Our call to worship comes from Psalm 9:
1 I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonders.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Silent Prayer: Let’s take a moment as we continue to prepare ourselves for this morning’s church service. Let us come before our Lord God in silent and individual prayer, silent and individually, and yet as the many members of Christ’s one body…. Let’s pray:
Lord God, may what we say and do and think, be to your glory,
In Jesus name we pray,
Greeting: Congregation of the Jesus our Saviour, our help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. Amen
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and Jesus the Christ
Singing: Let’s sing as we praise our Lord
Please turn with me to Psalm 103 as we take time to admit to our sinfulness before God, and express our thankfulness for His amazing grace in granting us forgiveness through Jesus..
1 Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Brothers and sisters, let’s respond in song. Let’s sing ReJoySing II No 319
Just before we call on Ben to lead us in pastoral and offertory prayer, lets take time for the offering this morning, for the local church
Bible reading: (Tom Houweling)
Lets sing again, this time BoW 295 (Christ the life of all living)
Brothers and Sisters,
When someone, or an organisation, asks someone else to represent them, to be their representative, it is no small thing.
And we run into people representing others in many spheres of life.
The Prime Minister, for instance, represents the people of Australia.
When the Wallabies travel to South Africa, to play the Springboks, and they get beaten, they represent the people of Australia. If they win, they do, too, of course!
Which of course points to another dimension of representation – the deed, or deeds, of the representative reflect back on the person or persons the representative, represents, and as such, the consequences of the deed or deeds of the representative, are counted to those represented as much as it is on the representative himself.
What the representative does, whether good or bad, reflects on those he represents,
and if there are consequences, those represented, suffer or gain, as much from it as the representative him or herself. It is as if the two are really one and the same!
This has practical implications: it means that representation works in two directions:
It means that what the representative does, reflects on the people or person he represents, just as he carries in himself the reflection of the people he represents.
And so we may say that Adam, as we will find him in our text carries in him the characteristics of humankind – because he was the fits human being; and we, because we are represented by Adam, carry in us, the characteristics of Adam…
You will see where this leads too…
Brothers and sisters I have spent a bit of time explaining this, because it seems to me this is what Paul is getting at here in Romans 5 from verse 12 onwards.
What Paul is doing here in Romans 5, is pointing out that we as human beings, over the ages, have had basically two representatives
- Adam, and Jesus,
and that both have had a profound impact on the lives of every man women and child.
And now, here in Romans, he is about to compare them and, more importantly, spell out what it means for us as human beings throughout the ages – certainly even today!
And so, in verse 12, Paul goes and finds man’s first representative – Adam.
God made man and placed him on the earth, to represent Him, Paul is saying. And because Adam was the first man, the first human being, he represents all those who would spring from him. That’s easy to understand, isn’t it?
But, maybe we should test this first statement, with its two parts:
Was Adam’ God’s representative?
And while we are on the topic, did Adam even ever actually really exist? Isn’t he just a mythical figure to try and explain the un-explainable (as some say)? You see, if he was just a mythical figure, that would mean he is not really our representative – after all, we cannot spring from a mythical figure; we have to be the off spring of someone! Nothing can only beget…nothing! And we are not nothing, so we come from someone – and as Christians, we believe we are the creation of God…just like Adam was, except Adam came first, so he is our representative.
Brothers and sisters, the bible… and Paul …has no problem portraying Adam as a real person, an historical figure.
It is a modern phenomenon to discount Adam as an historical figure. Not a biblical one!
In fact, this very passage we are considering, is built on the assumption that Adam was a real person, created by God in a time and place as the Genesis story portrays it. Why else would Paul compare Adam and Christ in this passage, with the one person being a mythical figure, the other a real person (Jesus).
And, by the way, proof that this so, is readily available:
We find it, for one, in the genealogies recorded in the Bible:
Genesis - From Adam to Noah
5 This is the written account of Adam’s line.
When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.a”
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
And the one in In Luke 3:38; have a look at it…
the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, 38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Even Jesus Himself, in Matthew 19:4 refers to Adam as an Historical figure:
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, and he is quoting Genesis 1:27:
There is no reason for doubt: Adam was an Historical, real life person.
