Faith · Uncategorized

Today At Covenant…Promise vs. Reality

This morning at Covenant Church our Pastor was visiting elsewhere and our message was brought by a former intern, Jonathan Allotey. It was such a neat experience to be inspired by a new voice. Jonathan is a great young pastor who is from Ghana in west Africa. Passion drenched every word spoken today and my prayer is that it affected everyone in a huge way as it did me.

download (6)

Our church is currently reading through Romans 6 in a series entitled No Longer Slaves. Today’s main passage came from Romans 6:4-8.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Three obvious questions come from having read this passage:

  1. What does it mean to be dead to sin?
  2. How do we die to sin?
  3. Is dying to sin the end?

The answers to these questions can be found in multiple letters written by Paul to churches in Rome, Corinth, and Colosse.

In Romans 6:3 Paul uses an illustration to describe the change that takes place when we die to sin and accept salvation.

 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

When we received Christ we identified with his death in that we died to ourselves. The old life we lived was done and we were no longer ruled by sin. Christ became our master. And a man can only serve Christ or sin. Therefore, sin lost its hold on us and we became dead to sin by accepting Christ’s salvation.

Jesus paid the full price for our sins to make us free much like the indentured servants of the 18th century who traveled from England and worked in America for a certain number of years in order to pay for their freedom. The only difference with this illustration is that Jesus did the work for our freedom. We didn’t have to pay a thing. And now, as a Christian who has accepted the salvation we are made dead to sin, but alive in Christ.

In Ezekiel 36:25-28, the prophet tells of how God would make his people new.

 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.  I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you.  I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices.

In this passage in Ezekiel God reveals his plan for salvation. Once we become children of God he cleanses us from our sin. He separates the sin from us and frees us from the grip of sin. God also gives us a new heart. He replaces our hearts of stone with a heart of flesh which is sensitive to the Word and promptings of God. The Spirit is also given to us to guide us through a life of obedience. The Spirit gives us the power to be slaves to Christ.

In his letter to the church in Corinth Paul explains that we are new creations the moment we accept Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

This passage states that once we accept Christ we are brand new. We are no longer ruled by sin! This is a not a future promise, rather it is a present  reality. In a culture where feelings reign supreme it’s hard to feel like being new is truth. Some days we don’t feel new. We struggle with sin and at times feel bound to it. But whether or not we feel it is true or not God’s Word is always true. When God says we are no longer slaves that is true. It’s our reality. Now.

So now that we know the truth how do we apply it to our lives? Colossians 3:1-2 explains exactly how to apply our freedom from sin.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

The things we should set our hearts and minds on are things like God’s truth (found in scripture) and loving others. We are free from sin so that we may live the way God designed us to:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:12-13)

If you have accepted Christ stop living in a state of promise and realize God’s truth is reality. Stop waiting around for feelings, but claim God’s Word in your life today. Whether or not you feel it or not you are a new creation. Sin has no power in your life that you don’t allow it to have. The Spirit has all the power of God and it lives within you. You are equipped to break the bondage of sin. You are a new creation!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Faith · Uncategorized

Today at Covenant…Hearing God’s Voice

Today the sermon at Covenant Church in Grove City was the the first in The Anatomy of Faith series. During the month of February Pastor Travis will be focusing on Romans 4. Today the sermon was more of a fly-by of Romans 4 as we learned about hearing God’s voice. Throughout the rest of the month we will take a more in depth approach to the chapter.

download (6)

The Anatomy of Faith: Hearing God’s Voice

Focus Scripture: Romans 10:17

 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Faith is the linchpin of our relationship with God. A linchpin is an essential part of a wheel which not only holds the pieces together, but also allows the wheel to perform its function without falling apart. Although our faith is important in our relationship with God it does not define who God is. Our faith (or lack of faith) will never change God’s position. God is God regardless of our faith. However, our faith defines our personal relationship with God.

Here’s a personal question: When was the last time you heard God’s voice?

Faith begins when we hear God’s voice so how can we hear His mostly inaudible voice? As stated in the focus scripture above we hear God’s voice through the Word about Christ. That Word is scripture. Likewise, we cannot have faith if we don’t hear from God’s Word. Faith is not based on us coming to God with a list of demands. A relationship with God requires two-way communication. Of course we can bring our lives before God in prayer, but we must also wait on his response and seek it through reading scriptures.

Faith grows as we become more obedient to God’s voice. Not only should we be in communication with God through scriptures, but we should live those scriptures out in our lives. We begin our faith by hearing from God through scripture, but that faith will not grow if we don’t put the scriptures into action. Our faith is only ever a reaction to God’s faithfulness in our lives.

A great illustration of faith comes from the story of Abraham and Isaac. In this story found in Genesis 22, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son. In a great act of faith Abraham proved his loyalty to God by preparing to sacrifice the son he had prayed for and whom he loved so much. In Genesis 22:1-2, as God calls Abraham to make this great sacrifice he speaks to him and asks him to, “take your only son, Isaac, whom you love.” With this statement God shows that he knew exactly what he was asking Abraham to do. He knew that Abraham loved his son very much and yet he called him to bring his son to the altar. Just before he was to put his son to death God sent a scapegoat in the form of a ram and spared Isaac. This testing of faith proved that Abraham was willing to be obedient even in something as huge as sacrificing his son.

In closing, we should remember to keep faith as the linchpin of our relationship with God. We know that God loves us, is faithful, and is good. Let our faith be the piece that brings all of these truths to light for each of us. May our faith increase through our obedience to scripture, and may the truths that we find in the Word of God illuminate his character.

IMG_2274