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The Second Sunday after Pentecost

June 14, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Romans 5:6–5:15

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Romans 5:6-15
Date: June 14th,  Pentecost 2; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • In last Sunday’s Old Testament reading we heard the account of creation - when God made everything, including you and me in his image.
  • After speaking all things into existence, God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
  • And we get to enjoy God’s very good creation!
  • The fresh air and beautiful skies and shining sun!  The smell of a freshly mown lawn.
  • The birds singing sweetly in the trees!
  • Art and music and all kinds of fun recreation!
  • Tasty food and delicious drink!
  • The love and joy and support we have in our relationships with our family and friends!
  • There are so many things to be thankful for as we enjoy God’s very good creation!
  • But in this life, there is no denying, that we also experience what is very bad.
  • Tragic accidents and injuries.  Natural disasters.  Wars.  Pandemics.  Riots.   
  • And worst of all - death.
  • How do we make sense of this?  How do we deal with suffering and death?  What can be done about it?
  • Well, we see throughout history that human beings have tried to make sense of living in this fallen world, of the difficulties we face, of death, in many different ways.
  • There are thousands of religions and world philosophies out there that attempt to address suffering and death.
  • But, it’s interesting that while there are literally thousands of different ideas and approaches on how to deal with our plight - they all can basically be distilled down to two understandings.
  • The first understanding is that it is up to us to fix everything and make it right again.
  • The specific details vary from religion to religion and philosophy to philosophy, but the underlying idea is that we need to make ourselves worthy of God’s favour through our holy living or we need to become enlightened or figure things out.
  • The first understanding is that we need to climb a spiritual ladder to God by following commandments and laws, or specific pillars of faith, or by doing ceremonies and rituals.  
  • Or we need to climb a spiritual ladder to God by becoming enlightened as we learn through our experiences - maybe even over many different lifetimes as with reincarnation.
  • Or we learn from those who have achieved enlightenment before us - like the Buddha. 
  • Summed up - the first understanding is that it is up to us to fix everything through our holy living or through some kind of spiritual illumination.
  • And this understanding is very appealing.  
  • It seems to make sense to us because that’s the way things work in the world.  
  • For the most part, we need to earn what we get.  We need to pay for our mistakes.  We need to achieve things through our own efforts.
  • Even more, we like to be able to accomplish things on our own.  
  • We don't like to be dependent on anyone else.  We like to receive credit and earn things.
  • But while the first understanding of how we overcome suffering and death is appealing - it is a dangerous and deadly lie.
  • The Bible makes it absolutely clear that it’s impossible for us to earn our way to heaven through our own efforts.
  • The prophet Isaiah gives us a sobering description of our own efforts when he said, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
  • In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul lays this out plainly when he said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).    
  • This leads us to the second understanding of how we are to deal with suffering and death - or more precisely, how God has already dealt with it.
  • The second understanding is that there is nothing we can do through our own efforts to save ourselves. 
  • So out of his love, mercy, and grace - at just the right time - God has done everything necessary to save us.
  • The first understanding includes all of the world’s religions and philosophies.
  • The second understanding includes only Christ Jesus who is the way, and the life, and the truth.  Not a way.  The way.
  • The first understanding requires us to figure things out, clean ourselves up, pay for our mistakes, and make ourselves worthy before God to overcome sin and death.
  • The second understanding is the Good News that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
  • There is no better news that we could ever hear.  It is such a relief to know that it’s not about what we do - it’s about what God has done for us.
  • Honestly, how secure would you feel if your eternal life was based solely on your life - past, present, and future?  
  • The truth is that we “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and we deserve God’s eternal wrath (Romans 3:23).
  • But hear again the Good News in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by [Christ’s] blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:9-10).
  • Our salvation from sin and death is not earned, it is not something we can achieve.  
  • It is a free gift given to us by our loving and gracious God.  A free gift that we receive through the God-given gift of faith.
  • Our salvation has already been accomplished for us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • Again, St. Paul teaches this truth so well in his letter to the Romans, “…sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin…But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Romans 5:12-15).
  • Dear friends, sin has brought suffering and death into this world and into our lives.  
  • There is no getting around this.
  • We are unable to change that fact or fix it through our own efforts.  It’s impossible.
  • But Christ died for the ungodly, he died for you.  
  • He shed his blood on the cross and we have been justified before God, declared innocent, and we have been made holy and righteous.
  • And since we have been justified, we are saved for eternity.
  • No longer will we experience or have to make sense of suffering and death because the Creator has restored his creation through Christ our Saviour.
  • Through Christ’s blood shed on the cross, God sees everything that he made, including you - and behold, it is very good - and it will be forever.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Pentecost

July 5, 2020

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

June 21, 2020

Third Sunday after Pentecost

May 31, 2020

The Day of Pentecost