Category Archives: Sermons

A rough draft of my sermon content

The Universality of Sin

Text: Romans 3.9-18

Introduction: We’re in Romans 3 this morning; Ephesians 2; Psalm 14; Isaiah 59; Psalm 5

I have a friend. Some of you know her and might even call her your friend. In the past year she went to the doctor for a routine visit. As many of you know, when we get older, we’re scheduled for routine, timely exams. It was time for her. She wasn’t having any problems per se, except that which are common to women who are getting older. In the course of her examination, the doctor asked her how her treatments were going.

Treatments? She asked. What treatments?

The treatments for your stomach cancer… how are they going? Are you feeling well?

She thought for a moment he must have her mistaken for some other patient. She doesn’t have cancer. She could tell, though, by his response to her confusion that this wasn’t good. It had been 14 months since her last check up. It had been 14 months since she last any medical personnel had paid attention to her.

You guessed it: she has had stomach cancer for more than a year and no one told her. Somehow, someway, everyone thought it was someone else’s job to tell her. And someone else’s job becomes no one’s job. She went 14 months with this cancer growing in her body. Now, it is in the later stages. They’ve asked her family to begin working with Hospice and to help her bring her life to a close.

When I heard this, I was upset. She’s taking it so well. She isn’t bitter or angry toward those in charge of her care one bit. At least she hasn’t displayed that to me.

What if you had a cancer (that was treatable) growing in you and no one even told you about it? Would you be upset? Would you be bitter? Would you call your lawyer and get the paper work rolling. Maybe this won’t save your life, but at least your children or grandchildren will be set financially?

Today’s message is a little like this story. I have a great responsibility to tell you something. It is my job. I can’t rely on anyone else. It isn’t easy to tell you this, but it is very necessary. And, this thing I need to tell you – it’s harsh, but there is more hope in this dilemma than if I were to tell you that you have cancer!

Transition: Think about this: some doctor can tell you that you have cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease or some other illness  – and, even with the best of hope, there will still be doubt… concerns, fear. The message I have for you today has even scarier news and yet the hope I have to offer is far greater and even guaranteed.

This morning in our text, Paul is preaching an old fashioned sermon. He’s making a statement and now backing it up with Scripture.

Would you stand with me this morning as we read the text? Our text this morning reads: What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

       “None is righteous, no, not one;

11         no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

12     All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

13     “Their throat is an open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.”

       “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

14         “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

15     “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16         in their paths are ruin and misery,

17     and the way of peace they have not known.”

18         “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Transition: The first thing Paul does is re-present or restate this ‘charge’ against, not only the Jews, but against the whole world.

The Charge: (9-10)

Rd v 9a again; He’s rebuilding his argument from v1; it makes it pretty obvious that he is bringing this 1st section to a close. Rd v 9b; All are under sin. There is a power, as it were, called sin of which we are under its persuasion. But even that doesn’t sound strong enough: persuasion. For it is so much more powerful that just persuasion. It commands us. It is a weighty bond that enslaves us. It envelops us. It consumes us. So much so, that sin is a part of our very nature, leading us, commanding us to do its bidding. We are corrupted by sin. This is the charge he has presented since 1.18.

Listen to what Paul says about this lost, sinful state of each human in Eph 2.1-3: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked (a dead man walking), following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— (a classification of every person: sons, daughters of disobedience) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind – There is a natural enmity that we have with God. That means we are against him: enemies in this state of sinfulness.

So Paul says, here is the charge… let me illustrate this as we see it in Scripture, and then he quotes from multiple OT texts. If you have a reference column in your bible, you can see these citations from the OT in that reference column. At first, this seems really cool…until it isn’t.

If you take the time to read these verses and gain the context, you’ll find that it looks like Paul is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He says there is none righteous, but the OT text he quotes says God’s people, the people of Israel are righteous. The Gentiles are not. That doesn’t fit his charge!

Let me show you what I mean. Turn to Psalm 14; the citation by Paul is v1-3; v 5 tells us there are a righteous people. Well, who are the unrighteous then, if it isn’t everyone. V 7 tells us that the righteous people are the people of Israel. So, the unrighteous people are the Gentiles. Ok – that sounds like it doesn’t support his charge – that all are unrighteous and none is righteous, no not one.

To be sure, though, let’s keep going and see some more context. The next passage I want to look at is a quote from Isaiah 59. Turn there with me. Now, I know Isaiah 59. I love Isaiah 59. Rd v 1-2; Sin separates! Our quote is from v 7-8; He’s talking about the Jews. So, maybe he’s adding them in here.

Let’s test this theory. Let’s keep going: The next Scripture Paul uses is from Psalm 5.9. Turn to Psalm 5. This is a Psalm that David composes as he flees from Saul. Read Psalm 5.1-3: David’s Cry; 4-6: unrighteousness can’t abide in God’s presence; 7-8: because of God’s mercy (hesed), David can dwell in God’s presence through God’s righteousness; 9-10: here is our quote. So, in this text, it is the Jews who pursue evil and wickedness, who speak lies and are blood thirsty, deceitful men. Even David himself would be considered like them, but because of God’s (hesed) steadfast love – making him righteous – he can dwell in God’s presence.

When studying my commentaries this week for some help, I came across a scholar named Davies of which, other commentaries referred. Davies suggested that these verses do not condemn all people as sinners, but rather that some are sinners. That doesn’t sound Biblical to me…

Here’s my presumption: Paul isn’t using these verses in an individual sense, but rather as a collective group to make the charge that all are sinners. Taken, then, as a whole, these references make the statement that none is righteous, not even one. What these passages do say is that apart from the saving grace of God on his people, everyone is considered unrighteous.

But why would he pick and choose like this? What would be his motive or goal?

First of all, it appears Paul refers to the Gentiles in the text he uses and the Jews next. This follows his presentation in Chapters 1 and 2. But there is something else he does here.

With these Scriptural references, Paul says this charge against all of humanity is demonstrated in the following ways. Sin manifests itself in the life of an individual through:

  1. What one thinks
  2. What one does
  3. What one says
  4. The way one lives out his/her life.

Transition: Let’s take a moment to look at each of these within the context of their OT meanings.

  1. What One Thinks (10-11)

exp.: Paul says no one understands; in Ps 14.1a, 2, 4;  thinks, understands, knowledge; David says the fool thinks in his heart that there is no God. The reality of sinful behavior is that it is conceived in the mind, it is planned out or fantasized about in the mind and then, when opportunity presents itself, sin is birthed into action. It all starts on the inside. James 1 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

app.: that’s the reason we need someone to intercede for us, to interrupt this corruption in our minds.

t.s.:  And this is Paul’s next focus as he quotes in Psalm 14 about what the corrupt person does.

2. What One Does (11-12)

exp.: In Romans 3, we pick up in 11b: no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. From Ps 14.1 & 3;

…They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;

there is none who does good.

    The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,

to see if there are any who understand,

who seek after God.

    They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;

there is none who does good,

not even one.

exp.: Where no one knows the thoughts of man except God, our thoughts are soon made known through our actions. Consider this: when you’re younger and you do something stupid… you dad says to you, what were you thinking. Even those actions done in secret, the one’s we think no one knows.

ill.: We’ve seen different news stories over recent years of crimes committed 40 years ago where the culprit thought he got away with the crime. And yet, DNA evidence identified the criminal.

app.: our sinfulness makes its way out of our heads and hearts into the world through our behavior…what we do.

t.s.: But both David and Paul identify another way our sin manifests itself… and that is through our speech

3. What One Says (13-14)

exp.: you see this in v 13-14 of our text this morning in Romans 3: throat, tongue, lips, mouth. And note the imagery; grave, deception, venom, cursing and bitterness. Jesus said in Mt 12.34: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. And in Mk 7: 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Maybe that is why David prayed: let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh, Lord.

ill.: It is amazing how the heart and the mouth go together. Sometime in the last few years someone made a comment in a Bible study time. I think it was in Paul’s class and I think I remember who said it, but I’m not sure. The comment was that this man writes in his bible the letters H&M everytime he comes across a verse that has a reference to both the heart and the mouth in it. ex.: Proverbs 4, 15, 16. I’ve marked in other places too and the man was right. There is an uncanny, mysterious, really incredible supernatural connection between the heart and the mouth – just as Jesus said.

app.: What you do is connected to what you think, say and do. There is this inter-connection to it all. The spirit thinks and the body does… or says… or acts.

t.s.: which is the connection here with this last section…

4. The Way One Lives (15-17)

exp.: rd 15-17; there is one word for way, path, road in the Gk; it is used twice here in this text. Note the presentation by Paul demonstrating one’s activities: feet, path, way; feet shedding blood is a way to describe a person’s life of bloodshed. Listen to Isaiah, whom Paul is quoting: Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.

app.: this really is a beautiful way to bring about his charge – and I mean beautiful in how much thought and preparation Paul puts into bringing this all together.

t.s.: You can see his brilliance and intellect pouring through his preaching and teaching and illustrating here.

Conclusion: The conclusion of this matter is that we’re all sinners. There is no fear of God before their eyes. I know that isn’t Good News: we’re all sinners. I know that is offensive, but for me to remain silent and not tell you is no better than a Dr. who won’t tell you that your sick and your sickness will lead to death.

You and I are corrupt in our nature and it comes out in all we do. We need someone to intercede for us. We need God’s grace to be poured out on us that we might be able to have a relationship with him. You see, in this story, that is the Good News. That’s why Jesus came. He came to earth as a little baby, born of a virgin. This season is why we celebrate as we do, because of what God has done through Christ. And this hope is so much greater than any doctor can give you as a remedy for whatever sickness may ail you.

So, what will you take home with you today?


  1. We are all under sin.
    1. There is no one righteous: not even one!
  2. Sin corrupts us.
    1. It damages us as individuals. It leads to depression and an unhealthy psyche.
    2. It hurts our relationships.
      1. 1st, with God. We cannot have a relationship with God in our sinful state. We need Christ to remove the barrier of sin and guilt.
      2. 2nd, with others. At the heart of every damaged relationship is sin. Divorce, separation, estrangement – you name it, sin is the culprit.
    3. Sin separates us from God.
      1. V 18 says that there is no fear of God before their eyes.
      2. You don’t have to stay separated… that is why Christ came. That is why we celebrate this time of year.
    4. And that’s the Good News! Your sickness of sin has a cure!

If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I offer you him today. In a moment, we’ll be dismissed and I’d like to invite you to the Cornerstone Area to meet with me or maybe one of the elders or staff. We’ll have some coffee and cookies and can visit for a little while.

5. If you have, then don’t let someone who doesn’t know die without hearing the Good News… tell them.

Whatever is on your heart, let’s sit quietly before the Lord and reflect upon what God is doing: drawing you closer to him, calling you to repent and come to him for forgiveness, sending you to tell someone about him, maybe he’s calling you to join the church… whatever, let God have his way in your life today. I’m going to ask… ______ to pray for us after our moment of silence and then we’ll all move toward the Cornerstone area for some coffee, cookies and fellowship.

1 Comment

Filed under Romans, Sermons, Sin

The Absolutely Incredible Greatness of God!

Text: Romans 3.1-8

Introduction: What do you do when you encounter two truths in the bible that seem to be contradictory? Surely you’ve crossed some. Surely throughout the time you’ve been reading Scripture, either you’ve encountered it or someone one brought it to your attention – maybe in a dialogue or a debate about something: two immutable truths that contradict each other…at least as far as you can see.

That’s what we have today: something that looks like two irreconcilable truths about God. The question for us this morning is: what do we do when that happens? Here is my answer and the direction I’ll be headed all morning: Your confusion should lead you to the Absolutely Incredible Greatness of God.

In the text today, Paul will introduce an imaginary person to debate with him. I say imaginary. He may have been a very real person from one of Paul’s discussions with the Jews at one time or another. Or maybe these are different arguments raised by various people at different times.

Scripture Reading: Let’s read this short text. Read: 3.1-8

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

Boy, let that last sentence resonate in the air: Their condemnation is just.

If you’re confused here, join the crowd. This is a tough passage. Tom Schreiner, professor of NT at Southern Baptist Seminary, says in his commentary on Romans that this is the toughest passage in Romans. I hope to make it not so tough by the time we’re through.

To start out, I don’t want you to focus on the relative pronoun their. Typically, I think one would ask such questions as who, what, when, where, why, But let’s take this differently. I want you to focus in on what. What is happening here or what is going to happen?

Someone is being condemned for their behavior, for their actions and God, who does the condemning, is just in this action.

And don’t forget v6 which says God will judge the world. This is where the text is headed: condemnation. That is really where Paul has been headed all along. That’s why he so desperately wanted to preach the gospel to both the Jews and the Gentiles. It is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, but for the Gentile also.

But back to the beginning of this text, he’s just been declaring in 2.25-29 (the passage we looked at last week) that God will regard uncircumcised Gentiles who keep the law as circumcised Jews. And, to add insult to injury, circumcised Jews who do not keep the letter of the law (which is impossible) will be judged by those Gentiles. If that is so, Paul’s imaginary friend asks, then what advantage is there to being Jewish? Which is what we see there in verse 1.


Objection #1: what advantage has the Jew?

Paul, you’re wrong. If what you’re saying is true, then there is no advantage in being Jewish. It would appear that Paul is being trip upped here. You’d expect him to say that there isn’t any advantage, but he doesn’t. Instead, he begins a list of the advantages the Jews have. rd v 2; It sounds like he is starting a list here. And, he really is, it just that he only mentions the first item on this list at this time. Turn to chapter 9 in this book where he continues this list. We pick up in v 4: They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. Now you know where the list is… let’s get back to our text. 1st off, Paul says, the Jews have the oracles of God (lit.: τὰ λόγια τοῦ θεοῦ). So, they have God’s Word and in that Scripture, they have His promises to them.

