************ Sermon on Romans 5:18-19 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 30, 2011
In one of the subdivisions by our church building is a house with massive pillars. I always laugh when I see those pillars because they are far too big for the house. It is obvious to me that the designer or home-owner wanted to make the house look bigger and more impressive than it really is. The pillars are there merely for show and don't really do anything.
On the other hand, consider a house built by the ocean shore. Because of water erosion, the house needs to be built on pillars. The pillars are sunk down deep into the soil, and upon them a house firmly stands. The waves and the water would destroy the house if it were not supported by the pillars.
On this Reformation Sunday I want to remind you that our faith also stands on pillars. In some churches these pillars are simply for show. These churches have beautiful Creeds and carefully-crafted confessions but they don't mean a thing and members merely give them lip-service.
In Trinity URC, we take the pillars of our faith seriously. Without these pillars our faith would collapse as quickly as a house built on sand is washed away. Our litany at the end of the service highlights five great pillars that were rediscovered at the time of the Protestant Reformation: The Scripture Alone, By Grace Alone, By Christ Alone, Through Faith Alone, and For the Glory of God Alone.
In tonight's Reformation service I want to focus on the third pillar: Christ Alone or – as my sermon title puts it – Solus Christus.
Now, let me start by asking you a question: Who are the three persons who have had the greatest influence on your life? Whether the impact is for good or evil, what three persons have had the greatest affect on your life? And, who are the three persons who will have the greatest impact on Toby James Fikse?
I want to answer this question in reverse order. But let me beg off from giving the name of the third-most influential person in your life: it might be a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a friend, a colleague, a pastor. I don't know. But I do know the names of the second-most and first-most influential people in your life.
I The Impact of Adam
A So, who is the second-most influential person in your life? It is Adam. The Adam of the Bible. The Adam of the Garden of Eden.
God's Word tells us about the most tragic moment in all of human history: Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They broke God's command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17; 3:6). In the perfection and beauty of the Garden of Eden they violated God's command.
The consequences for Adam and Eve were immediate. The beautiful, living, and loving relationship that Adam and Eve had with God was broken (Gen 2:8ff). They were driven out of the Garden (Gen 3:24). Their hearts became evil (Jer 17:9). And, they were guilty in God's sight (Rom 5:12).
B So what? How does this affect me today? A British monk by the name of Pelagius taught it does not. Pelagius said:
1) The sin of Adam injured himself alone, and not the human race.
2) New-born children are in the same state in which Adam was before his fall.
3) The whole human race does not die by the death and sin of Adam.
According to Pelagius, then, Adam has zero impact on life today. According to Pelagius, what Adam did makes no difference to us.
Lots of people want to believe this today. Why? Because they want to believe that mankind is basically good. Because they want to believe that very few people are by nature evil. Because they want to believe that children like Toby James are born morally neutral and choose to be good – if their parents raise them right.
C But what does the Bible say? "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin" (Rom 5:12). "The result of one trespass was condemnation for all men" (Rom 5:18). And, "through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners" (Rom 5:19). Adam has had an impact on us. A tremendous impact. An impact on every single person here. An impact on every person who has ever lived.
First, because Adam fell we are dead – spiritually dead. It is not a case of being spiritually sick or even very ill. It is a case of being dead. What is the difference? A sick person can hope to get better with the help of doctors and medication. A person who is dead, however, has no hope of ever getting better. Because we are spiritually dead, we can do absolutely nothing to make ourselves spiritually well again. Because we are spiritually dead, no one on this earth can make us spiritually alive again – no doctor, no friend, no minister, no elder.
Second, because Adam fell we all stand "condemned." This is a legal term. It refers to that moment in a court case when the jury has finished its deliberation. The judge calls the court into session. The accused is asked to stand. What will be the verdict: Guilty or Not Guilty?
You and I are the accused. We have been put on trial. The evidence has been weighed and deliberated. What is the verdict? Do we hear "Not Guilty" – as was heard by Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox? What does the Divine Judge say about you and me? He says, "Guilty. Guilty as charged." We have been judged to be guilty and are subject to punishment: namely, eternal condemnation.
Third, because Adam fell we are all "sinners." A "sinner" is one who opposes the will of God. Which means none of us are basically good – not you, not me, not a tiny little baby like Toby James, not a "saintly" grandfather.
Do you see how serious is our condition in Adam? We are spiritually dead. We are guilty. We are sinners.
D What happened? Why are these the results of Adam's sin? A word – an important word – I want every person here to learn is "imputation." Adam's sin was imputed to us.
"Imputation" is a business or financial term. It means to set down in a record or ledger. From his own life, the Apostle Paul gives us an illustration of imputation. Paul says, "charge it to me" (Philemon 1:18). Paul is talking about the money and time stolen by a run-away slave. "Charge it to me ... I will pay it back" (Philemon 1:18-19).
Adam's sin was imputed to us. It was charged to our account. So, in God's ledger we have a debt. An enormous debt. A debt we cannot pay. A debt that is ours before we were even born.
Here is the important point: because of Adam, we need saving. Because of Adam, we need a Savior. Because of Adam, we need salvation.
II The Impact of Jesus
A By now you should have guessed the first-most influential person in your life. It is Jesus. And, it is our hope and prayer He is the most influential person in the live of everyone here – including Toby James.
What is the impact of Jesus? What does the Bible say? "The result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men (Rom 5:18). "Through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:19). Jesus has had an impact on us – if we are one of His children. A tremendous impact. A life-changing impact.
Jesus' impact is through "one act of righteousness" (Rom 5:18). Jesus' impact is through "obedience" (Rom 5:19). What is in mind here? Never once did Christ disobey God. In fact, He was obedient to death – even death on a cross (Phil 2:8). Christ emptied Himself and made Himself nothing. He took the nature of a servant. He came to earth as a man. He humbled Himself (cf Phil 2:6-8).
B We need to go back to the word "imputation." We already saw how Adam's sin was laid on us so that our account with God has a huge big outstanding bill. However, if we believe in Jesus another imputation takes place: our sin is placed on Jesus and His righteousness is placed on us. The result: our account is now marked "paid in full."
Do you realize how amazing this is? How awesome and wonderful?
Even though my conscience accuses me
of having grievously sinned against all God's commandments
and of never having kept any of them,
and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,
without my deserving it at all,
out of sheer grace,
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,
as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,
as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 60)
Do you see the impact Jesus has on those who believe? First, what is imputed to us in Adam, is now imputed onto Christ. Second, Christ's satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness has been imputed to us, it has been credited to our account. And it is as if:
-as if I have never sinned
-as if I have never been a sinner
-as if I have been as perfectly obedient as Christ
Isn't this marvelous?! As baptism shows us, in Christ we have been washed clean.
C Those who read Romans 5 notice the repetition of key words and phrases. For instance, the word "reign" is repeated five times. The word "grace" is repeated five times. The phrase "much more" is repeated six times. The most repeated word, however, is the word "one": it is repeated twelve times.
Paul wants to emphasize the impact of one man. Which brings us to our sermon title: "Solus Christus" (Christ Alone). I want you to realize the impact and the power of One.
There is only one act of righteousness that saves us. There is only one act of obedience that saves us. There is only one way to salvation. There is only one path to God and eternal life. Only Christ's satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God. Remember, in Adam I am not sick; rather, I am dead. So, I cannot save myself. Nor can anyone else on this earth. I am not merely drowning; rather, I have drowned. I have not merely fallen; rather, I have died. So, I can be saved only by Jesus. As Scripture says:
(Is 43:11) I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.
(Acts 4:12) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
(Jn 14:6) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Do you hear what Scripture teaches us? Christ Alone. He alone can save us. Salvation cannot be found in anyone else. It is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere. As the song we sing puts it:
Now what my hands have doneDo you hear it? Do you see it? Christ alone. Not Christ plus works. Not Christ plus obedience. Not Christ plus anyone or anything else. Christ alone.
can save my guilty soul;
not what my toiling flesh has borne
can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do
can give me peace with God;
not all my prayers and sighs and tears
can bear my awful load.
Your voice alone, O Lord,
can speak to me of grace;
your power alone, O Son of God,
can all my sin erase.
No other work but yours,
no other blood will do;
no strength but that which is divine
can bear me safely through.
D Christ alone. I need to repeat this over and over again because there is so much confusion in our world about how we are saved. Roman Catholic theology, for instance, teaches that the Virgin Mary is another mediator along with Jesus. This means that people pray to her and depend upon her for help. There are many people today who believe that God will save all "good" people when they die, whether or not they have believed in Jesus. There are still others who believe there is no hell and everyone ends up in heaven. And, there are others who tell us that all paths lead to God – whether you are Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Christian. Jesus, they say, is just one way among many ways to God. But that is not what Scripture says.
Christ and Christ alone. Jesus is the One and Only way to the Father! There is salvation in no one else. It is crucial to believe in Solus Christus. Christ Alone.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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