Born Again in Christ
November 8-9, 2014
Take your Bibles please and open to Romans 5:12. Romans 5:12. The title of our message this morning is “Born Again in Christ”, “Born Again in Christ”. You can follow along the sermon notes on your tablet or your smartphone but you'll need the app for that. You can do an app search for “Calvary Hillsboro”. Hey speaking of that by the way, this is an interesting statistic, more than 2500 people have downloaded the app and have opened it more than 1500 times, so we have got praise for just the tools that he's given us to get the Gospel out. Amen!
Father thank You so much for this morning. Thank You for Your Word that speaks into our lives, and God we pray that You would just increase our faith and our relationship to You and transform how we walk that it might be to Your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.
We are going through the book of Romans, one of the most powerful books in the New Testament. It's about the Gospel, and in the first chapters Paul has been saying, I'm not ashamed of the Gospel because it's the power of God under salvation for those who believe. It's God's answer to the sinners’ dilemma and we've been speaking about what was the sinner’s dilemma. It's this, how can an un-righteousness sinner have a relationship to the holy and righteousness God? God gives the answer. That's why Paul says I'm not ashamed of that Gospel. God takes the righteousness of God, the righteousness of Christ, and gives it to that sinner as a gift. But it's received by faith which makes faith the key, the central issue. And this is why he was saying to us that faith has always been the central issue and in fact, he takes this all the way back to Abraham, the father of faith, to demonstrate that faith has always been the key. But where there's faith come from?
There's where Paul says in Romans 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” He is the truth and therefore we understand it's in the hearing of the truth. It's in taking hold of the truth and abiding in the truth that our faith is increased.
For example, here's a powerful truth. Many have heard it. Jesus said it. We repeat it to our kids. It's a straightforward truth. “God loved the world so much that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” That was said just a few verses after He also said, “Truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Now a lot of people are so familiar with those verses that they sort of skip over them. They put them in the category of everybody knows that. Let's move on, everybody knows that. It’s kind of in the” everybody knows that” category like “15 minutes will save you 50% on car insurance”, like everybody knows that.
When I was growing up we had our own version of everybody knows that. To quote from the famous American philosopher, Jim Croce, “You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger and you don't mess around with Jim.” Everybody knows that especially if you grew up in my generation, so the key, right, is faith. Faith has everything to do with what you hear, with what you understand and the truth will set you free.
See God wants to increase our faith; He wants to increase our understanding of what He's done for us. He wants us to say, I get it. I understand. That's amazing! I see what God has done for me. It increases my faith, it makes me want to love Him all the more and see that brings us to Romans 5. In these verses, God tells us how a sinner can be set free from the condition in which he was born. And the answer has everything to do with being born again. See this is the point that Paul’s going to make - that we were born in the sin of Adam. We were born selfish and self-centered. That's what made us sinners to begin with. But then Paul is going to explain that though we were born in the sin of Adam, we can be born again into the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The result of being born in the sin of Adam is death. The result of being born again in the righteousness of Jesus Christ is life; over and over Paul's going to make this comparison between being in Adam and being in Christ, and this is the key for greater increasing faith. When we see what God has done, when we understand what God has done, giving the sinner the righteousness of God that he might have a relationship to the holy and righteousness God is amazing. Let's see it, Romans 5:12.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world”, that's Adam, “and death entered through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned - for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless,” they were living selfish and self-centered, “Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses,” who brought the law. “Even over those who had not sinned”, in the likeness of the offense of Adam who is a type of Him who was to come”, Jesus. “But the free gift is not like the transgression,” Now he's going to make this comparison over and over, he goes back and forth to show us the contrast, “The free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one, many died”, that's an Adam “much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand, the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one,” Adam, “death reigned through the one, much more than those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience, the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience the One the many will be made righteous.” And then the law came in, he brings up the law.
“The law came in that the transgression would increase. But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might rain through righteousness to eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
All right here we go. We are in the thick of it now. This is some of the deepest most significant truths of who we are, what God has given us, and He wants us to understand. Very significant truths for example, and this is very personal, Adam made you a sinner! That's the point he is making; he wants you see it. Let’s be straight forward, Adam made you a sinner.
I. Adam Made You a Sinner
Now before you decide, man when I see Adam in heaven I’ve got a few words for him. Remember I think that we would all do the same. He’s got a lot to say about this comparing between who we are in Adam and who we are in Christ. That's why he says in verse 14, Adam is a type of Him. In other words, in Adam, it's a picture of who we are in Christ but it's also a picture of opposites. He makes this point over and over.
