Love by Roger Whipp on Dec 31, 2014 (message contributor)
Love is one of the most powerful emotions we have. The actress Joan Crawford once said “Love is a fire but whether it warms your heart or burns your house down, you can never tell!” Love can motivate, give pleasure, hurt even destroy. It can make us do bold, even stupid things. During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier’s fiancé had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched and he said, “Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight! As Christians, portrayed in the Bible as brides of Christ, who is the Bridegroom, we too have a lover who gives us life because of his sacrifice. We are told that one day the Bridegroom will return and we shall be reunited and honeymoon, so to speak, in heaven. Before the world of political correctness and equality, the marriage ceremony as printed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, made the bride, not bridegroom, pledge to obey the one they loved!
Isn’t that powerful? The bride pledged to obey the one they love. Folks, we’ve been talking about love…but seriously….have we pledged to obey the one we love? Today I believe there is much that we can learn about God’s love for us through Christ specifically in the book of Romans, and especially in the 5th chapter. So let’s go to Romans.
Paul was a scholar and a world traveler. He was from Tarsus, which at the time had a school of philosophy that was greater than Athens. Tarsus was in Cilicia, which is modern day Turkey, so Paul was Turkish. Scholars believe Paul was trained in Stoic philosophy as he quotes some stoic philosophy in Acts 17. He also traveled to Jerusalem at some point to attend rabbinical school and studied at the feet of the legendary rabbi Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel the Great. But most importantly, Paul was a follower of Jesus Christ, and would count all else as rubbish except for knowing Christ.
To Whom Written: The Christians in Rome and believers everywhere Date Written: About a.d. 57, from Corinth, as Paul was preparing for his visit to Jerusalem
Setting: Apparently Paul had finished his work in the east, and he planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain after first bringing a collection to Jerusalem for the poor Christians there (15:23–28). The Roman church had a majority of Gentiles with a strong Jewish minority.
In the fourth chapter, Paul compared modern Christians to ancient Abraham, and how Abraham believed God by faith way before any laws were ever written. Paul says that we are also justified in the same way. SO…
Romans 5:1-8 The Voice (VOICE) 5 Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. 2 Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. 3 And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, 4 which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. 5 And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. 6 When the time was right, the Anointed One died for all of us who were far from God, powerless, and weak. 7 Now it is rare to find someone willing to die for an upright person, although it’s possible that someone may give up his life for one who is truly good. 8 But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us.
Paul says since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through Christ. And not only that but we have access to the grace which we stand in and we rejoice and hope in God’s glory. We rejoice in our sufferings also, knowing they make us stronger and build character in us. Character gives us hope. Hope will not make us look foolish because what we hope in is the love of God poured into us through the Spirit of God who lives in us. Christ died for us when we were ungodly. Rarely does someone want to die for somebody else, even if that person is righteous! But God shows the extravagant love he has for us through the fact that Christ died for us while we were living in sin and didn’t care anything about God!!
Paul is saying that just like Abraham in chapter 4, when we believe in Christ, faith is credited to us as righteousness. Basically, a bank transfer takes place. Christ takes all of his righteousness, puts it on a black card, swipes it, and all of his righteousness goes into our spiritual account the moment we believe. Christ hits the gavel on the podium and declares over us, not guilty! Now, the prison robe of sin gets taken off of us, the shackles are removed, and we get to walk out of the courtroom. So for our crimes, we can no longer be sentenced, right? Now in Christ, we also have access to grace that will continually purify us, and make our hearts and our thoughts match the legal declaration of our righteousness!! See that’s the process of sanctification, or a more contemporary term would be spiritual formation. So justification is our being made legally righteous; spiritual formation or sanctification is the day-to-day process of making our hearts “not guilty” to line up with Christ’s Heavenly verdict of “not-guilty.” And Christ sent the Holy Spirit to help us become more like Him every day. Isn’t this some extravagant love? But that’s who Jesus is!
Love is Jesus Christ
I love the song called “Extravagant” by Bethel Church. It says God’s love is extravagant…it just doesn’t make sense. And when you think about it, they’re right.
While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. -Romans 5:6
He was willing to love you even though you didn’t deserve it, and me when I didn’t deserve it, even when we didn’t love back. He was able to see all of our flaws and imperfections and still choose to love us. His love made the greatest sacrifice to meet our greatest need.
