Category Archives: Romans

Romans 6.14

Title: No longer under law, but under grace!

Text: Romans 6.15-23

Introduction: Galatians 3-5; Ephesians 2.11-12; Romans 6;

This life is filled with extreme differences. They are wonderful lessons for us:

  • Hot v. Cold
  • Darkness v. Light
  • North Pole v. South Pole
  • Marianas Trench v. Mt. Everest
  • Rich v. Poor
  • Republican v. Democrat

The list could go on.

What I love about our lives on this earth, is that God gives us so many physical ‘things’ to demonstrate his reality. The heavens do really declare the glory of God.

We’re in Romans 6 this morning. Verse 14.

Last week we looked at two verses v12-13: 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

We looked at the two Don’ts and the two Do’s.

  1. Don’t let sin reign in your body.
  2. Don’t present the members of your body as weapons for unrighteousness.
  3. (Do) Present yourself to God as those who were dead, but now are alive!
  4. (Do) Present your members (the parts of your body) as weapons for righteousness.

And this is where we left off last week: rd v 14… For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. I began my study this week with a question. I wanted to move on and cover verse 15-22, but in explaining how v 15 is set up, I realized I hadn’t addressed v 14. : For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. So, what was my question? What does it mean to be ‘under grace’? Well, from our verse we can surmise that the answer is as simple as: Sin has no dominion over you. So there is freedom. Here we see two extremes again: bondage v. freedom. If Sin has dominion in your life, then you are enslaved. I went outside of Romans to find the answer. Paul tells us in Galatians, that if sin has dominion over you, then you will find your life characterized by three results:

  1. You are separated from Christ.
  2. You are enemies with God.
  3. You are hopeless.
  4. You are separated from Christ. You would still be under law. So, therefore, you would be severed from Christ.
  5. You are enemies with God. Therefore you would incur his wrath.
  6. You are hopeless. I can’t add a therefore to that. I can’t think of anything to add to that.

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st characteristic that we see of someone who is under the dominion of sin and under law:

  1. You are separated from Christ. (Gal 5)

exp.: If the law justifies you, then you are severed from Christ. I think there must be some innate motive we have built within us to earn the grace of God through good works. It just seems intuitive. There is something built in us that makes us think that way. I say that because every religion except Christianity is built upon a set of rules to keep. And even we Christians build a set of do’s and don’ts to live by. We sometimes even make up stuff that isn’t in Scripture and we measure ourselves against others who do or don’t do those same rules.

But Paul issues a stark warning here: Don’t let sin reign because you’re not under law, but under grace. Turn with me to Galatians 5.1-6; rd v 1-3

  • If you choose even one part of the law to justify you, say like circumcision, then you’re bound by the whole of it (5.3). You are obligated to keep the whole law. But, you already know, you can’t do that, right? So, if you choose to be justified by the whole law… well, keep reading; rd v 4;
  • If you choose even one part of the law to justify you, then you are cut off from Christ. The relationship is declared null and void.

Some would ask about going to church. If you’re a Christian, don’t you have to go to church? Well, no. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. And, some people make church attendance a marker for salvation. That’s is wrong. If you’re a Christian, you’re already a part of the Universal Church. We simply erect these facilities to give us a place to meet. But we can meet anywhere! This has become such a turn off to many in the world that they’ve opted to simply create house churches. Who can blame them?

  • Look at the wording here, you have fallen away from grace. This doesn’t mean you lose your salvation.
    • Too many other Scriptures teach us that we can never do that.
    • The wording doesn’t mean you’ve lost your salvation.

Ill.: Let me ask you: have you ever heard of a young man who is lost dating a Christian girl? She won’t go out with him unless he’s a Christian? He says he is. And she takes him at his word. If he hasn’t been baptized, he gets baptized. So, he becomes a member of the church through baptism and begins dating this beautiful girl that he’s been pursing. They get married. He then stops going to church. Listen, young lady, guys are jerks and they’ll make up any lie you want to hear to go out with you. Guys have this innate drive to purse girls. The problem is that men haven’t taught boys how to treat girls. But that isn’t the lesson here. The lesson here is that many people enter into the church for many different reasons. However, they never truly surrender their lives to Christ. And as 1 John 2.19 says: they left us because they never really were one of us.

Paul isn’t teaching here that you can lose your salvation. He’s teaching here in Galatians and in Romans that those who choose to gain their salvation through their works will fail. Salvation doesn’t come through any one or thing, but through faith in Christ. It isn’t Christ plus something equals salvation. Salvation is in Christ alone.

So, if you choose to obey the law for your salvation, Christ is of no value to you. And, if you choose the law over Christ, you’re severed from him. And 3rd,

  • If you choose even one part of the law to justify you, then you are excluded from righteousness. Rd v 5; For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. If you are trying to gain this righteousness through the law, you won’t. You can’t! Righteousness only comes through faith.

v6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Only faith working through love.

t.s.: If you are under law and not under grace, then the law is your lord, you are separated from Christ and excluded from righteousness. 2nd,

  1. You are enemies with God. (3.10)

exp.: If you are under law, you are under a curse. Remember first, if you choose to justify yourself by obeying even one of the laws, then you are obligated to the whole law. And, if you are under the law, then you are under a curse. You are an enemy of God. The curse remains because you are unrighteous. All of your work, that is, your obedience to the law, will culminate in your own righteousness. And our righteousness is as filthy rags before the Lord. The sum of our very best stinks to the high heavens. Look with me at Galatians 3.10f; 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

Technically, that would be everyone! Who can keep the whole law? No one. No one that is, but Christ. Consider if someone kept the entire law perfectly and failed only at one law. Let’s say it was possible for discussion sake. Consider if someone kept the entire law perfectly and failed only at one law. Then that person would be guilty before God. He or she would forfeit their salvation – with just one infraction and be guilty of violating the whole law! That would make you an enemy of God and under the curse.

