Sunday, January 30, 2005

Sin - No Way

Intro: There is a underlying rule in parenting that says, “If we don't give children the attention they need, they will find a way to get it.”

  1. By his or her behavior

  2. By acting out

  3. Through disobedience

Our scripture this morning suggests a similar problem in our spiritual lives.

Read Romans 6:1-18


T.S. Paul has told us why we need a savior – we are sinners Paul has told us who that savior is – Jesus Christ Paul has told us how to be saved – by grace

And that presents a problem. It goes something like this – if God is going demonstrate his grace because of my sin. Then the more I sin, the more of God's grace I will need to experience.

And this is a good thing?

Paul's initial answer is “No, let it not be.” μὴ γένοιτο But then he goes on to give two clear reasons for walking away from sin:

  1. We are alive, and no longer dead

  2. We are free and no longer slaves.
  1. We are alive – not dead.

      1. There is a parallel between our lives before we came to Christ and our lives now and Christ's death and resurrection.

(Ill.) 21X Paul uses the words life or death in these eleven verses. Sometimes referring to Christ's death and sometimes to our state without Christ in our life.

      1. Christ died – in a few weeks we will be celebrating that death on Good Friday.

      2. We too were dead – Paul tells us that “The wages of sin is death.”

      3. When we live our lives separated from Jesus – there is something missing.

(Ill.) In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” Without Jesus, life is does have something missing.

      1. But just as Christ is no longer dead after the resurrection on Easter Sunday morning, so we have experienced the resurrection in our own lives when we received Christ.

(Ill.) In the Methodist church we allow each person who chooses to be baptized to also chose the mode of baptism. The most common mode in the Methodist church is sprinkling – that is why we have a baptismal font in the front of the church. But the church also allows a candidate immersion – where the pastor and the candidate are in a shallow body of water and the candidate is completely immersed during the ceremony. When we consider this passage, immersion makes sense. In immersion, the candidate is buried and raised. Immersion may illustrate it best; but regardless of the mode of baptism, the parallel remains -

      1. But the miracle of being raised with Christ, is not some miracle that happens at baptism. It is a miracle that happens when we place our faith in Christ.

(Appl.) So what does all this mean. It means that as Christians, we do not need to continuing living our lives as if we are still dead in our sins. God has given us our life – we have a new life. Paul, here, calls it a resurrection. But whatever we call it, it means that our hearts, our view of life, our choices will be different. In Christ we are not the same person we were. And we will live our lives differently as well.

    1. We are free – not slaves.

    1. But there is another contrast here that Paul uses to answer the question of sin in the Christian – We are no longer slave, but we are free.

(Ill.) Freedom House, a respected organization has for many years been gathering data about the personal freedom people experience around the world. Using their definitions, 66% of the world has no experience of personal freedom in 2005. Two of those countries are in North America – Cuba and Haiti. I expect that you, like me, might say, “Whew, I am glad I don't live there.” Yet, as long as we live a life separated from Jesus Christ, we do not have freedom. Paul says we are “slaves to sin.”

    1. You see, until we are willing to place ourselves at the feet of the savior and determine to learn from him, we are slaves to sin.

    2. So how do we place ourselves at the feet of Jesus. Let me suggest five steps for living at the feet of Jesus:

        1. Ask Jesus to speak to you. A simple prayer - “Let me hear your voice.”

        2. Spend time in his word each day – three minutes a day in the word of God is sufficient time to allow God to transform you. And more time is even better.

        3. Spend time speaking to God. There are times when we have heavy hearts. We have concerns about our lives, or concerns about our loved ones. A relationship requires two way conversation – we will allow God to speak to us, we also need to speak to him.

        4. Spend time with believers each week. This is time over and beyond our hour or so on Sunday morning. It might be our midweek Bible Study, it might be one-on-one time with a Christian believer that will leave you stronger.

        5. Talk about your faith. We talk about what is important to us – and as you spend time at the feet of Jesus, He will become important to you and you will want to talk about Him.

Conclusion: I was reminded this week of that well known story, “Footsteps in the sand.” I am sure that you have heard it ...

  1. God wants to walk with us

  2. Will you allow him to come close.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Problems and Solutions

Read Romans 5:12-21


Intro: Some sermons are easier to write than others.

