Romans 5.12-14

Title: The Doctrine of Original Sin

Text: Romans 5.12-14

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

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

Introduction: Is there any doubt that sin exists?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s begin with this first question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

1 Comment

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

Romans 5.1-11

Title: The Demonstration of God’s Love

Text: Romans 5.5-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transition: #2, when you consider the timing…

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

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

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

exp.:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fellowship, following the hymn…

Leave a comment

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

Romans 5.5

Title: The Love of God

Text: Romans 5.5

Opening story: We’re in Romans chapter 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so glad God gave us both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two words in our verse tell us this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the English you have these two phrases:

  • Has been poured
  • Has been given

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was famous among SEAL’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

1 Comment

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

Romans 5.1-4

Title: Building Hope

Text: Romans 5.3-4

Introduction: we’ll also be in 2 Cor 12.1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topic: Suffering (3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I.     Suffering produces Endurance (3b)

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

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

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

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

t.s.: And endurance produces…

II.    Endurance produces Character (4a)

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

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

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

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

t.s.: and Character produces hope…

III.    Character produces Hope (4b)

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

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

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

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

knowing that suffering produces endurance,

and endurance produces character,

and character produces hope,

and hope does not put us to shame,

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

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

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

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

Application: When life’s struggles come your way:

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

 

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

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

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 5.1-3

Title: Four Benefits to Justification

Text: Romans 5.1-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace with God Through Faith

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

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

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

I.    Peace (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.   Grace (2a)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        And he will swallow up on this mountain

the covering that is cast over all peoples,

the veil that is spread over all nations.

                        He will swallow up death forever;

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

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

for the Lord has spoken.

                        It will be said on that day,

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

This is the Lord; we have waited for him;

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

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

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

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

III.   Hope (2b-3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV.    Joy (2-3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 4.16-25

Title: The Nature of Faith

Text: Romans 4.16-25

CIT: We have Abraham’s faith when we believe like he did (God raises the dead [Jesus] and calls into existence things that are not yet).

CIS: When anyone believes Jesus was delivered up for our transgressions and raised for our justification, it is credited as righteousness and they can have a relationship with God, just like Abraham.

Introduction: We’re in Genesis 15 and 17 this morning, as well as in our main text Romans 4.16-25;

Billy Graham died this past week at the age of 99. What I love so much about him was the fact that he lived out his faith. I’m sure he wasn’t perfect. I heard him call himself a sinner when he preached. But what he did… his choices, his actions were all about living out the faith he professed.

That is what I want to talk to you about this morning: living out your faith in a public way.

In our text this morning Romans 4.16-25, v 16 acts as a transition verse of sorts. You see our topic… rd v 16, that is why it depends on faith… Faith is our subject. And more specifically, the faith of Abraham: in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

So, we have some context before we even enter into the passage: Faith and narrowed down a little from such a broad subject, the Faith of Abraham, our father. To be sure, the faith of Abraham can be a pretty broad subject, too. So let’s get specific: in talking about faith, what Paul wants to do is describe for us the nature of Abraham’s faith in order that these Romans might apply it to their own situation. Paul wants the Romans to have the faith of Abraham – but what does that mean? How did Abraham demonstrate his faith and what he believed?

Opening illustration: I love Lisa. I trust that she loves me, too. But, words ring hollow if there is no action on my part (or hers for that matter) to demonstrate what I know to be true. My actions and reactions, well, that would be the nature of my love. Poems and songs are nice, but what we do in our day-to-day lives is what is true. What we do reveals what we believe.

Paul is going to spend the rest of this chapter outlining for us the Nature of Abraham’s faith, and then he will apply it to the Christian. Really, that would be the one point: The Nature of Abraham’s faith. Then, Paul cites three pieces of evidence from Abraham’s life which demonstrate his faith. Abraham believed God with the way he lived. (He persisted in Hope; His faith was not weakened at his physical condition; His faith was strengthened at God’s promise).

I.    The Nature of Abraham’s Faith (17)

exp.: rd v 17a; This is God’s Statement to Abraham. It is interesting to note in that quoted verse from Genesis 15, God speaks to Abraham in the present tense of a future event as if it has already happened. Let me repeat that: God speaks to Abraham in the present tense of a future event as if it has already happened. He says: “I have made you the father of many nations.”

That’s nice to say God, but where is the proof? That’s the thing about faith – it doesn’t need proof to act. Abraham and Sarah have room to say to God – that doesn’t make sense! We have no children! We have no son to carry on our name. Abraham is declared that father of many nations and yet, he has no children. Moreover, Gen 17.1 tells us Abraham was 99 years old when this was declared to him.

Paul tells us that Abraham believed God. Abraham, you already are the father of many nations. That is what I’ve made you. Which BTW, believed is the word for faith; you could read this (17b): in the presence of the God in whom he had faith… and just what was this that he believed? Rd 17c; who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Two parts to this: 1) bringing the dead to life (lit.: a compound word life maker) and 2) bringing into existence things that don’t exist (lit.: bringing the not being into being).

app.: When God says something, even if you can’t see it, even if it does not exist, do you believe it will come to be? Abraham did – that is the nature of his faith. He believed God. His faith in God was evident by what he then did. The nature of his faith is expressed in actions of his life.

God’s promise will demonstrate when it is fulfilled that He is the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. And Abraham then acts on what he knows about God – that God will do it. Paul seizes on this teaching moment by offering three pieces of evidence for Abraham’s faith, which demonstrate for us the nature of his faith. They are found in three subsequent verses (18, 19, 20):

  1. He persisted in hope when the physical told him it was impossible. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Here is a 2nd quote from Genesis (15.5).
  2. His faith was not weakened even though he and Sarah were way to old for child-bearing. 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
  3. He did not doubt God’s promise, but grew strong in his faith. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

And then Paul sums it all up in v22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

app.: So, the nature of Abraham’s faith is that he lived his life knowing that God would (1) bring life to what is considered dead and (2) that he would bring into existence things that don’t exist.

t.s.: So, let’s look a little closer now at Paul’s three examples:

  1. He persisted in hope when the physical told him it was impossible. (18) In hope he believed against hope.

exp.: We get the context of this verse from Genesis 15. If you have that bookmarked, turn with me there. 15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

ill.: I love looking up at the stars; have you ever tried to lay outside looking up into a clear night sky and count the stars? It is impossible like that. I’m sure there are computers and technology that would help with that today, but just laying out under the stars is… breathtakingly beautiful. Try to lay there and count them… practically impossible. Now, add to this story the idea that there are no street lights, porch lights, car lights, city lights. There is nothing quite like being out of the city – out in the wilderness and far away from lights and to see the night sky filled with millions of stars. As Abram looked up into the sky he would have seen it filled with stars innumerable.

