Rob's sermon on the "Covenant of Increased Blessing" so excited me and thrilled me that I couldn't leave it there for one night so I scrolled through my IPOD and this sermon by Ryan caught my eye. And it was incredible! There was particularly heaps of material ideal for the "Glory and Grace Blank Bible" so keep an eye open!
He preached it on Sunday 24th August 2008.
This morning I am a bit nervous! I feel like I am carrying something I want to get out. I don't feel I am nervous about public speaking so much as I am about communicating what I feel God wants me to say here this morning. What I am wanting to do is preach on four precious chapters from the Bible this morning and that could be the most ambitious and the most stupid thing I have tried to do! I don't want to give you the content so much of this chapters as the context of these four chapters so that context will arm and equip you to be able to go and study this four chapters and to unlock them and to be able to see the sequence and the flow. I've got about five or six Bibles at home and these four chapters have got the most underlined bits, there is writing down the side, they highlight and circle some bits of the texts. They are my favourite chapters!
I believe these four chapters are the bedrock chapters of understanding grace and as we study them and understand them, then we will be able to look at any verse that poses a "problem" for grace, that seems a bit contradictory of grace - but when you understand these four chapters you will be able to put those "rogue verses" into their proper context. If you understand these four chapters and then read another verse in the Bible that seems to undermine grace then the chances are you have misunderstood that verse and what that verse is actually saying. As you study these four chapters and understand them then you will be able to unlock the rest of the Bible.
The four chapters are Romans 5, 6, 7 and 8. My favourite chapters along with Hebrews chapter 10! I love the whole Word but particularly Romans 5-8 and that is where we get our theology of grace. Those four chapters come as a package - they are together and it is not good to isolate one chapter and build a theology around them. There is a flow and a sequence to those chapters that God has only begun to unlock to me in the last few months. I've seen a few things that has helped to unlock those chapters! What I want to do is arm you with a tool or a method on how to understand these four chapters. I wish I could state it in one sentance but I am going to have to state it in a few. Please resist the temptation of turning off! It's very distracting as a preacher! Just keep going, keep walking wiht me and it will drop and click into place! So I will state it and what I am on about then we will go back and look at it with some key Scriptures and establish the context.
What is Romans 5, 6, 7 and 8 talking about? I believe that Romans 5 through 8 are talking about TWO states of being. TWO positions that we are in. TWO kinds of races of people on the earth. Those that are in first Adam and those in last Adam - Jesus Christ. The theme of Romans 5 through 8 is contrasting the two states of those in first Adam and those in last Adam. Two states of being! You are either in first Adam or last Adam.
Romans chapter 5 is all about that. Adam or Christ. It is contrasting are you in Adam or Christ? There is nothing you can do to put yourself in either one of those. You were born in first Adam and we had nothing to do with that. When we come into Christ we are born again - we had nothing to do with that except believe. No righteous act got us into Christ and nothing we did got us into first Adam. Romans 5 is all about people's position. People are either in Adam or Christ.
Romans chapter 6 is contrasting that you are either in the position of SIN or RIGHTEOUSNESS. People read Romans 6 and get confused and think it is about "sinning" or "doing sins" or "being righteous" or "doing righteousness". Actually the position is either you are IN sin or you are IN righteousness. Because people are in Adam they are automatically in sin. People who are IN Christ are automatically IN righteousness!
Those who are in Adam and in sin - it doesn't matter how many good works they do - they can never be IN righteousness or IN Christ. Consequently those who are IN Christ and IN righteousness - it doesn't matter how many bad works they do - they can never be IN first Adam or IN sin again! They are IN Christ and IN righteousness!
Romans chapter 7 is contrasting those who are under the Law and those who are in grace. It is actually talking about how we have died to the Law so that we might belong to another and come into grace. It is also talking about POSITION. You are either in the position of being under the Law or you are in a position of being in grace.
The flow is this - if you are in Adam then you are in sin and under the Law. If you are in Christ then you are in righteousness and you are under grace.
People who are under the Law can try and live in grace but unless they die with Christ and believe by faith in Jesus then they can never come into Christ. Those who are in grace can put themselves back under law but positionally they are in grace whether they like it or not. With their mind and their body they can try and keep laws and fulfill the law and we say they have "fallen from grace".
To fall from grace is not a POSITIONAL thing, it is a CONDITIONAL thing. You haven't "fallen from grace" in your position. Your position is still in grace and still in Christ and in righteousness but you have gone back to the Law which Romans 5 says is "spiritual adultery". That is to "fall from grace". You are still saved and still in Christ but you are trying to impress God by the things that you do.
