Category Archives: Salvation

Romans 8.28

Title: Our Hope in Suffering

Text: Romans 8.28

Introduction: Joseph; all things seemed bad; actually, they didn’t just seem bad; they were bad; they were actually very bad; Consider:

  • His brothers hated him. Most of them wanted him dead.
  • They didn’t kill him, but they made his father think that he was dead.
  • They sold him into slavery. Human trafficking.
  • Purchased by Potiphar to serve in his household.
  • Falsely accused of rape – or attempted rape.
  • Thrown in prison and forgotten.

When Jacob had died, his brothers got scairt! They knew their deeds had been wrong. They feared for their lives. They said: rah-ro! Now that dad is gone, Joseph might want to repay us the evil we did to him. So they concocted a story – it might be true, but I’m not so sure it is. “Hey Joseph, Dad said that you should forgive us for the evil we did to you.”

But Joseph was very insightful and said: “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Here’s an interesting understanding of God’s activity and our activity. I don’t fully understand it all, but I see it here very clearly: God is at work accomplishing his will, his purpose, his plan. And somehow, he does that through our actions in life.

God took all of the bad things that happened to Joseph – which were the result of this brothers’ evil toward him – and worked it for the Good. God had intention in their actions.

That’s deep!

Joseph’s story is a great illustration of our text: And we know that, for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I love this verse (Romans 8.28). But I do worry that too many believers take a popular verse like this and apply it to their liking outside of its framed context. This is a real Danger for us. Not just for this verse, but for any verse, really… As we journey into this message and take a closer, deeper look at this verse, I want you to consider right now, that you’re seeing a caution sign. Caution: Don’t take this verse out of context. But maybe that isn’t strong enough. Maybe our sign should read Danger: Don’t take this verse of out of context.

Note: 2 parts – Sovereignty and the Free Will of Men & Context of Suffering

And speaking of context, the context for Romans 8 has not changed; the overall arching context of our passage is suffering. He hasn’t dwelt on suffering, but that is the context. The theme or the topic is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s activity in the life of a believer. Paul is writing about certain people and that really comes out in the next couple of verses. Note how many times it says: for those who or those whom. 6x’s! And just who are these those? It is those who love God, those who have been called according to his purpose. If you go back a verse, to 27, you see the Holy Spirit intercedes for these same people in accordance with God’s Will, in accordance with His purpose.

This presupposes a relationship. I would like to stop right there and save this discussion for next week. For now, I want you to know that there is a special relationship between God and his people. Now, even though we won’t discuss them until next week, we need to remember that “those” people are who this verse applies to.

 

Our verse is 8.28: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

This morning I simply want to look at this short phrase (all things work together for good) and talk to you about what we know because of whom we know. We are God’s and with that knowledge of him, we experience confidence. It comes back to the old adage: It’s not what you know, but whom you know!

It says in v.28 And we know (perceive; not experiential); in the original language of Gk there are these two different words for what we translate ‘know’. Other languages differentiate between these two understandings of this word. English, not so much. One word is γινώσκω and it is experiential knowledge. The other word is οἶδα and it means to perceive something.

Ill.: let’s say a boy is watching his dad hammer in a nail. The dad misses the nail and hits his thumb. The dad now knows by experience that when you hammer in a nail and miss the nail and hit your thumb, it hurts. That’s the word γινώσκω. The son, who is watching, he’s never hit his thumb with a nail. But, he’s watching closely and he sees his father’s reaction. He hears his father cry out. He sees his father recoil;  he grabs his thumb; he drops his hammer. The boy percieves his father’s pain. He knows (oida) that if you hit your thumb with a hammer it will hurt.

Paul writes: We know (we perceive) that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Because we know God, we can be confident that all things work together for good. But what if it doesn’t seem like it at the time? all things work together for good… Listen you can have confidence that just like Joseph, God is working his plan, just as he did for the people of Israel.

  1. πάντα: all things
  2. συνεργεῖ: work together
  3. εἰς ἀγαθόν: for good

How do you think we would live if we truly believed that God was sovereign? Some of you are getting scared! You’ve heard these verses and predestination, foreknowledge, election, and calling, those terms scare you. But don’t be. This is just a simple question: How would we live if we truly believed that God was in control of this world, even down to the bottom of our lives?

Would financial distress scare you? Would sickness, illness or even death scare you?

I read a story this week about some folks, some Moravian Christians, who were traveling on a ship sometime in the 1740s. They had gathered for worship on deck when a storm swirled up out of nowhere. The story goes that the storm wreaked havoc and many aboard the ship thought they would die. That is to say, many on board with the exception this small group of Christians who had gathered for worship. They just kept singing and worshipping. As the storm raged, they worshipped. One observer was amazed as he watched what he thought would be his last moments on earth, this band of believers singing without a care in the world.

As the storm subsided, these worshippers finished their time together. The young man who was observing them couldn’t help but stop and ask some who passed by him: Weren’t you scared? Weren’t you terrified during the storm? They calmly answered him: No. He pressed them: What about the women and the children? Weren’t they afraid? One of them stepped forward and said: No, our women and children are not afraid to die.

That astonished the Englishman and it stayed with him for days. He would later identify that moment as one crucial step in his becoming a Christian. By the way, the Englishman? John Wesley.

I often wonder at how my theology has affected my witness and how my witness has affected other non-believers observing my life and my struggle.

You see, I ask this question about God’s Sovereignty, but not as a preacher. I ask this question out of my personal experience. Most of you know my brother’s wife passed away from her struggle with cancer. But did you know that my biological mother passed away on Thursday? As I reflect on my life, I’ve got a bunch of questions that flood my mind. But not about God! And I don’t doubt or worry about what God has done and is doing.

Now, how is it that Christians can behave in a manner that doesn’t fit with their suffering? How is it that believers respond to suffering, death and what appears to be chaos in this world with total confidence? Like the Moravian believers on the ship? It is because … look at v 28… it is because we know that for those who love God … he works all things together for good.

We know… contrast this with what we saw in v 26; 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. We may not know what to pray, but what we do know is that God is at work, working all things together for good.

Let’s take a moment and look at these word pairs:

  1. πάντα: all things
  2. συνεργεῖ: work together
  3. εἰς ἀγαθόν: for good

Even when we don’t know a lot about what is going on in this life, we still know that God is working all things together for good…

These two words in English, all and things, are really one word in the Gk. ‘Things’ is added to complete a thought expressed in the Greek, but not really communicated in English. The idea is that God is taking the totality of your life and doing something special with it. Let that sink in for a moment.

Ill.: The idea is that God is taking the totality of your life and doing something special with it. Have you ever thought about that? The good, the bad, the ugly… all things. Those mistakes you made? God is using them, too. Those poor choices you’ve made – let’s just call it what it is: sin. When you sinned against God and rebelled against his desires and commands – well, God is using those situations and circumstances for his glory and he’s working it out for the good.

Do you see those 2nd set of words: working together

These two words in English, working and together, are also one word in the Gk. This Gk word is the word from which we get our English word: synergy. Syn (συν): with; and εργός: work.

Ill.: As you guys know, this past week I was in Arizona to be with my brother who lost his wife. My job was to be there for him. So, I did my best to be available when I was needed. During this time, two people made theological statements. Their intentions were to encourage the family. These remarks were in passing and I don’t think they meant any harm. But these two people, really nice people made statements about God that just are not true.

I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t my place and I know these people had good intentions. But this is what crossed my mind: Sound, healthy doctrine is important. I can’t tell you why bad things happen to good people and what God’s purposes are in all matters. I don’t know why some people get cancer and die and other people get cancer and live. I don’t why a tornado hits a neighborhood and one house is demolished and the other house is untouched. I don’t know why two people make the same bad decision and experience two different outcomes. But I do know that God is at work in your life. And I know enough to tell you not to tally up your points halfway through the game of life. All things not just some things, all things work together for good.

This is what we know as Christians: God is working all things togetherfor good…

All things: the good and the bad, the expected and the unexpected, the suffering and the rejoicing, in laughter and in pain – those experiences; God is working all things together for good.

When I was on sabbatical, I read a few leadership biographies and autobiographies. One man I enjoyed reading about was Harry Truman. What I didn’t know about him was his sense of humor. He tells the story of a man who was hit on the head and the people took him for dead. This tells you how old the story is! He was picked up by the undertaker and taken to the funeral home. He woke up in the middle of the night and sat up in his coffin. He looked around and said, “Good night! What’s going on? If I’m alive then why am I in a coffin. And if I’m dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom so bad!”

Don’t judge what God is doing in your life in just one moment of your life. Because if you try, the totality of it all will not make sense.

Friday I got a call that my biological mother passed away. I knew this day would one day come. I mentioned it to Lisa when we talked through some decisions I had to make years ago. Let me explain.

I was abandoned by my mother at a young age. I don’t know the whole story because I was just a baby. There are six of us kids who share the same mom and I think they would all agree with me that her decisions and the decisions of our fathers really messed us up.

Now, I’m an external processor and I’m not trying to process this in front of you. The pulpit isn’t a place to do that. And, I don’t want to go into all of the gory details that have created this man of dysfunction that you’ve come to know and love. But I want you to know a little, so what I say will make sense.

As a young man, my biological mother blamed me for her messed up life – like it was my fault she did this and did that. As with all of her children, each of us was made to feel like we somehow were the cause of her failures. I abandoned that line of thinking and made the conscious decision to not put myself in harm’s way ever again. So, I’ve not spoken to my mom in decades. That was my decision. And she made it easy because she never called me. The last time we spoke, I called her. She wrote me two letters in my life. Once when I 18 years old and once when I was 50. I saw her at my grandmother’s funeral, which was about that same time (the 1990s).