app.: All of this from nothing. Abraham, a nation – no, a nation of nations… pretty hard to believe in that moment. But not for him… he didn’t live to see it, but he believe that God would accomplish what he said.

t.s.: 2nd demonstration as listed in Romans 4:

  1. His faith was not weakened even though he and Sarah were way too old for child-bearing. (19)

exp.: consider his body: he’s 99 years old in Genesis 17. In Gen 15, he’s probably about 85 years old. Rd 19b: which was a good as dead. Physically, he should produce the same as a dead body. That ain’t very productive. And his wife, Sarah? Rd 19c; or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. The Greek reads: or when he considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Twice in this sentence Paul uses the word: dead. He did not weaken in his faith, though physically his and his wife’s bodies were growing steadily weaker with their age.

ill.: I don’t consider myself old. I know I’m getting older, but I don’t think of myself as being old. But I feel the aging process. When I fall, it takes me longer to get up. I used to bounce back up. Now I kind of just go ‘thud’. Then I crawl back up slowly. I know it only gets harder as I see people who are 30 to 40 years older than me. I had lunch this week with Percy Werner and a couple of men from the church. Percy is 96. As he was getting in my car to go to lunch he told me to take a good look at 96. He said: this will be you one day. I told him I don’t think I’ll make it that long and he assured me that I will. That means I’d have to go another 43 years.

app.: Abraham feels old. He knows his wife is beyond child-bearing years. Her womb is dead. But there is something Abraham has come to know: This God who has called him, He is the life maker. He brings to life things others consider dead.

t.s.: He is aware of their situation, but knows that God is God and that he will do what he says. We see Abraham struggle, but he never weakens in his faith.

  1. He did not doubt God’s promise, but grew stronger in his faith. (20-21)

exp.: rd v 20-21; 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. The Greek structure puts the promise of God at the beginning – making it the emphasis of the sentence. Then it continues: he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in his faith… lit.: but was empowered. Passive voice. He didn’t pull himself up by his own bootstraps, but rather, an outside force strengthened his faith. Rd v 21; as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

ill.: In Genesis 22, Abraham is commanded to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham goes through the motions to fulfill what God has required of him. And the writer of Hebrews lets us in Abraham’s faith in chapter 11: 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

app.: by his actions, Abraham declared that he believed in God who gives life to the dead. Here is what Abraham knew: God promised him descendants. God promised they would be through Isaac. He pleaded with God: Oh, that Ishmael might be my heir! God said no. He promised the heir would come through Sarah. Abraham knows this as he walks up the mountain to offer Isaac.

I have no idea what you’re facing today. But may I encourage you: if God is indeed in charge of your life, if you’ve trusted him to run your life, then let him run it! Be obedient and you’ll find His plan unfolding in your life.

We have 1,000’s of years to bank upon the promises of God. What God promised Abraham has been fulfilled in Jesus.

t.s.: Paul then notes: 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Another quote from Genesis) Now, Paul brings his message home, making it applicable for the believer.

II.    The Nature of Our Faith in Christ (23-25)

exp.: rd 23-25: 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. The Nature of our faith is to demonstrate that we truly believe (1st) Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses and sin and then (2), that he was raised from the dead for our justification. When we do, it is counted to our spiritual accounts as righteousness. When we do, we have the faith of Abraham.

app.: Abraham is our spiritual father – that is, if we’re Christians. We should expect that Abraham’s children would be counted as righteous in the same way that Abraham was counted righteous. We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead (24) – that God gave life to his dead body. V25 puts them together that he died for our sins and his dead body was brought to life for our justification.

t.s.: What we have in Abraham was recorded for us – that we might know what faith looks like.

Application: Our faith must be God-Centered.

Conclusion: some closing thoughts:

  1. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates his will with inconceivable power.
    1. We have the Old and New Testaments with plenty of demonstrations.
    2. We have Church History with plenty more.
  2. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates his incredible patience with the passing of centuries.
    1. How much time is left? I don’t know, but I don’t believe it will be long now.
    2. Why is he still waiting? That, I don’t know either, except for the opportunity for the lost to turn from their wicked ways and cling to the hope of salvation from sin.
  3. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates indescribable mercy to the penitent.
    1. God has structured all of history to bring about an indescribable display of mercy.
      1. He has told us who He is: Holy.
      2. He has declared to us our sinfulness and our separation due to this sinfulness.
      3. He has made a way for us to find forgiveness of sin and to be made right with Him.
        1. He gave his one and only son to die for our sin on the cross of Calvary.
        2. He was buried in a borrowed tomb.
        3. He was raised for our justification and now rules and reigns in glory.
    2. Today is the day of salvation.

And, when you and I commit our lives to this, through faith in Jesus – we, too, are like our father Abraham, who was counted as righteous before God – because he believed that God could raise the dead and make something out of nothing.

This morning, if you’ve never committed your life to Christ, I offer him to you. Today you can know what forgiveness is like. You can experience it first hand. Maybe there is another commitment on your mind. You want to join the church, get involved in our ministry and our mission. Let’s talk about that.

We’ll gather for a time of fellowship in the back in just a moment. But first, let’s sit quietly before the Lord and reflect on His great mercy and love and patience. Then, after a moment of silence, I’m going to ask ….. to dismiss us with a benedictory prayer. Then, Duffey, would you lead us in a song of praise… Then, we’ll be dismissed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Justification, Romans, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Uncategorized

Romans 4.9-16

Introduction: the Christian faith has been in the forefront of social media lately and making the news because of it.

Joy Behar, one of the hosts of ABC’s “The View,” recently made the news for her comments about Vice-president Mike Pence and his Christian faith. She said that it was ok that Mike speaks to Jesus, but if Jesus speaks to him, well, that’s called Mental Illness. She went on to ridicule his rule about not meeting with women alone. She said she wondered if his wife would let him talk with Mary Magdalene if they were alone in a room.

Super Bowl Sunday, Tony Dungy, the former NFL great defensive back and Super Bowl winning coach made a comment in the post game show about how he had visited with Nick Foles, the QB for Philadelphia Eagles – the winning team. Coach Dungy told the audience that he visited with Nick before the game and Nick wasn’t worried about things. Dungy said that Nick would play with confidence because of his Christian faith. He felt that God had him there for a purpose. Twitter and other forms of social media lit up, tearing in to Coach for his inappropriate use of the time NBC gave him.