A. You took it and ran with it
So we need to see it, personally apply it, this way. Adam made you a sinner, but you took it and ran with it. Now let's be straight forward. Yeah, he made you a sinner but, you took it and you ran with it. You acted it out. You did it yourself. Maybe a personal illustration might help.
I mean if you know my story, my dad was an alcoholic, some very difficult years. Now the end of the story is glorious because he came to faith in Christ when he was 75, but those growing up years with an alcoholic. . . What happened for me is that I received a propensity towards alcohol from him. Let me just be honest and vulnerable for a minute. I cannot do alcohol, not one drop, because my body does not understand moderation, doesn't get the whole memo on moderation, doesn't do moderation. So for me, I know the propensity that I was born into, I cannot drink, not one drop.
Now see, Paul says something important in Chapter 4 that is going to lead to something here. He said, “Faith is reckoned to us as righteousness” and he uses an accounting word. He means that the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus is reckoned to your account. It's added to your account as a credit. Now the reason why that's important is because Paul wants us to see here that we were born in the sin of Adam and therefore at the moment of our birth, Adam's sin was added to our account as a debit. In other words, we were in trouble from the moment we were born because our account was vastly negative from the very moment we started this life. We inherited sin and therefore we inherited the selfishness and self-centeredness of the sin nature. All you to do is look at a child. You do not have to teach a child to be selfish. They seem to have that figured out all on their own. You don't have to teach your child to lie. You have to teach a child to tell the truth. You don't have to teach your child to throw a temper tantrum. They do that all on their own as any parent will tell you. It is the nature in which they were born. In other words, a person sins because he was born a sinner.
Why do we see it that way? Because it's important to put it in its right order. A person does selfish and self-centered things because he was born selfish and self-centered. In other words, a sinner is by nature a sinner. That’s his nature. A sinner does sinful things like the nature of a dog. A dog does dog things. It's his nature. A dog is a dog, a cat is a cat, a horse is a horse, that is of course unless that horse is the famous Mr. Ed. But let me quote from, and I've done this before and I want to bring it in because it has a lot of bearing on what Paul is saying to us here, the Minnesota Crime Commission gave a report. I want to bring it in again because it has so much relevance to Paul's point. Let me read it.
“Every baby starts life as a little savage. He's completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants, when he wants it. His bottle, his mother's attention. Deny his wants and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness which would be murderous were he not so hopeless. He is dirty. He has no morals, no knowledge no skills. This means that all children, not just certain children are born delinquent, and if permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free rein to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child will grow up to be a criminal, a thief a killer and rapist.”
B. Sin and death reign in Adam
Now those are sobering thoughts, but it is the point that Paul wants us to see and understand because the relevance of it is this, sin and death therefore reign in Adam, they reign, verse 14. Sin entered through Adam, the result was death, death spread to all men and reigned because the result of sin is condemnation. That's a judgment word, condemned. Now when we speak about death entering to all men, we need to see that death has two perspectives, two types. There's physical death, the death of the body. God said that as a consequence of sin, man would return to the dust from which he was made, dust to dust. But also there is a spiritual death, separation from God. That is also the result of that spiritual separation from God. Let's go back to Adam and God walking together in the cool of the evening, what a picture. Friendship, relationship, fellowship, intimacy, the glory of that nearness but then when Adam sinned, he hid himself from God in the shadows, “Adam, Adam where are you?” Spiritual death, separation. See in verse 21, Paul says that sin reigns in death. In other words, sin has authority. That means death has authority and the law is no help at all. Sin has authority. What does this mean?
In other words, it becomes the operative, authoritative force from birth. In other words, selfishness and self-centeredness rein from birth, Psalm 119:133, “Establish my footsteps in Your Word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.” That's the Word. Then therefore death has authority. See when a person is born in the sin of Adam, death becomes the operative force. Now the world has a way of seeing that. The way the world's perspective is put is this. You have an appointment with the grim reaper. That's not very encouraging, is it? The appointment’s there, the grim reaper is waiting. I’ve got some great news for you. The Gospel is so glorious that you don't have an appointment with the grim reaper. You have an appointment with the Living God and that's your coronation day my friend. This is a whole other thing, Amen! Amen, let's give God glory. Amen! But then we also see that death reigns in the body. That's another consequence, it has authority. It reigns in the body. Maybe we could say it this way, basically from birth, you're growing and you're growing until about age 22, and then it's all downhill from there. Basically when you've turned 23, you're just sliding right towards death? Isn’t that encouraging? Now if you're 23, you might be saying well I don't feel that. Well your time is coming. Anybody over 40 will tell you, your time is coming. Amen!
