We Are Secure in Christ
Enniscorthy Christian Fellowship – 27th April 2008
Romans 5:6-11 *
A monastery in Portugal is perched high on a 3,000 foot cliff and accessible only by a terrifying ride in a basket. The basket is pulled up to the monastery with a single rope by several strong men. One American tourist who visited the site got nervous halfway up the cliff when he noticed that the rope holding the basket was old and frayed. Hoping to relieve his fear he asked the monk in charge, "How often do you change the rope?" "Oh,” the monk replied, “just whenever it breaks!"
Do you ever feel like that. When we look around we get very nervous and everything that we hear makes us feel even more nervous! We live in a very insecure world and all the time hear of the rampant crime, identity theft, economic recession, online security risks, international terrorism.
And so many of us desperately are trying to build security in our lives. We have locks and alarms on our houses and cars; chip and pin credit cards; computer security centres with virus scanners, firewalls and anti-phishing devices; health and life insurance, illness protection cover. All in the vain attempt to remove fear and give us confidence in an insecure world.
Many people also struggle with insecurity in their relationship with God,. Last week we looked at the blessings of being right with God through faith in Jesus. But we can feel like the guy in the basket, afraid that at any time we’re going to fall! We continue to struggle with sin. And we’ve heard of Christians who’ve stopped following Jesus. And so we can be afraid that one day we might fall too far and lose our relationship with God!
And so people try to produce security in their relationship with God by legalism, by religious rituals, by unceasing good works. But, if our security depends on us, we will never have any confidence. We’ll never be able to rejoice in our salvation. Because we know our tendency to fail!
But it doesn’t need to be like that. In Romans, Paul encourage us to find our security in Christ. Not only can we rejoice in our salvation because we are so blessed in Christ. But we can rejoice because we are so secure in Him! Read Romans 5:6-11
1. We Were Loved v6-8
Sometimes our relationship with God can feel like when you enter into a new relationship, with a boyfriend or girlfriend. At the start you can be really excited about falling in love with this amazing person. But you can also be scared to death that if they find out what you are really like – that your feet smell, that you have some disgusting habits, or that your family are a bit strange – then perhaps they might fall out of love with you! It’s an exciting time, but not very secure.
We can feel like that with God, that perhaps if we let God see what we’re really like, or if we fall into a terrible sin, then maybe God won’t love us anymore.
But God’s love is different. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” v8 In chapter 3, we saw that the cross is a demonstration of God’s justice. Here it is a demonstration of God’s love. And this is present tense. Today God demonstrates his love for us – by pointing toward a past event – the cross of Jesus. It is the cross that today shows or proves better than anything else, the depth of God’s love for us. And it shows the depth of God’s love in two ways.
a) God Gave his Best
Firstly the depth of love can be measured by the cost of the gift – the greater the cost, the greater the love.
This costly love was shown last December in Detroit in the States. The estranged boyfriend of Seliethia Parker in a rage pulled a gun on this woman who was sitting in her car. Her 7 year old daughter, Alexis, was in the back seat. As this man was about to fire, Alexis lunged from the back seat and threw herself across her mom, crying, "Don't hurt my mother!"
Six bullets from the gun slammed into Alexis, into her right eye, chin, cheek, chest and jaw. Two bullets hit her mum. Her mum quickly recovered. But, initially the doctors said Alexis would never talk or walk again. But now after enduring 6 surgeries, Alexis is making good progress. She says simply "I saved my mom," and adds that she loved her mum a lot and didn't want to see her get hurt.
That girls gave a costly gift because she loved. But God gave a gift that cost him more than we’ll ever be able to comprehend. Paul says: “Christ died for us.” v8
The cross is the greatest gift anyone has given because God gave his best! He gave his only Son to the cross! “He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8 And the horror of the cross was not just the lacerated back, the nails, crown of thorns and the slow agonising death. It was that the cross was a sin-bearing death. Jesus was made sin for us. He experienced the full wrath of God against our sins. No-one has ever given us more! No one has ever loved us more. “The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
b) When we were at our Worst
But the depth of love is also measured by the worthiness of the beneficiary! It is easier to love someone if they are more worthy, more deserving of that love. Paul says this in v7: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Real sacrificial love is rare, but it is not unique in this world. People might risk their lives for a righteous man – someone who lives a just or upright life. Other people might lay down their lives for a good or generous man. People sacrifice their lives to save their family members, their friends, colleagues.
For most of us, it is not God’s command to love our husband or wife or family that challenges us the most – it is Jesus’ command to love our enemies that we struggle with. But look at those who God loved.
Christ died for us “when we were still powerless.”v6. When we were weak and without strength - completely unable to do anything to make us acceptable to God, anything to please God!
And “Christ died for the ungodly.” v6 We were wicked, had no reverence for God. God’s love was not in response to our love and commitment to him. He loved us first: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
Thirdly, it was “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” v8 When we were still falling short of God’s glory, still slaves to sin! “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:5
Lastly, Jesus laid down his life “when we were God’s enemies.” v10. We were hostile to God, rebellious against his rule in our lives. Barred from God’s presence because of our sin. “We were by nature objects of wrath.” Ephesians 2:3.
So God’s love for us is unconditional. It is not dependent on who we were or what we had done. Jesus died when we were at our worst!
c) The proof of God’s Love
We were powerless to please God, living without any thought of God, a slave to sin, and hostile to God. And yet, God loved us in such a costly and sacrificial way. God gave his best for us, when we were at our worst! Now we are God’s masterpiece created in Christ Jesus to do good works, we are God’s people, we are saints set apart for God, we are the dearly loved children of God. How could we think that God would love us any less now!
