Category Archives: The Gospel

Romans 7.1-6

Title: Praise for Redemption

Text: Romans 7.1-6

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

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

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

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

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

And there are more evidence of this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 That is why it depends on faith…

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

6.1: sets the topic as Sin

6.2: We died to sin

6.4: we might walk in newness of life

6.7: he who has died is freed from sin

Compare w/:

7.1: Sets the topic as Law

7.4: You have died to the law

7.6: we might serve in newness of the spirit

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My first goal today is to point out this principle.

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

I.     The Principle (1)

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

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

II.    The Illustration (2-3)

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

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

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

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

III.   The Application (4-6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 6.15-22

Title: What does sanctification look like in people?

Text: Romans 6.15-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

I.     In rejecting a sinful lifestyle (16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

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

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

Rd v 19-22; Two types of fruit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application:

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

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

Romans 6.14

Title: No longer under law, but under grace!

Text: Romans 6.15-23

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

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

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

The list could go on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. You are enemies with God. (3.10)

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

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

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

t.s.: third,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Application:

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

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

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

Romans 6.1-14

Title: Live Like You’re Dying!

Text: Romans 6.1-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We probably think this is absurd, but that’s because we’ve been studying this for … well, our whole lives. But in that 1st century, when Jews would confront Paul about this new life in Christ, they were thinking of the law. The Law was everything to them. Paul was teaching what the church had already decided some years before as more and more Gentiles were being saved: we don’t have to follow the law anymore – we’ve been set free from those burdens. The church said, there are four areas of concern from the Law that Gentiles who have become Christians should follow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So you have your answer: No, you don’t go on sinning, because God is sanctifying you, preparing you for eternal life. Now, how did Paul get there? We looked at the first part last week in v. 1-11…

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

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

Paul presents two questions to refute this line of thinking:

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

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

Is this passage about the ordinance of baptism?

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

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

The word Baptize (βαπτίζω) means to immerse.

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

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

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

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

βαπτίζω = Baptize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we must do! (12-14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

t.s.:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Evangelism, Romans, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel

Psalm 19

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

Text: Psalm 19

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

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

He said, “for your cancer.”

“I don’t have cancer.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1         The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

2         Day to day pours out speech,

and night to night reveals knowledge.

3         There is no speech, nor are there words,

whose voice is not heard.

4         Their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,

5         which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

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

6         Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them,

and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

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

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

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

The Artistry of Creation is a proclamation that God exists.

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

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

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

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

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

7         The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure,

making wise the simple;

8         the precepts of the Lord are right,

rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure,

enlightening the eyes;

9         the fear of the Lord is clean,

enduring forever;

the rules of the Lord are true,

and righteous altogether.

10         More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey

and drippings of the honeycomb.

11         Moreover, by them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

exp.: rd with me v 12-13;

12         Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13         Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.

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

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

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

We see it in the picture of a baptism…

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

ill.: Chase’s baptism…

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

Application: God’s is communicating to you

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

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Service for Scotty Calhoun

Service for Scotty Calhoun

20 April 2018

 

Song: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands played over the speaker system

Prayer & Scripture Reading: Psalm 121

Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Eulogy/Obituary: Mr. Scott Calhoun (Scotty), 58 of Tyler, passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in Tyler. He was born October, 16, 1959 in Tyler to Sammy Joe Calhoun and Martha Gentry Calhoun.

Scott was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Tyler, TX (I was told that Scotty and his family were the 1st folks to join Calvary when Calvary relocated to its currently location. That they actually drove downtown to the old facility just for the purpose of joining, knowing they were moving south to Old Jacksonville Hwy. The Obituary reads that Scotty lived at Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

Scott was preceded in death by parents, uncle, Paul Gentry, grandparents, Joe and Gladys Gentry and Park and Jessie Calhoun. He is survived by his loving family including his uncle, Bill Gentry and wife Peggy of Lewisville; aunt, Alice Arnett and husband Don of Emmet, AR; cousins, Sherry DiPatri, Dick Gentry, Teresa Klembara, Lisa Ormsbee, Linda Aull, Kathie Cobb and Cindy Allen; and numerous friends from Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

Prayer by Pastor Fred

Song: Nearer, My God, to Thee

 Message: Psalm 139.13-18

This afternoon we’ve come together to celebrate. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is mourning at the loss of Scotty Calhoun. But there is celebration, too. Why? Why is there celebration?

