Summary: The secret to living the Christian life is not trying to imitate Jesus. The secret to the Christian life is allowing Jesus simply to control every part of your life so his character is just displayed.
If you are going to interview for a new job, you want to know what the salary is, but you also want to know what the “fringe benefits” are. The benefits I’m going to talk about today are not “fringe” by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, they are core, central, solid benefits that are ours as followers of Jesus Christ. I call them the “blessed benefits of God’s love.”
You may wonder sometimes what the connection between faith, hope and love is. You hear those three used a lot. Well, we’ve been talking about faith because it is faith that receives God’s grace. Last week we talked a little bit about hope. Today, we are going to talk about love. The thing our world really needs today is something to hang their hopes on. There is so much hopelessness out there.
Maybe you heard about the guy who was taking a stroll one evening, and he started crossing a bridge. He looked over there and saw a stranger poised on the edge of the bridge getting ready to jump over and commit suicide. The guy walking said, “Whoa! Wait a minute! What are you doing?” The man said, “Well, life is just hopeless, and I’m just going to jump off the bridge and end it all.” The walker said to him, “Now, listen. Let’s make a deal. Give me five minutes to tell you why life is worth living, then, you can have your five minutes, and you can tell me why life isn’t worth living.” Ten minutes later both of them jumped off the bridge. There is a lot out there to cause despair. I think the greatest time to be a Christian is right now because we have a message of hope to offer to the people out there who don’t have any hope.
It is beyond my imagination to think how people who are not Christians can cope with the suffering, pain and demands of life without Jesus Christ. I recently read a book called A View From A Hearse. It’s a book about the Christian view of death and dying written by Dr. Joseph Bailey, a clinical psychologist and Christian. He writes about being in a hospital trying to console a single mother whose small boy had a terminal illness and was about to die. He speaks to her from the Christian perspective, and this is what he said to her, “Even though the medical outlook is hopeless, we can still have hope. We can know that when our child dies, he will be completely removed from sickness and suffering, and he will be completely well, and happy.” That’s what we believe as Christians. But the mother was not a Christian and she said to Dr. Bailey, “If I could only believe that! But I don’t believe it. When he dies, I’ll just have to cover him up with some dirt, and then try to forget that I ever had him.” Doesn’t that break your heart? Isn’t that so sad to think there are people out there who don’t have the hope we have as Christians? How different her view was from King David’s, who when his little child died, said, “He cannot return to me, but I can go to him.” As Christians, we have hope.
Today we look at Romans 5. It is a great passage of scripture. It is the hope we have that is born with the realization of God’s love for us.
Romans 5:5. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
You see, at just the right time when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more, shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
BENEFIT #1: GOD LOVES YOU–EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE A SINNER
1. Our natural condition
As a believer, if you can understand these four benefits we are given in this passage of scripture, you’ll walk out of here so excited you’ll have to backslide to go to sleep at night! The benefits start out basic, and then they get deeper. Here’s benefit number one: God loves you even though you are a sinner.