A New Look (Sermon)
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
While in Seminary, I worked with a company that did “odd jobs.” We fixed up stuff. From sheetrock issues to patching woodpecker holes in the side of chimneys. One job was in downtown Raleigh near Cameron Village. It was an older house and the owner wanted to spruce it up a bit. He wanted to renovate it. The job included some light construction, lots of paint, and a deck addition.
Renovate—means to refresh or renew something. The idea is to recondition, modernize, refurbish or repair something. You fix it up to look new. Why would you want to renovate something? Perhaps it is old, stale, or tired. Maybe it is out of style, broken down, or just dilapidated. It might be yucky or that you have just had a change in taste.
Whatever the reason, eventually renovations are necessary. When you dig into the old, you may find some surprises. In this particular place before painting we had to remove some old wallpaper. The surprise came when we discovered multiple layers of wallpaper.
Renovations are a process. You have to plan, calculate (prepare), and then execute…and then adjust. You re-plan, recalculate, and execute again. It takes time. What about life renovations?
We are in a series of series’ working through the book of Romans. It is a highly impactful letter written by a guy named Paul to the believers in Rome.
In the last series, we learned that the consequences of sin leave us in a big mess (damaged, disoriented, discouraged), but that God, in His grace provided a way out of the mess for those who believe in His Son by faith. By faith you can be justified. To be justified means to be declared righteous. The justified believer is in right relation with God. Justification is a one-time declaration. It is done!
What follows is a process. The big theological term is Sanctification. It is simply the long process of (being renovated) becoming like Jesus. What starts by faith, continues by faith. The question I want us to consider today is this: “What does faith in Jesus offer?” What are the benefits?
If you have your Bible or electronic device, grab it and meet me at Romans 5. If you would like to look at a hard copy but do not have one, there should be a copy under your seat. Take it and turn to page 1043.
I see three benefits of faith in Jesus that I want to share with you today.
Faith In Jesus Offers A New Privilege (1-2)
V1—Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ—Peace is relief, the end of hostilities, the idea that the war is over. More than that, Paul has in mind the Hebrew shalom, which refers to well-being and tranquility.[i]
It is more than the absence of conflict—it is a positive, harmonious and loving relationship with God that He initiated through our Lord Jesus Christ
Peace here does not mean inner tranquility (though that’s part) but being no longer subject to God’s wrath because of sin.
Paul is not telling the believer to have peace, but to celebrate their peace with God![ii] This peace is available to all who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Ephesians 2:13-14 (ESV) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
V2—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—“a bringing to” or “introduction.” Idea is that of an introduction to a king…We do not approach on our own strength; we need an introducer—JESUS![iii]
Several years ago, some friends took us to see STOMP. A friend of theirs was the star. We had good seats and enjoyed the show. Afterwards, an introduction was made and we were able to go behind the scenes. We got to walk on stage, take pictures with the star, and I even got a trash can lid! Then we got to all go out to eat together. All of which was very cool, but none of which would have ever happened without access by introduction.
Regarding access to God through Jesus, it acknowledges our unfitness to enter on our own and our need for someone to bring us in. The privilege of access stresses Jesus’ activity not ours. Not only that, but the access is ongoing. It is continuous!
Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We have access to the throne room where the decisions of the universe are made! You have the ear of God because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Are you using the access or wasting the opportunity? We should be connecting regularly with God through prayer! We should be asking big, bold requests! Are you asking for things that only God can do? Are you seeking Kingdom minded things?
What about Connect Church? What are you praying? A few cues…
That our vision would become a reality…soon!
That God would provide a “miracle” that would get us to our land!
That God would use us to be a part of a spiritual awakening in Fuquay!
We rejoice in hope—lit means “to boast”…to express high degree of confidence in God…not wishful thinking, but certainty. The believer’s hope is not based on what may happen in the future, but on what has already been guaranteed!
What do you have confidence in? Do you have confidence in God? What would it take to generate greater confidence in God and His will?
Faith In Jesus Offers A New Perspective (3-5)
V3—Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance—What?!! This is an astonishing statement. “Suffering” here means “downward pressure” or “pressure” and used here to describe distress, hostility, affliction, or oppression. “Sufferings” or “afflictions” is a strong term. It does not refer to minor inconveniences but to real hardships.
People generally think of troubles as evils to be endured. How do you respond when circumstances go wrong? Do you grumble and moan? Do you examine the situation and see how God is working the situation for your growth and benefit?
Why rejoice? Sufferings are not an end in themselves. Suffering produces endurance—literally means “remaining under” or patience. The idea is to persevere. Suffering or afflictions toughens up so able to withstand storms of life.[iv]
They not only toughen us up, but also help us focus…on what really matters and is important. It makes us remember what is lasting and helps us re-align our priorities. It has a unique way of removing distractions.[v]
V4—and endurance produces character, and character produces hope—character indicates result of being tested. The word comes from world of the blacksmith—the idea of hammering metal to shape and test it…and that produces hope—assured expectation…certainty of a promised outcome.
Scott Hafemann: “As followers of Christ, we often suffer not because we are out of God’s will but because we are in it, not because we lack faith but because we have faith. We suffer not because we need to be filled with the Spirit but because we already are. Stronger faith does not mean less suffering, but more suffering means stronger faith. Far from calling our faith into question, our affections result in our becoming more and more like Christ himself.”[vi]
V5—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—gift of Holy Spirit (more evidence of grace) assures believers that they will be spared from God’s wrath in the day of judgment. Our new perspective reveals that even our “sufferings” are helpful. They result in hope!
Scott Hafemann: “…since our affliction is not an end in itself, God’s people can be sure of one of two things when suffering strikes: either God will deliver them from the affliction or he will comfort them in it…”[vii]
We have a new perspective. We should respond with gratitude. We should celebrate that God is working even the bad for our good! When was the last time you paused and celebrated the goodness of God in your life?
Faith In Jesus Offers A New Position (6-11)
V6—For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly—Note our condition…V6—weak—powerless, frail, feeble, utterly helpless, here morally debilitated. Ungodly—without God. No reverential awe towards God, no movement or desire for God…no good intention on our part. The result, we are completely unable to defeat sin and attain salvation by our own efforts. We are helpless and hopeless![viii] Not a promising position.
At the right time—God did not wait for man to improve…He took the initiative. Note—It was in His time, not ours. It was the right time in terms of His plan and the right time to rescue us out of our weakness.
Galatians 4:4 (ESV) But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
Christ died for the ungodly—as our substitute. Surprising/unexpected…because He dies for evil people.
V7—For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—refers to difficulty in finding someone, not the number times it has happened. God’s love and move are undeserved…Paul contrasts human love with God’s love.
V8—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us—Gospel in sum (4 words). He loves because of what He is not because of what we are.[ix] Consider divine love by reflecting on what we are…
Still sinners—way wide of moral mark set by God’s commandments.
V10—Enemies—strong term…not one who comes a little bit short of being a friend; means in the opposite camp.
Romans 3:10—there are none righteous, not even one.
Romans 3:23—all have sinned… not just marginally weak, ungodly, sinners, but comprehensively so. Totally depraved.
Result: Romans 6:23—wages of sin is death…
V9—Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God—Don’t forget, while “justification” is free, it is not cheap! “Blood” reminds us that our being declared “not guilty” and pronounced righteous cost Jesus His life!
V10—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—Reconciliation is a term pointing to making peace after a fight. It is the action of making enemies into friends…the removal of a barrier…to bring former enemies into a proper relationship.
V11—More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation—joy in His mercy…friends with God.
Note the position change. From “weak,” “ungodly,” and “sinners” to “saved” and “reconciled.” What do we do with that?
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
We have a new position. Are you leveraging your position to invest in the lives of others? All of these benefits build hope! What does faith in Jesus offer? It offers joyous hope. Faith in Jesus offer joyous hope.
A life full of HOPE, HELPS. The hopeful are helpful. Are you putting love into action? Where are you seeking opportunities to serve your family? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? A world full of darkness and cynicism and rage needs some joyous hope! You have the opportunity to be the agent of joyous hope in your circle of influence!
This sermon was originally preached at Connect Church in 2019.
[iii] Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans in PNTC (Grand Rapids, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 219. [iv] Schreiner, 263. [v] Timothy Keller, Romans 1-7 For You (The Good Book Company, 2014), 112. [vi] Scott Hafemann, The God of Promise and the Life of Faith (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2001), 151. [vii] Ibid., 152. [viii] Osborne, 140. [ix] Morris, 224.