  1. We celebrate God’s incredible love for us.

Psalm 139 is a Psalm of Praise, which highlights the wonderful works of God. They’re really too incredible to actually wrap our minds around.

        O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

                        You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

                        You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

                        Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

                        You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

                        Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.

Consider how God knows us. He knows the simple things and the complex things. He understands what we’re thinking before we even form the words to say.

ill.: When I would visit with Martha and Scotty, I have to say, there were times I didn’t understand what Scotty was saying or what he wanted. Not with Martha, she would know and she would ‘translate’ for me or explain to me what was going on. I have to say, her wisdom and experience were invaluable. She knew Scotty so well.

Do you ever wonder about your own life? Does God truly understand? Does he really know? Let me encourage you today and say yes! Even better than a mom knows her child, even deeper than a wife knows her husband, God’s knowledge of you and your life is mind blowing: v6 reads: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Transition: We gather here today to celebrate God’s incredible love us. We also gather to celebrate God’s incredible grace toward us.

  1. We celebrate God’s incredible grace toward us.

Read with me Psalm 139.7-12; Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

        If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

        If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10         even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

11         If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

12         even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

Consider then, according to the Psalmist, that wherever we go or wherever we are, God is with us. You’re never alone. Sam and Martha had an incredible plan. Sam worked while he was alive and Martha carried it over to completion. They were watching out for their boy. I feel positive they knew pretty much everything about his coming and going. And, they made sure that when they were gone, there would be someone watching over him, too. But, as believers, they knew that God was watching over him. There is no place on earth he could go that would ever take him out of God’s care.

As a preacher, my concern would be that you know this amazing principle, too. God’s Holy Spirit, once it enters us upon the invitation of the heart, never leaves us. There is no place you can go where God is not there with you also. I know, that is a double negative, but it just doesn’t sound the same worded differently. If you don’t know Christ, my plea would be that you would.

Transition: We’re here today to celebrate God’s incredible love for us, his incredible grace toward us and thirdly…

  1. We celebrate this wonderful life that God has given us.

13         For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

14         I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

15         My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16         Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

17         How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18         If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

                                       I awake, and I am still with you.

This part of the passage focuses on the word formed.

  • You formed my inward parts
  • Your eyes saw my unformed substance

Even before the sperm and the egg came together to create the first cell known as us, God knew us. God saw us before we came to be. That is mind blowing! He formed our inward parts together. Get that, now, intentionally forming every part of us to make us who we are. And we’re perfect the way God makes us.

There is more here, though, consider this third use of the word formed:

  • That all of my days (and your days) were formed for me (and for you), and written down in God’s book before even my (or your) first day came to be.

There is a scene in the Matrix where Neo goes to visit the oracle. The oracle says to Neo – don’t worry about the vase. He turns to look for the vase and bumps it. It falls and breaks. He apologizes for breaking the vase and she says: I told you not to worry about it. Then, she says: What’s really going to cook your noodle later is: would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything.

Did you know nothing is going to happen to you today that God doesn’t already know about?

Ill.: I had plans to be at the San Antonio Zoo today. My wife and I were invited home for a family get together, that our family has every Easter. This was the closest weekend when the most of us could be there together. Think about this, now: I made plans to be at the San Antonio Zoo. But while I was making those plans, God knew where I’d be and what I’d be doing.

Have you ever heard the quip: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Are you someone who questions God’s plan for your life? I hope you won’t and I hope you don’t. Because we never know why things happen the way they do.

I’m often time confounded by the world’s smartest people who will spend millions of dollars to send a probe into space to look for life out there on Mars or some other remote part of the Universe. And yet, these same smart people will not choose life when it comes to people who aren’t like them. They miss the fact that we’re all made the way we’re made for God’s glory.

