Justified by Faith

Romans 3.21-31

Finally some good news. Though we all are guilty and deserving of God’s wrath, we all can be saved from His wrath through faith in Jesus.

At the cross, God’s love and His justice collide. Because of His amazing grace and His abounding love, God does for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves…He provides the way that His wrath against sin can be satisfied without compromising His righteousness. He Himself in the Person of Jesus will take on the full measure of His wrath and pay the penalty that sin requires…death. Did I say it was because of His love? God is the Initiator. He the Pursuer. He the Father anxiously looking for His wayward sons and daughters.

So where are you? Still under His wrath or robed in His righteousness? All can be justified, but not all will be. Everyone who believes… but not everyone will believe. You have the opportunity today. Jesus has already done the heavy lifting. He’s already died in your place. And He arose the third day. He conquered both sin and death so that you can be forgiven your sins and have eternal life. If you will believe…what’s holding you back?

If you have trusted in Jesus, don’t take for granted the magnificent gift He’s given you in salvation. Spend some today thanking Him for what He’s done and worshiping Him for who He is.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

All the World Guilty

Romans 3.1-20

We are all guilty. Everyone. And yet in our attempts to justify ourselves and our sin, we want to make God the guilty One. After all our sin highlights His righteousness…it makes Him look better, right? So why should we then be judged? Sounds like a familiar pattern…deny, deny, deny, deflect and then turn it back on my accuser. Somehow everyone else is to blame but me. As Paul says, our condemnation is just.

Salvation in both the OT and NT has always been about faith. Paul will make this more abundantly clear in the following chapter. It’s also a topic that he takes up in his letter to the Hebrews. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval…” (Hebrews 11.1-2). Example after example is given of OT characters who by faith did what God said. No one was ever saved by keeping the Law. And no one will be saved by doing good works of any kind. Because salvation is a gift of God’s grace that we receive by faith.

So if you have been trusting in anything other than Jesus to save you, now’s the time to put your faith in Him. Only He can save you. He’s already done all the heavy lifting. He lived a perfect life. He died a sacrificial death, satisfying God’s wrath and paying the penalty for sin. He was raised the third day showing that He had not only conquered sin but also death. So that by believing in Him, we can have both forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

If you have trusted in Jesus, good. Who can you share your story with? Who needs to hear about the hope that you have? I know it can be a bit challenging in a world under quarantine, but ask God for opportunities and be intentional about taking advantage of them when they come.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Law Breaker

Romans 2.17-29

The Jews, no doubt, had a privileged position. Theirs were the fathers. Theirs the promises. They were entrusted with the OT Scriptures. From them would come the Savior of all mankind…the Hero of Genesis 3.15. A position that should have caused them to be grateful and graciously humble, sharing the knowledge of the riches of God’s grace with the world. Instead, for many it became a cause of pride and self-righteousness.

Paul isn’t picking on his people anymore than he was picking on the rest of mankind in chapter one. Yet he is picking on his people just like he did the rest of mankind in chapter one. His point is that we are all guilty. Both Jews and Greeks. None of us lives up to the standard that we have…natural revelation or special revelation, in creation or the Scriptures, we all fail miserably at following God on our own. We face plant every time. There is none righteous, no not one. We are not all as bad as we could be, but we are all as bad off as we can be…without Jesus.

So…since we couldn’t follow God on our own and since our failure left us under His wrath, God provided a way to both escape His wrath and follow Him through Jesus. Because Jesus did fulfill the Law perfectly and He followed God flawlessly, yet He willingly died sacrificially to pay the penalty for our sin and satisfy God’s wrath. And now we have His righteousness credited to our account. The benefits of the New Covenant…forgiveness of sins, a new heart and God’s Spirit living within us…we are His people and He is our God.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, make today the day. Don’t wait.

