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What does creation tell us about God? Why do we feel closer to Him when we're admiring His creation?
At the end of a long day, the Disciples asked Jesus about the times when the end would come. Jesus gave them Six Signs of the end.
• Through the first 5 chapters of Romans, Paul has dropped the gospel bomb on us and the Jews that the favor of God is not based on man individually following the law! In fact, Paul has been quite blunt in saying that “the law entered that the offense may abound” (Chapter 5 Verse 20)…in other words the emphasis on the law, the focus on worth, the concentration on self, (which all go hand-in-hand together), does not please God at all…does not make one right with God at all…it in fact offends Him! And that bomb exploded the self-righteous walk of the Jew! That fact blasted the gentile who seeks to present himself or herself to God as worthy based upon works… • And so for what purpose was the law then? Well that was all the way back in Chapter 3 verses 19 – 20. “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. And therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” • The law simply reveals to us our helpless state. That our hearts are deceitfully wicked beyond our comprehension. That even though we may not murder, we consider our brother with hate in our hearts and therefore murder him already in our hearts. That even though we may not steal, we withhold our affection from our wives and we withhold our fervent effort and diligence at work and therefore we deprive of what is rightfully due…or I might say righteously do. Every aspect of the law reveals to us as we peer into the mirror of God’s holy commandments, that we fall short…we are diseased…and that disease? Sin. And by that sin, death reigns in our members…the members of our life, our inner members even…depressions and hopelessness and a feeling of failure and just empty in a way…vanity. • But Paul speaks of a Man who claimed to be much more than a man. He claimed to be God Himself. He claimed to be the Lamb of God which would take away all sin. He comforted the down-trodden, He healed the sick, He fed the hungry, He clothed the poor and He gave life back where it had been lost. Finally, just as the hundreds of scriptures predicted, He was killed as a perfect sacrifice…hung upon a cross, pierced through His hands and feet…but then once dead, just as He promised, He rose! He exerted authority over death and the grave and therefore over sin itself! • “You see,” Paul shouts through the first five chapters of this letter, justification…yours and my peace with God…has not been earned, it has arrived! He has overcome the law! The requirements man! The holy standard of a holy God stacked as high as the heavens in its implications…the debt upon us all, payable upon death…Jesus has paid it with His. • And now, therefore, the “free gift” of salvation through Jesus Christ does more than the law ever promised to do! Paul told us back in the beginning of Chapter 5 that through God’s grace and through His love sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have peace with Him. Peace! And from that peace we have access! And that communion with God, with sin removed, not covered, not out-weighed by good deeds, sin removed as far as the east is from the west, that communion with God removes the weight and burden of guilt man and sets us free and so we rejoice! • But ah the logic of man…knowing right from wrong…questioning the boundaries and pondering this promise…Paul anticipates a discussion… Romans Chapter 6 Verse 1 • The rational argument that remains on the scene even today in several unholy and unrighteous religious groups and movements, “why not just keep sinning?” “Paul you just said, where sin abounded, grace abounded much more!” “Well, let grace abound then!” Now Paul will break it down for us here in exquisite spiritual style…but just a moment…I want to offer you a practical thought that may help to expose the ridiculousness of this argument. This Gnostic greasy grace heresy. • Let’s just say for discussion purposes and for the purpose of understanding the heart behind greasy grace, let’s just say that I was in a situation of gross rebellious sin. And in that evil state I committed the unthinkable, I murdered my child. Now, grace would provide that God in His love and mercy would breathe life back into my little one…but because I was so impressed with God’s grace and mercy, I thought to myself, “I’m just going to go do that again, so that God’s grace may continue…son, come over here…and I killed him again.” Is that not utterly disgusting? Well that is precisely the dark heart of one who believes in this manner…that sin is covered by grace and therefore let’s just sin it up then man…that grace may abound… • While people all around them get harmed…while God’s perfect purpose and plan for their lives, a plan of abundant life, peace and power…is absolutely stifled and twisted into a daily nightmare. That is what sin does for you! Do you understand? If my action was to continually murder my son so that God could continually restore him…how would my relationship with his mother be? How would my relationship with my other children be? How would my relationship with my in-laws be? I