Did you know that in the last 30 years, the life expectancy of someone born with Down syndrome has increased from 25 years to 55 years. Medical advances have created the possibility where babies can be born without heart defects, colon and intestinal problems, cleft lips and cleft palates. Surgery can actually be done in the womb and there are no physical scars when the child is born! And still, with all of these technological and medical advances, the smart people out there are working to stop these children from ever being born. And worse, there is a movement to end their lives prematurely.

States are moving at an alarming rate to approve euthanasia for those whose lives are lived outside of the ‘normal’ boundaries.

Listen, God’s blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Most of the blessings we receive are from those gifts we would have never expected.

I want to take this moment before I close to give a shout out to Breckenridge Village and the wonderful people who work there. You folks are the best. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry to our families! Do you let youth groups and volunteers come help? What a great mission project for your church. What an opportunity to pull out your check book and donate to a Christian Cause that truly blesses others.

Closing:

Once upon a time, there was a farmer in the central region of China. He didn’t have a lot of money and, instead of a tractor, he used an old horse to plow his field.

One afternoon, while working in the field, the horse dropped dead. Everyone in the village said, “Oh, what a horrible thing to happen.” The farmer said simply, “We’ll see.”

He was so at peace and so calm, that everyone in the village got together and, admiring his attitude, gave him a new horse as a gift.

Everyone’s reaction now was, “What a lucky man.” And the farmer said, “We’ll see.”

A couple days later, the new horse jumped a fence and ran away. Everyone in the village shook their heads and said, “What a poor fellow!”

The farmer smiled and said, “We’ll see.”

Eventually, the horse found his way home, and brought with him another horse that had been out in the wilderness. Everyone again said, “What a blessed man.” He lost his horse and now he has two!

The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

The farmer’s son went out to break and train the new horse when he was thrown and broke his leg. Everyone in the village said, “What a shame for the poor boy.”

The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

Two days later, the army came into the village to draft new recruits. When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they decided not to recruit him.

Everyone said, “What a fortunate young man.”

The farmer smiled again – and said, “We’ll see.”

Moral of the story: We have no idea what the circumstances we find ourselves in today will be for us tomorrow. There’s no use in overreacting to the events and circumstances of our everyday lives. We must trust that God has “formed our days” and written them down in his book – before even one of those days came to be. We must trust that God is going to glorify himself in and through our lives. And we have evidence of his goodness in the life of Scotty Calhoun. We are better people because we knew him. Both he and his family have profoundly influenced our lives for the good.

Prayer:

Song: How Great Thou Art

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Romans 5.5

Title: The Love of God

Text: Romans 5.5

Opening story: We’re in Romans chapter 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so glad God gave us both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two words in our verse tell us this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the English you have these two phrases:

  • Has been poured
  • Has been given

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was famous among SEAL’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Inexcusable Guilt of All Mankind

Title: The Inexcusable Guilt of All Mankind

Text: Romans 3.19-20

Introduction: This morning we’re in Romans 3. The only other text I’m planning to go to is Romans 7.

I watched the movie: The Case for Christ. It was a good movie, I recommend it. Highly. There is a lot of information given in the movie about Jesus. Historical, scientific, archeological, and the list goes on. Lee Strobel is an Award winning American Journalist whose wife comes to Christ. Both he and his wife were atheists before her life shattering decision to follow Christ. And so to bring her back to her senses, he decides to appeal to her intellect. After all of his research, he is drawn to this conclusion that everything he has studied about Christ points to the fact that he was a real man who died on the cross, was buried and resurrected on the third day.

At the absolute climax of the movie, the musical orchestration is at it height and Strobel has been working through all of the answers he’s found, he asks the big question: why? Why did he die? Why did he endure all that he did – all of the suffering, the cat of 9 tails, the beating with the rod, the dying on the cross – why did he endure it all if he was God? Why didn’t he use his power and stop it all – save himself?

I know you know the answer and so I don’t feel like this is a movie spoiler alert at all – but, at the moment this movie, this really good movie presents the answer, I felt like it just flopped. For me, anyway, it just flopped because the movie missed something vital to the gospel message.

