very presence of God.

John gives us a peek of this in Revelation 4. Isaiah 25.6-9

        On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,

of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

                        And he will swallow up on this mountain

the covering that is cast over all peoples,

the veil that is spread over all nations.

                        He will swallow up death forever;

                        and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken.

                        It will be said on that day,

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.

This is the Lord; we have waited for him;

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

ill.: I was reading Friday about the American Embassy being moved to Jerusalem and being operational before the 70th birthday of Israel on May 14th. 70th birthday. That’s a generation. Some could argue 100 years is a generation. But even so, it is close. It is possible that I could live that long. Some of you younger people, should Christ tarry that long, will live to see it. But somewhere in between, I expect Christ to return.

app.: You and I, as believers, we’ve been invited into the holiest place to fellowship with God through the work of Christ.

t.s.: We have peace, we have obtained access into this grace in which we now stand; 3rd, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

III.   Hope (2b-3)

exp.: rd 2b; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Hope. We’ll see Hope as a theme repeated in the rest of Romans. And, just as the previous two benefits were seen in both present and end times contexts, we see the same here with Hope. I think, we see it even clearer. Rd 2b-3a; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings… sufferings, being the present state. Do you see them both here? Verse 2 describes what I call the eschatological or end times hope… the hope of glory. And verse three describes the hope we have in our present sufferings.

It hadn’t always been that way: For those who scorned God’s Glory and fell short of God’s glory now have the hope of God’s glory.

  • Those who scorned God’s glory in Romans 1.23: 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
  • And fell short of God’s glory Romans 3.23: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • Now have the hope of God’s glory in 5.2.

Hope is a curious thing. It makes all the difference in the world. Talk to someone who has no hope and you’ll see what I mean.

ill.: I am amazed at how folks live life in ignorance of anything beyond the here and now. Then, something tragic happens and their lives are thrown into turmoil. They don’t know how to cope.

My sister never really had to struggle. My father didn’t want her to struggle. When he died, her life was thrown into confusion and turmoil. With the help of doctors, she turned to prescription medication. As the months and years went by, her doses became stronger and more potent. She turned to other drugs for help. I lost my sister 3 years ago this week.

app.: I’m not talking to you today as a man who doesn’t know what this means. I do. I’ve seen it – way too many times. And, I’ve lived it. I’m reminded of 1 Thessalonians 4.13 where Paul talks about the Christian and how the Christian grieves differently than a non-Christian. He said: 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. It isn’t that grief doesn’t hit us, but that when we’re in a storm of life, we have hope – a hope that the world doesn’t know about and really can’t understand.

t.s.: The world cannot grasp the Peace, the Grace, the Hope and the fourth benefit of justification:

IV.    Joy (2-3)

exp.: I get this 4th benefit from these same verses: Rd 2b-3a; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings… Now, if you’re sitting here today and you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior before, you’re probably thinking that these Christians have lost their minds! How in the world can someone have joy in the midst of suffering? These people must have lost their minds!

I think there is some confusion on the part of those looking in from the outside. I’m not sure, but I think the confusion comes from understanding the difference between happiness and joy. Christians have joy, but they aren’t always happy. Don’t confuse the two. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness is not a constant. It rises and falls with the ebb and flow of life.

ill.: I was not ‘happy’ when my sister died. But I still had joy. Joy, on the other hand, abides. I think sometimes that non-believers wonder about Christians – like they’re faking their happiness. Maybe some are. Maybe some young Christians don’t themselves understand the difference. But the difference is tremendous.

app.:To clarify it even further, I think it would be fair to say that happiness is an emotion. Joy runs much deeper. There is a ‘contentment’ or a satisfaction that Joy exudes which happiness can never attain. Happiness is determined by your surroundings and circumstances. Joy isn’t affected by outside forces. Don’t get me wrong; happiness is a good thing. But, it is something totally different than joy.

t.s.: this joy we have – it sticks with us in good times and in bad. We have it because we know that where we are now is not where we’re going to be.

Conclusion: I want to spend some more time on this idea of joy in suffering next week. So, we’ll pick up in v3 on the next Sunday morning. For now, let me conclude with the idea that these four seem to have a “now and a not yet” feel about them. What I mean by that statement is that we, as believers who’ve been justified by God the Father through Jesus his Son, we have peace, grace, hope and joy right now.

  • This isn’t the peace, grace, hope and joy Immanuel Kant was predicting.
  • These are four benefits of justification that aren’t contingent on outside variables and factors.
  • They don’t rise and fall with the weather or with struggles.
  • They don’t come in and go out with illnesses or bad news.
  • They are a constant.

And, secondly, they are something that we will experience in all of their fullest measure on the final day when Christ returns.

Do you have that assurance? Do you know what it means to be joyful in all things? To hope in all things? If you don’t, I’d like to share with you how you can.

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’re going to gather around the coffee and cookie table back there. Come and talk with me about this. Maybe you’d say there is another decision on your heart. Let’s talk that out…

Friday I watched Billy Graham’s funeral on the Internet. I was deeply moved by the stories that were told about him. I think none moved me more than the youngest daughter who told her father’s love. Even in her worst times, when she had rejected his advice and counsel, he was waiting for her when she returned.

I know Billy Graham’s family wasn’t perfect and he sure wasn’t a perfect father. But, there is a father who is perfect – our heavenly father. He’s waiting and watching for you this morning. Let me introduce you to him. If you’ve not spoken to him in sometime, let me help you with that this morning.

We’ll have a moment of silence and then I’ll dismiss us with a word of prayer.

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