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Baptism of Grace

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Baptism of Grace

Romans 6:1-14             October 12, 2003



Romans 5:20-21 tells us that grace is the immeasurable quality at the pinnacle of the gospel.

What is a definition of grace? It is God's blessing, it is God’s covering of good will, upon those who have received his Son, Jesus Christ by faith. By that faith we are assured before God, but it is God's grace that keeps us.

Like God's promise to Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you."

When we bless God by having faith in Christ, it is his grace that blesses us by keeping us there in spite of our continuing sin condition.

We could say that the gift of God's grace may be the most difficult thing to understand about the gospel, and yet the fullest understanding of the gospel can only come in the context of grace.

We must come to an understanding of grace against the background of sin, death, and law as opposed to the foreground of God's gift to us of Christ and all that we have in him in light of God's eternal purpose.

God's gift of grace is the gift that keeps on giving. The gift of grace is God himself.

Grace is secure, but how secure is our response to it?

Romans 6:1-14 deals with sin as a continuing threat to our assurance of grace.

We all continue to be impacted by the events of Sept. 11, 2001 as the full horror of what happened continues to be revealed.

We have come to understand just how vulnerable we are as a nation.

The newspapers continue to report how we must reassess our security if we are to be assured of safety against terrorists (i.e., continued airport security breaches, difficulties establishing the Dept. of Homeland Security, leaks in the military and even the White House).

We are needlessly vulnerable when we already have the means for success.

How about the tiger trainer who was recently mauled by an animal he grew to trust when he was giving a show in Los Vegas?

Sin is like that white tiger.

We need to get our act together.

Not that sin is a threat to our security with God (for we all sin – 1John 1:8), but that sin is a threat to what the gift of God's grace must accomplish in our lives – and that is sanctification.

But without sanctification in place as a continuing process of grace, we may end up feeling insecure.

So Paul argues in Romans 6:1-14 about sin as a threat to the process of grace; not to grace itself, but to what grace is to accomplish, and that is sanctification.

What is sanctification? It is being made holy; being set apart unto God by grace.

You have heard of Charles Colson's "Freedom Under Fire." Here now is "grace under fire."

Indeed, how we handle God's gift of grace will affect our freedom.

Big Question:


                                                                     (But where sin increased,)

Grace                    Sin              Romans 5:20 (grace increased all the more.)

How does the power of grace overcome sin?

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 1-4)

          B.      Implication

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on death.

          C.      Illustration


          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 5-7)

          B.      Implication

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on life.

          C.      Illustration

Victoria’s butterflies.

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 8-10)

          B.      Implication

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on God.

          C.      Illustration

No double jeopardy; can’t be tried for the same crime twice.

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four


          A.      Narrative (vv. 11-14)

          B.      Implication

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on ourselves.

          C.      Illustration

To be given a governor’s pardon from a death sentence or to be found ‘not guilty’ due to new evidence (DNA) and released 10-15 years later.

What sins would you commit for a gift of $10 million?

What sins would you not commit for the gift of your very life?

          D.      Application


Big Answer:


How does the power of grace overcome sin?

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on death.

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on life.

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on God.

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on ourselves.

Timeless Truth:

Sin is a terrorist attack on God's gift of grace.

The best risk management against the terrorism of sin is to stay under the management of the One who defeated it.

Grace is not freedom to sin, it is freedom in Christ not to sin.

Satan's bullpen vs. Christ's sheepfold – Martin Lloyd-Jones analogy of two typical English fields enclosed by high rock walls (like the English garden at the Botanical Center). God takes us out of one and puts us in the other. But we can still hear Satan calling from across the wall. Out of long habit we sometimes still obey his voice, but we don't have to. We overcome sin by moving further away from the wall dividing the fields. This is like geographical therapy in the good sense of what God does for us. Geographical therapy on our own never works.

Sin is a terrorist attack from the inside on God's gift of grace. It is when we attempt to breach the wall of his protection – the wall of God's grace. God's grace is our security. Shall we truly try to sneak past his safeguard? Where shall we find ourselves if we were to find ourselves successful in this? Oh God, may the wall of your grace be powerful enough to keep us in. May the agent of your security be vigilant enough to foil our every attempt. But even more, may we come to swear allegiance to the flag of your forgiveness, and never leave the pleasant shade of the tree of life in the center of your garden.

Not able not to sin; able not to sin; not able to sin.

As we go through life, let us not forget the value of the gift of grace God gave us. Let us not short our time of devotion to him. In the end, he will repay that gift far beyond all measure.

Thanks for Your Time

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night.  The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom.  Yes, I heard you.  It's been so long since I thought of him.  I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.

"Well, he didn't forget you.  Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing.  He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said.  "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him.  He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word.  Jack caught the next flight to his hometown.  Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful.  He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.  Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment.  It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time.

The house was exactly as he remembered.  Every step held memories.  Every picture, every piece of furniture....Jack stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said.  "What box?  " Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk.  I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside.  All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.  It was gone.  Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.  "Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said.  "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died.  Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox.  "Signature required on a package.  No one at home.  Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package.  The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago.  The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.  "Mr. Harold Belser" it read.  Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package.  There inside was the gold box and an envelope.  Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.  "Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett.  It's the thing I valued most in my life."

A small key was taped to the letter.  His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box.  There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.  Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover.

Inside he found these words engraved: "Jack, Thanks for your time!  Harold Belser." "The thing he valued time."

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away."
- Unknown

Does God’s grace take your breath away? The time you spend with your God in devotion for a changed life will be repaid with all the time in eternity.

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