Damariscotta Baptist Church
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

 FORGIVENESS

Romans 5:12-21
 

We are continuing on our journey to Easter, by looking at different names for Jesus. We have looked at the names LORD, Messiah, Son of God and Son of Man. Today’s titles are Second Adam and Last Adam. We will be comparing these titles to the First Adam, the first human created by God, in their image.

While studying for this week’s message, I found an excellent illustration by Keith Krell, the senior pastor of Fourth Memorial Church in Spokane, WA. I’d like to share.

He recognizes that Israel is known for two main bodies of water.

In the north there is the Sea of Galilee, which is really a lake that is 13 miles long, and 7.5 miles wide.

Fishing is big in the Sea of Galilee because there are over 22 different kinds of fish. There is also vegetation and fruit on the shore.

It is a beautiful body of water.

Now, 60 miles to the south is the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea is 47 miles long and 9.5 miles wide.

It is the lowest point on the entire earth. You could take Mount Everest and drop it in the Dead Sea and its peak would still be a couple of meters shy of sea level.

Every day, fifty million cubic feet of water flows into the Dead Sea, from the Jordan River, but none of the water goes out. Amazingly, the Dead Sea contains 30 grams of salt per liter. No one has drowned in it, because there is so much salt and so many minerals that one just floats. Also, there is no life or vegetation. Even the shore line is barren. Tumbleweed is the only thing you find. These two bodies of water provide a very stark contrast between that which is brimming with life and that which is exuding nothing but death.

The physical geography of Israel is a picture of the spiritual reality of humanity.

The Sea of Galilee, is brimming with life, and fruitfulness and the Dead Sea breathes death and lifelessness.

In the same way there are two types of people:

                1 – the person who is in Adam

                2 – the person who is in Christ

If you know these two men, what they did and what they represent, you will grasp the essential message of the Bible.

 

In the Bible verses read today, from Romans 5:12-21 Paul compares and contrasts the work of Adam with the work of Jesus Christ. His goal is to make sure we understand that what Jesus did was far greater than what Adam did.

That is the first truth I would like you to remember from today’s message, so I am going to repeat it, this way.

Paul explains in verses 12-14, Adam was our representative of the human race, and he sinned, and his sin was applied to every person who has ever lived, or will ever live. Jesus, on the other hand, did not sin, because he was God, and as a human he was our representative, the second Adam, and his crucifixion, and resurrection paved a way to cover our sins and forgive us, now and eternally.

This was God’s plan from the beginning. He knows us, he made us. He understood and was prepared with a way of salvation, that demonstrates, true love.

The Bible is clear in making Adam our representative. You may not like it, but if we think about it, having a representative is a part of life in many contexts. For example, you may not agree with everything our Senators do, but they still represent us in Congress. What about in football, when one of the linesmen jumps off sides, the entire team is penalized, for the one player’s infraction, because the player represents the whole team. This is the principle Paul is talking about in this passage. Adam was the representative of humankind and because of his sin, the consequences of Adam’s sin transcends to everyone.

Again, you may not like it, but let’s face it. Regardless of who was in the garden at the time, disobedience was inevitable. We might like to think we wouldn’t have eaten the fruit, but I suspect, there is not a one of us here that wouldn’t have done so.

Let me tell you the story of the forester named Sam. Sam chopped down trees every day, and every time the boss came by he would hear Sam saying, “Ohh Adam! Ohh Adam! Ohh Adam!” One day the boss asked, “Why do you moan ‘Oh Adam’ every time you’re out here chopping trees?” Sam replied, “Because if Adam hadn’t sinned, I wouldn’t have to do this backbreaking work, which is a part of the curse.” So the boss said to Sam, “Come with me.” He took Sam to his palatial home with a tennis court, swimming pool, maid and butler. “All this is yours, Sam,” he said. “You never have to complain again. I give all of it to you, a perfect environment.” Sam couldn’t believe it. The boss said, “Now you can have everything you’ve ever wanted, all the time. The only thing you mustn’t do is touch a little box sitting on the dining room table. Whatever you do don’t touch it!” From then on Sam played tennis every day, he swam, he had his friends over, but after a while he got a little bored. There was only one thing in the house he didn’t know about – that little box on the dining room table. For days he would walk by, checking out the box, but then he would remind himself, “You can’t touch it. Don’t touch it.” Day after day he was tempted to look. One day he finally gave in. “I’ve got to find out what’s in that box!” He went over and opened the box and out flew a little moth. He tried to catch it, but he couldn’t. When the boss came home he found the moth had escaped, he immediately sent Sam back to the forest to chop trees. The next day the boss heard him groaning, “Ohh, Sam! Ohh, Sam! Ohh, Sam!”

Romans 3:23 puts it this we. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”

We are condemned on both accounts. No matter how you look at it, we are sinners. We can blame Adam, but we also need to blame ourselves.

We also need to be careful about what we accept and don’t accept. If we decide not to accept the representation of Adam and his consequences, than we cannot accept the representation of Jesus and his consequences. You see, “the wages of sin is death”, Adam’s representation, “but the free gift of God, is eternal life, through Jesus Christ, his son”, Jesus’ representation.

What Adam did was the worst thing that ever happened.

What Christ did was the best thing that ever happened.

The consequence of Adam’s sin is “death reigns”. That consequence started with Adam and Eve, and continues today. Whether we like it or not, Death Reigns, and will continue to do so, until Christ returns again. That’s a problem. This death thing, stinks. Is there a solution to the “death reigns” problem? 

