The Man Who Changed Everything (Romans 5:15-21)
January 19, 2015, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags:

In our modern world, one quick way to make banana pudding involves buying instant pudding, wafers, and bananas and topping the mixture with a frozen topping. Since it is the way many make it, I eat it when I want banana pudding and settle for this ordinary dessert but long for the days of momma’s homemade pudding. So did my wife Teresa. She saw a recipe for banana pudding a few months ago and decided to try it. It was amazing! It took more time and a few more ingredients but trust me, it is well worth it. Comparing her banana pudding to most banana puddings isn’t fair because the only things in common are bananas, and the name “banana pudding”.
In Romans 5, Paul compares one man, Adam, and his one act to one man, Jesus, and His one act. The similarities between the two acts are one man and one act. Paul stated early in his letter to the Romans that he wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel because it was the power to salvation to all who believe in the “Good News” that Jesus Christ changed everything by His life, death, and resurrection. As one who had a first-hand experience with the change that Jesus makes when we believe the great news, Paul contrasts Adam’s act with Christ’s act. The similarity is that like Adam’s act, Jesus’ act was the single act of one man that had an effect on all. Paul then goes on to emphasize the differences between Adam’s act and Christ’s act in four areas. Jesus’ act was better in its success, its coverage, its heart, and its power.

One of the ways that we study God’s Word is to make observations. When reading the passage, here are a few contrasts between the two acts:
Adam’s Act                                                 Jesus’ Act
Trespass                                                    Free Gift
Death                                                         Grace
Many                                                          Much More
Condemnation                                           Justification
One trespass                                             Many trespasses
Death reigned through one man                 abundance of grace and free gift of righteousness through one

One trespass                                               One act of righteousness
For all men                                                   For all men
One man’s disobedience                             One man’s obedience
Many were made sinners                             many will be made righteous
Law increased the trespass                         Sin increased, grace abounded all the more
Sin reigned in death                                     Grace might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life

through Jesus Christ our Lord

I also observed that Paul seemed to repeat himself in the passage. Paul is both emphasizing the truth God has given him as well as trying to present it as fully as he can. It seems he is showing us this truth from as many viewpoints as possible.

The first contrast is seen in verses 15 and 17 and it is that Jesus’ act was better in its success. Paul starts off this section by telling us that the free gift is not like the offense. Although both are similar because they are both the one act by one man, but they are differ in the act itself. Adam’s act was a “deviation from the path” so it was evil and sinful. Jesus’ act was a grace gift, which expresses the mind and will of God. The outcome of the act was also different. Adam’s act brought death of many which means “all”. Christ’s act brought life to many which means “many”. Paul is using a literary device for the sake of keeping the analogy in this passage, so he uses “many” but shows a contrast. The affect of Adam’s act on all doesn’t require our decision because we all sinned in him. Although Christ’s act was on behalf of all, not all will receive the free gift that is offered. In the middle of verse 15, we read “much more”. Paul was teaching us that Christ’s act accomplished much more. Christ’s act had greater success. The free gift of Christ not only reversed the act of Adam, it did much more because it took them to the righteousness of Christ. The act of Christ is able to powerfully accomplish much more in bringing salvation to man than the act of Adam accomplished in bringing depravity. The act of Jesus also opens up the unlimited potential of eternal life while Adam’s act brought only an eternity of torments. The next “much more” found in this passage that relates to grace. Five times in verses 15 to 21, Paul uses “grace” and six times he uses “gift”. This grace is described by the word “abundance.” Jesus’ act is superior because it reveals an attribute of God to mankind. The unending grace of God is constantly applied to man because of the act of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the greatest “much more” that Christ’s act accomplished was that it overruled Adam’s act but it cannot be overruled. Christ’s act can’t be undone. The effect of Christ’s act is eternal. Christ’s act was better than Adam’s because it produced the desired result, salvation and justification. Adam’s act sought to have us be life God but resulted in our condemnation. Practically, we have the confident assurance that we are in Christ forever and there is nothing that separates us from that.
Jesus’ act was also better in its coverage. The act of Adam brought condemnation to the entire human race. The entire race was brought into judgment because of one act. The one act of Christ is much more because it covers all sins, or many offenses. So Christ’s act was much greater than Adam’s because Adam only dealt with one sin, but Christ’s act deals with all sins. Christ’s act removes the curse and blots out our load of sins. Christ shows that His act goes to the extremes in order to provide salvation to all for all our sins. His act provides the basis for all to be made right with God. Practically, this shows the love of God for the sinner. We also see that Christ’s act is the basis for an inner transformation that will end with us be Christ-like. The act of Christ provided the complete and final payment for all our sins because He loves us. His grace is also seen in the fact that while death reigned in Adam’s act, righteousness in Christ makes us right with God and we reign forever with an abundant life.
Jesus’ act was also better in its heart. The “all” in Adam experience the result of Adam’s act, death. The “all” in Christ experience the result of Christ’s act, a right standing with God that allows a relationship with Him. It is important to note that Adam’s act’s consequences are our because sin is passed to all but Christ’s act’s consequence is based on us making a choice by our free will. In verse 19, we see the heart of Adam’s act. It is disobedience. What was the result? Many were made sinners. The heart of Christ’s action is obedience and the result is that many shall be made righteous. The practical use of this truth God sees me “in Christ”. I need to see me free from the bondage and control of sin and released to live according to God’s will. I no longer bear the limitations placed on me by sin. I am right with God because of grace. Amazing grace that transforms.
The final way Jesus’ act was better in its power. In verse 20, the entrance of law gave power to sin. Law was the driving force of sin. The driving force behind righteousness is grace. God puts His grace into our lives and everything changes. Notice that this grace abounds. Grace is greater than our sin. It overwhelms our sin.
Here is how the chapter ends. Grace overcomes sin. How does it do this? Notice the last words in the chapter. The answer “by Jesus Christ our Lord”. We all should bow before God in humility because He changed everything.


