Shall We Go On Sinning?

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 6:1-2 (NLT)
1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?
2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?

Just prior to this Paul had stated that where sin increases grace increases even more. So that raises the question, “let’s keep sinning so we can get more grace?” This may sound ridiculous but there are people who have actually taught this. The esteemed Bible scholar F. F. Bruce wrote that the infamous Russian monk Gregory Rasputin (1871-1916) taught that salvation comes by repeated experiences of sin and repentance. He believed that, since those who sin more require more forgiveness, believers who continue to sin with reckless abandon enjoy, every time they repent, more of God’s grace than ordinary sinners (Mohrlang, 101). However, Rasputin obviously never read Paul! Paul answers this question with an emphatic negation, “of course not!” Paul says that the true Christian is dead to sin. Think about it, is a dead person bothered with greed? Is a dead person bothered by jealousy, anger, or lust? Of course not! Neither is a repentant Christian. Does that mean that we are never tempted or struggle with sin? We all know that the answer to that is “yes,” but it doesn’t mean that we continue to make a daily practice of the same sin over and over either. Some of us have sins that we need to die to, and in many cases that is a process over time. The key is are we making progress in the process, or are we using our weakness as an excuse to keep on doing what we know is wrong? To what sin do you need to die?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Advertisements

Embracing Grace

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 5:20-21 (NLT)
20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Here we see another great aspect of the Good News: the grace of God is greater than our sin! Even though the power of sin, the hold it can place on our lives, the damaging effects both physically and spiritually, as well as the eternal consequences of those effects, the grace of God that is offered to us through Christ is far greater. Paul makes it clear that the reason for the law to be given was not to keep us from sinning, but to make us realize how sinful we really are and the results of that sin on our lives. However, Paul’s main point is that where sin increased the grace of God increased even more. The law made us realize that we are totally dependent upon the grace of God and that grace cause us to trust in Christ to save us. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God” (Eph. 2:8, NLT). Embrace the grace of God for that is the Good News! Wishing you and your a joyous Resurrection Sunday!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Just In Time

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 5:6-8 (NLT)
6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

This scripture has always been one of great significance to me. The phrase that has always stuck out to me is “at just the right time.” The significance for me is that I am convinced that if Christ has not come into my life when He did it is highly likely that I would not be here at all. My life was bent on self-destruction during this very chaotic period of time. In my mind, Jesus knew that for me it was now or never. However, what does Paul mean when he said at just the right time.” For me the key lies in two important words: one that precedes this phrase and the other that follows it. The first of these words is the word “helpless.” The word that is being translated means, “to be in a state of incapacity or weakness” (Louw and Nidda, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains). The second word is the word translated “sinners,” which means, “living without regard for religious belief or practice.” What Paul is trying to say is that we were living without regard for God or His commandments and that we were totally incapable of doing anything to change that fact. At the time that we were at our weakest and in a state of total dependence on His help is when He came and died for us. The Bible tells us that without Him we are nothing, and I believe, that without Him I would be nothing. Is it the right time for you?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

All He Is Saying Is Give Peace a Chance

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 5:1 (NLT)

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

John Lennon wrote a song (post Beatles) that was very popular during the anti-war era during the Viet Nam called “Give Peace a Chance.” Paul in essence is saying the same thing, however, they are talking about two different types of peace. On the one hand Lennon is talking about peace between people groups, but Paul is talking about peace between God and mankind. While Lennon is talking about reconciliation between countries, Paul is talking reconciliation between God and human kind. You see, the Good News is all about reconciliation because our sin has made us enemies of God, not because God chose to be hostile, but because we chose to be hostile towards Him. Humans by nature are enemies of God because we choose sin over God’s righteousness. Paul spells out this concept in other letters that he wrote. For example, to the Colossians he wrote, “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions” (Col. 1:21, NLT). To the church in Ephesus he wrote, “All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else” (Eph. 2:3, NLT). In both scenarios, Paul makes it clear that it was God who acted to bring about reconciliation. This is exactly the point that Paul is making here to the Romans. We made ourselves enemies of God because of our action; Jesus made us friends of God because of His actions. We are reconciled to God not because of anything we did, but because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We appropriate this tremendous gift by accepting it by faith. That is Good News!

 

In Christ,

Pastor Mark