************ Sermon on Romans 5:10 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 28, 2003
I The Need for Reconciliation
A We will be celebrating the Lord's Supper shortly.
As we eat and drink we need to remember something, something found in our text. Our text reminds us that we are sinners and therefore enemies of God. Our text teaches that because of sin man needs reconciliation – reconciliation with God. We read about our need for reconciliation with God in Genesis:
(Gen 6:5,6) The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.On account of this sin there is enmity between God and man (cf Rom 5:1).
As we eat and drink we need to remember this: that we need reconciliation with God.
The Good News of the Gospel – something else we remember in the Lord's Supper – is that God gives us the reconciliation we need in Christ and by the Spirit.
B What is reconciliation? Reconciliation is the opposite of alienation. It is the opposite of enmity and brokenness and division. Reconciliation is the establishment of friendly relations between parties who are in conflict or disagreement with each other. Reconciliation leads to the restoration of a personal relationship between those who are at odds with each other.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday we want to concentrate on reconciliation. The Lord's Supper tells us there is reconciliation with God for all those who, by grace, repent and believe so that theirs is a personal and loving relationship with Almighty God.
II The How of Reconciliation
A How are we reconciled with God? How does this glorious condition come about? Our text says "we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son ..." Isn't this unusual? I say this because we have to realize that death usually results in enmity, not reconciliation. Think of how quickly most Americans were in favor of war against Afghanistan and the Taliban after 9/11. When a loved one is murdered, our desire is for revenge; we want to strike out; we want to get even. But the death of God's one and only Son did not result in further enmity; rather, it resulted in reconciliation.
As we eat and drink at the Lord's Table we need to remember this: that we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.
B Notice, too, when we were reconciled: when "we were God's enemies" we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son. Or, as verse 8 puts it, "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Or, as verse 6 puts it, "Christ died for the ungodly." Again, we have to realize that this is contrary to human experience.
Some people do die for others. Soldiers in wartime heroically fall on hand grenades, taking the full force of the explosion to save their comrades. These are examples of laying down a life for friends. Compare this to Jesus. Jesus did not lay down His life for friends; rather, He laid down His life for enemies. We don't hear of soldiers jumping on hand grenades to save the lives of the enemy. Yet, Jesus did something like that when He died for us.
Paul also contrasts the death of Jesus to dying for a righteous or a good man: "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die (vs 7)." A righteous man is a man who obeys God's law. A good man is a man known for his kindness, warmth, and love. The righteous man is respected, while the good man is loved. Paul says it is rare for a man to die for a righteous man, though perhaps for a good man some would be willing to die; but this too does not happen all that frequently.
Compare this to Jesus. Jesus died for us when we were wicked. He did not die for us when we were righteous. He did not die for us when we were good.
As we eat and drink at the Lord's Table we need to remember this too: God reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son though we were enemies, though we were wicked. This shows us how great His "love for us" really is (cf vs 8).
III The Results of Reconciliation
A What happens when we are reconciled to God? What are the results? We can point to three benefits. First, Paul tells us in verse 1 that those who are reconciled "have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Think of this in terms of a series of contrasts: enemies of God become friends of God, instead of hating God we love God, instead of fighting God we submit to God. Reconciliation means our warfare against God is ended. Reconciliation means we have an eternal peace treaty with our Maker.
The Bible tells us very plainly that those who have peace with God also have peace in God.
Topic: PeaceThis is a picture of the Christian at peace with God and in God. He or she finds the perfect tranquility that only Christ can provide.
Subtopic: Promised to Believers
Title: The Cushion of the Sea
Several years ago a submarine was being tested and had to remain submerged for many hours. When it returned to the harbor, the captain was asked, "How did the terrible storm last night affect you?" The officer looked at him in surprise and exclaimed, "Storm? We didn't even know there was one!" The sub had been so far beneath the surface that it had reached the area known to sailors as "the cushion of the sea." Although the ocean may be whipped into huge waves by high winds, the waters below are never stirred.
As you eat and drink from the Lord's Table, remember this: in Christ we have peace with God and in God. Because of Christ we are no longer enemies of God but rather friends.
B The second benefit of reconciliation with God is access. Those who are reconciled to God have access to Him. In verse 2 Paul says "we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand."
In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve walked with God and talked with God. They enjoyed an immediate and direct relationship with God. But then they fell into sin. God drove them out of Paradise. And they lost immediate access into God's special presence.
In one sense, of course, Old Testament believers did have access to God. But they never enjoyed the full access Adam and Eve had before the Fall. No where is this seen more clearly than with the tabernacle and temple. In both the tabernacle and the temple there was an inner sanctuary called the Holy of Holies. It was the throne room of God on earth. Only the high priest could enter this special room and he could go in only once a year and only after elaborate ritual preparations. People could come to the tabernacle and temple, but they were not given access to God's throne. A heavy curtain hung between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place. That curtain reminded men that they were in exile, cut off from full access to God. At the hour of Christ's death, however, that curtain was "torn in two from top to bottom" (Mt 27:51). The barrier between God and man was removed. And man again had full access to God (cf Heb 10:19-22).
Those who are reconciled have access to God. Let us think of this too as we eat and drink from the Lord's Table.
C The third benefit of reconciliation with God is joy. Says Paul in verse 11, "we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (cf vs 2,3).
Joy is an inward religious emotion which absolutely has to come to outward expression. It is the natural consequence of fellowship with God and can have only one result: praise to and for God. Joy leads to praise.
Joy or rejoicing is especially prominent within the psalms. I spent some time this past week looking at those psalms that speak of "joy" or "rejoicing." Let me quote brief selections:
(Ps 32:11) Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!
(Ps 47:1) Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
(Ps 95:1,2) Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
(Ps 98:4) Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music...
(Ps 118:24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Perhaps your life is filled with tragedy and hardship – and there is a lot of that, isn't there? I think of widows and parents mourning the loss of loved ones, parents agonizing over wayward children, members struggling to live Christianly without any encouragement or assistance from an unbelieving spouse. I think of those who have gone or are going through the heart-ache of divorce either in their own lives or in the lives of loved ones. I think of those families with children handicapped with physical, emotional, or mental disorders. I think of those who find themselves struck with a debilitating disease. It is tough in such situations to feel any joy. In fact, joy is the last thing you feel.
The secret to joy is not to look at the circumstances of your own life. Rather, look to Christ and what He has done for you and in you and to you. "We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."
As we eat and drink at the Lord's Table let us rejoice in our reconciliation with God.
Reconciliation. That is one word we can use to sum up the Gospel message. That is also one word that sums up the meaning of the Lord's Supper. In Christ, we are reconciled to God.
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