Paul explains: 11 now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Since no one is justified before God by the law, then the one who chooses to keep the law and not put his faith in Christ is cursed. He is separated from Christ and He is cursed as an enemy of God.

t.s.: third,

  • If you are under law, then you are hopeless (Eph 2.11-12)

exp.: 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

In this life, your life would be relegated to a bunch of do’s and don’ts. What a hopeless existence to wake up to a list to keep and then go throughout your day checking off all of the requirements demanded of you. And, no matter how good you were at the do’s, you would never be good enough to save yourself. Ever. Your life would be a constant list of do’s and don’ts. And, not only would your life on earth be hopeless, but you wouldn’t have the hope of heaven, either. You would be enslaved to the demands of the law, only to find failure and no way to redeem yourself.

t.s.: But what if someone chose not to be enslaved to sin and under the curse of the law?

Question: What if someone realized their hopeless situation and cast off the restraints of the law and found freedom in Christ?

The positive twist is just what Paul said: You are not under law, but under grace. So, you would be free!

  1. Instead of being separated from Christ, you would be united with Christ.
  2. Instead of providing your own stinking rags of righteousness, you would be provided with the Righteousness of Christ. You would no longer be an enmity with Christ – you would no longer be an enemy! You could sing: I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, He calls me Fred.
  3. And, instead of a hopeless existence here on earth and a hopeless future, you would be filled with hope. Hope that each day you could walk with God. There would be no need to worry. Do you grasp that? There would be no need to worry. What would you need to worry about? Tell me, what in your life would you have to worry about with this newfound hope. You would have hope each and every day that you woke up. You would know that God was there to walk with you through that day. Nothing in that day coming before you would be unknown to God. Nothing in that day could take you out of his care. Nothing in that day could separate you from Him. Nothing.

Romans 8.31-39: this is where Paul is headed in his lesson on Sanctification: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

                        “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Conclusion:

  1. Free From Wander
  2. Free From Wrath
  3. Free From Worry

So, what would I like to take home with you today?

Application:

  1. Life without Christ is so … negative!
    1. No Hope
    2. No Peace
    3. No Certainty about anything.
  2. Life with Christ is so … positive! It really is.
  3. This doesn’t mean that life isn’t hard at times. The old nature still has to be crucified…everyday!
  4. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have troubles. Jesus said that you would. Jn 16.33
  5. You, as a believer, through faith, walk with God. You are no longer separated from Christ, but instead walk with him each day. (Remember 5 where Paul said that God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us?).

I want to share with you the life of someone who has found this new life in Christ. The difference in who he isSomeone who has been learning to walk with him in faith. I want you to meet Mr. Shawn Cook.

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Filed under Ephesians, Galatians, Romans, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

Romans 6.1-14

Title: Live Like You’re Dying!

Text: Romans 6.1-11

Introduction: We began a new section of Romans last Sunday. Romans 6-8.

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

  • Romans 1-2: Sin
  • Romans 3-5: Salvation
  • Romans 6-8: Sanctification (basically answering the question: How do we now 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?

Paul was teaching what the church had already decided some years before as more and more Gentiles were being saved. The problem had been that Gentiles weren’t becoming Jews first. The early church decided that Gentiles didn’t have to convert to Judaism to become Christians. I referred you to Acts 15 and Leviticus 17-18 (19) for a personal Bible study.

But not all Jews felt that way. They were teaching that you must follow the Law. And, that is probably where this question popped up originally. You can imagine a debate. Paul declares the teaching of Acts 15 and someone begins to debate with him. Saved by faith are we now? Where sin increased, grace increased all the more then? So, Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound all the more?

I feel like I should stop for a moment and address something I said that I hope hasn’t confused some. This is what I said last week:

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.

I want to clarify: I’m not saying we throw out the OT! I’m not saying those promises are null and void. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to obey the Law to get saved. Salvation only comes through Jesus. What I’m saying is that we’ve been set free from the burden of the Law to live out the law as believers in Christ.

I said: we don’t have to follow the law anymore. We don’t have to… but, in a very real sense we do.

This was in our Bible Study lesson during the Bible Study hour last week. In Galatians 5 we read: 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Note: these are actions which are unlawful! The fruit of the Spirit, though, is different. This fruit isn’t an action or actions, but rather who you are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no … ? Law.

So, it isn’t that we’re bound by the law anymore. We’ve been set free from those burdens to live a life of faith in Christ. I encourage you to study Leviticus 17-18 (19) and compare it with Acts 15. For the whole context study Acts 8-15.

Back to the message: Paul has been asked a question – probably from a Jewish Christian who has debated him and believes the Law should be obeyed. And I get it. Let me show how Paul develops his answer in Chapter 6:

  • 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.

A basic overview serves as a guide through our first section:

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 looked at the first part last week in v. 1-11…

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?

t.s.: I’d like to chase another rabbit for a moment, if I may. This passage is often quoted during baptismal celebrations. Let me ask this 2nd question:

Is this passage about the ordinance of baptism?

exp.: No, I don’t think this is about the ordinance of baptism, per se? Baptism is mentioned here. You can learn about baptism here. But the context isn’t about Baptism, but rather about the new life in Christ.

2ndly, and more important, Paul is not saying that the act of baptism completes this process of salvation. There are some Christians who believe that it does. Typically, and historically, Baptists understand the act of baptism is symbolic. It’s a physical picture of what has happened spiritually. I have a phrase I’ve coined: It is an external expression of an internal experience.

The word Baptize (βαπτίζω) means to immerse.

You ask, well then, why didn’t the guys who translated the Bible originally translate it that way?

Good question: let me give you a bit of history that I was taught when I was younger.

ill.: When King James ordered the Bible to be translated into the King’s English back on 1609, the translators had some problems. Not every word in one language translated over into the new language. Take names for example. David means “Beloved” or “Uncle”. It would be weird if they translated David “Beloved” every time his name popped up (Or, Vis versa). So, instead of translating the name, they transliterated it. There were other words that caused them problems and so they transliterated those words, too. Like places, cities, and areas. There are things that exist in one language and not in another. So, the translators transliterated.

Transliteration is the process of taking a letter in one language and putting down a corresponding letter in the other language. I’ll show you what I mean…

βαπτίζω = Baptize

This word wouldn’t offend anyone. That’s the word for what we do!

app.: So, with all of that being said: I don’t think we’re talking so much about the act of being immersed in water as we are about being immersed into Christ and spiritually experiencing a death, burial, resurrection and new way of life.

You see, those are the four components or parts used by Paul in this passage to describe what Christ has done and to describe our new life in Christ. We looked at them last week, so just let me mention them.

We’ll only take a moment to look at v 4, because v 4 has all 4 components:

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

We were buried2 therefore with him by baptism into death1, in order that, just as Christ was raised3 from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life4.

This is his answer and he comes back to it in his final statement on this issue down in v 11: 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Transition: This is your new life in Christ. Now, Paul gives us 4 imperatives to obey and live out in order that we might do just that – walk in this new life in Christ. I present it this morning by asking a third question:

What we must do! (12-14)

exp.: v 11 is the answer: consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God. Verse 12 is the practical application. You’ll note he says therefore in v 12. Because of all this – and then we find three imperatives representing four commands. Paul leaves us with: 2 don’ts and two do’s. # 1 rd v 12;

  1. Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
  2. Don’t present your members to sin as instruments (weapons) for unrighteousness.

You’re probably getting the idea that putting this sin to death thing isn’t going to be easy. Do you mean to tell me that sin is going to try and make me obey its passions? Are you trying to tell me that I’m going to struggle with letting sin dominate my life as an instrument (weapon) of unrighteousness?

Yeah. That is what Paul is telling us. Sanctification doesn’t come easy. It takes work. How?

We’ve mentioned them already: 1st, do what v 11 said, die to sin. 2nd, give it a good burial.

Ill.: have you ever heard of people being buried with their belongings? This week I read of one man who had his dead dog buried with him. One man asked to be buried in his recliner and a checkerboard in his lap – Oh, and the key to the Mausoleum just in case his undertaker was mistaken. That was back in 1899.

App.: That is that attitude we have to have. You can’t say you want to die to your sin and keep things around you that help you commit that sin. You’ve got to put it to rest! Let me give you some helps here:

  1. Spend some time in God’s Word everyday. And then spend some time praying.
  2. Get an accountability partner. Someone who can ask you the hard questions. Now, this person is only as good as you let them be. If you lie to them, then they’re no good to you. Plug: Men’s Ministry on Saturday.
  3. Set up boundaries.
    1. Don’t be alone with another person of the opposite sex without others being there, too. Don’t go to lunch with, don’t travel with, don’t spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex. Period.
    2. But up boundaries on your TV viewing, your browser on your computer, your phone, etc. Have your wife set up your TV with a code and not let you know what it is.
    3. Give your passwords to your wife/husband.

Paul gives us some practical steps in his third imperative in two more commands:

  1. Do present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.
  2. Do present your members (that means every part of who you are, every part of your mortal body) to God as instruments (weapons) for righteousness.

app.: These last two are one in the same action. These commands tell us how we must consider ourselves now that we’re no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to Christ.

t.s.:

Conclusion: Did you notice I changed the title of my sermon? Take a pen and mark out the word not.

Tim McGraw had a hit with Live Like You Were Dyin’. If you know the song, you know the idea for the song is about a friend who found out he had cancer and was dying. When he found out he was dying, he really started living.

I’d say take that advice: Live like you’re dying to yourself every single day. Put the old self down, bury ‘im, so that he doesn’t have his way. And then, resurrect the new self and live like you’ve died to yourself. As Paul said: Consider yourselves dead to sin. Consider yourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? No. That part of me has died. I now live a new life.

Invitation: if you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ, I’d like to present you a chance to do so. In a moment, we’re going to meet in the back for a time of fellowship over coffee and cookies and doughnuts. If you’d like to find the forgiveness of your sins and begin this new walk in life I’ve been talking about, come and see me. Or visit with one of the elders. We’d love to share with you how you can do that.

Or maybe there is another decision on your heart. You are feeling a call to ministry and mission; you are wanting to join the church; we’d like to visit with you about that.

Let’s have a moment of silence to reflect upon these decisions and pray.

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Filed under Evangelism, Romans, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, 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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Romans 5.14b-17

Title: The Doctrine of Original Sin Part 2

Text: Romans 5.14b-17

Introduction: I’m going to give you a head’s up as we start this morning. Later in the sermon, there will be a time when you’re going to need something to write on and with: either a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. Or, you’ll want to pull out your electronic device to write things down with. So, get that ready. It won’t be for a while, but when the moment comes, you’ll want to participate. And if you don’t – trust me, you’ll wish you would have. I’m just saying… so get that ready. Just a scratch piece of paper or your notes app will do.

We’re in the midst of the study of original sin found in Romans 5.12-21. Open up you Bible to Romans 5. I think the idea of Original Sin is easy to understand at its basic meaning. However, this passage, in which we read and learn about the Doctrine of Original Sin is hard to understand. Not the doctrine, per se, but rather, the passage is hard to understand.

