No Not One – The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

No Not One –  The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Our Lord our gracious King our Father
thank you that you have brought us
together today this fourth Sunday in the
Pentecost season for us to come together
and worship you thank you that you are
merciful that you are holy that you are
gentle and that you receive sinners into
your kingdom
father we pray that you would cleanse
the thoughts of our heart today you
would cleanse our minds of sin we thank
you for the great that you’ve given us
in Jesus Christ our Lord all God’s
people said
and please be seated
here’s a bad word for most of us most of
us don’t like the idea of
fear and a few times in my life where I
experienced some great fear one of them
was surfing one time well probably a few
times where I got pummeled by a wave and
the initial thought was it’s gonna die
and so for some reason I’ve always had
this fear of water
I still go surf every now and then but I
was always a little scared by it maybe
it was partly from a an experience as a
child where some well-meaning adults in
my life really felt that if they kind of
forced me to jump into the pool I would
figure it out and so they finally put
enough social pressure for me to jump
off the end of the diving board while I
was warning them like I’m I’m gonna
drown I’m not you know I don’t know I
was like eight seven or eight and Todd
jumped in the pool and nope right to the
bottom Todd went and the result was
almost me and my mother drowned so but
we were fine but fear is something that
when we feel it it has a great impact on
us and if you look at Romans 3:18 it
talks about the fear of the Lord as we
continue our series in Romans the rain
craters we’re looking at romans 3 1-3
teen in this very last verse 3:18 says
there is no fear of God before their
eyes in fact that’s a theme that comes
through to one degree or another and all
our readings this morning it’s very
not with the word fear but in the Isaiah
reading because it talks about the proud
and the haughty looks right and the
proud and the haughty according to that
the little writers are not they don’t
fear the Lord because the fear of the
results in humility and so we can ask
the question what is the fear of the
Lord because when this word sounds so
negative to us why would a loving God
want us to fear him and so what does it
mean to fear God well I’m going to read
to you a passage that we we also read
last week in Deuteronomy and Deuteronomy
10 12 and 13 it says and now Israel what
does the Lord your God require of you
but to fear the Lord your God to walk in
his ways to love him to serve the Lord
your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and to keep the
commandments and the statutes of the
Lord which I command you this day for
your good and we can see especially here
in the passage in Deuteronomy that the
fear of the Lord is connected directly
to obeying him to obeying God and that’s
I want to make a distinction here in our
minds that the fear that the Lord is
talking about is a thoughtful fear when
there’s different kinds of fear and they
overlap but we could probably talk about
mainly a intellectual fear and an
emotional fear okay so some of you might
have a rather emotional fear of spiders
you know what I’m talking about you’re
you see a spider the size of a pinhead
and you’re standing on a chair okay
and I happen
to be a total arachnophobia
this morning and I kicked it out the
door cuz I just didn’t want to see a
dead spider okay so you know something
about me now I do not like spiders and
whatever it may be may be snakes gonna
be a of things that make you emotionally
fearful and you’re going to kind of
meltdown but the fear of the Lord is a
thoughtful fear and it’s it’s completely
attached to God in his being and who he
says he is and that he’ll judge the
world in righteousness that’s what the
fear of the Lord is connected to and to
understand Paul we have to understand
his picture of the world his picture of
the world what we’ll call his
eschatological picture and I’ll explain
that word that that word eschatology
maybe you’ve heard that before maybe you
haven’t it comes from the Greek word
eschaton it means last and so when
Christian theologians and pastors talk
about eschatology they’re talking about
the theology of last things okay about
when the end of the age comes when Jesus
and the Bible is said to return and
judge all mankind and so if you look at
Romans 3 6 this morning Paul asked the
rhetorical question for how then could
God judge the world and for Paul we live
in this end times we live in the end
time aid and there was this present age
there’s this present age that we live in
and there’s an age to come and in
between it’s punctuated by the return of
Christ and the judgment of mankind and
so this is the present age the secular
age the age
of man and the age to come is the age of
the kingdom of God this is an age of
suffering this is an age of pain because
of man’s choice the sin and sin comes
into the world and we’re seeing all of
it around us right now we’re seeing the
effects of that especially it’s a very
anxious time it’s a bear of fear full
time in our country right now people are
acting in fear and when people act in
fear what do they do
will they get aggressive toward one
another a fear actually leads most time
to violence you know the the hate groups
that we talk about like the KKK or the
Third Reich the the Nazi regime or
whatever it is hate groups are always
driven by fear fear of what they don’t
understand it doesn’t justify a single
thing that they do but they’re driven by
fear and the gospel switches that on its
head this is there’s no fear in love you
see fear and hatred go together
that kind of fear but the fear of the
Lord is a different kind of fear at the
thoughtful fear that loves the Lord for
who he is and Paul sees this age and
it’s so important for us to understand
what he’s saying because this is an age
