Category Archives: The Gospel

1 Timothy 1.12-17

Title: Jesus Came to Save Sinners

Text: 1 Timothy 1.12-17

 

Introduction: One of the things I miss about having church on Sunday night is that it is so relaxed. The music, the conversation… really everything. I miss people sharing Scripture and the specials from children and others who might not normally sing on a Sunday morning. But what I miss most is the testimony time. Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, testimonies were more about the person rough life than about the grace and mercy of Christ. But that is more the exception than the rule. I tell you, I worship when I hear a powerful testimony to the grace and mercy of God. I really do. Something in my spirit is moved.

As we’ve made our way through 1 Timothy we’ve seen Paul charge Timothy with the task of confronting teachers who present unsound, unhealthy doctrine. But now Paul takes a break to insert this… almost parenthetical statement about the joy and privilege of serving Christ and this statement culminates in a glorious doxology.

Transition: But get this, that even in Paul’s Testimony, the story isn’t about him. It is about Christ. This is what Paul wants you to see – He wants you to see Christ. First, he wants you to see:

I.     The Mercy of Christ (12-13):

exp.: rd v 12; Paul expresses his Gratitude toward Christ for his incredible mercy in appointing Paul into Christian Service: Look at how Paul points to Christ…The Mercy of Christ is evident in the following actions:

  • Christ has strengthened him (lit.; empowered me): rd v 12; Timothy, you’ve been called to this work and this is my experience in the work: Christ has empowered me to do this ministry which he has called me to do.

app.: I know I usually give my applications at the end, but can I just stop right here and say, wow! What an incredible application for us. Christ will give you what you need to accomplish the mission he tasks you with! Provision is such an important lesson to learn.

ill.: Phil 4.10-13; context – the context is God’s provision for Paul; that also means strength to enure when it seems you have nothing;

  • Christ has judged him faithful (lit.: considered or thought me faithful; NASB)
  • Christ has appointed him to this ministry; this echoes v 1; an apostle; commissioned; And this is where we see the mercy of Christ; appointed to this ministry, this service (διακονίαν) in spite of the fact that…
    • All of this in spite of the fact that he, himself felt that he was so undeserving of Christ’s mercy. Rd v 13; He says: I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent
    • The Reason: He had acted ignorantly and in unbelief

ill.: we saw that in the passage John read for us earlier; there at the stoning of Stephen, giving approval Acts 7.54-8.3;

app.: Mercy is such a beautiful word – mercy displayed through equipping Paul and empowering him to do this blessed ministry.

t.s.: So first, Paul wants us to see the Mercy of Christ in his life – in spite of who Paul was and how he had acted as a non-believer. Secondly, Paul wants us to see

II.    The Grace of Christ (14-16):

exp.: Paul’s displays his Attitude toward the Gospel because of the grace of Christ toward him: (Christ’s Amazing Grace toward Paul);

exp.: rd v 14a; overflowed like, in superabundance; According to Gordan Knight, this grace, which overflows in superabundance, not only forgives and strengthens, but it moves one into a sphere of faith and love – and better, it keeps one in that sphere. But listen, to Calvin on this…

faith and love may be referring to God… I opt for a more straightforward exposition. Faith and love bear witness to God’s grace that has just been referred to, so nobody will conclude that Paul is boasting for no good reason. Faith is contrasted with Paul’s unbelief (v13); Love in Christ is contrasted with the cruel persecution Paul had handed out to believers. It is as if he was now saying that God had transformed him and he was now a new person.

That’s pretty deep if you ponder on it for a bit. Christ, in all of his mercy and grace, gives the believer the faith and love he or she now needs to live this Christian life. I think this matches what Paul teaches to the Romans in Romans 5.

And to add strength to this, Paul now seems to quote a popular saying: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Ill.: Philip Ryken tells of how modern-day worship leaders have taken to changing words in hymns to make them more palatable. One example he gives is: Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved and strengthens me. Which, sounds harmless at first. But, the point Ryken makes is that people don’t want to be considered wretches. They’re basically saying God’s amazing grace reaches to them, but that they’re pretty good people – not wretches. And then Ryken goes on to quote Brian Ragan: Grace is amazing because it saves wretches, not because it puts a final polish on nice people.

What we need to do is see ourselves as Paul sees himself. He, himself, was an example of Christ’s incredible patience toward the hardest sinner. I think the way you and I do that is to see ourselves in light of Christ. I think you do that when you see who Christ is in all of his holiness and purity and glory. And, we then see ourselves in comparison to him – then, we’ll understand the term wretched.

Ill.: it is kind of like having a standard for jumping. We might think we’re pretty good jumpers for someone our age, but the truth is there is someone who jumps higher and farther than we do. Jason, or Blake. If we were that way we’d be happy to jump high and we’d compare ourselves to others that we’re better than and strive to be like those who are better than us.

Back in Harlingen, we had a gym. I’m sure they still do. I was minister of youth and recreation, so I hosted a basketball game at lunch. We had a group of guys who would take lunch and come to play basketball. It was so much fun. There was always a lot of trash talking and fouling, traveling – basic rule-breaking. But, nobody ever believed he was actually at fault. Including myself! So I set up a camera to record our game. I placed it up on the 2nd floor and videoed our lunch hour game. Afterward, I told everyone what I did and most of the guys wanted to stay and watch. I knew I recorded it and was still embarrassed at what I saw. That was at least 25 years ago and I couldn’t believe how pitiful I looked. I’m so used to seeing the pros move and jump and run.

But here’s the thing: the standard in jumping is to jump as high as Lebron James! The stand is to jump up and touch the moon! And no one can do that – we all fall short of the standard – if that were the case.

The reality is that the standard is Holiness – and all of us fall short of the glory of God in that category, too! Only one person met the standard: Christ! But look at how incredible this grace and mercy is toward him in v16; rd v 16; Wow! That’s’ a beautiful picture of the Messiah.