Unable to Stop (Romans 5:12-14)
January 15, 2015, 12:22 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”
Growing up, I discovered that I had a problem that I couldn’t overcome. I mumbled to get the last word. Whenever I got into trouble with my parents, they would first talk to me. It might just be my mom calling out my name. I can still hear “Eddie” and know I need to stop doing something. But if I didn’t stop, or if it were something more serious, my dad would give me “the talk”. He would take me into a room where it was just him and me. I would listen to him explain what I had done wrong, why it was wrong, and why I needed to change. It all made sense and if I had thanked my dad, promised I would do better, and then walk away when he was finished, “the talk” would have been the solution. But for some reason, I had to mumble something as I walked away. I had listened without opening my mouth and when asked questions, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to discuss my perspective of the situation and what I suggested should be done. I knew to sit, pay attention, and keep my mouth closed. My dad would tell me to leave, and I would walk a few steps and then for some unexplained reason, feel the need to mumble a comment, barely audible but sadly loud enough for my dad to hear it. After once or twice doing this, I’m certain my dad listened for my mumbling the last word. Every time I mumbled, my dad would call me back, and trust me, my discipline was much worse. I knew the consequences of mumbling the last word, but somehow, I couldn’t control the urge to mumble one last thing. Mumbling ruled my life as a cruel tyrant, and constantly brought pain into my life. Never did I gain pleasure from my comments and never did my dad see the error of his rules because of my mumbling the last word. Mumbling the last word ruled my life.
Years passed and I had three precious children. I found that my first two children had the common sense not to mumble. Honestly, they complained about my rules and discipline, but usually it was out of my hearing and to each other. At times, we would have disagreements, but generally speaking, they let me have the last word. As children, they didn’t always understand why we had the rules and standards we did, but they weren’t controlled by the mumble king. Then my precious baby girl was born. For the first years of her life, she seemed perfect. She seldom got in trouble for her behavior. About the time she turned four, this precious, perfect little girl was taken over by the desire to have the last word. This wicked ruler manipulated her and I saw her yield to his control. Time after time her discipline grew more severe because she would walk away and mumble one last word. My other children would plead with her to remain silent, but she was under the control of the the fierce tyrant, “the last word dictator”. Today, that daughter has her own children. Sadly, one has been plagued by “the mumbling the last word disease”. Having the last word reigned and we each suffered because of it. But the real problem wasn’t mumbling the last word. That was the evidence of the real problem. My dad, me as a dad, and now my daughter as the mom each established a standard, “I will have the last word” that revealed a deeper problem in their child, THE SIN problem. No one taught me to mumble the last word and I didn’t teach my daughter to try to have the last word and she didn’t teach her daughter to do it. It has been passed down because of THE SIN. In Romans 5:12-21, we read about the sin that brought that which reigned, or was “king”. While the concept is seen throughout these verses, I want us to focus on verses 12 to 14 to see why why we’re slaves of an inner ruler and what true God reveals to us.
In our pursuit of truth, we will answer “what controls us?” But that is not the primary message of this passage. This passage is a part of a section that shows the actions of one man affected many. In this passage the focus is upon the action of Adam, with a reference to Jesus in verse 14. This passage will show that Adam, at the time the human race, committed an act which brought consequences on the entire human race from that point forward. The passage begins with the word, “wherefore”. That reminds us that the truth found in this passage is the result of what has been revealed before. In the context, we read that Jesus Christ died for us and His action was applied to all. “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Based on His death, the penalty on man’s sin was paid, allowing God to impute Christ’s righteousness to man so their Father-son relationship could be established. By one Man, Jesus, action, mankind was forever changed. In this passage, God answers the question of “how can the act of one man rescue all of mankind?”
God starts with a historical event that all Jews knew, and one that many today have been taught from childhood. God starts with the story of Adam and Eve, (although Eve is not mentioned). We find one man’s, Adam’s, single choice and action brought a consequence that affected all of mankind. In order to demonstrate that it is logical that a single act of Jesus Christ could impact all of mankind, God guides Paul to show how Adam’s single act impacted and still impacts all of humanity. In perspective, Jesus the Creator’s greatest creation was Adam. But Adam the creation is inferior to Jesus the Creator. So if the case can be made that the creation, Adam’s act impacted all of mankind, it is only logically that the Creator, Jesus’ act would much more impact all of mankind. The comparison of Adam to Jesus is limited to how one person’s act affects all others. In three verses, God shows us how Adam’s choice and action has altered the world negatively. When compared to the final verses of the chapter, we will see how Christ reverses the damage brought on by Adam and gives us much more.