  1. My hope is that my preaching reflects the purpose of the scripture we are examining that day.

  2. I really do not want to go off on some tangent that reflects my biases rather than God's.

  3. I expect, in spite of my intentions, that I sometimes do this. I apologize if I have ever missed the point – God holds me responsible for accurately reflecting His thoughts and His ways.

  4. But there are times where it would be hard to miss the point of a passage.

  5. I suspect when I mention that today's sermon is about two men, your response is going to be that all to common teen response - “Duh^” And you will immediately know that those two men will be Adam and Jesus.

  6. In Romans 5 – Paul is not merely using Adam and Jesus to illustrate his points; rather, Paul is giving us some basic theology that help us to understand the nature of man and his need for redemption.

Tran. I want to spend the next few minutes looking at what Paul is wanting his readers to know about Adam and Jesus. The lessons are important, for they provide a basic understanding of how God perceives man. And, because we want to see our world as God sees it, it also provides considerable guidance as to how we need to see those around us and how we need to see ourselves.

  1. Lessons from Adam

      1. As I read through this morning's passage, it is very clear that Paul understands sin as having a common source – and that source is Adam.

        1. You may or may not believe in a literal interpretation of the first book of Genesis – I do.

        2. Regardless, it is very clear that that the underlying lesson here is that sin has a common origin.

        3. Theologically – it is said that Adam was the representative for us all. When he sinned, we all sinned.

(Ill.) The best illustration that I have heard is this – After the US Senate agrees to a treaty with a foreign power, it still is not valid until the President signs the treaty. When the President finally signs the treaty he is not signing it for himself – he is signing it for all of us. As a country, as a citizen of this country, once the President has signed a treaty, we are committed to it provisions.

      1. But Paul has something else for us here – Every one has sinned.

        1. Nothing new – Paul has already said it in Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

        2. You see you might want to say, “But Pastor Floyd, I'm a pretty good person.” And it may be true – but you still are a person who sins. Like everyone else in this room, you don't live up to your own expectations for yourself. And if you don't live up to your own expectations, how can you expect to live up to God's expectations for you. You can't!

      2. And because you sin, you can't blame anyone else.

        1. It would be easy to blame my parents for my sin. After all I grew up in dysfunctional home where my father was a compulsive gambler and probably an alcoholic. Counseling has helped me understand why I am broken – but it does not relieve me of being responsible for my own sin.

        2. It might be easy to blame Adam for my sin. I mean if he had never sinned, sin would have never entered the human race and I would never have sinned. I suppose I could do that – but it didn't work for Adam – he couldn't blame Eve. And it didn't work for Eve – she couldn't blame the serpent.

        3. Here is the key application – I am responsible for my own behavior, I cannot blame anyone else.

      3. And here is the final lesson from Adam – there are consequences for sin

        1. Paul is preparing us for his reminder in Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

        2. Death is ultimately a separation from God – a gap has occurred between me and God. A gap has occurred between you and God

        3. Spiritual death has eternal consequences – but it also effects us today. It effects our relationships to our families, it effects our attitudes, it effects our abilities to feel and response to our feelings. Spiritual death wears us down – we may not be dead, but we may feel dead.

        4. A gap that you and I cannot cross.

  1. Lessons from Christ

    1. A gap that you and I cannot cross – but Christ has.

(Ill.) A number of years ago my family started attending family camp every memorial day and every labor day. Timberlake was a wonderful place and a couple of years into our visits they added a obstacle course. At one point in the course we had to cross the creek. There was no easy way across. It was too deep. But there was a way across – a bridge made of tires. It was the only way across, and the only way to complete the rest of the course. We have this gap between God and ourselves – with no easy way to close that gap. Yet God has provided a way. John 14:6 says it better than me, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father but by me.” Jesus knew that he filled that gap, he provide the only way, the only way, for us to know God.

    1. Though Jesus is the only way for us to know God, he is the way for everyone to approach God. Everyone. The person from downtown Rochester. The person across the street from the church. The person across the street from your home. And even you. We cannot be good enough, we cannot say the right things, we cannot dress well enough – only by placing our faith in Jesus Christ can do we have the hope of spending eternity with Jesus. And eternity starts today.

    2. And that is the last point – just as there is a consequence for sin, there is a consequence for placing our faith in Jesus Christ and scripture calls that consequence eternal life.

        1. Eternal life starts the minute we receive Jesus

        2. Now that does not mean that all your problems are over – it does not mean that life will no longer be tough

        3. It does mean that God is beginning to make you into the person he wants you to be. It is a life long journey – a journey that every Christian is on.