If you have trusted in Jesus, are you living like it? Is your life helping folks come to Jesus or hindering them? Would they be surprised to find out you’re a Christian, or would it just make sense based on the way you conduct yourself and the way you treat others? We are not called to be perfect, but we are called to live a different kind of life…a worthy-of-the-calling kind of life.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Impartiality of God

Romans 2.1-16

There is no partiality with God. Sin is sin, and the wages of sin is the same for the worst of sinners and the most pious of self-righteous…death. Wrath and indignation. Eternal damnation. Forever separated from God and all that’s good.

But God has made a way. Because of His amazing grace and His abounding love, God has made a way for us to escape His wrath. Through Jesus. You see, Jesus willingly accepted the consequences for our sin. He, the spotless Lamb of God, shed His blood to pay the penalty for sin, once for all. He satisfied God’s wrath on the cross, and then He rose on the third day showing that He had not only conquered sin, but also death. And now to everyone who believes in Him He not only gives forgiveness of sin, but also eternal life. To everyone who believes in Him.

Those who trust in Jesus are given eternal life (both present and future)…and experience glory and honor and peace now despite their circumstances. Those who reject Him are still under God’s wrath and will face eternal indignation aka eternal death. And they will experience tribulation and distress now no matter their circumstances.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please make today the day.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

He Is Risen!

Matthew 28.1-17

Both the women and the guards are witnesses to some amazing things that first Easter morning. But they arrive at two wildly different conclusions: 1) The women believe that Jesus is alive, which brings both fear and joy, a resurgence of their faith, a rekindling of their hope, eternal life, forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God; whereas 2) the guards, at the prompting of the religious leaders, say that Jesus is dead, which brings only fear and trembling, deception and despair, death…

The resurrection proves that everything Jesus said and did is absolutely true. He is the Hero that God’s people hoped for, the Messianic King He claimed to be. His death paid the penalty for our sin so that by believing in Him our sins can be completely forgiven. His resurrection means we have new life…eternal life. His Spirit now dwells within us, and He has promised to be with us always, even unto the end of the age.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, why not make today the day?

Maybe you have trusted in Jesus, but you now find yourself far from Him. Like the prodigal son…it’s time to come home.

Matthew’s Gospel closes with Jesus’ words… “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.18-20). Come and see, go and tell.

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This post is based on our Easter sermon. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube: @ccclancaster

Who Is This

Matthew 21.1-17

Jesus enters Jerusalem, and His final week of ministry is underway. Some gladly accept Him as their King while others complain and reject Him as an imposter.

None of the events of this final week will catch Jesus by surprise. Not one. He is in control of His destiny. He will lay down His life as a willing sacrifice. He’s not a victim. He’s not a bystander. He’s not “along for the ride.” He is the King. And He is in control. That hasn’t changed. Doesn’t matter how the world shakes or what storm is brewing in your life…Jesus is still King, and He’s still in control.

I love the OT story of Joseph. Though things start out well for him…his dad loves him and gives him a great coat…they take a turn when his brothers turn on him and sell him into slavery. It seems that every time he gets ahead, he gets knocked back down again until of course he is promoted to the second position in the kingdom. Joseph has an opportunity to confront his brothers who are the catalyst for the grief in his life…how does he respond to them? “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Who says that? Somehow Joseph recognized God’s fingerprints all over his story, even though he didn’t know the why at the time. He trusted God all along the way to guide his steps.

In my own life, when I’ve allowed God control, amazing things have happened that I can’t explain any other way. When I’ve tried to take the reins…well the outcome is pretty predictable. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Do you believe that? Do you believe that your heavenly Father wants to direct your steps, or do you think He purposely keeps His desires for your life a mystery that you have to bump around in the dark to discover?

It goes back to the care thing. Do you believe that God is a Father who cares about you? It hit me as I was going through the sermon this week. The Father cares about every detail in our life. No detail is too small and no problem is too big for Him. If your child came to you crying because their favorite toy was broken or they dropped their ice cream or they’re just mad because their brother or sister won’t play with them, would you ignore them and tell them their problems are too small for you to deal with? The best of dads wouldn’t. The best of dads wouldn’t ignore their child because they’re too busy…the best of dads stop what they’re doing. The best of dads enter into their child’s world. The best of dads…and our heavenly Father is the very best of the best of dads.

