Category Archives: Justification

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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Filed under Justification, Romans, Salvation, Sermon, The Gospel

Romans 4.16-25

Title: The Nature of Faith

Text: Romans 4.16-25

CIT: We have Abraham’s faith when we believe like he did (God raises the dead [Jesus] and calls into existence things that are not yet).

CIS: When anyone believes Jesus was delivered up for our transgressions and raised for our justification, it is credited as righteousness and they can have a relationship with God, just like Abraham.

Introduction: We’re in Genesis 15 and 17 this morning, as well as in our main text Romans 4.16-25;

Billy Graham died this past week at the age of 99. What I love so much about him was the fact that he lived out his faith. I’m sure he wasn’t perfect. I heard him call himself a sinner when he preached. But what he did… his choices, his actions were all about living out the faith he professed.

That is what I want to talk to you about this morning: living out your faith in a public way.

In our text this morning Romans 4.16-25, v 16 acts as a transition verse of sorts. You see our topic… rd v 16, that is why it depends on faith… Faith is our subject. And more specifically, the faith of Abraham: in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

So, we have some context before we even enter into the passage: Faith and narrowed down a little from such a broad subject, the Faith of Abraham, our father. To be sure, the faith of Abraham can be a pretty broad subject, too. So let’s get specific: in talking about faith, what Paul wants to do is describe for us the nature of Abraham’s faith in order that these Romans might apply it to their own situation. Paul wants the Romans to have the faith of Abraham – but what does that mean? How did Abraham demonstrate his faith and what he believed?

Opening illustration: I love Lisa. I trust that she loves me, too. But, words ring hollow if there is no action on my part (or hers for that matter) to demonstrate what I know to be true. My actions and reactions, well, that would be the nature of my love. Poems and songs are nice, but what we do in our day-to-day lives is what is true. What we do reveals what we believe.

Paul is going to spend the rest of this chapter outlining for us the Nature of Abraham’s faith, and then he will apply it to the Christian. Really, that would be the one point: The Nature of Abraham’s faith. Then, Paul cites three pieces of evidence from Abraham’s life which demonstrate his faith. Abraham believed God with the way he lived. (He persisted in Hope; His faith was not weakened at his physical condition; His faith was strengthened at God’s promise).

I.    The Nature of Abraham’s Faith (17)

exp.: rd v 17a; This is God’s Statement to Abraham. It is interesting to note in that quoted verse from Genesis 15, God speaks to Abraham in the present tense of a future event as if it has already happened. Let me repeat that: God speaks to Abraham in the present tense of a future event as if it has already happened. He says: “I have made you the father of many nations.”

That’s nice to say God, but where is the proof? That’s the thing about faith – it doesn’t need proof to act. Abraham and Sarah have room to say to God – that doesn’t make sense! We have no children! We have no son to carry on our name. Abraham is declared that father of many nations and yet, he has no children. Moreover, Gen 17.1 tells us Abraham was 99 years old when this was declared to him.

Paul tells us that Abraham believed God. Abraham, you already are the father of many nations. That is what I’ve made you. Which BTW, believed is the word for faith; you could read this (17b): in the presence of the God in whom he had faith… and just what was this that he believed? Rd 17c; who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Two parts to this: 1) bringing the dead to life (lit.: a compound word life maker) and 2) bringing into existence things that don’t exist (lit.: bringing the not being into being).

app.: When God says something, even if you can’t see it, even if it does not exist, do you believe it will come to be? Abraham did – that is the nature of his faith. He believed God. His faith in God was evident by what he then did. The nature of his faith is expressed in actions of his life.

God’s promise will demonstrate when it is fulfilled that He is the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. And Abraham then acts on what he knows about God – that God will do it. Paul seizes on this teaching moment by offering three pieces of evidence for Abraham’s faith, which demonstrate for us the nature of his faith. They are found in three subsequent verses (18, 19, 20):

  1. He persisted in hope when the physical told him it was impossible. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Here is a 2nd quote from Genesis (15.5).
  2. His faith was not weakened even though he and Sarah were way to old for child-bearing. 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
  3. He did not doubt God’s promise, but grew strong in his faith. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

And then Paul sums it all up in v22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

app.: So, the nature of Abraham’s faith is that he lived his life knowing that God would (1) bring life to what is considered dead and (2) that he would bring into existence things that don’t exist.

t.s.: So, let’s look a little closer now at Paul’s three examples:

  1. He persisted in hope when the physical told him it was impossible. (18) In hope he believed against hope.

exp.: We get the context of this verse from Genesis 15. If you have that bookmarked, turn with me there. 15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

ill.: I love looking up at the stars; have you ever tried to lay outside looking up into a clear night sky and count the stars? It is impossible like that. I’m sure there are computers and technology that would help with that today, but just laying out under the stars is… breathtakingly beautiful. Try to lay there and count them… practically impossible. Now, add to this story the idea that there are no street lights, porch lights, car lights, city lights. There is nothing quite like being out of the city – out in the wilderness and far away from lights and to see the night sky filled with millions of stars. As Abram looked up into the sky he would have seen it filled with stars innumerable.

app.: All of this from nothing. Abraham, a nation – no, a nation of nations… pretty hard to believe in that moment. But not for him… he didn’t live to see it, but he believe that God would accomplish what he said.