So I get this phone call Friday morning that she has died and I look at this wake of destruction in the life of so many people. I’ve heard that she was going to church regularly these past few years. I’m glad. I can’t say this morning that she was or wasn’t a believer because I don’t know. I’ll probably hear some good stories in the days and weeks to come.

I’m reminded of a funeral I did for a woman in my church in Worland. It was probably my first funeral there. Rowena was in her 90’s. I’d know her for a very short period of time, but I what I knew of her was that she loved the Lord. She prayed for me regularly. She was reading her Bible and studying her Sunday School Lesson when she died. At the funeral, I told of my experience with her and stories other church members shared. I told people how much Rowena loved me, loved the church and how much I was going to miss her.

But after the service, her daughter approached me and told me that she didn’t know that woman. The woman she knew was not a believer and had left a wake of destruction in her life.

As I reflect on that, I remember now hearing stories about my Nana from her younger years. She, too, had made many poor decisions and hurt many people. I imagine some of my dysfunction can be traced back to her decisions. But that isn’t the woman I knew. The woman I knew read the Bible with me every night I was with her. She would rise early and make me a hot breakfast – always, a hot breakfast. Cold Cereal was for Saturday mornings and late night snacks. After she fixed breakfast, she would enjoy a cup of coffee and read her Bible. That’s the woman I remember.

So what I say to you today isn’t just some mantra I repeat that gets me through the tough times. It isn’t just some cliché I throw out with no feeling. This statement is a fact of my life. All things work together for good, for those who love God, who’ve been called according to his purpose.

Let me offer some take-a-ways:

  1. All things: Consider Joseph’s life, what a mess! Some might consider that he brought some of his struggles upon himself! He shouldn’t have been so arrogant toward his brothers or his parents. Bad things happened, and no matter who is responsible for those struggles, those experiences all work together for good.

Some of you might be thinking that I just don’t know all of the bad stuff in your life. I don’t have to! We hide that stuff well, don’t we? Our dysfunction? Our Sin? Our rebellion?

  • Some kid might say to you, ‘Dad, you got mom pregnant and then married her.’ Who are you to lecture me?
  • Or Mom, you were living with dad and you weren’t even married.’ You have no right to…
  • Or, ‘I remember when you stole that stuff.’
  • You used to smoke. Or cuss, or… .fill in the blank.
  • Your life hasn’t always been a model example of what a Christian is.

Listen, that’s what Grace is for. Tell those who know you best: Yes, Yes, and Yes. I did do that. I was that man. I was that woman. But it isn’t the gory stuff I want you to focus, but rather the grace of God that forgave this pitiful, wretched person.

You may not see it. You may not even be able to comprehend it. But God is working all things!

  1. Working together: Unless you’re dead this morning, your story is still being written. And if you’re dead, please let one of the ushers know. They might just think you’re sleeping through my sermon. Listen, your story is still being written. Don’t write it off! Let God do his work in and through you.

If you’ve messed up, own up to it. Confess it. Let it be an example of God’s incredible, amazing Grace! And then, trust that God is going to use, not just that experience, but the totality of your life to work all things for the good. This moment might be a struggle, but it will pass. Trust that this is one chapter of God’s book about you for his glory.

  1. For good: even when it seems it is so bad. There will be tears. There will be pain. There will be sorrow. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Whatever you’re going through, hang in there. And then we come to these last words…

  1. For those: Who are the ‘those’ in this passage? Well, it is a topic I’d like to visit next week. But in short, it is those who love the Lord. Those whose lives have been committed to him.
  • If you’ve never done that, I want to give you the chance.
  • Maybe you just need prayer.
  • Maybe you feel the Lord’s calling on your life.
  • Maybe you’re interested in joining the church. We have a new member’s class scheduled for the 17th of May.
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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Funeral, Purpose, Romans, Romans 8, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 8.1-4

Sermon Series: The Spirit-Filled Life

Title: The Spirit of Life Brings Freedom!

Text: Romans 8.1-4

Big Idea: We no longer stand condemned, because have been set free by the Spirit of God.

 

Introduction: The Focus of Romans 8 is on the believer’s Spirit-filled life. For the next few months, as we push toward Easter, I would like to focus on this chapter. I will present a series of sermons in repeated ‘two parts’. Let me show you what I mean:

# Sermon Series: The Spirit-filled Life Text:
1. Introduction: No Condemnation Romans 8.1
2. The Spirit-filled Life brings Freedom! Romans 8.1-4
3. The Spirit-filled Life brings Focus! Romans 8.5-8
4. Alive by the Spirit! Romans 8.9-11
5. Adopted by the Spirit! Romans 8.12-17
6. The Temporary State of Suffering Romans 8.18-21
7. This Permanent State of Hope Romans 8.22-25
8. The Work of the Spirit in the Spirit-filled Life Romans 8.26-27
9. The Work of the Spirit Step by Step Romans 8.28-30
10. Who can stand against us? Romans 8.31-32
11. Case dismissed! Romans 8.33-36
12. Conclusion: Nothing Can Separate Us! Romans 8.37-39

There is the intro, which I brought to you a couple of weeks ago. You see #10 and #11 have a ‘trial’ feel to them. I’m still working on a title to go with those two messages. And of course, #12, is our Conclusion.

Romans 8 isn’t how on ‘how’ to be saved – that really is all presented in Romans 1-7, as we covered Introduction. Romans 8 is about your life in Christ Jesus. You’ll see it as the top and the tail to the chapter; rd 8.1-2; 39.

In chapters 1-7 we find the Gospel: God is Holy; Mankind is sinful; Our Sin separates us from God and brings about God’s Just Wrath toward us; In our helpless estate, Christ paid that penalty for us; That payment was totally sufficient to cover every sin of every person who ever lived; There is the Personal Response of the individual by faith in Christ; That individual is then immediately justified and continually being sanctified. And then we come to Romans 8: the Spirit-filled life of the believer. Romans 9-11 deal with The Freedom of Man and the Sovereignty of God. Romans 12-16 will be all about the practical side of the New Believer’s Life in Christ (i.e., loving your brother, serving each other, how we are to now perceive the governmental authorities over us, etc.). But Romans 8, this all about this Christian Life now lived out by the Spirit of God in Christ.

Let me show you the overwhelming emphasis on the Spirit in chapter 8: 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 26, 27 (Romans 7, starting in v 7 has an overwhelming emphasis on I, me, my!).

When you are saved you ask Jesus to come into your life, forgive you of your sin and to take up residence in your heart. Have you ever heard that before? There have been so many foolish debates about this: do you ask Jesus into your heart or do you ask God to live in you or do you ask for the Holy Spirit? The answer is basically yes. The Holy Spirit then comes and takes up residence there – in you.

The Holy Spirit has different terms or names here in chapter 8: Mostly, he is called The Spirit; rd v 9; The Spirit of God; The Spirit of Jesus;

Now, at this point, in my sermon preparation, I paused. You might have already hit the pause button yourself. All of this is – is theology. Teaching, Teaching, Teaching. Doctrine, Doctrine, Doctrine. You might find yourself drifting away… doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, snooze…

But this doctrine is so important. It is vital to the Christian Life. Here’s the way this text breaks down:

  • Declaration: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Why? Because… (NIV: Because, for; HCSB: Because, and then just explains in v 4) the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Answer: You’ve been set free! But then he answers another question that arises.
  • How? Because… For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. In other words, Obedience to the Law was not possible. Indeed, it is insufficient. He continues: By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. So, where the Law was lacking, Christ fulfilled that righteous requirement as set by God. And, so now will live differently. We live by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

That difference can sometimes look the same. What I mean is this: Some folks actually think that the Christian life is following rules and regulations. These same people, well-meaning as they are, say to the new believer, you can’t do this and you must do that. But what happens to the new believer is that they begin to feel pretty good about their ‘doing’. They’re acting like their mentor tells them to act. They’re behaving like their mentor tells them to behave. And so they begin to think that by ‘doing’ they’re demonstrating their salvation. The problem with this is that no one can live that out perfect. Failure comes eventually, and when it does, so do doubts about their salvation. They think, if I were saved I wouldn’t behave this way. Go back to chapter 7: the things I want to do, I don’t. The things I don’t want to do, I do. That’s legalism gone amuck.

Paul says, huh-uh. That’s not how it works. Legalism is a vicious cycle. Go back a few verses to 7.24 and read through. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. And then he makes this declaration:

Declaration: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Transition: Paul then explains the process…

Why is that? And how can it be? Let’s answer that first question: why?

Why? The Spirit of Life has set us free from the Law and from its curse of death (2)

exp.: V 1 is a declaration of Justification. Boom! Immediately, your sins are forgiven. But, v2 then explains why this happens. It happens because (rd v 2) …the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. This is the principle being taught: the law brings sin and death. But, the Spirit brings life.

Paul is giving us some facts about the Law here.

  1. The Law defines Sin for us. It communicates to us what it means to be sinners. Perfection is the outline. You can’t be perfect, so you sin. You and I would have no idea what sin is if the Law had never said: Thou Shalt not covet. And, once we learn what sin is, something interesting happens. And that is #2
  2. The Law produces sin in us. It communicates the boundaries and we automatically want to cross those boundaries. You hear “don’t covet” and you learn what it means to desire the things of other people. What do you do? You start wanting what other people have. Your neighbor gets a new truck and what do you want? A new truck! And more than that – you want his new truck!
  3. The Law brings death. It can never bring life. Here is the Law. One infraction against it and you’re done. The penalty for breaking this one time? Death. Therefore, the law brings death.

app.: Why? By accomplishing all three as it processes itself through the life of people. We learn what sin is and it produces in us this desire from which we cannot break free on our own. The Law then kills us; it destroys us. But then we come to Jesus. And for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation. We’ve been set free from the Law. The Law loses its power over us and we’ve been given new life in Christ.

t.s.: So here is the review: We come to Christ confessing our sin. Immediately, we’re justified. There is therefore now no condemnation. Why? Because God has given us his Spirit of Life, setting us free from the law of sin and death. But that brings up another question: How? How does all of this happen? How is it put into motion? And that’s our next question: How? The answer is in v.3; rd v 3; Answer:

How:

  • God did for us what the Law could never do. (3a)

exp.: The Law is perfect, but we can’t live out that perfection. And one infraction against the Law condemns us. The Law is holy, but it can’t make us holy because we can never live it out perfectly. Instead, it produces sin in us. The Law shows us, teaches us what holiness is and demonstrates for us our great failure and our great need. There is a recognition at this point that we can never ‘do’ the law in such a way as to save ourselves. Never. We are helpless and left to die because we justly deserve that punishment of death as required by the law because we are lawbreakers!

app.: And since we were helpless, God acted on our behalf.

t.s.: which brings us to more explaining in that answer:

  • God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. (3b)

exp.: rd 3b; God sent His Son in the flesh. There is more theology here, more doctrine. Two very important teachings for us! God sent his own son in the flesh. Here’s the principle: God’s Son equates to his perfection. Alistair Begg says it this way: Paul is safeguarding for us two important truths: His Divinity and His Humanity. His Divinity demonstrates for us his perfection and sinlessness and, his humanity demonstrates for us that he became flesh.

By sending his own Son (His Divinity) in the likeness of sinful flesh (His Humanity) and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,

  1. The Reality of Christ’s Humanity. Jesus is real. He isn’t a legend. He isn’t some fable. His story isn’t told to teach us how we should live – you know, be like him. He was loving. He was kind. Be like him! Yes, but that isn’t the point. The point is that God sent his son in Human form – taking on flesh and bone. And then, there is this 2nd Truth:
  2. The Fact of Christ’s Sinlessness. Jesus, by living a perfect life, became the only one who could do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Listen to 2 Corinthians 5.21: 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

ill.: This is why we sang this morning:

Jesus Paid It All

I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small

Child of weakness watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

Lord now indeed I find, Thy pow’r and Thine alone

Can change the leper’s spots, And melt the heart of stone

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete

Jesus died my soul to save, My lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

Oh praise the One Who paid my debt

And raised this life up from the dead

exp.: the rest of that verse reads: he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. If you make your way back to Romans 3.21ff, you’ll find that God put Jesus forth as a propitiation for our sin.

app.: When I hear the word propitiation, I think of God’s Wrath. The Wrath of God was satisfied in the death of Christ on the Cross. Jesus was that righteous requirement of the law.

Conclusion: So, how does this apply in the world?

There is a recent story posted by FoxNews:

It reads:

A young Manhattan dietitian hanged herself in her West Village apartment after posting a suicide note online in which she apologized to her mom and said she “felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life,” police sources said Thursday.

San Francisco native Tara Condell, 27, was found dead with a cloth around her neck inside the bedroom of her home on West 10th Street around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday after police were called to the residence for a wellness check, sources said.

Worried co-workers called the cops after Condell did not show up for work at the Midtown office of Top Balance Nutrition on Wednesday — and saw that Condell posted the note to her website, according to sources.

One of Condell’s co-workers was waiting outside the woman’s home by the time cops arrived.

In addition to the note left on her website, Condell left another suicide note in a folder in her living room, sources said.

Condell — who, according to her website, is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in general nutrition, weight management, gastrointestinal disease and diabetes care — apologized to her mother at the end of the note posted to her site, saying, “I’m really sorry mama.”

The young woman began the note — which was titled, “I Hate The Word ‘Bye,’ But See You Later Maybe?” — writing, “I have written this note several times in my head for over a decade, and this one finally feels right. No edits, no overthinking. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment, and I am just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired.”

“I realize I am undeserving of thinking this way because I truly have a great life on paper. I’m fortunate to eat meals most only imagine. I often travel freely without restriction. I live alone in the second greatest American city (San Francisco, you’ll always have my heart). However, all these facets seem trivial to me,” Condell wrote.

She continued: “It’s the ultimate first world problem, I get it. I often felt detached while in a room full of my favorite people; I also felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life. No single conversation or situation has led me to make this decision, so at what point do you metaphorically pull the trigger?”

 

You see her picture there: A beautiful young woman who just missed this message. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment. Can I tell you that is true if you do all you can to find your happiness here on this earth? You will be disappointed.

But please, hear the message Paul is giving us. We’re sinful people. Our sin separates us from God. There is nothing on this earth that will satisfy the longing you have inside. Nothing. If you search this young woman’s blog posts, you’ll see she had an incredible life. She was gifted. Beautiful. Intelligent. She loved science. She had many friends. But she couldn’t find happiness here in what earth offers.

And neither will you. Hope can only be found in Christ. As our text here says, he alone can set you free. And if the Son sets you free, you are truly free indeed.

 

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’ll have a moment of silence and then someone will lead us in a closing prayer. If you’ve never given your life to Christ, won’t you do that this morning? Maybe there is another decision on your heart: church membership, surrendering to ministry. Whatever it might be, I’d love to visit with you about that. Maybe you’re visiting with us this morning. Please, come introduce yourself. I’d love to visit with you some. We’ll have coffee, donuts, and cookies back in the back. Let’s fellowship together for a while.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Romans, Romans 8, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

God Matters

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Title: God Matters

Text: Luke 2.8-21

Introduction: We’re in the midst of our Sermon Series Christmas Songs. Our previous two songs (Zechariah & Mary) were set in the timeframe of ‘BC’ – that is, “Before Christ.” They took place before Christ was born. 1st, we meet Zechariah when he enters into the Holy Place and sees an Angel named Gabriel. Think about this: at this point in history, God has been silent for some 400 years. The Remnant of Israel came back from Exile and settled, or should I say ‘resettled,’ the land. You might recall that the Old Testament closes out with the promise of one who would come and prepare the way of the Messiah. Amos and other minor prophets foretold of a famine of God’s Word. And so there was silence… for 400 years. Next, we meet Mary. Her story a little different than Zechariah’s story, but, as we shall see, presented in similar fashion.

These two songs appear in Luke 1. In Chapter 2.1-7, we have the story of the birth of Christ. That’s our Christmas story – so we’ll hold off on telling it for another week. Our story this morning takes place at the same time as his birth or thereabouts. It is a ‘meanwhile, back at the ranch’ moment. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, angels are a bringing a birth announcement to the Shepherds.

I love Baby Announcements; show pics

That’s is how our story begins this morning – with an announcement. But it isn’t just a regular announcement. This announcement outdoes all other announcements. Sure, these announcements are cute and clever. But, man, oh, man – this announcement is pretty spectacular!

We pick up our story in Luke 2.8; rd v 8; Luke has created some spectacular scenes spread out across the country: from the Temple in Jerusalem, up North to a town in Galilee, out to some small village in the Judean Hill Country, to the little town of Bethlehem, and now out into the countryside where shepherds are keeping their watch over their flocks by night. Luke makes these stories so easy for us follow. He helps us see how each story follows:

A Similar Pattern (8-12)

exp.: This storyline follows the same pattern as the previous storylines of Zechariah and Mary:

  1. The Appearance of an Angel (rd v 9a,b)
    • Zechariah sees an Angel standing at the Altar of Incense
    • Mary sees an Angel come to her
    • The Shepherds see an angel who appears to them. They are working in the dark of night and the darkness of night flees as the angel lights up the sky, dispelling the darkness. I think there is something here of the darkness and the light. Imagery, if you will. As with the appearance of an Angel, each of our stories has…
  2. The Reaction of Fear (rd v 9c)
    • Zechariah: fear fell upon him
    • Mary was greatly troubled. In our story this morning…
    • The Shepherds are filled with great fear, or as the King James says: they were sore afraid!
  3. The Appeal to Fear Not in v 10
    • 13 – Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because God has heard your prayers!
    • 30 – Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God!

in both of these passages, the literal translation is Fear not, which is what we see in our text this morning, rd v 10;

  • Do not be afraid, Shepherds, because I bring you good news of great Joy!
  1. The Announcement of a Birth: a son
    • Zechariah, God has heard your prayers! Elizabeth is going to bear you a son and you shall call his name John.
    • Mary, you have found favor with God and you will conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.
    • Shepherds, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
  2. The Sign:
    • And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place.
    • And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
    • And this will be a sign for you: You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths (i.e.: strips of cloth) and lying in a manger. Here is a question: what makes this sign something special and different that it’ll be easy for them to identify?
      • There is the time frame, which is limited to ‘this day’.
      • There is the location: the city of David, which is identified for us in v 15; rd v 15; – which fits with Micah’s prophecy (Micah 5.2)

These alone will limit their search. It isn’t like Bethlehem is a big city and it isn’t like there were 25 babies born that day. But, here is where it gets good. Wrapped in strips of cloth is unusual. And even more out of the ordinary is a baby sleeping in a feeding trough. And this is what makes it a sign: This description doesn’t match that announcement!

