Wednesday 20 April 2022


This morning I want to turn to Paul’s Letter to the Romans, in Chapter 10.   

 Paul was specially and uniquely called by God to be an Apostle to the Gentiles, but he never forgot his own Jewish people.  This Letter was directed to the Jews who were carrying a mistaken belief, but its teaching is equally applicable to us, as all Paul’s Letters are. When Paul speaks, God is speaking through him, and the wonderful thing is we have those very words spoken all those many years ago in our Bibles these days.

 Paul’s greatest desire was to make people Christians, a noble cause and one we could wish all preachers to-day to adopt.  He was concerned the Jews were being misled to follow the wrong way to salvation, which can only be achieved by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord.

 A group of Jews were fully committed to following the law and had a lot of enthusiasm and they believed in seeking God’s favour, but it was based without knowledge. They saw the law representing love, but failed to see that Christ embodied love, in all his life and even death. The Jews who had listened to Paul, were being pressured by to fall back to the rule of law

 Some of the Corinthians were not denying that Jesus was raised from the dead, but did not accept his followers would be raised. Paul emphasizes four times that those who deny the physical and bodily resurrection of believers also deny the resurrection of Christ, even if they claim it to be true.

 The Resurrection is at the very heart of the gospel.  There are people to day in believe in life after death. If Christ had not been raised, the conclusion would be that he wase left dead in the grave in Palestine, and we all wasted our time.  If he had not been raised, then that is the end of Christianity

 Verses 6/8 show the contrast between the righteousness based on faith, and that which comes from the law, now fulfilled in Christ. At one time there was just a written set of Law,  but God caused his Son to go through a cruel death, before bringing Him from the realm of the dead.

 The Jews believed that all that was necessary for salvation was to keep the Ten Commandments, but no one can keep the Commandments for it is like a chain, if you break one link it all falls apart, and the Bible states if you break one you break the lot, and we have all, without exception broken at least one.  Therefore, one cannot be saved by the Commandments.

 The word ‘saved’ does cause an emotional response with a lot of people, as it conjures up an image of being approached by a Charismatic Christian asking are you saved brother (sister).

 God sent Jesus to supplant the Law and make it possible for all people to be saved if they accepted Christ as having died on the Cross to obtain forgiveness for the sins they committed.

 Coming to the heart of this passage, verse 9 states, ‘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’. The whole Christian message is on the lips, and in the heart.

 The effect of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for sins lies in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. If in fact Jesus has not been raised, the his death did not pay for sin, and there is no hope of being with God in heaven.

Although Paul believed that those who died went to be with the Lord immediately after death and prior to the resurrection, he also conceived of a believer’s eternal embodied existence. If there is no such existence, then there is no eternal life.

 Christ’s resurrection, grounded in the truth of eye-witness testimony changes everything.  If God raised Christ from the dead, then Christ was the first fruits, the first of many others who would also be raised from the dead. The first fruits represents the first sample of an agricultural crop that indicates the nature and quality of the rest of the crop; therefore Christ’s resurrection body gives a foretaste of what those believers will be like.

 In Adam all die; in Christ all shall be made alive.  By divine appointment Adam represented that whole human race that would follow him, and his sin represented human beings. Similarly Christ represents all who will follow him , and his obedience affects believers.

 Confession that Jesus is Lord, and singing hymns is not an intellectual title or a casual statement, it means much more.  You have to believe fully in your heart this is so, and have no doubt that God raised Him physically from the dead; that is the heart of the Christian message.  So when you do believe and are prepared to confess with your mouth, God accepts you as righteous.

 Think what heaven would be like if you had to earn your way there. People would be trying to outbid each other and probably boasting how important they had been in the world.

  When I was being inducted into a new parish by the Rural Dean, who was a real traditional English gentleman, he introduced me to a man, and mentioned some of the positions he had held in his Church, and the man was really indignant because some obscure committee was omitted. 

Something in us always wants to add to God’s free grace. It’s humbling to admit that we can do nothing to earn our deliverance from sin. Imagine what heaven would be like if we had to earn our way there. People would be trying to outbid each other and probably boasting how important they had been in the world.

There really are people who join the Church for egotistic reasons.     Heaven would be just like that, if you had to earn your way there. But it won’t be like that, when Jesus died on the cross, he paid the full price for your salvation. God alone gets the glory in your salvation. Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross.

The Bible states, ‘by grace you have been saved through faith. We are in fact at the doctrine of justification by faith; ‘by grace you have been saved through faith, it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God and not by your own works.’  God in great mercy is ready to pardon all who accept that Jesus died on the Cross as a penalty payment for all our individual sins, and God raised Him from the dead.  If we confess that we believe this God grants us His righteousness.

 Why do we need God’s grace?; because all men and all women are by nature spiritually dead and separated from God.  Grace is the unmerited favour of God.    Grace saves us through faith; nothing more, nothing less. than salvation is by grace which  must be free, or else it is not grace at all. Three words; grace, saved, and faith.

Grace is the source, Faith is the means, and Salvation freely given and received by faith alone is the result. We are saved by grace through faith:

Some people think they are too good to be saved. That is, they may have such a high opinion of themselves that they think they don’t need God’s grace. They may admit they are sinners, but they don’t admit they are spiritually dead. They may think they’re sick because of sin, but not truly dead. God’s grace cannot help you until you are desperate to receive it.

