Christ Our Savior
Who else here has earned a medical degree from Google?
I'll admit that my track record of diagnosing myself is not great. I've self diagnosed myself with all kinds of horrible things until I actually had a horrible thing. And then I was convinced that I didn't have it despite the warnings of a doctor. Now, despite my terrible record, when I had cancer diagnosed by professionals, I did something that I was told not to do.
Spend a lot of time researching my cancer online. I guess they didn't want me to freak myself out any more than I already was. And at times, this research was actually helpful. And at other times, it freaked me out. The doctors were right about that too. But while side effects of treatment and potential long term effects were upsetting, I was horrified to learn that there were a lot of young men dying from the same cancer that I had.
And not because it wasn't treatable.
It was highly treatable. The doctors told me if I had to have cancer, I got the kind you'd want to have. I'm not sure about that, but.
These young men were dying because they tried to DIY their cancer treatment with various remedies including strange diets and marijuana. And I understand the desire to treat yourself. To save yourself. When the symptoms showed up for me, I absolutely hit the Whole Foods aisle before I made an appointment to be checked out by a doctor.
I bought all kinds of herbal remedies and supplements, and then eventually I admitted, I might need to go see a doctor. And then when my doctor wanted me to get an ultrasound, I resisted again and committed to the at home treatments that weren't really working. And it wasn't until over a week later that God, in his mercy, made it painfully clear that I couldn't treat myself.
I was not a doctor. So while these other young men had gone to doctors and received the same diagnosis that I had, and then chose to treat it at home, like I had I can understand that urge. And I'm so grateful that God didn't allow me to continue down that path. It would have been nice if he had spoken to me audibly.
Rather than allowing my body's worsening pain to be my wake up call, but that's not the point. When it comes to salvation, we often have the same urge to try to fix it ourselves.
We want to save ourselves through our own efforts, through our good works. We want to earn our salvation. We want to earn our place back in the garden. And we resist going to God for help because we think we can handle it on our own. Completely forgetting that it was us who got ourselves into the mess in the first place.
It's been nine years since my treatment ended, and I still occasionally think about the otherwise healthy twenty something year old men who needlessly died because they didn't realize their own limitations. They didn't realize that they couldn't help themselves. They needed the help of doctors and medicine.
We live in a world where admitting helplessness is uncomfortable, almost taboo. We want to be in control, to fix our own problems, to be our own saviors, but there are moments, just like with a serious illness, where we must confront a hard truth. We can't do it on our own. And this is something that the Bible makes really clear, in particular about our righteousness, our relationship with God.
We're going to rewind the story of humanity all the way back to the beginning. Genesis 3, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it's perfect, right? But then, they blew it. Sin enters the picture and everything fractures. And this is 100 percent their fault. God in His love had warned them, and they were deceived by a serpent who made them question God.
They're banished from the garden and severed from God's presence. And while this is their punishment, they very much chose it. They ignored God. They were the ones who shut him out and wanted to go their own way. So in the garden, there was a relational and spiritual death that came first and was far worse than our physical deaths will one day be.
And as their children, we find ourselves in their shoes. Trying to fix our mistakes, to sew fig leaves together, to hide our shame. But it's like using a band aid on a bullet wound. We just can't fix what's been broken. And that's where God comes in. He doesn't give Adam and Eve a self help manual on how to earn their way back into the garden.
There are a lot of Christians who believe that they can earn their salvation, that they can earn a relationship with God, and that's not how it works. It's impossible. Instead, what God does is he gives them a promise, a glimmer of hope in the shadow of their greatest failure. They didn't listen to his command, but they held on to his promise, and they passed it down through the generations.
In Genesis 3, 15, we find what theologians call the proto evangelium, which is a really fancy word that I'm probably not saying right. But it simply means the first hint of the gospel. The first whisper of good news amidst the wreckage. So listen to this promise. I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head and you will strike his heel. So this is no ordinary promise. This is God in the aftermath of humanity's worst day promising a Savior. One who would step into the ring with sin and death and deliver a knockout blow. This gracious promise sets the stage for all of the human history that follows.