ill.: Ok, here’s the deal. The greatest miracle of all time is happening this morning! God is coming to earth in human form as a baby boy. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Messiah you’ve been looking for since Genesis 3.15. Oh, and by the way, the way you’ll recognize him is that he’s going look like a pauper!

t.s.: So, first, we see how each story has a similar pattern. And 2ndly, we see how each story has…

A Song of Praise (13-14)

exp.: rd v13-14; I see this as a crescendo of what has been happening through the evening and possibly early morning hours. When you watch this in a play, it usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. I don’t think the actual story lasts nearly as long. I know what you’re thinking: like your sermons! You guys are so funny.

ill.: I need your help with this. I want you to time me. Get your timer ready. Tell me how long this lasts. Go:

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

                14         “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

app.: Stop. Less than a minute, right? Well, I’m thinking with full orchestration it lasted a few seconds longer! But you get the point. This announcement is a lot quicker than many probably think!

t.s.: So we see A Similar Pattern and A Song of Praise. Third, our stories then demonstrate

A Searching Out of the Possibilities (15-20)

exp.: Zechariah is stricken with silence – for months and his barren wife becomes pregnant! Mary travels to their house to take all of this in. Check out what our Shepherds do in v 15; 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Do you see the word translated things in v 15? The Gk word is ῥῆμα; You’ve probably heard that word before. I think ῥῆμα is hard to translate in English because it doesn’t have just one word in English you can use. Luke 1.37: Because not not able with God every word (or thing or matter). The Shepherds said let’s go see this thing… The Angel said in 1.37 No thing is impossible with God. Or, get rid of the double negative and you have: All things are possible with God! This word can also be translated matter. The Shepherds said, let’s go see this matter… or with the Angel to Mary, No matter is impossible with God. If it matters to God, it’s possible!

Now you see how I got the title to my message this morning!

app.: Like Mary, Like the shepherds, this needs to be our reaction to God’s Word – God’s ῥῆμα; An angel of the Lord probably isn’t going to appear at the end of our bed in the night. Right? But he doesn’t have to! We have God’s Word right here! We need to know that every ῥῆμα of God is going to be accomplished. When God declares a ῥῆμα – a word to you through his Holy Word – you should seek these things out. I don’t like the word things, but things here would be equivalent to the word ῥῆμα. You should seek this ῥῆμα out. Seek this matter out. That’s what the shepherds do. They say: Let us go immediately to Bethlehem and behold this matter which has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.

I have a question for you to ponder: Do you ever wonder if you miss out on wonderful matters because you don’t seek out the matters God makes known to you? Or worse: Do you think God makes matters known to you and you just don’t care enough to pursue them?

Imagine with me now: The shepherds are out in their fields, watching over their sheep by night. Lo, and behold, an Angel of the Lord appears to them and gives them God’s ῥῆμα (just as he did Mary). “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

                14         “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Picking up now in v 15: When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Wow, that was really cool. Now, where were we? Ahmed, you were saying…?”

I think that’s kind of how we are when reading God’s word – His Holy Word and we don’t pursue it! It is almost like we just want to read God’s Word to find a good devotional thought for the day. But v 15 doesn’t read that way! 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste…

Matters go just as the Lord revealed they would; So they make a plan (15), they go (16a), they find (16b), they declare it (17), the people are amazed (18), and lastly, God is glorified (20);

t.s.: Now, some of you might be saying: Hey, Hang on there! You skipped v. 19. Don’t you just love verse 19? 19 But Mary treasured up all these things (ῥῆμα), pondering them in her heart. Which brings me to the conclusion this morning…

Conclusion: The events of our lives are matters that must be treasured. Ponder that for a moment. God works in so many ways: relationships, events. God is actively working in your life at this moment. He’s working in the mundane. He’s working in the routine. He’s working in the surprises. He’s working in the sickness. He’s working in the pain. He’s working in the promotion. He’s working in the relationships. He’s working in the struggle. He’s working in the storm. Whatever is going on in your life right now – or, whatever isn’t going on right now – God is at work!

app.: and that matter right there should lead us to do what the shepherds did – glorify and praise God.

Invitation:

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Romans 7.7-25

Title: The Christian’s Relationship to the Law

Text: Romans 7.7-25

CIT: The Law of God is a wonderful gift because it shows us the nature of God and God’s desire for our perfection. But, sin corrupts the Law, as it were, and leads us deeper and deeper into sin.

CIS: The Law brings knowledge and with that knowledge produces death.

 

Introduction: The president of the United States exited the Gilpatrick hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at about 8 pm. He was headed to make a speech. John Shrank held his Colt pistol up from about 4-5 feet away and shot the president in the upper right part of his chest. The bullet hit its target and blood began to flow, but Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t fazed.

The crowd jumped on the man and began beating him, yelling, “Kill him!” I suppose they would have beat him to death, but the president stopped it. President Roosevelt commanded the crowd to stop and asked the man to be brought to him. He wanted to see this would be assassin and ask him why he did it. The man only stood there. No response. “Oh, what’s the use,” said the president. “Turn him over to the police.”

The president coughed into his hand a few times and determined that since no blood was coming forth, he must not have been lung shot. Later, he would find out that he was wrong. His people ordered the president to the hospital, but Roosevelt overturned their decision. Nope. He had a speech to give and he wasn’t going to miss it.

Transition: Well, I’ve not been shot, but I feel just as strongly about what I have to say as I’m sure Roosevelt felt about what he had to say. I would imagine that my topic is even of greater importance.

 

Thesis Statment: Today we will look at the law and find that its impact on us is quite different than what we might expect.

Certainly, it is different than many Jews would expect. The Jews struggled with this thought. They asked:

  • If where sin abounds and grace abounds all the more, then should we sin all the more?
  • Are we to sin because we are not under law, but under grace?

Last week we saw how Chapter seven is a reflection of Chapter six. Chapter six was about The Christian and his relationship to sin. Chapter 7 is about The Christian and his relationship to the law. Last week we focused on the principle where Paul states in v 1, that we are to die to the law, just as we died to sin. He then gives the illustration of the marriage covenant and how the covenant is dissolved upon death and likewise, when we die to the law, we’re now free to enter into a new covenant with Christ.

Verse six says in that same way, we’ve been released from the Law because we’ve died to it and now are free to serve in a whole new way of the Spirit. Paul begins verse 7 with another question: What then shall we say? That the law is sin?

Now, to get an understanding of where Paul is headed this morning, I’d like to take you straight to the end of Paul’s discussion on the Law to show you his conclusion on the matter. We find it in v.22: For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So, just how does he get there? Let’s look at his testimony:

  1. Ignorance: If it weren’t for the Law, he would have remained ignorant about sin (rd 7a)
  2. Knowledge: The Law revealed to him that he was a sinner. (rd 7b-8)
  3. Condemnation: He died when sin came to life in him. (rd 9-11)
  4. Salvation: Only through Christ Jesus our Lord. (25)

That’s what I think is happening in chapter 7, Paul is giving us an autobiographal sketch of his life – his testimony if you will. So, what we’re seeing here is that Paul makes a declaration of the Law and each person’s legal standing in verses 1-6. He gives the Principle in v1 (rd v 1), the illustration of marriage in v. 2-3, and the application in v. 4-6. In the rest of the chapter, Paul will then outline the experience of the law in a person’s life from a personal perspective and the experience each believer has in relation to the law as they die to it.

Note the person pronouns in Chapter 7 (I, me, my). Show pic of the personal pronouns in my Bible.

I think the passage then moves from simply being Paul’s testimony, to a statement of all Christians. All of us are like Paul. We’re all sinful. We all struggle with the same things.

I’ve outlined my message this way:

  1. The Beauty of the Law
  2. The Ugliness of Sin
  3. The Hope we now have in Christ

Transition: Let’s look first at The Beauty of the Law found in 7-12

I.     The Beauty of the Law (7-12)

exp.: We just read these verses as we looked at Paul’s testimony. His conclusion is that the Law is good. See verse 12?

  • The Law brings knowledge (7a)
  • Knowledge brings Death (7b-11)
  • This reveals the beauty of the Law, that it is: (12)
    • Holy
    • Righteous
    • Good

app.: You should say to yourself as you read v 12: WHAT? That didn’t make sense at all. Paul is saying, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad… so it’s good. So naturally, another question is asked in v 13, the 4th in this section,

t.s.: Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?

II.    The Ugliness of Sin (13-20)

exp.: Are we to blame the law for what sin did? No! The blackness of sin is exposed within the Light of God’s Wonderful Law. The closer we get to God and his holiness, the more we see our sinfulness.

Ill.: I think that’s why we try to compare ourselves to others. We look so good when we compare ourselves to other people. We can always find people who are worse than us. But, when we compare ourselves to the Lord, that’s when we see ourselves for who we really are. Our sinfulness is exposed.

exp.: Here is how it works: Sin exploits the Law! The Law is holy, good, and righteous. But sin, it produces death through what is good. Don’t you just hate when something good gets distorted and turned into something ugly?

ill.: That is what sin does: it takes something good and perverts it.

  • You and I were made for relationships. You and I were designed for intimate relationships.
    • Prostitution
    • Pornography
    • Homosexuality
    • Facebook
    • Cohabitation
  • Medicine and Science
    • Drugs
    • Alcohol
    • The Physical World (Evolution vs. Creation)
  • Music
  • Books

Ill: Johannes Guttenberg, inventor of the printing press said: Religious truth is captive in a small number of little manuscripts which guard the common treasures, instead of expanding them. Let us break the seal which binds these holy things; let us give wings to truth that it may fly with the Word, no longer prepared at vast expense, but multitudes everlastingly by a machine which never wearies to every soul which enters life.

