Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Sanctified Life! – Romans 6:8-23
by Pastor Lee Hemen
November 26, 2006

Whether it’s preschoolers or puppies, a person often finds themselves repeating phrases over and over. You know like, “Come here. Come here! Come HERE!” or “Stop that. Stop that! STOP that!” I thought that this was the case when I overheard a woman an aisle over at WinCo, a local grocery store, repeating, “You really do not need that. You really do not need that. You REALLY do not NEED that!” I came around the corner expecting to see her with a unruly preschooler in her shopping cart and them having a concerted “discussion” about something that the child wanted to have. I was surprised to discover she was alone. She looked up at me sheepishly and confessed, “I am on a diet and I have to remind myself that I do not really need certain things to eat.”

Someone once said that “repetition is good for the soul.” Paul must have adhered to this concept because he is fond of repeating himself concerning certain spiritual truths in the Book of Romans. My mother was kind of like the Apostle Paul in that she often repeated herself as well when she wanted to convey certain concepts and have them stick in our boyish brains. In fact, she would often tell us that it seemed as if my brother and I had “heads full of mush!” Perhaps the Roman Christians had “heads full of mush” as well? Sometimes an important spiritual truth is worth repeating so that you never forget it. The spiritual truth Paul wanted his readers to learn was the fact that they could enjoy a sanctified life right now. Let’s find out how Paul repeats himself concerning this most important spiritual truth…

READ: Romans 6:8-23

The first time Paul repeats himself is to remind us that…

I. Christians are dead to sin (vv. 8-11)!

1. These verses state much the same truth as verses 5-7 and in the same format, beginning with “if.” Those who by faith receive Jesus, are identified with Him, and have died with Him! Remember, we are now “dead to sin.” Paul relates that because this is true, we literally “keep on believing” that we will also live with Him. In fact, our resurrected life with Jesus begins at the moment of regeneration, and it will continue forever with the Lord! “We know” it to be true. Just as “Christ was raised from the dead, and “He cannot die again!” In fact, “death no longer has mastery over” Jesus. Paul writes that the “death (Jesus) died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God!” and so “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus!” This is how Christians are dead to sin.

EXAMPLE: There are those who over the centuries thought that in order to worship the gods you had to sacrifice something living. You supposedly did this to appease the specific deity you worshipped through a gory ritual. The Aztec, Mayans, and Incas all did gory sacrificial rituals to appease their myriad of gods. The sacrifice the Jews were to make had nothing to do with appeasement and everything to do with counting the cost and pointing to Jesus’ future death on the cross for our sins. Sadly there are those who think that you still need to sacrifice Jesus over and over. They forget that the “death He died, He died to sin once for all” and that in “the same way” we are to “count” ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus!” However, like I stated last week, this does not mean that sin no longer exists, because it in fact does. Nor does it mean that we will never sin again. Yet we find hope and strength in knowing that just as Jesus died and was resurrected to new life, we are dead to sin and resurrected for new life right now! Yet how are we to attain all this? By sinning more? “No!” Paul would declare. It is through our daily living for God. In reality, we discover that…

The second repetition Paul makes is the fact that…

II. Christians are slaves for righteousness (vv. 12-18)!

1. Paul relates that the attitude of mind that a believer has died to sin must be translated into action in his experience. Paul commanded us to therefore “not let sin reign,” literally “do not let sin continue to reign” as it did before your salvation! It can also be translated, “Stop letting sin reign.” It is your choice. You can decide whether sin will reign in you or not. This is important because when sin reigns in people’s lives and bodies, they obey its evil desires. Sin enslaves (v. 6), making a person subject to his own evil desires rather than his own determined will. Paul reminds us, “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” We have to ask ourselves, “Who will be my master in life? Jesus’ grace or my sin?” Paul bluntly asks his readers, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Paul reminds us, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin…. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness!” Christians are slaves for righteousness!

EXAMPLE: In the movie “Bruce Almighty,” Jim Carey is asked by Morgan Freeman, who is supposed to be God, “What one thing do you want?” Carey replies, “Grace.” It is the name of his girlfriend, but is a perfect example of what every person should want from the Lord. His grace. Carey’s character learns that simply having infinite power does not give you infinite wisdom, compassion, or ability. God’s grace is given to us and we become righteous because of it and not because of anything we do, could do, or may have done. In other words, we cannot earn it. Paul takes it a step further and relates that not only do we immediately enjoy the grace of God when we place our faith in Jesus, but we are then to live in that grace. We are to be slaves for righteousness. There is a very good reason why this is true.

