In Christ We Live (Romans 5:15-21)

Adam’s sin was powerful enough to condemn us all to death and judgment. But Jesus is more powerful than Adam! Jesus is strong enough to deliver us from hell and give us back the eternal life that Adam lost for us in the Garden of Eden. Adam stands as our representative in sin and disobedience. If we stay as his children only, we die forever. But if we receive the gift of God’s grace by accepting Christ’s sacrifice for us, then we get to live forever instead. Christ becomes our new head or leader, and we become children of God the Father by faith.

Adam’s “offense” or sin brought death to many (i.e all people because we all die), but in Christ many (a small percentage of all people, but across thousands of years it adds up to millions) are saved by grace through faith (Romans 5:15). While our offenses were many, the one gift that Christ gave us by laying down His perfect life was strong enough to cancel the penalty and power of every sin His followers committed or will commit (Romans 5:16). Death reigns or rules over the lost because of Adam, but we will reign or rule through eternal life with Jesus, both now and in heaven (Romans 5:17). Christ’s righteous sacrifice for us ended a life of perfect obedience on our behalf, and His obedience was strong enough to defeat the disobedience of Adam in all those who know Him as Lord and Savior (Romans 5:18-19). The law of God could not save us – it could only show us how bad our sin problem truly was. But no matter how bad our sin, God’s grace is better and can forgive us and make us new through what Jesus did for us with His life, death, and resurrection (Romans 5:20-21).

So that’s what Romans 5:12-21 is all about. We all must die because of Adam. We are all born with the first man as our leader. But in Christ we can live. We can break away from the line of death and join the team of the last man, Jesus, the team of life! The question is: Who is your leader? Which group do you belong to? Do you follow Adam and your sin nature, or do you follow Jesus and the new life He gives?

The Text (Romans 5:15-21)

15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Questions to Think About

  1. In what ways are Adam and Jesus similar? In what ways are they different?
  2. Why do you think that Paul chose to compare the lives of Adam and Jesus to teach us about salvation?
  3. Why is important to believe that Adam was a literal person and that all people are descended from him instead of from monkeys and slime?
  4. Why is it important for Christians to see Jesus as their leader and to see themselves as spiritually represented by Him instead of by Adam?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

In Adam We Die (Romans 5:12-14)

When Adam sinned, we all sinned. When he fell from grace in the Garden of Eden, we all fell. When Adam disobeyed God and brought sin and death into the world, he represented us, his natural descendants. From Adam, we all inherit a sin nature; from the first man we get our selfish bents and disobedient postures towards God and others. Young children do not have to be taught to say, “No” and refuse to do what their parents and other caregivers tell them – that response comes naturally to them because of their fallen states. When they sin, they are simply acting out from the corrupted natures already within them.

This sad truth of humanity’s universal fallenness is why all people since Adam have been born with a death sentence hanging over their heads. God’s just punishment for Adam’s choice to eat the forbidden fruit was that he would die spiritually immediately and then die physically later after growing old and weak. We inherit that same fate. We are born separated from God, spiritually dead because of our sin nature. And one day, every one of us will face physical death, too, just like Adam, followed by God’s judgment of the life we have lived on this earth.

This somber reality is explained for us today in Romans 5:12-14. Good news is coming in the next passage and post. But before the blessed hope of eternal life with Jesus can mean something to us, we must first come to grips with the awful burden of sin and death that Adam’s fall brought into our world and lives (Romans 5:12). Even in the time before God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, all people everywhere were guilty of sinning against the laws of God written on the conscience of their hearts (Romans 2:15) and so justly died as the penalty for their acts (Romans 5:13-14). So we even more so, who have sinned against both our consciences and the commandments of God that have been taught us in His Word, are deserving of death and hell. In Adam we all die. Have you ever dealt with that great truth? If not, I pray God’s Holy Spirit will work in your heart to show you your need for the Jesus we will find in Romans 5:15-21.

