Sunday, October 31, 2004

Salvation Is ...

Intro: I sort of feel that my preaching these last few weeks has been kind of negative.

  1. Much of the first few chapters of Romans draws our attention to the fact that we are sinners.
  2. Maybe you feel like my wife some thirty years ago. . We had just arrived in Chicago after being married five days earlier. We had to catch a bus that would take us north to Waukegan. But it was an overcast day in the Spring of 1974 – and she panicked. She look out of the bus window and said those words that we remember so well, “I've come to one of those God forsaken places where the sun never shines.” Let it be known, that it has shown over the past 30 years.
  3. But it is possible that my preaching has left us feeling like we have reached one of those places in our spiritual life “where the sun never shines.”
  4. But today we turn, along with Paul, the corner. We begin to see what really is the good news of the gospel and what distinguishes Christianity from all the other world's religions.
Read Romans 3:21-32


Tran. During the next few minutes, I want to discuss seven characteristics that will help us to better understand the nature of the salvation we are offered in Jesus Christ.

I. Salvation is apart from the Law Romans 3:21
  1. For centuries the Jews had tried to understand and obey all the laws of God.

  2. (Ill.) Their spiritual leaders had identified 613 laws- and from those they had developed corollaries that the faithful were expected to keep. Realize that most of these “laws” were merely their interpretations – not from God. But the faithful Jew tried to keep them.
  3. Righteousness came from behaving, but it could not happen.
  4. The Law did point to God and his expectation of a righteous people – but the OT also pointed to something beyond the law.
  5. The sacrifices, the prophecies, and great teachers all witnessed to the truth.
  6. The OT law, as well as the rest of the OT, could point to the way, but they could not take care of mans sin.
II. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ Romans 3:22a
  1. Being righteous is tough – no, it is impossible
  2. Yet that is what God demands if we are ever to live in his presence.

  3. (Ill.) As a child I loved to swim – I still do. More than one person called me a fish out of water. But I always was careful to swim where there were lifeguards. Now, I never had to use their services. Yet, if I had, I could never have done nothing to save myself – it was only because the lifeguard was on duty that I would still be alive.
  4. You see there is nothing we could do to make ourselves righteous.
  5. It is something that we must leave in the hands of God – and he chooses to do it through the person of Jesus Christ.
III. Salvation is for everyone Romans 3:22b-23
  1. “For God so loved the world ...” - the most famous scripture, translated into more languages than any other verse. That's the good news.
  2. But the need for God's love is described here – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

  3. (Ill.) This simple verse should be of special interest to those of you who are interested in sports. Twice Paul uses sports terms to describe our connection with sin – For all have sinned – we have already discussed this word. “harmatia” - the archer who has missed the mark. Paul then reminds us the we each “fall short” of the glory of God. The word is the one who is in a race, a marathon, and is coming in last. It refers to the one who is left behind at the end of the race. Sin is a universal ailment.
  4. Because of sin God had to respond. Because He loved us he did respond
IV. By grace Romans 3:24
  1. There is nothing in me, there is nothing in you, that warrants God providing salvation for us.
  2. It is only because He chose, because God chose, to provide salvation that we can be saved.
  3. We call that grace.

  4. (Ill.) Max Lucado, in his book In the Eye of the Storm, wrote: The supreme force in salvation is God’s grace. Not our works. Not our talents. Not our feelings. Not our strength. Salvation is God’s sudden, calming presence during the stormy seas of our lives. We hear his voice; we take the step. We, like Paul, are aware of two things: We are great sinners and we need a great savior. We, like Peter, are aware of two facts: We are going down and God is standing up. So we … leave behind the Titanic of self-righteousness and stand on the solid path of God’s grace. And, surprisingly, we are able to walk on water. Death is disarmed. Failures are forgivable. Life has real purpose. And God is not only within sight, he is within reach.
    In the Eye of the Storm
V. At great cost to God Romans 3:24-25
  1. Someplace I once heard that Salvation was free
  2. Though it was free to me, it cost a lot
  3. It was Jesus who paid the price.

  4. (Ill.) The year before I came to this church I was allowed to attend a conference in Covington, KY. Covington is lovely little town directly across the border from Cincinnati,OH. My colleague in the CS department at Roberts was my roommate. Microsoft, the computer people, was also in attendance – and they were passing out prizes. Both my roommate and I received prizes. They looked alike, there didn't seem to be any difference between what we received. Until we opened them up – and his was green and mine was orange. You see, his was the equivalent of 11 floppy disks and mine was the equivalent of 22 floppy disks. Why did mine hold twice as much as my colleagues? I have no idea. But it is a perfect illustration of Grace – getting something I do not deserve for no reason at all.
VI. In perfect Justice Romans 3:25-26
  1. God, when he began to put together a plan for salvation, had a problem. Here is the perfect God.

  2. (Ill.) I expect that most of you have experienced the same problem. You have spent the last three months looking for the perfect piece of furniture and you bring it home. For the next three months you keep it polished and dusted. You are careful to place every dish down so carefully. But then something happens and you see it. A ding. A mark and all of a sudden the piece of furniture is not the same as it was. Multiply that piece of furniture a thousand times, a million times, and you have a small picture of God.
  3. Warren Wiersbe wrote God must be perfectly consistent with Himself. He cannot break His own Law or violate His own nature. A God of love wants to forgive sinners, but a God of holiness must punish sin and uphold His righteous Law. How can God be both “just and the justifier”? The answer is in Jesus Christ. When Jesus suffered the wrath of God on the cross for the sins of the world, He fully met the demands of God’s Law, and also fully expressed the love of God’s heart. The animal sacrifices in the Old Testament never took away sin; but when Jesus died, He reached all the way back to Adam and took care of those sins. No one could accuse God of being unjust or unfair because of His seeming passing over of sins in the Old Testament time.

No comments: