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*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.”
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.
!!! i) Powerless
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!
!!! ii) Ungodly
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
!!! iii) Sinners
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
!!! iv) Enemies
Lastly, Jesus laid down his life  “when we were God’s enemies.”
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.
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