Salvation is never gained by earning it, or by trying to be good, or by the good outweighing the bad, but simply by acknowledging that Jesus Christ has done it all on your behalf

 I  have been told countless times all one has to do is to be good, be kind and honest, and you will go to heaven; no need to go to Church, sing hymns and read the Bible.  They will learn to regret this belief.

 There was a series on television, in which a young police constable is partnered on duty by an attractive young police woman who is fond of him, but he does not respond. His Sergeant tells him he should make a decision and respond, as one day he will regret not doing so; and then says, ‘the two saddest words in the English language are, if only..’  There are so many people who will one day appear before the Lord and say, ‘if only’.

 I wonder how many people have who have lost someone dear, have thought could I have done more. Since I lost my wife I ask myself that daily, despite nursing her for many years, and I then think ‘if only…. There will be many people when appearing before the Lord will say’ if only (I had trusted Jesus.)

 Jesus himself warned that on the Day of Judgment many will claim to have been His followers, but He will say to them, ‘depart from me. I never knew you.’ Millions have not the slightest idea of what it really meant to be a Christian.

People have been attending church for years, listening to the Bible being read, singing praise to the Lord, and have been very religious, yet have never come to the time when they have acknowledged Jesus as Lord, yet the Bible calls on us to do so.

 They are religious, and even show some outward inclinations toward Christianity. They come from a Christian background. They think that Jesus was a great religious figure. But they have not believed in Christ. Though the gospel is God's power for salvation, because they have not believed, they have not experienced this power nor have they known the gospel for what it truly is. 

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." It is important that the heart must be involved, that is, the inner consciousness, the deep conviction of the will. When the heart, the seat of all our emotions, is overflowing with sincerity, then the mouth must acknowledge it. There must be a willingness to consciously confess that Jesus is Lord.

 This power is for everyone who believes.  This means more than just believing there is a God, the devil accepts that; believing means making a commitment.  Too many say they believe but do nothing, which is why regular preaching of the gospel is import.

 The reason so many people are not willing to accept the Bible, is because the message is too simple. We know there are many people who are not prepared to accept the Bible story, as they find it too incredible to believe.  They are more ready to listen to the strident outpourings of nauseating, insulting, self- indulgent secularists.  For others, accepting the gospel would mean a change of hedonistic lifestyle.  It means accepting a standard of morality they are not prepared to accept. 

 Verse 11 states that all who believe in Jesus will not be put to shame, but there are too many Christians who are ashamed to admit they follow Jesus. The Bible tells us that God has no favourites, and will accept all who call on Jesus.

 A question often asked is what about those who have never heard of Jesus. If someone is in such a remote place where the Bible has not been taught, they will be judged by how they responded to their conscience, for everyone has a sense of what is right and what is wrong.  However, if it is a case of just not bothering to listen or find out, then the responsibility will be on them.

Behind the message, of course, is the messenger.   The message has to be communicated, and the way that God chooses is through the preaching of the Word and the praying of Christians, the yearning of their hearts over those who are not yet saved.   

People are touched by God by various means, perhaps through a poster, a friend, an occurrence in one’s life, but the principal way is through the preaching of the Bible. This I believe is where we are failing badly, right across the Church.     

We in the Churches must make a greater effort to concentrate on the fundamentals of the faith.  There is too much a willingness to amend Bible teaching to be popular, or ally with society’s standards and beliefs; avoid being called narrow minded or bigoted, and take every opportunity of doing so.

On Easter Sunday one year a service was held in one of our great Cathedrals, and  was televised, offering a wonderful opportunity of getting the message out across the whole country, but instead there was a sermon which completely wasted the chance by an address on climate change, an unproved issue which seems to obsess a lot of people.

On Easter day this year, Archbishop Welby attracted headlines with his sermon (nothing unusual there) and I think criticism of him was justified. The purpose of a sermon is to comment on the lesson or subject of the day, and on the most important day in the Church calendar, that is what he should have spoken on, and left the controversial political scene alone. Every time virtually he speaks, he embarrasses the Church.

 As people have a cause to believe in with an eternal future at issue, one might have thought that would have been a prime issue for him to concentrate his mind on. There are moral matters when the Church should be giving a lead to the country.   

The glory of Christianity is that it has a message that is grounded in history. It is objective truth, not just something that someone has made up.  It is not some feeling that you are following that you hope will work out; it is the story of historic events. The Resurrection is the most outstanding event in history, and needs to be preached upon on Easter Sunday.

There is so much reluctance to believe and accept that a man who died on a Cross 2,000 years ago in a land on the other side of the world was raised from the dead.  More so, that people actually believe he lives on by His Spirit in their lives today and influences their way of life. Even some clergy fail to accept the facts of both His birth and physical resurrection. 

When Christ returns, all his followers from all time will receive resurrection bodies, never again to suffer weakness, illness, ageing or death. Until that time, those who have died will remain in heaven as spirits without bodies.

 Never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preach it, believe it, tell it to someone else this week. Amen.



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