It becomes the guiding thread that weaves every biblical character and event together. So as we witness the epic battle between the triumphant offspring of the woman, And the relentless resistance of Satan.
Our ultimate savior didn't come because we finally had it all together. It's the opposite. He came because we were at rock bottom, helpless, unable to save ourselves. God looked at our brokenness. He looked at our failings and he said, I've got this. I'm sending help because it's not about our strength.
It's not about our worthiness. It's about his love. It's about his commitment to rescue us. We were created to be in a relationship with God. And when our sinfulness got in the way of our relationship with the Holy God, when we effectively kicked ourselves out of the garden, he didn't give up on us.
Instead, he sent his son to bridge the gap and restore what was lost. We live in a world that's all about self sufficiency. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, be your own savior, be your own doctor. But that's a myth. It's a mirage in the desert of our own self reliance. And the consequences of this foolish self reliance is death.
We have something highly treatable, gravely serious, but easily resolved by Jesus if we'll just admit that we need a Savior. We need someone to do for us what we could never do for ourselves, and that's exactly what God promised in the garden and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The first proclamation of the gospel in Genesis sets the stage for the entire biblical narrative in our lives today.
In our struggles, in our failures, in our inability to make things right, we have this hope. A savior who crushed the head of sin and death, and in doing so, brought us back into relationship with God. This is a story of grace replacing shame. Of redemption swapping places with ruin. We're going to fast forward to Romans chapter five.
From the ancient whispers of Genesis, we now come to the thundering proclamation of our Savior in the New Testament. Here Paul tackles the truth about our human condition and God's rescue mission. Paul, as always, is clear and direct about our problem, but he's also clear and direct about our hope.
Will you go to the next scripture sign? I think I've. Thank you. I didn't signal for you to do that. But here's what Paul says in verse 6. For while we are still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. At the right time isn't just a reference to a moment on a timeline. The timing of Jesus death wasn't random.
Paul teaches here that it was a culmination of a plan set in force from the foundation of the world. A plan that God reveals in his promise of a serpent crusher. When Jesus arrives as a baby, when he lived a perfect life and died on the cross for our sins and then was resurrected, defeating the power of death, it was the appointed moment when God intervened in human history.
In our history, to provide the only solution to our problem. Jesus arrived at the right time. So what was this time? Historically speaking, there are approximately 400 years that separate the Old and the New Testament. This period is often referred to as the Intertestamental Period, or the Period of Silence.
This period spans the time from the last of the Old Testament prophets to the arrival of Jesus in the New Testament. It's during this time that the voice of prophecy fell silent, but remember, silence doesn't mean absence. Even in the silence, God was working, preparing the world for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Some of you may find yourselves in that silence today. You've been praying, you've been seeking the Lord, and you just feel like he's not talking to you, like he's not moving, but he's at work, he's present, and he's preparing your salvation for his glory and your good. The Israelites, God's chosen people, We're under the oppressive rule of foreign powers when Jesus arrived and in a time and place marked by despair and longing, the need for salvation was never more clearly defined God in his infinite wisdom and perfect timing chose this historical and spiritual situation to reveal his unconditional love.
And so Jesus came not because humanity was strong, but because it was helpless. His chosen people in particular were helpless. The silence wasn't a void, it was a canvas upon which God painted the greatest story of love ever told. Moving on to verses 7 and 8, Paul throws a spotlight in the nature of human love versus the extraordinary nature of God's love.
He paints a picture saying, for rarely will someone die for a just person. Though for a good person, perhaps someone might even dare to die. Sacrificing for someone good or just. That's extreme, but somehow we can wrap our heads around it. It makes sense to us that we would die for a good person or that God would die for a good person.
But Paul goes on to explain a kind of love that's difficult for us to comprehend. He says, but God proves his own love for us and that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And that's where God's love eclipses and outshines our own human love. God didn't wait for us to clean up our act, to become good enough or worthy in us.