Romans chapter 8 - those who walk after the flesh then there is condemnation but those who walk after the Spirit then there is no condemnation. The problem with Romans chapter 8 and it's interpretation then people think "One moment I am walking by the Spirit and the next moment I am walking by the flesh and sinful nature". Something there is condemnation and then there isn't. Romans chapter 8 isn't talking about that - it is talking about your position. You are either IN the flesh or you are IN the Spirit.
If you are in Adam then you are in sin and under the Law and IN the flesh. If you are in Christ then you are in righteousness and under grace and IN the Spirit!
Positionally if you are in Christ then you are NOT in the flesh! You are in the Spirit! So a key to understanding Romans 5 through 8 is to understand what position or state it is talking about. Another key is to understand that at any point there are eight simultaneous things happening at one time.
Romans 8:1 - Someone who is in the flesh is not in the Spirit. They are in Adam and not in Christ. They are in sin and not in righteousness. They are under the Law and not under grace.
Someone who is under grace is not under the Law. They are in Christ and not in Adam. They are in righteousness and not in sin. They are in the Spirit and not in the flesh!
We look at Romans 7:1 and see "Shall we continue in sin?" and we think that is talking about "should I keep sinning or try and stop sinning?". It's not talking about that! It is talking about someone who is IN sin and not IN righteousness! "Shall I continue IN sin that grace may abound?". He is saying shall I continue under the Law so I can expose and keep exposing that sin then more grace will be revealed to overcome that sin! So do we keep living in that place of sin? No! God forbid! You can't be in that place of sin if you are in Christ and have come out from Adam! You cannot live in sin if you are in righteousness! You cannot be in sin if you are in righteousness! Now you can do sinful things but that does not make you IN sin! You are in the position of righteousness! Someone who is IN sin can do all the righteous things that they want but that does not put them in the position of righteousness. They have to be united with Christ and be born again!
Let me give some key Scriptures here. They will help form a context when you go to study them. (Romans 5:12) My three study books at home are the King James, the NIV and Vines Expository Dictionary of Greek words and between those three the job gets done. (And the Holy Spirit!!).
Romans 5:12; "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world". That is talking about through Adam sin entered into the world and the consequence was death and judgement. "For that all have sinned". Those in Adam are imputed with Adam's sin.
Romans 5:19; "For by one man's disobedience ... many were MADE sinners so by the obedience of one so shall many be MADE righteous". So if you were born into Adam then you received the free gift of sin! Hallelujah! Isn't that awesome?! You didn't need to have faith for the consequences of that sin. The consequences just came upon you whether you did anything bad or good! You received seperation from God! You received future judgement! You received condemnation! No good work that you can do can cause you to backslide out of Adam and into Christ. Just like those that are in Christ who are MADE righteous. You are imputed with the gift of righteousness. It wasn't your righteousness - it was given to you as a gift. You were MADE righteous! You don't have to have faith for the blessings or for the consequences of that righteousness. You are given the free gift of righteousness and you receive all the consequences of that righteousness. Relationship with God, being made alive in Christ, blessed in the heavenly realm with every blessing in Christ and NO bad works can cause you to backslide out of righteousness and back into sin.
Romans 6:1; "Shall we continue in sin?". It doesn't say shall we continue "sinning". It says shall we continue "in sin" that grace may abound. We cannot live any longer in sin because we have died with Christ. The next few verses talk about being united with Christ in death, burial and resurrection. We have been released from the position of sin and into Christ and into righteousness.
Romans 6:7; "He that is dead is freed from sin". Many of us think that means we are free from "sinning". But I still sin! So that means I am not dead! Oh I need to kill myself! Kill my flesh and my sinful nature! And so we get into all these DEAD WORKS thinking that we have to do something that the Bible says has ALREADAY taken place! He that is dead died with Christ and is FREED from the POSITION of sin! Understand that you died with Christ! Believe it! Don't try and believe it to be true! Believe it because it IS true! It is not your believing that makes it true! It just IS true so believe it!
Romans 6:18; "Being then freed from sin you became the servants of righteousness". The NIV says the "slaves of righteousness". You do want to be a slave of righteousness! It is good to be a slave of righteousness because even if you do bad things then you are still the slave of righteousness and righteousness is not letting you go ANYWHERE! Righteousness is cracking the whip and not letting you go back to being in sin! For all eternity you are in Christ and in righteousness! Righteousness is your master! We are slaves of righteousness!
No wonder Romans 8:1 says there is NO condemnation for those in Christ! We are not in sin! We are a slave of righteousness!
Romans 6:14; "Sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under law but under grace". Oh but sometimes it feels like sin has got dominion over me! It is not talking about that! It is saying that the consequences and the judgement of sin will no longer have dominion over you. You are free from sin! You are free from the consequences of sin and so no matter how much sin wants to intimidate you and lie to you and rule over you, it will not have dominion over you! It can have no more consequence or judgement over you because you are in Christ and in righteousness. You are FREE from sin, consequences, judgement and death and you have come into grace, life, freedom! You are free because you are no longer under the Law - that's what it says!
That sets up Romans chapter 7 for us! Romans chapter 7 is talking about how you are either under Law or you are in grace. It is talking about how we have died to the Law so we can come into grace in Christ Jesus.
Let's look at Romans 7:1; "Speak to them that know the Law that the Law has dominion over a man as long as he liveth". If we are under the Law we cannot just think that we can go into grace. That is spiritual adultery! Something needs to happen to release us from the Law. We cannot be in grace and try and keep the Law to impress God! We need to be released from the Law to belong to grace. It is not by righteous acts that we belong to Jesus but by being released from the Law and through faith.
Romans 7:4; "You have died to the Law". Why do people still preach that we are under the Law?! The Bible said we DIED to the Law! That we might belong to another - Jesus Christ!
Romans 7:5; "To bring forth fruit unto death". We weren't trying to keep the Law under Adam but we were still under it. The reason God gave us the Law was not so that we should try and keep it to get into Christ. He gave us the Law to show us that we have an internal sin problem that we cannot fix on our own! Paul said he would not have known what sin was but through the Law! The Law stirred up the sin nature in us! The sin nature then tries to drive us into sin! So the Law came to expose how unrighteous we are and how in desperate need of Jesus Christ we are! Once we get that revelation then the Law has done it's job! The whole of the Old Testament is about the Law and the Prophets proclaiming the Christ! Pointing to the Christ! Once we come to Christ then the Law has done it's purpose and we have died to the Law and so we might belong to another. He has given us a new nature that wants to live for God and wants to serve God!
Many people struggle reading the latter part of Romans chapter 7 where Paul says "the things I want to do I didn't" and vice versa. And there is a big dispute in the church where people are asking if that is Paul talking about himself before he was saved or after he was saved. Is that the life of a Christian? That the things we do want to do we don't and the things we don't want to do we do!? If you understand what I am saying to you today about being in sin and in righteousness or being in Adam and in Christ or law and grace - if you understand that then go and read from verse 14 and put that in it's right context!
(v14); "I am carnal, sold under sin". Does that sound like someone who is in Christ, in grace and in the Spirit? To me that sounds like someone who is in Adam, in sin and under the Law and in the flesh.
Romans chapter 8 is awesome and will help you understand that we are in the Spirit not in the flesh! What does it mean to be in the flesh? In Adam, in sin, under the law and in the flesh. In the Spirit we are under grace, in Christ and in righteousness!
Romans chapter 8:9; "Be that the Spirit of God dwells in you". If you are born again then the Spirit dwells in you and the Bible says clearly that you are not in the flesh! These people that teach on Romans 8 about being in the flesh one moment and the Spirit the next - I don't want to be too harsh but it is rubbish and it is putting Christians into the wrong direction! We must read it in context! Otherwise there is condemnation! When you realise that you are always in the Spirit and can never be in the flesh but can do fleshy things and do carnal things that STILL doesn't mean you are in the flesh! Just like you cannot be in the flesh and do Spirit things which can never make you IN the Spirit. It does not take you out of that position!
Once Paul gets through that then he launches into awesome truths about the outflow of our position in Christ! Once Paul gets through teaching on this stuff he gets so exciting in Romans 8:11 and he talks about the Spirit giving life to our mortal bodies, and that we are joint heirs with Christ, the promise of glory that is ours, the Holy Spirit helps us to pray and connect with God, God is working all things together for our good! If God is for us who can be against us!? God will freely give us ALL things! God did not spare His own Son so how will He not freely give us ALL things?! God is blessed with our life because when He sees us, He sees us in Christ, in grace and in the Spirit! He sees the glory of Christ's face when He looks at us! No charge can be laid against us and therefore we are MORE than conquerors as we go through the things we face in this world!
And the final climax of these four chapters - Paul says there is NOTHING that can seperate us from God's love in Christ Jesus! There is NOTHING that can seperate us! That is our POSITION in God! That can NEVER EVER change! That is IT! It can NEVER change! No bad works can cause you to backslide out of Christ and into Adam!