Last week in our community group we talked about some of the texts that are hard to understand (first for children, then for adults). One of the verses we looked at was:

2 Peter 3.15-17: 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

As I’ve thought more about our Community Group last week, I’ve wondered why it is that some things are hard to understand. This has especially consumed me because this passage in Romans 5 is one of the most difficult passages in all of Scripture.

Philip Jensen, the Australian Theologian gives us three reasons we find Scripture hard to understand.

Some Passages of Scripture are hard to understand because of:

  1. Translation. And there are various explanations for this:
    1. From one language to another. Some words just don’t exist in the new language.
    2. From one culture to another (or even from one culture, in another language to a different culture and language. Just saying that, is difficult to grasp. A Hebrew Culture and a Greek language into culture with a language, but no alphabet.
    3. Different millenniums let alone, different centuries.
  2. Complex Expressions.
    1. For example: Therefore, just as in v 12. You expect Paul then to say, So, then… But here is the problem: Paul doesn’t do that. He makes a statement in v 12, then, a parenthetical statement in v.13-14; expounds on that in 15-17; and comes back to what he said in v 12 in v 18 – Therefore, as… and doesn’t get to the So until v 19b and 21 (So by… and So, that…).
  3. The Difficulty of Ideas.
    1. Our knowledge is limited. Like when you see a footnote and the footnote reads: The Hebrew meaning is here is obscure. It wasn’t obscure to the writer and probably not to the original audience. However, being 4,000 years later, or in our case, 2000 years later – our knowledge is limited.
    2. Wrong basic assumptions.
      1. We try to put 21st Century Western ideas and into 1st Century understanding. They simply are not congruous.
      2. We want our questions answered, rather than the question the Bible passage is answering.
    3. Note: When we come to difficult passages, we shouldn’t despair, but rather we should rejoice. This is an opportunity for growth. Consider this: this is God’s Word. It has been preserved to this day, just for us. God has no problem with his work as he has presented it to us. If there is a problem – then the problem is with me, not with God’s Word. I am the one who must change to match it, not the other way around. Amen?

That’s where we are this morning, so let’s pray that God will give us clarity and understanding – that God would be growing us in our knowledge and understanding of who He is.

(Pray)

In our study of The Doctrine of Original Sin, we left off our passage in v 14b where the 2nd man was introduced: who was a type of the one who was to come. You and I know he is Jesus, the Messiah.

Adam is a type of the messiah. For those of you who don’t know what Type means, well, God gave us types of the messiah throughout history to help us identify the Messiah when he came. David was a type of the Christ. Moses was a type of the Christ. Those are just two examples. Here, Paul is giving us another example: Adam. Now, Is Paul saying these guys are exactly alike? Well, no, not really. But Paul is saying there are some similarities. Let’s look closer at the passage and identify them. I’ve outlined these next three verses (15-17) as follows:

The Actions of these two men tell us:

  1. Where we currently stand before God.
  2. The Verdict of God’s Judgment toward us because of that standing. And
  3. The Hope we possess in light of that verdict.

Transition: Let’s begin with this first similarity and the difference between the two. The actions of these two men tell us where we currently stand before God.

I.     Our Standing (15)

exp.: rd 14b-15; who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. So, the two words I want you to focus on in this passage are: Trespass and Grace.

ill.: Have you ever seen a sign like this: Show Slides;

app.: To trespass means to cross a boundary into an area that is off limits. We don’t belong there. The word in the Greek means misstep and it has the idea of falling, like, to be tripped up.

exp.: Grace, we use that word to describe someone who someone whose step is smooth – we would say Graceful.

ill.: The summer before my sophmore year Hig, my youth pastor, took us on a choir tour. It was my first tour and I absolutely loved it. On that trip, there was this girl, Mitzi Jaunt. Mitzi was a sweet girl, kind to everyone, but she was … well, kind of a clutz. At one part of the trip, we were unloading the bus, and the stuff in the back of the bus when Mitzi fell out of the back of the bus and actually hit her head. It scared us all, but she was ok. We didn’t know at first, but as time went by, it turned out that she had a pretty hard head. No offense, Mitzi, if you’re listening to this. Anyway, Mitzi fell or stumbled from time to time, but that fall was the worst. From that time on, we started calling her Grace, in reference to her lack of Grace when stepping off the bus or walking into the church, or wherever.

app.: in that example, Mitzi wasn’t very graceful – her misstep might have been pretty bad, but, fortunately for all, she was fine. But now, you see the two opposites or dissimilarities: a misstep versus a beautiful walk. Falling versus Standing. You have Standing someplace you were never designed to be and in danger versus standing in a place of safety and security.

t.s.: the actions of the two men show us where we stand… 2nd,

II.    The Verdict (16)

exp.: The Actions of these two men tell us the verdict of God’s judgment toward us because of that standing; rd v 16; 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. Note the two words: condemnation and justification; The first word, I think, is fairly understandable. Because of our trespasses that came to us through the one man’s sin, we stand condemned. Adam’s sin was, according to v 12, spread to us through Adam’s actions. The one man’s trespass has made us all trespassers. The verdict for this position in which we now stand is condemnation. To be condemned means to have a sentence of guilty read to us and then to be sent to our punishment. Eternal Condemnation is a place of torment and punishment. The Bible calls the place Hell. Romans 3.23 is quite plain when it reads: For the wages of sin is deathbut the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Which is precisely what our text this morning reads: 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. You stand before God either in a fallen condition or in his Grace. That standing brings God’s judgment. God’s judgment for the fallen condition is condemnation. The judgment for standing in his Grace is Justification.