While we were stuck in our worst mess, deep in a rebellion, God sent His Son to die for us. But why? Why did He die for us? Look at verse 9. Since we have now been justified by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. Let's really get into the heart of this. We're in God's courtroom, standing there with a rap sheet that touches the floor.
Every little lie, every harsh word, every selfish act, it's all there. But then in walks Jesus. He looks at that list, then looks at us and says, I will take their place. I will pay the penalty. This my friends is justification. It's not God pretending we're perfect. It's not plain make believe. It's him acknowledging our imperfections and covering them with his perfection.
Jesus stepped into our brokenness, into our rebellion, our mess. And he said, I'll take it all upon myself. He took the judgment we deserved. He took the judgment you deserved. The creator of the universe, taking the punishment. For his creation,
the one who is wronged against taking the punishment of the wrongdoer. It's an act of love so vast and so deep, it's really beyond our comprehension.
And here's the beauty of it. Jesus sacrifice didn't just deal with our past sins. It changed our entire identity. We're no longer defined by our failures. We're not defined by our shortcomings or our sins. We're defined by Christ's righteousness. It's as if we never sinned at all because Jesus took our record upon himself and gave us his record.
In this verse, God's wrath comes up, and that's not something that makes anybody comfortable. Amen? We spend a lot of time avoiding the topic of God's wrath. Our modern culture, we like to paint God as a kind old man smiling down from heaven. But the Bible doesn't shy away from talking about his wrath. And it's not because God is cranky or harsh.
His wrath is his rightful anger towards sin. It's his anger towards the stuff that breaks his heart. The evil that tears the world apart. His perfect world torn apart by our sin. Now, a God who doesn't care about the injustice and pain in the world is not a God worth worshiping. God's wrath is His commitment to making things right.
Now, sometimes we like to imagine that God went to therapy between the Old Testament and the New Testament. We're well aware of God's wrath in the Old Testament and it makes us uncomfortable. He flooded the entire earth to deal with our sin. He spared one family. But scripture is clear that God is consistent.
He's the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And the same wrath for sin that flooded the world is poured out onto Jesus. So when Jesus hung on that cross, it wasn't just a display of divine love. That moment was where God's deep wrath against sin and his boundless mercy met. Jesus absorbed all that wrath and the punishment that was rightfully ours.
This is what they mean when they say Jesus took our place. He stood in for us. He got what we deserve. But it's important that you realize that our justification wasn't just a legal declaration. Because at the heart of this, it's about our relationship. God is a relational being. He wants a relationship.
And through Jesus death, we were reconciled to God. The barrier of sin that separates us from Him was broken down. We're no longer estranged from God, but we have been brought near through the blood of Jesus. And all this is because of God's unconditional love. He didn't wait for us to clean up our act or prove ourselves worthy of His love.
God didn't tally up our good deeds. Thank God.
A relationship with God isn't based on our track record. I don't want to stand on my track record.
It's entirely based on his track record.
We are justified, set right with God, restored into a relationship with him. Not because of anything we've done, but because of everything that he did. And why did he do it? He did it because we were created to be in a relationship with God. That's our purpose. It's our ultimate joy. That's where we'll find our fulfillment.
In verse 10, Paul says, for if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, that how much more having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? The idea of being God's enemy might sound pretty intense, but look at how we live our lives. We're so easily swayed by the world by our own selfish desires.
We often choose to rebel against God's ways and live life on our own terms, just like Adam and Eve in the garden. And we're so corrupt, so wicked, so evil that we'll convince ourselves that God wants what we clearly want that he's told us not to have. How often do we justify our sins, trying to argue that God's okay with them?
And so when Paul talks about reconciliation, he isn't just talking about making up and being friends again. This isn't a playground spat. This isn't just about wiping our slate clean of past mistakes. It's about having Jesus's resurrection power pumping in our lives right now. He's saying, now that you're on God's side, you've crossed a battle line.