could go on and on…the reach of your sin is astronomical man! And this entire thought, this argument in its totality is, at its core, a perversion of the Gospel of grace. • Paul said it before…when you grasp God’s grace, when you glimpse what He has saved you from and what it cost Him, that understanding will produce in you a heart to serve Him at all costs…to please Him to obey Him as the worthy Father that He is…to continue in sin is to be ignorant of God’s love, ignorant of the Gospel and so Paul poses the question and answers it himself for us…”should sin continue that grace may abound, certainly not!” Romans Chapter 6 Verse 2 • If indeed you are dead to sin and alive in Christ, then why do you still openly live in it? Something doesn’t add up is the implication. Another way to put this is “if you continue to live in the pattern of sin then quite obviously you haven’t yet died to the flesh.” • So what, I’m just struggling with it ya know…I’m just this way because of this, because of her, because of him, because of them…NO! Jesus said to know Him you must be born again! In other words there must be a death of the flesh for the spirit to be made alive! I hear all of your excuses but man it’s written all over your life! Could it be that you’ve fooled even yourself? The love and grace of God is your excuse for not living in sin man! That’s the only excuse we should have in our lives…not an excuse to sin…an excuse from sin! • Look at it this way. If you told me that you have a baby and then invite me to your house, I expect to see certain things right? Maybe a crib, a bunch of baby toys, locks on the cabinets, gates on the stairs! I expect to go to your fridge for a cold diet coke and see some bottles or some jars of pureed peach pudding! But if when I come to hang out, none of those things are there, none of those things are present and you’re just sitting there comfortable on the couch…no baby in sight…then man you’re not a parent! Seems so simple looking at it like that right? • Well equally as simple yet eternally more important and therefore even offensive, if you tell me that you are alive in Christ yet sin continues…man it’s like 2 + 2 = 10…it doesn’t add up! Have you not been excused from that sin? Have you not been introduced to the grace and love and provision of God such that your excuse for continuing in sin is obliterated? Have you not died to the flesh and been born again into the family of God by the indwelling and remarkable Spirit of God? Paul likens it to death also… Romans Chapter 6 Verses 3 – 5 • Newness of life? Yes, the old things have passed away (have they?) all things have become new (have they?). Are you sure you have a baby? If so then is not life completely new? The Urlachers know. A month ago Levi wasn’t here and life was very different right? And now that Levi is here, days are entirely, moment-to-moment different aren’t they? You see just like that when one receives the grace of God…newness of life enters…not the same old life with a “get out of hell free” card! No! Check this out, Paul says for the one that is born again, alive in the Spirit, indwelt by the very presence and power of God…we are free and in that we will even bear the likeness and love and gentleness and peacefulness and wisdom of Jesus in our own lives! Romans Chapter 6 Verses 5 – 6 • Now there is a profound truth hidden here for us in the Greek wrapped up in that phrase “done away with.” It’s actually a single word, katargeo. Your Bible might read, “the body of sin is destroyed,” but more literally, in fact quite literally, that word means, “to be rendered inactive!” “Paralized!” It doesn’t mean “to be completely annihilated.” Your old sin nature, my old sin nature, hangs out because I am not yet who I will be for all of eternity…I’m still aging right? I’m still going the way of man…6 feet down, right? You see that old nature, hangs around until we meet the Lord in the clouds but what it is…it’s uprooted…it’s just literally paralyzed…its body is taken away, now my body belongs to the Lord, you see. • Therefore all it can do now, well it can’t make me do anything any longer, it can only scream! “Come on get yours, serve yourself, think about you…not them…pop that top, pour that drink, toy with those thoughts, lose your temper, gossip about him…it’s the truth anyway!” But look the profound truth here that Paul is telling us is that in the likeness and power of the resurrection, with a new nature of love and eternal perspective, the flesh can yell, the sin nature can scream out orders, but is powerless to act because the cross paralyzed sin from the neck down! And so you can overcome, you can go now…Jesus said so man! Romans Chapter 6 Verses 6 – 11 • Reckon? What is this the wild west? Let me clear this up…the word in the Greek is logizomi…it’s a term of rationality, an accounting term really…it means compute, calculate, add it up! You’re lost, no way out, hopeless, can’t free yourself…but God can and did – (side track; do you know how? Through the blood! Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with dead limbs? [numb] Happens to me all the time. Why? Because the blood flow is hindered. You got parts of your life, or maybe even your entire life…or maybe even your eternal life…that are dead…let the blood flow man, the blood of Jesus) – On our own, we are lost, hopeless, but God was and is able and not only that He was and is willing…and now in light of that, step forward into who you ought to be…add it up…the work of the cross is complete and it was complete! Nothing to add to it. Not your righteousness, not some religion…complete! • This word logizomi is used 49 times in the Bible and in 40 verses. 49 is 7*7, God times God…no man in there at all…no 6…no me, no you…and God times God is the math problem of our salvation as God so loved the world that He gave…God! 40 verses you see, the Biblical number of completeness…the Israelites wandered 40 years, Jesus was tempted 40 days in the wilderness, David reigned as king for 40 years…and so the pattern is complete…God * God = completeness…and so you, for yourself, for your life, for your death, add it up! Quit adding in zeros (self, works, filthy rags, religion, man made tradition)! That just makes the math problem longer to finish and delays the solution…and the solution you’ll arrive at will be that you are dead to sin and therefore sin and death and decay are overcome and you are finally, and with finality – every final aspect of you – You are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord! Romans Chapter 6 Verses 12 – 14 • “Therefore do not let…” that is a command that implies responsibility isn’t it? Don’t YOU let…therefore guess what? That means not only do you have the power to overcome through the Spirit of God in you but you have the choice to yield to God or yield to sin! That is a powerful couple of words there and here’s what’s more…you find that type of implicative command throughout the Bible…in other words, that’s good doctrine folks! • And Paul goes on to even speak of your members being used…at our own exercising of our own will…as tools to honor Satan or tools to honor God. Members Matt? Let me give you one example. Your tongue. James calls it a “little member.” You can use your tongue to speak gossip and hatred (really the same thing…actually the same thing as murder) cutting people down, propping yourself up by stomping others in the face, or you can present your tongue to God and God will use it and you to fill up your life and theirs with love…building them up and blessing you! • That’s just one silly example…we have all kinds of members that can readily be used as instruments of unrighteousness (ones even our watched) but Paul says here, when you do that, you are allowing, giving, placing yourself under…worshipping you see, following sin…something that has no power, only a loud bark…and there you go, taking commands from a loser…I mean, for real…sin is a loser…that nature has lost, been conquered, overcome…well actually, either that nature is lost…or you are. • And if you are today then this scripture set will set you free. If you’re lost in anger and frustration even in your current circumstance then look, this scripture set will set you free. Let’s summarize as we close. • Paul says “know” all the way back in verse 3. Know the facts man…the fact that in Christ we are joined with Him in His death and His resurrection. That sin has been defeated and know that you…YOU…can overcome if you’ll simply know Him…totally rely upon Him and KNOW…watch Him do just as He has promised, just as He has written…and faith surges… • Paul says in light of these facts, “reckon” or add it up…do the math…solve the equation and discover that this is true for you! • Paul says “present” yourselves to God, once and for all, as alive unto Him! Turn the corner man and live a day solely for Him. Turn that day into two…into three…into a week! Watch your life explode C4 style with hope and love and what you want deep down…freedom man… • And then Paul says in verse 12, quit obeying sin and obey God. Simple as that. Realize that sanctification, growth in the Lord and in His purpose for you and your family and your job and your church…sanctification can only proceed, can only progress when you are obedient to the will of God as revealed in His word… • And so know, reckon, present and obey…and the chains will begin to fall off…they’re powerless on their own anyway…as soon as you stop giving them power…they fall…and come under the wonderful grace of God that will fill you simply, even today.
Why do we insist on hanging unto the past? The past is gone, the future is not yet here, the Lord wants to work in your life today.
A message from Jeff Smith on Sunday, June 2, 2013 from Mark 4:35-41.
By now we all know that we are commanded by God to tell others about Jesus. None of us are “good” enough that others will see our goodness, run up to us and call out, please introduce me to Jesus. We just aren’t that good. We need to use words, just like Jesus and Peter and Paul did.
Tonight, we are studying one of the many times that Jesus shared His own Gospel. And, like everything else He did on this earth, it serves as an example of how we should share. It also makes us look at our lives and take a test of salvation. What better source to learn from than the ACTUAL source of the true Gospel?
As humans, we know virtually nothing about perfection because our lives are saturated with the imperfect. But by God's grace, He's given us His perfect Law to do what nothing else is capable of doing - reviving our souls.