FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
Most people, when they begin to have some sense about religion, say, like the rich young man who asked Jesus, “What good thing shall I do, that I may obtain eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). They do not ask the question they should be asking: “How can I be empowered and enabled to do anything that is good?”
– Walter Marshall
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Romans 7:1-6
Crown Him with Many Crowns - Adoration
Come O Come Thou Quickening Spirit - Confession
Psalm 130 (From the Depth of Woe) - Grace
The Lord’s Prayer
Streams of Loving Water Flow - Response
Thy Mercy, My God - Communion
Doxology - Old 100th
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos that summarizes in a few minutes one book of the Bible.
This week check out the summary of Joshua.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
In case you are looking for a way to serve in the city this week, this weekend is a great opportunity to help out in the Five Points South area and rub shoulders with folks in the community. It's called Clean and Clear. Clean and Clear is Five Points South's beautification and cleanup event that happens three times a year. From trash collection to graffiti removal and greenery efforts, it's an opportunity to give back in Five Points South. To sign up click here.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Before the Throne of God Above
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
my perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable "I Am,"
The King of glory and of grace.
One with Himself I cannot die,
My soul is purchased by His blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God,
With Christ, my Savior and my God
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
God of mercy, we humbly confess our need of your pardoning grace. We shelter arrogance and pride in our hearts, believing that our efforts will secure what only you can give us. We are quick to judge and grumble when our plans, pleasures, and preferences are threatened. We are slow to offer mercy, both inwardly and outwardly, towards those you have placed in our lives and called us to love. Forgive our self-righteousness and our self-absorption. Fix our eyes on our savior, Jesus Christ, that we may become enraptured with Him, for it’s in his name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - Romans 6:15-23
1. The Slavery of Sin (v. 16)
2. The Freedom of the Christian (v. 17-18)
3. The Power of Jesus (v. 19-23)
The Heart of the Message
If you have ever given much thought to the implications of the Christian gospel, you have likely asked the question: If God looks on Christians according to Christ’s righteousness instead of their own, does that mean they are free to sin without consequences? This is exactly the question that Paul addresses in this passage.
In the first place, though the ability to sin might appear to be freedom, Paul says sin is actually a master that demands our obedience (v.16). It leads to more sin (v.19), it brings shame (v.21), and it ends only in death (vv.16, 21). Therefore, Paul shows us that sin is a deathly thing than cannot be taken lightly. We cannot expect to play with sin and there be no real life consequences.
However, most of us know that a knowledge of the consequences of sin is not enough to keep us from choosing to sin. As we become more aware of the presence of sin in our lives, we may be tempted to think that our master changes depending on how good our behavior is. However, the good news for the Christian is that God has delivered us from the bondage of sin through Christ and has become our new master, only by faith in the gospel (vv.17-18). This is God's work, and cannot be undone.
As we consider this good news, we also need to consider that one of the hardest questions in the Christian life is not what does God ask of us, but how can we do it? His demands are clear and beyond out ability: obey Him with the same complete obedience that we used to offer sin (vv.19-20). How can anyone be empowered to do even the slightest good? Paul calls Christians, justified in Jesus alone, to present themselves to God. That means we are to draw dear to Him just as we are. We are to offer Him our guilt and to receive His embrace that we may be renewed from the inside out. Only the undeserved, free gift of God’s favor towards us is able to produce in us the fruit He desires (v.23).
What features of this passage stand out to you the most? What words or phrases or ideas grab your attention?
If we believe what Paul says about sin, that it is slavery rather than freedom, why do we still choose it again and again?
If God has become your new master through Christ, how might you teach that reality to your own heart on a daily basis?
What might it look like for you to draw near to God amidst whatever you are currently facing?
Confession of Faith: The New City Catechism, 2017
Q. 41. What is the Lord's Prayer?
A. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”