Transition: Once we see ourselves that way and we realize just what He has done for us – his incredible patience toward us, we can’t help but break out in Worship… and that is exactly what Paul does in v 17.

III.   Doxology: The Magnitude of Paul’s Praise to Christ for His great mercy and grace.

exp.: we see that in v 17; rd v 17; this is a sermon in itself. We could set aside this verse, break it down phrase by phrase, word by word and create a sermon series on the glory and majesty of the Father. That actually sounds fun! 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

So, what did we learn today? What will you take with you when we go our separate ways?

Take-a-ways:

  1. I want you to think about the attributes of Christ as Paul presents Christ in his testimony: strengthens, empowers, provides, patient, loving, faithful, He doesn’t give us what we deserve and He gives us what we don’t deserve. You’ve probably heard this little ring before:
    1. Mercy: not getting what we deserve; Paul describes his experience of calling to this incredible service as ‘mercy’. He deserved was what he had dished out to others. He counted it as a blessing to suffer for Christ.
    2. Grace: getting what we don’t deserve; Paul describes his experience of salvation as ‘grace’ toward him. He did not deserve salvation or the privilege of serving the Master. But really, who does? Who is?
  2. I’m glad Samaritan’s Purse was here today with us. I’m grateful for their ministry and the opportunity we have to participate. But I want to caution you: don’t think that the sum of your Christian service is sending shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts to children. Because serving can feel good. Helping out at helping hand can stroke your ego. Those are good things, but that isn’t what saves you. It should be what you do because of who you are.
    1. The Trustees and I are planning to meet soon to talk strategy for the upcoming year. We want to encourage missions and evangelism. That is all part of the plan. But don’t rely on that to make you feel good about yourself and your Christianity.
    2. It isn’t that you don’t do them then, but that you do those ministries with the right intentions.
    3. Isn’t it odd or peculiar that Paul considers it ‘mercy’ that Christ would allow Paul to suffer as he had caused others to suffer? It brings up a great question about what does it mean to suffer and do we see that as God’s mercy in our lives?
    4. I think we often see mercy as God doing something wonderful in our lives – but what about suffering for him in accomplishing the ministry he’s called us to…
    5. What does it mean that the disciples… left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Or, when Paul says… Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
    6. How crazy, right? To see God’s mercy in suffering for Him and His glory! It’s Gut-check time.
  3. I think of Paul’s statement about the perfect patience of Christ. Peter says the same thing – it isn’t that the Lord is slack in returning, it’s that he is displaying his perfect patience toward us. If you sit here today and you’ve never committed your life to Christ, that should move you, that he has delayed his return to give you more time.

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Timothy, Authenticity, Christian Living, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel

1 Timothy 1.8-11

Title: What do we know about the Law?

Text: 1 Timothy 1.8-11

What do we know about the Law?

The answer is honestly…very little. And, what we do know about the law we oftentimes don’t really understand. Or, we misuse it.

When one thinks about the law, that person usually thinks of it in negative terms. But the Bible doesn’t refer to the law in negative terms. Not really… consider:

Does this sound familiar:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Or this one:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 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.

If you read Psalm 119 regularly, you might be familiar with this one: 97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

Do we just throw out the Law as Christians? I mean, it is the Old Testament, right?

No! Because, the law does some truly wonderful work for us. Listen to what Paul writes in Galatians.

19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

So, we can’t gain righteousness through the Law, but it still serves a purpose. The theme of Romans 8 is that we aren’t to live by the law anymore, but rather by the Spirit, whom God has given us when we become Christians.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.

And just how did he do that? We continue in Romans 8: By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

We’re in 1 Tim 1. We’ve only just begun our study in 1st Timothy. Paul writes this letter for Timothy to encourage him to take a strong stand against false teachers. That is clear in v3-4; In v5-7 we are reminded, as we consider the law, of what the goal is supposed to be. Rd v 5; Love! Love.

Don’t forget that. It is so easy to do! Maybe people start off with love in mind, but it quickly disintegrates into anger and bitterness and defensiveness. It becomes a goal of winning an argument and being right.

Ill.: I remember after seminary learning about the Catholic Church and finding some truly wonderful practices about the Catholic Church. I met Father Dan Crawford, an Episcopalian Priest, who mentored me. It seemed to me that seminary training for me was more about what they did wrong and why the Reformation was launched. I knew about our differences, but not anything about what we hold in common. For me, it felt so much about being able to defend our differences and to win an argument if I debated someone who is Catholic or Episcopalian or Pentecostal. Maybe we need to stop being so argumentative and we need to start listening more.

Here’s where I’m going with this:

  • There are some people we feel comfortable worshiping with because they are just like us.
  • There are some people we wouldn’t feel comfortable worshiping with because they’re different.
  • But there are some people who are so different, that we would say, “That isn’t even Christian.”

But, in every instance where it comes to doctrine, this isn’t about winning arguments. It isn’t about debates. Paul reminds us here: it is all about love.

Certain men, teachers of the law, did not have love as their motive. 1 Timothy 6.3-10 tells us their goal was to get rich. They taught certain aspects of the law from Speculation and not true knowledge and experience. And so we pick up in v8 of 1st Timothy 1 where Paul begins up the law. So, what do we know about the Law? Well, Paul presents three facts about the law that I would like to spend the rest of the morning inspecting. The first fact, we know that…

I.     The Law is Good (8)

exp.: and we see that clearly communicated in v 8; rd v 8; how is it that? We see what looks to be a conditional clause: it is good if one uses it lawfully. So, you can use the law in an unlawful way. And I think that is what v6-7 is all about: Certain persons, by swerving from these (i.e., a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith), have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Using the law in an unlawful manner means to make confident assertions about the law that are false.