Now that you're on God's side, you're not just surviving, you're thriving. You're living in the victory of Jesus who rose from the dead. So not only am I going to restore relationship with you, but I'm going to give you life. I'm going to give you an abundant full life in my power. Jesus
turned rebels into royalty and he turned enemies into family. And that's not all for show. It should change the way we live our lives every single day. This reconciliation, this being on God's side means we've got a new job description. We're now peacemakers as he was. We're called to mend bridges. We're called to heal hurts and to bring harmony where there's hate.
In verse 11, Paul continues, he says, and not only that, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation. In Jesus, we've got something to shout from the rooftops about. Something that beats any trophy or achievement we could ever have. Our boasting isn't in our wins or our strengths or our successes, it's in the magnificent work of God.
It's in His endless love, His incredible grace, and His mighty power. It just has to be shared. When we reflect on who God is, the fact that He is our Savior, what He's done for us, He went to the cross for us, that should stir in us so much worship for Him. So much appreciation and gratitude. We live our lives not trying to earn God's love because you can't earn it.
There's nothing you can do that would cause God to love you any less than He already loves you. And there's nothing you can do that will cause God to love you any more than He already loves you. God loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. You don't earn it. And so you live your life, not to earn God's love, but out of gratitude for God's love.
And that's a radically empowering way to live. This joy, this gratitude, it's a new way of living. It's a new lens through which we see the entire world. It changes how we face our struggles, how we treat each other, and how we move through life. This kind of joy springs from a place that isn't shaken by life's ups and downs.
It's anchored in God's unchanging goodness. In his awesome work in our lives. And remember, We were once on the other side of the battlefield, far from God, tangled up in our mistakes and missteps. But now in Jesus, we're brought back home. We're cleaned up. We're made new. And if that's not reason for hearts overflowing with joy, I don't know what is.
Our joy in God tells a story of transformation, of incredible grace. When we talk about salvation in Jesus, it's like opening a treasure chest filled with more riches than we can imagine. Salvation isn't just a get out of hell free card or a one way ticket from sin and God's wrath. It's a complete transformation.
It's a restoration to our original design to live in harmony with God and to mirror His image in our lives. Let's go back to the beginning, we're going to keep going back there. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked with God. They had a relationship with Him that was intimate and unbroken. The kind of relationship that we long to have with Him.
A kind of relationship that we can't have because of our sinfulness. They were the very reflection of God's image. They were pure, they were righteous, and they were purposeful. But when sin entered the scene, it shattered. Everything. It distorted the image we were meant to reflect and severed the relationships we were created to enjoy.
And then, a promise was given, and after generations and generations of people living for the hope of our Savior finally arrived. Enter Jesus. His work on the cross isn't just about erasing our sins. It's about mending that broken image. About restoring us to our true identity as God's image bearers.
Through Jesus, we're not just forgiven, we're reborn. We're given a new identity that's defined not by our past mistakes, not by our failures, or even our earthly achievements. We're defined by Jesus righteousness. One of the beautiful things about the Bible is that it is bookended. We begin in a garden, we mess things up.
Jesus Christ died for our sins. And where do we end up? We end up in heaven. And in the new earth, which is a garden city, that's where we're going to spend eternity. We're going to be restored to the garden. That's the picture that we get in revelations. It opens with a garden where we mess everything up.
Jesus saves us and restores us to the garden where we can have a face to face relationship with him again, where we can be connected to him, where we can live lives of purpose, of worship, where we can go back to the perfection. Not because of us, but because of our savior, Jesus Christ.
So what does this mean for us in our daily lives today before we get to enter glory? First and foremost, it changes how we view ourselves. You're no longer slaves to sin. You're not slaves to sin, and you're not defined by the world's labels. You're children of God. You're co heirs with Christ. We talked about this in our Ephesians study.
This truth should fill us with dignity and worth that's unshakeable. You don't need to find your worth in the things of this world in pleasing people because the Lord God has made you worthy,
is rooted in something eternal, not in the ever changing tides of society's approval or disapproval. And our purpose, it gets a complete makeover too. Our main goal in life shifts from pursuing personal satisfaction or worldly success to living out God's will and reflecting his love and character to those around us.
Every day becomes an opportunity to display God's grace, his mercy, his patience, and his love. In our homes, our schools, our workplaces, wherever we are, we're ambassadors of Jesus, showing a glimpse of God's kingdom to the world. That's what we've been called to be. That's who we are as a church. Moreover, this transformation impacts how we interact with others.
Knowing we're made in God's image, and so is everyone else, changes how we treat people. It inspires us to live lives towards others that demonstrate respect, compassion, and a heart of service. We start seeing each other not as rivals, but as fellow image bearers, worthy of love and dignity. Our restored relationship with God also changes our perspective on trials and hardships.
We're not exempt from life's challenges. How many of you have gone through a season of suffering? If you haven't yet, it's coming. But now, we face those seasons with the confidence that we're not alone. God is with us, shaping us more into his image through every high and every low. The struggles that once might have broken us now become tools in God's hands, crafting us into stronger, more compassionate, more faithful people.
Salvation in Jesus also redefines our concept of joy and fulfillment because the world tells us that happiness comes from material success, popularity, or pleasure. But in Jesus, we discover a joy that's deeper, more enduring. It's a joy rooted in knowing we're fully loved, fully accepted, and a part of a larger story that God is weaving together through history.
In essence, salvation is about coming home, coming back to who we were meant to be, and living in a relationship with God as it was always meant to be. It's about reflecting God's image. Not just in the afterlife, but in the here and now.
I'm not interested in living a Christian faith that only matters for eternity. A Christian faith matters for today.
We need to have a life transformed, a purpose rediscovered, and a relationship restored. And we do that by knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior.
This morning, we're going to partake in communion. Jesus told us to remember him through this symbolic act, and we do so with great gratitude and humility. We remember his sacrifice and the love that motivated it. We remember that He came to save us, not because we were strong or deserving, but because we were helpless and in need of a Savior.
So in this first week of Advent, as we anticipate the celebration of Jesus birth, Let us also remember that he came to die, but he defeated death. He rose again, and it's the cornerstone of our salvation. In the Gospel of Luke, we read,
Which is given for you. Do this in a remembrance of me in the same way. He also took the cup after supper and said, this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. So as we take the bread, let it remind us of Jesus's body broken for us. Our savior chose to endure the pain in the punishment that was ours to bear.
He was crushed for our iniquities so that through his wounds we might be healed as we break this bread, let's remember that we are made whole by his sacrifice. And then as we drink from the cup, let us recall the blood of Christ shed for the forgiveness of our sins. This blood signifies a new covenant, a promise of eternal life, a relationship restored with our Heavenly Father.
It's a testament to the depth of God's love for us, a love that chose to redeem us, not with gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Jesus.
It's really important that as we take of communion, that we don't just rush through it as a mere formality.
We need to meditate on the profound meaning behind these elements, because they represent the greatest act of love ever known. The moment when the creator of the universe Reached down to his creation and provided a way back to him.
Our communion table is open to all who have professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. If this isn't your normal church family and you're visiting today, welcome. You're welcome to the table. If you have not yet confessed Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, we invite you to. We invite you to give your life to him because he gave his life to you.
But if that's not where you're at this morning, then we just ask that you pass the plate. There's many reasons to pass the plate. Maybe you have or you're in a season of unforget or unconfessed sin, unrepented sin. Maybe there's something, there's a hurt. There's something in your relationship with God where you just can't partake of this meal, honestly, with gratitude.
So we just invite you to pass it, no judgment. There'll be another opportunity. What's important to us is that this is an invitation. It's a moment of reflection.
I'm gonna invite up the elders and ushers to help distribute communion. Pastor John, we're gonna invite you up to lead us in some music while we pass the elements. What we'll do this morning is we'll pass all the elements and then once everybody's been served I'll lead us in taking it together.