- Sermon Notes
Faith Changes Everything
October 1, 2023
For the last four chapters, Paul has been compelling us to understand that the gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. These are faith-building chapters.
God gives righteousness to the sinner as a gift. In other words, it’s all given as a gift by grace, but that gift is received by faith. Faith, then, becomes the issue and it’s always been the issue, from Abraham, the father of faith, all the way to us.
What you believe changes everything, it changes how you live. If you believed that you were going to receive big promotion at work, it would change what you did. If you believe you’re going to lose your job tomorrow; that would also change what you do. If you sat with your doctor and he said, “I’m so sorry, but you have cancer, you only have 6 to 9 months to live,” it would change your life, it would change what you do. You may not feel anything, but you believe the doctor’s report; it will change you emotionally and spiritually.
What do you believe about God? Do you believe there is a day fixed in which He will judge the world in righteousness?
Do you believe that God can make a sinner righteous by giving him righteousness as a gift? If you believe, then you have faith and by that faith you have been justified, you have been made righteous before God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
That brings us to Chapter 5. Martin Luther once said, “In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text.”
Paul begins this chapter with the word “therefore.” That one word asks us to bring everything that Paul has given us in four chapters and to understand how it now applies to our lives as believers in Christ Jesus. In other words, Paul is saying, “I have just irrefutably demonstrated that we have been made righteous before God by simply receiving that righteousness as a gift, by faith. And because of that great truth, I want you to understand the consequences and the result in your life.”
I. You Now Have Peace with God
- Before we were given the righteousness of God, we were in conflict with God. Because we were sinners we were on a collision course with God’s judgment.
- Jesus said, “If you’re not for me, you’re against me.”
- We were on the wrong side. Some people respond by pretending God doesn’t exist, other people respond by shaking their fist at God. Still, others simply walk as far as possible away from God.
- When we say we were enemies with God, we should be clear that we were the ones who turned our backs on Him. It’s not like two people having a disagreement and turning their backs on each other.
Romans 10:21, As for Israel He says, “All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
- God did not walk away. He was there, with the ark of the covenant, in the midst of the people. They could choose to draw near or walk away. Today people still have that choice.
- Let this issue of reconciliation be settled
- By faith we understand that we are no longer in conflict with God. We have been reconciled; we are no longer on a collision course with judgment.
- Now we can have fellowship with God, we can worship freely.
- The more faith we have, the more this issue is settled.
- This is what is meant by growing in faith.
Illus. – A track record is what people base their decisions on. You get a credit score over time as the banks grow in faith in your ability to handle debt. A company would boast that they have been serving a community for 50 years, because people have grown in faith in what the company stands for.
1 Peter 3:18, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- You grow in the understanding of the unmerited favor, and good news of Christ as you grow in the knowledge of who He is and what He has done.
Romans 10:17, So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- Faith grows to a place where it becomes more of an “I know…” than an “ I wonder if…’
Illus – God is now for you, not against you. It is the difference between someone forcefully pressing against you, instead of someone willing you forward, and supporting you from behind.
Roman 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
- Settle this question and let God be Lord of your life.
B. We have obtained our introduction into grace
- That’s an interesting phrase; through Jesus, we have obtained, by faith, our introduction into this grace in which we stand.
- In other words, our standing before God is by grace and Jesus introduced us to it.
John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
- We come to the Father through Jesus Christ. Jesus gives us that access, but we have much more than an introduction to grace, we have grace beyond measure.
Illus – There is a vast difference between being introduced to God through Jesus Christ and being adopted by God as a son or daughter. You are now in His household. He supports, directs, supplies, gives wisdom, and leads the way. You stand under the covering and love of a Good Father.
- Many people need to renew their minds specifically on this issue. Some had better fathers than others, but none of us had perfect fathers. Everyone filters their relationship with God through their experiences with their earthly fathers, and many times it hinders their spiritual walk.
Psalm 68:5, A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows…
- We need to move much deeper into our relationship with God. By grace we stand and by grace, there’s a much deeper relationship that God desires.
C. Rejoice in the hope you now have
- This is such an amazing truth that Paul says we rejoice in this hope of the glory of God.
- It’s an aspect of worship. We worship when we rejoice because of everything we have received by God’s grace, as a gift. It’s the right response.
- In the English language hope has different meanings, but not in Greek. For example, in English, we say, “I hope I get that job,” or “I sure hope I catch some fish at the lake.”
- But in Greek, hope means “confident expectation.”
Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped (confidently expect) for, the conviction of things not seen.
- This is why faith grows as we continue to study, see, and understand who God is. Our conviction grows as we grow in our relationship with God.
Hebrews 6:18-19, We who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…
- This hope we have as an anchor for our soul does not disappoint us because it’s far greater than the tribulations and difficulties of this world.
II. God’s Love is the Hope We Need
- In the next section, Paul wants us to understand that this is all because of how much God loves us.
- First of all, we might ask the question, “Why does God love us at all? After all, as sinners, we can’t be very lovable.”
- The answer is that God loves us because we were made in His image.
Illus – When I was in my early 20’s, I wasn’t really a big baby person. I was very hesitant to have kids because I wasn’t sure how I would feel about having babies. But something changed when it was my own. The moment I held them for the first time, I knew that I would die for them, even though they hadn’t at that stage done anything to deserve it. I could see my image in them.
- A million times more than this, God sees His image in us. He sees our intrinsic worth, because He breathed His life-giving Spirit into us.
- I had a part to play in the creation of my kids, but I had no say in which one of the millions of options there were at conception would eventually come to fruition. I had no say in the design of their DNA. God planned and purposed and was intimately involved in knitting them together in their mother’s womb.
