Summary: In Romans 5:12-21 the apostle Paul contrasts the work of Adam with the work of Christ. This sermon examines the contrast between two men, two acts, and two results.
Years ago my daughter’s third grade teacher started worshiping at our church. Before she started teaching, however, she used to work as a representative for Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)—a ministry that reaches children with the good news of God. Lauren’s teacher used to visit scores of pastors to introduce them to CEF and, along the way, heard many stories and jokes about pastors.
One of my favorites was about a couple who visited a church for the first time. They enjoyed the sermon and told that to the pastor as they greeted him at the door when they left.
The couple decided to visit the church again the following week. They were a little surprised when the pastor repeated exactly the same sermon. But, they said nothing to the pastor and just thanked him for the message.
You can imagine their surprise when they visited the church for the third week and heard the same sermon again! They decided to ask the pastor about it at the conclusion of the service.
“Pastor,” they said, “we have been here three weeks in a row, and we have heard the same sermon three weeks in a row. Why?”
“Well,” said the pastor, “I will preach a new sermon when you put this present sermon into practice!”
I tell you this story because you may feel a little like that couple after you hear today’s sermon! I plan to repeat what I have preached the past two weeks. The reason I am doing that is not because I think you are not putting the sermon into practice but, rather, the truths in Romans 5:12-21 are so important, I want to be sure that you understand what the apostle Paul is teaching.
"12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
"15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
"18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:12-21)
In his outstanding new book titled The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Tim Keller, pastor of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York, says that during his nearly two decades in New York City, he has had numerous opportunities to ask people, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity? What troubles you the most about its beliefs or how it is practiced?”
One of the most frequent answers he has heard over the years can be summed up in one word: exclusivity.
We live in a culture in which many believe that all religions lead to God. In a video based on his book 3:16 Stories of Hope, Max Lucado illustrates the odd nature of the statement that “all religions lead to God”:
All roads lead to heaven. Well, the sentence makes good talk-show fodder, but does it make sense? Can all approaches to God be correct? How can all religions lead to God when they are so different? We don’t tolerate such logic in other matters. We don’t pretend that all roads lead to London or all ships sail to Australia; all flights don’t lead to Rome. Imagine your response to a travel agent who proclaims they do. You tell him you need a flight to Rome, Italy. So he looks on his screen, and he offers, “Well, there’s a flight to Sidney, Australia, at 6:00 a.m.”