The Cloak of Christ
Last week, I challenge us to grace each other. In times, such as these, with everyone out of their routine and everyone a bit on edge not knowing what is going to happen, I advocated that we need to offer each other a bit more grace.
--Allow people to make mistakes without our hammering them.
--Assume people are doing the best they can.
--Don’t be as critical as we normally are
--But rather, cut each other some slack.
So, I suggested we grace several different groups…
#1 Grace our Leaders
#2 Grace your neighbors.
#3 Grace Health Care Workers
#4 Grace our congregation
#5 Grace our families
#6 Grace the Situation
#7 Offer Grace to God
Gerry Wood suggested another group… the Media. They have been taking a lot of flack lately, maybe deservedly. But let’s add them to the people we are going to grace. They are just trying to do their jobs. Offer some grace.
Let’s check your tires. How did we do on our assignment to be exceptionally graceful? I know I have thought about being grace more often than usual.
This morning, let’s take another step backwards into Romans 13. I want us to keep going in spite of the Corona Virus. Let keep going backwards in Romans.
We have focused, so far, in Romans, on problems with church fellowship. We have focused on the internal workings of church fellowship. Paul has told us to treat each other as Real People and give voice to each other, and praise God together. Our theme verses have been meaningful as we harmonize together…
Romans 15:5-7 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
In chapter 13 we will discover that external pressures, stuff outside the church can cause church problems. This is obvious… the external virus, Corvid-16, has disrupted the internal harmony of our church. External circumstances can upset the church creating un-harmony.
In chapter 13 there are three outside problems that can fracture the church. Politics, Money and Sex. Can create problems. “No, kidding?” I’m not making this up. We will look at each, other the next few weeks.
Going backward into chapter 13 we first find the external problem of sex; Romans 13:11. It begins with a metaphor. We haven’t done a metaphor in several weeks… It’s a wake-up metaphor.
Romans 13:11 Besides this, you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wakefrom sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
The Eschatological Clock is ticking. Wow, what a creepy saying. Eschatology is the study of… last things. What happens at the end of the age is eschatology. The Eschatological Clock is ticking. The time for salvation is closer now than when you first believed. The alarm on the Eschatological Clock is ready to go off. Get up! Wake Up! Get busy! It’s time to get moving because the Eschatological Clock is ticking.
I suspect, I don’t know for sure, but most likely, in 57 AD when Paul wrote Romans, Paul still believed Jesus would return during his lifetime. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians a few years before Romans…
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 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. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
It seems, most naturally, that Paul included himself with “we who are alive”. Those asking the question in Thessalonica would be reunited with those who had died in Christ. It seems Paul was under the impression that Jesus would come back while he was still alive. He still believed this when he wrote Romans. “Wake-up Jesus is coming soon. The Eschatological Clock is ticking.”
But I think later, Paul changed his mind about Jesus coming in his lifetime. In his last book, before his death, Paul wrote…
2 Timothy 4:6-9 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. Do your best to come to me soon. (I’m about to die.)
Jesus took longer than Paul expected to return to earth. I have a possible explanation.
This may be what Paul was thinking. I don’t think it is an Eschatological Clock, at all, but rather, a gauge. I suspect there is an Eschatological Gauge. Perhaps, the Eschatological Thermometer? Instead of a set date in time for the return of Jesus, rather a set of conditions triggers the end. When the world reaches a certain temperature…The end comes.
I am likely wrong about this… 23% chance I’m correct. But it would explain Pau’s thinking. He expected the Gospel to reach the world quickly. It did. Perhaps it did not reach the temperature setting to trigger the Day. It could have reached a certain degree in his lifetime. But it did not get there. And why it has been, within 10 years, of 2,000 since Jesus said he would come again.
“Wait, Tim I thought we were supposed to be taking about sex?” We are getting there. I’m not off topic… too far.
Paul uses the Eschatological Clock/Gauge metaphor to tell them to… Wake-up! The clock is ticking!
Verse 12 tells us what to do when we wake-up…
Romans 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then, let us cast off the works of darkness… and put on the armor of light.
The metaphor continues. Because the Day is at hand. Because the time or temperature is getting close. We need to put off the stuff that happens at night, the bad stuff, the sex stuff… and make some progress with the weapons of Light!
This metaphor is consistent with the Eschatological Gauge. The armor of light presses against the works of darkness. When we put on the armor of light, we fight to press back the darkness. We, by our light-actions are causing the Day of His return to come. The day is at hand… SO THEN… press against the darkness by shining the light!
We can bring about the Day by being the light of the world!
1 Corinthians 15:23-25 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
We are his kingdom. We are his rule. We are his reign. We are his hands. We are his voice to spread the Gospel… until he puts all enemies under his feet.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
We are his kingdom working to ultimately get the victory! Therefore, we abound in the work!
Peter makes much the same point…
2 Peter 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
Wake up the clock is ticking. We abound in work; we spread the light until we bring the DAY! Notice the lives of holiness, lives of godliness… which brings us to the sex part of the sermon.
Romans 13:13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
The spread of the light, the bringing of the Day is hampered by sin. The Day is delayed by sinful behavior!
Sin is sin because it kills. Sin hurts. Sin breaks relationships. Sin destroys church harmony. Sin keeps people from spreading the light of the kingdom.
Three kinds of sin mentioned here…
Intentional Sin --Orgies and drunkenness – We don’t go out in the night to find trouble. Intentional, reckless living hurts the spread of the Gospel. Sin is darkness.
Tempted Sin --Sexual immorality and sensuality sins. Some sin is unintentional… tempted. We remain pure. Purity is the light that spreads the kingdom. Purity cancels the darkness. How much damage has been done to the church of God by the darkness of sexual sins? Sexual sins destroy lives… families… churches…
In the Moment Sin -- Sin that just bursts from us in anger. Paul mentions quarreling and jealousy… The anger that causes a person to lose control and lash out with words and spite. The getting sucked into drama shuts out the light of the Gospel.
This one may have direct application to us in our current situation. I have seen lots of “don’t panic” warnings. We must not allow the nerves of pressure to cause us to lose it. As I said last week, let’s be grace. Put on an extra layer of patience to keep from “in the moment sins”.
Sin is a showstopper to the advancement of the light. Sin is a showstopper to the fellowship of the church. Sin keeps the Day from coming. So, Paul says… wake up the clock is ticking. Put on the armor of light to hasten the Day. Never allow sin to slow the advance of the Gospel!
Paul concludes in verse 14.
Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Here is another spectacular metaphor… the Cloak of Christ. We put on Christ like we put on a coat. Only the Cloak of Christ provides protection against sin. The Cloak of Christ is the armor of light. It dispels the darkness. The Cloak of Christ advances the Day!
Bringing on the Day when Jesus returns! We wake up and put on our cloak to advance the Gospel; to drive back the darkness! Sin does not kill us… we wear the Cloak of Christ!
What an amazing way to think. Wake Up. Put on the armor of Light which is the Cloak of Christ which protects us from sin and advances the Gospel! As we interact with the world, or don’t, let’s put on the Cloak of Christ to be
Banner…Do your best.
--The Clock is ticking – do your best
--Get out of bed - to do your best
--Put on the Cloak of Christ to stop sinning – wear it as your best
--Advance the kingdom by wearing the light to bring about the DAY! – That is your best!
Rubber meets the road assignment…
When tempted this week by intentional sin or tempted sin or outburst sin say, “I’m wearing the Cloak of Christ!” If you can take a moment before deciding to intentionally or when tempted or in the heat of the anger… Remember the Cloak of Christ. Put it on…
Next time, I hope… Money and then… Politics.
Listen to Romans 13:11-14, all together…
Romans 13:11-14 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Los Alamos Church of Christ
March 22, 2019