Let’s answer what justification is: it is a little harder to understand. Some folks like to use the word justified in a sentence. They say Its just if I’d never sinned. Have you ever heard that before? Well, I like it in that it helps us understand that our sin is wiped away and no record of wrongs is now held against us. But it really isn’t as just if I’d never sinned, because I have. And so have you. To be justified means to be declared not guilty. But, we are guilty. We have sinned or fallen. The only way to be justified before God, is to have someone else take the blame for our sin.

ill.: And that is precisely what Christ has done. Here is a big word for you: Imputation. It actually appears in our text his morning. It’s a big word that we don’t normally use in our everyday lingo. Theologians use it to explain a transfer of someone’s account to another person. We see imputation used in three different ways in New Testament:

  1. Adam’s sin was imputed to us when he sinned, thereby making it that all have sinned.
  2. Our sin was imputed to Christ when he died on the cross for our sins. When by faith, we come to Christ and recognize our sin, we can confess that sin and surrender our lives to God. God then takes our sin and places it on Christ. Our trespasses, our debts, our account is placed upon at the Cross.
  3. Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. When we placed our faith in him, his righteousness, his perfection, his sinless-ness was then accounted to us.

app.: This last example of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us is what justification is all about. That is what allows us to stand justified before God – all because of Christ’s work, because of his sacrifice, because he paid the penalty due to us.

t.s.: The Actions of these two men tell us, first, where we currently stand before God. And, 2ndly, they tell us the verdict of God’s judgment toward us because of that standing. Finally, their actions tell us of the hope we have in light of that verdict.

III.   Our Hope (17)

exp.: rd v 17; 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. What did their actions bring us? Note the two words: death vs. life; because of the one man’s trespass, death reigned. And, 2ndly, through the one man Jesus, through his actions we see the free gift of righteousness reign in life. The most you can hope for in a life without Christ is eternal death. The only destiny for you is Hell. For me, that ain’t much to hope for. But, the converse is true: if you have Christ as your savior, you have the hope of life – here and now and in the hereafter.

ill.: I’d like to try something with you… take out a paper and pen or pencil and answer the following questions. Don’t show anyone. Keep your answers to yourself. Ok? Ready?

  • Pick a number between one and ten.
  • Now multiply that number by 9.
  • If you have a two digit number, add the two digits together (52 is 5+2=7)
  • Now, take that number and subtract 5.
  • Turn that number into a letter: 1-a, 2-b, 3-c, etc.
  • Now, pick a country that starts with that letter…
  • Now, add one to that letter, meaning go up one letter (a to b, b to c, etc.)
  • Now, pick and animal that starts with that letter…
  • Tell me when you’re ready…

Did you pick * and *? (Answers at the bottom of this post…) Pretty amazing isn’t it?

app.: Did you know that I can also tell you something else with tremendous accuracy? Without Christ, you stand before God in your trespasses and therefore, you stand condemned. That condemnation brings you a certain death that is eternal. Here is something else I can tell you and it works because I know the mathematical formula: If you stand in God’s Grace, fully forgiven, then I know the Verdict read to you will be to declare your justification before God. And therefore, I know that you have been granted life eternal. I know, I know, you’re just being totally amazed by me this morning! How can I tell you with certainty that you’re a sinner? Well, in the same way I can tell you that you probably chose Denmark and Elephant. There really is no big secret here.

t.s.: In this last paragraph, picking up in verse 18, Paul describes the incredible strength and superiority of Christ over Adam. Adam’s affect on us can be overcome and restored. Christ’s work cannot be undone. And that is where we’ll pick up next week.

Conclusion: The following week, we’re planning on a special praise service where we’ll want to come together and thank God for his many blessings upon Calvary. I hope you’ll make plans to be here for that on the 29th.

So, what do I want you to take home with you today?

Application:

  1. The Word of God can be difficult to understand at times. But if there is a problem, it is with us – not God.
    1. Let’s use those times to grow in our understanding of God.
    2. Let’s use those times to challenge ourselves to align our lives with God’s Word instead of making God’s Word align with our desires.
  2. Sin is a difficult subject. Truth is, no one wants to be called a sinner. But, again, the truth is, every one of us is!
    1. We’re sinners because Adam’s sin was imputed to us.
      1. Sin brings condemnation and that
      2. Condemnation brings death.

But here is the really good news: Today, you can stand in the grace of God, justified freely and forgiven. Today, if you desire, you can come to Christ and find life – not just for today (living life the way God designed), but for eternity.

Ask the person next to you if they would like to receive Christ and find eternity. Come, introduce them to me or an elder or one of our wives. We want to meet them and pray with them and help them.

Maybe there is another decision on someone’s heart. We’ll meet in the back in a bit for a time of fellowship. I’d love to visit with you about this.

In a moment we’ll gather for fellowship in the back. Parents, would you help your children with any of the refreshments you’d like for them to have. We’d like our guests, of course, to have first dibs on the coffee and refreshments.

We’ll have a moment of silence and then I’d like to close us with a benedictory prayer. Then, can we sing a song in unity as we dismiss for our time of fellowship?

Answers: Denmark & Elephant

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Romans 5.12-14

Title: The Doctrine of Original Sin

Text: Romans 5.12-14

CIT: Sin entered the world through Adam’s rebellion and has infected every human being so that all have sin and none is without sin.

CIS: Where Adam brought both sin and death to all humans, Jesus has conquered both in his redeeming work on the Cross.

Introduction: Is there any doubt that sin exists?

Story: I love the children’s message today because it really brings home the teaching of God’s Word and the author.

Ill.: Story of the elk who licked the hunter…

Some stories are hard to believe. But, everything changes when you consider the one who tells it.

That is the way it is with Scripture. When our story comes straight from the mouth of God, then it is easy to believe. We’ll look at just such a story this morning as Paul presents the Doctrine of Original Sin to the Romans.