It’s our own impatience and lack of faith that cause us to take matters into our own hands most times with disastrous results. Instead of trusting God, we are trusting ourselves. And instead of letting Him be King, we grab the throne for ourselves. I am convinced that we cannot experience the fullness of life and the abundance of joy that Jesus promised unless we stop trying to be our own king and allow Him to be King in our life.

Jesus has a way of upsetting the proud and the self-righteous. But He welcomes the outcast and the broken…those who feel unworthy and the humble who recognize their need for Him. Which are you?

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This post is based on a sermon from Palm Sunday. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 3

Romans 1.28-32

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Suppress the truth. Ignore revelation. Distort God’s glory. Our attempts to write God out of the script have had a predictable outcome. Turns out we are not very good gods. Scratch that…we are horrible gods. We have trouble running our own lives, much less managing a universe. And so we have a world that reflects our image instead of the Creator’s…

Writing God out of the script has also had some unintended consequences. You see, if there is no God, then we are not made in His image. If there is no God, we are not made to rule on His behalf. If there is no God, then we are not made at all. Being “made” implies intentionality…and it also implies a Maker. So if there is no God, then we are accidents of time and chance. A fluke of the cosmos. No purpose and no meaning. We are here one day and gone the next.

And so life is no longer cherished or valued or to be protected. It’s utilitarian. It’s disposable. It’s just business.

And God gave them over…because they exchanged the Truth of God for a lie, they exchanged the natural for the unnatural, and they no longer acknowledged God. Sin is a consuming fire that cannot be quenched and an appetite that cannot be satisfied. It will always take you further than you wanted to go. And it twists and perverts the good that God created and intended.

We live in a time and place where the world at large no longer cares about the difference between right and wrong. We are the godless society that Paul describes. We are constantly challenged to accept as right what we know is wrong, and then are shamed or worse if we disagree. 

Things like when life begins and what constitutes marriage and what is gender…things our culture wrestles with but that are clear in Scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, truth is not relative and doesn’t change with time. It is not based on opinion or feelings. It has no political affiliation. There is no such thing as “my truth” or “your truth.” There is only the Truth, which is based solely on what God determines is true. After all, He’s the Creator. It’s His universe. His rules.

As I said in the beginning, my goal in this mini-series has not been to point fingers or create controversy or an us-vs-them mentality. My goal has been to present the Truth, clearly, plainly, lovingly…and the Truth is sin is sin. And all sin…from the grossly immoral to the seemingly innocuous…requires a Savior.

Because of sin…because of our sin, both yours and mine…we are all under the wrath of God. None of us can escape because we are all guilty. We may not be as bad as we could be, but we are all as bad off as we can be without Jesus.

That’s why the gospel is such good news. Because Jesus paid it all. He lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death on our behalf. He died to pay the penalty for sin…all sin…so that God’s wrath on sin might be fully satisfied, so that everyone who puts their trust in Jesus might be forgiven of their sins and be reconciled to God.

So are you under the wrath of God or do you have the righteousness of God? The difference is Jesus. Have you trusted in Him? If not, why not make today the day?

If you have trusted in Jesus, be careful. We have an enemy who is on the prowl. We are living in the midst of a godless society that would love to see us fall. It’s easy to allow its twisted morals to infect and influence our worldview…to draw us away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Commit to living by the Truth…living and loving like Jesus.

We’ve talked about some pretty weighty topics over the last few weeks. Maybe God has been convicting you in some areas where you’ve suppressed the truth and strayed from Him. Some areas where maybe you’ve allowed the culture to infect and influence your worldview. Like the prodigal son you’ve come to the end of your rope…you’ve seen the devastating effects that sin has had in your own life and the lives of those around you, and now you’re ready to come home…it’s time to come home. The Father is waiting…with open arms…waiting for you to come home.