The final truth Paul recaps again for us is that…

III. The result is eternal life in Jesus Christ (vv. 19-23)!

1. It seems almost unnatural for Paul to equate that we can be “slaves to sin” or “slaves to God.” I do not know about you but I know that I can understand that I can be enslaved by evil and have difficulty in living a holy life without God’s grace, but slaves to God’s righteousness? How is that possible? Paul gives us the answer to our dilemma by telling us: “I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” He uses terminology we can understand! It boils down to our decision to do it or not! In fact, the only harvest or “benefit” (fruit) we had from a life of picking the fruit of sin was “death!” Now, however, we benefit with a life full of the fruit of the Spirit! Like caged sated well-fed animals, unthinking and unconcerned about our state at the time, we are now “set free from” our self-induced duplicity and captivity of sin, and made “slaves to God” which “leads to holiness, and… eternal life.” Why? Paul reminds us that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

EXAMPLE: I learned at an early age that you earn what you put into something. If you try to get by through doing the least amount of work or effort it will eventually show and others will know. Even if you fool yourself into thinking that you have “made it,” others around you will know the truth. David McCasland writes that a story in Colorado newspaper reported that a $1.73 billion highway and mass transit project in Denver was nearing completion on schedule and within the budget. But the story wasn't on the front page. In fact, it was tucked into a sidebar of brief summaries in small type on page 3 of the local news section. If the project had been plagued by fraud, delays, and cost overruns, no doubt it would have been headline news. Paul told the Thessalonica church to “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” Perhaps we should decide that “not to make the news,” is not such a bad motto in life. If we lie, cheat, and steal, that's news. If we live honestly and morally, we can have an unnoticed yet effective spiritual influence on people around us. Trusting Jesus and living a righteous life results in eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion:

Repetition is good for the soul, and in this instance very good indeed! A sanctified life occurs when Christians are dead to sin, slaves for grace, where the result is eternal life in Jesus Christ!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sanctification for Life! – Romans 6:1-7
by Pastor Lee Hemen
November 19, 2006

At no time did I think that when my best friend and I got caught for taking pop bottles from the back of John’s Grandway, a local grocery store, that we would be told not to do it again and let go. And make no mistake we never dreamed that because we were forgiven the first time that we should press our luck and try doing it again. Yet there are those who actually think this is true! They think that God is their best buddy and that He just kind of winks at sin, because didn’t Jesus die for our sins, and God is love after all, right? This is convoluted thinking.

We discover that there were those in Paul’s day who had the same misguided notion about Jesus. They may have not actually believed that what they were saying was true, but they wanted others to think that this is what Paul was teaching about God and His view of our sin. Now before you think I was a Juvenile delinquent and that I made a habit of pilfering pop bottles, it simply is and was not true. We found them piled in a heap in the back alley and never thought that this was where the store actually kept them. We were only about 8 or 9 years old at the time. Hardly Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but still I admit that we had sinned. However, when confronted we realized our mistake, asked for forgiveness quickly, and were even willing to make amends. To our surprised relief we were let us go with a warning not to do it again. Paul relates to his readers that salvation should lead a person to better living. Holy living, in fact. It is sanctification for life. Let’s discover how this is true this morning…

READ: Romans 6:1-7

Here in chapter six Paul moves on and begins to relate what happens to people’s lives when their sins are forgiven and they are declared righteous in God’s sight. It begins a lifelong process of holy living known as sanctification. Paul said that sanctification is for life because of two factors. The first being that…

I. We Are Dead to Sin (vv. 1-4)!

1. Paul had just written that where sin increased, grace increased all the more. The question would be immediately raised, “Why not sin even more and get even more grace?” This is spiritual nonsense of course. That would be like my buddy and I saying, “Hey! Since we were so graciously forgiven once for taking pop bottles, let’s go do it again, and this time let’s take even more of them so we can earn even more forgiveness!” Of course the answer to such a stupid idea is, “No way!” Paul says that the believer dies to sin, “how can we live in it any longer?” While sin does not die, we are to die to sin! If we obey sin in our lives, then it is alive to us. But when we say “NO!” to sin and live for Christ, we live holy lives! Sin lies on the other side of the grave for the believer. Paul would emphatically state that we “were baptized into His (Jesus’) death…. in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life!’ In fact, Paul was incredulous and asked, “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Paul knew that sanctification for life begins with knowing that we are dead to sin.