And as far as Adam being God’s representative, then: well, Genesis 1:27 also takes us right back to Adam as representative of God.
Please have a look at Genesis 1: 26-28, and take note of the language…
Gen 1:26-28 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth,b and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
There can be little doubt, brothers and sisters, Adam, was God’s pattern for mankind. Adam, a real person, was God’s way of initiating the age of man, an age that would be represented by its first son Adam;
But it is not insignificant that God puts Adam on the earth…yes to be the representative of all of mankind to come, but also, importantly… God makes man to represent Him, to represent God, too.
That is what is meant when God says to man, “; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
And so, whether we like it or not, we, even today, are the representatives of God.
So, how does Adam go, in representing God?
Does Adam, God’s representative on earth; Adam, in who we are represented, does he act as the shining example of Him who sent him, God? Remember that God made Adam …good.
No! Adam does not want to be representative – Adam wants to be God himself.
And never mind, by the way, that it was actually the woman who misled him, and the fact that the serpent was really the one who started it all by tempting the woman – man messes up…
And God will hold is hold His representative responsible. Surely there is no surprise here.
God is a righteous God!
Now, if that is so, then surely we shouldn’t be too surprised to accept that all who came after him would be part and parcel in responsibility and accountability in every thing that Adam would do?
Some people say that we should not be held responsible for the deeds of one man.
It is this contemplated, maybe even spoken objection of mankind that Paul is addressing in this passage…a lot more of course, but also this.
If it was Adam who sinned….not us….why should we share in his punishment?
But this goes against the simple truth of the way things work, even in everyday life, doesn’t it?
We know are held responsible, or accountable, to the deeds of those in whose ancestry we share. What does God say in Exodus 20:
I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
And all of that, is what Paul is saying in verse 12 of Romans 5. He says, in Adam, we share in the result of Adam’s sin – death.
But thank God, he does not stop there…
You see, verse 12, is only the first part of a comparison…a comparison with another Adam, a second Adam, a dearly needed, much anticipated, Adam…
because clearly, the first Adam has left us in deep trouble.
And Paul wants us to understand that really well.
What happens in verses 13-17, is Paul’s way of explaining everything that we have just said.
And as he typically does, he finds a character in the Old Testament to further drive home the point.
This time it is Moses.
Paul is anticipating those who say “but how can we be punished for something we did not do ourselves:
Paul says…it is the result of sin that is carried over from Adam onwards. Do you want proof?
Death is all the proof you need. Just look around you, people continue to die.
And this was so even before Moses brought the Law down from the mountain, he is saying.
And he says so because again he is answering his critics: how can it be fair, they say, that God punished those who did not have God’s law and who could therefore not have known that they were sinning, no matter what they were doing?
(Paiu, in verse 20, he will say, be careful to bring in the law, or ignorance of the law, as an excuse.
At least those who died for the sins they inherited from Adam, before they had the law, had just their inherited sin to die for, the sin of their representative;
but you who have the law, you who know what I command you
(and even we know what this is - to love one another like we love our own selves and to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and might) … your sin is compounded.
Are we to be found innocent because, according to our reasoning, it is unfair that we be punished for something our common ancestor, Adam, did?
No! For not only do we have his sin, we continue to sin ourselves.
Let me ask…how did you go this past week…keeping God’s commandments?
No, we are in trouble. A better representative will help a lot!
It is clear, brother and sister, that we need a new beginning, a new Adam.
We need a new representative!
And now, in verse 18, Paul introduces just such a person, Jesus, our Lord and Saviour!
And now, this whole section is put in its full perspective.
It becomes clear …that Adam and Christ, is presented here, writes one theologian (Anders Nygren). Adam and Jesus are the respective heads of two drastically opposing ages:
Adam is the head of the age of Death;
Jesus is the head of the age …of Life.
And now we may take heart….
The life that Jesus brings, will overcome the death that Adam’s sin brought about.
And now Paul’s complete comparison also starts to make better sense:
Just like there is death for many in this fallen world through the one sin of Adam;
There is life for many, for all who believe in the one act of salvation of Jesus the Christ.
Now we can start to understand this, because, frankly, when one sees Paul first setting out to compare Adam and Jesus as our representatives, we think … but they are not alike at all.
Paul will explain:
Notice how in verse 18, Paul changes from statements of “not like” or “how much more” as in the preceding verses, but now he writes…”just as….so also…”
It is as if he is saying… but there is a comparison after all!
That comparison, he says, is that, although the outcome of the one deed of each of the men in the comparison is contrasted, as in verse 16, ” 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
verse 18 now draws our attention again on the result of the acts of Adam and Jesus,
but it does so in a way that highlights the fact that it is
the deed of the one man, in both cases,
that resulted in the outcome for many – therein lies the comparison.
It was Adam’s deed that resulted in death…it is Jesus’ deed that resulted in our salvation!
And while we have all sinned, just like Adam, all deserving death,
we have done nothing, can do nothing, that could be considered as pay-back for our sinfulness.
That was achieved by Jesus alone, who through His one act of mercy and Love has brought life to all who believe.
Out of one man’s sin comes death to millions…
But now the sins of millions of millions will be paid for by one man,
all so that God may finally have a kingdom in the form that He intended it from the beginning
– a kingdom of sinless people who obey God’s every command, who will be worthy representatives of Him.
That is the type of representative we need…and so he sends us His son, Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, in conclusion… let’s revisit our unpacking of the concept of representation:
you will remember that we decided that representation works in two directions:
the actions of the representative reflects on the image of those represented;
just as those represented are seen in the person or deeds of the representative.
When Adam sins, his rebellion is visited on us, even to this day,
When Jesus comes, the new Adam, to give us a new beginning, a new testament, to take away that which makes us impure, unjustified, should not Jesus and his life be the life we take on in ourselves so that His representation of us remains true?
When he dies on the cross for you and me, taking our sins in His outstretched arms, should we not live lives that will display that our sins have been taken away from, so far away from us as the east is from the west?
And if we don’t, aren’t we simply continuing to crucify our Lord again and again and again?
Just as we are quick to say, no to demand, that we can not be held responsible for the sins of Adam, just so are we quick to identify with Pontius Pilate:
we wash our hands and declare ourselves innocent!
But as long as we continue to sin, we are not innocent. As long as we serve our many modern day gods; envy; lust; greed; worry; anger; jealousy; we continue to sin – we make light the death of Jesus on the cross.
And it does not help to say that it was not us who crucified our Lord?
For if Jesus is our representative, the representative that brought us life, then we remain represented in Him and of Him and our lives should display it.
What will we say… that I am not Adam… even more, that it was not us who crucified our Lord?
How does the song go…”were you there when they crucified my Lord?
What will we say….no, not me! I wasn’t there!
The way we continue to live our lives, in many cases, leaves us with just one answer – we were there!
Horatius Bonar, a 19th century hymn writer, wrote these words:
T’was I that shed the sacred blood
I nailed Him to the tree
I crucified the Christ of God
I joined the mockery
Brothers and sisters, who is our representative:
Does our lives show that it is Adam, or does our lives show that we are represented by Jesus?
Are we, as Christians, Jesus’ representatives here on earth until he will soon come again?
Or is Adam our champion – he who would be God in himself?
May our lives this week, and onwards, reflect the love of Jesus – He who came so that we may have a new representative – Him, the prince of Peace and love and Glory to God, for ever and ever,
Lets sing: BoW 302
Brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus,
Let me start with a statement: We live in an era of DIY … in so many aspects of our lives. We self medicate; self analyse, we fix the leaking tap ourselves, we tile and paint and renovate DIY! But most important for this evening, I want to suggest that when it comes to our faith…we DIY!
Let me explain: As I have said…Many of us believe ourselves to be DIY exponents, and we try our hand at fixing things that really, often, we should be leaving it to a qualified professional.
That is where this sermon will head towards…
My earliest memories of DIY attempts always brings a smile to my face …well actually, more often it results in hysterical laughter, especially when my brother and I sit around a camp fire remembering some of the things my dad would get up to as he tried to fix things himself, rather than pay some good money to get an expert to fix it properly.