I want to invite you to spend some time this morning, this afternoon or sometime today just sitting with God, asking Him to reveal those areas of your life where you’ve strayed from Him, then confess that sin and give it up to Him. If you’ve wronged someone, make it right. If they’ve wronged you, forgive them…and still make it right. It’s time to come home.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 2

Romans 1.24-27

God gave them over…frightening words, but words that describe the world we live in today. Society has fallen for the rouse of The Emperor’s New Clothes…exchanging the truth of God for a lie. We wanted to decide truth for ourselves apart from God, we wanted to be the determiners of good and evil, right and wrong, we wanted to be our own gods…and so we have a world that conforms to our image.

We all have a sin bent. We are all sinful, but we also have particular sins that we are prone to. For some it’s lust. For some it’s pride. Or anger. Or lying. Or stealing. Or coveting. You get the picture. We all have a sin bent…an inclination toward some form of rebellion against God. The goal is not to pursue that bent, but to turn it over to God so that He may transform that sinful inclination into a desire to please and pursue Him.

These are not easy topics to talk about. Definitely not popular and may even get me in trouble. But they are things we need to talk about because the Bible talks about them. Here’s the bottom line…we all need a Savior, and the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. For God so loved the world… No one is so lost they can’t be found. No one is so dead that they can’t be made alive again.

Jesus ate with tax-collectors and sinners. There is no doubt He loved them. So should we because…newsflash…we are one of them. But loving the sinner doesn’t mean leaving them in their sin. That’s why sharing the Truth is so important. It’s also why we share our story. It’s one beggar telling another beggar where they can find bread.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 1

Romans 1.18-23

The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… Sin has consequences. And the consequences? The wages? Death. The first and most basic sin…the suppression of the truth of God. To deny His existence even while creation itself gives evidence of its Creator.

But since the garden we have been suppressing that truth. And our hearts have been idol-making factories ever since. And so we’ve either written God totally out of the script (atheist) or we’ve given His glory to His creatures (polytheist). In either case we’ve elevated our own understanding above the truth that God has revealed both in His world and in His Word. We are without excuse.

I said it earlier, but I think it’s important to keep coming back to it. Apart from Jesus, we are all under God’s wrath (John 3.36). But we don’t have to stay there. Because of God’s amazing grace and His astounding love He has provided a way for us to escape His wrath…through His Son. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross satisfied God’s wrath. It paid the penalty for sin. That’s the gospel. The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Jesus died so that we might live. His death allowed for forgiveness of sins. His resurrection provides new life. For everyone who believes… If you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus, why not make today the day?

If you have trusted in Jesus, be careful. Our culture is saturated with the lies of the enemy, suppressing the truth at every turn. It’s easy to allow it to infect and influence your worldview…to draw you away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Commit to living by the Truth (capital “T”), which is found in God’s Word, the Bible.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Greetings Part 2

Romans 1.8-17

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” Can you say that? Our world today is not so different than Paul’s. Believers are still ridiculed, mocked, made fun of, despised, persecuted…not always overtly, but often covertly. In movies or TV shows, on social media, in politics…throughout our culture. Often it is friends or family, coworkers or classmates. And yet we are still called to share our story.

What are you not ashamed of? In other words, what are you proud of? You see, it’s the things that we are proud of that we tend to promote, right? Kids on the honor roll, some new product that’s going to change your life, your team wins March madness, etc. Does the gospel make your list? Is the gospel good news to you…have you experienced its power to save? I hope so.

You see, the gospel is for everyone. There is no one who is so dead that they can’t be made alive. There is no one so lost that they can’t be found. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. If you haven’t taken the time to write out your story, this week would be a good time to do that. Remember this is not your biography…it’s your testimony of what Jesus has done for you.

This series in the book of Romans is a great opportunity to invite folks to church. In it we see the seriousness of sin and the greatness of God’s love. It reminds us that both the sinner and the seemingly self-righteous are in need of a Savior…and that there is hope in Jesus.

Remember that I said that Romans 1.16-17 is at the center of this letter? Let me challenge you to memorize it over the next week over so. Not only will it be a great reminder of Romans, but I’m sure the team will also have some kind of something they do with it in the coming weeks leading up to Easter.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster