Monday, July 23, 2012

Salvation's Gift

Salvation's Gift

Intro.: Let's play a game.
  1. If I am playing Monopoly and I role the dice, what do I need to do?
  2. If I am sitting at a traffic light and it turns green, what do I need to do?
  3. If Sandra takes the time to cook a hamburger with all the fixin's for dinner, what do I need to do?
  4. Last week we looked at the beginning of sin – I want to spend today talking about what comes next.
T.S. The consequences of sin did not end with Adam and Eve. During the next few minutes, I want to look at where sin had led us today.
  1. Sin may have started with Adam and Eve – it did not end there. Take a look at Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    1. Scripture records the sins of Adam's and Eve's children – including jealousy and murder. Similarly, we get glimpses of sin as it progresses through the Middle East in the years leading up to the coming of Christ.
    2. Of course, we don't see the sins of the New Testament period – oh, wait we do too. You see, all you have to do is look at your other guy on the street, or your neighbor. For those of you that were married, there is no doubt that your spouse was not perfect. And that is exactly what the scripture tells us, “Everyone else has sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
    3. No it doesn't – it says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” You see, we don't have to look the other guy on the road or our neighbor, or even to our spouses to know that something is wrong with human nature – we need to look at ourselves.
(Ill.) The story is told of two men who were trying to escape from an erupting volcano. As the fiery molten rock gushed out of its gaping crater, they fled in the only direction open to them. All went well until they came to a stream of hot, smoking lava about thirty feet across. Sizing up their situation, they realized that their only hope was to get over that wide barrier. One of the men was old; the other was healthy and young. With a running start, they each tried to leap to safety. The first man went only a few feet through the air before falling into the bubbling mass. The younger, with his greater strength and skill, catapulted himself much farther. Though he almost made it, he still missed the mark. It did not matter that he out-distanced his companion, for he, too, perished in the burning lava.
Sin is falling short of a standard, the glory of God. Though some may fall short of the standard by far more than others, all fall short nevertheless.
  1. And when we sin, there is a cost. Take a look at Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    1. When we do a job, we are expected to get paid. There are wages due.
    2. Sin, too, has a cost – just as our job has wages due, so does sin – and that wage is death.
    3. Now, we all know that we will die – but that is only part of the cost. The death that Paul is suggesting here is a “spiritual death” - an eternity away from God.
(Ill.) In one of our large industrial towns a plant was erected for the manufacture of artificial flowers. The work was enjoyable, and the wages paid to the employees were far better than they had been able to earn elsewhere. The establishment was looked upon as a godsend, and the proprietor as a benefactor to the community. Very soon, however, the health of one of the brightest and most capable girls began to fail. She went listless and weary to her work, and when it was done was barely able to drag herself home. One day she was not able to leave her bed, and a week later the undertaker’s hearse stood at the door. She had been the support of a feeble mother and several small children. Suddenly other employees went home from the factory white and fainting, to go to work no more. Finally an investigation was made, and it was found that the workers had been all the while inhaling the most deadly chemicals, which were used in the coloring of the flowers. While they had been generously paid in money, a part of the real wages was—death. Does this not make plain the words of Paul, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23)? Sin may pay you liberally in mirth or money, but that is not all. There is a part of the pay that can be deferred for a time, but it is sure to come. “The soul that sinneth, it shall surely die!” (Ezek. 18:20).ii

(Ill.) J. C. Ryle put it this way, “There is always an advertised price for sin. But that price is always lower than the actual price.”iii
    1. There is a cost for sin – a cost we all are expected to pay.
    2. But the verse does not end with that cost, listen again: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    3. Paul does tell us the wages for sin, but he also tells us that God wants to give us something – Jesus Christ.
    4. Jesus paid the price, totally and completely for our sin. And God offers it to us – free of charge. We only need to accept it.
(Ill.) I have made it a habit of giving mugs to each new visitor to our little worship service here. Not one of you has refused my gift. But let me ask a question – if you refused the mug, how many “Worship at the Garden” mugs would you have. None – you had to accept the gift in order to enjoy its benefits. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God's gift, like my gift, must be accepted. It must become ours. Let ask a simple question, “Have you received God's gift of eternal life?

(Ill.) On Friday Sandra and I went to see the newest Ice Age movie. It was hilarious. On the other hand, before the Ice Age movie there was a short cartoon that had a baby trying to save butterfly from a nasty older kid who thought it was cute to kill butterflies. Toward the end of the movie, the baby lets the butterfly out the window and it sits on the window sill for a moment as if to say goodbye. At just that moment, the older kid closes the window – and the audience lets out a collective sigh as they picture the crunched butterfly.  
A very poor ending to a kids cartoon – but the baby is taken out to the car by the parents and the older kid sits in the window smirking. But as the parents drive off, we see the baby's ribbon suddenly come alive woth flapping wings – its the butterfly. And the older kid? He opens the window to examines his prize, only to discover that the baby's ribbon unravels into his hand – not a butterfly.
  1. Too often we look at God's gift of life like that butterfly – a last minute reprieve – just to let us live. But God had something else in mind. Listen to the words of John 10:10 - The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (or as other translations put it, have it abundantly).
    1. There are no age limits here, there are no gender limits
    2. God wants us to have an abundant life.
    3. God wants us to have a live that goes above and beyond anything we might expect.
(Ill.) Do you remember the little demonstration that I did with water here a while ago. That demonstration did not go well – but when I filled that glass, the water went everywhere. That is the meaning of “abundant” - to overflow, to spread out, to run over. That is what God is willing to give us, if we are willing to receive it.


iIllustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively. 1989 (M. P. Green, Ed.) (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000. Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.
iiiIllustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively. 1989 (M. P. Green, Ed.) (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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