That is huge! No one else has recorded what God has said. It was given to them. All of his promises and predictions. Their heritage, his love, his intercession.

Transition: Well then, speaking of his oracles, his sayings…with that in mind – if the promises of God are true and Salvation is of the Jews, then what if some of the Jews are unfaithful? What if they never turn to him through the Messiah? He said he would save the Jews – He said the Messiah would come and save them… what if they never do respond? What if they are unfaithful… as the overwhelming majority of them appear to be? Rd v 3;


Objection #2: What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?

This sounds like a pretty good question. If the advantage is theirs in every way, then what if some Jews are unfaithful? If 1) salvation is of the Jews, and 2) you can only be saved by coming to Christ, then will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? Yeah, Paul! If indeed the advantage is theirs, then can they jack all of this up by not following God? Does that mess up what God is doing?

Paul, answers quickly in v 4: μὴ γένοιτο; May it never be! Let God be true though every one were a liar! Paul is saying that it doesn’t matter what anyone does – God is faithful, that’s his nature. He can’t be unfaithful. His promises will stand and it doesn’t depend on humans. At All!

Then, to clarify and put an exclamation point on his declaration, Paul quotes from David to back up his statement. His quote comes from Psalm 51. Let’s go there. Rd Psalm 51.1-4 …so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. David is saying that his sin is what God uses to magnify his own glory. David sinned and God now uses that sin to show his own perfection. He alone can judge that sin. He alone can condemn that sin. Do you catch that? He says: Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Wow! This is some pretty deep theology here. I act according to the will of God. And God, then, is justified and blameless in his judgment against me.

Here’s the conversation: Paul says the unbelieving, circumcised Jews will be judged by the believing, uncircumcised Gentiles. These Gentiles will get into heaven and the Jews will not. “So, Paul, let me ask you a question then: if that’s true, then what advantage is there in being Jewish?” They expect the answer to be none which they know is wrong. But Paul says what they know to be true. Every advantage! I mean, they have the very oracles of God! The Jews know the oracles of God promise salvation to Israel. They then offer a very real possibility: What if some Jews are unfaithful? Won’t their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? You can’t have it both ways! Paul says: No! It isn’t just if some Jews are unfaithful, but even if every single man who ever lived were found to be a liar, God is still righteous and true and faithful!

Here is what Paul is saying: God doesn’t need man to do anything to vindicate Him. He is vindicated in himself. He is perfectly sufficient in himself.

David, a hero to the Jews, says that God uses this sin of David’s to glorify Himself. David, a man after God’s own heart! God is just to judge his sin of murdering Uriah. He is just and blameless to judge his adultery with Bathsheba.

So, let us sum up what Paul has said to this point:

  • Yes, Jews have advantages, like having the very Word of God entrusted to them.
  • However, that doesn’t bring entitlement. If they are unbelieving, then they will be judged for their unbelief.
  • This action by God does not call into question God’s faithfulness (his truth or his righteousness). Let every man be found a liar and God will still be found faithful!
  • Instead of God being found unfaithful, the sin of those God judges vindicates God in his judgment. David teaches us this truth in his colossal failure. The sin of Israel is the very thing that magnifies God’s righteousness in judgment. God is justified and blameless in his judgment.

Transition: Ok… You’re saying that when we Jews who are the elect of God and have all of God’s promises and covenants, when we sin, God is justified in his action against us.

Contradiction: If God is vindicated in his judgment against our sin and our sin brings glory to God, then what right has God to judge us for our sin? You said it yourself, Paul: we’re glorifying God and you can’t judge God Glorifiers!

This is their third objection. We see it in v 5:


Objection #3: But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us?

Paul adds this little parenthetical statement: I speak in a human way. It is his subtle way of saying that the Fear of God fills him just to utter these words – to speak against God in this manner. What person in their right mind would make such an objection!?! But these Jews who debate him utter such words. They say: Paul, if you’re saying that our sin glorifies God, then isn’t God wrong to judge us for the very thing that brings him glory? Paul screams out: μὴ γένοιτο. May it never be! Rd v 6; If that were the case, then God couldn’t even judge the Gentiles (which, of course, the Jews are fine with).

I think some would consider v 7 another objection, but it appears to me to be a repeat of the previous arguments, only pushed further. Rd v 7;

This can be seen in two ways:

  1. This is Paul’s defense against their accusation. Paul is saying, if you truly believe this, then why do you accuse me of being a liar, and condemn me as a sinner? Why don’t you call me a God Glorifyer? You, are the one talking out of both sides of your mouth. I don’t think this is what he’s doing. I don’t take v 7 this way. Here’s how I see it:
  2. This is a repeated argument of v4, which is their objection and pushed to the extreme. My sin, my unfaithfulness, my lie glorifies God, huh? Then, why am I condemned as a sinner? And v 8 clarifies. Rd v 8; And, if that is the case, then why not sin all the more to bring God even more glory?

Paul’s answer is in today’s jargon: Really?

You see, these are not new objections being raised at all. These are the same arguments, only pushed to the extreme with the hopes of making Paul’s thesis look lame.

Here is their problem:

  1. They think too highly of themselves.

a.They think they’re entitled because God chose them to be his people. And this comes in spite of the fact that they’ve been told that it has nothing to do with them. Deuteronomy teaches us that it wasn’t because they were larger than other people groups. Indeed they were smaller. It wasn’t because they were already successful and independent. They were slaves! They had forgotten from whence they came. They had forgotten the rock from which they were hewn.

b. They think they’ll avoid the judgment of God because they have his law, ceremony and the temple. But this is what that means: They began to love the things of God and not God. They began to love his laws and use them by which to measure his love. They loved their ceremonies – because they were festive and fun and traditional. They loved their rituals, because they were memorized and they followed them so closely. And it all became about them. They thought too highly of themselves!

2. They don’t think highly enough of God. I think it is so easy to replace God with God things. And this is something they were guilty of, too. We have to be very careful… watchful, even, that we don’t begin to love the things of God more than we love Him.

Application: Paul is showing us how great God is, but these people just don’t see it. This is all about God and how Great He is.

  1. God is Good. He has been so good to the Jews to choose them as his own. He gave them an inheritance. He made them into a people, a nation. He gave them his word and his promises. He has, likewise, been so good to us in much the same manner.
  2. God is faithful. Though all humans through all of human history fail God and prove themselves to be liars, their actions would not nullify the faithfulness of God. You can bank on that today. What he has said, he will accomplish. God is faithful and true!
  3. God is righteous. He is righteous in all of his deeds. He is righteous in his judgment. He is righteous in his punishment. He is perfectly righteous in all His ways.
  4. God is sufficient in Himself. God doesn’t need us to do anything to get done what he wants. Sure he uses us to accomplish what he desires, but he doesn’t have to. He isn’t lonely. He didn’t create us because he was alone. Paul will get here in chapter 11. We don’t have any counsel he needs. We don’t have any gifts or talents to bring that makes him say, ‘Oh, thank you, I needed that.’ God is totally sufficient in Himself.

Can I ask you this morning some questions:

  1. Do you think more highly of yourself than you ought? Is it too rude of me to say: Get over yourself! God chose you, but not because there is anything particularly good in you. You don’t have anything to bring him, except this filthy bag of bones and flesh.
  2. Have you replaced your love for him with God things? Is Christian music your devotional material? Do you listen to preachers on the radio listening for sermons that make you feel good about yourself? Motivational Preachers? Or is your first love God and do you run to his word to hear from Him?
  3. Do you see God for the Great God He is? Are you awed by His majesty? Overwhelmed by his mercy? Overcome by his goodness? Swept away by His glory? Don’t let the things you don’t understand push you away from God. Instead, let the things you don’t understand demonstrate your weakness and his profound greatness.

1 Comment

Filed under God's Glory, Romans, Sermons, Sin

Fulfilling the Law

Text: Romans 2.25-29

Introduction: Good morning. We’ll be in Romans chapter 2 this morning – finishing up chapter 2. Later we’ll turn a couple of pages forward to Romans chapter 8. Romans 2 & 8.

I learned an outline of Romans from Bill Howery. This isn’t my outline. You don’t know Bill, but he was church planter in Italy for 40 years. He lost his wife to cancer in Italy, while serving there, planting churches. I love missionaries and the sacrifices they endure. So, this is a shout out to him…of sorts.

Sin (1-2)

Salvation (3-5)

Sanctification (6-8)

Sovereignty (9-11)

Service (12-16)

It might be a little over-simplified, but that fits me just fine. So, today we’ll finish out section 1 of Bill’s outline.

A preacher is taught in seminary to answer three questions when presenting a message. It works well for those who lead a Bible Study, as well. This was brought home to me in an interview I heard between Mark Dever and John MacArthur. Denver asked McArthur how he prepares his messages and his basic answer was answering these three questions:

  1. What does the Bible say?
  2. What does the Bible mean?
  3. What does it mean for me?

I’d like to outline my message around these three questions this morning. So, let’s begin with question #1.


What Does the Romans 2.25-29 say? Let’s read that together:

Romans 2.25-29: 25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps (fulfills) the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.


Well, we read the text, but what does it say? Paul is in the midst of his argument toward the Jews. His argument is simply this (this is what the Bible says): God will regard uncircumcised Gentiles who keep the law as circumcised Jews. Gentiles are regarded as Jews if they keep, and the better word is fulfill, the law. Rd v 26; the answer is yes, and I’ll show you later why that is.

Since Paul has been laying it on pretty hard about works and obedience, this would be a good time to review how we got here.

You probably remember from the last few weeks that Paul has been presenting his case against the Gentiles and the Jews who dishonor God by their behavior. Jews have no room to be judging the Gentiles when they behave in the same manner. Paul says: Your behavior dishonors God in the same way the behavior of the Gentiles dishonors God.

I shared this flow or outline with our Community Group Wednesday night as we sat down to dig in a little deeper and it went well. So if you guys don’t mind, I’d like to get the flow of the passage to pick up on what Paul is saying:

  • Romans 1.8-15: Paul tells the Romans that he longs to preach the Gospel there in Rome.
  • Romans 1.16: Is the thesis of his book: The Gospel is the power of God for Salvation!
    • V 17: the Righteousness of God is revealed.
    • V 18: the Wrath of God is revealed, also.
  • Romans 1.18-32: The Wrath of God is revealed against the sinful behavior of the Gentiles and thus, they need the Gospel. What is their sin? Immorality and Idolatry.
  • Romans 2.1-16: As the Jews are getting excited at Paul’s preaching against the Gentiles and their sinful behavior that dishonors God, Paul pulls the rug out from under them and turns the tables on them. You Jews are no different, he tells them. You dishonor God by doing the same things they do. And so, you justly deserve the wrath of God that is coming.
  • Romans 2.17-29: Paul continues with what makes this so bad: you have the law! Paul tells the Jews not to think for one second that they are exempt from God’s judgment because they have the law and (and, he’ll continue in our passage today) because they have the sign of circumcision that they are his people.
    • So last week we looked at the Law portion of this text: v17-24
    • This week we’ll finish up this little section with a look at circumcision in v 25-29

Transition: So this is what the Bible says: God will regard uncircumcised Gentiles who keep the law as circumcised Jews. Now, let’s answer the 2nd question:


What does the Romans 2.25-29 mean?

At this stage, Paul’s argument against the Jews can be summed up in two of these verses (26 & 29): 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And, 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

So, simply put: anyone can be a true Jew by being obedient to the Law, or fulfilling the law. Because, being a true Jew has nothing to do with external signs (circumcision), but rather, an internal commitment – it is a mater of the heart.

At this point there should be some confusion. Paul’s stuff can be weighty. I’m reminded of what Peter said in reference to Paul: 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. He almost sounds contradictory, but if you’ll follow his argument through to the end, I think you’ll begin to understand what he is doing.

Does this mean that we’re supposed to want to become Jews? Are we supposed to follow the dietary plans, enjoy the feasts and festivals, and practice the law as the Jews do?

If Chapter 1 is Paul’s declaration that he wants to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles because their behavior dishonors God and Chapter 2 is Paul’s declaration that Jews do the same and need Jesus, too. Then, why would he say such things like: He will render to each one according to their works and if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision. Why does Paul say they need the Gospel and then intimate that their salvation will be through works… by keeping the law?

I think it will help us if we’ll take the whole context into play. It looks like Paul’s argument is as follows:

  • Jews are sinners (just like the Gentiles they judge) and are in need of being saved from the wrath of God (just like the Gentiles they judge). Jews need his righteousness and that righteousness doesn’t come (and indeed it can’t come) through a bunch of do’s and don’ts.
  • Being Jewish isn’t a matter of external signs that show election, it is a matter of what one lives out (i.e.: obedience to the Law). So, Gentiles are truly Jews when they live out the spirit of the law. And, Jews who do not live out the spirit of the law are not really Jews. For having the law, and, as he says in these verses, having an external sign of God’s election upon them (namely, circumcision), doesn’t make them true Jews, either.

app.: So, here’s what I think Paul means and what he’s doing: Paul’s desire here is to get the Jews to see that they did not understand the Law and the prophets. By their actions, they think simple possession of the Law and circumcision is the key to their salvation. They miss… from their very own law… that salvation comes through faith in the grace of God. Faith is seen in the action of one’s life. A changed heart is detected by a changed life.

This was Jeremiah’s message. Allow me to read it: The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’

“For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord.

They’re still holding on to the law, their traditions and the temple!

But there really is more here: Paul wants to push the Jews off of their fence called tradition. Sure, they’ve accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but they also are still clinging to the Law and ceremony, circumcision and the Temple. Paul is teaching them that the Gospel isn’t Jesus plus anything (i.e.: Jesus plus circumcision; Jesus plus dietary laws; Jesus plus ritual; Jesus plus tradition; Jesus plus…)

Think about this – that is what I’m asking you to do and that is what Paul is trying to get them to do – think about this: if Gentiles can get saved without the Law and a record of dos and don’ts, and if they can get saved without circumcision, then it stands to reason that the Jews have totally misunderstood their Bible! Now that, is a slap in the face.