EXAMPLE: When we rode our bicycles home that afternoon, we knew the store manager would phone ahead to our parents and let them know what had happened. Everyone knew everyone in the small town of Wenatchee. At first we dreaded going home, but we knew there was no alternative. No circus was in town we could run away with, and we were too young to join the Marines. Yet, by the time I hit the front screen door of my house, I had determined that I would just come clean to my life of crime. Let the pop bottle caps fall where they may. My heart sank when my Dad immediately asked, “So, find any pop bottles son?” I knew he knew, so I related the whole sordid tale of my miscreant afternoon. My Dad just looked at me, smiled, and said, “So, I guess you learned a lesson about honesty, huh?” And that was that. What a relief! It was like a ton of bricks being taken off my shoulders, I can tell you. I vowed right then and there never to take another pop bottle that did not belong to me. And that is what God’s grace is to incur in our lives as well. For Paul it was so marvelous to be forgiven of one’s sin, why would anyone want to sin more? Wouldn’t that be foolish? If you are saved, you are dead to sin, why make it alive again in your life? Sanctification for life begins with knowing we are dead to sin!

Christians have often lately misapplied the term “born again.” It is more than a new code of conduct or finding a new way to live life through twelve easy steps. It is no triviality. It is a new birth. A spiritual rebirth. The lives of people who claim Jesus as their Savior and Lord are to be different from that moment on. It does not mean that sin no longer exists, nor that you may not fall prey to it again. However, it does mean your life will take on a new direction. A holy change of course. In fact, Paul relates that while we are dead to sin, the second factor for sanctification for life is that…

II. We Are Raised for Life (vv. 5-7)!

1. There is a good reason why this is true: Paul says that “since” (not “If,” like the NIV) “we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.” He was completely assured of his relationship with God! He knew that a seed has to die and be buried in the ground before it can produce a crop! In fact this should be a liberating thing for the believer! Why? Paul would say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).” In fact we will discover that Paul dramatically writes that “now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (v. 6:16)!” We “know” with certainty that “our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin!” We had to die in order to be resurrected! We had to die in order to be born again! And when we are born again, we are not bound by our sin because we are dead to it! When we died to sin, we were reborn into grace. In Christ we are set free. Sin only brings about death. Death of the sacrifice, death of the one caught by its power, death of the Son of God, and eternal death to those held in its power, but to us who are saved—we are raised for life! Sanctification for life means being alive to Christ and dead to sin. Because He lives, we too can live. We are raised for life!

EXAMPLE: Whenever we would ride by the alley where we had taken those pop bottles from, we would tease one another and ask, “Want to go get a pop?” Neither of us ever went into that alley again. In fact, it was kind of like it was off limits to us. Radioactive or something. And because of that we never had to worry about it again. Did that mean I never sinned again? No. Did it mean that I became perfect? My mother would vouch that this was never true! Yet, I was never again tempted to do a pop bottle caper. I also learned that when I was honest with my father, he respected me for it and it later made talking to him a whole lot easier. The same is true for the Christian and their lives in Christ. Knowing that sin holds no power over you unless you let it, and that when you do blow it, you have someone who loves you and is willing to listen to your cry for help. In fact, He will give you the strength to endure and triumph over it. Why? Well, Paul would tell you it is because we are dead to sin and raised for life!

Conclusion:

We are dead to sin and raise for life! What two wonderful factors to know and live by. Now, what will you do with what you have learned?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Adam and Jesus– Romans 5:12-21
by Pastor Lee Hemen
November 12, 2006

Certain people are very important in our lives. Parents, grandparents, friends, and our church family. All of these become extremely important to our lives because each affects us in someway or another for either good or bad. However, there are others who have effected our lives, yet we may have never met them personally or interacted with them in anyway whatsoever. Politicians, doctors, lawyers, famous persons present or from the past may have affected our lives without us ever having met them. Two such prominent men are Adam and Jesus. they have affected each of our lives, even though we have never personally nor physically met either of them. Paul explains to us exactly how that is possible and the importance what it means for each of us.

We discovered within the past several weeks that possessing the Law was no salvation for the Jews. The Law did not remedy the problem of sin but only caused sin to increase so that the problem became more dramatically evident. Ritual, the Law, or trying to be good enough just does not hack it spiritually. In fact, we discovered that the Law not only increased sin; it made sin a personal matter! We are without excuse. Two people illustrate this dramatically for us, Paul relates. The men are Adam and Jesus. Let’s discover how this morning.