The hate and vitriol has spiraled out of control. Christians are being harshly criticized and maligned for simply calling on prayer for the victims of the Florida shooting this past week. It’s getting to where you risk being ostracized for your Christian faith if you display your faith in public.

Is that really such a bad thing?

Mindy Belz posted on her weekly update, Globe trot, some statistics from the International Bulletin of Mission Research that are really eye-popping concerning Protestant numbers and statistics world-wide: A recent academic paper on 500 years of Protestant Christianity has striking statistics (see report, page 3): In 1900 1.7 percent of Protestants lived in Africa and today 40.8 percent reside on the continent. Conversely, in 1900 63.1 percent lived in Europe, and today 16.3 percent of Protestants live there. Averaging across 5 ½ centuries, Protestants in North America represents under 14 percent of global Protestantism. If you add up all of the Protestants in the entire world outside of Africa and Asia, they don’t even add up to the numbers of Protestants living in Africa alone.

North American Protestants (which of course includes Canada and Mexico) represents less than 11% of all Protestants (it’s 10.9%) worldwide.

Transition: maybe we do need our faith on display? Now, when I say that, what does it mean? In today’s American Culture, Faith is a very private thing. But for Christians, it shouldn’t be.

We’re in the midst of a study in Romans. Your very rough and simple outline we’re following looks like this:

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

In the first couple of chapters we noted how Paul addressed the issue of sin and his great desire to preach the Gospel because it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Here in the 2nd section, Paul is addressing the issue of salvation through faith alone.

In 4.9-16 this morning, we open up our text with two questions:

  • Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? This first question is in response to a quote from King David to which Paul just referred: rd v 7-8; Is this blessing of forgiveness only for the circumcised?
  • 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised?

Paul answers both questions in each of those verses. Then, it v11-12, Paul defends his answers. You might say he clarifies his answers. First he declares that:

  1. Abraham was counted righteous by faith, not by circumcision or works of any kind. (9)

exp.: Paul makes this declaration because some Jews believed that Abraham was right before God because he was circumcised. As you probably already know, circumcision was a sign of the covenant that Abraham had with God. It was required of all male Jews to enter into that covenant. Otherwise, they weren’t considered to be a part of the people of God. You were either circumcised and in covenant with God or you were considered outside the covenant.

ill.: Circumcision vs. Baptism: That struggle was very similar to baptism today. I’m talking about the struggle that the Jews had with uncircumcised Gentiles becoming Christians. Both baptism and circumcision are like rites of passage. Some see it as initiation into the faith. Some Jews believed that circumcision of Gentiles was required for salvation and some Christians today believe baptism is required for salvation. You probably have friends or even family members who feel this way. So, as we approach Romans 4.9-16, it makes sense for us when we see it that way and easier to understand why some Jews pushed for all believers to become circumcised.

But Paul minces no words here (9b): it was by faith that Abraham was counted as righteous. It isn’t by circumcision, nor by any other work.

How so? Well, Paul’s first argument or defense of his answer is:

I.     Abraham’s justification came before he was circumcised. (10)

exp.: his first argument is a chronological one; rd v 10; in Gen 15 Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God; in Gen 17, some 10-15 years after he was declared righteous, he is then circumcised. In the same way as Christians, we understand that Baptism doesn’t save anyone. We trust God, first. We put our faith and trust in Christ as God has promised. We believe God and so we’re saved. Baptism is a work of the believer, who obeys the command to be baptized. Baptism is really a believer’s first step of obedience.

app.: if you’re sitting here today and you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then congratulations. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ve never been baptized, then something is wrong with that.

t.s.: Your baptism is a public demonstration of this new life in Christ. Talk about Faith Displayed.

Paul continues his defense: Paul’s next argument is:

II.    Circumcision was a sign of what had already taken place (11-13)

rd v 11; note those two very important words: sign and seal; it is a sign and seal of his righteousness by faith. Circumcision did that for the Jew. It was an external sign and seal of the Abrahamic Covenant.

ill.: I received a letter from President Regan back in the 80’s for some work that I did while serving in the military. It will always be something that is precious to me. It came to me through my chain of command. The seal of the President of the United States of America validated the letter. I was taken into a room where my leadership was waiting for me. My platoon leader, 1st SGT, company commander and others were there. There were people I didn’t know. They showed me the letter and then read it to me. To be sure, the letterhead and the seal were pretty cool, but these weren’t more important than the letter, itself, what it said and the signature. What was in the letter was what I value. Unless I live to be 93, I don’t think that letter will ever see the light of day. It is classified Top Secret. It was closed up and sealed and deposited with my records somewhere in a warehouse where Indiana Jones is keeping the Ark of the Covenant. I’m rambling now, but don’t miss the point: I was recognized for some work I had done for the President. He commissioned the work and I was selected to do the job. It isn’t the envelope or the seal that made that letter important. It was what was inside.

app.: Paul is saying that the circumcision of Abraham was a sign and a seal of something that had already taken place.

t.s.: So, Paul continues his teaching in v13-16; and, really, he just repeats himself. There isn’t anything new or different presented in these next few verses.

III.  Abraham was counted righteous through faith, not through the law. (13-16)

exp.: in v 13-16, Paul reflects upon the promise: that Abraham would be heir of the world. Rd v 13; Hold it – heir of the world? Genesis 12 God promised Abraham that he would possess the land of Canaan. God told him to go to a land that he would show him. When he got to Shechem, God promised him the land of Canaan. That’s in v 7 of Chapter 12; Now, in Gen 12.3, God told Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him – so there is this idea of ‘the world’ here.

ill.: This is a great example of using the New Testament as a commentary on the Old Testament. Sometimes, when you’re in the OT and something doesn’t make sense, or, you’re simply studying an OT passage – a wonderful tool already in your hand is to find any reference of that OT passage in the NT. The NT writers had a tremendous grasp of the OT and it’s meaning.

Back to our text in Romans 4, Paul tells us why Abraham is going to inherit the world. It must be because of his tremendous body of work! Rd v 14; Some folks think or at least act like the righteousness of God is imputed, credited to us through both faith and works, but Paul clearly tells us here that it isn’t. Because, he says, if works has any part in our justification, then faith is null and the promise void. You can’t have both.

But, why not? Rd v 15; if you try to gain righteousness through the law, you will fail. Why? because the law brings wrath and you can’t obey the law perfectly.