of the fear of the world and the fear of
man but the fear of the Lord the only
thing worth really fearing and trust in
putting our trust in that’s why Jesus
says you know don’t fear Him who can
kill the body but fear Him who can kill
the soul that’s God and so this his
understanding of the world that we live
in a present age and that age is going
to come to an end
and Jesus is going to come and judge the
world in righteousness and this coming
judgement is what the whole book of
Romans pivots on you see the whole book
is about the just justification or self
justification the contrast between the
two that the question for Paul is is at
the end of the age are you going to
justify yourself or are you going to
fear the Lord and look to him in faith
for him to justify you to justify you
from your sin and look what he says in
Romans three four he says that you might
be justified in your words and prevail
when you are judged but you might be
justified in your words your words would
be righteous and that you would prevail
now this is very important here that you
would prevail when you’re judged he sees
that judgment coming and he’s asking
he’s assuming that what you want to do
is that when each of us are judged we
want to prevail in other words we want
to be justified we want God to look and
say you are a just and righteous person
enter into the joy of the Lord
it’s a minute most of you probably know
Psalm one and he he says this the
psalmist says this therefore the not
stand in the judgment nor sinners in the
congregation of the righteous to stand
in the judgment means to prevail to
endure to pass through the fire of God’s
judgment to pass through it because the
whole sub-theme of the book of Romans
you know you have this understanding of
the world that God is going to come
judge the world in righteousness and
Paul is pleading with people like us to
say repent and believe of God in His
mercy repent and believe he he said he
what he says is that God is
long-suffering not willing that any
should perish that all
should come to repentance that that’s
what that’s the heart of God
he has a long-suffering heart who wants
to welcome us into his presence what he
wants is for sinners to prevail and he
wants us to prevail because of Jesus
Christ you see Paul sees a world that is
speeding rushing toward its conclusion
with breakneck speed where every man and
every woman in every idle word will be
answered for not one not one card not
one chip left on the table for Paul only
those standing securely in the
justification granted by God through
faith will be able to stand in the
judgment and prevail when they are
judged so I want to return to the
question what is the fear of God well if
the fear God is a healthy knowledge of
God’s justice and his coming judgment a
writer of Hebrews says he must believe
that God is and that he rewards those
who diligently seek Him that’s the
opposite side of it he doesn’t we don’t
just believe that God will judge the
world we believe that if we trust in God
he will reward us when we remember back
in in in chapter 2 he talks of those who
who seek for glory and honor and
immortality that’s why we’re here that’s
what you’re here for we’re here to be
reminded that’s why we come together for
word and sacrament to hear the truth and
be reminded God’s love and to say in our
heart each Sunday yes this is what God
has called me to god is great God is
good let us thank him
and so the fear of God is to believe
that he is and that he’ll judge the
world and that I’m responsible to live
as he wishes in the world and he will
reward us who seek Him and that that
little phrase there I put in there is
extremely important that I am
responsible to live as he wishes in the
world that through fear of the Lord
probably is best expressed when we
realized that we are not independent
autonomous beings that we are here by
God and for God that’s what we’re here
God did not put us here for ourselves he
put us here for himself and that’s
what’s so important when we look back at
Romans 1:28 that we you know if we
talked about a few weeks ago he says of
those who do not know God he says since
they did not see fit to acknowledge God
or to retain God in their knowledge
what’s the greatest sin of all it it’s
to act as if I don’t Oh Oh God anything
it’s to live as if God doesn’t exist it
doesn’t matter if I said oh yeah I
believe in God I believe in God God yeah
I believe God hopefully he’ll just you
know I try to be a good person I hope
he’ll be okay with that if he’s not okay
with that
then you know then he’s just you know
then you know he’s not worth my time
anyways you ever heard people talk like
that I have yeah
what God wants is absolute devotion
that’s what he’s talking about here in
Romans 1:28 he’s talking he’s not
talking about Eva person who’s a
professor atheist an anomaly I mean
that’s something almost no age has seen
except our own but it’s really the
person who lives as if God doesn’t exist
as if we don’t Oh God
everything in our being and our
so where does this knowledge of God this
knowledge and fear come from it comes
from the Word of God that’s what he says
here in verse 1 of chapter 3 this’ then
what advantage has the Jew what its
value of circumcision and he says much
every way to begin with the Jews were
entrusted with the Oracles of God what
it literally says is with the Word of
God that’s the Bible and so there’s our
first major point is that the fear of
God and His justice is the path of
salvation now we find that in the Word
of God the Word of God Paul talked about
later in Romans 15 eases that through
patience or endurance and the comfort of
the Scriptures we might hope that’s what
we want right hope so yeah question in
verse three what if some were unfaithful
does their faithlessness nullify the
faithfulness of God by no means let God
be true though everyone were a liar as
it is written that you may be justified
in your words and prevail when you’re
judged what is Paul saying here let deep
