Summary: In order to understand the upside of the gospel, we need to understand the downside of human sin. If we’re going to appreciate God’s grace in its fullness, we must understand what it is we have been rescued from.

Sermon for CATM – September 12, 2010 –The Problem with Humankind

What are some of the influences in your life? Why do you believe the things you believe? Who or what do you allow to influence your opinions and views?

Each of us has a thousand voices outside our heads vying for our attention. Each of us has to choose which of those voices to listen to, because many of those voices or opinions are contradictory.

So, what are some of the key influences in your life? [Parents, newspapers, friends, teachers, movies, music, TV shows etc] Of course, we are all influenced by our culture, ideas that the majority hold to.

Interestingly, this has sometimes been referred to as the ‘spirit of the age’ or the ‘spirit of the times’. In German philosophy the word used is Zeitgeist. Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and/or political climate within a nation, along with the general ambience, morals or mood of an era. The zeitgeist, or ‘spirit of this age’ influences us a great deal. Likely more than we generally like to admit.

It’s important to be aware of our influences, of what shapes us. It’s important also to realize that we are stewards of our time and our energies. We are accountable to God for our actions, for our views…for everything actually. Let me ask you another question. How much are you influenced by the Word of God, by the Holy Bible? Is it: A spiritual book among many other spiritual books; An old book containing some true things that you never read? A book you believe is true but which you rarely access? The Living Word of God?

The Bible itself is not fuzzy or non-committal about what it is. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Bible is the revelation of God about God and about humanity. It contains all the key truths necessary for salvation. It shows us the way to God. On this planet there is no book near its equal. No book with near its authority. No book with near the claim on the life of the Christian man or woman.

Now, all this is by way of introduction to the second in our series on the Book of Romans. This series is also a course in our Journey through the Bible Program, part of CATM Academy’s curriculum.

I do believe that some have joined us today specifically for this course, and if that’s you, I want to welcome you this afternoon. I hope you’re enjoying yourself today. The course outline, that gives details as to the course requirements, is out on the information table at the back.

Now that we’ve set the tone a little bit regarding the gravity of the Bible, the weight and importance of the Word of God, let’s please stand and read together the second part of the 1st chapter of the Book of Romans. It is on page ______ in your red pew Bibles.

{Just as you’re standing…if you recall last week’s message was on the 1st half of Romans up to verse 17. We discussed how Paul states that he is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. Let’s start with vvs 16-17 to get a bit of the flow from last week.}

Read Romans 1:16-32 (New International Version)

Let’s review a bit from last week to get our bearings on where we are in the second half of the 1st chapter of Romans.

Paul wrote the letter to the Romans in part to address some rumours that were floating around that were distortions of his actual teaching. The gospel, as it truly is, mattered to Paul. He wrote to enable believers to be confident of and to be able to clearly communicate the Gospel.

Paul had not established the church at Rome and had no apostles there. We don’t know who established the church in Rome, humanly speaking. Therefore he wanted to make sure they were on the right track.

Now the people of the church in Rome lived under Caesar in the powerful Roman empire. They were considered a Jewish sect by Rome. Often the church faced persecution.

One of the basic tenets of living in Rome was that Caesar, or the emperor, was considered a god…a god that citizens of Rome must pledge allegiance to. In effect, the rule of thumb in Rome was that “Caesar is Lord”.

Christians affirmed in their conversation and their songs and their preaching and teaching that Jesus is Lord. That was, obviously, a direct challenge to norms of behaviour in Rome.

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