  • It means using the law for ill-gotten gain.
  • Using the law in an unlawful manner means leaving love out of the equation.
  • It means being ‘right’ in a debate. It means using others to get what you want.

Ill.: There are different types of arguments and I’m not sure any of them are good to engage in. We have speech and debate; I’m not talking about those types of things. I’m talking about the casual conversations you have with your workers, friends, and acquaintances. If you argue and push until you win – you might lose the battle of trying to win them to Christ. If something is heretical, yes, you should shed light on that. But again, what is your goal – to show how stupid they are? Or, is your goal love and you want to help that person. Those are two very different things.

app.: I shudder to think of my behavior in the past when I was quick to defend a belief or something I disagreed with. Paul establishes for us that he’s not bothered about the Law being taught because the Law is good. So, don’t be afraid of it. Instead – look for Christ in it.

t.s.: Which brings us to Paul’s next fact… The law also has purpose.

II.    The Law has Purpose (9-10)

exp.: rd v 9a: understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just (or righteous), but for the unjust or the unrighteous; and he outlines them; read them; rd v9-10;

I want you to note that these echo or parallel the 10 commandments; you might consider these a commentary by Paul on the 10 Commandments; (the first three pair follow the 1st part of the Decalogue) lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane,; (the rest of the list, the 2nd part of the Decalogue) for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine;

thou shall honor your father & mother; thou shall not murder; thou shalt not commit adultery, enslavers is lit.: ‘manstealer’ it is used to describe someone who steals people and sells them; liars – bearing false witness;

Transition: Paul moves through the purpose and goodness of the Law and shares with Timothy that their newfound Faith in Christ doesn’t go against the Law;

2nd, note that The law has purpose – it shows us what a life in Christ is like.

Ill.: Listen to John Piper as he uses Galatians 3.19-25 to explain this text: So the law, Paul says, is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious. This sounds very much like Galatians 3:19. Paul asks, “Why the Law then?” Why was it added 430 years after Abraham was justified by faith? He answers, “It was added because of transgressions.” He does not say that it was added because of righteousness. It was added because of these kinds of things we read in this list in 1 Timothy 1:9-10. The law had a special role to play in setting a rigorous, detailed standard of behavior which functioned, Paul said, to hold people imprisoned (Galatians 3:22) or under a guardian or tutor (Galatians 3:24) until Christ came and justification by faith could be focused on him. The law commanded and condemned, and pointed to a Redeemer who was to come. Then Paul says, in Galatians 3:25, “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

app.: So, it parallels the 10 Commandments and 2nd, it points us to Christ. Paul wants to establish that he’s not bothered about the Law being taught because the Law is good. Its purpose is to demonstrate life and to point to the one who was to come. It shows us our need for Christ; It shows us our sinfulness and our sin; it shows us our need for forgiveness;

t.s.: which brings us to this 3rd fact of Paul’s in what do we know about the Law? We know that (1) the law is good and we know that (2) the law has purpose. And, (3) we know that…

III.    The Law & the Gospel are in One Accord (11)

exp.: v 11; in accordance with the Gospel; that’s pretty clear; I think the converse would be true then: if you find something in the law and it doesn’t line up with the Gospel, then there is something wrong with the Gospel you’re teaching. That’s a bold statement. Am I off here? Think about this for a moment – let that sink in: if you’re teaching something from the law and it doesn’t line up with the Gospel – then there is something wrong with the Gospel you’re teaching. You’re not teaching Paul’s Gospel. You’re teaching a false Gospel. The whole phrase, the Gospel of the glory is used only one other place in Scripture: 2 Cor 4.4 – In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

ill.: If you come across a teaching that declares you can be unfaithful to your wife. That is a false gospel. If you come across a teaching that insists you can steal something because you’re entitled to it. That’s a false gospel. If you hear a teacher proclaim that God wants to give you the abundance of riches and he or she declares that to be financial riches – that’s a false gospel.

app.: The Gospel is quite clear – and the law is in accordance with it. That is just one of the facts we know about the Law: 1. It is good; 2. It has purpose and 3. It is in accordance with the Gospel.

Conclusion: In 1945 the USS Indianapolis what’s sailing in the Pacific. On one particular run, the Indianapolis sustained significant damage from a Japanese Kamikaze – a plane that uses itself as a bomb. The ship limped to a nearby Island and made what repairs she could. But the damage was significant enough that the Indianapolis was then forced to return to San Francisco for major repairs.

In 1945, many Americans believed the War was coming to an end. All indications were that was the case. Because of this, Lt. Commander John Emery used his position to pull some strings and get his son, William Friend Henry stationed to the USS Indianapolis at San Francisco. The Lt. Commander thought his son would be safe there. He thought his son would stay there in dry dock while repairs were being made. And, then, she would probably never head back out to war – the war would be over and his son would be alive. So, using his rank and his relationships with his powerful friends, he got his son transferred to Indy.

But a need arose. The powers that be needed a ship to transfer the atomic bomb to Guam. The USS Indianapolis was in a perfect place to become the ship that would transfer ‘the bomb’ – The atomic bomb that would be loaded onto the Enola Gay and then flown to Japan, where it was dropped on Hiroshima.

It was after this transfer at Guam that the Indianapolis was sent to the Philippines for some training exercises. The crew thought they were safe. Laziness and inaction by others gave the Captain of the Indianapolis a sense that they were safe. Lt. Commander John Emery thought they were safe – he thought his son was safe, but as you know – if you’ve ever seen the movie Jaws – you know it was torpedoed and sank. You know that most of the men on board that ship were killed. In an effort to save his son, the actions Lt. Commander Emery took actually brought about the death of his son.