t.s.: 2nd demonstration as listed in Romans 4:

  1. His faith was not weakened even though he and Sarah were way too old for child-bearing. (19)

exp.: consider his body: he’s 99 years old in Genesis 17. In Gen 15, he’s probably about 85 years old. Rd 19b: which was a good as dead. Physically, he should produce the same as a dead body. That ain’t very productive. And his wife, Sarah? Rd 19c; or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. The Greek reads: or when he considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Twice in this sentence Paul uses the word: dead. He did not weaken in his faith, though physically his and his wife’s bodies were growing steadily weaker with their age.

ill.: I don’t consider myself old. I know I’m getting older, but I don’t think of myself as being old. But I feel the aging process. When I fall, it takes me longer to get up. I used to bounce back up. Now I kind of just go ‘thud’. Then I crawl back up slowly. I know it only gets harder as I see people who are 30 to 40 years older than me. I had lunch this week with Percy Werner and a couple of men from the church. Percy is 96. As he was getting in my car to go to lunch he told me to take a good look at 96. He said: this will be you one day. I told him I don’t think I’ll make it that long and he assured me that I will. That means I’d have to go another 43 years.

app.: Abraham feels old. He knows his wife is beyond child-bearing years. Her womb is dead. But there is something Abraham has come to know: This God who has called him, He is the life maker. He brings to life things others consider dead.

t.s.: He is aware of their situation, but knows that God is God and that he will do what he says. We see Abraham struggle, but he never weakens in his faith.

  1. He did not doubt God’s promise, but grew stronger in his faith. (20-21)

exp.: rd v 20-21; 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. The Greek structure puts the promise of God at the beginning – making it the emphasis of the sentence. Then it continues: he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in his faith… lit.: but was empowered. Passive voice. He didn’t pull himself up by his own bootstraps, but rather, an outside force strengthened his faith. Rd v 21; as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

ill.: In Genesis 22, Abraham is commanded to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham goes through the motions to fulfill what God has required of him. And the writer of Hebrews lets us in Abraham’s faith in chapter 11: 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

app.: by his actions, Abraham declared that he believed in God who gives life to the dead. Here is what Abraham knew: God promised him descendants. God promised they would be through Isaac. He pleaded with God: Oh, that Ishmael might be my heir! God said no. He promised the heir would come through Sarah. Abraham knows this as he walks up the mountain to offer Isaac.

I have no idea what you’re facing today. But may I encourage you: if God is indeed in charge of your life, if you’ve trusted him to run your life, then let him run it! Be obedient and you’ll find His plan unfolding in your life.

We have 1,000’s of years to bank upon the promises of God. What God promised Abraham has been fulfilled in Jesus.

t.s.: Paul then notes: 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Another quote from Genesis) Now, Paul brings his message home, making it applicable for the believer.

II.    The Nature of Our Faith in Christ (23-25)

exp.: rd 23-25: 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. The Nature of our faith is to demonstrate that we truly believe (1st) Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses and sin and then (2), that he was raised from the dead for our justification. When we do, it is counted to our spiritual accounts as righteousness. When we do, we have the faith of Abraham.

app.: Abraham is our spiritual father – that is, if we’re Christians. We should expect that Abraham’s children would be counted as righteous in the same way that Abraham was counted righteous. We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead (24) – that God gave life to his dead body. V25 puts them together that he died for our sins and his dead body was brought to life for our justification.

t.s.: What we have in Abraham was recorded for us – that we might know what faith looks like.

Application: Our faith must be God-Centered.

Conclusion: some closing thoughts:

  1. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates his will with inconceivable power.
    1. We have the Old and New Testaments with plenty of demonstrations.
    2. We have Church History with plenty more.
  2. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates his incredible patience with the passing of centuries.
    1. How much time is left? I don’t know, but I don’t believe it will be long now.
    2. Why is he still waiting? That, I don’t know either, except for the opportunity for the lost to turn from their wicked ways and cling to the hope of salvation from sin.
  3. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates indescribable mercy to the penitent.
    1. God has structured all of history to bring about an indescribable display of mercy.
      1. He has told us who He is: Holy.
      2. He has declared to us our sinfulness and our separation due to this sinfulness.
      3. He has made a way for us to find forgiveness of sin and to be made right with Him.
        1. He gave his one and only son to die for our sin on the cross of Calvary.
        2. He was buried in a borrowed tomb.
        3. He was raised for our justification and now rules and reigns in glory.
    2. Today is the day of salvation.

And, when you and I commit our lives to this, through faith in Jesus – we, too, are like our father Abraham, who was counted as righteous before God – because he believed that God could raise the dead and make something out of nothing.

This morning, if you’ve never committed your life to Christ, I offer him to you. Today you can know what forgiveness is like. You can experience it first hand. Maybe there is another commitment on your mind. You want to join the church, get involved in our ministry and our mission. Let’s talk about that.

We’ll gather for a time of fellowship in the back in just a moment. But first, let’s sit quietly before the Lord and reflect on His great mercy and love and patience. Then, after a moment of silence, I’m going to ask ….. to dismiss us with a benedictory prayer. Then, Duffey, would you lead us in a song of praise… Then, we’ll be dismissed.

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