I’d like to present a series of questions, which I believe this passage answers:

  1. How did sin enter into the world?
  2. What are the consequences of that action?
  3. Was it that way before the Law was given?
  4. This is all so very bleak! What hope is there, then?

Let’s begin with this first question:

  1. How did sin get here? (12a)

exp.: The answer is: Sin and Death Entered the World through Adam’s Rebellion. Rd 12a; I think it is important that we not separate these two – sin and death, because they are really inseperabl. Let’s look at the actual text where Paul’s teaching comes from: Gen. 2.25-3.7; you’ll notice the bookends of 2.25-3.7 concerning their nakedness. In one, they were not ashamed in their nakedness. In the other, there is great shame in their nakedness.

ill.: In the Simeon Trust Preach Workshops, this passage is often used as an example of Deuteronomy 4.2: You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. You see the idea in preaching is to present God’s Word – unadulterated, pure and simple. Read with me 3.1; I wonder if Satan spoke with a hiss: Did God really sssssay? Look how Eve responds:

  • She minimizes the freedom that God gave them. read v 2; God originally told them they could eat from every tree except one. Next,
  • She added a strictness to his command – not to even touch it. rd v 3; (2.17)
  • She softened his word in regard to their certain death. God said She said lest.

Let me ask you this morning: what importance do you place upon handling the Word of God. Is every word important? You bet, because when we don’t know God’s Word, it is so easy for someone to lead us astray. Rd v 4-7;

I say it is. Furthermore, what we’re seeing here is that a breakdown in properly handling God’s Word leads to sinful behavior. It leads to rebellion.

app.: I wish Eve would have said: you know what, let me get back to you on this. I need to consult God on this first!

Well, we see here how sin entered the world: through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Their rebellion brings about the curse at the end of the chapter and it ends with the assurance that God’s Word was true all along. He said: in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. And the curse concludes with: for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Furthermore, you can read to chapter 5, verse 5 and read: Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.

Ill.: This past week a woman I encountered at the bank asked me a question about the temptation in the Garden: Pastor, was Adam even there. Well, I needed to do some research for that one. I had always assumed he was. I mention this because, at some point, we must address the issue of roles and responsibilities. Why wasn’t it Eve who suffered the brunt of the punishment? As you finish up chapter three, you read about the submissive role Eve was to take, the contrary nature she would have against her husband, and the authority and responsibility Adam was given.

I wish we had more time to spend here, but I’m sure many of you are probably asking: Why did Adam take the brunt and the sin was passed through him to all people? Simply put: Because, he had a responsibility and he remained passive in the event. Two items to note:

  1. The word you is plural throughout Genesis 3.1-5;
  2. Rd v 6; So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

app.: He failed in the responsibility and the role God had given to him.

t.s.: How did sin get here? Sin and Death Entered the World through Adam’s Rebellion: 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, we continue… and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— which brings us to our second question:

  1. What are the consequences of that action? (12b)

exp.: And the answer is quite simple: Sin and Death have affected every human since that time. And since, or because) Adam was the 1st human, sin was passed on to all other humans. It is interesting the verbs you find in these verses: First, Sin came into; 2nd, Death came through; the picture is that Death spread throughout all of humanity like a sickness to all humans; So the scripture reads…and so death spread to all men. That word men, of course means, mankind. And then we read this little phrase: because all sinned.

ill.: I’m thinking of the movie, The Prince’s Bride, and the scene when indigo Montoya says: I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Well, because all sinned, doesn’t mean that everyone is a sinner because everyone has sinned – like, if they had never sinned, then they’d be sinless. To be sure, this is had to understand from the Gk to the English. Literally, it is a prepositional phrase. Often times, context will determine how you translate something into English. Certain words have different meaning in context. Husbands, you wife comes home with groceries. She gets to the door and you open it for her. She says: Carry this. You know to take the bag from her arm and carry it. If She then says: Can you carry me to the doctor tomorrow – you don’t think that she means to pick her up like a sack of potatoes and throw her over your shoulder, do you? No, you know she needs a ride.

The preposition is on or upon, when in reference to location or proximity you would translate it near or at. And, sometimes in reference to authority it can be translated over. When concerning legal terms, it would be translated before (before authority). But at times this word can be translated on the basis of… cf.: 1 Tim 5.19: 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. And that’s probably closer to the meaning here: you might translate this: and so death spread to all men based on the fact that all sinned. You know that sin has infected every human because we see that every human sins.

app.: Tom Shreiner brings out the understanding of this phrase in the simple explanation: we sin because we’re spiritually dead.

t.s.: What are the consequences of that action? Sin and Death have affected every human since that time. Well, that raises a really good question then:

 

  • What about before the Law was given? (13-14a)

exp.: I don’t know if you’ve ever even considered this, but it really is a good question. If the law brings a knowledge of sin (3.20), then how do people know what sin is if there is no law? And, at one time, before Moses, there was no law. We see the question raised in v 13 and answered in v 14; So, if there was no law, was there then no sin? Paul says: No. There has always been sin, ever since Adam sinned. Answer: Sin and Death have reigned over all humanity, even those who lived before the law was given.

t.s.: Wow… if this is the case, it appears that all is hopeless. That is our last question…

  1. So, what hope is there? (25-32)

exp.: It would have been, except for one small – or rather large detail: God had a plan… and we read about it in the rest of v. 14b: who was a type of the one who was to come.

ill.: Let’s say you and I are having a conversation – and we’re talking about Joshua Webb. Did you know the Webb’s have a dog? What’s her name? Let’s say I then describe her to you… she’s black, has black eyes, has four legs, a tail that is always wagging when you speak to her and just loves to be loved on. And that’s about it, right? But let’s say that you come over to my house and you meet Suzy, my dog. And I ask you to describe her. Well, she looks nothing like Joshua’s dog, but you’d say all the same things. But how is my dog different? Well, she’s a lot shorter. Appears a lot younger, can jump and move a lot faster, can accept commands in three different languages. You see the differences when you see them side-by-side. That’s what a ‘type’ is. It allows you to see something similar, but notice the difference.

app.: Adam was a ‘type’ of Christ. His action affected us all. Jesus, well, his action would affect us all, too – but in a different way. Where death came by the 1st Adam, life comes by the 2nd Adam.