But that statement means even more than that! Paul is gonna really pile it on think: it implies that the Gentiles are getting into the kingdom ahead of, and even in place of the Jews! And here’s where you should respond: (Pause) No! That’s right! Natural born Gentiles who don’t become Jews by tradition, but rather through a life change are taking the place of Jews in the Kingdom of God.

What does this mean for me?

How would you feel if I said: You’re not getting into heaven. No, the Mormons will go in your place. Feel that? That is why he is pushing the Jews like this. He wants them to feel the weight of their sin and the incredible message of the Gospel. For, in it the righteousness of God is revealed and so is His Wrath!

Look back with me at v 27: 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. This is your yes to v 26. Now look at v 28; for…

28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. Jews, don’t miss this, no one is a Jew… a true Jew through rules and rituals (the law & circumcision). And it brings it home in v29:  29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

By the Spirit: this prepositional phrase brings it all together. Jews, this isn’t the work of your hands through ceremonial exercise. The Spirit of God does this on the heart, not by the letter (of the law) on the body. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes Gentiles Jews. Jews don’t make Gentiles into Jews by external practices to the letter of the law. No, The Holy Spirit circumcises the heart and changes Gentiles into Jews.

The former brings death: 2 Cor 3.6: Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you’re clinging to the hope of heaven through anything other than the Spirit’s life changing infilling, then you’re headed for a certain death … for the letter kills, but the Spirit brings life. The Spirit brings us into this wonderful new covenant. Where God promised in Ezekiel that he would replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh and give us a circumcision, not of the body, but of the heart. It is like there is this old, crusty hardened part of our hearts and God cuts that away, revealing the soft, healthy, fleshly tissue.

This new covenant is made available to you through the work of Christ on the Cross of Calvary. His shed blood at Calvary washes away sin through the faith that is placed in Christ.

When Paul says in v 27: 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? He is saying that the Christian Gentile has had the Holy Spirit circumcise his heart and the Law has become to him low hanging fruit in his life as he lives by this new moral code.

Let me tell you what this is not:

  • This is not legalism.
  • This is not salvation through good works.
  • This is not ceremony which has to be observed.

This is a changed life by the work of the Holy Spirit.

I want to show you where Paul is headed here: Turn to chapter 8.1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. So there are two laws here: freedom and life or sin and death. For those who are in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death. Rd 3a: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.

The Law doesn’t bring life. The Law is weakened because people can’t keep it. It is impossible! But God has done for us what the Law could never do. And what is that? rd 3b: By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, Jesus who God in the flesh, lived this perfection of the Law. In him no sin was ever found. Keep reading in v4: in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled (here is that word for us again) in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

I have to admit: at this point I was intrigued! What is it about this thing called the law, it’s fulfillment of it and how Jesus fulfilled it and how we fulfill it?

Listen to this repeated theme:

fulfills NEAR law

Rom 8:4


in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


Rom 13:8


Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.


Rom 13:10


Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.


Gal 5:14


For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”


Gal 6:2


Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.


James 2:8


If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.


John 15.13


13 Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.




To love is to fulfill the law. Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And, Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s Jesus. And that’s the fulfillment of the Law. And we fulfill the law when the Love of God changes us and we begin to love like him.

1 Jn 3.14:  14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.

What is the first fruit of the Spirit: love…. Gal 5.22: against such things there is no law.

1 Jn 3.20: 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; 1 Jn 4.8: he who does not love does not know God.


Application: Having answered these three questions, what will you do?

  1. We are born into this life lost. Lost is a good word. If you were raised in the church, then get on your knees and thank God for your heritage – but many of us wandered through this life early on without a sense of purpose or meaning. We were lost and headed nowhere.

I’m reminded of John 3.16 – probably the most popular verse in Scripture. Say it with me: For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. What we miss is the next part in v17-18: 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. We’re condemned already…we’re born that way…all of us! We’re born into this life lost. That is your starting point.

With this in mind, let me ask you: have you ever done anything about it? A good way to know is to see if you love others. Do you love others more than you love yourself? I’m not asking if you love some people. I’m sure you love some people – people who are close to you. What lengths would you go to in order to show others that you truly love them? An honest assessment of this concern will reveal your heart – either of stone or of flesh.

  1. If you’ve never confessed your sins to God and found the forgiveness, you stand condemned today. Don’t let this moment pass. If you’ve assessed your heart and found that you are not a loving person – toward other believers or the lost, don’t let this moment pass. Come to Christ!
  2. Maybe you’re sitting here this morning and you’d say: you have, but you’re not where you should be. If so, would you pray that God would take your unloving heart of stone and replace it with a loving heart of flesh.

To be honest, there are always decisions God leads us to as he convicts us. I remember being convicted of my sin of not surrendering to the ministry when he had clearly called me. Maybe that’s where you are today. Maybe God is leading you to join this church and join us in ministry.

Whatever it is, I’d like to invite you to come talk with me or one of the staff members or elders. In a moment we’ll have a moment of silence to contemplate these questions. After a moment of silence, reflecting upon whatever God is doing in your life, I’m going to ask Frank Burgess if he’ll lead us in our closing prayer. When he is finished, I’d like to invite you back to the cornerstone area for some coffee and cookies and fellowship. Come talk to one of us, we’d love to help with whatever is on your mind.

1 Comment

Filed under Romans, Sermons, Sin, The Law

The Unyielding Glory of God

Text: Romans 2.17-24

Introduction: This morning I’m in two texts: Isaiah and Romans. Turn to Isaiah 50 and mark your place there. Then, turn to Romans 2, beginning in v 17.

Last week we looked the first part of Romans where Paul pulled the ole’ bait and switch. He took a page from Amos and got the Jews riled up and excited against the Gentiles. In Chapter one of Romans, Paul confronts the Gentiles for their gross immorality and their vile idolatry. And the Jews are just lovin’ it. They think they’re safe because they’re Jews. They’re God’s people. They have the law and they have circumcision. They have the Temple of God.

After Paul has pulled them in and got them acting all Pentecostal with Praise the Lord and Amen and Hallelujah! Paul then turns on them and says, Hold on, now, you’re not any different. And then, Paul unloads on them. And yes, he’s pretty harsh.


A Word of Caution:

I think this would be a good time for us to talk about anti-Semitism. These passages and others like them have often times throughout history led people to act hatefully toward the Jewish people. That isn’t Paul’s point. That isn’t his goal.

You’re probably most familiar with the holocaust, but there have many times throughout history where God’s chosen people were targeted and attacked with the attempts to wipe them off the face of the earth. We hear that cry coming from Iran and other Muslim groups today.

But Paul is Jewish. He himself says later on in this letter: For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Jesus is Jewish – our Messiah! So, don’t misinterpret what Paul is doing here.

So, what is Paul doing here? Where is he going? At the moment, Paul’s point is that even though the Jews have the Law of God and the Ceremony of Circumcision, they are not exempt from needing the Gospel. He’s already made the point that the Gentiles need the gospel, but so do the Jews. Paul is pointing out the fact that we all need the gospel. And, yes, he’s being harsh, but that is the goal – a shock, effect if you will.


The Goal: The Unyielding Glory of God!  

So the one point of this passage is the honor and the glory of God. And the way we see God dishonored and not glorified is through the bad behavior of our lives.

If you go back to Romans 1.21, you’ll see that Gentiles dishonor God through their behavior; rd 1.24, 26; And last week we looked at this Chiasm presented in 2.7-10, those who honor and glorify God and those who don’t. Paul’s referring to the Jews, who here in 2.23, dishonor God through their behavior. Rd 2.23; 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.

Evil, wicked behavior dishonors God. It does not glorify him. And we’re so quick to amen the 1st section about those who through idolatry and immorality dishonor God. We hear about the homosexual, the Gay, Lesbian and Transgender persons in chapter one and we stand behind Paul and shout, Amen!

But he gets our attention when he says such things as, God’s Righteous Judgment is:

  1. Unexpected for those who think their religion makes them exceptional.
  2. Rendered according to each one’s works.
  3. Perfectly impartial.

Application: Bringing it home

For me, this passage hits closer to home than the previous passages. I say closer to home because I’m standing behind Paul eggin’ him on, shoutin’ “amen’s” and “praise the Lord’s”. The offense of chapter one is blatant and in your face. Many today don’t care if their immorality offends. Gay marriage, Cohabitation, Adultery, Fornication…all of these are flaunted today and even encouraged in our society. But for most of us here this morning, we don’t struggle with these very public sins. I didn’t say all of us, but rather, most of us. In reality, we would be classified more in this 2nd group, the Jews (even though most of us here this morning are not Jewish) because it is the principle that is applied.

So Paul has unloaded on the Jews. Let’s read that text together: 17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

I’m going to take this passage out of context – for just a moment. I want you to see this like they see it. I want you to read this like they read it. Maybe even to feel a little bit like they’re possibly feeling. See what happens if I read it this way (I’m going to put it up on the screen, follow me in 2.17ff):

17 But if you call yourself a Christian and rely on the bible and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the bible; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the bible the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the bible dishonor God by breaking its teaching.

Paul’s message is relevant for the Church today. We’re being bombarded by messages of moral relativism. The cry is for tolerance – that is we should be tolerating the sinful behavior of people. And, we should tolerate it in our lives, too. And the one argument the world has against us is precisely what Paul accuses the Jews of here: You talk a good game about the Bible, but you don’t live it!

As the Church, we’re doing a pitiful job of preaching the Bible and living it out what we’re preaching. Countless pastors caught in sin; The Catholic Church and the story of its priests and their abuse of children; Pentecostals and their abuse of finances and/or women. Our purpose is to live out the honor and glory of God before a lost and dying world. But that is precisely Paul’s point. This will lead us in turn, as we see is Paul’s goal in chapter three, to rely on the righteousness that comes from Grace.

Yes, Grace is so important, but so is the behavior of those who live in God’s Grace. Evil, wicked behavior dishonors God.

And Paul drives this home with a quote from the Old Testament. The quote comes from Isaiah 52.5. Understanding this verse in the context of it’s original use will allow us to understand more of what Paul is trying to drive home for us.

23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Context: to gain context for this verse, we have to that portion of Scripture in Isaiah. The people of Israel were not in exile, yet. But Isaiah is talking to them of future events as if they were currently taking place…in the present tense of future events (i.e.: like it has already happened). He speaks to them this way because he sees it that way. And, they do eventually go into exile. And of course, his prophecy of them comes to pass. In Isaiah 50, 51, and 52, Isaiah has been telling them of their salvation. It sounds in the present tense, but that is to say for them what will be has already happened. For them, they are experiencing the wrath of God as a cup being poured out on them. But, one day – on that day – salvation would come to them. The wrath would end and salvation would be eternal, salvation would be everlasting. That is the hope they have for the exile they will endure. But that isn’t the way it is in that moment of exile.

Rd Isaiah 52.3-6:  3 For thus says the Lord: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” For thus says the Lord God: “My people went down at the first into Egypt to sojourn there, and the Assyrian oppressed them for nothing. Now therefore what have I here,” declares the Lord, “seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Their exile displeases God. He doesn’t like at all. Their rulers wail,” declares the Lord, “and continually all the day my name is despised.

God is displeased because the Gentiles hold God with no regard. There is no honor. There is no glory. The actions and behaviors of the Jews have sent them into exile. God has kept his promise to do so if they rejected and rebelled against him. They did and so God did exactly what he has always told them he would do: vomit them out of the land! This isn’t God’s fault – No! It is the fault of the Jews who have lived their lives worshipping idols and committing immorality (which if you remember, is the very thing Paul has been accusing the Gentiles of in Romans 1). And it breaks God’s heart that his people are in this position: that their behavior has caused the Gentiles to dishonor Him.

Looking at the Jews in their pitiful state, who would want to worship their God? He can’t take care of them. He can’t protect them. He can’t provide for them. And so God’s Name is despised. God’s Name is blasphemed by the Gentiles.

And really, the Jews are to blame. Their behavior, their actions have resulted in all of this. That’s Paul’s point – and quoting from this passage, Paul brings it all home. Not only have the Gentiles exchanged the glory of God for idolatry and immorality, but so have the Jews. They are no different in their behavior and action. And Paul will conclude in 3.10 – none is righteous, no not one. And in 3.23, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God exchanging it for idols and immorality.


God’s Unyielding Glory!

Isaiah 42.8: 8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. God isn’t going to share his glory with anyone or anything. Period.

The context of Isaiah 52.5 is so fitting because Isaiah is telling the Jews how bad it is going to be, but there is hope because they have salvation eternal. But, how – how is this possible? How in the world will God get them there? Turn with me back to Isaiah.

How is this possible? Isaiah 52.13-53.12;

Here’s the thing: where you and I have failed, Christ has been victorious. You and I have reflected the image of God poorly. You and I are sinners and our sin plagues us. But Christ, however, reflects the image of God perfectly. He has restored honor and glory to the Father.

As Paul works his way through this letter entitle Romans, listen to his conclusion in this matter: (Begin Reading in v 4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15.For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

Christ came to restore God’s glory and honor among the Jews and the Gentiles because that is what He is most interested in: His Glory.