By His death, He made invalid the very idea that you are unloved and devalued. If you ever feel that way, you are not looking at the cross. He proved His love for you there.
True love is found in Christ alone. When we accept this true love as our own, we are free to love in ways we’ve never been capable of before. Keep looking to the cross.
How did God reveal Himself to you this week? Do you feel renewed today? How did it feel to share the gospel with someone else?
So Paul started the chapter off with saying we were justified by faith, and now he goes into how we have been justified specifically by faith in Christ, and his work on the cross.
Romans 5:9-15 The Voice (VOICE) 9 As a result, the blood of Jesus has made us right with God now, and certainly we will be rescued by Him from God’s wrath in the future. 10 If we were in the heat of combat with God when His Son reconciled us by laying down His life, then how much more will we be saved by Jesus’ resurrection life? 11 In fact, we stand now reconciled and at peace with God. That’s why we celebrate in God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed.12 Consider this: sin entered our world through one man, Adam; and through sin, death followed in hot pursuit. Death spread rapidly to infect all people on the earth as they engaged in sin. 13 Before God gave the law, sin existed, but there was no way to account for it. Outside the law, how could anyone be charged and found guilty of sin? 14 Still, death plagued all humanity from Adam to Moses, even those whose sin was of a different sort than Adam’s. You see, in God’s plan, Adam was a prototype of the One who comes to usher in a new day. 15 But the free gift of grace bears no resemblance to Adam’s crime that brings a death sentence to all of humanity; in fact, it is quite the opposite. For if the one man’s sin brings death to so many, how much more does the gift of God’s radical grace extend to humanity since Jesus the Anointed offered His generous gift.
Paul is saying since we have been justified by the blood of Christ, we will surely be saved by Him from God’s wrath. I mean, when we were enemies, when we declared war on Christ by rejecting the gospel, now that we are reconciled, we will surely be saved by his life. And even better, we rejoice again in God through Christ, because of that reconciliation. Sin came into the world through one man and death was the penalty for all men because all men sin. You know, T-Swizzy has a song out called End Game. Taylor Swift is T-Swizzy for anybody that doesn’t know! T-Swizzy has a song about how she wants to be this guy’s End Game. She’s saying, look I wanna be it. No others after me. Well, we weren’t supposed to have an end game. C.S. Lewis once said you don’t have a soul; you ARE a soul, you HAVE a body. Death BECAME the end game for every man, even people who had nothing to do with Adam’s situation. BUT..the Second Adam, Christ, gave us the gift of his life in place of ours, and his righteous became ours, because of his love for us. And this gift exceeds Adam’s trespass and our trespasses by far. Everyone dies because of what Adam did, but how much more amazing is it that the gift of salvation overflows to all who believe in Christ?
What Paul is saying is that Adam’s role was that of an ambassador of Heaven to Earth, so he represented all of heaven and all of us, and he violated his role. See, only human beings bear God’s image. Even if we find life on other planets, or even if you consider the angels…as mighty as they are, even they aren’t made in the image of God. But Adam was. And we are. That’s why Adam’s sin was so serious and required Christ’s crucifixion to fix it. AND.. since Christ is the infinite God WITH US, his death pays infinitely for an infinite number of sins. And what’s crazy is that he did it while we lived in darkness! For example…It’s wonderful that North and South Korea are coming together for the Olympics in Pyeongchang.… And Jong-Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong is taking over the internet since she arrived in South Korea for the Olympics a couple weeks back. BUT…ain’t nobody making sacrifices for her, and certainly no one is going to die for her. In fact, VP Mike Pence dissed her and Kim Jong Nam…i have my own opinions on that, which I will discuss after the sermon if you are curious. But for this illustration.. imagine Kim Jong-Un, Vladmir Putin, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, all talking to Jesus, none of whom want to have anything to do with Him, and he says, I’m gonna die for you now, I’m gonna die for your sins now! While we were his ENEMIES, the Son of God died for us. See..you are declaring war on heaven when you ignore the call to follow Jesus. There is no neutral territory in this universe; you ignore Christ and you are taking up arms against him as the Commander in Chief of Heaven’s Armies. But he died for you anyway..And because Christ resurrected in a new body never to die again, and he has promised the same for us because he loves us that much, we can have hope, for our bodies and for a redeemed universe, as Romans 5 tells us.