READ: Romans 5:12-21

Over the countless centuries of mankind’s history, a variety of people have significantly impacted the destiny of those who followed after them. None, however, has had as great an influence as that of Adam, the first man. In the passage we are looking at this morning, Paul shows just how great the impact of Adam’s “fall” has been upon all mankind. Paul relates to us…

I. The Results Are From Adam (vv. 12-14)!

1. Paul gives us the basis for sin – Adam! No one refutes Adam’s personal involved complacency in this. Try as we might to blame the woman involved, Eve, Paul knows that because of one man’s actions we all suffer the consequences! The basic premise is that “sin entered the world through one man.” And thereby, death came into being because of that same individual. It is almost impossible for us to comprehend the magnitude of Paul’s statement because we ourselves suffer from the consequences of this man’s actions! All of us sin! We are born into sin-fallen universe and we decide to sin! Death is the not only the natural consequences of sin, but it is also the spiritual consequence as well. While Adam and Eve did not immediately die for their disobedience, they died spiritually. At that precise moment in history the natural man’s inclination, his nature, was to sin. Humans pursued the path of pride and self-destruction. Adam’s transgression determined human nature with its propensity to sin, but more than that – all creation suffered! Physical and spiritual death entered into the idyllic realm where God and man met. Paul relates that “death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command.” Everyone, even those who try to follow God’s Law are under a curse. The results are from Adam.

EXAMPLE: We might exclaim, “It’s not fair!” when we hear that everyone suffers because of Adam’s disobedience. Yet we forget the simple fact that if not him, it would have been one of us. Why? Because we have a propensity, an inclination, a desire, and a predisposition that propels itself to sin. We have freewill. We decide, and in that decision making process we always make the choice for us first instead of God. In fact, we have to continually fight the urge not to. Like Dennis the Menace we can be told not to do something, and it is as if a hidden urge creeps up inside of us and we just have to follow through with our decision to disobey. Like iron filings to a magnet, we are attracted to sin. We want to know good from evil. We want to see it from all sides, even if one side is of no value for us. We forget that Eve did not sin when she took the fruit and bit into it, she sinned when she “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye” and thereby made the decision for herself what was good for her or not. Adam agreed. The results are from Adam.

The Law was useless because sin reigned in the human realm both physically and spiritually. Paul stresses the impact of Adam to demonstrate that in spite of the curse, which Adam’s sin brought upon the entire human race, God has provided a dramatic cure in the effective persona of Jesus His Son. To the non-believer, this following passage promises and offers not only the forgiveness of one’s sins, but a brand new beginning. To the Christian, there are no more encouraging words than those found here. While Adam was the physical pattern of the One to come, Jesus is the ultimate spiritual answer! Paul writes that this is because…

II. The Rescue Is From Jesus (vv. 15-17)!

1. The beautiful brush strokes of God are detailed in Paul’s use of the parallelism between Jesus and Adam beginning with the words “the gift is not like the trespass.” However, we find the horrible truth that “many died by the trespass.” Multitudes have died in their sin. While Adam’s sin lead to the death of the human race, how “much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” When Adam sinned, God was ready to give His greatest gift, Jesus Christ. God’s gracious gift of His Son freely flows to those who are willing to accept it. What Adam did to rebel, God did to rescue! And while many have sinned since then, God’s one act of love “followed many trespasses and brought justification.” Paul is astounded at the good news God has given us. He cannot believe the fact that even though “by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” The disobedience of one man brings death, but the obedience of one man brings eternal triumph to all who believe! The rescue is from Jesus!

EXAMPLE: Rescued. What a beautiful word to those who are lost and cannot find their way back from the dark wilderness. Rescued. What a tremendous word for those clinging to a life preserver in the midst of towering waves, ferocious winds, and pelting rain. Rescued. What a comforting word for those who are caught in the midst of the inferno of flames licking the walls. Rescued. Did you know we are all rescued? Rescued from the eternal consequences of sin and the undying fires of hell. Rescued from life’s incomprehensible pitfalls that await us with every step we take. Rescued from the proclivities of our own degraded human reasoning to the immutable light of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control we all long for in life. Rescued from the pit. Rescued to a new life. Rescued! For Paul the rescue was from Jesus!