The Text (Romans 5:12-14)

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you think it is fair for us to die for the sin that Adam committed? Why or why not?
  2. When do you first remember disobeying your parents or doing something else wrong? Did anyone have to teach you to sin?
  3. If you could live forever in this present world, would you want to? Why or why not?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

For Sinners Like Us (Romans 5:6-11)

Would you give up your own life to save the life of your mom or dad? How about your best friend? Would you die so that they could live? Maybe so. I know when I ask myself this question, I believe that I would lay down my life to save my wife and children. And maybe a few other people I care about, too. But would I die to save a stranger? I don’t know. To push the topic further, would I die to save a bad stranger who had hurt many people, including me and the people I love? I think not. For a good person that I love I might die, but not for someone who had shown me nothing but hatred and scorn. Friends help friends, not enemies. A good person should not die for a bad person – it does not make sense.

But this is exactly what Jesus did for you and for me. Today’s passage in Romans reminds yet again that we did not deserve the mercy and grace that God showed us on the cross. When Jesus gave His life for you and for me, it was not a just good man, but a perfect man, God in the flesh, laying down His perfect life in exchange for ungrateful sinners (Romans 5:6-8). When we did not love Jesus, when we did care about His kingdom and His will, when we loved only ourselves and our selfish desires, Jesus chose to die in our place. He took upon Himself the full burden and penalty of all our evil words and thoughts and actions. In His own body on the tree of Calvary, God’s one and only Son took all our sins upon Himself so that we could have a fresh start with God. He died so that we could live. He did not give His life up for good people, for in truth no one is good but God. No, Jesus gave His life up for sinners like us.

And because Jesus died in our place, we no longer have to fear God’s punishment for our sin in this life or the next. We were His enemies, but now we are His friends. When we put our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross, His blood made us “justified” or right with God, forever protecting us from God’s righteous anger and wrath (Romans 5:9). Jesus “reconciled” us with God, which means that He made peace between us; His blood ended the awful conflict that our sin had created (Romans 5:10-11). Jesus gave sinners like us life and peace and joy that we did not deserve. He gave us back the relationship with God that Adam and Eve had lost us in the Garden. How can we not love and serve Him forever in return?

The Text (Romans 5:6-11)

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when 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 that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Questions to Think About

  1. Have you ever thought about whether or not you would sacrifice your life for someone else? Have you thought about who you might be willing to die for? Hopefully, none of us will ever face such a situation, but thinking about the question may help you realize how truly amazing it was that Jesus should die for you.
  2. Has someone ever done something nice for you that made you feel bad because you had not been nice to them? What happened?
  3. When did you first become aware of how bad your sin problem really was? In other words, when did sin become truly sinful to you and wake you up to your need to be saved?
  4. Has your appreciation of Christ’s death in your place grown since you first accepted Him as your Savior? Explain.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Peace with God (Romans 5:1-5)

Peace with God. That is what our faith in Christ has given us. We were born God’s enemies, rebels against Him because of our disobedience to His commands. But then we laid down our weapons and surrendered ourselves to Jesus as Lord. By trusting in His death and resurrection on our behalf, our sin debt was cleared and the conflict between us and God resolved. His just wrath against us was satisfied by the Savior’s blood. Now we have peace forever with our Creator (Romans 5:1).

This means that we also have access to God’s ongoing grace and hope in our lives (Romans 5:2). God’s love now lives in us by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). We can endure every trial because God is with us and on our side. He is working to use the hardships and struggles of our daily lives to shape us into His image. The tribulations teach us to persevere or endure (Romans 5:3). Over time, this process of learning to respond to difficulties with faith and godliness builds the character of Christ into our souls (Romans 5:3). We learn to set our hopes in God instead of the comforts of this world. That type of hope will never let us down because it is grounded in a God who is eternally and perfectly good, wise, and powerful (Romans 5:5).

This world is filled with conflicts and trials. We will never enjoy perfect peace with our circumstances in this life. But to know that we have an unshakable peace with God can give us the strength to endure every challenge and sorrow. Peace with God gives us hope in God, a hope that will never disappoint us. Those are the blessings of this grace in which we stand as Christians.

The Text (Romans 5:1-5)

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Questions to Think About

    Did you experience a sense of God’s peace after accepting Jesus as your Savior? Explain.
    Why is it important for Christians to understand that God is no longer their enemy?
    Can you think of some trials that built perseverance and character into your life? How did that work?
    What other places do people look for hope besides God? Why are those other sources of hope doomed to fail?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

The Faith of Abraham (Romans 4)

Note: This is a long devotion intended to be taught over the course of two days. It will be the only blog post for this week. Chapter 4 of Romans is really one big passage with one main idea – the example of Abraham’s life for how we must be saved by faith. There was no good way to divide the chapter, so we will deal with it as one text with one message.

A common misunderstanding of the Old Testament is the belief that God’s people, Israel, were justified or made righteous by their obedience to the law. Actually, that is still a common misunderstanding about God’s people, the church, today. Many people think that Christians are good people whom God has accepted because they are good. The idea is simple to our natural minds: God has given us these commandments, or rules, and if we just try to follow most (or some) of them most (or some) of the time, then He will be happy with us. He will somehow overlook all the times that we didn’t obey his commandments, both outwardly in our words and actions and inwardly in our thoughts and desires. If we just try to be good when we can, then God will bless us in this life (or at least not bother us with punishments) and then eventually let us into His heaven when we die as long as our good deeds outnumber our bad ones.

Well, I hope that you’ve seen by this point in our study of Romans that the popular mindset I’ve just described, what the Bible calls “justification by works,” is not true at all. Salvation by works doesn’t work! It won’t work for us, and it never worked for anyone in all of history. Instead, as we read in Romans 4, God’s people have always been justified by faith alone, not by religious works or good behavior. Abraham, the father of Israel, was not made right with God by his works (Romans 4:2). No, the Bible tells us in Genesis 15:6 that Abraham was declared righteous by God when he believed His promises to give him a son, a land, and many descendants, including the most important descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 4:3). Abraham was a sinner like us before and even after God called him into the faith. He came from Ur, a pagan city, where he probably worshiped the same false gods and idols as his neighbors. He twice lied by covering up the identity of Sarah as his wife because he feared the wrath of foreign kings. Abraham doubted God and committed adultery by fathering Ishmael with his wife’s servants, Hagar. Abraham was a sinful person like us.

Yet in all these things, Abraham was a man of God-given faith. He had a relationship with God founded on God’s grace. And true enough, because Abraham’s faith was real, it led him to eventually obey the Lord with the overall course of his life even though he had periods of doubt and disobedience. Real faith always leads to obedience, but obedience does not cause faith. Because Abraham believed God’s promise to give him a land, he moved his whole extended family and business to Canaan. He became a sojourner or wanderer for His God. Abraham maintained hope that against all odds he would have a natural son by Sarah, even though she was 90 years old or “as good as dead” regarding her ability to bear children (Romans 4:16-22). Because Abraham believed God, he was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac at the Lord’s command, believing that God could raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill His promises (Hebrews 11:17-20). Abraham and His descendants were physically circumcised in obedience to God’s command, but that was only intended to be an outward sign of the inner circumcision of the heart by faith that God required for their salvation (Romans 4:9-12). In the same way, as Christians we are baptized to show our faith in Christ, but that baptism is not what saves us. Our faith, our trusting belief in Christ, that is what makes us right before God’s holy standard of judgment.

The relationship between faith and works can seem confusing to many, but it is very important that we understand it. Faith in Jesus Christ, in His death and resurrection, is what saves us from the punishment of hell and brings us into an eternal, loving relationship with God (Romans 4:23-25). Abraham had that kind of faith, as did all the Old Testament saints like Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Hannah, and David. They all understood that the greatest blessing that we all need from God is to have our sins forgiven by repenting of our evil ways and trusting in His grace (Romans 4:6-8). Yet their faith was proven to be genuine by their works. We know that Abraham had a saving faith because his life showed it (James 3:18-20).

As your teachers, our great prayer for our school is that all of our students would come to a sincere, saving faith in Jesus Christ that then becomes clearly evident in the holy lives that they live at school, home, church, and wherever they go. We labor in teaching you the Word and in praying for your souls for that you might become mature, faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. May we all have the faith of Abraham.

The Text (Romans 4)

1 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

And whose sins are covered;

8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”

9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

Questions to Think About

  1. Why do you think that God chose to offer us salvation by faith instead of by our doing of good works?
  2. How would you explain the idea of “faith” to a nonChristian?
  3. How can we see that Abraham’s faith was real?
  4. Can other people see that your faith is real? How?
  5. In what ways is God calling you to follow Him in obedient faith this school year? Are you doing what He is calling you to do?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel