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Lombard CRC

Divine Love Demonstrated

Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

GEMS  - who do you love?

Your parents, siblings – some of the time?

Your friends?

But let me ask you this: prove it.

How do you show your love?

. . .

Those are some good answers.

But sometimes that’s hard to say, isn’t it?

Love is difficult at times to understand or express.

Sometimes we don’t recognize how people love us

for our good, to help us;

we don’t see it that way

because of our own misunderstanding of what love is.

Whether it’s your parents saying no,

or confronting you about some behavior,

or your friend calling you out

for some bad choice or behavior,

or even the Bible opening your heart

to confession or admitting guilt –

these are all hard things

but can be loving things,

altho we don’t always think so at the time.

 

And sometimes, we get confused, or disappointed,

or even hurt when those who say they love us

act in ways that are unloving toward us.

 

Clearly, as human beings,

we don’t have as good an understanding

or experience of love as we think we do.

 

Love is important to us,

most of us would say it’s as important as life itself.

So what do we do?

 

We see perfect love revealed by God.

God is love, says the Bible.

And the Creator God created love.

Love is a divine gift;

love’s origins and practice can’t be explained well

with merely natural, evolutionary explanations.

And this chapter, Romans 5, shows

that God redeemed us with his love.

So we learn what love is

and what loving is all about from the Lord.

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Listen to what this says.

First, it says love is only love when it is demonstrated, shown, acted.

That’s why we were taught from early on

actions like sharing,

like taking the smaller piece of cake,

like giving money in the collection plate,

like shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk,

like letting your little sister or brother choose

the family outing or which TV show to watch.

 

We were all learning that love is acted out

if it’s really love.

This is a bigger challenge today because most of us

have more that we consider our own:

you have your own room now,

your have your own phone,

you have more than one TV in your house,

you have your own money!

We don’t grow up needing each other as much

or needing to share and ask for help as much

or just being around each other more.

 

We forget that all these

and more important things are blessings.

They are gifts given us.

They are not ours, but tools and means

for us to love as God so loved us.

Because love is acted out, demonstrated.

 

God demonstrated his own love for us.

God showed us his love.

You know John 3:16,

Most of us memorized it as,

God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son

that whoever believes in him will not perish

but have eternal life.

The accurate sense of the first phrase of that verse is:

God loved the world this way.

This is how God loved . . .

This is God loving: he gave his Son.

That’s the purest, perfect demonstration of love.

 

Sometimes things happen in our lives

or happen not to happen

and we question God’s love.

Maybe God doesn’t love me because of this.

Or maybe God’s love doesn’t really matter

because of that.

 

Sometimes we think we know more about love

than God does,

that we are more loving . . .

 

This is our old struggle with what love really is, after all.

But love is not about making me happy

or letting me do whatever I want

or keeping me safe or giving me a break.

 

Does God love me?

Romans 5 teaches us we find the answer

at the cross of Jesus.

 

Second, the foundation of love is the cross of Christ.

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is where we start in receiving

the grace of God’s love for us.

And this is how we understand what love truly is.

 

Maybe you wonder today,

I don’t know if God loves me because I have no friends.

Remember, Jesus died on the cross for you.

I don’t know if God’s love matters to me

because I’m so sick,

or I am so burdened by financial struggles

or I can’t seem to do the right thing.

Jesus died for you on the cross.

Does God love me? I’m so unhappy.

Jesus died for you on the cross.

 

Until we get that we won’t realize

how deeply we are loved by the Lord.

The cross reveals God’s determination

to love us no matter what:

We look at Jesus in order to become lovers.

From him we see what love isn’t,

and then what love really is.

Love isn’t a feeling.

For feelings come and go.

The Bible tells us Jesus was hungry, tired, wounded, sinned against, rejected,

falsely labeled and falsely accused.

Yet thru all that suffering his love for creation,

for his enemies, for you and me, never changed.

Thankfully, love isn’t a feeling:

it’s God’s determination to save you.

So you will love not just when you feel like it.

In fact, you REALLY love DESPITE your feelings.

 

The cross shows the lengths God goes,

giving and then giving up his life:

the Father gave the Son,

and the Son gave his life.

vs 9 says we were justified by his blood.

That means we aren’t justified without his blood.

It means we aren’t right,

we have no excuse,

we cannot defend ourselves,

apart from the sacrifice of Jesus for us.

To be justified is to be put back in a right relationship.

Otherwise, vs 9-10 remind us

we are God’s enemies!

We live under God’s wrath!

 

Ever have some angry with you?

Imagine if God was angry with you!

And since the LORD is holy, perfectly righteous,

God’s anger would be deserved, just!

But long ago the Lord decided

he would not approach us in wrath;

he came instead in his Son,

who loved us with the cross.

Are we understanding the deep meaning of true love?

  1. Buechner -

“The love for equals is a human thing—

of friend for friend, brother for brother.

It is to love what is loving and lovely.

The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing—

the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely.

This is compassion,

and it touches the heart of the world.

