Topic: New Testament Passage: Romans 1:18–23
Christopher Rich – April 1, 2018
FOOLISH| Easter Sunday | EASTER 2018 Series
Foolish Gospel | Various
Introduction | Holy Week
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission.. This past week and this Sunday in particular is unique and set apart. This is what the Church for centuries has called Holy Week. Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday and looked at Jesus entrance into Jerusalem. Crowds of people with great expectations for how Jesus was going to change their lives were cheering and praising His arrival into the holy city. On Monday Jesus was on mission cleaning out a defiled temple to make space for peace, prayer, and the presence of Jesus with His people. By Maundy Thursday Jesus was celebrating the Passover remembering God saving his people from slavery and keeping them from certain death. During this meal he reminded them of the certainty of His impending sacrificial death and gave them a new symbol of bread and wine to remember his body broken and blood shed as a sacrifice for sin. That night he was arrested, falsely accused and condemned to death. We gathered for a Good Friday service to consider the execution of Jesus Cross, the price Jesus paid for our Sin. That Friday was good because Jesus was on the cross and we were not. Saturday was a day of tension, discouragement and disbelief. Today we celebrate Easter! Resurrection Sunday!
Today we are going to look at a few simple questions, some big truths, and call all of us to life. For those who are Christians this is a necessary exercise in remembering what we believe and why. For those of you who are joining us this is essential for you to know and understand what is that drives Jesus’ people.
1: Is there a God? YES! We believe God created EVERYTHING! And He created it good. Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This world is not an accident and your existence is not a random happening. You are known by the God who made you. No one makes or creates for no purpose. Even things like art and music exist to convey beauty and emotions. If something is created it is created for a purpose. If there is a God who created this universe and this God created people and this God created You that means we are all created for a purpose. That purpose is to reflect how awesome God is by enjoying the world He has created. .Men and women were created good in the image of God, we are the only created being made in His image, not the eagle, or a cow, or tree, spider, or naked mole rat. We are made in His image, meaning everyone us and every person is worthy of dignity, honor and respect. God created the world as a place where people could dwell in His presence, naked and unashamed, to be fruitful and multiple, to cultivate and create. There was no fear, not brokenness, no sin or wrong that separates people. It’s beautiful, abundant, exciting, enjoyable. It’s almost unbelievable and a bit inconceivable because this not how we experience life now. There are parts of life that are very good, there are moments of joy, periods of peace, times where our purpose seems clear, and we smile and breath and think this is good. Then there are other times.
2: If there is a God who made everything good, what went wrong? Why are there problems now? This God you’re talking about doesn’t seem to be involved or engaged in the world. There is war, poverty, injustice. Our relationship with others are not intimate transparent and free from shame, they include brokenness and bitterness. Is God the source of these problems? If not, can we work together to fix them? If there is a God who is good, since things are broken will He fix this? Will there be consequences for evil?
Romans 1:18-23 | 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Wrath? Really?! Yes. God has wrath reserved for rejection of God. Something changed. There was peace, communion with God and humanity but now there appears to be a conflict. Conflict with God and certainly conflict between people. It says there is ungodliness and unrighteousness in humanity. How did this happen?
We believe sin entered the world. Things were not good long, before an enemy came to deceive and destroy. Man willingly suppressed the truth about God loving us, for a lie that God doesn’t love us and that sin (rejection/rebellion) has no consequences. We believe because of this, sin has infected everything and everyone, leads to destruction. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
This is what we call the fall. You can think about it as a foolish exchange. What went wrong was and is primarily a worship issue, an honor issue. Everyone knows there is a God. We know there is a God and this God has Eternal Power and Divine Nature – This is the GODNESS of God. GOD IS FOREVER. God does not have a beginning or an end. We have a beginning. There was a day there wasn’t you and then there was a day there was a you! He is the creator this we can perceive because of the very existence of the universe. Steven Hawking says before the “big bang” there was nothing. Nothing making something is foolish faith. Psalm 14:1 The fool says in their heart there is no God” We believe someone made everything. That someone is God. If there is a God who created us we should worship Him and find our joy, peace, and life in Him.
Sin makes us become futile, meaning will ultimately produce nothing, in our thinking by saying we don’t need to worship, honor, or follow God. Sure, He created everything, but we can do better than Him in leading our own lives. We are not dependent on Him we can be independent. We call this wisdom.
Where do you seek glory from, joy from, and where do you direct your honor, praise, admiration, hope?
Every time we’re seeking or pursuing joy, life, and purpose apart from God the Creator we’re making a foolish trade. We taking something we’ve been given that is great, gracious, and glorious (communion with God) and saying “wisely” it would be better to direct our worship and find our joy in something less than God. We never get more. It’s not enjoy God at the expense of creation. God told us to love each other and engage with creation. So you can have engagement with creation Eating drinking all to the glory of God. Now and forever connected to source of life. Or you can have temporary engagement creation (divorced from the Creator source of life) without God that leads to death so you have “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”. It’s not more its less. We can have God and enjoy everything else. Or we can reject God, try to make other things or people god and be miserable. We make this trade all the time. We worship other things, our jobs, our activities, special things, other people, relationship, or just ourselves. This leaves us unsatisfied in the present, enslaved in sin, and condemned for eternity. We are in need. We need 2 things: We need God’s just wrath absorbed AND we need life and communion with God restored.
- If things are broken how can they be fixed? Can we fix ourselves? What can God do or has God done?
Our God who is good, powerful, and just is also kind, merciful and gracious. He knows our condition, He knows our need. He knows our hearts. God in the midst of this fall, this foolish exchange of paradise lost He promised to save. God shows His great mercy (not giving us what we deserve) and His Grace (giving us good we do not deserve) by making a series of promises. God would not let our foolish trade at the Fall be the final one. He promises to send us a Savior-King who will save us from justice and bring us life.
We believe God’s answer to our foolish exchange is Jesus. Jesus is the promised savior-king. Jesus is God the Son, comes into human history born of a virgin (fully God and fully Man) to proclaim the kingdom of God, preach its values, display its power, to call people to repent (turn from sin towards God). Jesus lives a perfect life none of us have lived, a life so Holy He perfectly fulfilled the law of God. A life of such enjoyment that He was accused of being a drunk and a glutton, yet is without sin. We look to Jesus for life!
Romans 6:23 | For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
4: How is this accomplished? If we’ve earned death for sin then how does God give us eternal life in Christ?
Christ died for our sins. Jesus suffered and Jesus died the death we deserve in our place. Jesus is our substitute, we believe on the cross Jesus is takes our sin for us and dies for it. This is why Jesus brutal death on the cross in our place is so important. Jesus didn’t deserve death, Jesus didn’t deserve wrath. We do! This was God’s answer for dealing justly with sin and mercifully with sinners, putting our sin on Jesus.
2 Cor 5:21 | For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
God answers our foolish exchange with another foolish exchange. In Jesus, God says “Hey give me all your sin. Everything you’ve done, everything done to you. All your rebellion, all your ungodliness, all of that I’ll take and placed on, have it embodied by Jesus (God the Son, God in the flesh) one righteous man and he’ll endure the just wrath for sin, he’ll face the separation from communion with God, (Forsaken) He’ll bear the reproach of people. FOR YOU! Debt of sin paid…. In full… by Jesus blood. The only thing you brought to the cross was your sin. The only thing you bring to a relationship with God the Creator in Christ is your sin. You cannot save yourself. Your debt is to big to be paid by you and livee, your shame is too great for you to bear and rise to honor. This is why we say we are Saved by Jesus’ work. Jesus’ work takes care of our sin (mercy) and it gives us new life (grace) God takes our sin and puts it on Jesus. Jesus takes His righteousness and puts it on us. Martin Luther called this the “Great Exchange.” It’s a great exchange for us!
1 Cor 1:18 |For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
5.There are lots of religious leaders who have died, and martyrs fallen for a cause, why is Jesus so special? If Jesus died for our sins isn’t that enough as a good example of self-sacrifice? Can’t He just be a good teacher?
Jesus death is not a great lesson in self-sacrifice. We don’t gather and celebrate to memorialize a fallen martyr and simply say “hey everybody, try to remember how great Jesus was and be a bit nicer to each other.” When it says the word of the cross is the power of God for those who Trust Jesus and are being saved it is because the cross is not end of the story. Yes Jesus really died, for our sin, and this is great news! A dead Jesus isn’t worth following, because everyone dies. If I am going to live, I need to follow someone living. We worship a God who created all life and has the power to resurrect life where it has been taken. Jesus really died, was really buried, AND He really rose. Jesus is alive! This is a miracle of God. God would not allow His sinless son not be vindicated. Sin, guilt, death, wrath. No sin, not guilty, death….. un uh! Jesus has done some amazing things, but to be risen from the dead on the third day is more amazing than all of them. We celebrate Easter not because the sun is out again, or the flowers bloom where things that look dead show life, but because Jesus was dead and is now alive. This is not in some metaphorical sense like “He’s alive as long as we remember him” This is in a real “empty tomb” sense. Jesus taught He is the Son of God, Jesus taught we need to repent turn from sin, to believe in him as the savior-king. Jesus taught us to love God and love people, Jesus taught He was going to betrayed, condemned, beaten, crucified, and on the third day be raised to life. A “good teacher” is someone who teaches you what is true and leads you to more flourishing and abundant life. They are someone who’s teachings are reliable. While Jesus taught on compassion, stewardship, love of neighbor, marriage, and sexuality, all that He taught was in light of who He is. If His identity is anything other than God the Son, if Jesus died and is dead then he is NOT a good teacher. Whatever else he had to say is basically worthless.
If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead. – Tim Keller
1 Cor 15:14 | And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. Jesus isn’t an idea, or a principal, or an example. He is the living God. I need to be clear for Christians this isn’t mythology, this is History. If Jesus didn’t rise then we are all worshiping the decomposed corpse of a homeless Jewish carpenter that became a lunatic rabbi. There is no middle ground with the risen Jesus. It’s all or nothing. If Jesus is dead is a feeling of hopelessness and a finality to all of this.
1 Cor 15:17 | And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
The way we know our sins are forgiven and we’ve been given eternal life is because in Jesus resurrection He displayed God’s power to take death and bring life. If there is not resurrection then all we have is life on this earth. If Jesus didn’t rise then what hope do any of us have? That is NOT good news. It means frankly: 1 Cor 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. Christians are those who have staked their lives on the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus is dead and we’re fools. Oh we might have a little more meaning, love people a little bit better, but what’s the point if this is it. We should be as selfish as we can be if life, vitality, joy are all just one fish bowl slowly draining until there is nothing left. We’re as eternally hopeless as anyone who follows any other spiritual leader. Every religion and cult has told you what you need to be saved, to achieve peace, nirvana, enlightenment, or move later to an eternity that is completely self-focused. You get all the things or power you want without having to respond to God. It’s the same foolish trade we’ve already made and watched fail. They’re all led/founded by guys who died. Death has defeated every religious founder. L.Ron Hubbard Dead and Gone, Joseph Smith dead and gone. Budda, dead and gone. Bhagwan Ragnesseh dead and gone. Mohammed dead and gone. Dali Lama, one day…You get the point. OUR KING Jesus is alive! Jesus is Present! Jesus says I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father (God) except through me. It’s a universal call to the exclusive life with God in Jesus.
6: What does the resurrection of Jesus mean for me? And for us? How now should I respond? What is next?
His tomb is empty you cannot visit a full grave of Jesus’. He walked and talked with His disciple meeting with dozens, even hundreds, of His followers over 40 days. He has commissioned us to go and make disciples of all nations and baptize them (signifying being buried with Jesus and risen for Him) telling us we’re not alone but “behold I am with you always to the end of the age.” The resurrection of Jesus is a historical event that changed the course of human history. When we share, preach, talk about the gospel we’re just talking about news of God saving His people in Jesus sinless life, substitutionary death, and powerful resurrection. News is not instructions and news is not persuasion but news does have implications. The resurrection of Jesus has very personal implications. Jesus died and rose to save individual people. It requires an individual response. This means each of us must respond. It means our hope in overcoming sin, shame, and death doesn’t have to be in ourselves or our performance. The gospel is not about what you can do to save yourself, but what God has done to save you in Jesus Christ. It means individuals need to repent of sin (turn from following yourself), believe the Gospel, and place their faith and hope in Jesus Christ as their savoir. You’re placing your faith and hope in life now and forever in the God who lives.
Romans 10:9-10 | 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Go to Jesus! Pledge your allegiance to Him, be made new by His resurrection power.
Grow in God’s word changing you and shaping you knowing it all points you back to Jesus in your place, Jesus alive growing and shaping you. God’s word brings life and shapes us by the Holy Spirit. It tells us about our God who conquered death and brings new life. We believe Jesus will return and restore. Jesus, after His resurrection returned to heaven, where He is ruling as King. He will return and restore this world to its intended glory and all will be good for eternity. So we have a present life and a future hope.
The resurrection of Jesus has corporate implications. Jesus died and rose to save a people! Eternal life with the risen Jesus in nothing less than life with other risen people. Gather with God’s people. God’s grace in Jesus changes our very identity where we go from sinner opposed to God, to adopted Son or daughter in God’s family. It’s not an empty grace, that’s what vain means, where we give a passing acknowledgment to it as we continue down our own road. So I am not going to ask you to make a one time decision or raise a hand, I am just going to tell you the news and call you to a new lifetime of following Jesus, with His people, growing in His word. But have no doubt God’s grace in Jesus is one which requires a radical response. It’s is a full grace that vigorously motivates us to live out God’s purposes for us, because of God’s promises to us. The total amount of our sin being pardoned and the total complete nature of the new life we are given from now through eternity means the only appropriate response is one of complete commitment. It is a grace that means we are part of an amazing story; but we are not the hero of it. Jesus is. We preach the Gospel of Jesus crucified and risen! We believe the Gospel of Jesus! We Trust Jesus!
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