Spurgeon wrote that “it is still discovered who are the Lord’s chosen, and who are not; for when the gospel comes to some, they fight against it, and will not have it, but where men receive it, welcoming it, this is a sure indication that there is a secret work going on in the soul, and that God has chosen them unto eternal life.” Paul agrees and teaches us that…

III. The Restoration Is Complete (vv. 18-21)!

1. Paul returns to his comparisons: “Consequently,” Paul relates, “just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” The Judge’s gavel fell and we were all found guilty, but there is a divine acquittal provided for all who willingly accept the provision! The provision is found in the one righteous act of Jesus! It is therefore a promise and it comes to the entire human race as an offer and opportunity which is applied only to “those who receive” it (v. 17). Paul’s Jewish readers, like some of today’s legalists, would immediately ask, “Where does the Mosaic Law fit into all this?” The Law came to display or reveal for us how sin affects us. The giving of the Law did not solve the problem of sin. The Law was not given in order to reduce or remove sin but to increase it. While this sounds incredible, this is exactly what Paul says! We cannot follow God’s Law, it only shows us where we sin! We become aware of our sin because of it! In effect, where we were once ignorant of sin, but now because of God’s Law, we became aware of sin, and therefore sin increased! We, therefore, are now without excuse! The beautiful truth is that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more!” Grace increased through Jesus. Paul writes that where “sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!” For Paul, the restoration is complete!

EXAMPLE: Our dog Molly is still just a puppy, but she has to learn how to be a “big dog.” She cannot do whatever she wants to do whenever she wants to do it. For her anything found on the floor or ground is free game and she will eat it immediately. This includes Chloe’s, our cat, food. In fact ,what was once free game as far as Molly was concerned has become a test of wills, so to speak. She now knows her sin, and she now has to fight her natural instincts to eat Chloe’s food. But we have provided a means whereby Molly is made aware of her sin immediately. It is called a rolled up newspaper. One sound of it being whacked on my leg and she runs for her bed. Restoration for Molly is provided in the fact that when she obeys, she is rewarded. You know what? That is exactly the way the Jews of Paul’s day and many legalists in our day and age, see God. They think God rewards or gives us treats if we obey His law, forgetting the fact that the Law only makes us aware of our sin. True grace is found only is Jesus Christ. That is where restoration is made complete.

Conclusion:

We have learned three things from Paul this morning: 1) The results are from Adam. 2) The rescue is from Jesus. 3) The restoration is complete. What will you do with what you have learned?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What Faith Does -- Romans 5:1-11
by Pastor Lee Hemen
November 5, 2006

As parents we send our children off to school in hopes that they get some sort of education out of it. We send them off to college in sometimes a vain hope that they will learn the specifics of whatever they decide to do with the rest of their lives, whether it is medical, professional, legal, or otherwise. That is a desired outcome. In life we invest in certain things in order to gain a specific outcome for our investment. Did you know that the same is true for our faith? In fact, in these next passages of Scripture, we discover that they are especially noteworthy of our day and age where everything is measured by the axiom, “What’s in it for me?” Herein Paul describes for us exactly what our faith in Jesus Christ does for us!

We have discovered in the last few weeks that Abraham’s faith was not by works, the law, or by rituals. His faith was in what God promised. We now enjoy the same relationship when we decide to place our faith in Jesus Christ and what He has already done for us. In fact we will discover that our outward circumstances, our inner feelings or guilt, nor what others may say about the matter does not affect in any way our salvation through Jesus Christ! Paul relates we can rejoice in every area of life because of this fact of faith. This is what faith does. Let’s take a closer look at what Paul teaches us about what faith does.

READ: Romans 5:1-11

Far too many Christians walk around feeling guilty all the time about everything in life! They continually wonder, “Does God love me?,” “Am I good enough for God to love me?,” or “Have I done something for God to dislike me today?” This is just plain perverse thinking. The reason it is perverse is because this convoluted thinking revolves around who? US! We are guilty cusses because deep down inside we are an insecure lot. We know we deserve to be punished more than we actually are… right? Paul would say, “QUIT!” In fact, we discover that he teaches us very plainly that…

