Pentecost 4

Preached: July 6, 2014

God’s Love Assures Us of Salvation
Romans 5:6-11

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The word from God through which the Father pours our his Holy Spirit into our hearts is Romans 5

For when we were still weak, at that very time Christ died for the ungodly. Consider that someone will rarely die for a law-abiding person. Now for a person who’s been good to them, perhaps someone would even dare to die. But God proves to us his own love by this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So since we have now been acquitted (justified) by his blood, how much more then will we be saved from the wrath through him! For if we, who were enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his being alive! Not only this, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Politicians often talk about hope. But it usually doesn’t take a full term in office before our hopes in them are disappointed. We celebrated another Fourth of July. We not only looked back but we look forward with hope for our country as well. Some of those hopes may come true, others will disappoint.

Hopes can be rather slippery. Politicians like hope, because hope is for tomorrow. Vote for them today based on what you hope they do tomorrow. But does tomorrow ever get here? Hopes can string a person a long always waiting for something better.

Yet without hopes life is only dreary drudgery. To give up on all hopes may mean you won’t ever be disappointed again, but how depressing such a life would be! We need hope. But we need more than the hopes that politicians’ promises bring. We need more than the hopes that we dream of for our country, our community, our family. We need the hope that will not disappoint and leave us shame-faced, the hope that is sure and certain no matter how dark tomorrow is, the hope that is built on the rock-solid foundation that no storm can topple.

In the verse right before the text, the Apostle Paul writes about this hope. He says, “And hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:5 NIV84). What makes this hope so sure and certain? What is the rock-solid foundation on which this hope stands? The Apostle tells us, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts” (Romans 5:5 NIV84). God’s love for you, that’s the sure, certain, rock-solid foundation. God’s love assures us of salvation. Can their be any greater hope?

God loves assures us of salvation. But how can we be sure of God’s love? The text today answers that. First, look at when Christ died for us. Then seeing that, how could we doubt what his love will do for us.

A. Look at when Christ died for us

Focus on the phrase, “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6 NIV11). How amazing is that! How different than human love! Rarely will someone die for a law-abiding citizen, a person whose right in the eyes of the law. Even when we hear of someone dying as they tried to rescue a stranger from a burning building or from drowning, they didn’t intend to die for that person. They took a risk, and it turned out badly for them. Though perhaps someone would intentionally give up their life to save a person who has been good to them, someone whom they have been close to. We might picture a soldier falling on a grenade to save his buddy.

But now compare those human examples to what the Scriptures say: “Christ died for the ungodly.” It doesn’t say that he died for those who wanted to be better, those who would try hard, those who would do their duty, or those who would come to faith. “Christ died for the ungodly,” and that’s what we were. We don’t like to admit that. We’d like to imagine that we were a step above the ungodly people out there. But if we want to claim that weren’t so bad, then we are denying the Christ died for us. Notice for whom Christ died—not for the “good people” but for the ungodly. And that’s what we were. What love!

Notice the other words in the text that describe what we were: “powerless,” “sinners,” “God’s enemies.” We had no power to come to God, no power to believe in him. For sin left us spiritual dead. Our sin separated us from God. The sinful mind is hostile to God. We counted him as our enemy. For our conscience knew that we deserved to be punished, since we had failed to measure up to God’s standard. But we wanted to stay in the darkness of our sin. We didn’t want our wrong exposed. So we hated him. We counted him as our enemy. We were godless. That’s what we where when Christ died.

So what good news: “Christ died for the ungodly.” He died for you and me. What love! The Father knew how ungodly we were. He knew better than we did. Nevertheless, he did not spare his own Son, but sent him on the mission to carry out the saving work of the Messiah, the Christ. The Son willingly came on that mission as the Christ. He fully knew what we were and what it would cost him. But he came and gave his life as the ransom for all. “Christ died for the ungodly.” What love!

Because of that love, you have hope, dear Christian, no matter what you are going through. How could we doubt what his love will do for us!

B. How could we doubt what his love will do for us

First of all, Paul takes us into God’s court room. “Since we have now been justified by his blood” (Romans 5:9 NIV11) Paul writes. The judge has already acquitted you. That’s what “justified” means. The judge has already declared you not guilty. That’s the verdict. But not the reason for the verdicts. The reason is not our innocence. We were ungodly sinners, the opposite of innocence. Rather we were justified “by his blood.” Christ’s blood, and only Christ’s blood, pays the penalty for our guilt and so justifies us.

So since Christ sacrificed himself for us when we were guilty sinners now that we have been justified by his blood “how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9 NIV11). Judgment Day will fully reveal God’s wrath against all who have sinned. But you’ve been justified. It’s just as if you had never sinned because Jesus’ blood covers you, encircles you, surrounds you. His blood acquits you even on Judgment Day, especially on Judgment Day. Keep believing in Jesus’ blood.

What hope we have! What sure, certain, rock-solid hope through Jesus Christ. God’s love assures us of salvation. How could we doubt what his love will do for us!

You could look at it this way as well. When we were God’s enemies as we talked about in the first part, what did God’s love do for you? He gave his Son into death for you, his enemy. He reconciled you to himself. He declared peace. And through Baptism and his word he brought you to believe that God News of peace in Christ. He changed you from his enemies to his friend, even more than friend. He changed you from an enemies into his own dear child through faith in Jesus. Now that we are his reconciled children, how could we doubt what his love will do for us.

His love assures you of salvation. For just as surely as Jesus lives, risen from the dead, so also we who follow him will live with him forever, for he will raise us from the dead. “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life” (Romans 5:10 NIV84).

So rejoice and boast how great God’s love in Christ is! So often we do the opposite. We complain as if God were not generous enough with us. We cherish our pet sins as if we couldn’t be happy without them. We run after what this world offers and God’s love for us becomes a secondary thought after we finish our earthly business. We struggle with fears, worries, apprehension about the future as if God’s love might one day fail us. Disappointments, heartaches, failures, and loses demoralize us as if God could not pick us up. You see, in all of this we’ve taken our eyes off of Christ in whom alone do we see God’s love displayed for us.

Over this holiday weekend, we look back at the sacrifices our founding fathers as well as so many others have made over the years to keep our country safe. But all the more so look back to the cross and the sacrifice Christ made for you. What greater proof of God’s love could we have! Then go forward with hope, not hope built on politicians’ promises or your own personal dreams of earthly well-bing. But forward with the hope that his built on God’s love in Christ. That hope will not disappoint. As long as you are relying on God’s love in Christ, not even the end of the world can prove that hope false. So how could anything between then and now do so?

God’s love assures you of salvation—God’s love in Christ. Look at when Christ died for us, while we were still powerless, godless, sinners. How could we doubt what his love will do for us who are justified and reconciled through the blood of his Son! What hope for you who believe!

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313