Application – take-a-ways:

  1. Nothing is more important to God than His Glory. That’s a bold statement, but I believe it is accurate. Nothing is more important to God than His Glory. And my guess would be that no one here puts God’s glory on the same level of importance that God does. So, let me ask you a question that might help you be honest with yourself: Am I glorifying God with my life and my actions? Let me ask it another way: Do the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart honor and glorify God?
  2. If you’re like me, then you’ll answer no to that question. At some point you recognize your utter failure to glorify God and honor him as you should. Do you know why? Romans 3.23 tells us: Because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That is why Christ came! Remember Romans 15.8? Romans 5.8 tells us that Christ died for us – the ungodly. Isaiah said in our passage this morning: we all like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – everyone – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Do you understand that is why Christ came? God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us – so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.
  3. Invitation –

1 Comment

Filed under God's Glory, Romans, Sermons

God’s Righteous Judgment

Text: Romans 2.1-16

Introduction: We’re in Romans 2 this morning beginning in v1. Turn there and mark that place. But let’s begin in Amos. I’ll give you a moment to turn there. Romans 2, where we’ll be most of the morning and Amos, beginning in 1.1; The book of Amos begins with the Jews witnessing the judgment of God upon their Gentile neighbors. Amos 1.1 tells us a little bit about Amos and then launches into Prophecy. Rd v 1-2;

I’m sure that at 1st the Jews listen closely. But then, Boom, the hammer is lowered and the Jews start lovin’ it! Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab. These are the neighbors of God’s people. Amos has lulled them in and by 2.1, they’re amen-ing the preacher! But then Amos catches them off guard and let’s them know they’re not safe from the Judgment of God, either. Rd 2.4-5; The Gentiles didn’t have the Law of the Lord and were going to pay dearly for their behavior. The Jews had the Law, so they are without excuse! They thought that just because they were on God’s side that they had no worries. They figured the Law, the Temple, and being God’s people was enough to avoid God’s judgment. Amos uses the ole’ bait and switch!

In our text today, Paul is using a form of argument that Amos uses in his book. Paul has been preaching to the Gentiles and the Jews are standing behind him shoutin’ “amen,” “hallelujah” and “preach it!”

Turn back to Romans. Let’s begin back in 1.18-20… Amen! And it continues down through v. 32; rd 1.32: Amen! Then, without warning, he hits the Jews right between the eyes, just like Amos did. They never see this coming. Rd 2.1;

What we find in chapter two is an indictment upon the Jews for trusting in their religion and not in their obedience born out of a heart for God. I’ve divided this first section up into three parts which explain God’s Righteous Judgment to us. These three explanations are:

  1. God’s Righteous Judgment is unexpected for those who think their religion makes them exceptional.
  2. God’s Righteous Judgment is rendered according to each one’s works.
  3. God’s Righteous Judgment is perfectly impartial.

So let’s begin with the 1st word of warning,

God’s Righteous Judgment is:

I. Unexpected for those who think their religion makes them exceptional (1-5)

exp.: Let that sink in. Read that again. This truth should grab us. It should cause us to stop and think. I’m sure most of us here this morning are thinking that we’re Gentiles, so in this story, we’re not really the one’s being addressed. And concerning the context, that would be true. But if you apply the principle from within the context, I think you’ll see that this really applies to anyone who relies on their religion to save them. The Jews weren’t safe just because they were God’s people. And you’re not safe just because you’re a Baptist or a … whatever you claim to be.

exp.: rd 2.2-5; This isn’t about who you are, but about what you do because of who you are. Don’t miss that. Lots of people go to church, but that doesn’t make their Christians. There are a lot of people who serve as pastors, but that doesn’t make them Christians. Please don’t confuse your salvation with a denomination or a building. AND, don’t confuse your salvation with your baptism or church attendance.

Paul was telling these people that, while they’re saying Amen and Praise the Lord, they’re not exempt from God’s judgment when they do the same thing their Gentile neighbors do.

*This was the classic warning – the warning their forefathers had received: when you enter the land, be careful not to behave like the people I am kicking out of the land. Deut. 4.1-6.14; Chapter 7 is all about cleaning the people out of the land and making a place free from their idols and evil practices.

Paul is saying that they haven’t changed. The principles are the same and they still don’t get it.

ill.: Now, apply this thought, this principle to your own life: Don’t you find in yourself a bit of irony? That it is ironic how we can see so well the sins of others, but we miss it in ourselves. I mean the very same sins.

2 Samuel 12; Nathan to David; What an incredible set up! David is furious. He wants to know what man would do something so evil and wicked. Death! Death is the only true, right and fair judgment that can be assessed upon that man. And then Nathan hits him right between the eyes. You! You are that man!

app.: For some strange reason, we can locate the sins that plague us in other people – really, so much easier than we can see those sins in us.

That is what Paul is doing here:  You amen and shout praise the Lord at this preaching to the Gentiles and yet those very same rebellions ways are in you. Do you think you’re safe because you’re Jewish. Do you think your racial or ethnic heritage offers you some free pass? Uh-uh! Your sin, Your disobedience is storing up “wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” It isn’t just about having the Law, it is about practicing the Law in your life.

t.s.: and that’s Paul’s 2nd warning to them.

God’s Righteous Judgment is:

II. Rendered according to each one’s works (6-10)

exp.: you see that statement in v 6; rd 6; v 7-10 are set up in a Chiastic Structure delineating the difference between these two types of people: the people of good works in v 7 & 10 and the self-seekers, self pleasers in 8 & 9:

  1. Accordingly (6)
  2. To those who through patience in well-doing (7)
  3. To those whose works are self-seeking (8)
  4. Tribulation and distress (9)
  5. Glory, honor and peace for those who ‘do’ good (10)

Please don’t mistake this to think for one second that Paul is preaching a ‘salvation by works’ message. He isn’t. I think Paul does this to place emphasis on the life of one who is saved verses the life of one who isn’t. As a matter of fact, Paul will conclude this section in chapter three with ‘all are sinners’ and ‘all are justified only by God’s grace’. That’s what he started this section with, too (cf. 1.16-17 – it is the righteousness of God for everyone who believes). So, what exactly is he saying?

Simply this: Salvation isn’t just a thing of knowledge. It is a thing of change. Salvation in the heart of each believer changes that person. They live differently, they love differently, and they act differently. The change is something that is experienced on the inside and then exhibited on the outside – it is seen. It is observable.

ill.: I think the perfect illustration is baptism. It is a public testimony expressing externally what has happened internally. It doesn’t save you, but it is a sign of obedience.

app.: Herein lies the principle: the work of the self-seeker will end in tribulation and distress. If you’re not getting this let me be very frank: this tribulation and distress is the eschatological Day of the Lord. Don’t confuse tribulation here on earth with that. For these people who live life to very selfishly, there is reserved the wrath and fury of God. However, For the one who seeks glory and honor and immortality through patience, that will end for them with eternal life.

t.s.: Paul offers one more explanation here:

God’s Righteous Judgment is:

III. Perfectly Impartial (11-16)

exp.: rd v 11-12; note: both groups sin and both groups experience judgment and death; will also perish and will be judged; Paul is clear throughout this epistle that sin leads to death, but faith to life. Rd v 13; hearing vs. doing; Man, that sounds awfully close to salvation by works; But I think Paul is echoing James here: Jas 1.22-26: 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

exp.: rd v 14-16; Some have the law, but some do not. Their actions are born out of a real sense of duty. The conscience acts as a law, if you will.

ill.: During the World Series T-Mobile had a fund raising event for Hurricane Harvey Relief. #HR4HR. Text #HR4HR to a certain # and $2 was donated to Hurricane Relief. Show video.

app.: Now, why would a secular organization do this? There is an innate, instinctual reaction to do good to people who are in need. Southern Baptist already do this, and I imagine for most of these volunteers, there is the law of God at work in their hearts, as well as, a clear understanding of our duty as believers. But for lost people, why do they this? Paul tells us: They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness.

app.: that is what makes God’s judgment impartial. You really see this in Matthew’s Gospel. Listen closely and tell me if this doesn’t match what Paul has been saying.

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

t.s.: sounds like…He will render to each one according to his works.

Conclusion: My favorite basketball team is the San Antonio Spurs. I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was at Kirby Junior High back in the 70’s. There is a trait the Spurs have that I just deplore, abhor. Every single time my Spurs get a big lead in the game, they sit on it. Invariably, do you know what happens? They lose.

I remember one year the Spurs were beating the Lakers by 24 points in the 3rd qtr and still managed to lose. They did it again this past Thursday night: Spurs were up by 19 points and still lost by 10.

Why do you think that is? When one thinks they have the victory, they sit back and rest on their laurels.

Application: I sometimes feel the church is guilty of just such a reckless creation. I wonder if we’ve made people think they’re saved because they said a prayer when they were 8 or 12. They said a prayer and maybe got baptized, but they’ve never followed through with their life. They have their religion – maybe even a certificate, and so believe that it doesn’t matter what they do or how they behave or what they think. They think they’ve got victory in hand and so they sit on what they think is their lead. When all the while, they’re lost. They’re trusting in a piece of paper or their denomination or their …

Invitation: Good works are wonderful… I hope you’re not trusting in them to save you either. But, I sure hope your faith is demonstrated in your life by your good works. Remember:

  1. Do not trust in your baptism or your denomination any more than you would trust in your good works. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.
  2. I’d say we must be careful to practice the Law in our own lives: that is – to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and 2ndly, to love your neighbor as yourselves.
  3. God will render his judgment of us all impartially, according to each one’s work. And for those who think that they will receive some exception because they’re Baptist or Catholic or Jewish or American. Well, as Nana used to say: you’ve got another thing comin’


Let’s pray.

Leave a comment

Filed under Judgment, Romans, Sermons

Martin Luther: Standing on the Word of God

Text: Romans 1.17-18

Introduction: Typically I take one Sunday during the year to do a biography of sorts. I’ll pick a missionary, especially a missionary martyr or some other Christian Hero of mine: John Huss, Adoniram Judson, or Bill Koene. In recognition of this weeks 500 Anniversary of the Reformation, I’d like to talk about Martin Luther and what made him great.

Luther’s greatest contribution to us was his belief that God communicates to us through the Written Word. Hence, my title, Martin Luther: Standing on the Word of God.

1 Thess. 2.13: 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Hebrews 4.12: 12 For the word of God is living and active

1 Peter 1.23: 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…

The Word of God: It is powerful and effective. It changes lives. It changed the life of the man who in turn, taught us of its value. Martin Luther taught us that God communicates to us through words on a page, written out, line by line, chapter by chapter, book by book. Luther wanted us to know that it is the authority for our lives – not the pope and not the church.

It changed his life and drove him, directed him to use it to change other people’s lives. The Word of God provides for us the vital information that is effective for salvation and holiness. Whereas, in the years and decades and centuries before Luther, The Pope and the Church were the authoritative source, even over and above God’s Word.

This Tuesday will mark 500 years since Martin Luther tacked his 95 Theses upon the door of his church in Wittenburg, Germany. October 31, 1517 is the date historians mark as the reformation. This one event is like the hinge on the door that swings between what was past and what would become. The truth is, it would probably be closer for us to mark the date in six months. As a side note, Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door in Wittenburg on October 31st, but it wasn’t until six months later that someone took those 95 Theses and translated them into German, had them published and circulated among the population.

Luther’s purpose in nailing these 95 Theses up on the door at the church was so that these topics could be debated among the theologians and scholars there at the University. That is why they were written out in Latin. The common man had no idea what was tacked up on those doors. At least not for another 6 months when they were translated and circulated among the people.

You and I are recipients of this man’s work. We’re beneficiaries; and not just his work alone, but on all those who were reformers. We stand on the shoulders of giants.


A Call to Ministry:

Luther didn’t always want to be in ministry. As a matter of fact, Luther had chosen to study Law. He had attained his Bachelor’s degree by the age of 19 where he graduated in the middle of his class (30th out of 57 students). He earned his Master’s degree three years later (1505) and graduated 2nd in his class (17 students). On his journey home from the University where he was beginning his study of Law, that a nasty storm swirled in around him and lightning struck and knocked him to the ground. In fear he cried out to be saved by St. Anne and promised to enter the monastery if she would save him. He would later say that God spoke to him through the thunder calling him into the ministry.

So powerful was this Damascus Road experience that it drove him into obedience in surrendering to the ministry. 15 days after that fateful afternoon, Luther entered the Monastery. Once, while visiting his father and mother, Luther noticed his dad in a very agitated state. It was an awkward moment because many guests had come over for some sort of party. Luther wanted to know what was bothering his dad. Luther’s father couldn’t control his frustration and confronted him about his choice to leave studying Law to become a priest. Who will take care of your mother and I when we are old? People stopped talking; all attention was turned to this father and son. Luther told his dad the story he had repeated to them many times before: You know that God spoke to me in the thunder.

In this ministry he would wear the habit of a monk. Even after he left the monastery he still wore the clothes of a monk. He did so for 19 years.

As Luther looked back on that experience he called it a ‘flagrant sin’. He did two things wrong: he didn’t listen to his father and he entered the ministry out of fear. Nevertheless, it was God’s will and he knew it.


Sin’s Grip:

Luther had no grasp of the grace of God – not at that time. He understood himself to be a sinner and his conscience always got the best of him. I think it was what made him a good monk. Luther always seemed to have a fear of facing God. And serving as a Monk might assuage the anger of God toward this sinner.

  • When lightning struck near him, he cried out to St. Anne to save him. He was genuinely afraid of dying – and even more of facing God and the certain judgment he would suffer.
  • When he began to serve in his congregation, he panicked in his first presentation of communion. How can a lowly pigmy like me stand before a perfect and holy God? (His words, not mine)
  • He would be so overcome with fear as he offered the communion to his parishioners that he just about couldn’t finish the task.
  • While in the monastery, Luther would fast for days. He would sleep through the cold nights without any clothes or covering. His sin was always before him and he wanted to ‘work’ it out of him – always trying to do penance for his sins.

You see, that was the Catholic way. Do Penance. i.e.: work for your forgiveness. That is one of the reasons the Catholic Church didn’t want the Greek or Hebrew Bibles to be translated or to be used by priests. Instead, they preferred the Jerome’s Latin. In Greek and Hebrew you would translate the word repent. However, in Latin, that same word was translated: do penance.

