2020 - Romans
Therefore… More Blessings
Romans 5:1-2Therefore,* 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*.
--The first major “therefore” in Romans. Let’s see what it’s… therefore.
--The three groups who have received the good newses, by sharing the faith of Abraham, are made right!
--Blessing One – Peace… we move from war with God... yipping like chihuahuas… stomping like two-year-old… rallying against the creator… to being at peace… changing sides!
--Blessing Two… We stand in the throne room in the flow of the creator; in the glow of grace.
--Blessing Three… We not only joice but we re-joice that we can carry the glory from the throne room to the world ambassador-ing the message of God’s blessings to the world! We no longer fall short of glory!
From at war with God, to becoming ambassadors for God; is like a candy store metaphor…
Let me summarize the first three blessings in a single word… purpose. We have moved from aimless anger to being on a mission from God… sharing the glory of his seven blessings!
These were the first three of seven blessings found in Romans 5:1-11. Let’s continue being the kid in the toy store… frantically discovering the other four blessings…
BLESSING FOUR – We have hope in our sufferings
Romans 5:3-4 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
More than that? Seriously? More than being given peace and grace and glory and purpose?
One of the consistent themes of the New Testament is the blessing of sharing in the sufferings of Christ.
Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
In Chapter 8 Paul elaborates…
Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
We take on the suffering of Christ to become like Christ to share in his glory!
As we take the Seven blessings to the world, as ambassadors, we will certainly encounter hurt. The world is still struggling. Perhaps, COVID-19 is a good example. I believe the Gospel of God’s glory is making the world a better place… that is the purpose I talked about earlier. But certainly, now we are struggling…
--We are struggling to do what is right
--We are struggling with our relationships
--People are sick, some have died
--We are to rejoice in such tribulations? This is the 4th blessing. “I like the first three.”
Let’s apply the 4th blessing to COVID-19… Paul outlines a process.
--Suffering – the word here is a big word… tribulations; problems; hurt; stress; COVIDs… This large category of hurt is the starting point of the 4thblessing. Suffering develops…
--Endurance – you never know how tough you are till things get tough. You discover what you are made of when things get ugly. Do you fold, do you panic, do you explode on others? Suffering produces endurance. In the old days I ran marathons. You stress the body and heal… stress the body and heal… until you have endurance. The same way your muscles gain endurance is the same way your soul gains endurance. We rejoice in knowing that stress makes us stronger… and then… The COVID is revealing within us toughness. We as a church are stronger than struggles!
--Endurance produces character. The most interesting people are those who have overcome some… thing; who have accomplished something overcoming some great adversity. All the great stories of our heroes start with a struggle to defeat a trial. That makes us interesting. That give us maturity. That gives us wisdom. Think of all the stuff we have learned over the last six months… We can do church in different ways; be church, together or apart. Our love for each other is strong! We are developing the character of Christ as a church!
--Character produces hope… The expectation of success comes through failure followed by accomplishment… trying and failing and triumph… and discouragement and discovery… and learning the hard way and remembering! COVID-19 hasn’t destroyed our church. We can handle the it and whatever the next problem happens to be. We end up in hope!
Suffering – Endurance – Character – Hope is a true blessing!
The writers of the New Testament never paint the Christian life as a… walk in the park; a stroll down lover’s lane; a peachy-keen bliss; but rather as a process of problems producing Christ in us! We have a surprisingly changed attitude as a result of the Corona Virus.
At War – In Grace – Ambassadors of glory – being made like Christ through suffering… wow, we have a surprisingly changed attitude about suffering…
I can’t wait for 5, 6 and 7…
BLESSING FIVE – The Spirit pours out God’s love
Romans 5:5 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.
Paul lived in an honor/shame society. To be put to shame by your god was the worst. To be abandoned or left alone by the god you were counting on because your god is fickle would be, to say the least, embarrassing.
