This sermon is the Deacon Ordination sermon for Eric Bertolotti, Brandon Granger, Randy Mallard, and Jason Pratt. As we consider the office of Deacon, we look to Christ as the perfect example of how to serve. Following His example, we willingly take up the lowliest of positions in order to see Him glorified in the church. As Deacons serve with this heart, practical needs are met, and the ministry of the Word and prayer continues unimpeded.
As Paul continues his transition to the ethical and moral instructions of Romans 12-15, he develops further in verse 2 what is entailed in being living sacrifices that are acceptable to God. First, to not be conformed to this world means we must be like Christ — striking a balance between being in the world but not of the world. Second, we must submit to and join with the Holy Spirit as He works both inwardly and outwardly upon us. We must pursue the Person and truth of Christ, praying for the humility to embrace that truth and glory in that truth when it is set before us.
With the beginning of Romans 12, Paul makes a distinct shift in his letter to the Romans. Given the robust theology of the gospel expounded in the first eleven chapters, he now turns to the subject of how believers are to live the truth of the gospel in all their relational as societal spheres. Here in the fist verse, he exhorts believers, on the basis of God’s incredible mercies, to offer themselves as living and holy sacrifices. This is the only fitting response for those redeemed by Christ: to offer our whole self to Him is thanksgiving, praise, worship, and adoration.
“Love” is definitely one of our favorite subjects as Christians. But it is also one of the most misunderstood subjects in the church because our idea of love is typically rooted in worldly wisdom rather than in scriptural truth. Biblically speaking, true love is rooted in death. Christ’s death demonstrated God’s love and secured our love. So the questions we answer through this sermon are, “What does it mean for us to be ‘constrained’ by love?” and “What does the death of Christ mean for our life and ministry?”
It can be very difficult when we are confronted with either difficult truth, or difficult circumstances. It is certainly difficult to reconcile the two when are faced with both at the same point in life. Perhaps you are in a place of honest struggle to reconcile what you see with your eyes and what you know to be true. As we look this passage, we find that by looking to Jesus in faith, we can find relief from our struggle, and the joy of the presence of God.
Jesus has now come into Jerusalem, teaching boldly in the Temple. Never shrinking back from proclaiming the truth, He uses Moses to show how the Jews were not keeping the Law, and the Sabbath as an example to demonstrate how they see only the material and are blind to the spiritual. As a result, we will see three distinct responses; the response of faith by many of the people, the response of unbelief by the Pharisees, and the anxious inquiry of the Jews.
John tells us that he writes this gospel so that we might, by faith, come to have the eternal life that is found only in Jesus. In this section, we have been shown that the sustenance of the spiritual life is something other than the sustenance of the physical life. Jesus appeals to the scriptures of the Old Testament, pointing to a new and better covenant. He pictures the contrast by returning to the idea of bread; the bread of Moses was perishing bread, for perishing people, but the Bread of Christ brings eternal life. Eating is believing, and Jesus’s flesh is the bread of eternal life. Upon this idea the Jews not only go from questioning to grumbling, but from grumbling to disputing among themselves; a first indication that their obstacle was not understanding, but believing. Therefore, in this passage, we will find the Disputing Jews, the Flesh of Life, and the Partaking of Flesh.
With the beginning of Romans 10, Paul is continuing to use the spiritual plight of his own people as the reference point for explaining that God’s sovereign purpose of redemption includes all the peoples of the world. As Paul again expresses his personal burden for Israel, he helps us to understand the proper heart toward the lost and the ignorant zeal of works righteousness, but his focus is verse 4 where he reminds us that true righteousness is a gift of God through Christ our Lord.
As we near the end of Romans 9, Paul is careful to teach that God’s sovereign purpose in election includes Gentiles. Inclusion of them was not an afterthought nor a late addition, but part of His eternal plan from the very beginning. Just as God had chosen a remnant of Israel after disavowing them, God also chose Gentiles to receive His grace. Even more, the only reason anyone is saved is because God Himself spares them from destruction and makes them His own.
As the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation was written to the churches to assure struggling and persecuted Christians of Christ’s faithful love, His sovereign reign, and His ultimate judgment of all wickedness. In the first chapter, as John is given His first vision, he sees the exalted Christ and hears his Lord’s concern for His churches. It is this Christ that we should set our gaze upon in every generation. Only as we walk by faith — loving Him, reverencing Him, and depending upon Him — will we know true comfort and joy in the midst of this dark world.
In this third section, we have seen the growing opposition toward Jesus from the religious leaders of His day. Jesus answered that opposition by explaining His equality and the ultimate unity of His works with the Father. These verses describe one of our Lords most remarkable miracles. As we walk though this story together, we see first that the place and time where this takes place is clearly noted, to give greater evidence of the truth of the story. The circumstances are specified, so that the details may be proven. We will be encouraged to see that when true faith is tested it is for our sake, for the sake of God’s provision and salvation for those around us, as well as to display Christ’s compassion, power, sufficiency, and humility.