Luther would later write: I was a good monk. I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with visuals, prayers, readings, and other work.

Many have speculated as to what great sins Luther had committed that drove him to such great lengths to atone for his sinful thoughts. But I think that to be foolish. Too often we impose what sins beset us upon others who struggle. I think Luther’s struggle with sin was pretty balanced and that this balance of sin in every direction consumed him. As far as Luther could see it, God could not be satisfied at any point. God was perfectly holy and Luther was overwhelmingly sinful.

This continued to plague his conscience even after he took up a teaching position at Wittenburg. He would hound the priests at confession and they would complain that he was giving them his life story. Luther was so concerned about his sin before God, that he wanted to ensure he left no sin un-confessed. He wanted to ensure that he had been forgiven of every sin he’d ever committed.

A mentor of his had no answers, but he directed Luther to where the answers were to be found: Scripture. And God’s Word began to change Luther.

Luther arrived at Wittenburg in April of 1511 and began teaching Philosophy. He earned his Doctorate by October 1512, a year and a half later. In the fall of 1513, to his heart’s delight, he was switched to Theology and his first lectures were on the Psalms. In April 1515, he began his lectures on Romans.

While teaching on Psalm 22, he immediately recognized v 1 as a reference to Christ. My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? This was something with which Luther could identify: That God would forsake and abandon Luther because of his sinfulness. Indeed, he felt that abandonment. He felt the sin and the shame, but Christ – Christ wasn’t weak like Luther. Christ wasn’t sinful like Luther. It could only be the sin that Christ took upon himself – the sins of the world, that caused the Father to forsake his son.

So, understand that Luther is now wrestling with this text. He’s gaining a better understanding of what scholars call penal substitution. As he came to teach Romans, Luther wanted to understand Paul and his doctrine. So he studied hard. He prepared his lectures well. He contemplated each verse. I’ll let him tell you in his own words what happened:

I greatly longed to understand Paul’s epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, ‘the justice of God’, because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly and punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’ Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the justice of God had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…

If you have a true faith that Christ is your savior, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s Heart and Will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This is to behold God and faith that you should look up on his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on the curtain, as if a dark cloud has been drawn across his face.

Luther’s theological and spiritual state matured quickly as he learned more and more Scripture. He knew lots of Scripture, but suddenly, those passages became clearer. So incredibly liberating was this new state of being, living in the grace and mercy of God, that he was filled with a boldness to teach others about faith. Luther had his students and he preached regularly at two churches in town. He wanted them to know what he had discovered. At first, Luther had no intentions of reformation. He only hoped to help shape the clergy and the laity through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. But God’s Word is alive and active. It does its own work.



It was during these years that indulgences were being sold to fund St. Peter’s Basilica Rome. Begun by his predecessor, Pope Leo X found it necessary to continue the work. The old Basilica which had stood since the days of Constantine were condemned. Pope Julius II raised some funds, had the piers laid and then died. There stood this unfinished, unusable Basilica for the new pope.

Enter Leo X. At the same time, Albert of Brandenberg was attempting to secure some position by the pope. He was commissioned by the pope to sell as many indulgences as possible, to raise as much money as possible, with the hope that if he was successful, the position would be his. But, when Albert came to Wittenburg, he hit a roadblock. At the same time in Wittenburg, the man in charge there, Frederick the Wise, wouldn’t allow Albert’s Indulgences to be sold in Wittenburg because he was selling his own Indulgences, to fund his own pet projects.

You’re probably wondering what an Indulgence was. An Indulgence was a piece of paper one could purchase to lower the punishment for sins that one was expected to experience upon death. For Catholics, the good people who die go to heaven. Bad Catholics who died would go to Purgatory – a place between heaven and hell that one endured before getting into heaven. After paying for one’s sins, one could be released from Purgatory. Added to this, an Indulgence could also release loved ones who were in Purgatory. Albert had a pithy saying which helped his cause: As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from Purgatory springs. The Pope had the power to send people there and to release them from there.

There was a lot of ugliness to it all. Luther spoke out against it all. He spoke out against the pope. He spoke out against Albert. If the pope had the ability to release souls from purgatory, then why would he be so cruel to keep them there? Besides, Indulgences only encouraged people to become complacent in their faith. That was precisely what Luther experienced. One day while walking outside the city, he came upon a man who was drunk. Luther confronted him about his sinful behavior. Without missing a beat, the man reached inside his coat and produced an Indulgence to atone for this sinful behavior.

Luther’s preaching against Indulgences was dangerous stuff, because Indulgences were big revenue. And if you want to upset someone in the church: mess with their money!

Well, I’m sure you know by now, the Catholic Church came after Luther. He was labeled a heretic. Luther would be excommunicated, but that didn’t matter to him because he understood the church of God to be presented much differently than the Catholic Church taught. Excommunication meant damnation. But, Luther knew that his salvation was based on his faith in the work of Christ – not the declaration of the pope.


Why do I tell you this? Well, there are four basic doctrines that we teach as Evangelicals and we owe this to the work of Luther.

Bruce Shelley, Professor of Church History at Denver Theological Seminary writes in his book entitled: Church History in Plain Language that Luther answered 4 questions that he took from four basic Catholic concerns and offered us new answers.

  1. To the question how is a person saved, Luther replied: not by works but by faith alone. Sola Fide.
  2. To the question where does religious authority lie, he answered: not in the visible institution called the Roman church but in the Word of God found in the Bible. Sola Scriptura.
  3. To the question—what is the church?—he responded: the whole community of Christian believers, since all are priests before God.
  4. And to the question—what is the essence of Christian living?—he replied: serving God in any useful calling, whether ordained or lay. To this day any classical description of Protestantism must echo those central truths.

Scripture/God’s Holy Word changed Luther’s life. Listen to what he says:

For as soon as God’s word becomes known through you, the devil will afflict you, will make a real doctor of you, and will teach you by his temptations to seek and to love God’s Word. For I myself . . . owe my papists many thanks for so beating, pressing, and frightening me through the devil’s raging that they have turned me into a fairly good theologian, driving me to a goal I should never have reached.

The tentacles of Luther reformation would reach far and wide, stretching across the continent of Europe and in 100 years come to the Americas, where you and I live out it’s impact.

  • The Pulpit is central here. It is the place where God’s Word is exalted and preached. Have you ever been to a church where the pulpit is on the side? Now you know why we set up our Pulpit and Lord’s Supper Table the way we do.
  • We no longer practice the 7 Sacraments, but rather, only two: The Lord’s Supper and Baptism.

Luther’s reformation would spread from Germany to France and England where things were already stirred up.

Conclusion: Lady Jane Grey: The ‘9 Day’s’ Queen

As the Reformation spread, there were battles to be fought. Literally. Whenever someone rose to power who favored Catholicism over Protestantism, then the whole country would become Catholic…or else. King Henry VIII had a wife of 18 years, but she produced no heirs for him – only girls. So he sought an annulment from the pope. He didn’t get it, so he broke with the Church of Rome and established the Church of England. England would move back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism over the next few generations.

You’ve probably never heard of Jane Grey. She was one of Henry VII’s descendants. Although she wasn’t directly in line to be queen, it was a possibility. And so, Jane became a pawn in the hands of those in power because of their money or because of their position. Her parents were really hard on her when she was young, forcing her to study very hard and enforcing harsh punishments for imperfection. Her parents wanted her to be queen so desperately. I think all parents want good things for their children, but as for Jane’s parents, there seems to be some arrogance and even wickedness in their plans. As a part of all the power plays, Jane was promised to Lord Guildford Dudley, a man she despised. But, her parents loved him because e was a man of considerable wealth, power and influence. And, he had the young king’s ear.

The King had died and left a young, sickly Edward VI on the throne. As this young king lay in the throes of death, the movers and shakers influenced King Edward to make Jane his heir to the throne. There were a lot of questions to who was the rightful heir. And although she was only his cousin, he had bequeathed the throne to her and to whatever male heirs she might provide in the future. Thus, she found herself to be the Queen of England. She didn’t want the throne, mind you. She never did. But it was now hers nonetheless. What helped her in that time of decision-making? What helped her to come to terms with something she didn’t necessarily want? It was her incredibly strong faith in God.

It is amazing to see how God had been at work in her life. For a period of time in her younger years, she went to live with the Queen, Katharine Parr. And so, Jane was educated in the King’s Court. She was incredibly intelligent. She learned both Greek and Hebrew and could read both the Old and the New Testaments in their original languages. You see, Catherine was a Protestant – one of those whose lives was touched by the Reformation overtaking Europe. And now, The reformation had touched Jane’s life and she would never be the same. Her love for God’s Word drove her faith. Her Bible of choice was the Greek New Testament.

So how opportune it appeared when she was placed upon the Throne as the Queen of England. Surely God was at work placing someone of great faith upon the throne. She, however, only reigned for 9 days: from July 10, 1553 to July 19, 1553. She is known as the Nine Days Queen. Her Cousin, Mary of Tudor, also known as Bloody Mary, organized a coop. Backed by an army, she moved in to take the throne from Jane. But Jane didn’t want it. So, she resigned her position and gladly handed over power to Mary.

Her nickname, Bloody Mary, was well earned. She put to death some 300 of her relatives who she thought might try to take the throne from her. She insisted that all of England recognize the Roman Catholic Church. Jane, of course, could not do that. She knew her Bible to well.

Bloody Mary sent her envoy, a Catholic apologist, to try and save Jane’s soul (or so he thought). Listen to Scott Hubbard’s version of events:

Queen Mary (aka “Bloody Mary”) had already signed her cousin Jane’s death warrant, but she sent her seasoned chaplain to see if he could woo Jane back to Rome before her execution.

A charged debate follows — Feckenham the Catholic apologist and Jane the Reformed teenager. He presses that justification comes by faith and works; she stands her ground on sola fide. He asserts that the Eucharistic bread and wine are the very body and blood of Christ; she maintains that the elements symbolize Jesus’s saving work. He affirms the Catholic Church’s authority alongside Scripture; she insists that the church sits underneath the piercing gaze of God’s word.

Martin Luther’s work had been spreading. It had touched Lady Jane Grey’s life: The Power of God’s Word. So much so did it affect her, that she was willing to die for what she knew to be Truth.

On the inside of her Greek New Testament, she wrote to her younger sister, Katharine: This is the book, dear sister, of the Law of the Lord. It is his testament and last will, which he bequeathed unto us wretches, which shall lead you to the path of eternal joy…  And as touching my death, rejoice as I do, good sister, that I shall be delivered of this corruption, and put on incorruption. For I am assured that I shall for losing of a mortal life, win an immortal life.

She was put to death as a heretic on February 12, 1554. She was confident and bold. She walked to the place where she was to die. She was blindfolded and reached out into the emptiness before her, groping for the execution block. Her last words were, “Lord, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” Jane Grey was only 17 years old.

Let me ask you: Has the Word of God had its impact on you? Do you make your decisions about what God is doing based on physical things? Money? Resources? People? Buildings? Positions?


  1. Let the Word of God reign supremely in your life and in your church. Let it be your guide and companion.
  2. Be reminded today that salvation comes only through faith in Christ Jesus and the saving work of the Cross. If you’ve been thinking that Christ plus anything will get you to heaven, then repent of that. Luther said: Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works. The idea is that when one has been changed by God, the works of God will flow from him naturally.
  3. What will it take for you to stand boldly for Christ and on His Word? Jane Grey amazes me when I think of her being only 17 years old.


1 Comment

Filed under Church History, Martin Luther, Reformation, Romans, Sermons

The Servant of the Lord Waits Upon the Lord

Isaiah 49

Opening Remarks: We’re in Isaiah 49 this morning. Turn there. Isaiah 49;

I want to be of encouragement to you this morning. I see too many worried and wearied believers.

So, I’m leaving Romans for the morning and preaching a message that God has laid on my heart. I don’t expect it will be long. My goal is to be short and sweet and aimed straight at your heart.

Introduction: God affirmed my calling in September of 1987 through a little church in Copperas Cove, TX. That was 30 years ago last month. 30 years.

I served three churches in 10 years will in College, Seminary and after Seminary as an Associate. I’ve served for 20 years now as a Senior Pastor. In those 30 years, I’ve seen many men fall by the wayside. In those 30 years I’ve watch many a man start off with a bang and fizzle to a drip. I’ve watched many a man talk a big talk and at first begin a wonderful walk to match the talk, but when times got hard, they walked away. I, myself, have grown weary in well doing and have wanted to quit. And even though that number is high, once was too much. In all of my struggles and in all of the struggles of those I’ve journeyed with through the years, I have never once seen the Lord fail to keep his promises.

I have spoken to many a faithful senior adult who has weathered many more storms than this preacher, and they insist that ‘this ain’t nuthing!’ ‘We’ve been through worse!’

As I read through Scripture, I find men who started out with a bang and fizzled at the end. Adam, Noah, David, Solomon, Saul… and the list goes on! I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be a church like the Galatians… I learned this in the NIV and it has stuck with me… 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

Or, consider the Corinthians, or so many of the churches that started with a bang and then fizzled.

My heart’s desire today is to remind you that God is faithful… He always has been. And, his ability to accomplish his mission has never been dependent upon the fickleness of men.

Let’s go back in time and see how Isaiah was encouraged…

I’ve got simple points this morning which serve as our application. Normally, I preach and offer a few points. At the end, I bring the application. This morning, though, my points are the application. This is what I want you to take home with you today:

So, here we go…Application #1: A servant of the Lord waits upon the Lord because he knows…

I. A servant of the Lord knows that He is Sovereign. (1)

exp.: rd 49.1; If you think about it clearly, everything you’re enduring today was understood by God long ago. For Isaiah, he understands that it was while he was still in his mother’s womb that God called him and named him. This is not the time to make an argument against abortion, but it would fit. Scripture is clear that God knit each of us individually together in our mother’s womb. Our frames were not hidden from him. Psalm 139 says that everyday of our lives was planned and written down in his book before one of them came to be.