And he said: It is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams. Through it, God will spread His Word. A spring of truth shall flow from it: like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.

Sin has corrupted this precious gift to mankind, just as sin does to every wonderful gift God gives.

app.: Sin is an ugly distorter. In the end, it brings death.

exp.: let’s keep reading. Rd 14; Paul is teaching us something very important here (about himself and every believer), that we have two parts to our person.

  1. The Fallen Nature (the flesh)
  2. The Divine Nature (the Spirit)

Note these two as we continue reading; rd v through v20;

So, here is this tension, Paul wants to do good, but struggles with doing what he doesn’t want to do. I think we’ve all been there. Paul is describing these two natures that live in each believer and are at war with one another: Galatians 5.17: 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

  1. The Fallen Nature (or the flesh):
  2. The Divine Nature: 2 Peter 1.4: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

And this is exactly what he finds in v 21ff; rd 21; he finds these two natures at work in himself.

t.s.: So, the Law is beautiful, but sin perverts and corrupts it in such a way that I find myself drawn to doing the things I don’t want to do. Is there any hope for me? For you? Yes, You and I have our hope in Christ.

III.   The Hope we have in Christ Jesus (22-25)

exp.: rd 22-25a; Christ is our only hope; We must abide in him. This is what he taught us – to abide in him. And if we abide in him and his words abide in us, then, we would produce fruit. For apart from him, we cannot bear fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Transition: Have you ever noticed that some things are meant to be used in a certain way, but they don’t get used that way? Some how, some way, the very thing that is meant to do something or bring about some cause, or result, or action, actually gets used in a totally different manner and brings about a totally different reality.

Take Roosevelt’s speech for example. I’m sure he never intended his speech to serve as a ‘bullet-proof’ vest. I’m sure he had no idea that by NOT cutting his speech, the thickness of the papers would help save his life.

Conclusion: President Theodore Roosevelt stepped up to the podium and asked the crowd to be especially quiet that evening. The crowd grew quiet and then Roosevelt dropped the bomb. “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have been shot.” He then unbuttoned his coat to show a blood soaked shirt.

President Roosevelt’s speech lasted 90 minutes. He stood there and gave his speech the whole time.

It was determined later that what saved his life was his speech. I don’t mean that he made the speech, but rather the pages on which his speech was written. It was a thick wade of paper which he had folded up and placed inside his right coat pocket. Added to that, was the thickness of his overcoat and the metal eyeglass case in the same pocket. The bullet did make it through all of that and enter his chest. The followed up the fourth rib that leads to the heart. The Bullet did pierce his lung. But Theodore Roosevelt, ever the man’s man, didn’t let a little thing like a gun-shot wound to the chest slow him down.

After the speech, President Roosevelt went to the hospital. The doctors determined that it would be too risky to remove the bullet. And so, the president lived with the bullet in his chest for the rest of his life.

The Law is like that, in a manner of speaking. You might think that obeying the Law perfectly will get you into heaven, but the Law was never intended to be perfectly obeyed. The purpose of the law is to show you your sinfulness and your need for a Savior. Some people use it in a way that it was never intended, hoping that it will save them. But the Law can’t save you – it can only show you that you need to be saved.

Application: Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

  1. Maybe you are at that place this morning. Just maybe you’re sitting there realizing that you are a sinner and all of your work at being good has never really been successful. Maybe, just maybe, you realize you need the forgiveness of your sin which comes only through Christ. Would you trust him this morning as your Savior, to come into your life and wash away your sin? This is the Gospel story, the good news:
    1. You and I are sinners. We become aware of this through the law.
    2. God is holy and our sin separates us from him.
    3. The only way to have a relationship with Him is to have our sin removed. But we can’t do that on our own. No amount of obeying the law can ever satisfy the debt we owe for our sin.
    4. So, because we were helpless and in an incredible state of need, God sent his perfect and holy Son Jesus to die for our sin. And, by placing our trust in him, he washes away our sin and makes us holy and righteous – which now makes it possible for us to have this relationship with him.

Would you trust Christ today?

  1. Maybe there is another decision on your heart? Maybe you feel called of God to share this good news with the world as a missionary, a pastor, or an evangelist. Maybe God is calling you to church membership here at Calvary? Maybe you’re just interested in learning more about these things.

I’d like to close with a song and then a prayer. After that, we’ll be dismissed to a time of fellowship with coffee and cookies and doughnuts. I want to give you a chance to respond to whatever decision God is placing on your heart. Come and visit with me in the back and let’s talk it…

Song: Show yourselves to be…

Are you showing yourselves to be following him? Let’s pray…

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Romans 7.1-6

Title: Praise for Redemption

Text: Romans 7.1-6

Introduction: a few weeks ago Larry asked me in our Bible Study time on Wednesday night if he understood me correctly when I said that we no longer have to obey the law – which, by the way, I did say. In the same week, Andy Stanley was highly criticized for his comments about Christians today and their need to ‘unhitch’ themselves from the OT.

Ouch. That scared me a little. I would in no way suggest that. So, I listened to Andy’s message and I think I understand what he’s trying to say. He’s trying to say what Paul said: We’ve been set free from the Law. It can’t save us! We don’t have to obey it’s demands any longer because Christ has set us free from it’s bondage.

The writer of Hebrews brings this out in chapter 8: Heb 8.7, 13:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

And there are more evidence of this:

Eph 2.13-22: 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Col 2.13-14; 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

He crucified it. I think this is the direction Paul has been headed all along in Romans. Let me show you what I mean. In 1.16-18 he gave us his thesis statement for the book: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

How can he say v. 18 so confidently? How can he say anyone is unrighteous? Because of the Law. The Law shows us we’re sinners.

So, Paul says he loves the Gospel. This wonderful story begins with the wrath of God against sin. Sin is his first topic. You see that in chapters 1, 2 and 3. But, Salvation is revealed within this Good News. And, it comes by faith in Christ.

Look with me at chapter three as he arrives at this stage of the Salvation story: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

Paul says that the law shows us that we’re sinners, but it can’t make us righteous. He continues: 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Note he says that it is apart from the Law and only through faith in Jesus Christ.

We continue our way through Romans and come to chapter 4. Rd 4.13-16a; 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. What he is saying is that if the law could make one righteous, then all you’d have to do is obey it. But you can’t. All the law does is… continue in v 15. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. So, all the law really does is show us that we are sinners and that God is Holy.

16 That is why it depends on faith…

Then Paul makes his way through to Chapter 5 and declares in v 20-21, that through Christ, God has increased His Grace all the more where sin abounded. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now, to address this issue, Paul presents to the reader a fictitious “Judiaser”. This pretend man debates Paul and asks a very serious question for the Jew in 6.1: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul says absolutely not, and then he expounds through chapter six and chapter seven.

We pick up in Chapter 7 this morning. I want you to see that Chapter six and seven, though different, are very similar. Paul constructed it in such a way as to draw attention to the sanctification process.

 

Note how Chapter six is about the Christian and his relationship to sin, and, Chapter seven is about the Christian and his relationship to the law. Let me demonstrate this for you. You’re in Romans 7; now look back to chap. 6.

 

 

6.1: sets the topic as Sin

6.2: We died to sin

6.4: we might walk in newness of life

6.7: he who has died is freed from sin

Compare w/:

7.1: Sets the topic as Law

7.4: You have died to the law

7.6: we might serve in newness of the spirit

7.6: we have died to that which held us captive; we are released

 

So, here’s what we’re seeing: Paul is dealing with the Law in the same manner he dealt with Sin in the previous chapter. He uses the very same words. He uses the same flow. He uses the same thought pattern and the same sort of logic. He’s declaring that we’ve been set free from them both, sin and the law.

 

In the 7th chapter of Romans we see a type of Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde presentation about the Law.

I say that because (and I want you to remember), The Law of God is precious to the Jews. It’s precious to Paul. Ps 1.2: Blessed is the man… his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.

Ill.: Lisa, Jenn and I watched Fiddler on the Roof Friday night. Tavia said that he wished he could be a rich man.

If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

In the OT you find time and again, the love for God’s Word that his people had.

Psalm 19.7ff: it is perfect, reviving the soul; rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, clean, righteous, sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb. Think about that for a moment. The Jews felt the Law of God was sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.

Psalm 119 is replete with statements of the beauty and wonder of God’s Law and just how precious, how dear the Law is to the Psalmist and to the Jews. 4x’s in Psalm 119 the Psalmist says: Oh, how I love your law!

But, the Law was also cruel. The Law not only magnified the sin, the debt, the trespass, but it also increased the trespass. For all of it’s good, it brought shame. No one could ever live it out. Paul will press this point later on in 7 – that the Law is precious and cruel at the same time.

Read 7.1 with me. Well, what happens when a person is no longer living? They’re dead. In 6, he said we must die to sin. Just as Christ died, so we too die. That’s the picture of baptism. Back up in 6.Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

He is saying the same thing to us in 7.1: you are bound by this law, that is, until you die to the law.

My first goal today is to point out this principle.

Transition: If you’re taking notes, that would be point #1, for it is Paul’s first point. The Principle.

