Sovereign King Church
Declaration of (in) Dependence Part 9
· I’ve been thinking lately about what the relationship is between understanding the depths of our sin and understanding the depths of God’s love and grace. After thinking through this for a number of months, I think have come to a couple of conclusions.
- In fact, in a manner pretty different for me, I’ve created a graph to illustrate these things.
- Imagine a graph with one line going vertically representing your knowledge of your sin, and imagine another line going horizontally representing your knowledge of God’s love and grace.
- Now before I discuss the relationship between the two, let me make a comment about the knowledge of our sin.
- It is promised by God that we will grow in Godliness and conformity to the image of Christ as we mature as believers. In essence, we will obey more and sin less.
- Now in some ways, this is true, but here is why you can’t take in pride in that truth. As you grow in our relationship with Jesus, your blindness to your own sin is removed.
- Yes you begin to obey, but you also realize that the depths of sin in your actions, your speech, and your heart are much greater than you ever imagined.
- So, we thank God for our growing obedience, but we remain humble because we see greater depths of sin that ever before.
- So what do we do?
- Well, looking at the graph, you really have 4 options.
- If you have a shallow knowledge of your sin and a shallow knowledge that God is gracious and loving, then you will be indifferent towards God.
- Your diagnosis is that you aren’t too bad off so you don’t really need God.
- If you have a shallow knowledge of your sin and a shallow knowledge that God is gracious and loving, then you will be indifferent towards God.
- Let’s say you have a great knowledge of your sin. You know not only the sin of action and speech, but you are also aware of your heart sins. However, you have a shallow knowledge of God’s love and grace. Then, you will live a guilt ridden life.
- Your diagnosis is that you are really bad off but God is not loving or gracious enough to remove the guilt of sin.
- Let’s go the other way. Let’s say you have a shallow knowledge of your sin but see that God is incredibly is gracious and loving.
- Your diagnosis is that you are sinful, but God’s great love and grace is really for the bad sinners.
- Essentially you become self-righteous.
- So, what the last option? Let’s say you have a great knowledge of your sin. You know not only the sin of action and speech, but you are also aware of your heart sins. You also see that God is incredibly gracious and loving with more than enough love and grace to cover your sin.
- Your diagnosis will be that you live a life of humility and joy because you are much worse off that you ever knew but you realize that God is more gracious than you could ever imagine.
- So we all live in one of those 4 arenas. We are either indifferent towards God, guilt ridden, self-righteous, or humble. Perhaps there are shades of more than one in your life, but whichever you are depends upon your knowledge of your sin and your knowledge of God’s grace and love.
- Both of these areas are pretty hard to grasp: sin and grace. So this week as we return to Romans, we are going to discuss both but focus on just one. In light of that, here is this week’s Big Picture Question.
Big Picture Question: How is God’s love for you lavish, exuberant, and more incredible than you could ever imagine?
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 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.
- Notice the very specific language here. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, you can now have peace with God if you have faith in Jesus to make that peace with you. Now, this language is very specific: you can’t say that you NOW have peace with God without you once being at war with Him.
- Consistent with the theme of Romans that we have seen so far, the two options for you are either at war with God or at peace with God. There is no middle, indifferent ground.
- So , it makes sense to ask what this change of status brings you other than no longer being at war with God?
- According to these verses, you obtain God’s grace by faith in Jesus Christ. That is where you stand, and your standing there should cause you to rejoice and have hope because you can now see the glory of God.
- Now, that’s a mouthful. Look at the benefits of being justified by faith.
- Peace with God through Jesus Christ.
- Access into grace to stand before God.
- Joy in the hope of the glory of God.
- These things are not possibilities or potentialities. They are realities. I’m not preaching something that is just out of your grasp or a reality that might be true. Paul is saying this is what God has given you:
- Whether or not you live in the reality of these blessings though is a different story.
- Let me tell a story to see if I can flesh these truths out a bit. As you know, last week I was on vacation. It was an incredible time for me to just relax and spend time with Amy and my 3 girlies. Almost to the point of physical pain, I even went 24 hours without a cell phone or a computer.
- We went swimming, went to the bookstore, had floor parties where we watched movies and at popcorn. It was a blast. The time was not free of conflict. There were a few times where the kids got out of hand and they were disciplined, but I don’t think any one is reflecting on those things right now. We all look back and think what a blessing that time was.
- The other night, as the girls went to bed, I told each one of them that I would not be at the house when they woke up the next morning. They asked why with very sad faces, and I explained to them that vacation was over and I had to go back to work.
- For all of us, it was difficult for me to transition back to work. You know why? Because that time together was incredibly peaceful. We just spent crazy amounts of time together, and those times were full of joy. Though a million miles from perfect, our family is joyful, peaceful, and happy by God’s grace. We hope to get that kind of time again soon.
