Last week, using Romans chapter one, I talked about how Paul knew the Gospel. He knew it because he had personally experienced it. For the Gospel involves a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
The Gospel was a prophesied message. Over 300 prophecies about Jesus were foretold hundreds of years before He was born. They were details about where He would be born, what He would accomplish, and how others would treat Him. The mathematical probability of anyone fulfilling every one of those predictions tells us Jesus absolutely was God in the flesh as it would have been impossible for any other person to have fulfilled those prophecies.
Paul also experienced the power of the Gospel. People who want to try to discount that Jesus was who He said He was and accomplished what He said He did and what the Scriptures say He did, you still have to deal with people like Paul who performed amazing miracles. Paul dealt with venomous snakes, people who were demon-possessed, performed all kinds of healing miracles and even raised someone from the dead. There is no way to explain away the power that was recorded to flow from person after person who had accepted Christ as Savior and had started to preach His Gospel.
We also learned that we have a responsibility to perpetuate this Gospel as Christ’s followers. We can’t share what we don’t know or don’t know how to explain, so today I want to give you a practical way to share the Gospel. This method is called the Romans Road. We are going to go through several verses in Romans that share the plan of salvation and why we need to be saved. I want you to commit to learning it so that you can take someone down this Roman Road and help them see their need for Christ.
- Sin is a universal PROBLEM:
One thing we try to avoid in our marriage, Thom and me, is the use of extreme words. We avoid saying things like, “You always . . . “ or “You never . . .” Those extreme words are often exaggerated because of frustration or anger in relationships. It is hard to claim that something is always true or never true. However, I am going to share some of those claims this morning with you because they are absolutely true, have always been true and will always be true. I can say it without reservation, and I believe you can confirm it from your own experience. Sin is a universal problem.
Romans 3:23-“For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
All people are sinners. They have sinned. They do sin. They will sin. This is a problem. Does anyone in this room have any defense against that statement? If you are trying to think of a way to refute this Scriptural claim, allow me to define sin:
The online dictionary said: Sin is an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. In other words, to sin is to break God’s perfect law, to violate God’s perfect standard for our lives which means it is rebellion and disobedience against God. To sin is to act contrary to the holiness and moral perfection of God. Is anyone here not guilty of breaking any of God’s law? So we agree this morning that sin is a universal problem. We have all been there, done that and may be engaged in it as we speak.
The most used Bible word for sin is: “hamartia.” It means to miss the mark like a marksman who is shooting an arrow at a target but has a bad aim. Only sin isn’t just about an action. It isn’t just about a swing and a miss. It isn’t about trying something and just not quite completing the task perfectly. It is about a status, a state of being, an attitude, a condition of our heart and soul.
Sin is a problem that flows out of our will, out of our desire. We have a desire to do the wrong things. We want things that God doesn’t want for our lives. We entertain evil thoughts. We ruminate on selfish ideals. We seek revenge. We wrestle with greed. We fantasize about sex and other forms of pleasure that our outside of God’s boundaries for us. We do. It is a universal problem. You see sin is more than what we do. It is who we are. We are born with a sinful nature. Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, and their sin was passed on to us. Romans 5:12-“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”
R.C. Sproul put it this way: “We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.” ( http://peterpilt.org/2013/09/01/sermon-notesfor-all-have-sinned-and-fallen-short-of-the-glory-of-god/)
Cows moo. Cats meow. Ducks quack. Fish . . . do whatever fish do because that is their nature. Sinners sin. Why? Because we are born with a natural inclination to do so! It is a problem. Look at your neighbor and say, “Buddy, you have a problem.”
Here is what a lot of people don’t get about Christianity. God doesn’t just want to change our behavior, but He wants to change WHO we are because who we are is problematic. He wants to give us an entire new identity that is like His identity which means He wants to impart His holiness and perfection to us!
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We have a universal problem.
- Sin demands a universal PUNISHMENT.Romans 6:23“For the wages of sin is death . . .”
Every person here can understand the concepts of choices and consequences. We understand there are consequences for violating rules and for breaking laws. That which our society has deemed a law will have a penalty for breaking it. Those of us who are parents understand we have to set boundaries for our kids to keep them safe, to teach them about life, and to help them properly understand authority and how to relate well with others. We impose consequences on our children to help reinforce those principles. It is the consequence that helps our children understand the need to change and go in a different direction. (That is repentance by the way. It is a good Bible word which means we choose God’s way over the way we would naturally feel inclined to go.)