I.     The Principle (1)

exp.: And the Principle is this: You must die to the law, just as you die to sin. You have to fight this instinctive drive to set up standards as a way to earn your salvation.

t.s.: But just as he does in chapter 6, Paul then gives us an illustration to make his point in the next 2 verses.

II.    The Illustration (2-3)

exp.: In Chapter 6, he used an illustration and it was “Slaves and Masters”. In chapter 7, he’ll do the same, but this time it is “the husband and the wife.” Rd v 2-3;

Excurses: This passage isn’t about divorce. I know some folks like to use this passage to say people who get divorced and remarried are committing adultery. First, I want to caution you against establishing a doctrine on one verse. 2nd, I don’t think that is what this passage is teaching. Paul is teaching us about the Law and our need to die to the law. Let’s understand what he says within the context of the whole passage.

ill.: Remember the principle: you are bound to the Law until you die to the Law. Read v 2a: For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives… any problem so far? A woman makes a vow to her husband and she is bound to him while he is living. Pretty simple. Rd 2b; 2nd, if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So, if a woman is married to a man and he dies, she is no longer bound to the oath she made to him because he has died. Still pretty straight forward, correct. Let’s continue. Rd 2c; so, if she marries another man in this new situation she finds herself with her husband gone, she is NOT considered an adulteress. Verse 3: Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. So, without adding anything to Paul’s illustration, let’s look at the facts of his story. If a woman is married to a man, and she leaves him and lives with another man while he is still alive, then she is called an adulteress. That’s pretty straightforward. There is nothing in here about divorce. Paul doesn’t even mention divorce. Paul simply says, if this woman is married to this man and she goes and lives with another man, then she is an adulteress. She’s committing adultery. I’m pretty sure we would all agree with that. But, on the other hand, if her husband dies and then she marries another man, she is free to do so, because, she is no longer bound by the original contract. The bond between them has been severed because he died, freeing her up to marry another.

t.s.: For the application we must look at verse 4-6…

III.   The Application (4-6)

exp.: rd v 4; likewise. So, just as a woman is free from her marriage vows when her husband dies, likewise the believer… rd 4; we have been set free from that and are able to be bound to another – Christ. That isn’t the Body of Christ – the church, but rather the Body of Christ, physically speaking. rd v 5: For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. We were married to the Law, so we lived that way. But now, our circumstances have changed, as Paul says in Galatians 2: 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. His summary is found in v 6: But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Paul mentions now, really for a 2nd time, the purpose and the reason behind this new marriage to Christ. First he says in v 4, in order that we may bear fruit to God. What kind of fruit is this? Well, in keeping with the teaching in Galatians, it would be the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Doesn’t that sound just like Jesus? We die to the law to bear fruit in our lives in such a way that others see Jesus in us. In Galatians 4.19, Paul says he is in anguish of childbirth to see Christ formed in them.

He says down in v 6 that we’ve died to the law and are united to Christ so that we serve (slave) in the newness (same word as in Chapter 6 for walk in newness of life) we serve in the newness of the Spirit. Without even knowing it, we served the devil. Now we serve God in the newness of the Spirit.

ill.: I have an old pastor friend who used to say that when he became a believer his “want to” changed. He didn’t want to do the things he used to do and he now, wanted to do what Christ desired of him. He wanted to serve in a pleasing manner. He wanted to be faithful. He wanted to walk in newness of life.

Conclusion: I think that kind of sums up how a believer moves from one realm into another. No longer bound by a set of rules to be obeyed externally, God writes his law upon our hearts. Now, what manifests itself in the life of a believer is what comes from within. Our ‘want to’ changes.

A young lady was so moved at her salvation she wrote a song about it. The Title of this song (a hymn you would call it): Praise for Redemption. You don’t know it by that title. You almost didn’t know it all, because when it was written, no one really liked it and it faded into obscurity for some 80 years.

In 1954, Billy Graham was hosting a crusade in London. It is truly amazing the anguish he endured there in London. He wanted to preach, but many of the religious leaders were so hard on him. Robert Morgan writes: The British Press was critical of the young evangelist and an Anglican bishop predicted Graham would return to America with ‘his tail between his legs.’ Funds were short, forcing the Graham team to take pay cuts. A member of Parliament threatened a challenge in the House of Commons, accusing Graham of interfering in British politics under the guise of religion. Friends in high places were advising Graham to cancel or postpone the meetings. Graham, shaken, dropped to his knees repeatedly, beseeching help from Heaven.

As a part of these struggles and financial cutbacks, Cliff Barrows began compiling hymns for the Great London Crusade Song Book. Barrows received many hymns from different folks. One such person was Reverend Frank Colquhoun, a well-known British preacher and lover of hymns. There was this unknown hymn by this lady named Fanny Crosby, who had published that hymn some 79 years before. That hymn was Praise for Redemption, and it goes like this:

To God be the glory, great things He has done; 
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Jesus had redeemed Ms. Crosby and she wanted to shout praises of Glory to God for the great salvation she had experienced. So she composed that song. Of course, the song was sung for 3 months there in London in 1954 and exploded onto the Christian Scene.

Fanny Crosby wrote many songs about her faith. If this one had never been found, we’d still know about her faith. But aren’t you glad it was found.

Praise for Redemption. Fanny Crosby had found a new life in Christ. She had been taken from life to death. Do you hear her plea in the chorus: O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son.

If you’ve never accepted Christ, I offer him to you today. If you’ve been living by the law – trying to be good and never haven been changed by the Spirit. Would you come today?

Here’s how we do things at Calvary. I want to invite you to come talk to me (or any one of the elders) this morning about anything on your mind. There will be other church members there, too, of whom I’m sure would love to visit with you. We’ll have some coffee and cookies back there, and maybe some doughnuts.

Maybe you want to talk about church membership or feeling a call to missions or ministry. Come visit with us.

Let’s have a moment of silence and reflect upon the day’s activity.

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Filed under Colossians, Ephesians, Faith, Galatians, Psalms, Romans, Salvation, Sanctification, Sermon, The Gospel, The Law

Romans 6.15-22

**/for the audio portion of this message, click here: www.soundcloud.com

Title: What does sanctification look like in people?

Text: Romans 6.15-22

Introduction: His name was Johnny and he didn’t like me. I was the young pastor with a head full of ideas, dreams, and goals of what the church could be. He was the old guard. Back in 1948, he helped build the building in which we worshipped. He and his young wife were married there and raised their children there. I didn’t use an organ or have a choir – the very things he liked about the church. I used a guitar and a microphone. I frustrated him and he frustrated me.

Johnny was hard of hearing. He blamed it on a lifetime of driving a tractor without hearing protection. He said they didn’t know back then what we know now about that sort of stuff. Every Sunday, he and his wife sat in the same spot: on the back row of the front section next to the soundboard. He sat there every Sunday because he wore special headphones that allowed him to hear the worship and the message.

Johnny was a part of a group of men who met on Tuesday mornings at McDonald’s for coffee. At 10 am, the men would take a break from wherever they were and whatever they were doing and gather to visit. It was there that things changed for Johnny and me. I was sharing my experiences in Europe. I told them I lived on the German border near Luxemburg.

Johnny was really surprised. “Luxemburg…” he said reflectively. I said, “Yes, sir. Do you know where it is?” He nodded yes and then began to unbutton his shirt. He unbuttoned his shirt down to just below his heart and he showed me a scar. He touched it and said, “It was in Luxemburg that I was shot.” The scar was about an inch from his heart. It almost killed him. There were others with him who didn’t make it; men who died right there where his blood was spilled.

As a kid, I used to play in those very trenches. We played war and found lots of machine gun shells and clips. I used to have two sashes I could wear across both shoulders. At that time, I never thought about the men who died there.

Memorial Day was created as a time to remember. It is usually filled with markers of a new season. Summer is officially here! There are picnics and flags and parades.

We take time to remember because we know that we are free. Remembering is good.

We have this wonderful freedom purchased by those who fought and died for our country.

Our topic today in Romans is about Freedom. I want to remind you of this spiritual freedom that was purchased for us when Christ’s blood was spilled for our sins.

We begin this morning where we left off last week, in 6.15. Paul is in the process of answering a question posed to him in v 1: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul answers with two questions in v 2-3 and two more in 15-16.

His answer is simply no and the reason is that God is sanctifying us. Sanctification is a big word.

This weekend I traveled down to see my Aunt Betty. She took care of me when I was a little boy and didn’t have a momma. I think she came down in the summer. Anyway, as we sat there, cousins, uncles, and aunts – a mini family reunion, one of my cousins asked me what I was preaching on. I said sanctification. And immediately, I could tell she didn’t like me using that word. She said it was too big. I’d have to explain it. Well, she’s right. It is a big word and it often times does need explaining. Paul uses the big word to teach his students in Rome what God is doing in their lives:

  • In v19&22 he focuses in on the main purpose of his teaching: Sanctification. 19c – …so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. And 22b – the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. So note first the place he is going to land is Your Sanctification!
  • 2ndly, I want you to see how that sanctification comes about: rd v 16-17; through obedience.

So here is my thesis: Sanctification is demonstrated through your obedience.

Now, let’s dig deeper. What specific ways does Paul call for obedience? Well, I find three in this passage. Let me give them to you.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

  1. In rejecting a sinful lifestyle.
  2. In living out the standard of God’s Word.
  3. In the fruit you produce in your life.

Let’s pick up in v15 with the 2nd two questions: 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Hold on now Pastor Fred! Didn’t you already say that we’re saved by Grace, through Faith in Christ? Well, yes, I did. We are saved that way. There isn’t anything we have to do or accomplish to gain our salvation. Paul has been clear on that. But now, he is clear in communicating to us that in this new life in Christ, we are to work out that salvation.

Remember what Paul wrote the Philippians (2.12-13): 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Paul is saying that God is at work in us sanctifying us to be more like him. And, at the very same time, we are to be working out our salvation. Just how does he work in us as we work out our salvation, too? Well, Paul gives us three parts to the sanctifying process in this passage. I’m not in anyway suggesting that this is exhaustive, but rather just what the church at Rome needed to hear.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

  1. In rejecting a sinful life. (15-16)
  2. In living out the standard of God’s Word. (17-18)
  3. In the fruit you produce in your life. (19-22)

Note how all three points have something to do with your life. (repeat all three) Let’s begin with this first demonstration of obedience – rejecting a sinful lifestyle.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

I.     In rejecting a sinful lifestyle (16)

exp.: rd v 16: 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?; Now, truth be told, this statement is a lot easier to make than it is to accomplish; But, it does get easier in many respects, as the years pass by.

ill.: Shawn and I were talking about this very thing earlier this week. There is something that changes inside of you when you become a new believer. And, that ‘something’ inside of you finds that sinful behaviors don’t bring the satisfaction it once did.

You’re just as tempted, but when you submit to that temptation, then you find there is no satisfaction in that behavior. There is guilt; there is shame. You ask yourself why did you ever let yourself do that again. You knew it wouldn’t make you happy, but you did it anyway. And then, you commit yourself to never doing that again. And, as you get older in the Lord, when you’re tempted in that manner, you say to yourself, “Nah, been there, done that, and all it brought me was misery.”

app.: As you surrender yourselves more and more to righteousness, and as you surrender yourselves less and less to sinful behavior, you see God sanctifying you and making you more like him.

The natural thing to do now would be to list a bunch of sins and say, don’t do them. But, something I don’t want to do is begin listing sinful behavior. Paul has already been preaching that this new life in Christ is not based on a bunch of do’s and don’ts. It’s about a relationship with God in Christ.

t.s.: So how do you know what is right and what is wrong? How do you know what is sinful? Well, he tells us next…

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

II.    In living the standard of God’s Word (17-18)

exp.: rd with me v17-18; 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

We’re now set on a different course. We have a new standard. It isn’t the NY Times or Fox news. It isn’t The American Medical Journal or American Journal of Psychology. It is the Bible – God’s Holy Word. I was inspired by a statement by Al Mohler this past week and copied it down. This isn’t a quote, but it is definitely from him.

The Bible is the inerrant and infallible verbally inspired Word of God. It is where we find the pattern of God’s pleasure and design for the family and his church. Families and churches flourish when they live it out. In it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found. It is the Good News that any sinner who puts their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. The Word of God is where we find our theology and other doctrines that are rooted unapologetically in Scripture and are the only sure foundation for the home, the church, and the Christian life.

I love to hear stories of people who were raised to have a great understanding of the Word of God. And, then, maybe even years later, they came to salvation in Christ. The Word of God then becomes so clear. They already have this knowledge and this newfound faith brings clarity. Old stories, parables, and teachings all have a greater meaning.

Paul is just such a person. Timothy is, too. Paul wrote to Timothy in his 2nd letter to him: 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

t.s.: Sanctification is demonstrated through obedience in rejecting a sinful lifestyle, in living out the standard of God’s Word and finally,

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

III.   In the fruit you produce in your life (19-22)

exp.: a righteous life bears good fruit. As you take point #2 further, living out the standard of God’s Word, you begin to bear fruit in keeping with such a life.

Rd v 19-22; Two types of fruit

1.  Shame and ultimately, death (21); remember that life? Aren’t you ashamed sometimes when you look back over that life?

Ill.: This weekend, one of my cousins shared how she went off into the world when she left her momma and daddy. It was interesting to hear her story and just how far she was out in the world wandering. But she said in 2006, she came to the end of herself and found the Lord. Her life isn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but, where she came from and the pain it caused her, the shame it brought her are all testimonies of God grace in her life today. But now… rd v 22;

2.  Sanctification and ultimately, eternal life. (22)

She is a changed woman, and I’m so glad to know her now. You see, I found out that 30 years ago, we lived close to each other. I was like: Man, I wish I would have known! We could have been hanging out together. She said, “You wouldn’t have wanted to know me then.” v 21: 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?

The fruit of the Spirit is manifested in a life lived by the standard of God’s Word. In God’s Word we find it isn’t so much about do’s and don’ts anymore, but rather about producing the fruit of the Spirit. God’s Word teaches us that the fruit of the Spirit “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). We don’t produce the fruit of the law… but of the Spirit.

  • Consider love: it is something you choose to do. You can choose to love someone, even when you don’t feel like it. That’s because love isn’t a feeling, as much as it is an action.
  • Consider joy: it isn’t so much about happiness. It is a state of being. There are many times when I’m not happy about something or with something, but the joy still abides. I think it also is a conscious decision to be joyful. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter all sorts of trials.
  • Consider peace: peace is something you can have because of what you know. You can have peace anywhere and at any time. It’s like joy, a state of being. It’s like love, in how you are toward others.
  • Consider patience: patience is what you do or what you don’t do. It is something that rises up from inside and calms your fears and your doubts. Patience sometimes means waiting with an expectation.
  • Consider kindness: kindness is something that is in you, but is demonstrated outside of you. You’re kind in your heart and it comes out in your actions.
  • Consider goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All of them are seen in the actions of a person, but all of them come from that place inside you where the Holy Spirit abides.

app.: Once, you were slaves of the sinful nature which always led you to lawlessness, doing the things of which now you are ashamed. But now, you’ve been set free from those things to live a new life. What an incredible freedom we now have – to live a sanctified life that produces life-giving fruit.

Conclusion: I love that this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. We’re reminded of the great cost we have in our freedom as Americans. But, with this freedom comes responsibility. I think some people forget that.

Likewise, our freedom in Christ comes with responsibility, too. And, some people forget that… that we have:

  • A responsibility to reject the sinful lifestyle.
  • A responsibility to follow the standards of God’s Word in our lives.
  • A responsibility to produce in keeping with that standard: the fruit of the Spirit.

So, what are some take-a-ways from this message today?

Application:

  1. With freedom comes responsibility.
  2. I hope you enjoy the holiday by taking advantage of the opportunity to do something in light of your freedom.
    1. One way is to come to our picnic tonight.
    2. You might attend one of the ceremonies tomorrow.
    3. Visit one of our veterans. Ask him or her to tell you a story about someone who died while serving our country.
  3. Sit down and take an honest assessment of your life. This might involve a pencil and some paper. Ask yourself if you have rejected a sinful life and then work your way through your day:
    1. Open up your browser history. Maybe you’re not going to bad sites, but maybe you are being wasteful with your time and energy.
    2. Consider your TV time and energy. Are their shows that distract you from being a sanctified person?
    3. What does a godly person look like to you? Write down your thoughts and then compare your life to what you think it should be.
  4. List the fruit of the Spirit on a sheet of paper. Write out one action you can take to display that particular fruit of the Spirit. Just pick one and work on it.

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Filed under Romans, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

Romans 6.1-12

Title: Don’t live like you are dying!

Text: Romans 6.1-11

Introduction: We begin a new section of Romans this morning. I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed going through a book more than this, but it does seem that I say this same thing every time I go through a new book.

In case you’ve missed it before, here is a rough Outline –

  • Romans 1-2: Sin
  • Romans 3-5: Salvation
  • Romans 6-8: Sanctification (How now do we live)

Paul ends chapter 5 with sin being so great and bringing so great a death, but God’s Grace is even greater and superabounds to cover sin. That final section starts with Adam’s trespass (5.15, 16, 17, 18, 20), his one sin and explodes onto humanity bringing death to all. But, the grace of God through his Son, Jesus super-abounds to an even greater degree, covering that sin and bringing life where sin once brought death.

Now, someone in Paul’s past must have argued or debated with him and asked the following question: rd 6.1; What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

We probably think this is absurd, but that’s because we’ve been studying this for … well, our whole lives. But in that 1st century, when Jews would confront Paul about this new life in Christ, they were thinking of the law. The Law was everything to them. Paul was teaching what the church had already decided some years before as more and more Gentiles were being saved: we don’t have to follow the law anymore – we’ve been set free from those burdens. The church said, there are four areas of concern from the Law that Gentiles who have become Christians should follow. This is a great personal study if you’re interested. You can line up Acts 15 with Leviticus 17-18- and 19. (Give a brief history).

But that isn’t our purpose this morning. Today, we want to focus in on this question someone might have given Paul during one of his times of teaching: Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

Let me show how Paul develops his answer:

  • Paul answers with 4 questions:
    • two in v 2-3 and
    • two more in v 15-16;
  • After these questions, which are really answers, he expounds to clarify for us what he means.

So, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to give a basic overview of this first section by outlining it for us. Then, I’d like to make a few points from the outline.

If you skip to the end, you gain tremendous perspective of where Paul is headed. Let me show you what I mean:

  • He asks the question in v1: Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
  • He gives his answer in v 22: 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. The end is eternal life – the process is Hence, the 3rd part of our outline in Romans: Sin, Salvation, Sanctification.

So you have your answer: No, you don’t go on sinning, because God is sanctifying you, preparing you for eternal life. Now, how did Paul get there? We won’t get the full answer this morning, but let’s begin with v 1 and follow his logic…

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (1-3)

exp.: Should we then sin all the more that Grace may abound all the more? No; His answer is straight forward and to the point: μὴ γένοιτο; Lit.: not become; May it never become; Or May it never be.