And then he says that law is no help at all. Verse 20, “The law came in so that transgression might increase,”. It actually made it worse. See here's the thing, because we were born in Adam, the nature of what we receive is such that we have an inborn desire to break the law. That's our nature. We are born into it as soon as someone says ‘no you can't’, there’s something that wants to do it. That’s nature we're born into. I remember when we first adopted our boys from Russia, we wanted… they didn't have good food, they weren’t very healthy. The youngest one particularly had rickets and such and so you know we wanted to feed him good food. We didn't want to fatten them up but we wanted to, you know, get him healthy. And so we put a lot of. . . I’m telling you, we put a spread on the table, you know, and they sat there and said, “No we won't eat it.” Now this is in Russian, “Het”. Of course at first we started by making rules. In our house we have a rule; you eat the food that's on the table. You can just see him stiffening up.
There's inborn desire like, “No!” You make a rule, “No!”. So I said, okay great. Now what are we going to do? I thought, “Oh you know what, that works in reverse too.” So I said to the girls in English, “Hey just follow my cue, do what I do, okay.” They said sure. And I said, “You boys don’t want to have the food yet? No?” I said, “Okay great. Now you can't! More for us!” So the girls go, “Yeah! Okay can we have their food?” “Yes you can.” Now the boys have another reaction, “Oh I can't? Now I want to.” Oh how the soul is within us.
Romans 7:7-8 puts it very plain. I would not have known about coveting of the law had it not said, “You shall not covet. But sin taking opportunities through the commandment produced in me coveting in every kind.” Here’s a great verse, it summarizes it all. Romans Chapter 7:24, “Wretched man that I am. Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Isn’t that accurate? “Wretched man that I am who will set me free from the body of this death?” The answer, Jesus Christ our Lord. That's the Gospel. That's why he's not ashamed of it.
II. Jesus Made You a Saint
And here's what we need to see. This is the point that Paul is making over and over to us. If Adam made you a sinner, then Jesus made you a saint. I said, “Wait just a minute pastor. Now, I was with you, I totally got it when you said Adam made me a sinner. But to say I'm a saint, now that’s too much. I know me. I know my life. I know what I've done. I’m not saint.”
You know in the Catholic Church, and some of you might know this, maybe you were raised in the Catholic Church. In that Catholic Church, there are four steps sainthood. First of all, you cannot even be considered for sainthood until you've been dead for five years. So all living people, you have no hope. Then a bishop must deem a person worthy of even being considered. Then an official must prove that the person lived by heroic virtues. Next a miracle must be acquired through that person's prayers and must be a verifiable miracle acquired by the person's prayers. Finally, the person either must die as a heroic murder or a second miracle must be received by the person’s prayers. Then the Pope designates sainthood and over the course of time only a few thousand have ever been given the sainthood.
In contrast, in the Christian faith, every single believer is given the designation saint. So how can this be, I'm a sinner? I know who I am; I know what I've done. How is it possible that he could designate me or call me a saint? First of all, he does more than 60 times in the New Testament, call the believers saint. How is it possible?
Well here's the important thing to recognize. We didn't earn any of that title. That title is not earned. Not one drop is earned. It’s given. It's given to us a gift. It's given by grace. How? He takes the righteousness of God and gives it to you and then He takes your sins out of your account and puts it into the account of Christ. What is your standing before God? In Christ your standing is this. Your sins have been taken out of your own account; the entirety has been removed from your account and given to Christ's account. His righteousness is now given into your accounts.
That's why, by your standing before God, you are deemed designated as saint, completely undeserved. Your response is, God that is amazing! That's amazing! You take a sinner like me. . . That's amazing! That's right. That's the response. Oh how I love you God for what you've done. This is an amazing gift. Exactly!
A. Grace and life reign in Christ
Then we must see this, as sin and death reigned over us in Adam, grace and life reign in Christ. Over and over Paul makes this contrast to what we were when we were born in Adam and what we are when we are born again in Christ. Sin and death reigned in Adam but grace and life reign in Christ, verse 17.
Now how do we move from being born in Adam to being born again in Christ? How do we do that? How was that made possible for us? The answer is this; by being baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit. Now when people hear that we’re baptized, immediately in their minds, they think about being baptized in water. But being baptized in water is a picture only; it's a picture of something far greater. A much more significant great truth captured in that scene in the water.1 Corinthians 12:13, For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body. . . in Christ. What a beautiful picture. The moment that you receive the Gospel, you receive that gift, your sins are forgiven. The righteousness of God placed into your account and the Holy Spirit baptizes you into Christ. That's what I just said. Here's another verse that gives us a great perspective Galatians 3:26-27, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Now there's another title, Son of God. He's given me the title, Son of God. Yes, but you’re adopted son or daughter. He's the only natural son. But to think you're designated, you're called, Son of God or daughter. You know he says, “Look you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ,” get this picture now, “have clothed yourself with Christ.” What a picture! It’s permanent, notice it’s permanent. Maybe one of the best illustrations of all of this comes from a recipe for making pickles.