There is another story about a Father whose actions brought about the death of his son. But this father wasn’t acting to save his son. The actions he took were intentional. He was acting to save you and me. God sent his Son, Jesus to die on the Cross of Calvary and to pay the penalty of sins for you and for me. You see, that’s the Gospel. Talk about love as the goal: that’s the Gospel.

Paul wants to establish that he’s not bothered about the Law being taught, because:

  1. The Law is good.
  2. It shows us our need for Christ.
  3. It is consistent with the Gospel.

Take-a-ways:

  1. Read the Law – it is good for you. It is a major part of your sanctification. Read a little. Meditate on one verse. Read one chapter a day. Read 5 chapters a day.
  2. Learn the Law, so that you might learn of Christ’s Character. Remember he said that he didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He fulfilled it. Perfectly. Which is my third take-a-way
  3. Live the Law – to do so would be to be like Christ. Sure, there are some hard things about the Law, but in reading them, learning them and living them out, there is great reward. Do this, because the Law is good, it has purpose and it is in accordance with the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Timothy, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel, The Law

1 Timothy 2.1-7

Title: E = P x Q

Text: 1 Tim 2.1-10

CIT (Aim): Praying for others and living a quiet, peaceful life with all godliness and holiness are the fertile grounds for fulfilling the Great Commission.

CIS: I want to encourage our congregation to speak up and tell people about Jesus and the hope we have in him.

Context: The Corporate Body – we’re not talking about individual responsibility.

Introduction: E = P x Q; Evangelism = Prayer multiplied by a Quiet, peaceful life with all godliness and dignity.

I like this title, but for sure, it needs some ‘splainin’… More on that in a moment. For now, let that ruminate for a while.

I heard the following story on RadioLab. It’s really good and goes into to so much more detail than I can this morning, so I commend the podcast to you:

I want you to go back in time with me to 1944. Go with me to 1944, up north, to Thermopolis, Wyoming some 30 miles south of where we used to live. Three miners at a place called the High Line Coal Mine, just outside of town, had stepped outside of their mine. I don’t know if they were done for the day and headed home or if they just were taking a break. But, they were standing at the entrance to the mine, just about dusk and they hear this whistling sound over their heads that ends with a loud explosion. Across the Bad Lands, about a mile away, they see this large cloud of dust. Above them, there is this floating circle. Today we’d call it a UFO – an object that is flying, but which is unidentifiable. Someone asks me: do you believe in UFO’s and I say yes. Do I believe in little green men from other planets flying around incognito: No! But, do I believe there are objects that remain unidentified by individuals. Yes. I think there are logical explanations for those things. But, that’s what this is… a floating circle. They best described it as a parachute. But that wasn’t what it was, but something they could identify it with.

They jump in their truck to follow it and do for a little while, but because it is dark, they lose sight of it soon thereafter and abandon the chase.

  • About that same time, a little boy and his daddy are working in their barn in Colorado when they hear an explosion. They run outside and there is a smoldering crater in their front yard.
  • In Wyoming, a 9-year-old boy is playing in his front yard he hears an explosion.
  • Throughout the winter of 1944, there are these strange reports about explosions, and there are sightings of these ‘parachute’ looking things in the skies.

Napa, California; Lane Deer, Montana; Detroit, Michigan, Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and the list just goes on. Everyone who sees these ‘things’ and hears these explosions come up with many different guesses to what they’ve experienced: plane crashes; gas line explosions; and you name it. But, they’re all guesses. No one knows for sure.

Until one day, Sheriff Hyde came across one these ‘parachute looking’ things and he was able to apprehend it. Sheriff Hyde is probably the quintessential sheriff; serving in Utah, just north of Salt Lake City: Stetson Hat; a giant of a man, gun on his hip. He gets a phone call from a local farmer who says there is this balloon, parachute contraption in my field, just floating around. So, the Sheriff jumps in his car and speeds out to the farm. He runs out into the field and grabs a hold of this thing. He later described it as a huge globe, paper white, and coming down from this globe are these thick 40’ ropes. Attached to the bottom is this heavy metal chandelier with bombs hanging off the bottom.

Well, the Sheriff, leaving his hat and holster and gun in his car, runs up to the ‘thing’ and grabs a rope. He hopes to maybe tie it down and keep it safe for the authorities to come and check it out. But, just as he grabs the rope, a gust of wind comes and takes the balloon up and away. But the sheriff doesn’t let go of the rope. This thing climbs higher and higher and crosses a canyon. But he doesn’t let go. He slams to the ground on the other side of the canyon and he tries to tie it off on some sort of juniper plant, but it brakes loose. He grabs hold and it takes him back across the canyon. It bounces about the field – the same one where it was earlier, but the sheriff can’t hold it down or tie it off. He’s sick and nauseated from being spun around and fighting with this thing for some time. His vision is blurry and exhausted from fighting to keep this thing down, but he doesn’t give up.

You see, he knew the government had been getting these reports of ‘parachute balloons’, the explosions, and UFO reports. But the government didn’t have any proof they really existed. Sheriff Hyde knew this was a great opportunity to lasso one. So he continued to hang on. He was eventually able to get it tied off to the root sticking out of the side of the canyon. He was the first one to actually capture one of these contraptions.

The government came and took it away and said nothing. They (the powers that be) decided that it would be best to keep it all quiet. They didn’t want to set off a panic amongst the people. So they just didn’t say anything. And not saying anything was a costly mistake.

Not saying anything. I think sometimes that not saying anything makes people talk, gossip and guess their way through problems and situations. Not saying anything hurts a situation more than just telling people. People’s imaginations are far worse than the truth. Sometimes it really is the right thing to do, but for the most part, it appears to me that just isn’t the case.