In verses 12 to 14, we find four steps that show the impact of Adam’s decision upon mankind, placing us under the control of death. Notice 12 for the first point. Through one man, the sin nature entered the world. Please note that sin didn’t begin with Adam, it just entered the world through him. Prior to his act, sin was limited to Lucifer’s rebellion against God. Satan created sin. Adam was the agent who brought sin into the world and into man. Satan used Adam as a pawn in his attack on God. The Creator’s greatest angelic being manipulated the Creator’s greatest creation into making a choice that would introduce sin into that greatest creation. Notice the word, “sin” is singular. Adam didn’t bring sins into the world, he brought SIN. The corrupting SIN nature was passed from Adam to all of mankind. Adam was the representative of all mankind. Sin became a part of man’s corrupt “DNA” that is passed continually down from generation to generation. In the Jewish culture, man was viewed as a part. He was a part of a family, a tribe, a nation. In the Old Testament, we often see people being treated as groups. In Joshua, Achan’s sin brings consequences upon both the nation, which lost a battle with Ai and the death of some in the military, and his family, who were punished with death. Like Achan, Adam was acting as MAN-kind instead of acting as “a man”. His choice is mankind’s choice.
The second point is death entered the world through the sin nature. The corrupt nature of sin brought the penalty of sin, death, upon all men. Adam’s act brought death into all of mankind. No one is excluded from death. We have to understand that death takes three forms, physical death, spiritual death, and the second death. Man is actually born dead spiritually. That’s why we have to have the new birth. Physical death is just the evidence that all men have a sin nature. God’s creation of Adam was not of a man who would die. Death came into mankind as a consequence of sin. Connected to this is the second death, eternal separation from God in the place of torment, hell. But if man wasn’t made to die, then hell was never made for us. It was made for Satan and those angels who followed him. Satan’s manipulation of Adam which brought sin in to mankind, also brought man to the consequence of Satan’s punishment. So if a person asks “why does God send people to hell?” just reply that Adam, because he followed Satan’s temptation, brought the consequence of hell into mankind. To speculate what would have happened if Adam had never sinned is pointless because he did. But consider what happened to the one Man who never sinned? He ascended into heaven. Because of Adam’s choice and act, we all inherit SIN and its penalty, death. That’s why young children and the old die. Death comes because we have the SIN nature and suffer its penalty. Because of the SIN nature, we are sinners. We sin because we are sinners. Sinning is the evidence that we have the SIN nature. We have as our root the inner nature of THE SIN and therefore we demonstrate the fruit of that nature.
The third point is that death spread to all men because all sinned in Adam. This seems like such a simple truth, but it is a little more complicated than that. All have sinned is an aorist tense, which means that at one point in time past all have sinned. When in time past did I sin? In Adam, I sinned. He was the human race and I sinned in him. In him, all have already sinned. Therefore, all can be fairly punished with death because we have already sinned in Adam. My favorite verse is “I am crucified with Christ”. When did I do that? When He was crucified, God placed me in Him. I love that, but I have to realize that in Adam, I sinned. Judicially, just like God views me dying in Christ’s crucifixion, He also views me sinning in Adam.
The fourth point is that death occurs because of the sin nature and not because we have broken the law of God. From the time of Adam to the time of Moses, the Lawgiver, people died. Unlike Adam, who had a specific commandment given to him by God, those after him had no specific laws that they violated. They had the moral law of God written in their hearts but didn’t have the 10 specific commandments until Moses. They died because they were contaminated sinners because they carried out the actions of their SIN nature. They were are war with God and turned from Him and His holiness to live out the consequences that our SIN nature brought. The story of Cain, the wickedness in the world before the Flood, the building of the Tower of Babel and the violence and deception of the patriarchs show the depths to which man would sink because he possessed a perverse and wicked SIN nature that was and is the antithesis of everything God was and is. Before the written law was given, death proved man had the SIN nature. After the written law was given, breaking the law proved that man possessed the SIN nature. Death during the time from Adam to Moses indicates that death is not the result of sins, or breaking a commandment but it is the result of the sin nature.
Man is condemned because he is a sinner, at war with God, and dead spiritually. In steps Jesus. Jesus assumes the responsibility to undo Adam’s damage. He pays the price for sins and defeats the sin nature. He conquers death and makes alive spiritually those who had been dead because of the sin nature. Jesus changes everything for all.

