For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes - Romans 1:16
We are here today to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with you. We are unashamed to do this before you.
You will hear about three essentials to salvation: Believe in Christ's existence; Believe in His death on the cross; and Believe in His resurrection from the dead.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit - Romans 15:13
Christians are the only people with real hope. This hope is not the kind of hope that you may be used to, "I hope to get out of jail soon." That kind of hope is a hope for something that is not sure.
The Christian hope is a sure thing. It is all bound up in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will discuss this in detail later.
Note a phrase in this verse that is essential: By believing you will be filled with joy and peace.
There is no joy like the joy of a Christian. This joy comes from awareness that the eternal, sovereign, omnipresent, omniscient, all-powerful God has your best interests in mind!
But, what is even better is peace. The kind of peace that Christians have is peace with God. The peace of a clear conscience. The peace of knowing that they are right with God. The kind of peace that results in a consistent restful night's sleep.
How does all this happen? Paul summed it all up by this phrase: by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God in an ever-present form that takes up residence within the Christian the moment he or she is converted. Again, we will discuss this in detail later.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Romans 3:23
The consequences of sin have fallen upon each of us, ever since Adam committed the first sin. We inherited it from our father, Adam. This tendency is known as a fallen nature. Our very nature is inclined to sin.
Since we have an inclination to sin, which is rebellion against God, we find that we are violating the Law of God. The only way we know that something is sin is by the Law. Therefore, the purpose of the Law is to show us sin.
Have you ever sinned? Asking this bunch of guys that is like asking a child if they like candy. Of course we have all sinned! It is because of sin that you are here! I don't think we have to labor the point of establishing that everyone sins. You know that from experience!
For the wages of sin is death - Romans 6:23a
But, did you know that because of your natural inclination to sin, that you will die because of your sins?
Another natural tendency that we have is to think that we have to work, that is to become a better person, in order to be right with God. Anyone who works is paid wages. The wages of sin - even the attempt to remedy that sin - is death! God will not accept your pitiful attempts to convince Him that you will do better! He says that when we break one law, we have broken them all. Therefore, everyone is under the penalty of death.
After we look at the rest of this verse, we will see what is meant by death in this verse.
But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD - Romans 8:23b
God's ways are not our ways. Whereas we, by nature, think we have to work to get to Heaven, God has provided the Way to Heaven as a gift. In fact, receiving this gift is the only way that a person can go to Heaven.
Let's look at this gift. We have discussed the fact that death is the wage of sin. Now, what does this verse mean by death? Obviously, since everyone dies, it cannot just mean physical death. Christians die. Unbelievers die. Everyone has an appointment with death.
But this verse says that the gift of God is eternal life. What does this all mean?
This is it in a nutshell: Death is universal. Only two individuals in the entire history of mankind have not died. Enoch and Elijah. These two men were spared the pain of death and everyone else has or will experience death.
Since physical death is universal, and since this verse makes a distinction between death and eternal life, it must mean something other than physical death. It does. Physical death is visibly symbolic of eternal death. The second part of this verse makes this clear.
Thus, the wages of sin that is spoken of here is eternal death in Hell. The gift of God spoken of here is eternal life in Heaven.
Every person of every age ultimately goes to one or the other destination. It is this ultimate destination that is of major concern to us today.
But God commended His own love toward us, in that while we were all sinners, Christ died for us - Romans 5:8
On the surface, it may seem that God simply created and put it in motion and then allowed it to take its course. Nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, God has been intimately involved with human history from the very beginning.
In eternity past, God had a plan. That plan was that, even though mankind would sin and become utterly rebellious toward Him, He would provide a way of escape from the pangs of Hell.
Note that God did this while we were all sinners. In other words, He did it of His own will. It was totally His doing. We had nothing to do with it. There is nothing in us that of any value, making one person above another. We have all sinned. We are all deserving of eternal punishment and death in Hell.
The Bible declares that blood must be shed - indeed the sacrifice must actually die - in order for Him to be appeased. But, that sacrifice must be absolutely perfect. The only person that has ever lived without sin is the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way He was able to do that was because He is both God and man. He is the God-man.
Jesus Christ came into the world and lived a sinless life. Then, He died upon the cross. When He died, He became sin for us. Though He had no sin of His own, He took upon Himself all of our sins. He died.
Not only did He die, but He also was buried. He was in the grave for three days.
Then, on Easter Sunday morning, He arose from the dead. He truly was resurrected from the dead.