Two people in the church get sick. Both have cancer. One asks the church for prayers and tells them ways they can be praying. For sure, they don’t say everything about their illness, but enough that people are sensitive to their sickness and then they pray. The other says nothing. People start talking. What’s wrong? That start talking to each other… it turns into gossip. I don’t think that most people mean it to be hurtful, but it is what it is. People can’t help themselves, even though they should. And the very thing that the quiet, private person did not want has happened. While the first person doesn’t get gossiped about.

Not saying anything can be costly. Like in our text today…

Look at the title here: E = P x Q. Evangelism equals Prayer multiplied by a quiet, peaceful life lived out in all godliness and dignity.

Paul is writing to Timothy in this letter. He charges Timothy to say something: to confront false teachers and false doctrine. Then, in Chapter two, Paul turns to some basic practices in the church to be observed with order and oversight. These practices are important in combating false doctrine.

Now, Paul could have just listed them and been quick about it:

  • First, Pray (you see that in 2.1) and pray for everyone, including your king and other leaders.
  • And those public prayers need to be backed up with godly, honorable lives. People are watching.
  • If you desire to be an overseer, an elder, then here is your standard. Oh, and it is the same for men and women who serve as deacons in the church.

You see, four sentences and I’m through the next couple of chapters. But that isn’t Paul’s style. That isn’t Paul’s nature. He’s a teacher. So he expounds. He digresses from the topic to explain. And I’m so thankful he does.

Let’s look at these and see how I came up with this formula: E=PxQ.

The Evangelist’s life is filled with prayer and a quiet, peaceful life lived out with all godliness and dignity. How is that so? Paul tells us in the following verses. I’ve listed them as follows:

  1. The Pleasure of God in His Church (1-3)
  2. The Plan of God for His Church (4-7)

Let’s look at this first section:

I.     The Pleasure of God in His Church (1-3)

exp.: Look what he says in 2.1: rd v 1; first of all; this means the first, as in order and maybe even in importance. You either start with prayer or nothing is more important than prayer. If you ask me which one it is, I’d say, both!

Can I repeat that: It is the first thing you should do and there is probably nothing more important in your winning people to Christ than your prayers for them. Now the context here is public prayers. As the church gathers, the first thing we should do and there is nothing more important than what we do than to pray publicly for all people.

I wonder if you agree… I’d challenge anyone here this morning to stand to their feet and declare a more important component to Evangelism than prayer. Maybe you could teach me something here, something that I’m not seeing.

First of all! That’s a pretty bold statement. Paul has been going off on these false teachers and their false doctrine and then he comes to structure and order in the church. And what comes first? 1First of all, then, I urge that and Paul gives us 4 words for prayer in the church. They’re really all synonyms for prayer.

  • Supplications
  • Prayers
  • Intercessions
  • Thanksgivings

This is requests, specific request, general requests, and even gratitude. It’s all still just prayer. It’s talking to God. It is interceding on behalf of needs – and the context here is praying for people. And, Paul specifies next that these prayers be made for all people… let’s label this:

  1. A Call to Prayer: it is like the foundational way we battle false doctrine; but, I think there is more here, and that is seen in this little statement: prayers be made for all people. For sure, there is this universal idea or theme to his statement. In Jewish religious practices, the Jew would normally pray for their neighbor. Paul’s idea is pretty radical compared to what they were used to practicing. Basically, there isn’t anyone who fits outside of these parameters. I don’t think this means to be generic in your prayers: God bless everyone. Let there be peace on earth. But rather, pray for all people. Everyone you can think of. There is no one who you shouldn’t pray for.

I think Paul begins to digress here for a moment in v2. He seems to do that quite often; rd v 2; for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Let’s call this:

  1. A Call to Piety: this is holy living. You might see this as the Public’s Perception of us. This is what they see in us. So, with this in mind, I think Paul is being more specific here in what he’s talking about in prayers: this isn’t the private devotional prayer. This is public prayer. It is Public Prayer as observed by others who are watching us in our Worship Services.

ill.: Did you see that President Trump stopped by David Platt’s church this past week? It was all over the news. First, because it looked like he had a new hairstyle. Then, because some of David Platt’s church members were upset that the pastor prayed for the president! David Platt used this passage and prayed for the President. The president had stopped by that morning because he said he wanted to pray for the victims of the Virginia shooting this past week. And David prayed for the president. He didn’t know he was coming. He heard that he would be there at the worship service just a few minutes he actually showed up.

Can I chase a rabbit for a minute, that’s really right up this alley? Y’all, it doesn’t matter who the president is. He still needs our prayers. And someday, she will need our prayers. You may not agree with someone’s politics, but this hatred in the political realm is getting out of hand. I would hope that no matter what politician showed up here asking for prayers that our congregation would act appropriately. And pray for that leader.

Paul tells us why we are to do this: in order that… we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. For the Jews, this was a practice that was encouraged because often times the emperor was to be worshiped. The act of publicly praying for the emperor was encouraging and it caused those in high offices to back off of pressuring the Jews. So, first, the leadership backed off. 2nd, the leadership would be kind toward those people allowing them to lead… a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

app.: Here is Paul’s charge to them through Timothy: Pray and practice Piety. Because he continues in v 3; rd v 3; it pleases God. This is the pleasure of God in the Church: Prayer and Piety. Three P’s: Prayer, Piety, and Pleasure.

t.s.: Let’s continue… 2nd,

II.    The Plan of God in His Church (4-7)

exp.: this is good and pleases God, but more than that – it is his plan! Rd who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. So, there is this call to prayer and a call to holy living, all within the sight of lost people. And what is the result – that people would get saved. Wouldn’t you just love to please God? Pray for the salvation of all people. Right now, we’re just focusing on Who is your 1? Who is your 1? The challenge is to pray for 1 person, 1x a day, for 1 minute at 1 o’clock. This is our simple way of helping our church fulfill this charge: to pray, to practice piety, and present the gospel. Check this out: his pleasure is that we pray for all people – specifically, that, v4, they get saved by coming to a knowledge of the truth.