The answer the movie gave – one word: love. And Lee was overcome. That is probably why it played out that way, because it was his experience. But what the movie failed to present was the fact that the sacrifice of Jesus was and is our payment for our sin. Why did Jesus die? Yes, God did it all because he loves us. But, his demonstration of that love was to pay the penalty that our sin has demanded of us: death.

For the wages of sin is death. That’s a sad story. That’s an offensive story. No one wants to hear that they’re sinners. Everyone wants to talk about love.

We come to the conclusion of this section 1.18-3.20 where Paul will make a final summary statement before presenting the hope of this desperate situation we all find ourselves in.

Here is his summary statement and I’m reading Romans 3.19-20:

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

An outline can be broken down as follows:

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law,

so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight,

since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Transition: What we’ll do this morning is walk through each of these steps as they build on each other. This is what we know: the law speaks; in order that; because; because. Let’s look at Paul’s first statement – what we know.

I.     The Conclusion of the Matter: The Law speaks to those under the law (19a)

exp.: 19a Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law… How are we to understand this? Well, if we break it down, we understand it to be saying that after three chapters so far in Romans, we’re coming to a conclusion. And, that conclusion is that we now know something for sure. We know that the law speaks to those under the law. So, this is important, the first and primary people to hear from God were the Jews. They were given this great advantage of hearing and being given responsibility for the Oracles of God (3.1). The Gentiles follow in that there is an innate understanding of God’s law. But for the Jews, they were special people with a very special experience. And that experience with the law communicates to the rest of the world that no one, not even those who are special because they were chosen by God to be his people, no one is righteous of their own accord. Even if you have the very law of God communicated to you personally and being presented with the advantage over all the rest of the world to follow God according to his requirements, you still will fall short of that perfection. You can’t.

app.: And if the Jews, who have every advantage over the Gentiles can’t, then the summary is this: No is righteous. No one does right when left to his own ability. Not one! And the law speaks that to us very clearly.

t.s.: And just why does the law speak to us all?

II.    It does so to shut people up as they stand before god: there is no excuse before God (19b)

exp.: 19b so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. “So that” shows purpose; Gk is ἵνα; This is called a ἵνα clause; Which is totally different than a Santa Claus! A ἵνα clause show the reason for the statement. This sounds very mean to say it this way, but the reason is to shut the mouths of everyone who would stand and give a defense. There is nothing to say. You stand there with the knowledge that you’re guilty.

Not only will everyone close their mouths, but then there will be accountability. The purpose of giving the law to one people (the Jews) was to silence everyone and hold everyone accountable to God. 1.20: So they are without excuse. 2.1: Therefore you have no excuse. And then there is this key word: and. Not only will every mouth be silenced before God, but then there is this issue of accountability. You will be held accountable because you have the knowledge of your sin.

Ill.: You might be thinking to yourself that everyone being held accountable to God is unfair. Some people have never heard the Gospel. Some have never heard of the Law. Paul has told them already in the previous couple of chapters that they are without excuse because God has made himself known to them in three ways: these three texts declare man’s guilt before God and that we are inexcusable before him. God has shown us three areas where he has communicated this to us:

  • Romans 1: in nature;
  • Romans 2: in conscience;
  • Romans 3: in the Law.

Therefore, everyone is without excuse. You’ve known about me through nature, through your conscience and through the law. And because of that, all excuses are taken away and everyone is left standing before God with nothing to say. And then we will all be held accountable.

t.s.: But Paul doesn’t end here, he offers more… if 19b offers the purpose – so that every mouth will be stopped and everyone held accountable, then v 20 offers the reason…

III.   Because no human being will be justified by works of the law (20a)

exp.: I love that Paul includes this last phrase… in his sight. Maybe in their own eyes they might consider themselves justified. Maybe in our own eyes we feel justified by our works! 20a For (because) by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight… “every mouth will be stopped and everyone held accountable because no human being will be justified by works of the law.” What is Paul saying exactly? He is saying the Jews are the example for the rest of the world that no human being can be justified through the works of the law. They failed miserably. Therefore, everyone who tries will also fail miserably. They may have been justified in their own eyes, but not in God’s eyes.

