Sunday, July 13, 2014

For whom are you living? July 13, 2014 RUMC

For whom are you living?
July 13, 2014
1.     There are not many guarantees in life.
“Satisfaction Guaranteed” on the label does not guarantee that we will not be disappointed
Carefully maintaining our cars does not mean that we won’t see that dreaded “check engine” light.
Marrying the love of our lives does not guarantee a happy marriage.
Finding the house you love does not guarantee that you will be approved for the mortgage.
Being an A student does not guarantee that we will get the job we so desperately want.
Being the most loving, wisest, best parent we can be does not guarantee that our children will make wise choices.
There are not many guarantees in life.

In the 8th chapter of Romans, however, Paul offers some guarantees that are really guarantees.
We spent the last two weeks in the 6th and 7th chapters of Romans, so you know a little bit about where Paul is coming from. Paul speaks in radical opposites:
2.     Sinful people vs. holy God,
3.     coming judgment vs. perfect Savior,
4.     Dead to sin vs. alive to God in Christ Jesus.
5.     The struggle with sin vs. the victory of the spirit.
6.     Life in the flesh vs. life in the spirit.
7.     In chapter 8 of Romans, Paul picks up all those loose threads and wraps them up in a package with a bow saying “therefore.“ In light of all of this. Because of all of this. In spite of the fact that there are few guarantees in this world that are worth anything, Paul offers a guarantee that is out of this world. He says, “Therefore,” there are three things that are absolute certainties.

8.     First: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In other words salvation is available to those who have faith
We are sinners. There is no disputing that. Sinners deserve judgment and punishment. There is no question there. However, as much as we have earned punishment; as much as we deserve judgment; even though – as sinners- we are wholly unable to stand in the presence of the holy and almighty God; there is no condemnation. Not that we don’t deserve it, not that we have not earned it… but in love God has chosen to withhold it. By the power of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, we are freed from the prison of our sin and guilt.
The evidence is in. the witnesses have testified. The jury has deliberated. The verdict has been delivered… GUILTY!    But for those who are in Christ Jesus the judge says, “Guilty but forgiven, you are free to go.” No condemnation. No punishment. No penalty at all. None. Nada. Zilch.

That’s great news. But not for everyone. Did you catch that?. Paul writes “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Is this guilty but forgiven verdict available to just anyone, then? NO. By no means. Not everyone can say that they have forgiveness in Christ Jesus. That is one of the great fallacies of cultural Christianity. That because Christ died for all, that all are forgiven and saved. Not true. Not at all true.
While it is true that Christ died for all, and there is plenty of room for everyone at the foot of the cross; it is also true that forgiveness and salvation are only given to those who have faith. Paul is clear in all of his writings that there are those who are en kristo (in Christ) and those who are apo tou Kristou (outside of Christ). Some are forgiven and some are not. Some are saved and some are not. And what’s the difference?... the difference is faith.
In John 3:36,Jesus says  "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life." Faith makes all the difference .
So where are you? In Christ? Or outside of Christ? Free from condemnation? Or under condemnation? You don't have to stay under condemnation. There is room in Christ. There is always room in Christ. And Christ's word to every sinner is, "Come! Trust me! Enter! I will be your life, your righteousness, and your pardon, because I have taken your condemnation."

So the first guarantee is the for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation for sin.
9.     The second guarantee is that you can live a life pleasing to God..
8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. THEREFORE YOU CAN LIVE A LIFE PLEASING TO God
Obviously, Paul is talking about a whole new eco system here, a new reality, a whole new life.
        Up to this time, people lived by the law. The law was good, but it’s job was to show us our sin.
Those who are “In Christ” are not under the power of the law… not under the power of sin… but under the power of Grace. In Christ we are not under the power of our egos. “In Christ” we are not under the power of fear. “In Christ” is not under the power of hatred. “In Christ” we are not under the power of greed, or revenge … but in Christ we are under the power of Grace.
But we are not just freed from sin we are freed to live with God by the spirit of God that dwells within us. Freed to live life in the Spirit that Paul describes in Galatians 5. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.” That is the life in the spirit that is pleasing to God. That is the life we can live.
Or we can look at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5, “ “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” ”Blessed are those who mourn…” “Blessed are the meek…” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” “Blessed are the merciful…” “Blessed are the pure in heart…” “Blessed are the peacemakers” That is the life in the spirit that is pleasing to God. That is the life we can live.
The key, Paul says, is knowing that we are no longer the slaves to sin that Paul describes in Chapter 6. Sin is no longer our boss. We are no longer slaves to our own ability to live rightly as Paul describes in chapter 7. We are no longer slaves to doing the very things we know not to do, because living in the spirit has empowered us to live beyond that bondage. It has truly empowered us to live as God wants us to live. That is the second guarantee.

The third guarantee is that we have eternal life.
10.         10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Do you follow the logic here? For those who live in Christ three things are true:
·        There is no condemnation.
·        You can live a life pleasing to God.
·        You can receive eternal life.
The “flesh” Paul refers to is not the skin of our bodies but to a way of living, or should I say a way of dying that brings with it only more death.
Life in the spirit, however,  is also a way of living that brings along with it even more living. Eternal living. Eternal life is not something that is limited to the hereafter. Eternal life is actually a quality of living that starts here and now. “He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also,” both during this life and after.
Paul would have been appalled at the concept of having a membership list in our churches. People have the idea today that as long as their name is on the membership list they are good to go for heaven. Not so. You see eternal life is not gained by having our names on a list. Eternal life is not acquired by registering with the right ecclesiastical body. It has nothing to do with where we belong, and everything to do with the spirit that lives inside of us and how we live today because the spirit is inside of us.
We can live for the flesh or we can live for the spirit.
We can live for ourselves or live for the spirit.
We can live for the world or live for the spirit.
We can live for the here and now or we can live for the now and forever.
In john 17 Jesus prays for the disciples saying: "Now this is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent"
Knowing God in faith … living in Christ… is eternal life.
Knowing God is a taste of forever in the here and now.
Living for God is a taste of forever in the here and now.
Living in the spirit is a taste of forever in the here and now.
And that is eternal life.

They say that the only guarantees in this life are death and taxes.
But Romans 8 give us three guarantees for the Christian life.
11.         No condemnation for yesterday if you live in Christ today
12.         You can please God if you live in Christ today
13.         You can live Eternal life with God starting today and forever.

You may have heard the old preacher’s story about Charles Bloindin.
In June of 1859 Charles Bloindin become the first person to cross a tightrope stretched over a quarter of a mile across the mighty Niagara Falls.
He walked across 160 feet above falls several times, each time with a different daring feat like walking across on stilts or riding across on a bicycle, or pushing a wheelbarrow.
Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: "Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?" The crowd enthusiastically shouted, "Yes, yes, yes. You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. You can do anything!"
"Okay," said Blondin, "Get in the wheelbarrow...”
It is one thing to believe in the tight ropewalker, it is a completely different thing to put your life in his hands.
It is one thing to believe in God. It is quite another to live for him.
So it is really up to you.
14.         You can live in your sins or in Christ.
You can live for yourself or for God.
You choose.
15.         To be left up during the song

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