And then, Paul tells us how they can get saved: it’s his plan. Rd v 5; One God (holy, perfect) and us sinners; but there is a mediator who brings us together; How did he do that? rd v 6; Christ freely gave himself as a ransom.

This would be my plea to you this morning if you’ve never committed your life to Christ: God is holy and perfect. We are sinners and our sin separates us from God. I like to use a book like this to illustrate the sin that separates us. So, because we were helpless to act on our own, to remove this sin, God has sent his own son to die on the cross for our sins. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and he was raised three days later, where he ascended to be with the Father – and rules and reigns in glory.

And the Bible teaches us that if we’ll surrender our lives to him, that if we confess Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we’ll be saved.

Paul says, that was his mission, rd v 7; that’s God’s purpose for him. But, that it is also our mission. We’ve been given the Great Commission.

This is truly a beautiful passage if you just let it wash over you. God’s heart is to see all people come to him. 2 Peter 3.9 tells us that it is God’s will that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

  1. God’s Pleasure – (3-4) in a church that prays for He Desires; Salvation
  2. God’s Plan – (5-6) His Gospel; Son
  3. God’s Purpose – (7) Paul’s Mission; Sent

Transition: Can you imagine if Paul had remained silent? What if he never said a word?

Conclusion: Remember the story of the UFO’s – the unidentified flying objects? The reports came in from all over the west, but the government didn’t say anything. The military kept quiet about these UFOs.

A couple of years earlier, in April of 1942, Lt. Col. Doolittle and his band of raiders flew what was basically described as a suicide mission to Tokyo. They flew their bombers to Japan and bombed Tokyo and other places in the Japanese Islands. What that did was terrify the Japanese, who had felt safe before, but now, after this bombing mission, left them vulnerable and scared.

People in the US knew of this raid. Doolittle and his men were heroes. But, here’s what the country didn’t know. The Japanese government issued a challenge to their people: we must find a way to bomb the US mainland.

One particular day, a Japanese man was standing on the shores of his island contemplating this challenge and saw a balloon go up into the sky. He noticed it drifted eastward, toward the US. He wondered what would happen if he could launch a larger balloon. Would it rise high enough, and last long enough to make it to the US? He launched a larger balloon and noticed when it got to a certain height it would just take off and head eastward. What he didn’t know, but we do now, is there is this thing called the Jet stream. There were many trial and errors, but eventually, The Japanese govt. loved the idea and weather balloons were chosen. They had sandbags, altimeters, and bombs. The altimeters would keep them below 30,000 feet. And if they got too low, sandbags would drop, causing them to rise back up into the Jet Stream.

Now you know, that’s what those explosions were. That’s what those UFO’s were. And the US Govt. knew, but they chose not to tell the people because they didn’t want to start a panic. They had done geological tests on the sand from the sandbags and determined that not only did the sand come from Japan, but it came from a specific island. They even knew the specific beaches where this sand came from. Man, the wonders of technology. But, they didn’t say anything.

9,000 balloons were launched. And virtually none of them did any damage. None did any harm… except for this one balloon.

Bly, Oregon lies on the southern part of Oregon at the base of Gearheart Mountain. A balloon landed there. Cora Conner and her sister were invited up to the mountain for some fun. Cora’s little sister, It was Sunday, May 5, 1945. Pastor Archie Mitchell and his wife, Elsie, pregnant with their 1st child, invited some youth to go up the mountain for a picnic. …. Wanted to go because there was this guy there who liked her and he was going. …. Begged her sister to go, too, but she couldn’t because she was working the switchboard for the town.

The pastor pulled up and the youth all jumped out of the truck and ran around the area just goofing off, while Pastor Mitchell grabbed the fishing poles and picnic basket and what not. One of the young youth noticed something strange. And, he called all of the kids and Ms. Elsie over to look at this… what we know now was a downed weather balloon with its sandbags and odd looking canisters. Some 30’ in diameter, white, pale, canvas type, contraption laying on the ground. Elise called out to her husband and said that he should come over and look at this thing they’d found. He couldn’t see anything because they were all gathered around this thing – up close and tight. Pastor Archie took a couple of steps toward them when one of the youth picked up the bomb and it exploded – killing all 5 youth and Elsie and her unborn baby.

 

No one knows for sure, but what if the govt had issued warnings? What would have happened if the people knew about these weather balloons? What if they had known and immediately upon seeing it would have stayed clear until the proper authorities had gotten there? Kids are kids – and curious kids do curious things. Maybe they still would have died because they would have ignored what they knew. But what if they did stay clear because they knew. Maybe they would have lived a long and wonderful life.

The truth is we’ll never know. But this is what I do know: Evangelism isn’t evangelism if we keep silent. You can pray. You can live a godly and honorable life. But if you and I keep silent, then how will they know? Romans 10.14 asks us: 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

You’ve heard of this challenge: Who is your 1? I was so blown away this past week at the many prayer requests you guys shared with the staff – to pray for your One. I want to take that one step further. I was hoping you might join me in praying for each other’s One. Here’s how I’d like to do this.

Challenge: post the names to the cross and pray. Elders, come first, Deacons, too. And then make yourselves available to pray for and with others.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Timothy, Evangelism, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel

Romans 8.1-4

Sermon Series: The Spirit-Filled Life

Title: The Spirit of Life Brings Freedom!

Text: Romans 8.1-4

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transition: Paul then explains the process…

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

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

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

Paul is giving us some facts about the Law here.

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

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

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

How:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ill.: This is why we sang this morning:

Jesus Paid It All

I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small

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

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

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

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

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

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

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

And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete

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

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

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

Oh praise the One Who paid my debt

And raised this life up from the dead

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

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

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

There is a recent story posted by FoxNews:

It reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

1 Comment

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

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Title: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

Text: Romans 8.1

Introduction: View video.