- Even if you feel that you were a mistake and not planned by your parents, God planned you, He designed you, He breathed life into you, and He says that you are beautifully and wonderfully made, irrespective of what you look like externally. The external is only a temporary tent dwelling in eternity. Your intrinsic worth is on the inside.
- The enemy wants to distort, as we have seen with the effect of corruption in Romans 1, but God wants to restore with His love and truth that which the enemy tries to destroy.
A. Tribulation brings hope
- If anyone understood the tribulation and troubles of this life, it would be Paul. He was imprisoned several times, beaten times without number, often in danger of death, five times he received 39 lashes, three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, three times he was shipwrecked and spent a night and a day in the deep, etc.
- Paul says, let us rejoice or glory or exult in our tribulations because God uses it in our lives to produce hope and hope does not disappoint.
- Pain becomes one of our spiritual credentials. It’s through pain and difficulty that we discover the depths of spiritual liberty. Deep people have gone through deep things.
Illus – Interestingly, many comedy movies have this premise. Maybe you have also met some people like this before. Young people who have always just had the best in life. No hardship, no problems, getting everything their hearts desire. They experience no guidance or resistance to their behavior from their parents. People call them ‘spoiled brats”. Then some trouble befalls them, and character growth starts to happen. To everyone watching the movie, it is clear as day that before, when all was going well, their souls were shallow. They have never exercised the muscle of resilience, hard work, toughing it out. But as soon as trouble has to be endured, character is built, and it produces depth to the soul.
- People who have gone through trials speak with a different spiritual authority.
- Those who have been used of God the mightiest, have gone through more difficult trials. The soul has to be prepared to be able to carry the calling.
Illus – David had to endure the lion and the bear to be prepared for Goliath. He had to conquer Goliath to be able to be king of Israel and captain of God’s people.
- The wonderful thing about following God is that when you go through a fiery ordeal – in faith – you discover that God is with you in the midst of the fire.
- In other words, when you discover that God is with you in the midst of the fire, you become more and more confident in God’s love for you. Tribulation then brings about hope.
- However, this too is a question of faith.
- The famous preacher, CH Spurgeon said of these verses, “Tribulation does not bring hope to the one who has not faith. For the natural man, tribulation works impatience, and impatience misses the fruit of experience, and sours into hopelessness. Ask many who have buried a dear child, or have lost their wealth, or have suffered pain of body, and they will tell you that the natural result of affliction is to produce irritation against providence, rebellion against God, questioning, unbelief, petulance, and all sorts of bitterness in the soul. But what a wonderful alteration takes place when the heart has been renewed by the Holy Spirit.”
- It is important to note, you will go through hardship, whether you believe in Jesus or not. The difference is, the one has hope, the other not, the one grows stronger in depth and character, the other grows despondent and becomes bitter/discontented.
1 Peter 4:12-13, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you… as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
B. God has proven His love
- God’s love is the hope we need; it is the anchor to our soul, so much so that we also rejoice or glory or exult in our tribulations because through it hope is strengthened.
- In verses 6-10, Paul convinces us of the depths of God’s love for us.
- God demonstrates or proves His love toward us in that Christ died for the ungodly; while we were yet sinners, while we were enemies. That is love, completely undeserved and unmerited.
- When we see how much God loves us by sending Christ to die for the ungodly, for the unrighteous, for sinners, then we are convinced that God would love us through anything; and that His love never fails.
Lamentations 3:21-23, This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never ceases, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Ephesians 3:17-19, [I pray] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
C. Let your character be proven as well
- In verses 3-4, Paul said that we should exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance and perseverance brings proven character.
- In other words, our character is proven by tribulation, by the fiery ordeals we go through in this life.
- The prophet Jeremiah was told to go down to the potter’s house and God would speak to him there.
Jeremiah 18:3-4, I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.
- Clay starts out hard and resistant to the potter’s hands, but as he continues to work his hands upon the clay, it begins to take the shape he desires.
- If we could open our eyes to see it, we would see in the hands of the potter the scars of the nails that He bore for us. We are in the hands of a potter who loves.
- But the potter is not finished until the vessel is put into the fiery furnace and its character is solidified. Truly our character and our faith is proven through the fire. It changes us into what God sees us as.
Verse 10 – We shall be saved by His life.
- The mantra of the day is that everyone should be accepted the way they are because they were born this way. There is some truth to this, because we were born into sin and brokenness. But it is only a half truth.
- The problem is that the world tells you to celebrate your brokenness because it is what defines you. The lie is subtle, but the consequences are enormous.
- Now people become prisoners of this ‘freedom of brokenness’, hopelessly stuck and entangled in it. This ‘freedom’ has the opposite effect. They are now bound to their failings forever.
- I was born an angry person, just accept me. I was born with a disposition to gambling, just accept me. Alcoholism is in my DNA, just accept me.
Illus. – My father-in-law used to smoke a pipe… God revealed to him that we were called to reign over nature, not nature over us. He immediately put down the pipe and never smoked again when he had the revelation of who he was in Christ.
- Only the Gospel brings hope. God loves you too much to leave you in the mess you are. You might not even see all the things that are destroying you because of filters in your mind and lies that have built up strongholds in your soul, but God sees. And He is relentless in getting you free so you can be all He knows you to be in Jesus.
- Yes, you were born into sin, but when you follow Jesus, you are born again. Sin no longer has to have authority over you. That which you were you no longer are. God can turn an angry cuss into a joyful, loving person. He can set an addict free.
- God can turn it around when you have faith and hope, trusting that He has done it all on the cross for you.
5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.