I hope you are all well and being blessed in the middle of all this social distancing.
Were really not strangers to social distancing, though are we? Only in the church we pick and choose who and how we want distance from. We create cliques We ostracize those who are different. Rich, poor, black, white. We are ok with this type of sinner, but not that one. I hate to break it to you church, we did not invent social distancing but we kinda made it our own.
CONTEXT: Last we left off in Romans 4:1-8 by looking at the 4 perspectives Right?
- The perspective of the wages/works
- The perspective of the gift of God
- Abraham’s Perspective
- David’s perspective
All of these things to help make sense out of this dialogue of righteousness, Jew, Gentile, Law and circumcision
It is my hope that today we will begin to see more clearly the things that we all have in common, rather than the things that separate us. That under the Gospel of Jesus Christ there would be united in the church and the love of Jesus bringing us together.
Let’s get to our main text
Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.Romans 4:9-12 – New International Version
As you can imagine I’ve broken this down into 3 sections or points. Ok? So, here we go!
The Gospel Includes Everyone
This whole conversation about Abraham and his circumcision Is really about teaching the Jews to accept the Gentile brothers and sisters. The argument is about determining at when on the timeline was Abraham credited as righteous. In their mind it was the rite of circumcision that sealed them to God. And now, without doing anything “these guys” get to come into our club without doing anything.
Our God, Our promise, And Our inheritance
Because what is actually at stake here is the first thing mentioned “This Blessedness” Now, I know what you’re thinking. Pastor, what are you talking about? Well, I’m so glad you asked.
Remember now we just went over this;
“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven; whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”Romans 4:7 – New International Version
They have had a millennia of struggle with these Gentiles… and now, Paul is telling them that they are now our Brothers and Sisters in Christ? What! Are you kidding me right now? Oh, can’t you just here it now? Well, what are they gonna do to earn it?
Church, don’t we do the same thing when we look at some people (oh, you know exactly what I’m talking about) and think they really don’t belong here. Maybe, not you fine Christians, but someone else out there I’m preaching to. Maybe, I’m preaching to myself right now. May they don’t have the social status, Maybe they don’t smell too great. Maybe they just have that look like they have an overwhelming problem in their life and they need to touch the hem of his garment today, do you hear what I’m saying today church?
Let keep moving this morning… to my 2nd point.
The Gospel Gives Everyone Access
Verse 11 says it this way, …So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. To paraphrase verse 12—…and also to those who are circumcised and follow in his footsteps of faith. Everyone who comes to faith in Jesus receives the same inheritance. No matter the background, No matter the sin, We all have equal access. I want to remind you of the Parable of the Laborers…
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went. • “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ 9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? “Or are you envious because I am generous?” “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”Matthew 20:1-16 – New International Version
Church we cannot be envious of God’s generosity.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:3 – New International Version
The amplified version says, Those who are devoid of spiritual arrogance who regard themselves as insignificant. Meaning those who don’t think too highly of themselves.
We cannot draw lines between us and them. Every day I wake up and I ask God to use me in a way that will draw others to him. First, I must then expect him to do just that. Second, I then do not presume to know or dictate to God who he puts before me. Nor, do I have the right to refuse access to God to anyone. Regardless of how I may perceive of them. • When we deny people access to God, we also hinder the HS work of transformation in their life.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.Matthew 18:6 – New International Version
I’ll move on to my last point…
The Gospel Breaks Every Barrier
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28 – New International Version
I’m talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ here. There is an old saying that Samuel Colt made all men equal But, I’m here to tell the truth church, It was God almighty that made all men equal and he used the gospel of Jesus Christ to confirm it.
The gospel breaks down all social barriers
The gospel breaks down all racial barriers
The gospel breaks down all economic barriers
And in case you’re not tracking with me today, It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ that breaks down all Spiritual barriers. Amen?
This form of social distancing in the church has got to be left at the altar. Church, I’m pretty certain that Jesus received you with open arms. And if you’re like me, I probably wasn’t very easy to love. My wife calls it prickly.
Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about church… You know those people who are like hugging a cactus. Here’s something, If you have never known a person who was prickly, it may have been you.
Many of us have been like that person who recognized a person’s need for God. You even really wanted them to go to church, but you just didn’t want them to go to your church. The funny thing is that many of you are realizing for the first time, in the midst of the lock downs and the closing of the various gatherings, that the church is not the building. But it’s the people. It’s you and me. Let me ask you this, How can we love God and love people is we push people out because they are not just like us?
Jesus said it like this.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,Luke 4:18 – New International Version
How can we live out our authentic faith if we are rejecting people because of the outward appearance? Maybe you are the one who has been hurt by the church? Maybe you’re trying desperately to hold on to your faith, but life just keeps kicking you around. I want you to hear me today, there is a seat at God’s table for you. God loves you and he has made a way for you today. •
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 – New International Version
Will you open your hearts today and receive what God has for you? Will you ask Him to correct your heart today? Will you ask Him to heal your brokenness today? Will you say yes to Jesus, today. Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here.
Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life. If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. remember, it’s just you and God here.
Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me. Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen. 9
“The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”Numbers 6:24-26 – New International Version