As a matter of fact, there is only one who obeyed the law perfectly: Jesus. Added to this, he then died on the cross for our failure to obey the law perfectly. That’s where our faith comes in… rd v 16;

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

app.: faith, by grace to everyone who believes: to the adherent of the law – that is the Jew; and to the one who shares the faith of Abraham.

Conclusion: if you believe like Abraham, that what God said to you is true, then the righteousness of God is credited to your account, your sins are forgiven and you have the promise of heaven. What is it that God says to you? Simply this:

  • God is Holy
  • You and I are not – we’re sinful.
  • We cannot remedy this situation on our own – we need an intercessor.
  • The sufficiency of Christ in remedying our situation.

Application: Faith displayed:

  1. Faith alone is what brings justification before God, not works of any kind. This is a reminder to us that works, which display our faith, cannot save us.
  2. However, when it comes to faith, Faith must generate good works. Think James Any and all work we do must flow from this faith that we have in Christ. We don’t do it because it saves us. But, rather, we do good works to demonstrate the faith we have. If this is true, then wouldn’t a lack of works demonstrates a lack of faith. You don’t do anything because you don’t truly believe.
  3. It is deeply humbling to realize that our gift of salvation comes through faith and isn’t earned.

CS Lewis said: That Christ offers something for Nothing …That He even offers everything for Nothing …That we have done and can do Nothing …That we must stop trying to overcome… Then, Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair!

  1. True Faith exhibits itself through a positive lifestyle. That doesn’t mean that everything in our life is positive. I got an email this morning from one of my students’ mom letting me know that this student’s grandfather passed away. That’s negative. My mom told me her nephew in Korea committed suicide this week, leaving behind a wife and two little children. That’s negative. There could be some absolutely negative experiences in your life; however, a life of faith rolls with the punches because that believer knows God has got this. A positive lifestyle in the face of calamity demonstrates one’s faith in God.
    1. One of my favorite stories where this is demonstrated is with David when his son Absalom had launched a coop against his father.

ill.: 2 Samuel 16 7-8: “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” Then Abishai, who was one of David’s mighty men implored David that he might go over there and cut his head off. David was like: No. Maybe he’s only doing what God told him to do.

We all at some times in our lives experience struggle and pain. But a life of faith really comes out at during those times. Being discouraging toward others, grumbling and complaining about your situation, that demonstrates a lack of faith. It really does demonstrate that you don’t trust God.

ill.: John Piper has said: The Essence of faith is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus.

Are you satisfied in Christ? Do you find yourself longing for what you see in others? Maybe that’s something you need to lay before the father today and declare your trust only in him. Maybe you’ve never trusted him before? Maybe this is a new thing and you’re wanting to place your life in his hands. You’d say you’ve made a mess of things.

We’re going to have a time of fellowship around the coffee and cookies in the back. Come and visit with us. If you have a question about Christianity, Church membership, our missions and ministry, baptism – or you just need to talk, we’d like to visit with you. The elders and staff and membership will be gathered back there.

Let’s bow our hearts before God in a moment of silence. And then afterward, I’d like to ask … to lead us in a benedictory prayer.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Overcoming Discouragement

Title: Overcoming Discouragement

Text: Psalm 73

Background: We’re in Psalm 73 today. I think most of us understand the book of Psalms to be a hymnal for the Jews. But, it is so much more than that! There is a congruency – a consistency and a melodic line that flows through the entire book. There is purpose and design. My intention this morning isn’t to prove that. Maybe I can do that at sometime in the future. For now, let me bring you up to speed with Psalm 73.

I know some are thinking: what? I thought we were in Romans. Answer: we are. But, I felt the need to preach from Psalm 73 this morning since earlier in the week. It was not originally on my calendar, but felt the Lord’s prompting and so, I’m leaving Romans for today and preaching Psalm 73.

With that being said, turn to Psalm 73.

What you know of the book of Psalms is composed of 5 individual books. Psalm 73 is the 1st Psalm in the 3rd book. Do you see that there in your titles and subtitles? A quick outline of Psalms would look like this:

  • Introduction:1-2
  • Book 1: 3-41
  • Book 2: 42-72
  • Book 3: 73-89
  • Book 4: 90-106
  • Book 5: 107-145
  • Conclusion: Praise 146-150

As we start in Book three, we see that Book two has just ended. The Psalm states that it is “to/for/of Solomon”, but as it ends in v 20, we read: 20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended. So, King David probably composed this psalm as a prayer. David is a great earthly picture of a king and God, who is King of kings, has selected this man who will follow him. This is what scholars call a ‘Royal’ Psalm. Israel understood their King to be God’s man for the job of leading Israel and they prayed for him.

God is their King and David is their earthly king. In a sense, they rule together because David has been chosen of God. And, God has chosen not just David, but his heirs, as well. And, the Messiah, who is to come, will be like him. Or, better worded: David is ‘like’ the Messiah who is to come. You and I already know this. David was a type of Christ to show us a picture of the one who would come: Jesus.

And He is our focus.

If we skip down to Psalm 74, we see this call from the Psalmist begging God to defend His own cause: not the cause of the Psalmist, but that of God. The Israelites, The Kings of Israel have not imaged God the way they should have. Their situation has made God look bad. Sure, what has happened to them is a result of their own behavior and rejection of their King and His laws. But, when Israel is conquered or in famine or in ruin, it appears God can’t take care of his people – which, of course, just isn’t true.

So, 72 is the Culmination of the section on King David and 74 is this plea for God to act on His own behalf. The Israelites are making God look bad and the Psalmist is begging God to act. So what is 73 all about?

Introduction: He begins by telling us what He knows: God is Good

He begins with God is Good! (rd v1); you would think that’s all that needs to be said, but there really is a great lesson here in this Psalm.

Oh, how I wish I could just make this statement and you’d all say: Duh, yeah! God is Good – All the time. All the time – God is Good! I wish we all felt it and didn’t have to struggle with it. But, the truth is, although I think you might have a little trouble admitting it, God is good and we don’t always see it that way. Asaph sure didn’t.

That’s what he’s saying in v2-3: “God is good! But, I didn’t always feel this way”; rd v2; He says: I almost stumbled, I almost fell. And then he tells us why: rd v 3: He says: I had been discouraged at what I saw in the prosperity of the wicked. The word saw here, means to watch with envy. It means to covet.

Asaph’s Struggle:

Asaph was really struggling at some time in the past. He sat down and watched so many others, who were wicked people, live what looked like blessed lives. He saw sinful people living prosperous, easy lives. He on the other hand – didn’t have it so easy. That just didn’t seem fair. Surely someone who walks with God faithfully should have it easy, No? And, the wicked – they should struggle! But that wasn’t what he was seeing with his eyes. And so he became envious.

V 4-12 tells us what he ‘sees’. And, as we move verse by verse through to v 12, we see a progression of wickedness and a blindness of those who join with them.

Let’s look at what he saw of the prosperous:

Rd v 4a; As Spurgeon said: “They have a quiet death; gliding into eternity without a struggle.” Rd v4b; You must also consider that a 21 Century health-conscious person isn’t going to get this metaphor. There is plenty to eat and the work is easy.

Rd v 5; man, it sure appears that they got it pretty easy compared to the rest of the world! Rd v 6; Pride is easy to understand, but violence as a garment, well, that’s a little harder. I think this means that their wealth and prosperity have led them to cruel and violent behavior toward others. Rd v 7: These people get whatever they want – whatever their eyes see and their imaginations crave.

Rd v 8-12; Marvin Tate, author of the Word Biblical Commentary on Psalms 51-100, says that this passage seems to indicate that the ordinary people turn to the rich and drink down their language with unthinking desire for their affluent lifestyle. Regardless of how vile they may be, the ways of the rich are very attractive to many people. Even their foolish language (v 11) is treated as wise.

Ill.: This sounds so 21st Century America to me. For some reason, we think the rich are the smart people and that what they say has great value. In many ways, especially in this regard, we’re no different from Asaph.

Now, when we come to v 13, we see a self-assessment that the Psalmist does.

Asaph’s Self-Assessment:

“Truly” begins v1 and here demonstrates that something has changed. In v 1, the force of the “truly” is “in spite of everything to the contrary, God is good to Israel.” In spite of the way things appear in the prosperity of the foolish and the suffering of the faithful, God is Good! In v 13, the force is: “in spite of all the indications of well-being of the wicked, I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence”—which means that the speaker refused to run after the prosperous wicked and adopt their ways. It sounds as if he feels like he’s been good for no reason at all, but I don’t think that is his point. No, he’s saying in spite of all indications that the wicked are being blessed by God, I chose to keep my heart clean and not follow their path.

Rd v 14-16: lit., “it was a wearisome thing in my eyes.” Let me stop right here and now of how Asaph had become so discouraged. You can hear it in words. And, I’m pretty sure you could hear it in his voice, too, had you been around to hear him.

Oh, how Asaph was discouraged: have you ever been discouraged? Maybe you’re there right now.

  • Maybe you got passed up for that promotion. You’ve worked harder and longer and what has happened is just unfair. Maybe that other person even cheated or was dishonest. You played it fair and you’re your integrity, but now they have the promotion. There’s just something not right about that.
  • Maybe you’re checking out that other family. What is it about them? They always seem to be getting a new car or going on vacation. How can he get that much time off? They’re never in church on Sunday morning. You’re not even sure they’re saved. And you’re discouraged because you’re driving the same ole’ beater. You’re thankful you don’t have payments to the bank, but you’re local garage is getting regular payments.
  • Maybe you’re looking around at all the other churches in town and feel like God’s blessing everyone else, but us. Those people are getting a new worship center. Those people are remodeling their Family Life Center. Those people are getting a new Gym. Those people have a children’s ministry or a youth ministry or a (you fill-in the blank) ministry. Those people have this awesome choir and you find yourself discouraged because you’re looking at these other churches and don’t understand why God isn’t blessing you when you’ve stayed the course. You’ve been faithful. Your heart and your hands are clean before God.

Transition: But then, something incredible happens to Asaph as he encounters God.

Asaph’s Sanctuary Experience:

He was discouraged and wearied until… rd v 17; 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Asaph had a God-encounter! He saw what was real and realized what was not real. The sanctuary of God is the very presence of God. Asaph met God and it changed his attitude.

Isn’t it amazing what a proper perspective can bring? Asaph saw what was eternal and was able to bring into perspective what he had been looking at in the prosperity of the people.

When he saw God for who He really is, then:

  1. He saw the people for who they really are. Rd v 17b; rd 18-19;
  2. He saw his predicament, his situation in light of eternity. Rd v 20;
  3. He saw how he had been in his attitude toward God; rd v 21-22

Pray: Oh, God, forgive us when we focus on this temporary situation and put too much value on it in light of eternity. Oh, Father forgive us when miss what you’re doing in our lives and in the lives of others because we are focused on the temporary. Oh, Master, forgive us for when we think you owe us something – like you’re so lucky to have us on your team!

What a fearful, dreadful consideration: to be at odds with God. Would you choose today the materialistic success of the Western Church over and above God’s presence? Asaph says, no! rd v 23-24; He says I’ve experienced your presence and in v 25-26 he says, I don’t want anything in heaven or on earth that puts me at odds with you. I only want you! Rd 25-26

Whom have I in heaven but you. There’s none I desire beside you.

Conclusion: Now, the Psalmist has a great perspective on things. Now he really knows what is important. rd v 27-28

  • Their ending
  • My blessing: the presence of God – and that truly shows how wonderfully good He is!

Application: So, How do I keep from getting discouraged?

  1. Discouragement comes from a focus on the wrong things. When you want something more than you want God, you’re going to become discouraged.
  2. Discouragement comes when you think God owes you something. I’ve kept my hands clean and my heart pure. You owe me. You’re like the older brother in the prodigal son parable. When you assume that you’ve kept your hands clean and your heart pure and because of that, God owes you… you’re going to become discouraged.
  3. Discouragement is bred through gossip, slander and negative grumblings. Discouraged people discourage others. This kind of a person is a rebel and a beast toward God, too (v. 22).
  4. Discouragement is cured with a proper perspective of things:
    1. That God is in charge, in spite of what your circumstances tell you.
    2. That God is really all you want and need. Everything else is superfluous.
    3. That whatever you’re going through – it will pass. Let God teach you in it.

If you’ve been focusing on the wrong things: repent.

If you’ve been thinking God owes you something: repent.

If you’ve been badmouthing the church, a ministry, the pastor, an elder, a member: repent.

You don’t know what God is doing to and through others. So trust that what He is doing is right and best. It is what will bring him glory.

I’d like to visit with you about these things. Maybe you have a question about Christianity or maybe you’re interested in what it means to be a member of Calvary. If you want to talk about Psalms or this message – I’d love to visit with you.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Psalms, Scripture, Sermon

Abraham Believed God

Title: Abraham was Justified by Faith

Text: Romans 4:1-8

Introduction: We’re in Romans 4 today. We’ll also be in Psalm 32 – so mark those passages.