I remember particularly well when my dad tried to fix a gas leak in our gas oven,
in those days quite a novelty for farmers…
The story starts of with my dad saying … “it’s just a little leak.
“It can’t be too hard to find … and then I’ll just solder the hole, or replace the pipe…”
…you can tell where this is going to....
My dad did not have a clue, did he?
And that became apparent when he argued that to find the leak,
he would use a cigarette lighter to figure out where the leak was. …
And so he opened the gas valve, sniffed around a bit, declared it safe, and he put his complete upper body inside the oven and flicked the lighter.
The picture is still clear in my mind, complete with my brothers unsuccessful attempts to hide the smirk on his face…
When my dad flicked that lighter, there was a loud boom, and he was expelled from the oven, much like the human cannon ball in some circuses, only back to front,
his eyebrows and hair enveloped in a momentous flame –
and a really surprised look on his face!
The next day he bought a new wood fire stove again, and he gave the gas stove to the first person who said … he believed he would be able to repair it…
I would love to know how many people that gas stove blew up!
In our text, in the case of the Jews, they believe they are deserving of special considerations due to their heritage….and because of it, because they have the law, that because the have the law, they have the DIY part all in place. The law, for them, is like a DIY manual which, if they follow the instructions, will get them back into God’s grace.
How often do we do the same? We design our lives to include some minimal requirements, based on our preferred understanding of what God asks of us, like going to church at least once on a Sunday; participating in a small group every second week; being kind to people in need … and so on – this list of course will differ depending on our circumstances, and we believe this will get us into heaven, as the popular saying goes.
And let it be said now…all of these things are important, but it is not them that makes us good and therefore right for heaven…that is what Paul will say!
And not only that, but also that if we do good, in our minds, like the Jews believe they are doing in keeping the Law, God has no other choice but to reserve our spot in His kingdom one day. And we follow suite: we don’t steal, we don’t murder; we don’t commit adultery …
Well, that makes us DIY Christians!
Because ultimately, as you will see, we are simply not qualified to get ourselves into God’s presence, no matter how well we think keep to the letter of God’s requirements for us as stated in His law and in the Bible…on the contrary! For the truth is we are not truthful; we are not faithful; we are not justified in ourselves to lay claim to God’s goodness…
Only a righteous God, a faithful God, can save us!
Here in Romans 3, in a section that really starts at Chapter 2:17, Paul is speaking directly to the Jew, who relied on the Law and “brags about your relationship to God” as if it was the fact that they were God’s chosen people, the fact that they had a special relationship with God.
And that much is true. The Jews do have a special relationship with God. They are God’s chosen people, but, for one, they misunderstand the significance of what this means…
And…God, through Jesus, has now inaugurated a new Covenant which goes beyond the Covenant with Israel, and now, Jew as well as Gentile have been included in the Covenant!
Does that mean that the Jews have lost their special relationship with God? Paul is about to answer!
In this section, Paul asks three questions, which he will answer himself to explain how the Jews have got it wrong when they claim this special relationship that they have with God, and the absurd deductions they make from it, to be their guarantee, or worse, their right, for salvation.
//////////////He does so by seemingly refuting what he has said in Romans up to now.
That Jew as well as gentile now have a special relationship with God, a covenant relationship with God.
1. What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?
As is typical of Paul, this question (3:1) arises logically out of the preceding section, which had it that:
if it is religious integrity that really counts before God and it has no connection with religious distinctions, what is the point of being a Jew?
The answer, Paul says, is that the Jew does have a so called “advantage” but it consists in the initiative and faithfulness of God. Not on the faithfulness – or indeed unfaithfulness, of the Jews, who, although they were chosen by God to lead all nations to Him, they failed miserably.
And yet, (and this is where the advantage lays, it is from the Jewish nation that Jesus came, by the faithfulness of God, the Jesus who would indeed become the Son of man for the Salvation of those who believe.)
Brothers and sisters, this section and the last bit of verse 2 especially, namely “they have been entrusted with the very words of God,” is crucial to the understanding of this section in general - and Paul’s theology specifically.
