The last twelve days have remarkable. Like you Iíve been fascinated at how closely contested our presidential election has been. Can you imagine what the last twelve days have been like for vice-president Gore and governor Bush? On election day the networks first called Florida for Gore, then they said it was too close to call, then they called it for Bush, and then they said it was too close to call again. If thereís anything vice-president Gore and governor Bush havenít experienced the last twelve days itís a sense of assurance. Neither of them has been sure of much of anything.

Can you imagine what it would be like if our relationship with God was like that? Imagine if being right with God was based on some sort of voting system, perhaps our bad actions counting as "no" votes and our good deeds counting as "yes" votes. Imagine never knowing whether weíre going to make it or whether itís too close to call. Imagine when we die and the angels meet us at the gates of heaven, some of the angels demand a recount, so suddenly all of heaven is mobilized for a hand recount of our good deeds and bad deeds. Will we make it? Well itís still too close to call!

A lot of people think the spiritual life is like that. Because of this many people live under the constant uncertainty of whether theyíll make it or not. And like our two presidential candidates, these people experience no sense of assurance, no security.
Iím sure glad the Christian faith isnít like our electoral process. Instead God offers people a sense of assurance about how they stand before him, and itís that assurance I want to talk about today. Weíve been in a series since September through the New Testament book of Romans called GOOD NEWS FOR OUR TIMES. So far weíve looked at Romans chapters 1 through 4, as weíve explored the good news about Godís integrity. Weíve seen that the entire human race has joined in rebellion against our creator. Weíve seen that we canít earn restoration with God; we canít rely on being religious or rituals or ceremonies, but God invites us to come as undeserving people who find restoration with God on the basis of what Jesus did, not the basis of what weíve done. Today we reach a major transition in Romans, as we move from the good news about Godís integrity to the good news about Godís love. This new section covers chapter five of Romans to chapter eight, and the theme of these chapters is how Godís love enables us to live the way we were made to live.

Today, in Romans 5:1-11 weíre going to find FOUR ASSURANCES GOD GIVES US WHEN WE DISCOVER HIS GRACE. Weíre going to talk about these four assurances, and then weíre going to experience them together by worshipping and celebrating communion together. But let me give one warning about this section of Romans: We have a tendency to read these verses as individuals, as though Paul were only talking about my personal relationship with God. As 21st century Americans, we have a tendency to envision the spiritual life