Ill.: Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley wrote Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

Conclusion: Well, that is what we’ll be looking at next week. For now, what should we do with what we’ve learned?

Application: So, what do we do in light of this information?

  1. Understand the Doctrine is so very important to our Christian Faith.
    1. If you remove the doctrine of original sin, you remove a vital component to the gospel. It is at this moment in Scripture we first learn of God’s plan for redemption.
    2. Consider religions where people attempt to balance their sin and their good deeds.
  2. Respond to this message! Where Adam brought both sin and death to all humans, Jesus has conquered both in his redeeming work on the Cross. If you find that you’re a sinner because sin was passed to you through Adam and you’ve never done anything about it – well, respond to Jesus.
    1. He came to die for your sin.
    2. Trust him as your Lord and Savior.
  3. Tell someone! Tell someone about the death that comes through Adam and the hope eternal life through Jesus. Don’t keep it to yourself!
    1. CWT: knocking on doors, introducing ourselves and seeking opportunities to share the story of Christ.
    2. Begin a prayer strategy:
      1. Target individuals
      2. Become intentional about sharing
        1. At work
        2. Invite them over for dinner or some activity

We’re going to have a moment of silence for you to consider these things. Then, after a moment of silence, we’ll be dismissed with a benedictory prayer. Then, we’ll gather in the back for a time of fellowship. I’d like to talk with you about these things. Come visit with me over some coffee and a snack.

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Filed under Christian Living, Deuteronomy, Evangelism, Romans, Scripture, Sermon, Sin

Romans 5.1-11

Title: The Demonstration of God’s Love

Text: Romans 5.5-11

Central Idea of the Text: We have peace with God because he has reconciled us to Himself through the death of his Son.

Central Idea of the Sermon: Christ took the punishment of our sin upon himself in order that we might be reconciled to God.

Opening: We’re in Romans 5 this morning. We’ll be looking at verses 1-11.

Introduction: Make Your Bed, pg 85-88; end at I could see the instructor smiling. He knew once one man quit, others would follow.

Hopelessness is a tough place to be. I suppose that’s right where the disciples were on that last day of the week. Jesus had died the day before. I imagine Satan standing there in the darkness with the light of the fire around him exposing his smile, too.

But Sunday was coming! And things were about to change!

We’re in Romans 5 this morning. We’re in the midst of a story of hope. In 5.1 Paul writes: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith… he’s talking about the faith we have that is just like Abraham’s. You see, Abraham heard God’s promises and he believed God. God then credited his faith as righteousness. And Paul is saying that we, too, are justified by faith when we believe God.

The incredible blessings that the justified experience are what follows in v 1-3 (rd v1ff):

  • We have Peace,
  • We have access into this Grace in which we now stand,
  • We have Joy, and this joy expresses itself in Hope…
  • We have Hope. And this hope that he writes about isn’t just for the future, but it exists even now – in the midst of suffering. Paul then tells us that God loves us. We know this because of two actions that God takes to express His love:

1st, he pours his love into our hearts via the Holy Spirit who he has given to us. This was our focus last week.

2nd, he then demonstrates or proves his love by sending his Son to die for our sins. This is where I’d like to focus our attention this Easter Sunday morning.

Now the first action is subjective and can only be expressed by the person experiencing that action. There isn’t an observable marker to verify it’s authenticity. I can’t say: Oh, you’ll cry! Some people do and some people don’t. I can’t say: you’ll get goose bumps. Some people do and some people don’t. It’s an internal experience. And in that moment… we only have your word.

This second action is objective and can be verified by the fact that God gave us an historical event. We see the cross and it is an object we can point toward. We have the historical evidence of an empty tomb. The disciples saw it. The Jewish leaders made excuses for it. The Roman soldiers reported it.

I’m so glad for both an internal and an external expression by God.

Transition: But let’s focus our attention now on this last part: the external, historical demonstration of God’s love as displayed on the cross. You know,

I.     It’s pretty amazing when you consider our condition.

exp.: rd 6a; we and us; who is he talking about? Gentiles and Jews who have come to faith in Christ. Now, look at the words Paul uses to describe how we were:

  • Weak (6); sometimes this means weakness from being sick; other times it means morally weak, incapable of acting on our behalf; Think sin sickness or spiritually sick; just one sin in your life is too great of a barrier for you to remove. Just one! And you and I are plagued with sin! And while we were in this condition… Christ died for us. And here is where we see our 2nd term:
  • Ungodly (6); this is simply a word that describes someone who lives without God. You might consider the word godless. Ungodly is a good translation because the idea being expressed is the action of the individual. People behave outwardly in a way that displays their inward disposition. When they’re being watched, they’ll often times act a certain way because they want you to think they’re good. But, if there is a hidden camera, you’ll catch their true disposition. Well, no hidden cameras with God. He sees all and knows all. He knows what is in mankind – and yet loved him enough to send his son to die for all of mankind.
  • Sinners (8); the noun form of άρμαρτια, missing the mark; falling short of the glory of God. This past week Duffey and I led Chapel for the students at the BMA Seminary in Jacksonville. Duffey led worship and I brought the message. In the message, there was this term In the Hebrew, it has the connotation of not being equal. God is perfect and we’re unequal to him. We’re subpar – way below his level. You’re probably very familiar with the verse: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That word sinned is the same word we have here. The defining of that word – falling short describes that unequalled state. Here is God’s glory and we’re not equal to the task of ever obtaining. That is what being called sinners means: we’ve sinned and fallen short of His perfection.
  • Enemies (10); Romans 11.28 gives us the idea that this word is the opposite of love – 28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. In verse 10 of Romans 5, we see God loving us when we were just the opposite of toward him. And yet he loved us still!

