************ Sermon on Romans 5:8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 8, 2018
"Christ Died for Us"
I Christ Died
A On this Lord's Supper Sunday we are reminded that "Christ died ..."
We all know how He died. He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows. He went to the cross where He was pierced, stricken, smitten, crushed, wounded, oppressed, and afflicted; He suffered the most cruel death that man, up to that time, had devised. He was forsaken by God. When He breathed His last and gave up His Spirit He was assigned a grave with the wicked.
B "Christ died ..." Do you know how amazing this is? I say this because death is the result of sin: "The wages of sin is death," writes Paul in Romans 6:23. But Jesus knew no sin. He had no sin. Being conceived by the Spirit, He was not born in sin, as we are. He had no actual sin, as we do. He was tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin.
Yet, Christ died. Why? How is this even possible? The only explanation is what Paul writes to the church at Corinth: "God made him who had no sin to be sin ..." (2 Cor 5:21). God made Him to be sin. That's the only explanation for the death of Him Who was and is perfect in every way.
So God looked at Christ and what did He see? He saw sin. He saw imperfection. He saw a failure to love. He saw disobedience. He saw wickedness and evil. He saw unrighteousness.
God saw sin when He looked at Christ. God hates sin. God punishes sin. So Christ had to die because the wages of sin is death.
II Christ Died for Us
A On this Lord's Supper Sunday we not only remember that "Christ died" but also that "Christ died for us." Us. Who does the Spirit-inspired apostle have in mind?
Jesus died for us. Believers. The elect. The church. His death is more than sufficient for every sinner who ever lived or will ever live. But His death is not applied to every sinner. His death is applied only to sinners who are part of the true church.
B "Christ died for us." At the time of Jesus, those included in the "us" were almost exclusively Jewish. The Gentiles were largely outside the visible flock of God. But Jesus has His elect among the gentile nations as well, and for them too Jesus died.
"Christ died for us." Elect Jew as well as elect Gentile.
C "Christ died for us." Now we know why Christ was made to be sin. Now we know why Christ died. He took our place. As Isaiah puts it:
(Isa 53:5) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities ...We, not He, are the sinners. We are the ones conceived and born in sin. We are the ones with actual sin. We are the ones under the wrath of God. We are the ones earning the wages of sin.
He Who knew no sin and did no sin became sin so He would die in our place. He took on our sin and the wages of our sin.
At the Soldiers' Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee, a man was seen placing a headboard upon a grave. When asked if some relative was buried there, he replied: "No; I was drafted when the war broke out. After I was all ready to leave, a young man came to me."This is a parable of what Christ has done for us. He took our place. He took on our sin. He took on God's wrath against our sin. He was our substitute. He died for me and for you and for all who are chosen to believe.
"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."
The headboard bore the soldier's name, and underneath were the words, "He died for me."
III When Christ Died for Us
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. There was no time of probation, no time of penance. Christ died for him while still a sinner.
I am always comforted when I think of that thief. He is proof-positive that none of us have to reach a certain standard or level of holiness before God accepts us 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.
As sinners, we are enemies of God. Just like the thief on the cross. But God saves us anyway.
IV Why Christ Died for Us
Why did Christ die for us while we were still sinners? Why did He Who was without sin takes on the wages of sin? 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.
V Therefore We are Justified
A What are the results of Christ dying for us while we were still sinners? What are the results of Christ being paid the wages of sin?
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. Jesus, by his death, has broken every barrier down between us and God.
B Second, we can point to the future: we shall "be saved" says verses 9 & 10. 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. When we live with God forever in the joy of His new creation.
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. We take the bread and we take the cup and we rejoice in Christ, in His grace, in forgiveness, in justification and reconciliation and salvation.
Our text is all about God and His grace: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." As we sang, this is "Grace, Greater than Our Sin."
But the passage is also about us. Listen to what Paul writes in the opening verse 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, we are justified through faith.
So, I end by calling upon you, congregation, to believe. Believe in Jesus. Accept His work in your life. And come. Come to the Lord's Table and celebrate Christ's work on your behalf.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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