Joined to Jesus

Romans 7.1-13

We who are “in Jesus” have been set free from the Law in two ways…first from any attempt on our own to be justified before God (those trying to do good), and second from a rebellious heart set off by any “thou shalt not” (those not specifically trying to do good). We have been set free from the Law because we have been joined to Jesus. We are justified before God, and we’ve been given the Spirit and a new heart with the Law written on it.

Once again Paul presents two paths…one in which we bear fruit for God and the other in which we bear fruit for death. Which one best describes you?

If you have trusted in Jesus you have been set free from your old way of life. So why continue in it? Why not choose differently?

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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

Who Will You Serve?

Romans 6.15-23

We all serve someone. We all have a master. Either sin or obedience. We are either running away from God, or running toward God. There is no neutral. No third option. “In Adam” the choice is made for us, and it’s the one we would choose anyway…the one we have chosen. And that’s sin. But “in Jesus” we have a decision to make…a master to choose. Will we choose obedience in following Jesus, or will we choose to enslave ourselves once again to our old master, sin?

Jesus used a similar analogy in Matthew 6.24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Joshua said it this way, “If it disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24.15)

Who will you serve? Maybe you didn’t know you had a choice. You simply defaulted to what you have always chosen in the past. Unwittingly you’ve enslaved yourself again to sin. You find yourself living the same life you did before you trusted in Jesus, but now you just feel guilty about it. That’s assuming of course that you’ve trusted in Jesus. The good news is you don’t have to keep making that same choice. If you are “in Jesus”…if you’ve trusted in Him, then you don’t have to live like you’re “in Adam” any longer.

If that’s you, you might say… “that sounds good, but how?” Last time we said there were some things to know, to reckon, and then to act on. It’s starts with knowing…that’s what we’ve tackled today. The knowing part. The Truth. The truth is…you are not who you used to be so you should not live like you used to live. You are “in Jesus” which means that you have a new King and that you live for a new kingdom. Therefore you no longer have to pursue the same lifestyle or make the same bad choices. You can choose to follow Jesus in the moment.

Knowing that truth, you then have to reckon it as true for you. Sometimes this is where the heavy lifting comes in. You may have to unwind some faulty thinking. You might have to unlearn some bad habits, or better yet learn some good ones. You may have to let go of some lies that you’ve held onto about yourself for way too long.

Reckoning on that truth, then you just have to act on it. This takes practice. Like anything in life we want to excel at, it takes training. Try and fail, and try again and fail better, and repeat until…success. I catch myself saying foolish things often enough to my wife. But I’ve learned over the years to at least recognize it and ask forgiveness. The time between those two has gotten shorter, and my goal is to someday be able to catch myself before saying the foolish thing. What encourages me is that it doesn’t just depend on my efforts, but I’ve been given the Spirit to empower me to make the right choices.

Choose to follow Jesus. Say no to sin and yes to what God is calling you. Obedience starts with knowing what God has said. That’s in His Word. Are you spending time in His Word on a daily basis? Are you spending time with Him in prayer? Are you spending time with other believers? Sharing your story? Living generously?

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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

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Romans 6.1-14

Thinking that God’s grace somehow gives me a license to sin is a gross misunderstanding of God’s grace. You are not who you used to be…so why would you live like you used to live?

Just as “in Adam” we somehow and in someway participated in his sin, so we who are “in Jesus” have also somehow and in someway participated in His death and resurrection. His righteousness is our righteousness. His life is now our life. So how is that impacting the way that we live? How is it impacting the way that you live?

The question, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” is a question that the church seems to have answered in the affirmative today…a resounding yes…especially the American church. We’ve interpreted grace as license…better to ask forgiveness than permission. We only really seem to care about sin when we get caught. Otherwise we have adopted the same, “Eat, drink, for tomorrow we die” attitude that plagues the rest of our culture. In fact, we really don’t look any different than the world around us. We reminisce about “the good ole days” and long to go back to Egypt.

What happened to being sojourners in a strange land? Seems we’ve traded in our tent for a home in the suburbs. We’ve become citizens of this world. We certainly don’t live like we’re “in Jesus”. At least that’s true of a good chunk of folks who would identify themselves as Christians. Maybe we are at church on Sunday, but where are we Monday through Saturday? Would folks who know you well be surprised you’re a Christian? Would it catch your co-workers or classmates or neighbors off guard? What about those who follow you on social media (posts, comments, pictures, likes, etc.)?

If you have trusted in Jesus, you are not who you used to be. You have changed allegiances. You have a new King. You are free from your old life of sin. Do you know that? It’s starts with knowing the truth. And once you know the truth, then you need to reckon it as true for you. Then you are ready to act on the truth. Know…reckon…act.

If you have trusted in Jesus, your life should be heading in a new direction. Doesn’t mean that you won’t sin, but it does mean that you have a choice not to. And learning to choose not to takes practice. Little everyday choices…what to read, what to listen to, what to watch…or not. There should be a growing desire to spend time with God in His Word and in prayer, to spend time with other believers and to share your story, to live generously. If that’s not true of you, either you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus or there’s something that is in the way.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus and would like to, it’s as simple as believing that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, that Jesus is that Savior who died a sacrificial death on your behalf and was raised the third day, conquering both sin and death, satisfying God’s wrath against sin…your sin…and giving you His righteousness so that you can have peace with God, being reconciled to Him, and so that you can experience His love poured out in your heart through the Spirit, giving you a sure hope that will not disappoint.

Last thing…let me challenge you dads to lead the way. Let your family see you making the choice to follow Jesus…saying no to sin and yes to Him.

pro rege

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

First Adam vs. Second Adam

Romans 5.12-21

The gift vs. the transgression. What Jesus gained vs. what Adam lost. There really is no comparison. The gift really is not like the transgression. At all. The gift is so much greater!

The idea that Adam’s sin, somehow wrecked everything for the rest of us…Pascal said that it offends the rational mind. And yet it’s true. We know it in our own lives. We can see it in the world around us. Sin and death abound. Hatred. Racism. Hostility. Violence. Murder…evidence that it is indeed true. And we might think…“Yeah, I would have made a different choice than Adam did. I would not have eaten the forbidden fruit. And now I have no choice but to sin because of him? That just doesn’t seem fair.” The actions of one man impacting us all…

The truth is, we don’t know for sure what we would have done if we were in Adam’s place. Pretty sure the exact same thing. But that’s really not the point. We are not in Adam’s place. We are in our place. And the good news is…the really, really good news is…that the actions of one Man can impact us all today. Paul has already spilled a lot of ink talking about the amazing things that Jesus accomplished for us through His death and resurrection. Whatever Adam lost in the fall, Jesus more than makes up for for those of us who trust in Him.

So the question is…are you still “in Adam” or are you “in Jesus”? Those still “in Adam” are ruled by sin, are under God’s wrath and have a destiny of death. Those “in Jesus”…grace, righteousness and life. If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, why not 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

The Hope of Glory

Romans 5.1-11

By believing in Jesus, we are justified…declared righteous…before God. Our debt has been paid in full. God’s wrath completely satisfied, so that we now have peace with God having been reconciled to Him. Our hope is secure. Our boasting then, is not in ourselves, but in God. We even boast in the things that bring us closer to Him like our tribulations.

Peter says this in 1 Peter 4, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4.12-13).

Suffering for the faith, part of the category Paul calls tribulations, is a predictable outcome when you choose to follow Jesus. I love that Peter says, “Don’t be surprised.” Why might he say that? Because I think that often we are surprised when tribulation comes. That somehow it catches us off guard. We forget that we are swimming against the current…living in hostile territory…behind enemy lines. That this world is not our home. And we find ourselves reacting…and often negatively…to our circumstances. Instead of seeing tribulation as a tool that God is using to strengthen and purify my faith…to make me more like Jesus and bring me closer to Him, I mostly see it, at best, as an annoyance and, at worst, some kind of proof that God is against me.

But what if we looked at our tribulations as reasons for exulting…for boasting? What if we saw them as opportunities to grow closer to God? To learn perseverance and deepen our character? What if we saw this time of quarantine as a reason to rejoice? What if we began to look at what God is doing in the midst of it? How He’s purifying and strengthening our faith? How He’s deepening our character? How He’s making us more like Jesus?

Tribulations can fortify the hope that we have if we will let them. If in the midst of them we run to God instead of away from Him. It’s then that we experience more and more His love overflowing in our hearts. If we will run to Him. If we will trust that He desires our good. Look at all He did to be reconciled to us when we were His enemies. How much more will He do now that we are His heirs…His sons and daughters?

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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

Father Abraham

Romans 4.13-25

In hope against hope Abraham believed…being fully assured that what God had promised He was able also to perform. Abraham is a great example of OT faith. His story isn’t told just to fill in the historical record…it’s told to encourage us in our own faith journey.

Abraham contemplated his own body… Abraham’s faith is an informed faith. He considered his circumstances, and he weighed them against the promise of God. His conclusion? God is bigger than my circumstances. He’s the Giver of life to the dead and the Caller into being that which does not exist. Nothing is impossible for Him. If God promised, He is able also to do. Abraham had a big God.

How big is your God? We are living in unprecedented times. Worldwide pandemic. Stay-at-home orders. Fear and frustration abound. It’s easy (or easier) to say we trust God when things are going well. But what happens when the bottom drops out? What happens when things aren’t working out the way we had planned? What happens when unexpected suffering comes? What happens when we get locked down? Do you still trust God then, or do you take matters into your own hands? Do you still believe He loves you and that He cares about what’s going on in your life, no detail too small or problem too big for Him? Do you believe He is still with you and that He is working things out for your good and His glory? Do you believe He’s bigger than your circumstances? Do you believe in the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist? I pray that you do.

pro rege,

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

OT Faith

Romans 4.1-12

Paul uses Abraham as an illustration of his point that being justified…being declared righteous…being saved…has always been by faith. God does what we could never do…takes away our sin and gives us His righteousness.

This is no “cooking of the books”. God’s declaration of our righteousness isn’t some kind of shell game where He pretends not to see our sin. No wink, wink. He doesn’t redefine our sin so that it’s something else. No, the debt had to be paid in full. No way around it. And so in Jesus, God fully paid the debt that we owed…death. But even more than that He replaced it with His righteousness. That’s what’s credited to our account when we believe in Jesus.

So what should our response be? Praise and thanksgiving. A life of obedience that says “Thank You.” Our obedience doesn’t save us…our faith does. But obedience is the proper response of one who has been saved. Abraham’s faith journey is a great example for us. There were times when his faith was strong and times when it faltered. There were times when he trusted God and times when he relied more on himself. But the more time he spent with the LORD, the stronger his faith grew and the more he trusted God with his circumstances. And at the end of his life, it could be said of him, “Abraham obeyed Me…” May that be true of us as well.

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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

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.

pro rege

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.

pro rege

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