Sermon for the Second Sunday after Pentecost based on Romans 5:6-15
Dear people saved from wrath: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
God created us, and as our creator, He has the right to tell us what we are to do and what we are not to do. As Almighty God, He makes the rules. As the source of all wisdom, He knows what rules are best for us. We may not like the rules, but they are not for us to decide. The rules are for God to decide, and He has decided, and He has given us His commandments to follow.
Punishment is threatened for one who breaks God’s commandments. This may make it sound like God is cold and mean, but it’s not true. Our creator knows what is best for us and for society as a whole, that’s why He has given us rules to follow. Following God’s Laws results in good order, peace, and the welfare of all. God’s Laws protect us from each other so that we don’t hurt or harm each other. They protect the weak and vulnerable and threaten those who would prey on them. God’s Laws threaten punishment and wrath on those who disobey the Laws and cause strife, harm, disorder, and hurt to others.
The wrath of God on sinners is thus righteous and just. It is fair. It is sinners getting what they deserve. We’re okay with that. We want thieves and murderers punished. We want troublemakers and peace disturbers punished. Anyone that would seek to hurt or harm us in any way we definitely want punished.
What we are less okay with is being grouped in with the sinners who justly deserve God’s wrath and punishment. We prefer to think of ourselves as pretty good. Maybe not perfect, but really not so bad either.
We tend to think that what we have done hasn’t really caused much strife, harm, disorder, or hurt to others. Yet, it is our selfishness that has caused broken relationships and broken families. It is our anger that has escalated fights. It is our gossip that has hurt the reputations of others. It is our jealousy and greed that has us chasing the almighty dollar to the harm of our families and to the detriment of our spiritual well-being.
We do deserve the just and righteous wrath and punishment of God. We cannot undo what we have done. Promises to try to do better don’t help our situation. We are too sinful and weak to save ourselves.
The good news is that while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If it was up to us to be strong and stop sinning, that would never happen. We’re too weak. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we are weak and struggle to do what is right. We struggle to put others first. We struggle to speak well of others. We struggle with anger, lust, jealousy, greed, and most every other sin under the sun. But in our weakness and inability to save ourselves, Christ died for us. Christ took the punishment of our sins onto Himself. Christ took the wrath of God onto Himself in our place.
This shows God’s love for us. We see that God is not cold or mean towards us. He loves us. He created us, gave us commandments to follow which are for our good, and because we have failed to follow His commandments, He sent His Son to save us by fulfilling the Law for us and dying in our place. God loves us so much that even though we have destroyed His creation with our sin, He still sent His Son to save us.
One would scarcely die even for a righteous or good person, but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, while we were God’s enemies, while we were dead in our trespasses and sins and had done nothing to deserve forgiveness, Christ died for us.
“There is no one who will save us except the One who loved us so much that while we were yet sinners, He died for us. Do you see what ground this gives us for hope? For before this there were two difficulties in the way of our being saved. First, we were sinners, and second, our salvation required the Lord’s death, something which was quite incredible before it happened and which required enormous love for it to happen at all. But now that it has happened, the rest becomes that much easier.” (from John Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans)
If this is what God has done for us while we were His enemies, much more He can be depended on for salvation now that we are reconciled! Much more is our eternal salvation certain now that we have been forgiven and declared righteous on account of Christ. Much more is our eternal home in the new heavens and the new earth certain now that Christ has risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity.
If God saved us while we were His enemies, we can expect and hope for all good things from Him now that we are reconciled. He has even given us the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our weakness and strengthens us to follow God’s commands with a willing heart. On this side of heaven we will never follow God’s commands perfectly, but we are given the desire to do what is right and pleases God, and strengthened in doing it, so that we might live lives of good order, peace, and welfare.
God created us. He is our creator. He showed His love for His fallen creation in saving us while we were His enemies, saving us from the punishment we justly deserved because of our failures to keep His commandments.
Christ died for us. He is our Saviour. He saved us from the righteous wrath of God we deserved. He has reconciled us with the Father and thus earned for us eternal life. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.