The cross demonstrates that God’s love for us is unlimited and unconditional. So we can be confident of God’s love today. Whatever we’ve done, whatever we have achieved or failed to achieve – we are loved beyond description this morning. “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
An old hymn says:
“Inscribed upon the cross we see
in shining letters, God is love:
he bears our sins upon the tree:
he brings us mercy from above”
The cross speaks to us today. It shouts above all the other voices that we might hear: the voices of doubt, of accusations, of fears and of our circumstances. And it speaks to the depth of our hearts – “God loves me!”
2. We Shall be saved v9-10
We can be secure in our salvation because we see look to the past and see God’s love. But we can also confidently look to the future. Paul says that “we shall be saved.” v9, 10
a) We will be saved from God’s wrath
Firstly we shall be saved from the coming day of God’s wrath. Chapter 2 says about those who were unrepentant: “You are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:5 There is a day of judgement when people will face the consequences of their sin.
But Paul says that God will save us from this day of judgement. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” v9 Paul’s argument is, that since God has done this amazing thing in justifying us who have faith in Jesus. Since he had declared us righteous in his sight - even although it cost him the blood of his Son. How much more will God complete this task and save us from his wrath to come!
Jesus took God’s wrath for us. He shed his blood to save us. We can trust that he will save us from this day of judgement. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 of “Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
When we trusted in Jesus, we were not only declared right with God now – but we were declared to be right with God for all eternity. Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
b) We will be saved through Jesus’ life!
Secondly v10 says “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
If Jesus has done the more difficult thing in reconciling us to God when we were his enemies, how much more will he finish our salvation, now that we are his friends. Our security lies not only in the fact that Jesus died for us, but that now he lives for us.
“He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25
Today we share in the resurrection life of Jesus. Paul says in “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:4 . We shall be saved by Christ’s life because we share this life. We belong to Christ.
c) Secure in the hands of our Saviour
People worry about whether they can keep following Jesus! Someone has said that some people view salvation like Noah inviting the people in his day to be saved from the flood by trusting in God. But instead of them inviting them into the safety of the ark, instead Noah offers to put a peg on the outside of the ark, saying, “If you just hang on through the storm, you’ll be saved.”
But our security doesn’t depend on us holding onto Jesus – but it depends on Jesus holding onto us! Our salvation is nothing to do with what we do. We shall be saved “through him” and “through his life.” As Jesus promised: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29. We are held doubly secure in the hands of Jesus who died for us and the Father who sent his son to save us!
We are those “who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:5 This is the confidence that God wants us to have. Confidence in the power of God for salvation – complete salvation – not only for now, but also for eternity to come.
God does not do salvation by half. He does not justify us to condemn us. He does not reconcile us only to lose us again. Our initial salvation did not depend on us – it was by God’s grace. And the completion of our salvation also does not depend on us. God will complete the work that God has started: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6.
3. We Are Reconciled to God v11
Thirdly we can be secure in our relationship with God, because we have been reconciled to God. “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” v11. We have now been brought into fellowship with God!
a) We Don’t Boast in Ourselves
The word translated “rejoice” here is literally the word: “boast.” This is not an arrogant pride in anything we’ve done! We have nothing to be proud of. We’ve already seen in Romans that outside of Christ we have nothing to boast about. Paul wrote of the Jews in Romans 2:17: “You… brag about your relationship to God.” Literally this verse reads, “You boast in God.” Paul condemned the arrogance of the Jews who thought that they had a monopoly on God.
In Romans 3:27 we read: “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded.” Those who are right with God through faith in Jesus have no right to boast because they have not earned their right standing before God- rather they have received it as a gift of God’s grace! (Ephesians 2:8-9)
b) We Boast in God
But Paul here says that believers do boast – “We boast in God.” v11 Last week we saw that “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God,” v2 and we can even “rejoice in our sufferings.” v3 But here our reason for rejoicing, our boast is more than all the things that God has and will do for us. It is to rejoice in God himself, we boast in God! As Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 1:31: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
So when we rejoice in our salvation, we are not being arrogant, or proud, or presumptuous. Because our salvation has got nothing to do with our goodness or whether we can hold onto God or not. Instead when we are rejoicing in our salvation, we are rejoicing in who God is. That God is love. That God has the power to save. That God is always faithful to his promises. That now we belong to God. That we are reconciled to him, forever a part of his family, owned by him and held by him for all eternity! We are rejoicing that Jesus is our Saviour. That his death on the cross was sufficient payment for our sins. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
So sometimes if we look around us, our position in Christ may look insecure. If we listen to what people may say, we might feel even more insecure. But we don’t need to fear. If we’ve trusted in Jesus, we are secure in Christ.
Of course there are some people who would reject this idea of security as a Christian. They’re often worried that this will make Christians sit back and doing nothing with our lives – that it produces lazy Christians. I’m saved, and I can’t be lost and so I don’t need to do anything for God.
Actually it should be the opposite. Understanding the depth of God’s love and his salvation should make us humbly lay down our lives for God, as we’ll see. But it also gives us the freedom to live for God.
During the first part of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, no safety devices were used, and 23 men fell to their deaths. For the last part of the project, however, a large net which cost $100,000 was employed. At least 10 men fell into it and were saved. But also, it was discovered that 25% more work was accomplished when the men were assured of their safety!
Today many believers live with the fear of falling. They are restricted in their service for God with crippling fear of failure or of guilt, or the crippling burden of trying to hold onto their salvation in the storms of life.
But God wants us to know that even although we are weak and we could fall - we are safe and secure in our Saviour’s hands. We can look to the past and see the depth of God’s love for us on the cross. We can look to the future and be assured that Jesus will ever live to save us! We can look to the present and be confident that we are reconciled to God today!
And this security removes fear and frees us to serve God with renewed energy and commitment and joy. We are secure in Christ!