Let me share with you the flow of my message this morning.

  • 1st, I want to talk with you about Cityfest East Texas and the opportunities we have at Calvary to be participants in this Crusade.
  • 2nd, I want to review the book of Romans up to our text: Romans 8.1. That means, I simply review chapters 1-7 – in order that we might gain some context for Paul’s great statement found in 8.1.
  • 3rd, I want to spend the remainder of my time looking at this one verse, Romans 8.1.

In the coming months, Calvary will be asked to work with other churches around the city. The goal is to partner with other churches to have a visual, positive presence in our city. There will so much to volunteer for – that is, so much work around the city. I like the idea. I really do. But, if the gospel isn’t shared, then I don’t like the idea.

Now, of course, the idea behind Cityfest is to do just that – create a positive perspective of the Church in the eyes of the lost. Then, in October, when Andrew Palau comes to Tyler, invite those folks to hear the gospel. But I hope you and I won’t wait to share. I think sharing Christ is a responsibility all the way through!

Ill.: Bud Surles was a good friend of mine when I lived in Worland, Wyoming. He was pastor of Zion Lutheran – an independent church in that town. Bud was reformed and very conservative in his theology. But, he was also very evangelistic. He had a strong opinion about how those two go hand in hand. Well, every year, our ministerial alliance used to provide Thanksgiving baskets for the poor. Many of our churches in the city would gather forces, take up collections and gather in all the goods to fill these baskets. Then, on Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, our members who show up in force, taking these baskets of food to the poor – ensuring they would have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with their families. Great ministry idea, right?

Well, one year, as we were meeting to discuss the details of what would be taking place for the Thanksgiving baskets, Bud volunteered his church to place in the basket video copies of the Jesus Film. Let me just say the liberal force was highly offended! He was shut down. Bud asked if his church could put in pamphlets on the plan of Salvation. Again, he was rejected. Finally, he said, look, we all have Bibles in our churches. Surely, we can agree to put Bibles in the baskets. Nope! I remember in frustration Bud said to the Alliance members: So what is your purpose here – to fatten them up to send them to hell?!?

I think of Bud at times like these. Bud has gone to be with the Lord. He passed away this last year. But his dogma concerning social work and evangelism has stayed with me. As a young pastor, I watched his enthusiasm for the needs of poor people matched by his desire to share Jesus with them.

So, why am I starting my sermon with this bit of information? Because: This year is a very important year in the life of Calvary Baptist Church. This year is a very important year in the life of the churches in Tyler. Cooperating with other churches in ministry is important, but not to the detriment of sharing Christ. Some people believe that being good in front of others is all you need. There are some churches that will be perfectly content with doing good work. But the truth is that none of us can be good enough to save ourselves. How can we ever hope to be good enough to save others?

Some years ago, a popular saying was being thrown around. It would preach well, and so many used it. The quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, but there is no evidence he ever said such a thing. Preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words. But there is a fallacy to this clever quip. If you read the Bible closely, you’ll see that the command is actually to preach the Gospel and to proclaim the Gospel. That isn’t to say your life should match your words. That is true. But actions alone are insufficient.

The Gospel is communicated through words.

Again, why am I bringing this up? (Because) it feels good to serve. You and I can gain a sense of accomplishment by simply helping the down and out. You can go to an area of town that is dirty and clean it up. Then, you can feel good about yourself and rest on the fact that you ‘served’. People see you in your service and smile. They make nice comments about your work. That all feels really nice. But there are two problems with that:

  1. Some of you would rather commit to 1000 hours of community service rather than spend 5 minutes sharing the Gospel with a lost person.
  2. No one gets to heaven because you’re nice or helpful.

People get to heaven because someone shares with them this incredibly good news that Christ has come into the world to save sinners; that God is holy. We are sinful and separated from him because of our sin. But, the Good news of Jesus Christ is that by repenting of our sins and placing our faith in Christ, we can be brought into a right relationship with God. People have to be told that. They don’t just see it.

Transition: We pick up in our text today in Romans Chapter 8.1. And, up to this point, Paul has been driving home the Gospel message.

Basically, this is what Paul has been saying from the beginning of his letter to the Romans, up and through Chapter 7. Let me show you what I mean. Here is a crude outline of Romans:

  • Sin                         Romans 1-2
  • Salvation              Romans 3-5
  • Sanctification      Romans 6-8
  • Sovereignty          Romans 9-11
  • Service                  Romans 12-16

So you see from this outline that we’re in the last part of the 3rd section: Sanctification. Because it has been a while since we’ve gone through this, let me take a moment to highlight the Gospel presentation in these first 7 chapters:

  • Theme: The Power of the Gospel to bring Salvation (1.16).
  • God is Holy, perfectly righteous (1.17)
  • Man is sinful, perfectly unrighteous (1.18)
  • God is just in his wrath toward us, sinners (3.8-10) We begin to see the hope of the Gospel as presented down in 3.21:
    • God’s Character of Righteousness (21-22)
    • Offense of Sin (23)
    • Sufficiency of Christ (24-25)
    • Personal Response (26) – again, he is just in his wrath toward us, and he is the justifier of the one who places their faith in Christ. This incredible story demands, commands a personal response from us. And that is really what chapter 4 is all about: justification through faith – the same faith that Abraham had.
  • Man is justified through faith in Christ. This argument reaches its climax on justification in 5.1: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And chapter 5 is that beautiful chapter on the God love and the Trinity: The Father pours his love into our hearts via the Holy Spirit (5.5) and demonstrates his love by giving his son, Jesus to die for our sins (5.8). To be justified is a declaration of God. It happens all at once. 2ndly,
  • Man is being sanctified through the continued life lived in faith in Christ. Sanctification is different than justification, in that, sanctification is a process. Justification is immediate. It is a simple declaration by God. Not guilty. Sanctification is different. Sanctification is a process we go through. God is sanctifying us in our present state. 6.19: 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. So, the idea is that you keep on presenting yourselves as slaves to righteousness, over and over again in the process. That process is sanctification. And it is a hard process. Daily, we die to the flesh and present ourselves to God.

