Sourcebook For Revival (Romans Intro)

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Pastor Mark Mikels – October 11, 2009
(Introductory Message)

Intro … Today we begin something that will take us quite a while to complete – something that we haven’t done in a while … Today we begin a verse by verse, thought by thought journey through an incredible New Testament Book – a book that I have titled “Sourcebook For Revival”.

It’s the New Testament Book that sparked the blaze in Marin Luther’s heart that ignited the Protestant Reformation; it’s the New Testament Book that transformed a missionary failure – John Wesley – into a world-shaking evangelist.

It’s a book that exposes some of the deepest teachings of God’s Word -a book that draws us into the very mind and heart of God; it’s a book that can develop us into informed, steadfast followers of Jesus Christ who are not blown around by every deceptive doctrine that comes along.

What book is it? It’s the Book of Romans – God’s gift to Christ’s Church through the pen of the Apostle Paul.

The Book of Romans occupies the central spot in New Testament Instruction – it reveals the Central Truths of the Gospel. It contains potent prescriptions for living – it contains the meat and the potatoes that are desperately needed for Christian Growth and Vitality.

My suggestion … Sit down and read all the way through it. Mark every passage that seems particularly significant to you; identify the ones that perhaps seem perplexing. Then read it again in a different translation.

At the very least read the passage of the week before you come to church … for example, next week’s passage will be Romans 1:1-7.

Today as kind of an appetizer to the multiple meals that are coming, I would focus upon the verse that contains the central truth of the Book – the verse that so gripped and changed Martin Luther’s heart – it’s Today’s Key Verse …

Today’s Key Scripture …
“Therefore being JUSTIFIED by FAITH,
we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Romans 5:1)
What a triumphant statement … You could make the case that Romans 5:1 declares the central truth in all the Scripture – surely it declares the central truth of our church belief system – hopefully, it declares the central truth of each of our lives.

Three Key Words catch our attention … they are the ones you just filled in on your note sheet … “Justified” – “Faith” – “Peace”

Let’s look at them one by one …

* JUSTIFIED – That’s my NEED …
“To be restored to WHOLENESS”

Romans 3:23 is going to tell us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory (the standards) of God”.

That’s the most important underlying fact of all human existence – men and women have fallen short – sometimes way short – of the standards God established for them to follow. Every human being knows what it is like to “fall short” … to fail to meet someone’s expectations.

You feel defeated – you feel impotent – you feel unimportant – you feel perhaps unnecessary – you feel displaced and disoriented. Most troubling of all, you feel unacceptable to the ONE who really matters – God himself.

This is not the way God planned it … this is not the situation that God desired … this is not the condition man was created to experience and deep down every one of us knows it – deep down inside everyone of us knows and feels that we were created to experience wholeness not brokenness …

We know that we were designed to enjoy blessing, not cursing and so, finding ourselves (as it were) on the “short end” of things, we confess our failure and yearn to be “restored to wholeness” – to be justified in the eyes of God as our original parents once were.

But how can that be done … how can one who has “fallen short” stand tall once again … how can what is done be undone … how can the affects of sin be overcome? How can a man who is “unrighteous” ever be declared “righteous”. How can man’s need to be “justified” ever be met?

That was the exact question that so troubled Martin Luther the Roman Catholic priest in the 15th Century …

Surely one can not just “buy” one’s way into God favor – could one “work” his way into it … could one so devote oneself to the service of God that God would overlook the sin and declare the person “acceptable”?

These were the answers that Martin Luther’s Church was offering …

To those with sufficient wealth, the church was selling “forgiveness” in the form of what was called “indulgences” – like a kind of “get out of jail free” card; to those with sufficient discipline the church was offering the service and sacrifice of the priesthood through which God’s good favor could be obtained.

Martin Luther enthusiastically embraced the latter and subjected himself to great suffering but all to no avail; for the more he denied
and even abused himself, the more aware he became of the sin that
still remained- it was a losing battle.

He discovered by experience the truth that Paul would declare in Romans 3:20 …

“By the deeds of the law (by human works)
shall no flesh (person) be justified.”

And he came to strongly suspect the truth that Paul had revealed in
Romans 6:23 …
“For the wages of sin is death …”

And so like Paul in Romans chapter seven he came to the place of saying:

“What a wretched man I am … who (what) shall deliver me?”

And that’s the very point he had reached when he discovered the truth contained in the second key word contained in Romans 5:1 …

“Therefore, being justified by faith …”

* FAITH – That’s my MEANS
“To REST myself completely upon”

What a blessed relief to make that world-changing discovery – justification (restoration to wholeness) does not come as a result of human striving or achievement – it comes, in fact, as a result of the exact opposite.

Justification comes as sinful human beings who have fallen short of God’s standards stop “striving” entirely and start “resting” in what God himself
has done.

Through my many years as a motor vehicle owner and operator and as a parent of a teenaged male motor vehicle operator, I have had numerous occasions to seek “justification” for one of my motor vehicles; that is, to seek to have my vehicle “restored to wholeness”.

My favorite vehicle (a 1986 Honda Accord) over the years was run into by several run-away horses … backed into by a converted hippy school bus … smashed by its own hood that decided to open at 50 miles an hour and skidded into and hung up on a Bear Valley Road city bus stop indicator.

On each occasion “justification” (restoration to wholeness) was achieved as I exercised faith – that is, as I rested myself (and my car) completely upon the skill of a local body shop.

I rested myself entirely upon them … of course, by the fourth or fifth time, we were on a first name basis and I had complete confidence in them and in the seemingly magical results they obtained.

I did not go to the shop each day to offer suggestions – I did not bring my personal collection of tools (which would have consisted of a screwdriver with a two-sided bit, an adjustable wrench and a hammer) and offer assistance.

I merely placed the vehicle in their hands and came back when they said it was ready … I “rested myself entirely upon them”.

That’s what Martin Luther discovered … He could (as it were) drop himself off
at the repair shot and rest himself entirely to the restorative expertise of
Jesus Christ.

You see faith always has an object … something or someone that we are “resting” in – that we are “trusting ourselves” to.

In the matter of salvation … in the quest for “spiritual justification” – the someone we rest ourselves in is Jesus Christ and the something that we rest ourselves in is His Death on Calvary.

That realization blew such a hole in Martin Luther’s former theology that a whole new movement among men was begun … a movement based upon the re-discovered teaching of “Justification by Faith Alone” … We are beneficiaries of that movement still today.

Justification – that’s my need … Faith – that’s my means

And now, practically speaking, the best word of all …

“A settled CONFIDENCE – unruffled ASSURANCE”

“Therefore being justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Peace is the opposite of turmoil or anxiety – peace communicates the cessation of hostility … Peace was what Martin Luther desperately sought … here in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he discovered that peace is a gift granted by God to those who rest themselves in Christ and in his work on Calvary and in the hope of eternal life that His Death provides.

Here’s something that we have probably all seen and laughed at but it beautifully captures the very struggle for peace that we’ve discussed this morning … “Illustration of the worried dog and his bone”.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Under the little red umbrella – the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary – we can confidently and most assuredly rest. Are you at Peace with God today?

Final Thot … Only one who truly knows PEACE is ready to go to WAR!

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