Summary: Paul assures us that if God went to such effort to save us when we were his enemies, how much more will God continue to save us from his wrath now that we are God's children. This should cause us to rejoice!
A. Perhaps you are a history buff and have studied the history of the Civil War.
1. There are literally thousands of powerful and personal stories that come out of those dark days
2. I want to share with you the amazing story of Sam Watkins, a young man from Columbia, Tennessee who enrolled in the Army of Tennessee at the age of 21.
a. It would be safe to say that no American soldier fought so long or so hard as long-suffering Sam.
b. The story of his days as a soldier is one of unbelievable hardship and unrelenting danger.
c. The list of his battles explains why, out of the 120 men who enlisted in Company H in 1861, Sam was one of only 7 who were still alive when, four years later, his commander surrendered the last major Confederate army in the field at Greensboro, North Carolina on April 26, 1865.
d. If you’re doing the math in your head, that is a 94% casualty rate.
3. And Sam wouldn’t have survived, either, if it weren’t for a good friend of his named William Hughes.
a. They were side by side on the front line at the Battle of “Dead Angle” near Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia when the Yankees overran their position.
b. Sam had just fired his gun and was in the act of reloading when a Union soldier rushed up to him, pointed his gun at Sam, shouted “Now I’ve got you” and pulled the trigger.
c. Let’s let Sam tell the story: “Everything I had ever done rushed through my mind. I heard the roar, and felt the flash of fire, and saw my more than friend, William Hughes, grab the muzzle of the gun, receiving the whole contents in his hand and arm, and mortally wounding him.”
4. Even though Sam Watkins was writing some 20 years after this episode, and even though we today are reading his account more than 150 years after it happened, we can still feel the intensity of emotion in the next words Sam wrote: “Reader” (he says), “he died for me. In saving my life, he lost his own. When the infirmary corps carried him off, all mutilated and bleeding, he told them to give me (his gun)….his blanket and clothing. He gave his life for me, and everything that he had.”
5. Can’t you hear the gratitude in those lines?
a. Can’t you hear Sam’s wonderment at his friend’s action?
b. Can’t you hear his enduring sense of appreciation at having been saved from certain death by the sacrifice of his friend?
B. Whenever we read of such heroic self-sacrifice, it has the power to stir our souls.
1. We admire, appreciate, and are awed by the sacrifice of one friend who would shed his blood for another.
2. As we turn in our study of Romans to chapter 5, the apostle Paul turns our attention to the nobility of such sacrificial friendship in verse 7 – “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.”
3. There are granite memorials all over this nation marking such heroes: the Marine who jumps on a live grenade to save his comrades – the Air Force pilot who sticks with his burning jet all the way to the crash so that he can steer it way from a crowded neighborhood – the Army private who braves the enemy fire to bring much-needed medicine to his fellow soldiers, only to lose his life in the process.
4. Such heroism doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is always remembered – but mark it well: some will die for friends and comrades, but no one dies for the enemy!
5. That doesn’t happen…except at the Cross!
6. If Sam Watkins marveled that his good friend William Hughes was willing to die to save his life, then how much more ought we to be amazed at what Jesus did for us?
7. Jesus didn’t die for a friend – he didn’t even lay down his life for a good man – he went to the Cross for his enemies, for selfish, uncaring, ungodly, unsaved people like you and me before we were saved by his blood.
C. Today, as we continue our series on Romans and focus on Romans chapter 5, verses 6 through 11, I want us to understand and marvel about the assurance we have of our salvation.
1. Last week, as we looked at chapter 5, verses 1 through 5, we learned about the wonderful blessings that are ours because of our justification.
2. We learned that because we are justified by faith in Jesus, we now have peace with God, access to God and His grace, and we have the hope of glory, even in the midst of our adversity.