Paul encourages us that is not going to happen to us… because our God, YHWH is love. The metaphor he uses is graphic. Your heart is a jar…Love is being poured by the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with his love!
As we encounter suffering in the world with our surprisingly Christ-like attitude… we share this love that has been poured into our hearts… The Holy Spirit accompanies our encounters in with the suffering of the world… by filling us with His love to share that love with others.
As we share his love in the suffering of the world as ambassadors, he continually fills us up with more love. You know people who give constantly from a never exhausted flow of service… that love is being constantly being renewed by the Spirit. That’s the secret.
I am excited about getting to chapter 8 in a few weeks. We may have to camp in chapter 8 for a while in order to really draw all the joy from the concept of the Spirit's help. The point here is we have the glorious gift of the Spirit to fill us with his love. This is real blessing.
If you ever doubt this love… if there are questions…if there is hurt that doesn’t seem to be healed by God’s love… we have blessing six…
BLESSING SIX – We have proof of His love
How can you tell who loves you?
--If you are an infant, you know it is the one who changes your diaper and feeds you that wonderful milk and rocks you to sleep.
--If you are a toddler, you know it is the one who gets up in the middle of the night and cares for you when you are sick and it is the one who scobs your knob and takes you to see the big trucks.
--If you are a school age kid you know it is the one who fixes you PB and J sandwiches and comes to your orchestra recital and does science projects with you. Or lately does a lot of teaching at home.
--If you are a teen you know who loves you. It is the one you want to be with you all the time; who texts you constantly… the one who is in constant contact.
--And when you are engaged it is the one who buys you that really beautiful ring.
--And when you are a newlywed it is the one who fixes you breakfast.
--And when you all older it is the one who has been faithful for 40+ years and has never wavered and still fixes you breakfast.
--You know you are loved when the number of people who call you “Grandpa” exceeds all your fingers and most of your toes! “Grandpa” is to say I love you.
--And that is as far as I can go. Give me a few more years. I'll preach this again and add to it.
You can always tell who loves you by the sacrifices that person makes for you. Now, listen to this:
Romans 5:6-8For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Christ died for us while we were at war with him. Now, that we are his ambassador, what is he willing to do for us?
NJB Romans 5:8 So it is proof of God's own love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
Who loves you? Who really loves you? God does. How do you know? He demonstrated it by sending his son to die for us. The blessing of knowing God's love is incomprehensible!
This has to be the center of who we are. Your view of God may be your most important belief. It shapes your entire view of the world… your encounters… your life… your health… your treatment of others… Who you are is the one God loves!
The culmination of God's blessings is number 7… reconciliation.
BLESSING SEVEN – We have reconciliation
Romans 5:9-11 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciledto God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Here we have a “Now and Then” blessing. We, now, have moved from war with God to being his ambassador of love. Paul points to the future, Then, is this last blessing.
Paul words this last blessing like an official document of reconciliation. It is like a guarantee of the future. This document is signed with the full name of… our Lord Jesus Christ! There is an assurance of the future life together with God to walk in the cool of the evening. God will have what he wanted from the beginning… reconciliation… a being together in the next age. We are reconciled permanently in the “Then Age!”
There are not many pictures painted in Scripture of the “Then Age”. In my simple way of thinking, I picture the truest, best impulses in this life as pointers into the Then Age.
--I see the beauty of this creation… enhanced… Then.
--I feel the love of this world multiplied… in the Then Age.
--All injustice, prejudice, alienation all made right…Then.
--Our desire for genuine freedom is the reality of the Then Age.
--I am excited by the joy of companionship, which points to the Then experience being together with God.
The best of this world points to the brightness of the next world!
The Now blessings are wonderful. But the Then blessing will be overwhelming!
Romans 5:1-11 is the first climax in Romans… Paul lists a progress of Seven Blessings…
Romans 5:1-11 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace1 with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand2, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God3. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings4, 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 hearts5 through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us6 in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (In the Then Age) More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation7.
August 30, 2020
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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