How much more then should we expect there would be punishment for violating the law of God? Certainly His law is more perfect than any man-made law. The consequence for sin is death. Please hear today that “death” doesn’t mean cessation or extinction. Death means “separation.” Sin separates us from God to a degree in this life and to an extreme and eternal degree in the life after this one because that separation will be permanent.
When Adam and Eve sinned, the concepts of both physical and spiritual death (separation) became the reality of all people. Though they had been created for intimate fellowship with God there was a separation that took place after they sinned. Adam and Eve felt it instantly, and they went into hiding. You see, one consequence of sin is that the emotions, the experience of shame, condemnation, and guilt entered the picture. For the mature members of our audience, let me say that up to that point Adam and Eve had never sung, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen!” Brenda Lee hadn’t introduced the song called “I’m Sorry” at that point. For you younger people, Adam and Eve had never sung, “Shame” by Tyrese. They hadn’t known shame! They weren’t listening to Usher’s hit, “Confessions Part II” about how he had messed up his relationship and was feeling the effects. Part of that punishment is an emotional consequence we tried to hide from but can’t and it destroys our quality of life and puts God’s healing at a distance.
Sin separates us in this life from the fellowship we were created to have with God. We are to enjoy His presence, to have His power at work in our lives, to have regular communication with Him and from Him. Sin messes with all of that and more. Sin, when it isn’t dealt with, will keep us from enjoying God forever as the punishment for spiritual separation includes an eternity in hell.
Just as God went looking for Adam and Eve when they were separated from Him because of sin, He is looking for people today. Perhaps some of you are in hiding. Perhaps some of you have to deal with the heaviness of shame, guilt and condemnation. Perhaps some of you don’t enjoy intimate fellowship with God because of the separation from Him and His power that is supposed to be a regular part of your life. God is looking for you. He is calling your name. He is calling you out, not because He wants to expose your sin, but because He wants to take care of it Himself which leads me to my third point on this Romans Road.
- God offers a universal PRESENT.
Romans 6:23 starts out with bad news, but when you read the whole verse you get the Good News which is the Gospel message! Romans 6:23 b-“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
There is a gift to receive because of what Christ has achieved for you and me. We can’t fix our sin problem, but God in His love and mercy made a way for it to be fixed. Just like a surgeon would perform a surgery and take something out of a person that is rotten and diseased and replace it with a transplant, replace it with an organ that is new and vibrant and clean, God comes to us with an offer to remove our sin nature from us and to give us a new heart that longs for the things of God.
We deserve death, eternal separation from God because we have earned it with our sin…. but God. Oh, I am thankful for conjunctions this morning! But God! He is rich in mercy, and He has wrapped His mercy in a gift through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross.
We don’t deserve the gift. We didn’t earn the gift. But God who is rich in love offers it to anyone who will receive it. If a person was ever confronted about the reality of life and death it is through this verse. What we do with the gift determines what happens to us in the rest of this life and throughout all eternity.
Eternal life isn’t just living eternally as that will happen to all of us. Each of us will live eternally SOMEWHERE. But eternal life is the life with God and the life of God. It is a life filled with the knowledge of God and the fellowship of God. It involves possessing the power of God and involves being changed to become like Jesus who has overcome everything there is to overcome! It is a life of joy and peace that we can’t have apart from God. It is the fulfillment of and realization of all things good and the absence of anything negative or bad! Who wouldn’t want that?
Ignoring or rejecting the salvation God offers is to leave God’s gift unopened and unused, but the day you slip into eternity and understand what you have missed and understand why you absolutely needed to have opened it, it will be too late to do so.
- God offers a universal gift because of His universalPASSION.
Romans 5:8-“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The only reason this gift is available is because God loves us with an everlasting love.
There is nothing we could do to cause God to not love us. He has created us, and in His love He has rescued us.
It is a universal love that God has. John 3:16 is probably the most known verse of Scripture. It says that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son and that whoever believes in Him won’t perish but have everlasting life.
I think every person in this room would admit that we all have a desire to be loved. It is a basic need. People prove they need love because they are always searching for it. They move from relationship to relationship or experience to experience all in an attempt to feel significant, valued, and loved. The Bible tells us that God is love (I John 4:8). He is the definition of love. He is the demonstration of love. He is true love. Only inside a relationship with Him do we learn and experience what real love is. By accepting God’s love for us and learning about the true qualities of perfect love can we in turn give and appropriately receive love from others. Our culture needs to quit singing “Someday my Prince will come” and sing “Joy to the World the Prince of Peace Has Come.” His name is Jesus, and He is the expression of God’s love for you and me.
You see this Romans 5:8 verse tells us that in order for God to demonstrate His love for us, He had to sacrifice. Every person in this room can understand that loving someone means we will sacrifice for them, to help them, to support them, to teach them, to spend time with them, etc. The sacrifice God demonstrated was when Jesus Christ took our place on the cross. We earned the cross. We earned death, but out of love for you and me, God sacrificed Jesus. Even before you could love Him back, He loved you in a sacrificial way. Even if you never love Him back, He has loved you in a sacrificial way.
The heart of God’s love is your need. You need Him. You need salvation. You need rescued from sin. God’s justice won’t allow Him to overlook your sin, but God’s love allowed Him to sacrifice Christ in your place.
Think of that which you have set as your highest goal this year. It may be to attain a certain position at your job. You love you job, and you are willing to sacrifice for that. Oh, we understand the concept of love and sacrifice this morning. It may be that your highest goals is that your kids get to go to college. You love your kids so you do whatever is necessary in order to make that dream reality. You work an extra job. You cut down on your spending. Whatever. The sacrifice is worth it in order for that which you desire to see happen become reality. You may want to have a healthy and fit body. You love getting a good report at the doctor and you love being able to fit into those skinny jeans.
Thom and the “jeggings” story. J
But I digress. Thom’s highest goal isn’t to fit into skinny jeans, but yours might be. And if it is you sweat and discipline yourself. You rearrange your schedule, and you make sacrifices in order to accomplish that. You join a gym, you change your eating habits, you get up earlier, whatever it takes because that is your highest goal.
You, my friend, are God’s highest goal. You are what He desires more than anything. Your salvation, your spiritual well-being is His highest pursuit. You are His passion, and love drives Him, compels Him to sacrifice for you.
- Salvation is received through a universal PLAN.
Romans 10:9-13-That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
In order to receive the gift of salvation, you receive Jesus as Lord. In fact, you confess Jesus as Lord, out loud. You allow Him not only to be the sacrifice for your sin, but you allow Him to be the Lord of your life.He alone is the way to peace with God. I’ve used the word universal a lot in this message because anyone can receive salvation. Anyone can receive God’s love, but there is only ONE WAY to receive it. There may be other monotheistic religions out there. There may be other groups who say they believe in God. But there is only One God who had a Son named Jesus Christ who sacrificed Him so we could go free. We are not spiritual brothers and sisters with people of other faiths. This universal message has an exclusive path. There is one way to God and it is through Jesus Christ.Not politically correct and no longer popular in America, but forever true. You see, what is true is always true. Truth is unchanging. Truth is a person. You can know Him. He can set you free from sin. His name is Jesus.
Several years ago a man and his wife were found frozen to death in their car. A blizzard had dumped tons of snow in the area, burying their vehicle. Before she died, the woman scribbled a note on a piece of paper and stuffed it in the glove compartment. The note read: “I don’t want to die this way.” Tragically, less than six feet from their icy grave was a stranded bus, whose festive passengers remained warm throughout the night. (Today in the Word, October, 1990, p. 28.)
People we don’t have to live in the grip of sin, and they certainly don’t have to die that way. The antidote, the Rescuer is closer than six feet away. He is as close as the mention of His name.
I can only think of two reasons people reject this offer to take a trip down the Romans Road of salvation. They either don’t believe God is who He says He is and that this offer is real or they don’t want to turn over control of their lives to Him. That’s all I can come up with. For those who might say they’ve “sinned too much” or that they “feel too unworthy” to be saved, I would simply say to them, “Then you don’t believe God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do” because Christ’s blood has covered every sin, past, present and future, and our state of unworthiness is the entire reason Christ died. None of us is worthy. We are all guilty . . . but God.
Do you know that what I am saying is true this morning is true because you have experienced the truth of His Gospel for yourself? The Gospel. You can know and experience it for yourself.