And it ties on to two verses that may be seen to be the central idea of Paul’s theology, namely, chapter 1 verse 16, 17. (Read)
You see, the Jews are the special people of God, the chosen people of God, but He did not choose them because they are so special … they are special because God chose them to be the People from whom the only truly special person would come – Jesus, the Saviour who would become flesh, who would become sin, so that God’s punishment would not fall on puny humans, but would fall on Jesus, the only, most special person, at once man and God at the same time, fully human and fully God, the only one who would be able to bear the wrath of God for the sins of mankind!
This puts Jesus central in Paul’s understanding of the gospel – an understanding that he only came to after he was converted on his way to Damascus!
But, importantly, it is in this that Israel have a special place in God’s plan for His world. And this is what Paul refers to when in answering the question, when he says…What advantage is there in being a Jew? Much in every way!
Very much, he might add, the whole world depends on it! Because Jesus, because of God’s faithfulness, who promised that he would one day send a saviour, from the line of Israel for all who believe, has remained faithful and has sent Jesus …And Jesus has become the one true, faithful Israelite, the Chosen one for all, Jew and gentile alike.
When God makes a promise, he keeps to it, faithfully!
From the beginning of time, God has made a covenant with His people, and now, in the coming and the death and resurrection of Jesus, God can be seen to be faithful. In fact, the salvation of all of humankind, of the Jew as well as the Gentile, rests on this faithfulness of God. To be a jew, is to be a chosen one; through the Jews, in the coming of our Lord Jesus, all who believe in Him, are chosen. What advantage is there in this?
(This, of course, is a theme that Paul will expand on significantly in chapters 9-11).
But here, now, in verse 3, Paul anticipates another question that might be in the minds of his protagonists:
“If some then do not have faith, will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?
With other words, if some do not believe, and with Jesus having come for the salvation of all, does that mean that sinners will now go unpunished, making God unfaithful to His covenant in that He promised that he would save His people, but punish those who did not believe? Will God then be unfaithful to his promise to Abraham, that He would bless His people, the Jews, the covenant people? Would he also bless the unfaithful?
What Paul is refuting here is that the unfaithfulness of some, will surely not force God’s hand to be unfaithful.
GOD WILL PUNISH THOSE WHO WILL NOT BELIEVE IN JESUS, WHO WILL NOT BELIEVE IN HIM!
And his answer indeed puts God’s faithfulness, into sharper focus. God will remain faithful no matter what. In fact, it is exactly because the Jews, who were unfaithful, unwilling, unable to keep the Law, that God’s saving grace comes into manifestation!
To put it another way, when we - or the Jew – believes that it is by something he does, or by keeping the law, that we may come to be found worthy to be in the presence of God, he is sorely mistaken. It is by God’s justification – God remaining ever faithful to His promises – it is through that alone that we are saved – not our religious DIY attempts at obedience.
Not by our faith, or lack of it. In spite of it, God remains faithful – His plan for the world, as spelled out in God’s word, in God’s interaction with mankind, will be as God has promised it!
And for this, Jesus is the ultimate solution to God’s plan for the world.
Which begs the question of course: in verse 5; if God is vindicated, if God is unchangingly righteous, no matter what the shortcomings of human beings, what grounds are there for condemnation or wrath at all? Is God not compelled to forgive us, because He is all good?
And now Paul answers in a frightening manner: No, God is righteous! God is without a shadow of a doubt the judge of the world. Don’t ever forget it, he says! He will judge the world. He has judged the world, and no-one was found to be righteous, not even one.
Because we have sinned…because God , who is supremely justified and ever faithful, He has to punish the sin – that was part of the covenant promise!
But because God is faithful, that punishment has fallen on God’s only Son, our only redeemer …as fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. So Jesus’ death, becomes our salvation!
Does that then mean that we should “do evil that good may come”?
The answer to this question really only comes in chapter 6:1-7:6, when Paul will explain in greater detail what he means by justification by grace through faith (and as we will hopefully discuss this when we get to that section in this current sermon series). But for now, there is only a rough dismissal: people who talk like that… deserve what they get.
What cannot be missed, is that Paul spells it out. You sin at your own peril!
I attended a lecture by Don Carson last year, and he explained it this way:
So from verses 9-20, Paul returns to his main line of thought …
Whatever the “advantage,” that the Jew might think he has, it makes no difference in this:
all human beings, both Jews and Greeks, are “under sin.”