Ill.: yesterday Lisa and I were talking about Bart Millard and the incredible songs he has written. I saw him in an interview and he said that his most popular songs were written through the struggle and the trials he was enduring. His greatest growth and his best stuff came out of the adversity in his life.

app.: storms may come and trials may befall us, but God, who is sovereign is not caught off guard. He knows your day and your trial, as well as your name. There is nothing that will come upon you and me that surprises God. And in his sovereignty, he is working for his glory. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

t.s.: He has called you by name and you are his. A servant of the Lord knows that He is Sovereign. Application #2:


II. A servant of the Lord knows that God has equipped him. (2)

exp.: God gave Isaiah just what he needed to be the man he would call him to be. He equipped him for the service to which he would be called. Look at v2; He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. “He made”; God, who is sovereign fashioned Isaiah into the tool he desired to use. He began while Isaiah was still in his mother’s womb. He took Isaiah and began to fashion, mold and shape him. You may feel like you’re a product of your environment, but the truth is you are who you are because God made you that way. Every action and inaction of your life, God has been making you into the man or woman he has desired you to be. You are not a mistake. God doesn’t say, “oops!” when he is working. He is intentional about his glory and you are all a part of that intention.

Did you have a tough childhood? Did you grow up poor? Sick? In foster care? With Christian parents? Did you grow up with lost parents? Were you abused? Were you sheltered? Have you experienced homelessness? Have you experienced fear? Pain? Whether you see God allowed things in your life or whether you see God did things in your life… the outcome is the same: God has been equipping you to be a sharp tool, ready for use. To him, you are a sharp sword in its sheath or a polished arrow in its quiver.

t.s.: And why? The answer is in our 3rd application:

III. A servant of the Lord knows that God has called him. (3, 5a)

exp.: rd v 3:   And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” God has been doing all that he has been doing for the sole purpose of glorifying himself.

I’ve been asked periodically if I think Calvary has sinned and God is punishing her. The Truth is that I don’t know. Yes, we’re sinners. We have done things wrong because we are sinners. If you know where Calvary has sinned, then we should confess that sin. It would be good for us to come with repentant hearts, begging God to show us where we’ve failed. We want to be used for his glory.

ill.: Do you remember the story of the man born blind in John 9? The disciples asked the Lord who had sinned – this man or his parents that he was born blind. That has seemed like a simple answer to me: it had to be his parents because how could he have sinned before he was born in order that blindness would be his punishment? But Jesus said: neither. What?!? The effects of his life aren’t born out the actions of his life? You mean God did this so that the works of God could be done? Jesus said: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

app.: If we’ve sinned in such a manner that this is punishment, then let’s pray that God declares that to us and calls us to repentance. But, it could be that God has made us who we are, and what we are, in order that His works might be displayed in us. Do you want to be used by God for His glory? Do you? I do! I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want this to be painful. But I do want to be used by God to bring him glory and honor.

t.s.: Let’s pray unto that end: God don’t let us wimp out. Make us strong for your glory. Accomplish your work in us. A servant of the Lord knows that God is sovereign and that he has called and equipped us for His work. Application #4

IV. A servant of the Lord knows that God will care for him. (4, 5b)

exp.: rd v 4a; Even when the soldier is down; even when it appears that the man of God has labored in vain; even when his strength has been zapped; even when it appears that he has come to an end! God will be our recompense. Keep reading; 4b-5; God will establish us! God will honor us! So, let us honor him with our faith. Let us stand before God ready to be used to bring people to him. Let’s make ourselves available. If you do nothing but come here and sing songs and listen to a man speak – if that is the totality of your Christianity, then you’re like a sword lying in a corner – you’re like an arrow in a quiver that is hanging on a wall.

ill.: Galatians 6.9-10: And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

app.: Oh, brother and sister in Christ. I know the road is long and the journey has been hard. You and I have seen many faces come and go. But there is a reward that is waiting for those of us who labor for the Lord. He is the one who cares for us. Are you wounded? He will bind up your wounds. Are you weary and heavy laden? Jesus says, “Come, and I will give you rest.”

t.s.: A servant of the Lord knows that God will care for him. Application #5:

V. A servant of the Lord knows that God will accomplish His mission in His time. (6-7)

exp.: rd v 6;

5a.: God’s mission is greater than you can imagine. Maybe some of your problem is that you’re thinking too small. Maybe you don’t think God is big enough to accomplish his goals and his purposes. God tells Isaiah that looking at Israel is too small of a mission. God is thinking bigger. God has grander plans!

Rd v 7;

5b.: for some strange reason, God has chosen to glorify himself through us. Rd v 21; If you’ll hold on, you’ll look around and say I was alone, but look at all the people around me now. Where have they come from? Let’s Continue reading22-23; those who wait on the Lord shall not be put to shame!

app.: My brother and sister in Christ, if you are serving God with your whole heart, if you have not chased after idols and the ways of the world, if you are totally committed to him, Then it is time to take your stand! Be reminded that:

  • You do not serve the Lord because there is money in the bank.
  • You do not serve the Lord because there are more than enough people to do the job.
  • You do not serve the Lord because of what you will get out of it!
  • You do not serve the Lord because you are the best one for the job!

t.s.: You serve because you were chosen, you were called and you have been equipped for such a time as this!


Conclusion: Listen clearly to me. I want to be very clear: Our actions don’t make God do what we want. I’m not preaching this sermon this morning to say God has to do anything. He is the boss…He is in charge!

I’m not saying that your obedience will bring money. That isn’t God’s promise. I’m not saying that your obedience will bring people. That isn’t God’s promise. God’s promise is His glory. And I’m pretty sure that is your goal, too: His glory.

So, what do we do now? I say: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14

Here in is our last application #6: Servants of the Lord waits upon the Lord because they know…This fight is not against each other. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. At least we’re not supposed to! Satan laughs his most hideous laugh of victory when brothers and sisters in Christ fight each other, when they abandon each other, when they gossip and slander each other. When they use their money against each other. When they use their committees against each other.

I think I can stand and say for each elder today that we love you dearly. We have never intentionally led you astray. If we have failed you in our leadership, we are truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness. I know that isn’t the way an apology is supposed to sound…if. But what I mean by that is: we as elders are humbled at this point. We’re just like you… trusting God to move. If you feel betrayed or led astray. If you feel that we have sinned against you… we want you to obey Matt 18 and come to us – show us the error of our way and we will repent before.

Let me offer you this final caveat. Just because I preach a message about faith, doesn’t mean that God has to do something that we want. Do you hear me? God is God. And, he will be glorified in whatever way he chooses. I’m hoping and praying for God’s blessing on Calvary and her ministries and missions. Will you pray with me, too?

  1. God, show us our sin, that we might be repentant of our rebellion and sinful ways.
  2. God, lead us in your favor to accomplish the ministry and mission of your heart. We are your servants – show us exactly what you would have us to do.
  3. Our lives are in your hands. We’ve always known that. Thank you for you gentle reminders.
  4. We trust now, as always, that you have brought us here to 6704 Old Jacksonville Hwy and that you have great plans to use us here.
  5. We are yours, have your way in us.
  6. For we know that those who wait upon you, will not be put to shame… they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.


1 Comment

Filed under Faithfulness, Isaiah, Sermons, Servant

The Wrath of God (Part 2)

Romans 1:18-32

Introduction: Marketers watch for trends. It’s how they make their money. You see it when you click on a screen or do a search. The next time you check your email or browse the web, you’re inundated with the item you were looking for. Do a search for a specific type of shoe and the next time you get on facebook or check your email, there is an ad of some company trying to sell you the shoe you were looking for… with a great price. It can be plane tickets. It can be a recipe for a cookie. It can be running a triathlon. Whatever it is, Marketers follow it. Because, that is where the money is.

Marketing and Advertising is exactly what Donald Trump took advantage of to win the presidency. According to a CBS 60 Minutes report this last week the presidency was won due in part to one marketing tool: Facebook. That’s right. Facebook was what gave Donald Trump the edge over Hillary Clinton. When Facebook offered their services to Hillary Clinton, to help her in the same manner as they were helping Donald Trump, she refused their help. She said she didn’t need it.

Donald Trump on the other hand had a secret weapon. His name is Brad Parscale. Brad knew how to access social media and promote Donald Trump’s agenda through just about every social network: Facebook, Google Search, Twitter, etc. But, he did it mostly through Facebook. He said he was able to target 15 people in the Panhandle, or whoever, wherever, with very specific ads that spoke to them.

How did he do it? He had a clear understanding of Metrics. Metrics are used to interpret our culture’s activities and behaviors. It is what allows Marketers and Advertisers to forecast and predict cultural activity. What is important to Americans? And more specifically, what is important to you? Where is your focus? What are your priorities? Where do you spend your money? That is why those ads pop up like they do. Instead of a commercial on TV to a general demographic, advertisement can be tailored to fit even the smallest of demographics.

Every click you make is monitored. All of the data is collected and analyzed. Then, based on your behaviors and responses, ads are sent your way to get you to spend money in their area of the market, or vote for their candidate or… you fill in the blank.

This morning I want to talk to you this morning about variables and equations observed as behaviors and actions. I’m not talking about the math so much, but about the variables, the behaviors and actions of life that measure who we are. Romans 1.18-32 offers us an explanation humans behave the way we do:

We’ve read the text, now let me paraphrase this text as best I understand it:

Paul begins with a statement that he would like to preach the Gospel in Rome (15). He then offers some reasons why in the following verses. A transition occurs in verses 17 and 18 demonstrating the logical relationship between God’s righteousness and His Wrath, which comes out in the Gospel. God’s wrath is being righteously revealed against all people, for all are sinners. Hence, the Gospel is needed.

God’s wrath is continually being revealed against all humanity. His wrath is revealed because they suppress the truth. How can I say this? I say this because we know they really do suppress the truth because they know God. They know him because he has made himself known to them through his creation. So, they really have no excuse (18-20).

So far, in this passage, there is emphasis on the Creator and His Creation. Keep those two in mind.

They are without excuse because although they knew him, they did not honor and thank him. Instead, their thinking became foolish and darkened. Claiming to be wise, they demonstrated themselves to be fools by exchanging the Glory of God to worship images of created things (21-23).

Therefore, God gave them over to their impurity, all because they rejected God to worship idols. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and so God gave them over to dishonorable passions. They exchanged natural relations for unnatural acts. So, God gave them over to homosexuality, an unnatural act (24-27).

Now, their state of mind is filled with all manner of unrighteousness and their lives with all manner of evil. Added to this predicament, they teach and approve of others who live in the same ungodly manner (28-32).

My outline is quite simple, even though the material is quite complicated:

  1. A Thesis Statement: I desire to preach the gospel (1.15).
  2. An explanation: God’s righteousness and God’s wrath are revealed in the gospel (1.16-18).
  3. The Reason for God’s Wrath: Mankind has rejected God (1.19-23).
  4. The Result of their Rejection of God: He has given them over to their passions (1.24-32).
    1. God gives them over to a debased mind.
    2. Their unrighteous and ungodly thoughts and actions.
  5. Therefore, judgment awaits mankind. 2.1-11

Transition: So, let’s begin with point #3 listed above there and continued from whence we left off last week: The Reason for God’s Wrath.

I. The Reason (18-23)

exp.: rd v 19-23; the reason is quite simple enough: they’ve rejected God; You see the word ‘for’ in v19, the 1st word in the sentence? I told you last week that it is different than the other words translated ‘for’ in 16-18. This word is a contraction of three words, διὰ τοῦτο ὅτι; lit.: through this that; It’s like getting from here to there…from point a to point b.

ill.: In the movie about Abraham Lincoln played by Daniel Day Lewis, President Lincoln greets some folks who’ve come to see him – just common, everyday folks – Why is this thus? And what is the reason for this thusness? And he giggles. I love that scene. Why is this thus? And, what is the reason for this thusness?

It’s like Abraham Lincoln has asked Paul about God’s wrath:

Paul: God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.

President Lincoln: Why is this thus? And, what is the reason for this thusness?

Paul: Simply put, they’ve rejected God; they exchanged the glory of God for images of created things.

app.: This is thus because they’ve rejected God. The reason for God’s wrath is because they’ve rejected him. And their rejection of him by suppressing the truth is validated by the fact that he has revealed himself through creation. And we know that they really do suppress the truth because they know God.

t.s.: As Paul clarifies this even further, we move to the 4th point: The Result of their Rejection

II. The Result (24-27)

exp.: rd 24a; Therefore, God gave them over; the ESV says: Therefore, God gave them up; I like ‘over’ better, but the idea is the same. (Prepositions often are interchangeable: i.e., stack this on that wall, stack this against that wall, stack this by that wall.) You see it repeated in v 26 and again in v 28; You might think that these three uses would make them three different sections, but it really is more of a progressive expression.

  • In v 24, God gave them over to their lusts…
  • In v 26, God gave them over to their dishonorable passions…
  • In v 28, God gave them over to a debased mind…

You can see the result of what is in their thinking moves to what happens in their actions. And these actions are progressively worse.

  • In v 24, God gave them over to their lusts, to the dishonoring of their bodies.
  • In v 26, God gave them over to their dishonorable passions, to the extent of participating in unnatural relations. You can see that as ‘perversion’. You see God created a natural way for husbands and wives to be intimate with each other. The world has perverted it into something unnatural.
  • In v 28, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do what ought not to be done.

This progression is seen when you add the ‘exchange’ phrase. Read w/ me.