Paul presents two questions to refute this line of thinking:

  • First, he asks: How can we who died to sin still live in it? Implying that we can’t. He will expound on this in a moment. For now he continues with his 2nd question,
  • Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

The answer is in the question. The first question demands a negative response: He can’t. She can’t. The 2nd question has the answer in its presentation. You have been baptized into Jesus and into his death.

ill.: And then he explains in 4-11; for brevity’s sake, let me show you the flow of his argument.

  • Therefore (His answer) – v4
    • For (Because) – v5
      • We know (Reason) – v6
    • For (Because) – v7
      • We Know (Reason) – v9
    • For (Because) – v10
  • So (His Answer) – v11

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

app.: Paul asks if we should continue in Sin so that Grace may abound. His answer: No, we have died to sin and it’s lordship over us. The person who was that way has died – he or she is no longer alive. The new person is alive in Christ and has surrendered to his Lordship.

Here then are the Four parts to beginning your walk with God. These are actions you take:

Note: Some of you have been doing this already for decades; others of you have only been living this new life for a few days. But, in each instance, whether decades or days, the new life is the same:

  1. Death of Old Life

Death is in every verse: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s point is clear: we must die to sin and self!

  1. Burial (comes to nothing); We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Ill.: The old self is put to death and buried. It must come to nothing. We can’t feed it. I think this is an important part of our new walk. Young believers, listen up! You must not give the old self any breathing room.

I wish that sanctification was a one and done scenario, but it isn’t. While it is true that your sins are forgiven – all of your sins – it is also true that the old self must be crucified each and every day. Crucify it and bury it. Third, …

  1. Resurrection: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Once the old life is dead and buried, we are raised to a new life.

  1. New Life: rd v 4

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. *This new life is a life that is liberated – no longer held captive!

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

  1. Death
  2. Burial
  3. Resurrection
  4. New Life

Ill.: Some people think this is just too harsh of Paul to say. But, I don’t think he’s being hyperbolic in his teaching.

Too many of us as new Christians don’t kill the old self, but in truth, are held captive to sin. This year marks three years ago my sister died of an overdose. I’ve not talked about it publicly. I don’t want to today, either. There is a real problem in America today, an epidemic, a plague. There is a pharmaceutical conspiracy that is killing thousands upon thousands of people in the US. Did you know that as many people die from overdoses to Opioid Addiction every 10 months as died in the Vietnam War?

My sister was one of those people. Her friends tried to help her, but she chose drugs over them. She went from working for the Governor in Austin to living in a bedroom in my mother’s house, selling drugs through her window. She had a little slit in the screen where transactions could be made. She stole my mother’s life savings and spent it all on drugs. She pawned anything worth any value, jewelry, antiques, you name it.

She went to rehab so many times. Let me stop there… Someday, I want to talk about it, but not today. Today I just want to mention it and say..

app.: Satan comes to kill, to steal and to destroy. But Jesus has come that we might have life. If you don’t destroy your old self, it will dominate you. If you open the door for something, it will take over your life. Whether it is drugs or pornography or food. You have to say no to the world and what it offers and say yes to Jesus, every single day of your life.

Luke 9.23-25: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

We’ve run out of time this week, we’ll pick up here next week and continue our study on Romans 6.1-14

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Psalm 19

Title: Do you ever wonder if God is really out there? Does God really exist?

Text: Psalm 19

Introduction: Do you ever wonder if God is really out there? Have you ever asked yourself: Does God really exist? This is a tough question and if you’re honest – whether you’re a Christian or not, you have. How could you not? You’re bombarded everyday with those who would love to discourage you. And with all of the bad things in the world, how could God – if he is even out there – how could he let all that stuff go on?

I told you about my friend who went to the doctor and he asked her how her treatments were going. Do you remember? She said Treatments? I’m not getting any treatments? Treatments for what?

He said, “for your cancer.”

“I don’t have cancer.”

But she did. She hadn’t seen the doctor in 14 months. That’s when they found her cancer in her stomach. But no one told her. No one followed up.

We buried her yesterday. I asked her if she was bitter and she said: Good heavens, no! I asked her if she thought about suing. She asked me why? She wouldn’t be around to enjoy it. And besides, we’re all human and we all make mistakes. God knew.

Think about that. How unfair is that? And to say that God knew and didn’t reveal it to her!

Can God really be out there with so much injustice and so much evil in the world?

And if he is out there – why does he remain silent? Why doesn’t he speak up? Or does he? Where can you hear him if he is speaking?

Transition: Well, Psalm 19 lays out for us very clearly just where we can see him and hear him if we’ll truly look and listen. Look at Psalm 19 w/ me:

19 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1         The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

2         Day to day pours out speech,

and night to night reveals knowledge.

3         There is no speech, nor are there words,

whose voice is not heard.

4         Their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,

5         which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

6         Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them,

and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

I.     God is Making Himself Known through His Creation (1-6)

exp.: specifically, the skies; Every day and every night God is speaking to the world saying – I’m here. Can’t you see!

  1. There is no time when God is not speaking.
  2. There is no place where God is not speaking.
  3. There is no one who is hidden from God’s speaking.

The Artistry of Creation is a proclamation that God exists.

ill.: Kim Hill is an artist. I’m guessing 99% of you won’t know who I’m talking about. She paints some of the most realistic, stunningly beautiful paintings you’ll see. She has galleries in Fredericksburg and here, in Tyler, TX. Even if you’re not into art, I feel fairly confident that you would look at her paintings and just be amazed. You’ll look at those paintings and know that someone painted them. That paint didn’t just get spilt and make such an amazing garden painting, or pasture of longhorns. If I was rich, I’d own a few Kim Hill paintings.

app.: But just because you see one of her paintings, it doesn’t mean you can know her through her art or her designs. In order to get to know her, you’d have to read about her. You would have to meet her.

t.s.: Day after day and night after night, as you look up into the stars, you can get a sense he’s there. But, you can’t know him intimately through his creation. You can know he is out there. And that is the 2nd point Psalm 19 makes:

II.    God is Making Himself Known through His Word (7-11)

exp.: he has systematically and meticulously preserved his Word for us today. He wants us to know Him more intimately and deeply. Look at v 7-11;

7         The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure,

making wise the simple;

8         the precepts of the Lord are right,

rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure,

enlightening the eyes;

9         the fear of the Lord is clean,

enduring forever;

the rules of the Lord are true,

and righteous altogether.

10         More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey

and drippings of the honeycomb.

11         Moreover, by them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

Note first the synonyms God uses to describe his word: law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear and rules. These five words are the same words used in Psalm 119 – The great Psalm on God’s word. And – they’re used in the same order.

Look secondly at how God describes his word: perfect (or blameless), sure, right, pure, clean and true and righteous altogether.

And note 3rdly what they do for the individual: reviving the soul, make wise, joy to the heart, enlightening the eyes, God’s word makes it so we can see clearer. I’d call that perception.

app.: God Communicates His Reality in and through his creation. He Communicates His Character through his Holy Scriptures.

t.s.: But there is a third way we can know God…

III.   God is Making Himself Known through The Servant (12-14)

exp.: rd with me v 12-13;

12         Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13         Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.

Blameless, this is the word we saw up in v 7 translated as perfect.

  1. The servant writing this Psalm identifies himself in the very beginning, back up in the Title: A Psalm of David. That’s King David. There was no King quite like David. We know he is an imperfect picture of the Messiah, but we get a vague idea of the Messiah by seeing David. David, of course, messed up. He wasn’t perfect. Do you remember his great, public humiliation? That’s right: Bathsheba. He committed adultery with the wife of one of his most trusted and loyal leaders – Uriah. And then he had him murdered in order to cover it up.
  2. But there is another servant mentioned here. David is prophesying about him. There is only one person who has ever really been innocent in all his ways: the man, Jesus. He is only one who actually ever was blameless and perfect. Jesus is God’s servant who came to demonstrate God’s love to you and me. But God demonstrates his love toward in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
  3. There is third servant I’d like to mention. There is David the writer and Jesus the Messiah. The third servant isn’t listed here, but is definitely a sign that God is communicating his reality and his love through this servant. The third servant communicates God’s glory: and that’s his followers.

Every time someone comes to Christ and finds forgiveness, it communicates to people out there who don’t know God, that God is real. Sure, we Christians aren’t perfect like Jesus was – even though for many of us we try, but we fail. But that really is the message! Jesus came to die for sinners like you and me. And every time someone comes to Christ, it is a way God communicates to the world; a message that screams out that God is real.

We see it in the picture of a baptism…

The life of a person who comes to Christ is demonstrated in their baptism: the old person dies and a new person is raised to a new life. But, it is also a picture of Christ, who died on the cross of Calvary for our sins and was raised again to bring life and hope to everyone who commits his life to follow Christ.

ill.: Chase’s baptism…

Conclusion: if you’ve never accepted Christ into your life, I want to give you the opportunity this morning… If you want, we’ll even work out some way for you to be baptized this morning if you’d like. If you’re under 18, we’ll have to have your parents permission of course. But, if you’re out there in the congregation and you’d like to commit your life to follow Christ – this invitation is for you.

Application: God’s is communicating to you

  1. Through the Skies
  2. Through His Scriptures
  3. Through His Servant

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Filed under Prophecy, Psalms, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Servant, The Gospel

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 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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