And God, who is ever faithful, says…there is no sinning here!
This is the first time “sin” is mentioned in Romans, and it is described as an oppressing power. And the way Paul goes about verifying this is by quoting from the Psalms and Isaiah: No one, Paul says can be righteous – and then Paul catalogues the symptoms of human evilness.
At the end, Paul makes sure there is no room left for religious self-exemption, for religious DIY.
The Jews especially in this section, may pride themselves that they have the Law, but, Paul says, simply knowing the Law does not make a person superior: one must actually observe the Law.
But is that possible?
The truth is, the power of sin renders the law impotent to produce the obedience it calls for, as we see it in Rom. 8:3-4.
Instead, all that law does is to show us what is sinful, how we are sinful.
The Jews took pride in having the Law, but Jews “dishonor God by breaking the Law.” They bank on their circumcision, but ignored the inner circumcision of the heart accomplished only by God’s Spirit. The Jews had many spiritual advantages (3:1–2). But their unfaithfulness (v. 3) had not shaken God from His commitments. But God is faithful. And God will still judge those who sin. And this applies to Jews as well as gentiles.
How can we apply this section of Romans to our lives?
Brothers and sisters, The first three chapters of Romans carefully argue that all men are guilty before God.
No one who relies on his observance of the Law, or works, will be declared righteous in the heavenly court.
The Law, as a moral display of righteousness, offers no hope; it testifies against us so that “every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God” (3:20).
As one commentator puts it: “By the time Paul has concluded with 3:20 he has taken his readers to the bottom of the pit of human depravity. There is no way out and not a shred of human goodness that could form a rope or ladder of escape. God has vindicated his law but totally condemned the sinner by his rightful and righteous wrath (1:18). The effect of Paul’s diatribe by the end of 3:20 is total and bleak. In the words of 8:20, by the judgment of God, creation has been “subjected to frustration.”.
So what now?
We find our answer in the following section of Paul’s letter.
In the next section, from verse 21, the spirit of Paul’s’ letter changes dramatically.
Verse 21 in fact introduces a new section, and it is possible to see it already in the opening words;
Something is about to follow that will tell us where our salvation lays: Our salvation is in a righteousness apart from the law…apart from our weak, sinful nature.
That is what verse 21 introduces…but that is in the next episode of this sermon series, best left to whoever will preach on that section
For now I would like to conclude with this: Imagine you were Todd Russell or Brant Webb, remember them?. There you are, stuck in that dark, mine hole kilometers under the earth with little more than a couple of Stanley knives (with which they say they decided they would cut of their legs if they got stuck…)
When the rescue workers arrive – if they arrive – with their professional gear, their state of the art tools and explosives and medical supplies …and food… and they tap on that solid granite wall and ask if they can drill or blast a hole into your cell so that they might save you, what will you reply?
No worries mate? We’ll dig ourselves out of here!? We have our Stanley knives?
You see there is a bit of a parallel in that and in the understanding of the Righteousness of God:
No matter how well we believe can do something for ourselves, sometimes we are simply unable to do it! Our salvation, is one such thing, the most important of all things, and we can do nothing about it!
When it comes to our salvation, we are dependent on an expert, a professional (I say it respectfully) we are dependent on our Saviour, a righteous Saviour, a Saviour without sin or human blemishes. _ Jesus!
Jesus alone is that Saviour!
Because Jesus alone is without sin!
And only when we understand our own sinfulness, our complete inability to save ourselves, - AND BELIEVE IT WITH OUR HEARTS AND CONFESS IT WITH OUR MOUTHS –
we are doomed to death, everlasting death.
Brothers and sisters, let our DIY attempts be NOTHING MORE THAN exercises in seeing God’s faithfulness,
not our own goodness.
And let us know that our very faith is a gift from God, because he is ever faithful and he has long ago decided he will choose for Him a people – a people for whom He will send a Saviour.
And let us rejoice that he has chosen us, just like He once chose Israel, to be His people.
To God alone the glory, for ever and ever
a Hebrew adam
b Hebrew; Syriac all the wild animals