23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

app.: We have two pictures in front of us with this passage: spiritual and physical. (Review 23-28 going back and forth between the spiritual and physical parts.) They rejected the spiritual aspects of God (His glory, His Truth, His Power over Creation, what is natural) and worshipped the physical things (idols, images, impurity, bodies, perversion, what is unnatural). This is what I see here: God created. The 1st word is where our thoughts and our focus should be. But the 2nd word is the one we’ve chosen to pursue.

t.s.: And so, with God giving mankind over to our passions, we see a litany of unrighteous thoughts and behaviors listed in v29-32.

III. Mankind’s Ungodly Thoughts and Unrighteous Actions (28-32)

exp.: v 28 gives us a thesis or outline of the next few verses; rd v 28; God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. The mind has to do with their thinking and their actions follow their thoughts. You see them listed in like manner:

v 29: evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. This is what is inside of them.

v29b-31: gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. These are their actions or how they behave.

V32 comes back to the topic of the knowledge of God, but takes it one step further: rd v 32; Not only do they know God, they know the penalty for their behavior.

t.s.: These are the metrics. These are the behaviors and actions being observed by God. Maybe some are only measurable to God, but the external actions are most definitely measurable to us. I can’t know your heart, but I can see what you do.

Conclusion: An interesting article was published this week on, a research and marketing website. This article tells us that the American culture has gained a new metric for measuring facts and trends. This one metric is incredibly reliable for measuring the movements of Americans. It is so reliable, according to the author of the article, Daniel Carter, that it just might be the most accurate data metric for gauging cultural attention. Marketers know something big is happening when these numbers drop or rise. “What’s that metric,” you ask? Pornography.

Daniel Carter gives examples in his article to demonstrate just how powerful a metric pornography has become:

NBA Championship: After the Golden State Warriors beat The Cleveland Cavilers this past year, the people in the Bay area were so busy celebrating their championship that pornography viewing dropped dramatically. Marketing observers knew something big had happened in Oakland and in California because people stopped viewing pornography. In Ohio, on the other hand, where the Cleveland Caviler fans live, the Internet traffic to view porn increase a whopping 28%.

Game of Thrones: When Season 7 premiered this past year, pornography traffic dropped across the United States. Marketers knew something was going on in our culture because porn traffic dropped dramatically. Why? Americans were tuning into the Game of Thrones Premier.

Unpredictable Cultural Events: When testimony by Jeff Sessions and former FBI director James Comey gave testimony into the involvement of Russia and our election – porn traffic dropped.

Carter tells us in his article that 64 million Americans view porn daily on just one porn site and he mentions it in his article. 64 Million. There are about 325 million Americans… men, women, boys, girls, and babies. To give you some perspective – YouTube has about 30 million viewers everyday. 64 Million on just one porn site. There are thousands of porn sites.

Ladies and Gentlemen, when pornography becomes, not just a metric, but one of the most accurate, data metric for gauging cultural attention in America, America is in big trouble.

It appears that God has given America over to her passions. The problem isn’t just pornography. Homosexuality, as mentioned in v26-27 has become a way of life. Over the last 30 years, homosexuality has become something that was against the law to a cultural norm. Our nation now sanctions gay marriage. Our nation celebrates the very thing that God condemns. And what’s sad is that our churches are doing much the same thing. America has decided by it’s actions that they don’t want to worship God, but rather the created things.

Isaiah 5, beginning in v 20 reads:

20     Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!

21     Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,

and shrewd in their own sight!

22     Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,

and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

23     who acquit the guilty for a bribe,

and deprive the innocent of his right!

24     Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,

and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,

so their root will be as rottenness,

and their blossom go up like dust;

for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,

and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

25     Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,

and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,

and the mountains quaked;

and their corpses were as refuse

in the midst of the streets.

For all this his anger has not turned away,

and his hand is stretched out still.

What can save us from ourselves? And Who can save us from ourselves?

Paul will take his time getting there, but down in chapter 3.23 he says that we’re all sinners: every last one of us. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. He’s trying to communicate to us that our sin separates us from God. If we choose sin, then we’ll fall further away. He will give us over to the very things we seek. Therefore, our only hope is that we must repent and turn to God.

Ill.: The Record Book of Sin illustration.


  1. Men, it’s time to rise to the challenge before us and be the men God has called us to be.
    1. 1 Corinthians 16.13 says: 13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
    2. Young men, listen to me: the decisions you make today will affect the rest of your life. If you’re dabbling in the mess. Stop. Repent. Turn to God or he’ll turn you over to your passions. And your passions will be the end of you.
  2. Women, you must protect your husbands and your sons. Ladies, do you hear me? It’s your house – run it like it is yours. Don’t let anything come into your house that will destroy your men.

Ill.: Article: My husband chose pornography over me. A NY Times article. I googled it to find it for my message today and there were countless articles on that subject!

a. You need to know every single website and move and TV show that comes across the screens in your home.

b. Don’t let your household become a variable in the equations of our culture like Daniel Carter mentions.

  1. For many, it feels too late. They’re too far gone. God has delivered them over to their passions and Lusts. But the truth is, as long as you’re alive, it isn’t too late. If you’re listening to me right now and your heart is pricked and your conscience is burning as if hot coals were on your head, repent today and be saved. Confess your sins and find forgiveness.

1 Comment

Filed under Pornography, Romans, Sermons, Wrath of God

The Wrath of God

Romans 1:18

Introduction: Do you see my title today? The Wrath of God. Talk about how to win friends and influence people. This is not one of your run of the mill topics that get people to click on your blog and read! We’re in Romans 1.18. The flow of the message is really from v15-20, but we’ll focus our attention on v 18.

Meagan Basham has an article in World Magazine about the Marvel Comic movies that have been coming out over the last 10 years. I like the 1st Captain America movie and that’s been about it. I don’t know why… call me old school. Anyway, after 10 years, Marvel is still pumping out movies. Ms. Basham has a theory as to why these movies have really caught on: Our rejection of God has led to a longing for supernatural stories.

Hummmm… Our world has rejected our savior. Flat out: they’ve rejected God.

I believe they have rejected God because they don’t like the moral absolutes he has outlined for the world.

  • For the most part the world is against killing, unless it is an unborn child in the womb.
  • Leave the covet thing alone! It’s about ambition and the American Dream.
  • As for immorality, well, you probably know what I’m going to say.

I think Ms. Basham is on to something with her theory. The world has rejected God and is looking for something flashy that won’t ask them to change their ways. And so they look elsewhere for their supernatural fix.

According to our text today, the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Some might say: well, that’s unfair! What about those who don’t know about God? The text goes on to say that they are without excuse, because God has made himself known to everyone. Let’s look at that text: 1:18: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

We find our context for this verse in V 15-17; rd v 15-17; So the context is the Gospel being proclaimed because it is the power of God, revealing the righteousness of God and the wrath of God.

Here is Paul’s point: he loves the good news of Jesus Christ because it leads to salvation. For in this good news the righteousness of God is revealed. You can’t be righteous on your own. God has to make you that way! And it comes through faith.

So, get this: God is righteous and he is the one who makes us righteous; Then, Paul goes into explanation mode: he tells us just why the Gospel is needed. He answers a question here: Why is the Gospel needed?

Contextually, Romans 1.18-32 would be Paul’s answer to why the Gospel is needed. I wish to only look at verse 18-20 this morning. I fully intend to finish out chapter 1 next week.

I really do!

V 18 begins with: The Wrath of God. Pretty ominous words, no? No wonder people start looking to comic book saviors. Those heroes pour out their wrath on the enemy villain without calling for change on the part of the people. And if we’re not careful, we can fall into that same trap.

t.s.: What Paul does in this verse is give us 3 aspects of God’s wrath to help us understand how and why God’s wrath is just. The 1st is…

I. The Righteousness of God’s Wrath (18a)

exp.: rd v 18a; for the wrath of God; we get our first aspect from the possessive word of; specifically, of God; θεοῦ; in the Gk, the English word of is found in the word God; It is His wrath; So, from this we can surmise that this wrath is…

1st, this wrath is divine: it isn’t to be confused with the wrath of man. They are as different as black and white, water and air, boys and girls, You cannot and must not attribute what you know of human wrath as being from God.


ill.: J. MacArthur: God’s attributes are balanced in divine perfection. If He had no righteous anger and wrath, He would not be God, just as surely as He would not be God without His gracious love. He perfectly hates just as He perfectly loves, perfectly loving righteousness and perfectly hating evil (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9).


app.: He is perfect in his love and perfect in his hate. I know, it sounds odd doesn’t it. But we read in Scripture that there are ‘things’ that God hates. He hates divorce. God said: I hate, I despise your feasts. He hates 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

God is divinely righteous and that makes his wrath against unrighteousness divinely perfect. That is His nature. This wrath comes from Him and rightly so;

2nd, it is deliberate: God is not passive in his aggression toward sin; what I mean by that is God isn’t just going to sit down and pout. This statement is flowing quite naturally through these previous verses; in the way v 16 – for the power of God; v 17 – for the righteousness of God; v 18 for “the wrath of God” (18a); what Paul is saying is that God is doing something about it. The Gospel is God taking action against sin.

Side note: what Paul doesn’t do here is tell us why God is taking this action. Two quick reasons: 1. Because we can’t. 2. Because only he can!

t.s.: The 2nd aspect of God’s wrath as seen in v 18b is…

II. The Revelation of God’s Wrath

exp.: rd v 18b; is revealed; Ἀποκαλύπτεται; (present passive indicative, verb 2nd singular) ”is constantly being revealed”: it isn’t like God revealed it one time and if you missed it… oh, well! It is constantly being revealed. Just what is being revealed? There are three phases to answering this question:

  • His Righteousness: we see this in v 17; The righteousness of God (which we discussed last week: i.e.; he is righteous and he imputes his righteousness to us through our faith in Him); this is truly amazing! We see from the law that we are unrighteous and helpless to remove the guilt. We are impotent when it comes to removing the sin and the stain. But not him! He is active in the process of redemption.
  • His Wrath: Most people love to see God as totally righteous, but they do not ever want to talk about His Wrath. These two actually work hand in hand if you think about it. Because of His Righteousness, he alone has the right to display his wrath:

There are two words for anger or wrath in the New Testament:

  • Thumos (Lk 4:28; Acts 19:28); this is the anger man exhibits; God doesn’t blow his top or lose his temper;
  • orgē (Lk 3:7; 21:23); Leon Morris quotes CH Dodd and says: He sees ‘wrath’ as denoting ‘some process or effect in the realm of objective facts’ rather than ‘a certain feeling or attitude of God towards us,’ God doesn’t get mad, but instead the effect of our sin puts his wrath into motion and thus ends in disaster. This is not to describe the attitude of God toward us, but to describe an inevitable process of cause and effect in a moral universe. I honestly don’t think these guys are just explaining away the wrath of God. What they’re trying do is explain to us that God’s wrath is different than ours. Our wrath is born out of emotion and feeling. If you think about it, that is why we mess up as parents. We often times punish our children out of anger and not the unrighteous rebellion act. God’s wrath is born out of his righteousness. Our wrath is directed at a person (or possibly an object; his engine, wrench, computer, etc.). God’s wrath is directed at ungodliness and unrighteousness. We just need to understand that God’s wrath isn’t the response we have when we get mad. His response is righteous and perfect.

t.s.: now before we leave the revelation of God’s wrath, I think there is another part that Paul presents to us. At first, this was point #3 for me, but as I worked through it, I saw this section as a subsection of point #2, namely,

  • The Realm from which God’s Wrath flows

exp.: ἀπ᾽ οὐρανοῦ; from heaven; ‘from’ is a preposition which describes the source from which God’s wrath comes; this is made evident in God displaying two attributes; rd v 19-20: rd v 19; is plain to them & God has shown it to them; rd v 20; namely, these two attributes:

  • His eternal Power:
  • His divine Nature:

It goes on to say that they are without excuse; these are two pieces of evidence that declare He is God! His eternal power and his divine nature. And, this evidence is so overwhelming that all are without excuse in standing before him. But people will still make excuses anyway.

ill.: Excuses are amazing, aren’t they. It isn’t just the non-believing world that makes excuses. Chuck Swindoll, in his book The Tale of the Tardy Ox Cart, writes: True sports fans have an amazing ability to remember details, statistics, and a little technicality of a rule…you know, the stuff nobody really cares to hear about except another sports fan. Another characteristic of a fan is an indomitable sense of commitment or determination. Against incredible odds, sound logic and even medical advice, sports fans will persevere to the dying end!

I’ve often wondered what would happen if people were as intense and committed and determined about church as they are about sports – or a number of other pastimes. This was reinforced some years back in a Moody Monthly piece which illustrated twelve excuses a fellow might use for ‘quitting sports.’ The Analogy isn’t hard to figure out:

  1. Every time I went, they asked me for money.
  2. The people with whom I had to sit didn’t seem very friendly.
  3. The seats were too hard and uncomfortable.
  4. The coach never came to see me.
  5. The referee made a decision with which I could not agree.
  6. I was sitting with some hypocrites – they only came to see what others were wearing.
  7. Some games went into overtime, and I was late getting home.
  8. The band played numbers I had never heard before.
  9. The games are scheduled when I want to do other things.
  10. My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
  11. Since I read a book on sports, I feel like I know more than the coaches anyhow.
  12. I don’t want to take my children, because I want them to choose for themselves what sports they like best.

app.: We are a people of excuses for everything. Well, as for God’s existence and his work, people are without excuse. It doesn’t mean they won’t try to find or use some excuse.

Listen, God doesn’t judge unfairly. He doesn’t pick on the ignorant. Rd v 20; really, this seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t? How can it be invisible if it is seen? How can it be hidden, if it is evidence? But that is his point: it is evident, it is seeable, but many refuse. And that is on them. Therefore, there is no excuse.

ill.: Last Sunday night on 60 minutes there was a report on the Hubble Telescope. One of the reports was about a spot near the Big Dipper where no light had ever been seen. When I heard the report, I remembered as a young man someone talking about this dark hole and making a comment that that hole was the passage to heaven. Basically, before the Hubble telescope, there was a deep dark hole where – what looks like forever – there are no stars. Hubble was positioned to peer into that dark spot in the universe and after several days, was able to see 1,000’s of Galaxies. 1,000’s! That is truly amazing. We as humans had no idea it was out there, but when we took the time to gaze upon that area – the lights began to shine through.

app.: what was invisible was revealed. It was there all along; we just weren’t looking hard enough. It had to take time for the protons to develop on the lenses for those Galaxies to be revealed. God’s unseen attributes are perceivable if we’ll just take the time to look… to gaze upon.

t.s.: Earlier I said: His response is righteous and perfect. All who are ungodly and unrighteous deserve the wrath of God. And a natural flow would have been to go right to the recipients, which is our 3rd aspect… Paul does that now…

III. The Recipients of God’s Wrath

exp.: God’s Wrath will be poured out on or upon… ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ἀσέβειαν (ungodliness) καὶ ἀδικίαν (unrighteous) ἀνθρώπων (of men);

Don’t miss this: this ain’t about the apple! God was not mad at Adam and Eve because they ate the fruit from His tree. I told you kids to stay out of my Garden! It wasn’t the apple (or whatever fruit it was) that God prized. It was the obedience he wanted. It was the rebellion that brought the punishment. God’s wrath isn’t poured out on bad men, but on all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

C Hodge takes these two terms to be impiety toward God and unjustness toward humanity; Leon Morris says that Paul places emphasis on two areas: idolatry and immorality; and that makes sense as you figure out the context below. Both take the view or the perspective of these two actions being the vertical and horizontal relationships. But here is the point: the ungodly and the unrighteous people of the world (toward God and/or toward men) are without excuse in their actions.

ill.: If you think about it deeply, you’ll notice that this is the sum of the law: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. And, the 2nd is to love your neighbor as yourself. If you review the 10 commandments, you’ll see that the 1st part deals with your relationship with God and the 2nd part is your relationship with your neighbor. Horizontal, Vertical.

app.: The Righteousness of God’s Wrath; The Revelation of God’s Wrath; The Recipients of God’s Wrath

Conclusion: I mentioned earlier that Paul is answering an unasked question: Why is the Gospel needed?

This past week the magazine GQ published an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. He was asked in an interview a simple, straightforward, 4-word question about Gay Marriage. Basically, the Archbishop hem-hawed around and told the man how he felt, but he just could never give a straight answer. What makes this so bad is that the article begins with the following description:

In a time of deep spiritual turmoil – from seemingly ceaseless terrorist attacks to the tragically handled refugee crisis – the leader of the Church of England Archbishop Justin Welby has managed to keep the faith. Politically astute, compassionate and candid, he gives us the gospel truth on Brexit, gay marriage and how he feels about planning for the Queen’s Funeral.

The Gospel Truth? Really? The Archbishop of Canterbury, basically the pope for the Episcopal denomination, couldn’t give a straightforward, Biblical answer for what is sinful. He didn’t want to be judgmental and condemning.

Our text today clarifies for us that judging isn’t our job – it’s God’s job! He is the one who outlines for us what is righteous and unrighteous – what is godly and ungodly. The question posed to the Archbishop was the wrong question or the answer the Archbishop gave was the wrong answer. The Archbishop should have clarified and asked: do you want to know how I feel or what the Bible says? You see, those are two very different answers.

The Journalist’s question to the Archbishop is very much like the interview that took place in the garden. Picture the serpent with his iPhone recording the conversation: Eve, Eve, Eve! Yes, ma’am. Thank you for taking my question. Did God really say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” You see, the journalist is really asking the wrong question. Just like Satan did.

Application: here’s what I want you to take home with you today:

  1. Satan wants to make it about the fruit. God wants to make it about the heart. That’s why the Gospel is needed…

If you make it all about the fruit, you can then focus on legalism, rules and regulations. But God makes it all about the heart – and that’s why you and I need a savior. Otherwise, any comic book hero will do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Romans, Sermons, Wrath of God


Romans 1.16-17

Introduction: (Read) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In these two verses, the Gospel’s objective is presented in a couple of sentences. The Gospel is God’s power at work bringing salvation to all who put their faith in Him. It really is that simple: I mean, Believe God in what he said and what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust him: that he has done all that he has done through Christ and you’ll have salvation. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done.

  1. Trust Him and you’ll experience the Power of the Gospel through Salvation.
  2. Believe Him and you’ll experience the Provision of the Gospel through Forgiveness.
  3. Put your faith in Him and you become the Proof of the Gospel through a life lived righteously.

These verses teach us that the only way to attain salvation is to be perfectly righteous. Now, on your own, that is impossible. The Law has demonstrated this for us. We’re all sinners and we can’t obey the Law perfectly. But now, the righteousness of God has been revealed to us: how do you become righteous in the eyes of God? By believing the Gospel!

This is so easy for me to tell you, but it sure was hard for me to grasp as a young boy and someone who struggled with trust. Yes, to put it mildly, I had trust issues. I came forward and got saved every Sunday practically. Why would God love and save me?

But that is what the Gospel or Good News is: God loves you and did everything to save you. You just have to trust him. You trust him with your words, you trust him with you actions, you trust him with you life.

The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is basically summed up in 1 Cor 15.3-4: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures – as had been foretold in the Old Testament.

Now, with that in mind, let us look at our passage for today a little closer – read it with me: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Transition: Within this passage we see The Gospel’s Power, The Gospel’s Provision and The Gospel’s Proof. Let’s begin with the first point…

I. The Power of the Gospel is Salvation (16)

exp.: The Gospel is God’s power displayed in people’s lives: God’s power saving those who believe; The Gospel’s power is demonstrated through the salvation of people. Paul says here that he isn’t ashamed of the Gospel, because it (The Gospel) is the power of God for salvation – for everyone who believes. There is no power outside of God’s Power that can bring you salvation. None.

Ill.: World magazine reported of an elderly Chinese woman who through her superstitions thought she’d have safe travels if she threw some coins into the airplane’s jet engine. Coins and a jet engine don’t mix!

  • You can’t buy salvation with your money anymore than you can throw coins in a jet engine and expect it to carry you to your destination.
  • You can’t earn salvation with your good works;
  • You can’t steal it;
  • You can’t get lucky somehow on you own and win it through some lottery;
  • You can’t get gain it through someone else’s work or charm.

Our very best – the most righteous we can be on our own is as filthy rags before God. Isa. 64.6

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

ill.: Years ago Lisa and I watched a movie about a man who was held by the Russian Govt. trying to get him to confess crimes that he didn’t commit. He was cruelly mistreated in efforts to get him to confess. He was left in a dungeon without the proper food for the longest period of time. His clothes became soiled and nasty.

Over the weeks, this man grew a wire-y beard and his hair grew long and oily and his clothes basically rotted on him. Still he refused to ‘confess’. Then one day they came and got him. They cleaned him up. They gave him new clothes, a fresh haircut and cut his beard. They brought out a steak dinner and he ate like a king.

Then, they asked him to ‘confess’. But he refused. What broke him was when he was forced to put his nasty soiled, polluted clothes back on. He just couldn’t. He confessed.

app.: I think of his clothes and the difference from the nasty, grimy dungeon to that clean, sterile environment and how he broke when he was forced to put those polluted garments back on.

Can I say that this verse in Isaiah 64 – without getting too graphic, is even worse than what I’ve just described? Imagine with me if you will a situation at the hospital. Most of you have been in hospitals before. There is usually a bin marked ‘soiled linens’. Workers come in and remove sheets and gowns that have blood and urine and fecal matter on them. They clean up the patient and give them fresh linens. These workers take the ‘soiled linens’ and put them in that particular bin. Can you imagine being moved to a new room and your nurse digging through that soiled bin to find something for you to wear? Taking some sheets from their and making your bed.

That’s the picture Isaiah is painting when he says our righteousness is like ‘soiled linens’ …

The Gospel is God’s power at work in the lives of people. It is saving us from our sins and making us like a pure, clean garment. You see that in the rest of this sentence: to everyone who believes. As I stated previously: Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust that he has placed your sin upon Christ who died for you. Trust him that he has placed all of Christ’s righteousness on you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Place your trust in him and you are saved.

t.s.: that’s the Gospel’s power – saving you through faith. 2nd,

II. The Provision of the Gospel is Forgiveness (17)

exp.: Righteousness through forgiveness: The passage reads: For in it (i.e.: the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed… what that means is that God makes us righteous – that is, His righteousness is credited to us. You see, we’re sinners. We’re conceived in our momma’s wombs that way.

Ill.: one of the lessons in Starting Points, the class I teach at Venture, over the last few weeks has been that sin has been passed down to every human from Adam. That sin separates us from God because he is perfectly righteous and has no sin. We are conceived that way. And the only way to have a relationship with God is that we must be righteous – we must be forgiven of the sins that separate us from God.

A couple of chapters from here, in 3.21-22, Paul explains more about this righteousness. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. You see, what Paul is saying to us is that this righteousness could only be attained through the perfect obedience to the Law. But what the Law did, was show us that we can’t be perfect – we can’t obey the Law perfectly. So, God made a way – apart from the Law – through the Gospel, we can have this righteousness poured out on us. See v 22: The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

ill.: in that class, Starting Points, the students are learning the definition of certain words: Atonement, Propitiation, etc. The word Atonement means simply “to cover”. And I think of Genesis 3 when I hear those words. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. They had tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. In their new sinful state, they knew they naked and they were ashamed. Yet their attempt to cover themselves was so inadequate. So, God covered them. He did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves.

app.: That is such a small picture of God’s provision in comparison to the provision of covering us through Christ’s great sacrifice. For Adam and Eve, animals would have been killed to provide the skin covering. For you and me, Christ died, providing for us what we need because our attempts to cover ourselves would be totally inadequate.

t.s: That’s the Gospel’s Provision – making you righteous in God’s eyes – if you’ll trust and believe Him. Finally, we see the Gospel’s Proof through a life lived in faith.

III. The Proof of the Gospel is Righteousness (17)

exp.: the Gospel’s proof in a person’s life is simply this: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith. What I love about this quote is that it is from the Old Testament. When NT writers quote OT passages it gives us insight into what those passages mean and what that NT writer was trying to communicate. With Habakkuk’s help, which by the way, he’s quoting God there, we understand that Paul is communicating to us that our lives reflect the decision and commitment we’ve made. Let me repeat that: our lives reflect the decision and commitment we’ve made.A righteous life demonstrates that someone has found the forgiveness of God and is now living according to God’s plan.

ill.: It’s like this – you say, God, I’m tired of living my life the way I want. I’ve made a mess of things. I want to live this life the way you’ve designed. I want to live life according to your plan. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my life and change me.

app.: it’s really that simple. The Gospel is the power of God at work in your life, bring you forgiveness and making you righteous, calling you to live your new life in righteousness – demonstrating your new commitment. This, of course, comes to you free of charge on your part, but paid in full through the sacrifice of Christ.


I read a story a couple of weeks ago about a mom whose child had gone missing. A search was made. In Africa, where the local animals eat children, time was of the essence. The child was found. It turns out that she had fallen into a pit. I didn’t fully understand what the pit was. It sounded like a trap for capturing animals. Anyway, this mom found her child, but the child starting screaming because there was a venomous viper in the pit. Without hesitating, the mom jumped into the pit to come between this viper and her child.

The viper did bite the mom, but it also bit the child. Both mom and child were taken out and rushed to a hospital in the nearest city. There really was no hope for them both because this viper is a killer and had bitten both. But as it turned out, mom died, but the child lived.

The people were shocked. How could the child live with this venomous killer biting her? It didn’t seem possible. The doctor explained: yes, both were bitten, but the mother took all of the venom. When the snake bit the child, there was no more venom to harm the child.

It made me think that this story is very similar to what Christ did for us: he took the venom of sin’s bite, as it were. The death that should be ours, became his. And the life that was his, has become ours when we believe.

Application: So, what do we do about this?

I. Respond in faith: Peter said to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved. This is Wonderful news. The best response you can make is take advantage of this moment and give your life to Christ. I don’t care how old you, where you’re from, or what you’ve done. If you’ve never accepted Christ, let today be the day. The greatest gift you can give your kids is to give them the assurance that they’re momma or daddy is saved.

  • The Gospel is God’s power for Salvation to everyone who believes.
    • God can save you, it is just a question of whether you believe it or not.
    • If you believe (have faith, trust) that what he says to you is true.
  1. You’re a sinner.
  2. The punishment of your sin is death (eternal death).
  3. Jesus paid your penalty when he died on the cross.
  4. Place your faith (trust, belief) in Christ and all of your sin is placed on him and all of his righteousness is placed on you.
    • Then you will be saved.

II. Share this good news with others. There are so many out there who don’t know Christ. They’ve never experienced this forgiveness I’m talking about. I’ve met a couple of people over the past month who’ve said they came to Christ at a later age. They assumed they were saved before. Lived a good life. Came to church, and had been baptized as a child. But, there was something missing. After an internal audit, they came to the realization that if they died they weren’t sure if they would actually spend eternity in heaven.

Let me ask you: if you were standing at heavens gate and knocked on those great gates, when God answered by asking why should I let you into my heaven. If you don’t know that answer, or unsure of what you’d say, please get that nailed down today. Don’t put it to chance. Don’t think that you’d be too embarrassed to stand before the church and admit it.

Respond in faith: share the good news yourself and the best way to do that…

III. Live a righteous life by faith. That’s what the righteous do. The best testimony is the one where a person’s words match his life. Trust Christ – especially when life is hard. Trust that He knows what he’s doing.

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Romans, Sermons, The Gospel