July 16, 2017

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Jeremiah 28:5-9

Gospel Lesson; Matthew 10:34-42

Sermon Text; Romans 6:1b-11

Shall we keep on sinning so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! We died to sin. How can we go on living in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him by this baptism into His death, so that just as He was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too would also walk in a new life. For if we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with Him, to make our sinful body powerless, so that we would not continue to serve sin. For the person who has died has been declared free from sin. And since we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, He will never die again. Death no longer has control over Him. For the death He died, He died to sin once and for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way also consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This is God's Word

Many of you have probably heard the phrase, “It's a matter of life and death”. Oftentimes, we use that phrase, when we are talking about our physical bodies. “It's a matter of life and death.” For example, “You need to call the ambulance right now, because these next few minutes are critical. It's a matter of life and death.” In that way, we are talking about our physical bodies. But, in our text for today, when the Apostle Paul is talking about matters of life and death, he is talking about our souls, and he is talking about where we will spend eternity.

Right before our text, (we are looking at chapter six, but at the end of Romans, chapter five) the Apostle Paul said,

“Where sin increased,

grace increased all the more”.

So, the people were thinking about what Paul had just said, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more”, and some people in Paul's day, and some people today, came up with this logic. I am going to use this example to talk about that. I have two piles to share with you. Let's say there is a pile called 'sin', and a pile called 'grace'. The logic was, “If my pile of 'sin' is little, then my pile of God's 'grace' is also going to be little. So, this is what we should do. Let's build up our pile of 'sin'. We are going to increase our pile of 'sin', so that then our pile of God's 'grace' can grow. The more we 'sin', the more God's 'grace' is going to be there, to cover over our multitude of 'sin'.

What do you think about that logic? Not very good, is it? But, that is what some people were thinking in Paul's day. “I am going to have my sin increase, because I want my grace from God to also increase in my life.”

What is it the Apostle Paul says to that? He says, “Perish the thought”. He says, “Let it not be”. He says,

“Absolutely not!”

We shouldn't think of it in terms that way, because,

“We died to sin. How can we live in it any longer?”

The scriptures are pretty blunt, when it comes to talking about our sin, isn't it? God's Word is pretty straight forward in saying we have sin, and sin needs to be accounted for. It doesn't matter how we grade sin. But here is what we need to do. We need to admit we have sin, because once we admit we have sin, then God can be there to fix the problem.

(Here is where I am going to pick on guys, for just a moment.) Let's say there is a man who has some health issues. He is having a struggle to breathe. He is starting to sweat. And, he has some pains that are going up, and down his arm. What should that man do? (Hold on to your answer.)

What do, sometimes, men do? They don't admit they have a problem.

Why don't they admit they have a problem? Well, they don't want to go to a doctor. They don't want the doctor to share with him the problem he is experiencing. He knows he has health issues. He knows that. But he is afraid of what the end result is going to be.

Well, if the doctor doesn't tell him what the end result is going to be, and the doctor doesn't say, “You are going to die”, then because there is no verdict, the man can think, “I am going to live”.

But what actually happens? Because the man didn't go to the hospital, or go to the doctor, what is the end result? He is going to die.

That is the way it is with life, and death matters, concerning our soul. And so it is with sin. God is the doctor, and sin is the disease. Unless we go to the doctor with our sin sick souls, He can't cover us with the grace He has won for us in Jesus.

Now, it is in this chapter, of Romans, chapter six, that the very familiar verse is used,

“The wages of sin is death.”

But, that passage is just a reminder of what it is we deserve, because of our sin. In these life and death matters,

we deserve to die,

because of our sin.

It wasn't too long ago that somebody shared this with me. I had never thought of it quite this way, but they said, “Look at the word 'sin'. Just look at the word 'sin', and tell me what the middle letter is in the word 'sin'? It is the letter 'i'.”

That should be a reminder to me, that should be a reminder to all of us, I have sinned. I have a problem. Because of my sin, I deserve death.”

But, here is where the comforting news comes out, in our text for today. The Apostle Paul wants us to be reminded of the grace God has given to us. He says in the matters of life and death, you have “died to sin”. It should no longer control you, anymore. You have “died to sin”.

Now you have life, and you have life, because you are connected to Jesus.

You are connected to Jesus in Baptism.

We should view Baptism in this way. In a sense, we should view Baptism as a funeral service. In Baptism, it is sin that has died. Sin was drown in the waters of holy Baptism. We are connected to Jesus, and through Jesus, and Baptism we have life. In Baptism the Holy Spirit comes to you, and me. In Baptism the Holy Spirit comes, and He connects us with Jesus.

Martin Luther once wrote this about our being connected to Jesus through Baptism. Martin Luther lived about 500 years ago, and The Reformation of the Church is attributed to him. Here is the quote Martin Luther made about this portion of scripture,

“Imagine there was a doctor somewhere who understood the art of saving people from death, or even though they died, could restore them quickly to life, so that they, afterward, would live forever. Oh, how the world would pour in money like snow and rain. No one would be able to find access to him, because of the throng of the rich coming to him. But, here in Baptism there is freely brought to everyone's door such a treasure in medicine that it utterly destroys death, and preserves all people with life.”

That is what the Holy Spirit is wanting to say today, through God's Word. In Baptism you have been connected to Christ. The Apostle Paul doesn't just say that one time. He doesn't just say it two times, or three times, or four times, but five times he says you and I are connected with Jesus. Consider these passages. Verse four.

“We were therefore buried with HIM

by this baptism into His death.”

Verse five it says it two times.

“For if we have been united with HIM

in the likeness of His death,

we will certainly also be united with HIM

in the likeness of His resurrection.”

Verse six.

“We know that our old self was crucified with HIM...”

Verse eight.

“And since we died with Christ,

we believe we will also live with HIM.”

And so, in the matter of life and death, the Apostle Paul is sharing with us, and reminding us the very comforting thing about our Baptism, because the Holy Spirit worked faith in your heart to believe in Jesus, as your Savior. A funeral service took place. Your sin died, but what remained is life. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to pay for our sins. When He rose from the grave on Easter Morning, He did that to give you, and me, life.

So, what is the application, then? What is the application, or the result, in these matters of life and death? Sin has died in you, because of your faith in Jesus. You have eternal life in Heaven. So, what is the application? What is the result?

Over a hundred years ago, Elizabeth, who would go on to become the Queen of England, (and I think she was the longest reigning leader in England), when she was a young girl, it was kept from her that one day she would be queen. But, the day came in which one of her teachers shared with her what was going to happen in the future, and shared with her that she was going to be queen. Do you know what her response was? Her response was, “Then, I will be good. If I am going to be queen someday, then I will be good.”

That should be our same response, shouldn't it? In the matters of life and death, we know what has already happened. Our sin has died. It has been drown in the waters of holy Baptism. You know what is to come. You know you have eternal life in Heaven, because our Savior, Jesus died for us. Our Savior, Jesus, rose from the grave for us. And, life in Heaven is waiting for us. That should be our same response. “Then, I will be good. I want to live a life that is pleasing to God, my Savior.” We should not think in terms of what they did in the Apostle Paul's day, “Let my sin, or my pile of sin increase so God's grace can increase in my life.”

Sin has died, and you have everlasting life in Heaven.