ill.: I’m always amazed at how people offer excuses and try to justify their actions. Tyler H. posted a Yelp review of the restaurant Sweet Dixie Chicken on October 9th. Located in Long Beach, California, Tyler said he saw an employee entering the back of the restaurant with a big bag of chicken from Popeye’s Chicken and he wondered if they actually served it. So he ordered the chicken for $13.95 and asked the waiter how they cooked their chicken. After checking in the back, he told them they order their chicken from Popeye’s. The owner of the restaurant said she was proud to serve Popeye’s chicken that she bought her gumbo from the local farmer’s market and doesn’t mill her own flour.

app.: You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: yes, we never imagined you’d mill your own flour or make your own sugar, but we sure thought you mixed all of those things up to create your own meals! She actually feels justified in her answers.

app.: But it won’t be that way on that final day when we all stand before the Lord. Not one word will be spoken. No excuses given. No one can say that they are justified in their actions. You might be thinking to yourself: And, why not? I mean, why would God give the Law if no one could actually be justified by keeping? Isn’t it possible to say that if anyone actually kept the law perfectly, wouldn’t he or she be justified before God? Was God lying when he gave the law?

t.s.: No! Paul explains this in his last phrase…

IV.    The only thing the law does is teach us what sin is because no one can actually keep it (20b)

exp.: But this is an important juncture. You see, it isn’t simply about information of sin, but it is an awareness that one cannot avoid sinning. That’s a deep cut! We know this because of the word in 19a: οἶδα; it is a more intimate knowledge from experience than the other common word for know: γνῶσις. 20b since through the law comes knowledge of sin. This is the heart of the matter: the law brings a knowledge of sin, but it is more than just information. This information is meant to lead us to repentance. God shows the law and we become knowledgeable about sin.

ill.: This past week my students in Venture had to read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. In the story a lawyer named Utterson is responsible for a letter given to him by a doctor who is a common friend between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Utterson. It is sealed and the instructions are to not open the letter until this Dr. friend has passed away. At first Utterson didn’t know the letter existed. So, no temptation. Knowing its existence was one thing, but once he found out that he couldn’t open it until… Oh, man. I was screaming at the book: just open the letter! Information about something piques one’s curiosity.

Listen to Romans 7: 7-12: What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

app.: When we become aware of something, that’s when we’re tempted to fall into it.

t.s.: And that’s just what Paul has been saying: No human being will be justified by works of the law because the Jews have demonstrated for us that it is impossible to perfectly keep the law. And because of this, every human being will be silenced before God and held accountable.

Conclusion: That is scary in itself. Standing before God to be held accountable for every careless word, every thoughtless deed. And, if that were the end of the story, you and I would have no hope. But it isn’t. You see v 21 is coming and with it, hope: But now…a righteousness of God has been revealed. What? You can be righteous without the law?

That’s why I was so disappointed with Stobel’s film. It’s a good movie and you should definitely pop some popcorn and watch it. But, if you invite a lost friend over to watch it with you, which you should definitely do, you should add this part, because its not in the movie: Jesus demonstrated his love for us by dying on the cross, but the reason he did it was to pay the penalty for our sins. He did what we could never do. He was the only one who fit the requirement as established by the law.

Application:

  1. Everyone is guilty before God.
  2. No one will be able to say a word before him.
  3. Everyone will be held accountable for what has been revealed to the world.
    1. Whether in nature
    2. Or through conscience
    3. Or through the law
  4. Remember, there is hope – and his name is Jesus. He’s the reason for this season of celebration. We give gifts because he is the greatest gift giver. We sing songs because he has put a song in our hearts. We celebrate because he has given us hope.

In a moment we’ll break for fellowship and have some cookies and coffee. I want to invite you back to the cornerstone area to visit with either me or a staff member or an elder. If you’ve never invited Christ into your life and found the forgiveness of sins, let us share with you how you can do that. Maybe you’re looking for a church home or you just have some questions: come visit with us.

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

FROM FAITH – FOR FAITH

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.

Conclusion:

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.

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Filed under Faith, Romans, Sermons, The Gospel