Sunday, March 9, 2014

“The Wages of Sin and the Free GIFT” (Romans 5:15-17)

S-1416 FSIL/3A 3/09/2014 Hymns: (O) 262 vv 1-2; (S) 369; L.S. 157; 307; 155; (C) 262 vv 3-4

Texts: Genesis 3:1-21; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Theme: “The Wages of Sin and the Free GIFT” (Romans 5:15-17)

Question: “What is your most cherished gift?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Epistle lesson But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that One man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the One man Jesus Christ (Romans 5:15-17).


Son’s of Adam and Daughter’s of Eve, Lent is more than just a journey to Jerusalem, Golgotha, and the cross. It is the story of the Fall of man into the deepest abyss, and the tragic consequences of sin: it brought death to mankind and separation from God our loving Father; but it is also the story of our redemption, reconciliation and restoration brought about by another Man—Jesus Christ.

On this First Sunday of Lent we realize that the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ invites us to join Him as He makes His final journey to the cross and the empty tomb, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem.” From the high point of the Mount of Transfiguration, the church has descended to the plain, to Ash Wednesday, and to the journey that will end at the cross; and in forty days, we will be privileged to stand with the women and look into the empty tomb on Victory Sunday.

For many, the journey to the cross is a sentimental one, Jesus is portrayed as the poor man who died for His con­victions, and the minor characters of the Passion are held up for minute examination.

However, today, the Holy Spirit reminds us that our journey in Lent is not only to a cross but to an empty tomb, not only to defeat but to deliverance, not only to sorrow but to celebration, not only to death but to life, not only to suffering or shame but to a victory earned by the heaven sent-Savior, Jesus the Christ. Yes, we need to hear both messages all the time.

Paul, the author of the text, highlights the “free gift” 5 times in 3 verses; but he also demonstrates the contrast of the wages of sin and the free GIFT. The First Adam brought condemnation the Second Adam brought Salvation. The 1st brought death, the 2nd life. The 1st pain, the second paradise; the 1st universal guilt, the 2nd forgiveness; the 1st failed and the second triumphed. Sin was the cause of the disobedience of the Fist Adam; but grace was the result of the Second Adam. Grace as the blessed free gift given out of love for us—SINNERS. PAUSE.

The first confirms to us of how deeply, dearly, clearly we are loved. The second promises to us the lively hope we have in a living Savior. Without a sense of being dearly loved and without a sense of high hope, we human’s can’t cope.

A colleague of mine (Peter Kurowski, a Pastor from California, MO), has been working for months with a talented young lady who is addicted to alcohol. Because she doesn’t sense she is loved, because she does not see clearly the meaning of Christ’s resurrection, she flounders going back to the slavery of the bottle. Until she beholds the Lamb who loved her, until she beholds the eternal I Am who rose for her, she will revert to the alcohol as her master.

Everyone of us here needs to know how deeply God loves us—for us to face what we face. Everyone of us daily needs and abundant dosages of hope to face a worse than otherwise is hapless, hopeless, and haunted life. This is the free Gift Paul promises to us.

In the opening pages of Holy Scripture, Moses tells us that after God created all things, He declared “all to be very good.” However, the good that God celebrated didn’t last long. The devil would not leave this good creation alone until he would deceive us and follow after him in the way of death rather than the Lord’s way of life.

Indeed, things went from good to bad in the blink of an eye. With one bite, sin and Satan became the evil biting at the heels, a stumbling block, a destructive force of darkness and corruption. One bite, and all that was good, very good, became bad, very bad. Creation, all creatures, and the crown of the creation became bad, very bad. Sin infected every corner of God’s creation.

The dark storm and clouds of sin rolled over God’s beautiful good creation, and everything changed. Hunger replaced plenty; pain replaced pleasure; toil replaced bliss; struggle replaced peace, and death replaced life. All of creation groaned under this overwhelming burden. The stark reality is this: The fullness, the holiness, the goodness of what once was served only as a painful reminder of what was no longer true. PAUSE.

From the heights of perfection to the depths of corruption; from the image of God to the tarnish of sin; from walking hand in hand to hiding from God’s face—great was the Fall; all because man and woman listened to the wrong voice. Out into this world Adam and Eve were driven and found themselves helpless in the midst of this terrible wilderness.

Yet, in that Garden when man and woman fell, was another voice—the voice of God speaking gracious promise to them. He would send a Redeemer to bring about deliverance from the fall! Great was the promise to the outcast from the paradise of Eden. Even in the midst of the disaster, even as our first parents were driven from Eden, even as the sweat, the toil, the pain, and death became humanity’s lot, there was the promise. A promise for them and for their children, a promise for the world, a promise for all generations; and a promise for you. The Lord God promised that He would provide the Seed, a Son who would crush Satan. He would be the offspring of God and woman who would be bruised for our iniquities; this Child would overcome sin and death and open the gates of the new garden—to everlasting life.

This was brought about with the New Adam, the One who would fulfill the Law perfectly, where the first Adam failed terribly. The First Adam brought darkness, but the Second Adam brought light; because He obeyed the voice of the Father: “Son, go down to earth and save mankind from the everlasting punishment of hell!

“To us a child is born, to us a Son is given” (Is. 9:6). The Lord God can be trusted, for His voice always speaks truth. The Lord God keeps His promise, and the Christ is born, Son of
God and child of Mary. Yes, He was bruised for our sin as the nails were driven and the cross was raised. Yes, His blood was shed and His head fell in death, but the grave could not hold the Promised One, for He rose up and crushed the head of the deceiver. Great was His victory, and great was the fall of the evil one!

Son’s of Adam and Daughter’s of Eve, our purpose in Lent is not just sorrow over sin, not just remorse over the enormity of our guilt. That will, of course be present as the Law does its work. But our purpose in going up to Jerusalem is to be saturated with the Gospel, to know that where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, to be renewed in faith and invigorated for life precisely because the free gift is not like the trespass.

All of this is ours because of the free Gift Christ brought forth to us from another garden—Gethsemane. From that Garden the payment for sin began and culminates on another tree. From the fruit of the Tree of the cross we receive the Free Gift of Eternal life and peace for ever more. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, we know what our sins have brought. But I also implore you to see the free gift offered through the Second Adam. Hear the truth and take it to heart as my colleague, Pastor Peter Kurowski put it into a poem.

Adam and Eve had a great fall

Adam and Eve took with them all

For thousands of years humans have tried

For thousands of years humans have died

Trying to find a way to cheat death

All their best efforts turn into meth

Only One person in History did succeed

And He got nailed for Adam’s death deed

While Adam’s act led to condemnation

Jesus’ life, love, and death brought justification

While Adam was overcome in a paradise garden

Jesus in Gethsemane was earning our pardon

While Adam in Eden was overcome by a tree

Jesus nailed to a tree died for you and me.

In the New Adam, we found the rich grace of God’s Free Gift for now and always. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


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