Yes!

That’s the Good News, the Gospel. That is where the Second Adam comes in.

The best part, is the solution is “free”. You don’t have to pay anything to receive it. It is a “free gift”.

In fact, the word “grace” (charis) and the related word “gift” (charisma) occur seven times in verses 15-17.

Paul wants to make it clear, SALVATION IS FREE, NO STRINGS ATTACHED!

These three verses are some of the richest in the entire Bible –

Read verses 15-17

Notice the word these verses begins with, the word “BUT”

The word “but” brings about the contrasts found between Adam and Christ

1.       Negative contrasts

a.       The free gift is not like Adam’s transgression,

                                                                           i.      Adam’s transgression brought death to all humans

                                                                         ii.      Christ’s “gift” brings life

The principle here is that grace is more powerful than sin. The second point I want you to remember today. Let me repeat it.

GRACE IS MORE POWERFUL THAN SIN

This grace or “free gift” is free, but it is not cheap.

It was purchased at infinite cost.

There is a story about a missionary who became a good friend of an Indian pearl diver. They had discussed salvation for many hours, but the Hindu could not believe that it could be a free gift. He believed that salvation could come by walking the nine hundred mile to Delhi on his knees. But the missionary said that salvation was so costly that Jesus had to buy it for us. Before the Indian left on his pilgrimage, he gave the missionary the largest and most perfect pearl he had ever seen. The pearl diver explained that his own son had lost his life in getting this pearl from the bottom of the sea. The missionary thanked him, but then insisted that he pay for it. The Hindu was offended, saying that there was no price that could be paid for a pearl that had cost him his son. Then and there the truth dawned: That is why Christians insist that no one can pay for salvation. It cost God the death of His only Son. To think we can pay for that is an insult indeed. Grace is free to us, but very costly to God.

Back to the contrasts in verses 15-17

2.       we learn the result of Adam’s sin was the condemnation of all humans

But through the death of Christ, those who want to, can now experience, “justification” a legal term used here which means, when we accept what Christ has done for us, we are “justified”, it is “just as if we never sinned”

3.       Finally, Paul tells us

a.       Adam’s sin brought death into the world

b.      Christ’s death brought life into the world, for those who choose to receive, not to everyone

When we receive the gift of Christ’s atonement, we have not only “justification” where God sees us “just as if we never sinned” but we also have “sanctification”.

The goal of the Christian life is not just to get us to heaven (justification), but also to bring heaven down to earth (sanctification).

Another point I would like you to remember today.

Let’s review

Point #1 - You need to understand that what Jesus did, the second Adam, was far greater than what Adam did, the first Adam

Point #2 - GRACE IS MORE POWERFUL THAN SIN

Point #3 - The goal of the Christian life is not just to get us to heaven (justification), but also to bring heaven down to earth (sanctification).

Okay, all fine and good you may say, but what does this look like in real life?

If we truly understand that what Jesus did on the cross is far greater than what Adam did, we will realize that no matter who you come in contact with this week, we are all in the same boat. We have all messed up. We do not have two groups of humans, one group that sins and one group that doesn’t sin. Regardless, we are sinners, not a perfect one in the bunch. It is important to note that although we may weigh the severity of our sins, God doesn’t. A sin, is a sin, is a sin. Today I would like you to think about those people in your lives that have “sinned against you”. Is there someone who has not lived up to your expectations? Who has hurt you, whether intentionally or not? Okay, keep them in mind as we review the second point.

Grace is more powerful than sin. The first hymn we sang today was “Grace that is greater than all my sin.” Amen. Just reflect on that statement for a minute.

Grace “God’s act of sacrifice” has greater power than any sin. Satan was defeated. Sin no longer has power over us, grace does.

Grace is also available from God to everyone. You can take the free gift, and so can the person you have in your mind from the first question. Every sinner gets grace. Thankfully, God loves everyone, equally.

Here comes the tricky part.

If the goal of the Christian life is not just to get to heaven, but also to bring heaven down to earth, I empower you to strive for that goal. You have the power of grace, grace that is greater than sin, to bring heaven down to earth for you and possibly for the person you have been thinking about that has sinned against you. The word is forgiveness. And like grace may be free, but purchased at a great price, forgiveness is free, but offered at a great price, and the price is your pride. God humbled himself and became human to offer himself as our sacrifice. In doing so, he is exalted, and he has set us free. The same thing happens when you choose to forgive. You must humble yourself and give up what you deserve, so that you can be set free from the power of revenge, or hatred. It’s not easy. In fact, just like the difficulty Jesus had in walking to the cross, is the act of forgiveness of the wrong that has been done to you. However, in the end, forgiveness sets you free. Grace given demonstrates its power over sin. There Jesus goes again, turning everything upside down. In human terms, it doesn’t make sense. In God’s terms, forgiveness of sins is how heaven comes down to earth. Emmanuel.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray this very theme:

                “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

                “Forgive us our sins, and those who sin against us”

Thus, your challenge. Remember, you are not alone, the one who deserves the most, sacrificed the most, to give you the power of grace, to forgive others, is with you and wants you to forgive more than you do.

As a prayer, I would like us to take some time for reflection. We are going to listen to Matthew West sing a song he wrote, called “Forgiveness”. May the Spirit of God empower us as we listen.

 
BENEDICTION:

May the grace of God, which is more powerful than sin, be with each of you as you strive to bring heaven down to earth this week. Amen