Our topic this morning, The Doctrine of Salvation is vital to us as Christians and Southern Baptists. What I mean by that is that it is vital you and I understand what that means. You might even say it is foundational in determining who we are. We need to get this right. And, we need to be communicating this right.

CS Lewis teaches us in his book, Mere Christianity, that Christianity will not make sense until you realize three truths:

  1. There is a moral law. Simply discussing it establishes it.
  2. There is a ‘Somebody’ behind it. He says this to the random mind in discussing this moral law. It had to come from somewhere.
  3. We’ve broken the moral law and are at odds with this ‘Somebody’ because we’ve broken it.

When it comes to the study of the Doctrine of Salvation, Romans is a great book to choose. Really, you could choose any one of so many different books, but Romans is definitely focused on Salvation.

In some ways, you could say it is a doctrine that is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. And, in other ways, it is a doctrine that can be confusing and hard to understand. It’s easy and straightforward, but there must be more to it. It only makes sense that there is something you must “do”.

We’re like the Philippian Jailer who asked Paul and his companions: What must I ‘do’ to be saved? We want to ‘do’ something – make amends, earn our way. John 6 demonstrates for us a crowd of confused individuals who sound very much like us. They asked: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”

I think Paul is trying to make this very point in 3.27-4.1 with all of the questions:

  • Then what becomes of our boasting? By what kind of law? By a law of works?
  • Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also?
  • Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?
  • What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

Is it really that easy? Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will make your paths straight. Is it really that easy? Yes! But it can’t be. Surely there is something I must “do”! What must I ‘do’ to be saved? The answer: believe. Yeah, but what must I ‘do’…

This is important. We need to get this doctrine of salvation thing right. Souls depend on it.

Transition: if there is no boasting because there are no works that bring about salvation; if for the Jew, justification is by faith, then, Paul asks this question.

I.     The Question (1)

exp.: rd 4.1a; What then shall we say was gained by Abraham…? Consider the Mt. Rushmore of the Jewish Faith. What 4 faces would be on there? Abraham, Moses, David… I don’t know who gets the 4th spot. Here we see Abraham and in v 6, Paul will quote David. Moses appears in chapter 5 with Adam. I think Paul is pulling out the heavy hitters to make his point.

ill.: think about it, If I were talking computers and technology and I said something like: Steve Jobs said… wouldn’t that add some validity and weight to my point? If I were talking money and I dropped Warren Buffett’s name…

app.: that’s what Paul is doing…; the argument might sound like this:

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded.

By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Oh, really? Then what about Abraham? Abraham is on the Jewish Mt. Rushmore because of his works! Remember how he willingly offered up his own son?

t.s.: So, he continues in v 2 and answers his question…

II.    The Answer (2-5)

exp.: rd v 2; If… that’s such a big word. For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. Many Jews believed Abraham was justified by his works: Jubilees 23.10 – Abraham was perfect in all his deeds with the Lord. Or, Kiddushin 4.14 of the Babylonian Talmud says: we find that Abraham our father had performed the whole Law before it was given. The Jews held this principle of Abraham’s perfection to the Law in high regard. And, Paul is saying – yeah, but no! If he could…then he would, but he can’t – not before God. It would be that way for all of us. If anyone here could be justified by works alone – then, yeah, there is room to brag.

ill.: We like to brag: about our kids, our accomplishments, anything that shows how awesome we are.

  • My son took his first steps when he was 7 months old.
  • Oh, yeah, my kid was able to read at the age of three.
  • My son, started on varsity.
  • My son started on varsity for both the Offense and the Defense.
  • My son played college ball.
  • My son played for the 49ers.
  • My son invented the football!

Brian Regan calls it the “Me Monster” – Me, Me, Me, Me, Me. If you haven’t seen it, Google Brian Regan on YouTube and watch: I walked on the Moon.

If we could actually attain salvation through our works… could you imagine the egos? The front row would be reserved for those very few who actually attained that perfection. We’d have a place in the hallway for their pictures. We’d have classes on how you, too, can attain salvation by your works. We’d have levels and patches and pins you could wear. You would know who was where on the scale by the color of their hat or the many badges on their sash.

app.: if you’re studying world religions and looking for how to get to heaven, then let me let you in on the difference. World religions are all about doing. Islam, Hindu, Buddahism… it’s about attaining. I just read a book entitled: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nebeel Qureshi. In it Nabeel presents the reader basic Islamic beliefs. And, the way to heaven is through works. I highly recommend the book if you’re wanting to know what Muslims believe. Paul is saying here: here’s the truth – you can’t earn it. For the Jews: look at Abraham – even he has no room to boast before God in his works.

exp.: rd 2b; But not before God; no one can boast before God; 1 Cor 1:26-29;

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

exp.: next Paul quotes from Gen 15:6; rd v 3; So, why can’t he boast? Rd v 4; it isn’t something earned, it’s a gift; someone who has worked and earned something deserves his just wage; but not so with gifts; gifts are undeserved.

ill.: As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I’m deeply moved at the grace of God in my life; The Grace of God is a wonderful teacher. Consider your sins. They teach you all about your weakness, your need for God to protect you from yourself. You tried it your way and you failed miserably. Now, you stand as someone wiser. The sins of your past have made you who you are;

  • They keep you humble because you know how weak you can be.
  • They keep you trusting God, because you can’t trust yourself to accomplish this on your own.
  • They keep you dependent (I know I’ll fail on my own – that is my experience).

exp.: v 5; this is the 3rd time ‘counted’ is mentioned; look at the other verses 3-8; logistics; it comes from the Gk word meaning to calculate something. This is an accounting word and it means to give credit to one’s account; to balance your books.

app.: to illustrate his point, Paul will bring in another heavy hitter… another whose face is on the Mt. Rushmore of the Jewish Faith: David

t.s.: The last section here is…

 III.  The Illustration (6-8)

exp.: rd v 6-8; Paul is referencing Psalm 32.1-2; Some people think Psalm 32 should be read with Psalm 51 – the great Psalm of repentance from his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. There are a half dozen words for sin in the Bible for sin and in Psalm 32, David uses three of them.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Transgression or rebellion; sin: a missing the mark; iniquity: think perverse. Three separate words to define for us just how far from God we are.

  • Rebellion is an uprising against the authority. I’m going to do it my own way.
  • Sin is a missing the mark. You line up, tee up your golf ball and shank it or hook it off into the woods. That’s missing the mark!
  • Iniquity is crookedness, perverse or wayward.