the last word

What Lessons Do We Learn about Why Jesus Looks Different (Revelation 1:12-20)
January 4, 2015, 2:57 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: ,

John tells us in the start of the book of Revelation, that he was a fellow Christian, that he knew what trials were like, and that he was exiled on the island of Patmos. For about 60 years, John had faithfully followed Jesus Christ as he shared the Good News, even while suffering from the persecution that the early church experienced. John was now on an 5 by 10 mile island used to isolate prisoners. He had outlived the other apostles. The gospel worked as multitudes were saved. Yet many of the local assemblies were experiencing severe persecution at the hands of the Roman government. While throughout his life, John gained a new understanding of Jesus through His help and guidance in John’s life, his memories of Jesus were of the resurrected Savior who had lived the life of a suffering servant. Now, Jesus was going to give John, and all men a radically different picture of who He is. This picture of who Jesus provided lessons that were necessary for the churches of Asia Minor. Although Smyrna was holding the truth, it was a small assembly of believers. The gathering at Philadelphia was remaining faithful. But the other five were struggling as they walked with Christ. Ephesus, a church dearly loved by John had left it’s first love and the Lord warned them to return or they would cease to exist. Pergamos had turned to idols, immoral lifestyles characterized by sexual sin. Christ warned them that unless they repented, He would fight against them. Thyatira was a church that compromised and copied the world’s attraction for sin bringing upon them the judgment of God. Sadly, John knew of the death of the church at Sardis. The final church in Asia Minor was the Laodicean church. This church was so corrupt and apathetic that it made the Lord vomit. John had a love for the Lord and it broke his heart to see such a departure from the Lord. At this time of self-doubt and self-evaluation, Jesus Christ wanted to remind man that the church was His love. Christ had given Himself for the church, so He wanted John to share the vision of just how magnificent the bridegroom and Lord of the church really was.
Having heard the voice, John responded by turning to see who was speaking. Expecting to see a man, John records that he saw a remarkable sight. He describes it this way, “. . . I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”
As we examine this passage, we see a repeated word that is very small, yet extremely important. The word is “like”. At points the word is used and then implied in the compound sentences. Like and as show use that we are to interpret this passage as figurative language. John sees Jesus, the Son of Man, as the exalted king in the middle of seven golden candlesticks. These seven golden candlesticks or lamp stands would set on the floor and come up to shoulder level. On top would be a golden oil lamp, with a wick that could be lit. The gold indicated the value and worth of the lamp stands. In Scripture, the number seven indicates completion. Jesus tells John that they represent the seven churches to whom he is to write a book of the record of this vision. The number indicates that while these churches are actually churches, they also are representative churches of the body of Christ, which is to be the light of the world. Christ moves through the churches, tending the lamp with the oil, (a symbol used for the Holy Spirit) while keeping them shining and lit. He hasn’t departed from the church, so the issue is the church moving away from Him. It is important to note that Christ is currently moving in the church. Remember, John is writing about the things which have been, which are, and which will be. The gathering is not left alone. Christ is currently working in the church, ministering in whatever way He needs for the good of the church.
So what is Christ currently doing in His church? First, He is growing His church. He is in the midst of His church, empowering the church to be what He wants it to be. He is taking care of the smallest of details, because He is precise in what He says and what He does.