These three statements, Christ's sinless life, His death, and His resurrection are essential for your salvation. You MUST believe these facts. You must put your faith and trust in them, to be saved.
As we look more closely at these verses, this will become even clearer.
If you confess with you mouth the LORD Jesus - Romans 10:9a
In order to be saved, you must believe the essentials I just mentioned. Jesus died for you, and you must receive His death for you as a free gift.
The way you receive this gift is to receive Him as you LORD and Savior. That's what this phrase in verse 9 means. Confess Jesus as your LORD. We don't readily understand the concept of lordship in our society, but suffice it to say that it means that you accept Him as your Master, and your position is that of a slave.
Perhaps another way of expressing this would be to understand Him as your Master and you as His disciple. A disciple is one who follows another and attempts to become like him. Jesus' command to us was to "go and make disciples."
And believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved - Romans 10:9b
As I stated earlier, it is not enough to just believe that Jesus lived and died. Many people acknowledge that. They say He was a great Prophet or a great Leader or a great Man. But, they stop short of calling Him God.
Jesus is God. He is the second person of the trinity. God the Father is the only God you will ever know; God the Son is the only God you will ever see; and God the Holy Spirit is the only God you will ever feel.
It is essential that you believe that He rose again from the dead. This is called the Blessed Hope. Remember when we talked about "hope" at the beginning? Well, this is what that hope is all about. This is a settled hope. It is a sure hope.
Like Jesus, Christians will rise from the dead again one day. Jesus is coming again, and He will call forth every Christian from the grave. Then, those of us who are alive and remain will also be caught up to be with Him in the air.
If you truly believe upon Jesus Christ and believe that He arose from the dead, you will be saved.
Believing upon Jesus involves repentance from sin. Repentance means to turn away from and to be sorry for.
For whosoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved - Romans 10:13
This is the crux of the matter. The blessed promise given here is that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
To call upon His name is to repent from your sin. To turn loose of your own techniques for obtaining salvation. To turn loose of all your works and personal efforts.
You CANNOT be good enough to be saved! Jesus did not come to save good people, He came to save sinners. Do not be deceived into thinking that you must wait until you are a better person to come to Christ. Come today! Come as you are!
Let us pause right here and pray.
Therefore we are buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life - Romans 6:4
I realize that baptism may be out of the question for many of you. You may be in jail or prison for your entire life, and there may not be a way for you to be baptized.
However, if at all possible, you should be baptized, for it is the primary way of publicly identifying with Christ. Let's see what baptism really is:
First of all, it is a public statement of identification. It states to anyone who is watching that you are a Christian. You are publicly identifying with Christ. You are publicly stating that you are a believer and that He is your Lord.
Second, it is a symbol. It symbolizes for you what has taken place in your heart. When a person becomes a Christian, he or she is a new creature. A wonderful miracle takes place in the person's heart. He is then a new person. Symbolically, your old person died. Symbolically, you became a new person. You are new! This is pictured by baptism. You are "buried with Christ" and then you are "raised in newness of life in Him."
So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God - Romans 10:17
How does one become a Christian? It is by faith. Faith is something that you exercise every day. In fact, in a very real sense, you are exercising it right now. How did you know that the chair you are sitting in would hold you? Did you think about it? Did you carefully examine the chair to be sure? Did you test it first? No. You merely sat down, assuming by faith that it would support you!
Likewise, even though you cannot see Christ; even though you cannot verify that what we have told you is true, you receive our words - the words of God - and when you believe them, you exercise faith.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). There's that word hope again. You will find it all through Christian theology. Hope and faith are intricately tied together. You cannot have one without the other. When hope is realized, faith is no longer needed.
You grow as a Christian by faith. As you read the Bible and as you learn more and more by fellowship with other Christians, you will grow in your faith. You will never stop growing.
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - Romans 15:4-6
The great aim of the Christian is to be like his Savior. The only way to bring glory to God is to be like Christ.
Being like Christ is more than wearing a bracelet that says WWJD? It is actually understanding what He would do! The only way you can know this is through study and prayer. Thus, as a new Christian, my instruction to you is:
Read your Bible daily. Begin by reading Romans and then the Gospel of John.
Pray always. Pray for your loved ones. Pray for your enemies. Pray for yourself.
As you pray, think about what you are praying.
As you learn what Christ wants you to do, do it!
Copyright © 2002, by John E.
Bible text is from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
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