June 28, 2020 [Pentecost 4/Confirmation]  Romans 5:6-11  J.D.Roekle

 

6For at the appointed time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7It is rare indeed that someone will die for a righteous person. Perhaps someone might actually go so far as to die for a person who has been good to him. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9Therefore, since we have now been justified by his blood, it is even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. 10For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, it is even more certain that, since we have been reconciled, we will be saved by his life. 11And not only is this so, but we also go on rejoicing confidently in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received this reconciliation.

 

Rejoice that You Are Reconciled

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

          Today we want to talk about reconciliation.  Reconciliation is all about restoring relationships that have gone bad.    A young errand boy working for Thomas Edison learned all about reconciliation one day.  Edison and his staff were developing the incandescent light bulb.  It took hundreds of hours to manufacture a single bulb.  One day, after finishing a bulb, he handed it to the young errand boy and asked him to take it upstairs to the testing room.  As the boy turned and started up the stairs, he stumbled and fell, and the bulb shattered on the steps. 

          Now, Edison could have simply expressed his anger at the boy and let him know how irresponsible he was.  He could have let him know that he was no longer going to allow the boy to work for him.  But Edison didn’t do those things.  Instead, he reassured the boy that it was okay, and then he turned to his staff and told them to start working on another bulb.  Now, imagine for a moment how the boy must have felt.  He must have been relieved.  At the same time, he must have thought that Edison would never trust him to carry a light bulb again.  However, several days later when the team had completed another light bulb, Edison walked over to the errand boy and handed him the bulb, asking him to deliver it to the testing room.  Now the boy knew that he was restored, reconciled with Edison and his team once again. 

          The most important relationship we have or we need is with God.  Today we want to see how that relationship is broken by us.  But we also want to see how God in Christ has reconciled us to himself.  How God has restored our relationship with him.  And as we see this, we will be led to rejoice in our loving God. 

          Now there are many different things that cause relationships to go sour.  Much or most of the time, both parties in a relationship contribute to a broken relationship. 

          That’s not the case with our relationship with God.  The reason for a broken relationship with God by nature is completely one-sided.  We are to blame.  Not God.  And there are three words in these verses which inform us as to why our relationship with God is broken. 

          The first word used is ungodly.  To be ungodly means that you have no reverence for God.  To be ungodly means that you do the opposite of what the fear of God demands.  We may shake our heads at the ungodly behavior we see in society.  The blatant disregard for what God in his Word demands.  But instead of pointing the finger out there, remember that Paul is pointing the finger here.  In your hearts.  In my heart.

          The second word which shows us why our relationship with God is broken is sinners.  We don’t like to look poorly on ourselves, do we?  We like to think by nature that we can do some good things.  But the truth is that we miss the mark that God has set and we aren’t even close.  God’s mark is perfection and we don’t even hit the target.  This has created a divide between us and God.

          And the third word Paul uses to describe our broken relationship with God is enemies.  When a relationship with another person goes sour, you may not consider them your enemy, but you simply may distance yourselves from each other.  Not so with God.  Because of the broken relationship, he considers us hostile to him.  Can you think of anything worse than that?  Being on the opposite side of God? 

          Being enemies, sinners, and ungodly, it doesn’t look good for us.  How can we reconcile with God?  By nature, we still want to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.  We still want to think that we can make some contribution to restoring things with God.  We know we do wrong things, but we’re not too bad that we can’t meet God at least part way. Right? 

          Wrong, says Paul.  Paul tells us that we are helpless.  Like newborns are helpless to do anything for themselves, so we, too, are helpless to do anything that would once again put us in God’s favor. 

          So, what can we do?  We rely entirely on God’s help.  We trust totally in God’s power.  Why should we do that?  Remember who we’re dealing with here.  God is one who loves us unconditionally.  He knows that we are ungodly by nature.  He still loves us.  He knows that we actively sin against him.  He still loves us.  He knows that we are even hostile towards him.  Yet, his love for us doesn’t die. 

          In fact, instead of letting his love for us die, God had his one and only Son die for us.  Just think how incredible that is!  People dying for other people is a rare thing.  In fact, when it happens, it often makes headlines.  Ask yourself, would you be willing to die for someone else?  Maybe a family member, right?  But would you die for your worst enemy? 

          Jesus Christ did.  He died for all.  All sinners.  All the ungodly.  All of his human enemies.  He died for you!  He died for me! 

          What does that mean for us that he died?  It means that that the wrath of God was satisfied.  Consider what an assurance that really is.  When enemy nations have been at war and they reconcile by signing a peace treaty, it gives hope.  But both sides may still wonder.  Is this for good?  Will it last?  Will there be something else that sets off a bad relationship? 

          The reconciliation we enjoy with God through Christ is different.  It is complete.  We never have to worry about God changing his mind and making us experience his wrath and punishment.  No.  Christ took the punishment for us once and for all.  All God’s anger was directed towards him as he suffered hell and death on the cross. 

          And Jesus did one more thing in order to erase all doubt that he had satisfied God’s wrath.  He rose from the grave!  By Jesus coming alive again, we are assured that God in Christ permanently reconciles us through faith. 

          We have been adopted into God’s family, and we have been given a permanent home with God, both here and in heaven. 

          Now if that doesn’t bring you joy, then nothing ever will!  Knowing that our relationship with God is forever restored gives us peace beyond our full understanding.  It gives us hope – a certain hope that all our needs now and always will be taken care of. 

          And so, we rejoice!  What does it mean to rejoice?  The word for rejoice here actually means to boast.  And think about the nature of boasting.  We don’t boast just to ourselves.  We don’t boast quietly.  That isn’t really boasting.  No, boasting is done publicly.  Boasting is done loudly.  We want others to take notice when we boast.

          In other words, to rejoice means to make our joy known!  We have something to boast about.  We boast, not in ourselves.  But we boast in Jesus Christ who through his death on the cross made things right between us and God.  We boast that we have been reconciled in Christ!  Let the world know!  Amen.