Paul concludes chapter 7 with this war that rages throughout this process: rd 7.21-24; the answer is in 25: Jesus! Then, we come to 8.1: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Hallelujah! What a promise! Let’s look at a couple of points in this verse:

Therefore

exp.: The NASB puts this word first in the sentence. This is the word that points us forward, from whence we just came. All of what he’s said to this point has been to say: therefore. Furthermore, to understand this sentence, you must understand what was said before. That is the main reason I reviewed for us the 1st 7 chapters.

Now

exp.: Now, something has changed. It was once this way but now, it is presently no longer that way. The state and the condition of the believer are changed. There is a point in time on the timeline continuum that things have changed.

ill.: Consider that. Each of us who’ve given our lives to Christ have done so in such a way that we can identify that point. Maybe you don’t remember the date, but you probably remember the experience. Just like when I committed my life to Lisa. It wasn’t necessarily at our wedding – the truth is that I had already made that decision – that’s why the wedding took place. And, those who were there can give testimony to my commitment. And, hopefully, I’ve lived that out to the point that all of you can attest to this commitment.

app.: Now, having committed our lives to Christ, we’ve signified that, not just with baptism, but with a life lived in faithfulness. But, it all goes back to that moment. And because of that moment, we can say: Now! We no longer stand condemned!

t.s.: I think that is the emphasis Paul places in this sentence. Let me ‘splain!

“No” is the word that takes precedence in this sentence.

exp.: No is the first word in this sentence in the Gk. No condemnation! As the gospel is presented and accepted, the believer no longer stands condemned. Have you ever thought that through?

Consider this: every person is condemned to begin with. Consider John 3.16-18: 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. You see God’s purpose in sending his son in v 17 – his purpose wasn’t to condemn the world. It wasn’t? No! His purpose was to save the world. And the world could only be saved through him. Why is that? Because v 18 tells us that we’re all condemned already. We’re born that way. We’re conceived and born in sin. As sinners, we stand condemned. And, whoever does not believe in Jesus, according to v 18, is condemned already. But, as Romans 8.1 tells us, that anyone who does believe, for those who are ‘in’ Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation.

So, condemnation is the state of every human being, that is, until… until something happens to that person. When that person believes, that is, when that person puts their faith and trust in Christ… boom, at that moment, there is now, NO condemnation!

t.s.: in closing, let’s look at this last phrase…

For those who are in Christ Jesus

exp.: There are a couple of thoughts that come to mind concerning these people – those in Christ.

  1. In: Paul is not a ‘Universalist’. It amazes me that there are some who are still confused about the blood of Jesus. While it is true that Jesus died for the sins of the world, it is also true that the whole world will not be saved. The blood of Christ shed on the Cross of Calvary is more than effective and more than sufficient to remove every sin of every sinner who ever lived or who will ever live. But, while that is true, there are many who will still choose to pay the penalty for their own sin. They will reject the love of God as displayed through Christ on the Cross and they will die in their sins.
  2. Christ Jesus: Paul is not a Universalist and Paul is an Exclusionist. Paul is declaring that Christ is the only way to God. …for those who are in Christ Jesus declares that Christ is the only way to experience this ‘no condemnation’. Some would say that’s pretty narrow. I’d agree. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Jesus himself said: I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me. Outside of Christ, there is no hope. Period. Only in Christ Jesus can anyone hope to experience no condemnation before God.

t.s.: and that brings us back to the beginning…

Conclusion: with the thought of the social work that we’re invited to participate in this year, let us not forget the Gospel. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t participate. In fact, I’m advocating for us to join in the festivities this year. I’m encouraging you to say yes to the many projects the city needs to have done. I hope you’ll be a good witness and that you’ll work hard at whatever we are asked to do. I hope you’ll wear a shirt that identifies you as a member of Calvary. I hope you’ll paint, clean, carry, cook, cut, measure, vacuum, wipe, serve or whatever you do with all the gusto you can muster. But, take your words with you. Say: This is my story, this is my song! When given the opportunity tell them:

  1. God is perfectly holy
  2. And man is sinful and there is absolutely nothing we can do to ever repair this fractured relationship. As a matter of fact, the Bible says that because we’ve rebelled against God, our due punishment is death. But God didn’t leave us in this fallen state.
  3. So God acted on our behalf. He sent his one and only son to live a perfect and sinless life and then to pay the penalty in our stead. He died our deserved death on the Cross of Calvary and was buried in a borrowed tomb where his dead body lay for three days. But, on the 3rd day, he was raised to life, conquering death.
  4. And by taking God at his Word, you can have the assurance and confidence that your sins are forgiven. Just acknowledge the points I’ve just made. God is holy. You are not. Your sins separate you from God. But, by asking Jesus to be your savior, your sins are covered by his blood – washed white as snow.

Application: I hope you’ll share that message with those you encounter. But.

  1. Maybe you’ve never made that commitment.
  2. Maybe you’re feeling a call to be a preacher of this Good News.
  3. Maybe God is moving in you to bring your membership her to Calvary.
  4. Let God have his way this morning.

Leave a comment

Filed under Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon, 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.

1 Comment

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

Romans 6.15-22

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

Title: What does sanctification look like in people?

Text: Romans 6.15-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

I.     In rejecting a sinful lifestyle (16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

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

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

Rd v 19-22; Two types of fruit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application:

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

Leave a comment

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.

1 Comment

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.

1 Comment

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

1 Comment

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