The title John gives to Jesus is “the Son of Man”. This is the term Jesus most often gave to Himself in the Gospels (81 times). The title traces back to Daniel 7:13-14 and was used for the Messiah. I think the details show that Jesus will have a people who will follow Him and bring glory to Him for the rest of eternity. The union between Christ and the church is compared to the union of a husband and wife, which continues until death do we part. We can be confident that the Lord is with us, no matter what we do or fail to do.
The second thing that is revealed by the image of Christ seen when John turned, is that He is the High Priest of the church. He is seen as clothed in a garment or robe reaching to his feet, and across His chest is a golden sash. The robe is a symbol of a king, a prophet, or a priest. But the sash sets it apart as the robe of the High Priest, as found in Exodus 28-29, and 39. Jesus is our High Priest, interceding for us. As our High Priest, we find in Hebrews that He intercedes, sympathizes with us, provides us a mercy seat, and gives the way of escape from any temptation.
The third thing that the Lord Jesus Christ is doing in the church is purifying the church. In verse 14, Jesus’ head and hair are “white, like wool and snow”. This is the glowing, blazing white that would be true of the Shekinah glory. It is a picture of His purity and holiness. As we, the church, worship and bring glory to Jesus Christ, we grow closer to Him and rely upon His power to live in a way that glorifies Him. His eyes are described like a flame of fire, which speaks of His ability to see every hidden sin of our deepest heart. In verse 15, we read that His feet were the blazing, brilliant bronze which are polished in a furnace. In the ancient world, subjects of a king were always beneath the monarch, so being under his feet always referred to being under his authority or judgment. While nothing separates us from the love of God, He does discipline and correct His children. We are accountable to Him.
The fourth thing we see about Christ is that “His voice was like the sound of many waters”. John was on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Imagine the sound of the water crashing on shore. He compares the voice of the Lord to that sound. The idea behind this is that when Jesus speaks, His voice is a commanding voice. We are to listen. His voice is to be our voice, which we let the whole world hear.
The fifth lesson is revealed in Christ holding the seven stars in His right hand. These stars are the messengers or pastors of the seven churches. To these pastors, John would give a copy of the book of Revelation when they visited him at this island prison. Christ had these men as His representatives in the churches. The book is written with specific instructions to each pastor, as recorded in chapters 2 and 3. God will have an person of impact who He has control over. The important thing to remember about the seven churches is that even though they have serious problems, they are still described as Christ’s. He still holds the pastors in His hands. Churches which are faithfully following Him as well as lukewarm churches that make Christ vomit, are still described as His. The pastors are seen as His as well. Unfortunately, some pastors lose focus and fall short of what Christ wants. It is essential that we remember, Christ gives to the church, pastors. However some churches fail to pray for pastor who meet God’s standards and settle for something else. But even those are under Christ’s control. His church will have His messenger.
The sixth lesson we learn about Christ’s current work is found in this description, “and out of His mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword”. We normally rush to the conclusion that this the a description of the Word of God. In a sense it is. But look at the words of Revelation 2. Here it seems that this is a warning that those who reject His word. That same word will be the standard of judgment brought against us. Christ will be faithful to His word, even when we aren’t. He will protect His church and bring judgment upon those who harm His bride. When a church struggles with following the truth, Christ confronts them with the convicting power of His word. In this way, Christ protects His bride. Many of us forget this important lesson and try to fight the Lord’s battles with far inferior weapons and with much less authority.
The seventh lesson about what Christ is doing now for His church, is that He shines through His church. The church is a reflector of Christ’s glory and the glory is seen in the amazing story of the Good News. The brilliant shekinah glory of Jesus Christ is reflected from His face, verse 16, which is described like the sun shining in its strength. Think about the brilliant sun on a bright summer day as it lights up everything. That is what Christ is doing in and through His church. He is lighting up everything. This shows the importance of worship within the church body. As we see the radiance of the Lord, our lives are transformed and we reflect His glory to those with whom we come into contact. We are the light of the world as we reflect His light.
So what is to be our response to these seven lessons? Look at verse 17, to see how this vision affected John. He fail down as a dead man. He was overcome by the vision. He realized that compared to Him, we are nothing. We are incapable of adding anything to His work. That is exactly the point! Jesus laid His right hand, the hand of power on John. That touch was Jesus’ way of reaffirming to John that He was his strength and power. John may have felt incapable but Jesus was letting him know that He was in control. Jesus is teaching us that He will use those who realize they are incapable of doing what God has planned for them to do because it is so awe-inspiring. When we remember, Jesus has taken care of the tough stuff and we only need to surrender to Him to be used by Him. He is our strength.
The conclusion of the chapter was that Christ told John to get up, and get busy. I’ll explain what needs to be explained. You just need to write. Our jobs are different from John’s but there are two important things to remember. First, just like John, we are to trust the Lord as our strength. Second, we are to get busy, doing what He has planned for us to do.