Love always Hopes
In a tiny apartment overlooking a city of close to two million people, most of who do not know the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, a team sat quietly discussing how God had transformed their lives. So they went out in the city and knocked on one door. A little old lady answered the door. As they stood there with food in their hands, smiles on their faces, and love in their hearts she began to weep. She explained to the team that just that morning she had told God that if He didn’t send her a sign of hope then she was done, she would no longer believe in him. There was just not enough love and hope in the world she lived in. As she looked out on the group of complete strangers she felt hope and realized that God was there in her midst, represented in that group of smiling faces.
Today’s Challenge: The first ingredient in being able to give hope to someone Is that you must be full of hope yourself. We must see the possibilities inside of us and know that God is not disappointed but he is hopeful. Today we are asking you have hope and see possibilities where none seem to exist and see God for a divine appointment. Believe and hope that God will put you in the right place at the right time. God is going to use you this week to bring Hope and love to the hopeless.
Reflection: What are some of the positive experiences that you can celebrate in your life today? How did you bring hope to the hopeless today?
We can draw hope from the love that Christ has for us. This is a hope that we can in turn take to the world. The whole reason for Jesus coming, for him dying, was all for love, love for his Bride, you see. It’s interesting, because as I was preparing for this message, I began to think about the Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs:
Song of Solomon 2:10-14 The Voice (VOICE) 10 My love responded and said to me,
Him: Arise, my dearest, my beauty, and come away with me. 11 Don’t you see? The winter is done. The rains and clouds have come and gone. 12 The flowers are unfolding in the fields; the birds are warming up their songs, The cooing of the turtledove is heard throughout the land 13 The fig trees are bringing forth their first fruit, and the vines are in blossom, filling the air with their fragrance. So arise my dearest, my beauty, and come away with me 14 Now, my dove, don’t be shy. Don’t hide from me in the clefts of the rock or nest like a bird in secret among the cliffs. Show me your lovely form. Let me hear your beautiful voice, For it sounds so sweet,and your face is so lovely. Guzik, D. (2013). Song of Solomon (So 2:8–14). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.
Solomon was speaking to his Bride, but Christ, who was both Solomon’s Creator and descendant is saying to us, arise my beautiful ones and come away, because…LOOK! Behold, the winter is past. It is past. The rain is GONE. The flowers appear, God is doing a new time. It is time to sing to the one we love. The voice of the turtledove is heard, and turtledoves mated for life. The figs and vines are in bloom, and when we bear the fruit of the Spirit we give the aroma of Christ to a dying world. Christ is saying arise, arise my beautiful one, and come away. Oh church, won’t you come away! Get away….get hidden…hidden in the cleft of the rock, like when God took Moses and hid him in the cleft of the rock and let Moses see the train of his robe. Christ is saying let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely….Oh what love he has for us!! You know the Apostle John got it. He understood it. So it was nothing for him as a grown man, as a fisherman, like a Deadliest Catch fisherman to lean against Jesus’ heart at dinner. Nothing weird, but John knew, this is not just a guy. This is God. This is my Creator. So yeah, I’m gonna lean against my Creator. I believe this is why John is described as the disciple whom Jesus loved…because of John’s devotion to the Lord. Let’s not be afraid to lean against Him, and be utterly devoted to Christ. The apostle Paul learned to love Christ deeply as well….and he saw the love of Christ in Christ’s sacrifice.
So Paul continues to compare and contrast the sin of Adam, and the gift of salvation in Christ. He says even though we were all condemned with Adam, not just because of his sin but because of our sin, even so, the gift of Christ is much more far-reaching:
Romans 5:16-21 The Voice (VOICE) 16 His free gift is nothing like the scourge of the first man’s sin. The judgment that fell because of one false step brought condemnation, but the free gift following countless offenses results in a favorable verdict—not guilty. 17 If one man’s sin brought a reign of death—that’s Adam’s legacy—how much more will those who receive grace in abundance and the free gift of redeeming justice reign in life by means of one other man—Jesus the Anointed. 18 So here is the result: as one man’s sin brought about condemnation and punishment for all people, so one man’s act of faithfulness makes all of us right with God and brings us to new life. 19 Just as through one man’s defiant disobedience every one of us were made sinners, so through the willing obedience of the one man many of us will be made right. 20 When the law came into the picture, sin grew and grew; but wherever sin grew and spread, God’s grace was there in a fuller, greater measure. No matter how much sin crept in, there was always more grace. 21 In the same way that sin reigned in the sphere of death, now grace reigns through God’s restorative justice, eclipsing death and leading to eternal life through the Anointed One, Jesus our Lord, the Liberating King.
The gift of Christ’s sacrifice is nothing like the sin of Adam , Paul says. Look if Adam sinned, and we all inherit Adam’s sin, how much more will we all receive an overflow of grace and righteousness from the life of one man, Christ Jesus. Through his one righteous act, we are all justified through faith when we believe. See the law came to remind us of our sin and expose us, but where sin multiplied even more. Sin reigned in death, but grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Wow. Paul is saying even though one guy sinned and everybody has to die, one guy died years later for everybody’s sins, and everybody gets to live forever if they trust in Him. This is a much better deal! See, Christ was sent on his rescue mission, a black ops mission deep behind enemy lines. It was a reconnaissance and rescue mission by the greatest warrior who ever lived. True story…scary story…I was in southeastern Iraq from Jan-Jun 2008 at Camp Bucca, I was guarding the main gate. This was a prison camp near Basra, the third largest city in Iraq, a port-city. This is the prison camp where ISIS was founded. The current leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was a prisoner there. Anyway, I’m guarding the front gate, and the Iraqi Army rolls up. They have our armored humvees, they have 50 cals on each vehicle, no big deal. So they roll up to my gate, I had maybe two seconds of reaction time. I had no way of outgunning all those guys if they wanted to kill me. But inside the front humvee, the driver is an American Green Beret. But they all had on the same uniforms, same beards and all. The only thing that was different was that the green beret had an ID card. But I had to stick my neck inside the humble to see it. This green beret disguised himself so well that only his ID card gave him away. The point is, our savior, came from heaven to a foreign country, a foreign place called earth. He learned to speak an earthly language called Hebrew, he got a job as a carpenter, he grew a beard and became a regular guy by all appearances. And this natural guy came and did some supernatural stuff, but nothing more amazing than redeeming us. But Jesus wasn’t just a regular guy; he’s the Son of God. And he loved us enough to forgive us. That is my last point for today…
Love forgives — Forgiveness is not about condoning another’s hurtful actions; it is about releasing your negative emotions and perceptions about painful events. Otherwise, you keep yourself chained to those events or people – you keep it alive within you – and carry it with you wherever you go. – Choosing forgiveness is choosing to have your life back. Trust God to give you the ability to forgive or ask for forgiveness today. You will enjoy the fresh air and the freedom from the prison walls!
Whatever or whomever you haven’t forgiven – forgive today. Let it go. Just as we ask Jesus to forgive us each day, we must forgive those who have hurt or wronged us in any way.
How long have you been carrying the weight of unforgiveness? Do you feel like Jesus unlocked the prison doors of your heart today? Do you think you can resolve to forgive in all circumstances?
Today if you struggle with unforgiveness…let’s think back to the cross. Let’s think about how Christ was praying that God would forgive the people who were nailing Him to the cross as they were doing it! Let’s think about the fact that he forgave Peter because Jesus knew Peter would betray Him. Before the deed was even done, Jesus had forgiven Peter and restored him to his place of fellowship. Let’s think about the fact that our sins put those nails in the body of our Savior whenever we struggle to forgive. We don’t have the right to feel entitled or withhold forgiveness. And surely if anyone had a right, it was the innocent Son of God. But not so. He forgave, so let us forgive. We love and forgive because he first loved us.
Today’s Challenge: If you have not done so already, your dare is to trust Jesus Christ for your salvation. However, if you have already accepted Jesus Christ take the time today to pray the sinner’s pray with a co-worker, friend or family member who has not yet done so. “Lord, I am a sinner without you but the love you have shown me by dying on the cross proves your power to save me from death. Change my heart and save me by your grace. Amen!