- Now I don’t know if you ever experienced a family getaway like that. I hope so. Maybe peaceful time for you is with old college friends or even among your CE Groups here. But the things I described there, peace, joy, and hope come from the simple pleasure of being in each other’s presence.
- That is what is yours now through Christ. You are allowed to stand in the presence of God. If you were to do on your own merit, meaning, if you approached the throne of God on your own goodness, you would be brought down and destroyed quite honestly.
- If you daily walked in the awareness of the depths of your sin, and then walked in the recognition of what was necessary to usher you into God’s presence, you would know pure joy and hope.
- Because through Christ, now that you are justified, you stand before God on Jesus’ righteousness. Even as you continue to sin, even as you are weak, even if you doubt, if you have faith in Christ, joy, peace, and hope are yours.
- Again, to be purposefully redundant if you were to fully grasp this, if you were to pursue these thoughts in scripture and prayer, it would transform your life.
- How many of you would, give anything for a day of peace and joy? I bet a ton of you. Well the only way you will enjoy a true day of peace and joy is if you pursue Christ and the benefits of His work. Nothing else will truly equal the peace and joy and hope that is yours through Jesus Christ.
- Cast your mind back to two weeks ago. We briefly mentioned how we settle for glory in money, sex, relationships, and basically every other circumstance instead of celebrating the fact that we have assess to the glory of God. As Paul says at the end of verse 2, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
- As your pastor, I am actively and daily praying for you by name that God will remove whatever is necessary in your heart and your life so that you will quit seeking glory in the mundane of the day to day and that you will find joy in the hope of the glory of God.
- Now as we go further, we are going to see that there is a present and a future aspect of rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. First, look at present in verse 3.
3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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.
- I want to make a few things very clear as we look at verses 3-5. There is a clear and obvious, step by step explanation of we grow in having hope in God. If you want to grow into being a hopeful person instead of being a cynical, sarcastic, pessimistic person, there is no shortcut or any other way to produce this hope in your lives. And for most of you, you will not be willing to walk this path.
- Paul makes it very clear. If you have the perspective of glorying in the fact that you can now stand before God, if you want that kind of hope that is hope against hope, it is going to come in only one way: suffering.
- In fact, here is the plan: you suffer, your suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope and that kind of hope, the one that endures suffering, will never put you to shame because God pours His love into you through the Holy Spirit.
- Think about this for a minute. What normally happens when you start to suffer?
- What happens when you or someone you love gets sick?
- What happens when you lose a job?
- What happens when your kids aren’t successful?
- What happens when your dreams just don’t come true?
- Well, the typical and first reaction is what? To say:
- Please heal me or whoever else is sick.
- Please help me find a job.
- Please make my kids successful.
- Please make my dreams come true.
- Now those aren’t bad prayers. God has surely answered those kinds of prayers favorably before, but quite honestly, in light of this verse, those prayers are a little shortsighted.
- According to this verse, your suffering is THE, capital T,H,E, the way in which God wants to produce character and hope in you.
- God might take those things away from you or change your circumstance but the intention of your sufferings according to this verse is to produce Godly character in you.
- Ever wonder why you just can’t grow in godliness? You know what I mean.
- Everybody seems to have a closer walk with Jesus than you.
- You wish you could stop looking at porn.
- You wish you could stop being a hateful shrew to your husband.
- You wish you could quit been a domineering piece of crap to your wife and kids.
- You wish you could experience real joy.
- Maybe and just maybe you spend all your time wishing away suffering and complaining to God instead of realizing that God wants to use your suffering to instill those Godly qualities that you lack.
- Suffering produces real Godly character. Why?
- You see, no theoretical knowledge of suffering is going tell you what Jesus is like. The scriptures are powerful and you can read about what Jesus went through but it will leave you lacking in truly understanding Jesus.
- Real honest suffering however gives you a first hand knowledge of what Jesus went through on your behalf.
- That kind of knowledgeable experience produces Godly character.
- And once you begin to have Godly character, you know that character like Jesus had, then you can have real hope…a hope that responds to suffering in the same way that Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane.
- In Mark 14:36, Jesus is getting to go and suffer humiliation and death and He prays this prayer. He says, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
- In case this isn’t enough inspiration for you, Paul wants to tell you a little more about Christ in whom you should emulate. Look at verse 6.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- While you were weak, Christ died for you, the ungodly. Verse 6 is a parallel verse. Weak here is moral weakness, and moral weakness is ungodliness. So, while you were without any godliness of your own, as morally weak and bankrupt as possible, Christ died for you.
- Now, let’s put this into perspective. You might die for someone who is righteous. You might die dare to die for someone who is good. Not necessarily, but you might.
- You might step in the way of an oncoming car for someone you loved…maybe. But most folks would not do that for someone that they didn’t care for and especially would not do that for someone who was wicked, evil, or at odds with you.
- But God, thankfully, is different than you and I because God showed you how much He loved you by sending His son, Jesus, for you, a sinner.