This is true. The recipe for making pickles, the Greek poet and physician in the Condor 200 B.C. wrote a recipe for pickles where he used the word so we can understand how it's useful. He said it this way: In the recipe for making pickles. He says, “The vegetable the cucumber must first be dipped into boiling water.” That's not the word baptism. It's the word bapto, relative but not this name. It's just simply dipped in the boiling water but then it must be baptized. That's the word he used. It must be baptized into the vinegar/salt, the brain solution. Now when you baptized a cucumber into the brine solution, it remains there and it produces a permanent change. It's a beautiful picture. You might say you’re pickled in Christ. You know how many puns come to mind. I don't want to do some canned pun. Do you miss one already? I want you to listen; I want you to relish this sermon, so I don't want to put a sour taste in your mouth so I am not going there. I'm not doing it. But I want you to see this, Romans 6:1, known as these verses because here he gives us a powerful insight we cannot miss. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that Grace might increase?” God forbid. God forbid, “May it never be. How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Die to sin, when did you die to sin?
He explains. “Do you not know that all of us who had been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Now he's going to tell us here about being born again. He is saying, he is talking about death here. Yes, but it’s more. He says, “Do you not know, all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus had been baptized into His death? Therefore, we've been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life, born again.” In other words, verse 5, “If we become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly also we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection”, born again. There's a powerful understanding for us, born again.
B. Now take it and run with it
Now here's the thing that we've got to see, got apply it to our lives. If we were born in the sin of Adam and then we took it and ran with it, hey, if you're born again into the life and righteousness of Jesus Christ, then take it and run with that. See you're born into the life and the righteousness of Christ, run with it. Live with it. Live it out. This is why Paul answers an objection. He anticipates an objection.
Notice in Chapter 5:20 it says, “Then the law came in that the transgression might increase but when sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Chapter 6:1, then he responds, “What should we say? Should we continue to sin that grace might increase?” He's countering an objection. He knows that somebody is going to say, “Well no! If my increasing sin makes grace increase all the more, then why shouldn't I increase sin all the more so that grace abounds all the more?” Paul says, “God forbid!” “God forbid!” “Don't you know?” That's why he says it. “Don't you know?”
You see some people, when they hear about this abundance of grace, grace that covers all of our sins, they think it's cheap grace and so they speak flippantly. There's nothing cheap about it. Just because it's free, doesn’t mean it's cheap. It was actually very costly. You just didn't have to pay for it. Christ did. He paid for it with His life. It was very costly. Let no one dare call it cheap. And our response, you see, when he says, “Don't you know?” Don’t you understand? See when you know, when you understand, when you see it, you wouldn't say such a thing.
And you would respond to it by saying, “God that is amazing! You won me. God you won me. You won my heart. I see now.” See this is why Paul says, “I pray! I pray that you would comprehend. Oh if you could just comprehend the hope, the width, the breadth, the length of the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord. If you could just comprehend it, you would say, “Oh god! That’s amazing! What you've done for me. You have won me lord. You have won my heart.” This is why Paul says in Galatians 2:2-21. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith”, I live out my days by faith, “in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” God, you’re amazing! You won me. You won me lord. Let’s pray
Father thank you for the amazing truth of Your love, the amazing truth of Your grace and God I pray that we would respond to it with all our heart. That we would see it, would open our eyes. Hearts are blinded and they miss it. Hearts are blinded and they miss it all. But God you've opened our eyes. And all that we see now, help us to comprehend it. Help us to be transformed by it. Church, this morning before the Lord, would you say to the Lord, “You won me! You won me God! You have my heart. You have my faith. You have my admiration. You have my worship. You have me lord.” Would you raise your hand and say that to God? Just in the spiritual boldness of the moment, Holy Spirit reaching hearts. “God I want you to know it, you won me. You won my heart. You won my faith and you have it. You've won my admiration. You've won my worship. I honor you. I want to live my life; I want to live out my days in honor of You.” Anybody else, just raise your hand, say it to God, say it to the Lord. “You won me lord, you won me. You won me over.”
Father thank you for every heart falling in love, every heart opening eyes, every heart responding in faith. Oh God transform us, send Your Holy Spirit, send Your life, take hold of us, transform us we pray in Jesus name and everyone said, Amen!