Each word describes a different part of who we are:

  • Rebellion is in relation toward God. It describes our action against God.
  • Sin describes our relationship to God’s Law. We simply fall short.
  • Iniquity describes the affect of sin on who we are now. It describes what we do and how we do it.

But just as David uses three different words to describe us in the state we’re in, he also uses three words to describe God’s action toward us in pardoning us.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

  • Forgiven means to lift or carry away. You get this picture of sin that weighs you down. It is a burden to big to carry and God simply lifts it off of you and carries it away.

I think of the people who get trapped under mounds of rubble in an earthquake or like when the twin towers came down. What a fearful and scary nightmare to be trapped below ground, pinned beneath the weight of hundreds of pounds of concrete. That is until someone comes and lifts it off of the person trapped. That’s a picture of your and my sin. And God lifts it and carries it away.

  • Covered: it means atoned for. It is the word for atonement. The blood sacrifice covers the sin.

The 3rd word is different in that it describes something God does not do.

  • Counts not: He does not count our sins against us. There is now no record book to show our sins. You have this record of your debts and now, God has credited to your debts the necessary amount to balance your books.

David was there. His sin was ever before him. Like a giant boulder, he was suffocating beneath the weight of his sin. But look at v 3-4 (Psalm 32.3-4):

3For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

But something changes in v 5:

5I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Conclusion: This Psalm means so much to me today. Many years ago, as a young man struggling between the way of the world and walking with Jesus, I found myself in this state. I remember coming across this v 3-4 and thinking to myself that this is where I am. I hated myself. I hated who I had become. I hated the decisions I was making – the decisions I had made.

But then something happened: I read v 5 and said, God, I want to do this. And so I did. I acknowledge my actions were missing the mark. I wasn’t even aiming at the right mark. I no longer tried to hide my sinful behavior, but rather uncovered it. The truth was I thought I was hiding it beneath my good works, but my good works was too small of a blanket. And, I confessed my rebellion and repented of it.

I wish there was a way to describe my relief. I wish I could communicate verbally to you the liberty I now felt.

I want you to know that you can have that same freedom today. You cannot do anything on your own to alleviate the burden you’re under. Salvation is available to you today and you don’t have to work to receive it. All you have to do is believe that what God said is true.

  • God’s Character: He is holy.
  • Offense of Sin: We are not. We have broken the law of the lawgiver and are at odds with him.
  • Sufficiency of Christ: Christ died to save us from our sin.
  • Personal Response: I want to give you the opportunity to respond.

I’d like to ask … to lead us in a benedictory prayer after we’ve had a moment of silence. Then, when he says amen, I’d like to invite you to the back for some cookies and coffee where we can visit.

1 Comment

Filed under Evangelism, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

The Law of Faith

Title: The Law of Faith

Text: Romans 3.27-31

Introduction: We’ll be in Romans 3.27-31 this morning. We’ll also go to Zechariah 14 at some point. You’re your bulletin or something you can use as a bookmark and identify Zechariah 14.

This morning we come to a concluding statement by Paul. We’re in Romans 3.27-31; Paul presents this part of his letter with rapid-fire questions and answers. It is a popular style and makes it easy for him to answer questions he has probably heard before and can even hear being asked by the reader as they read his letter.

My guess is that this diatribe is with an imaginary Jew. Probably, an imaginary Jewish Leader. I sense from Paul, that he believes this person has a problem with Pride.

I read this week that Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it. Attributed to Buddy Robinson.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes: There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. He says he’s talking about Pride, in his chapter on Pride.

As we turn our attention to our text this morning, I want you to note how the diatribe is broken up by 4 sets of questions. My sermon has three points, but the text has 4 separate sections. I’ve combined the 1st two into one point. Here’s how I see it broken down:

  • 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded.
  • By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
  • 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
  • 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

So Paul is saying The Law of Faith means:

  1. Boasting is ruled out – you can’t brag about something you didn’t do.
  2. There is One God who has done all that he has done for all people: Jews and Gentiles.
  3. The Law of God is not nullified, but rather validated and upheld.

The Law of Faith means

I.     Boasting is ruled out – you can’t brag about something you didn’t do (27-28)

exp.: rd 27a; οὖν; This word is often translated: therefore. Therefore ties the previous passage to this one. The previous passage is 3.21-26; It deals with the righteous work of God through Christ making us righteous – taking away our sin. According to this passage in 3.21-26, we’re all sinners. There was nothing we could do to make ourselves righteous. We were all in a state of sinfulness and fallen from God’s glory. But, in Christ, we are now made righteous, we’re now justified by his grace as a gift freely given to us. This is through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus whom God purposed and planned to be a sacrifice for our sins. His death paid our penalty for us.

Therefore, there is no place for boasting. There is no place for pride. Paul writes in 27a; It is excluded. This is a compound word combining the preposition out or outside with the word meaning to shut. Where is the boasting? It has been shut out! Paul continues in v 27b: How so? By a law of works? There is a question of whether this means the ‘Law of Moses’ or works as a principle (i.e., doing good works). I don’t know the answer to that but I don’t think it matters because it is the same result either way. Put both possibilities up there and the answer is still NO! But by a law of faith! And then he explains in v 28; 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

You see, there isn’t anything to boast about because you didn’t do anything. God did all the work in your salvation.

ill.: there is a story about a theologian who was being pushed to defend his doctrine of the sovereignty of God. The question: What part did you play in your salvation? He replied: I played no part. The theologian was pressed again: But what did you do? Reply: I did nothing. So the man pushed: You mean to tell me that you did absolutely nothing in the process of being saved. The theologian thought about it and answered: I did all the running.

app.: there are no works for you to do – God has done all the work necessary. He could boast – but that isn’t is style. When he speaks he’s just stating the facts; He’s not boasting. You (and I, on the other hand) really can’t say anything in a prideful way about our salvation because (you and I) really can’t do anything to earn our salvation. The most we can say about work, is that we were running from God. And God pursued us.

Think about this: you can’t boast in faith, because faith is basically receptive. Faith looks to another for help.

Ill.: Consider people in Scripture who through faith received help, rescue, intercession, etc. from God.

  1. The Woman at the Well: She didn’t run into town and say, hey! Look at me! Look what I did! She said: Come and meet a man who…told me everything I ever did. The people said: we believe, not because the woman said, but because we’ve seen this for ourselves. He’s the savior of the world!
  2. The man born blind from birth: Jesus healed him and the religious leaders didn’t like it. They kept pestering the man for an answer. He was like, “listen, all I really know is that I was blind and now, because of what he did, I see.” They didn’t like that, so they pestered him more. The man really upset them when he asked: do you want to become a follow of him, too!
  3. The Woman healed of her disease that had kept her bleeding for 12 years. She had basically given up on everything, after spending all of her money on doctors. She didn’t brag about how she was able to brave the crowd and reach out to touch the hem of his coat. I was brave. Oh, the people, they were fighting me off, but one by one I knocked them out of the way and that is what made me whole again! She knew it was Jesus who had the power.
  4. The Gadarene Demoniac; I love the way this guy just wanted to be with Jesus. He was so thankful for all that Jesus has done for him.

That’s four quick examples. We could probably spend the rest of the morning looking at examples of those who had faith in Christ and then Christ delivered them – he met them at the point of their need.

App.: Faith doesn’t pour itself out on itself. Faith is focused on another – the one who has helped or saved or redeemed.

t.s.: These 1st two questions are closely related to each other and pertain to us. They pertain to us in a negative way: our boasting has been nullified and our work has been nullified, too, because you can’t be justified or made righteous by your good works. The answers are simply put in the negative form: No!

Now we turn to God and the answers get positive.

The Law of Faith says there is no boasting, because you can’t boast in something you didn’t do. Next, the Law of Faith declares

II.    God is One and He is the Father of all. (29-30)

exp.: Where the first three questions go together, I think Paul is making a new argument here. I don’t think he’s building upon his previous argument. I say this because he uses the word “Or”. This is another argument in support of justification by faith; rd v29; See, here the positive answer: Yes, of the Gentiles also. And then, Paul says; rd 30a;

Now, what does he mean? Where is he coming from? It’s possible that Paul is coming from Zechariah 14. Specifically, v 9; Rd Zech 14.4-9;

Consider this: the context of Zechariah is a future day. If that is the case, then Paul is doing more than just saying Jews and Gentiles can now be saved. He’s making a specific remark about Salvation History. Consider this also: salvation is today. But, it is also a day in the future. You are saved on the day you commit your life to Christ. You are being saved today. And, there will come a day on that great day of the Lord when you will be saved. Are you following me? We are saved today, if we’ve committed our lives to Christ. But, there is coming a day, a final day, when salvation will be realized. On that Great Day of the Lord, Jews and Gentiles will be gathered into the New Jerusalem. There will be no need for a sun to light the City because the Glory of God will light that place. God will rule and reign in that place over all people.

But there is another verse that Paul might be referencing here. It might be that Paul is being super simple here. If you think about it, you’ll realize that the Jews would get this reference right away. Did you? Where have you seen this statement before? That’s right. The Shema; Deuteronomy 6.4: Hear O’ Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is One. He is the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles;

To be fair, many Jews understood that God is the One true God. He is the Creator of All, and the Ruler of All, and is judge of all. But, on the other hand, they saw themselves as distinct and would reject the idea of Gentiles being on their same level. They had the court of Gentiles on the outside of the Temple. Sure, there were some Gentiles who followed God, but they were never on the same level as Jews.

The Lord is not divided. Rd all of 30; This is to affirm 3.22; all are sinners (3.21) and all are justified…

I want you to note the difference in words about faith used by Paul in v 30: who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Really, I couldn’t find anything with any solid explanation. Augustine argued some 1600 plus years ago that Paul was simply being rhetorical and stylistic. And most scholars agree with him. Paul’s writing style demonstrates for us what an intelligent and brilliant communicator Paul was. He was putting the Gentiles on the same playing field as the Jews.

ill.: To say that God is the One true God and Father of all is really being super intolerant today, just like it would have been to all of those Romans who believed in a polytheistic religion. Our postmodern world says that there are many ways to this one God and we’re all just trying to get to the same place through different paths. When you and I say that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and his name is the only name by which we must be saved, you and I are considered bigots, narrow-minded and archaic.

Appeal: if you’re sitting here this morning, or listening by way of the Internet, and you’ve never known what it means to be truly forgiven – you can today. That’s been Paul’s message: Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for our sins. You see, we’re all sinners. I’m not picking on you by calling you a sinner. We’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But, you can have those sins forgiven through placing your faith in Christ today.

Here’s another point: this takes great humility. You can’t be proud and come to Christ. Some folks struggle with the idea of sin and a holy God because they’re prideful. That’s probably how Satan keeps people from coming to faith – it’s their pride. J. Oswald Sanders said: Nothing is more distasteful to God than self-conceit. This first and fundamental sin in essence aims at enthroning self at the expense of God.

You’ve got to remove yourself from the throne of your heart and make room for Christ to come and rule and reign in your life.

Thomas Browne writes:

“If thou could’st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
That might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, “Thou art not dead,”
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art replete with very ‘thou’
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes He says,

“This is enow unto itself- ’twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me.”

t.s.: The Law of Faith says there is no boasting, because you can’t boast in something you didn’t do. God did it all. 2ndly, the Law of Faith declares that God is One and He is the God of all. He makes himself known and has done the work to restore this relationship with him – that the whole world might be restored to him. A proud heart will find it impossible to come to this conclusion. Thirdly, The Law of Faith does not nullify the law or good works, but rather validates it.

III.   The Law is not nullified, but rather establishes it (31)

exp.: rd v 31; this word means to wipe it out, void it. It is to say that because of faith, the law is now abolished and useless. But that isn’t what Paul is saying at all. Paul says: μὴ γένοιτο; May it never be! Rd 31c: on the contrary, we uphold the law. When you consider 3.21 – that the law and the prophets bear witness to the fact that righteousness would one day be made available and that day is now, you understand the law isn’t made void. It isn’t nullified. It is Validated!

Furthermore, we don’t just live a life of license. We believe laws are good. Good behavior is needed. For those of us who love the Lord, we want to do what he wants us to do. We want to be good. We want to be righteous. We want to live a life worthy of this calling we’ve received.

app.: And again, that doesn’t reflect a life of pride. That reflects a life of humility.

t.s.: Humility comes hard. Pride is something that doesn’t want to die in you. But let me end with the words of the Momma whale to her baby whale as they swam along: When you get to the top and start to ‘blow’, that’s when you get harpooned!

Conclusion:

Application: Don’t let pride keep you out of heaven. Humble yourself, acknowledge your sin and find salvation in Christ. We’re going to gather in a moment at the back of the worship center for some coffee and cookies. I’d love to visit with you about today’s message. The Staff and Elders will back there, too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Evangelism, Faith, Romans, Scripture, Sermon