        4. Is he finished – no.

(Ill.) PBPGINFWMY – Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.

Conclusion: Let me conclude by asking you to do something.

  1. Turn to the person on your left – do you see them? There sitting next to you is a sinner.

  2. Turn to the person on your right – do you see them? There sitting next to you is a sinner.

  3. Now look at the person sitting between the person on your right and the person on your left. Do you see them? That person is a sinner too.

  4. Now I want you to remind that person in the middle that there is a solution to that problem called sin.

  5. That solution is Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Changes From The Cross

Intro: In 1833, two women who had served as missionaries to India wanted to form a womens missionary society within the Methodist church.

  1. So a day was set for a large group of women to gather for the creation of the first women's group within the Methodist denomination.

  2. But the weather was less than desirable – the records show that a pelting rain kept all but six women away from that founding meeting.

  3. But when those six women gathered, they put together the foundation that is today known as the United Methodist Women.

  4. When God is part of something – it is not numbers that are important.

  5. Rather it is a willingness to be obedient to God and follow Him whatever the cost.

  6. Romans 5:1-11 begins to help us understand the consequences of trusting God.

Read Romans 5:1-11


Tran. Romans 1-4 was spent describing the necessity of salvation by grace. As sinful men and women, it was only God that could deal with our sin. We could not, our parents could not, our friends could not. ONLY God could do it. And he did.

T.S. Paul has spent four chapters describing the necessity of salvation by grace. Beginning in chapter 5, Paul describes the implications of salvation by grace for the believer. Romans 5:1-11 focuses on three consequences of salvation by grace.

  1. Our Relationship To God will be different.

      1. The first piece of this is that we have peace with God.

      2. Much more than the absence of conflict.

      3. Paul has already told us in Romans 1:18 that “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness

(Ill.) Have you ever made Italian salad dressing? It takes a bit of oil and a bit of spices mixed in vinegar. But as you see them sitting in the decanter – they don't mix. That is sort of like sin and God – they don't mix.

      1. But Christ broke down that barrier that separates us from God. There is now peace between God and ourselves.

      2. There is another word used here to describe that new relationship – we have access.

        1. I might, if I pulled all the right string, get access to the CEO of Kodak

        2. But the chances are very slim that I would be allowed into the offices of Bill Gates

        3. But there is no way that I might get access to the Queen of England or the President of the United States

        4. Yet – we are allowed access to God. No that is too simple. Here is the creator, here is the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever present, God. And we have access to him. Everything I know about sin and everything I know about God says I cannot approach Him. Yet because of what Christ has done, I can.

  1. Our Relationship To Ourselves will be different.

    1. Look at verse 3: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

    2. Suffering here is far more than pain. θλῖψις is translated in a great many ways – suffering, affliction, tribulation, distress, pressure – it refers to the problems that we all face. And Paul does not say “IF” - He assumes that these problems will be there.

(Appl.) Being a Christian never meant we would never have problems. Christ, our best model, had problems. We are broken people – and broken people have problems.

    1. But the promise is that those problems will have a benefit.

    2. Look at the cascade – it starts with the external, the pressures that are part of life; but as we move through each step, we see its effects moving increasingly to the core of our being. What starts as stress on the outside, will will leave us changed on the inside.

    3. Resulting in love – love that was demonstrated by Jesus.

(Appl.) Let me recommend a verse for memorization – verse 8: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Say it together.

  1. Our Relationship to Eternity.

    1. As sinners, something is out of whack with our relationship with God.

    2. Paul tells us that we have been reconciled through Christ's death

(Ill.) My wife's favorite job every month is reconciling her check book. Most months, it works out right. But every so often, something is out of whack. She will spend an hour or two finding the problem. And then, when she gets really desparate, she will call me. So far we have found every problem – and even they are few and far between.

    1. We are out of whack – but Christ's death reconciled us to God. When we put our faith into Christ, we find that there is a balance – a balance with eternal consequences.

    2. We have already noted that the consequences of sin is God's wrath. It is what we deserve from a holy God.

    3. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. This of course was His resurrection.

    4. I deserve to die, I deserve to experience God's wrath. But it won't happen. Why? Because I have been reconciled – because what was out of whack, is no longer out of whack.

Conclusion: When we became a Christian,

  1. Our relationship to God would not be the same

  2. Our relationship to myself would never be the same

  3. Our relationship to eternity would never be the same