I. Faith guarantees our peace with God (vv. 1, 6-10)!

1. Paul relates that “since we have been justified through faith,” as a consequence of this reconciliation with God, we have intentional peace with Him! The idea being we do not have any longer the present persistent rebukes of a guilty conscience, nor the daily dread of divine punishment hanging over us. Both of these ideas are included in the peace Paul presented here. The latter, however, being the most essential. In fact Paul teaches us that because of the “gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand… we (can) rejoice in the hope of the glory of God!” How is this possible? How could we, a sinful people, ever be good enough for God? The answer? We can’t! In fact, this is what makes this even more of a mystery for us. How could a good and holy God allow us sinful people near Him? Paul tells us how: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly!” WOW! It has nothing to do with us, our trying to be good or our feeble attempts at being better. Paul describes for us the powerful mysterious character of God’s love: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Because of the sinner’s response by faith (v. 1) to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God has declared him righteous. Why? Because of His grace, His mercy, and His love for us. WE can rest assured therefore that the now-declared-righteous person will not be forsaken by God’s love, which has been poured out extravagantly in his heart! Faith guarantees our peace with God!

EXAMPLE: The story is related how Joe was dying, and he wanted to make everything right. He was at odds with Bill, who had been one of his best friends. They hadn't spoken to each other in years. Neither could even remember why they had fought in the first place. But their wrath remained against one another. However, now that he was dying and wanting to resolve the problem, Joe asked Bill to visit him. When Bill arrived, Joe told him in a feeble voice that he was afraid to go into eternity with bad feelings between them, and he wanted to make things right with his old friend. Then he did something quite unexpected, he weakly reached out for Bill's hand and said, "I forgive you. Will you forgive me?" With tears running down his cheeks Bill said he would, but just as he was leaving, Joe motioned Bill to his side one last time and whispered into his ear, "Just remember one thing Bill, if I get better, this doesn't count!" The glorious truth is that when we trust Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, we are forgiven and the restoration begins. No wrath remains. We are granted peace with God! In fact, Paul relates that our faith guarantees our peace with God!

Like I said before we are an insecure lot. We continually wait for the other shoe to drop, so-to-speak, in our lives. Everything can be just fine, but when something finally does go wrong, we declare to ourselves, “There, see, I told you it would happen!” For some it is almost a relief when something finally does go bad. We forget the biblical truth that we live in a sin-fallen world. Bad things happen to the ungodly and the godly because bad things exist! However, Paul teaches us that we do not have to live like that. We do not need to live an insecure faith. In fact, he relates that…

II. Faith gives us peace in life now (vv. 3-5, 11)!

1. Believers can enjoy the peace with God that has been achieved and the glorious future in God’s presence that awaits them in heaven with Him. But how should they react to those tough experiences of life that are often hard and difficult right now? Oddly, Paul tells us that we are to “rejoice” in our sufferings! What?! Is he crazy? The word “sufferings” is thlipsesin, meaning “afflictions, distresses, or pressures.” James had the same idea when he wrote: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2).” This is more than a mere Stoic endurance of troubles. This is a spiritual glorying in afflictions because of the certainty that the end product of this chain reaction in life is “hope!” Paul teaches us that this is true “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Therefore we discover that the benefits of redemption are not all in the future. Pie in the sky, when we die. Paul helps us to understand that it is not only deliverance from future wrath, but the joy and glory of the present favor and love of God, that we owe to Jesus Christ now! In fact, Paul relates that “hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” And the idea here is a continual thing. Daily. Moment by moment. But more than that Paul goes on to declare: “Not only is this so but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Faith gives us peace in life now!

EXAMPLE: Someone has said, "The rest of your life depends on the rest of your nights." Many people, though, feel like the little boy who was having trouble falling asleep. His mother had told him repeatedly to “go to sleep!” He told his mother, "My body is lying down, but my mind keeps sitting up!" If anxious thoughts keep you awake, or if you cannot seem to shake the idea you just might not measure up to the Lord’s standards, ask the Lord to quiet your heart and give you the faith to be able to relax and let Him solve the problems that disturb you. That's what David did when he was in trouble, for he wrote, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8). When you realize that your heavenly Father is watching over you, you can find sweet rest. During World War II, an elderly woman in England had endured the nerve-shattering bombings with amazing serenity. When asked to give the secret of her calmness amid the terror and danger, she replied, "Well, every night I say my prayers. And then I remember that God is always watching, so I go peacefully to sleep. After all, there is no need for both of us to stay awake!" Paul relates that our faith gives us peace in life now!

Conclusion:

Faith guarantees our peace with God and faith gives us peace in life now! Do you have faith in Christ?