************ Sermon on Romans 5:6-11 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 9, 2004
"God's Great Love For Us"
Paul, inspired by the Spirit, writes: "Christ died for the ungodly ... Christ died for us." Do we really know what this means?
Topic: FriendshipThis is a parable of what Christ has done for us. He took our place. He was our substitute. He died for me and for you and for all who believe.
Subtopic: Examples of True
At the Soldiers' Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee, a stranger was once seen planting a flower upon a grave. When asked if some relative was buried there, he replied: "No; when the war broke out, I was too poor to enlist, as I had a wife and seven children to support. I was drafted, but had no money to hire a substitute, and made up my mind to go. After I was all ready to start, a young man came to me."
"You have a large family," he said, "which your wife cannot take care of. I will go for you."
"He did go in my place, and at the battle of Chickamauga he was wounded and taken to Nashville, where he died. Ever since I have wished to come and see his grave. So I have saved up all the spare money I could, and came and found my friend's grave." He then took the headboard and fixed it into the ground at the head of the grave. It bore the soldier's name, and underneath were the words, "He died for me."
We all know how He died: willingly He went to the cross; willingly He suffered the most cruel death that man, up to that time, had devised; willingly He bled and breathed His last and gave up His Spirit.
He died for us.
We had the privilege this morning of hearing the Profession of Faith of five of our youth. We have the privilege this morning of participating in the Lord's Supper. At the heart of Profession and at the heart of the Lord's Supper lies the message: "He died for me."
We not only need to say that Christ died for us, but we also need to say when He died for us. According to verse 6, Christ died for us "when we were still powerless." According to verse 8, Christ died for us "while we were still sinners." According to verse 10, this happened "when we were God's enemies."
We see a picture of this in the salvation of the thief on the cross. Consider that this thief had no "good works," no high standard of morality, and no self-righteousness. Rather, he was a vile and wicked man; he respected neither the law of God nor the law of man. And, after Jesus' promise of salvation, the thief still had no life of service, no grateful response, no fruits of salvation – for the promise of salvation was given just before his death. There was no time of probation, no time of penance, no time in purgatory. Christ died for him while still a sinner.
I am always comforted when I think of that thief. He is proof-positive that Adrianna and Christina and Janine and Kelly and Natasha didn't have to reach a certain standard or level of holiness before God accepts them as His children. That thief is proof-positive that I don't have to get my wayward life under control in order to claim the promises of God for myself. That thief is proof-positive that salvation is not conditional upon a life of good works. That thief is proof-positive that Christ died for us at the very time we were engaged in our sin. That thief is proof-positive that we do not have to be near perfect before we can come to the Lord's Table.
Here is a reminder that you don't get better to get saved; rather, you get saved to get better.
Here is a reminder, too, that we are sinners who need saving. Trinity CRC is a church full of sinners who need to confess their sins and badly need the work of Jesus. The five youth who stood before us are sinners. You and I are sinners. We all are enemies of God. But God saves us anyway.
I received a gift last week from the 3rd grade Sunday School class (hold up balloon apple). They were studying about Adam and Eve and the fall into sin. This represents the forbidden fruit – the apple.
Because of Adam and Eve you and I are born with a sinful nature and do sinful things.
Why did Christ die for us while we were still sinners? Why did Christ die for the five youth? Verse 8 answers this question: "God demonstrates his own love for us in this."
God's love is the only explanation for such an act. In fact, there is no other answer.
We see the same love of God in regards to the children of Israel. As you know, Israel was God's chosen people. Why were they chosen? Were they chosen because they were better than all others, smarter than all others, more sensitive to God's leading than all others? Not at all. We find the answer in a remarkable statement that comes from Israel's beginnings. Moses writes:
(Deut 7:7-8) The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. (8) But it was because the LORD loved you ... that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
What was true for Israel is also true for us. It is love, amazing love, beautiful love, wondrous love – and only love – that accounts for Christ dying for us while we were still sinners, while we were still God's enemies.
A What are the results of Christ dying for us while we were still sinners? What are the results of Christ dying for the five young ladies while they were God's enemies?
First, we can point to the past: "we have now been justified" says verse 9. This means that in God's book we who are guilty are treated as if we are not guilty. This means that in God's book we are treated as if we are innocent. This means that in God's book we who do not keep God's law are treated as if we perfectly keep His law. Because of Christ's death and Christ's blood, God does not hold either our sin or our sinful nature against us. We have been saved from "God's wrath" (vs 9) against our sin and our sinful nature.
But that's not all. "We were reconciled" says verse 10. This means that we, who were God's enemies, have now become God's friends.
Topic: Reconciliation"The Prince of the Outcasts." What a great description of Jesus Who, by his death, has broken every barrier down between us and God. What a great description of Jesus Who, by His blood, has reconciled us to God.
Subtopic: With God through Christ
Many years ago the Prince of Wales visited the capital city of India. A formidable barrier had been set up to keep back the masses of people who wanted to catch a glimpse of royalty. When the prince arrived, he shook hands with some of the political dignitaries who were presented to him. Then, looking over their heads to the crowds beyond, he said, "Take down those barriers!" They were quickly removed, and all the people, regardless of social rank, had free access to the heir of the British empire. Some time later when the prince came to that district again, 10,000 outcasts waited under a banner inscribed with these words: "The Prince of the Outcasts."
B Second, we can point to the future: we shall "be saved" says verses 9 & 10. As I said, this points to the future. This points forward to that time when we become as perfect as Jesus, when every remnant of sin is removed from us, when we have a new and better life in a new and better body on a new and better earth.
C Third, we can point to the present: "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ" says verse 11. We do that rejoicing today. After all, we are celebrating the Lord's Supper. And, we rejoice with the angels in heaven that five of our youth have come forward to confess their faith in Jesus – in Jesus Who died for them while they were still enemies.
From beginning to end our Bible passage is about Christ. We are told that:
Christ died for us
We are justified by His blood
We are reconciled by the death of His Son
But the passage is also about us. Christ does the work but, as the five young ladies reminded us, we need to accept and believe this work. Listen carefully to what Paul writes in the opening verses of Romans 5:
(Rom 5:1) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,Notice, the work is Christ's but we need a response of faith.
We rejoice that in faith the five young ladies came forward to claim the work of Christ for themselves. And, we rejoice that in the Lord's Supper we who believe can remember and celebrate Christ's work on our behalf.
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