- Now, does that Christ sound like someone who is familiar with suffering? God’s plan is to demonstrate His love to you by the suffering and death of Jesus.
- So any suffering you experience emulates and makes you like Jesus Christ.
- Since there was no other way in which you could be forgiven other than the suffering of Jesus, I’m confident, and so is Paul, that there is no way in which you will have Godly character and real hope unless you suffer.
- This is where our initial conversation comes into place about understanding the depths of our sin and the depths of God’s grace.
- The central temptation you will face when you suffer is to think. “I don’t deserve this. I’m being treated unfairly.” Essentially that is the same as saying, “I’m too good for this.”
- Well, you are not too good for anything first of all. But we need to remember that God not only forgives you, He pours His grace out to you so that your suffering can be redeemed. Your suffering is part of God’s gracious plan to make you like Jesus.
- When we forget that God is only wise. When we forget that God is only righteous. When we rely too much on our wisdom or think we are too good to suffer, we lose sight of God’s grace and His gracious intentions for our lives.
- Now this might begin to make some sense for you, but this might also make God look like a sadist. To resolve that conflict in your heart, look at verse 9.
9 since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 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. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation
- Quietly ask your heart this question: Do you want to know and be like Jesus so badly that you will persevere through whatever is necessary for that to happen?
- Well, you aren’t going to be divine anytime soon.
- You aren’t going to be all-powerful or omniscient any time soon either.
- But you can get truly be like Christ if you can endure suffering and still call Him good and gracious. Paul reminds you.
- Since your relationship with God has been repaired by the blood of Jesus, you no longer have to fear God’s wrath.
- Christ did not ask you to get cleaned up or good for you to be loved. He loved you while you still shook your fist at God.
- And you are saved by Jesus life.
- It is so easy to think that only Jesus’ death saves us. But His life did as well.
- His perfect obedient life gives you righteousness or real goodness. Not just the appearance of Godliness but the real Godliness of Jesus.
- His perfect obedient life also saves you and teaches your heart to glorify God no matter the circumstance.
- All of Christ’s suffering and life is redemptive for you.
- Your suffering has a two fold redemptive purpose:
- Redemptive in that it makes you more like Christ.
- The intention is that unlike the rest of the world, you see God’s hand in suffering. You don’t say, “How could a good God do that?” Instead you say, “I understand why a good God would do that.”
- Redemptive in that it makes you more like Christ.
- But in addition, your suffering is redemptive in that it gives you a heart for others that suffer. It should give you the ministry of reconciliation for Jesus and others.
- I’ve seen God do that here to some extent.
- Isn’t this congregation’s heart more sensitive to folks who have been in terrible car accidents because of our walking through the suffering with the Steads?
- Isn’t this congregation’s heart more sensitive to folks who experience debilitating sickness and fatigue because of our walking through the suffering Amy has experienced?
- Isn’t this congregation’s heart more sensitive to events like the ConAgra explosion because of our walking through the suffering with the folks at the EMS and GPD?
- When we read verse 11 we see that we have been given reconciliation with God through Jesus. In all humility acknowledging the depths of our sin, we see that our suffering causes us to have Godly character and hope. The way we redeem our suffering is to take on that ministry of reconciliation. This is explained for us by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5. I’ll use this to wrap things up for us. Paul says beginning in verse 17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
- This speaks to the promise mentioned in the introduction. God promises to transform each and every person who has faith in Jesus. You are not your old self; you are new. You may still sin, but you have been transformed and you have been forgiven. You can now obey.
- God has equipped you now through His Holy Spirit to work with and in conjunction with His providences in your life and not against them.
- How does this happen?
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
- Your being made a new creation has only come from God because Jesus reconciled you God through Jesus’ suffering.
- One of the intentions of that work is for you to emulate Jesus in getting about the work of seeing others reconciled to God.
- The Great Commission of Matthew 28 calls each and every believer to go into the world proclaiming the good news of Jesus so that others might find their sin and suffering redeemed.
- And no one, no one of you gets to think that is someone else’s job.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- Through Christ you have been made His ambassador. God makes His appeal to the world through you.
- What a daunting but awesome privilege.
- Just as Christ suffered and was made sin so that you might become righteous, so you too are to suffer and through that suffering, proclaim Jesus to the world.
- I guarantee you that everyone you know is suffering. And their big question is, “What do I do with all of this pain?”
- Some of you might still be asking that very same question, and I can’t speak to every circumstance in this room, I do know a fair bit about what is going on.
- I do pray for your relief.
- I do pray for God’s mercy.
- But know that I pray more that God will gift you with humility and joy and that is going to come through suffering which produces Godly character, which will produce a real hope in your life.
- Then that hope will help you see beyond the margins of your own life and cause you to proclaim a Jesus who not only forgives but redeems pain and suffering.
- Let’s pray God does that with us.
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