The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing—

to love those who succeed where we fail,

to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice,

the love of the poor for the rich,

of the disfavored for the privileged.

The world is always bewildered by its saints.

And then there is the love for the enemy—

love for the one who does not love you

but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain.

The tortured's love for the torturer.

This is God's love.

It conquers the world.”

 

The cross reveals the character of love is sacrifice.

That’s not always what we think love is.

One teenager wrote this poem:

Sex sounds a lot like love, but it’s not.

“I want you” doesn’t mean

“I want to give my life to you.”

“I need you” isn’t the same as “I will be here for you.”

“You’re gorgeous” doesn’t mean

“I love you for who you are.”

“It feels good” doesn’t mean

“I want to feel good about you when it’s all over.”

“I’ll be gentle” isn’t the same as

“I care about your feelings.”

“Everybody’s doing it” doesn’t mean

“I want to do it God’s way.”

“It’s so good I want it now” isn’t the same as

“It’s so good, I’m willing to prepare and wait for it.”

Sex is not the same as love

no matter how similar they sound.

 

For the character of love is sacrifice:

it is laying down your wants, your rights,

your preferences, your opportunities

for the Christ-like well-being of another.

That doesn’t mean just giving in

and doing whatever someone else wants.

But it does mean considering

the needs and the help other’s need

in order to bless them.

That’s your GEMS them and verse this year, right?

Be a blessing!

2 Corinthians 9:8: And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times,

having all that you need,

you will abound in every good work.

 

At the beginning I asked you to tell me

how you love those you love,

and sometimes that’s hard to answer.

Well, it can be even harder to answer

how we bless others,

how to be a blessing today!

These words help:

give instead of take

love when you do not like

pray and not just say you will

include the one excluded

serve instead of being served.

This helps us practice Christ-like love as sacrifice

to the glory of God.

Because the foundation of love is the cross.

 

Third, Romans 5 reveals that God loves you

and you need God’s love.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

There is nothing that stands in the way

of the Lord’s love for you.

God’s love is not a contest that only a few win.

It’s not an accomplishment you have to earn

by your own merit.

vs 6 – while we were still powerless,

Christ died for the ungodly.

 

Powerless meaning unable, beyond our ability, helpless.

So if you’re wondering what you have to do

to get God to love you

the answer is that you can’t do anything,

but you don’t have to,

at just the right time Christ died for you.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He had every reason not to.

The cross doesn’t look like just the right time to us.

It looks all wrong.

 

But that’s because we put too much faith

in ourselves and our abilities.

We put other needs ahead of

the most important necessity:

to receive the love of God.

 

Notice who Jesus died for.

We quickly answer: me, he died for me.

And that’s true if you accept

what it really says here in Romans 5 –

Christ died for the ungodly.

Is that me?

Am I ungodly?

Oh, I’m not perfect, but I’m okay,

pretty good actually,

compared to that guy? I’m great!

This is the biggest obstacle to God’s love in our loves,

we confess we think we don’t really need it.

 

We want other things from God.

But it’s the sin in us:

it’s the guilt that breaks us,

it’s the shame that isolates us,

it’s the regret that paralyzes us,

it’s the transgression and iniquity that

forces us to live on our own without God.

 

So (8) while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Our ungodly lives and hearts:

This is what the love of God must take on for us.

 

Why is this a big deal?

1 - Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

Peace is what is at stake.

Peace with God.

Not just feeling secure and at rest,

tho there is precious little of that these days

even in our own land

so to enjoy that blessing with God is amazing grace.

But peace in the sense of a flourishing life,

not just surviving but thriving.

 

A life lived by grace instead of persistent judgment

doing more and proving we’re better than the rest

and what have you done for me lately.

 

Eugene Peterson shares:

The two most difficult things to get straight in life

are love and God.

More often than not, the mess people make in their lives can be traced to failure or stupidity or meanness

in one or both of these areas.

The basic biblical and Christian conviction

is that the two subjects are closely related.

If we want to deal with God the right way,

we have to love the right way.

If we want to love the right way,

we have to deal with God the right way.

God and love cannot be separated.

It is Jesus who links God and love accurately,

intricately, and for good.

 

So when we get love straight

by confessing our need for God to love us,

and receiving the grace of the cross,

then we can begin to get life straight,

at least a little.

 

GEMS –

you, by that grace

you have so much of your life ahead of you:

a lot of decisions

a lot of joy

and heartache too.

So receive the love of God poured into you

because of the cross of Christ.

Because making choices and decisions

knowing that the Lord loved you enough

to sacrifice his life on the cross for you

to bring you into peace with our Heavenly Father,

changes everything for the better.

 

You will have moments and seasons

when you wonder

does anyone love me?

The Lord does.

The cross proves it.

 

And you will have times and situations

when you are tempted run after lesser things

than the Lord’s love.

You will think that what I really need is more:

more health,

more power,

more money,

more happiness.

So now is the time to remember in your hearts

that what you are made for is God’s love,

nothing more,

nothing else,

for this is where peace is given and received,

this is the blessing that blesses everything else.

 

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