This is truly amazing when you consider that it wasn’t like we deserved this. Who we were…where we were.

t.s.: It really is pretty amazing when you consider our condition. The second amazing fact concerning the demonstration of God’s love is:

II.    It’s pretty amazing when you consider the cost.

exp.: I’ve often wondered why God didn’t just say: Oh, don’t worry about it. I forgive you. The answer is really quite simple. God set the standard: Perfection. God set the punishment for failure: Death. To be perfectly just, God had to carry out the punishment for the failure to set the standard. We must die for our sins. So, God made a way… Note:

  • Christ died; 4x’s in v6-8; it is the last word in each sentence (in Gk) giving it prominence, importance in the sentence. Also in v 10; Paul is placing great emphasis upon the fact that Christ died.

ill.: John 3.16: the manner vs. the measure; Thus or So; meaning, God showed you his love through the death of his son.

  • The timing: while weak (6), right time (6), while sinners (8), while enemies (10); You might ask: how does the timing relate to the cost? Well, simply this:
    1. We didn’t have to get “cleaned up” to get saved. Most people act like they’ve got to get clean before they can come to Christ. I love that Jesus told the disciples that he’d make them fishers of men. You catch ‘em and the Holy Spirit will clean them!

Ill.: I think of those who say: I’ll diet and exercise when I lose some weight.

App.: We didn’t have to get clean first – God sent his son to die for us while we were still weak, ungodly sinners – while we were still enemies!

Transition: #2, when you consider the timing…

  1. God structured it all in his plan: – Revelation 13.8 declares for us that it was all planned before the foundation of the world. …all who dwell on earth will worship (the Beast), everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
    1. Your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world was laid. Or,
    2. The Book of Life, which belongs to the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. I like option #1, but it really doesn’t matter, because either one you choose shows that God had a plan to redeem you before the world was formed – before Adam and Eve even sinned! Psalm 139.16: 16Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

t.s.: It is truly amazing to try and consider the mind of God who planned all of this before the creation of the World. It is pretty amazing when you consider the cost – that Christ would die on the cross for our sins. And 3rd,

III.   It’s pretty amazing when you consider what it all accomplished.

exp.:

  • Justified by his blood. Rd v 9; And more than that: we’re saved from his wrath; The punishment due for our sin is death – the shedding of blood. Have you ever realized that the penalty has always been death? If you journey back to Genesis chapter 2, you’ll find that God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden and told them they could eat from any tree in the Garden, but ceptn’ one: the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. God told them: in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die. But now, we don’t have to die to pay the penalty for our sins, because Jesus paid that debt for us!
    • Paul calls Jesus our Passover Lamb in 1 Corinthians 5.7; If you follow the requirements in Exodus 12 for the Passover Lamb, you’ll see that Jesus was performing that function for the world at the same time…
    • In John 1.29, John the Baptist is quoted as seeing Jesus and telling everyone: Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!
  • Reconciled by his death – and even more, saved by his life. This part is so important because Jesus didn’t just die and then was buried – No! There is more to the story! He rose again!

Conclusion: It’s pretty amazing when you consider the hope this one man, Jesus, brought to us. Read Make Your Bed, pg 85-89.

Application: We have this hope because God has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who he has given us. And we have this hope because God sent his son to die on the cross of Calvary and then three days later, to rise from the dead. And that’s why we celebrate this morning. Because He is Risen!

In a moment we’re going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper: a time that we as Christians remember the costly sacrifice of Christ. I’d like to invite the Deacons to come and prepare the Lord’s Supper Table.

Don’t participate if you’re not a Christian.

Don’t participate if you’re a Christian, but right now you’re in Rebellion. Use this time to repent.

Fellowship, following the hymn…

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Filed under Christian Living, Easter, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 5.5

Title: The Love of God

Text: Romans 5.5

Opening story: We’re in Romans chapter 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so glad God gave us both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two words in our verse tell us this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the English you have these two phrases:

  • Has been poured
  • Has been given

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was famous among SEAL’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Romans 5.1-4

Title: Building Hope

Text: Romans 5.3-4

Introduction: we’ll also be in 2 Cor 12.1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topic: Suffering (3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I.     Suffering produces Endurance (3b)

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

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

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

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

t.s.: And endurance produces…

II.    Endurance produces Character (4a)

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

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

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

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

t.s.: and Character produces hope…

III.    Character produces Hope (4b)

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

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

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

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

knowing that suffering produces endurance,

and endurance produces character,

and character produces hope,

and hope does not put us to shame,

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

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

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

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

Application: When life’s struggles come your way:

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

 

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

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

 

 

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Romans 5.1-3

Title: Four Benefits to Justification

Text: Romans 5.1-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace with God Through Faith

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

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

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

I.    Peace (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.   Grace (2a)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        And he will swallow up on this mountain

the covering that is cast over all peoples,

the veil that is spread over all nations.

                        He will swallow up death forever;

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

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

for the Lord has spoken.

                        It will be said on that day,

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

This is the Lord; we have waited for him;

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

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

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

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

III.   Hope (2b-3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV.    Joy (2-3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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