at the core of our being every last one
of us is a liar and then untruthful
person that’s what he says what he says
let God be true and every man alive what
he says is that the core of our being we
are of an untruthful person everyone how
can you say that because sin is
untruthful by its very being
now some are much more honest in their
relationships than others but the
ability of the human heart to lie to
itself even if you could live your whole
life with ever without ever lying to
anyone else we like ourselves constantly
right and and more than half the time
that were lying to ourselves it’s
self-justification telling ourselves you
know what she was really wrong I don’t
owe her that time or he was he was all
messed up I’m not gonna bother with him
I’m just gonna wash my hands of that
you see it’s a very hard thing but it’s
the foundation of all gospel preaching
that God is true and every one of us is
a liar we may not we may try not to be
we make grow and improve but it’s
something we’re still it’s a power in us
that’s in nature that Paul talks about
here to sin is to be unfaithful and
therefore to be untruthful sin is
dishonest by its very definition and we
can remember the story of Adam in the
garden as soon as he has sinned what
does he do he hides he hides right and
hiding is a form of lying right and then
as soon as he’s called into account for
what does he do he blames someone else
oh it’s a woman’s fault sure all you
married women have heard that before
and so Paul strikes an arrow deep into
the heart of what I will call a disease
that we have in culture today what I
call good person syndrome the good
person syndrome I’m often asked do good
people go to heaven I asked a question
on Facebook once about what are their
thoughts big questions about faith and
religion and someone said if I live a
morally good life and do the best I can
will I go to heaven what’s the wrong way
to ask the question but I knew what and
I didn’t scold the person I shared my
thoughts on it in a gentle and way but
the question itself loses with the self
confidence in our own self justification
but Paul cries Wow there’s what he’s
saying to us here in Romans is there’s
no such thing as a good person it’s not
that we’re not created good by nature
right we’re good we’re valuable you can
put no
value you can put no price tag on any
humans life nobody can put a price tag
on your life you are of infinite value
to God and the Father and that’s what
put Jesus on the cross and yet there’s
no morally good person that’s what he’s
all people are valuable all lives matter
whatever color they are whatever
economic status they are they all matter
to God and the proof of that is Jesus
hanging on a tree Jesus died for every
one of them all lives matter
and so Paul replies what then are the
Jews any better off not at all for we
have charged already charged that both
Jews and Greeks are under sin as it is
written none is righteous no not one no
one understands no one seeks for God all
have turned aside together they have
become worthless
no one does good not even one I won’t
read it all there but we go back to
Romans 1:28 since they did not see fit
to acknowledge and God and that’s the
key point for Paul anything to which God
Himself is second is an idol anything in
our lives to which God takes second
fiddle is an idol and a path to death
and what he’s calling us to is that deep
intimacy that God wants with all of us
you see Christians are forgiven sinners
we’re still sinners righteous were made
righteous we receive this imputed
righteousness that we talked about last
week and we’ll talk about more in Romans
but we’re still sinners we’re recover
and sinners
that’s what we’re doing we don’t profess
perfection we’re far from it
perfection comes in the kingdom what
should be the mark of Christian today is
not moral perfection but the humility to
say woe is me a sinner
woe is me as I’m undone the humility to
be a person who doesn’t pass judgment
but has a compassionate heart toward
both the Christian and the non-christian
and so that’s our second and last point
that there’s no such thing as a good
person and that’s because he says in
Romans 14:23 whatever does not proceed
from faith is sin that’s the radical
truth of the gospel whatever does not
have God at its center is sin and so
there’s no such thing that’s our second
point there’s no such thing as a good
person and that’s why I said to us in
the last couple weeks start in your
relationship start in conflict with hey
wait I may be wrong you keep telling the
truth here if he’s saying let God be
true and every man a liar then our
default posture should be when I enter
into conflict with a neighbor I should
go hey wait God is true and I might not
be being honest with myself right now
let me pause on it just the humility to
pause and go alright you’re saying this
to me let me think about that just the
fact that you immediately pause and
listen rather than self justify people
will love that they’ll love that
people love that we love humility think
of when somebody actually humbles
themselves and apologizes to you do you
think less of them know you’re stocking
them just went up your stock just goes
some reason were so afraid to admit
we’re wrong and yet when we admit were
wrong everyone’s like that person is
awesome that was so cool and God is
offering us freedom with him to ask
forgiveness and offering us freedom in
our relationships to say hey you know
what I think I was wrong about that I
treated you unfairly my perspective was
wrong would you forgive me please what
do you get how that you get
reconciliation you get peace that’s what
we’re called to be in the world
peacemakers peace makers in the world
and that’s what God is calling us to be
a humble people so Paul comes
full-circle he begins here saying what
advantages that has the Jew much does
they have the Word of God but once they
have the Word of God once somebody has
the now what advantage has to do he’s
like nothing they don’t have the moral
high ground nobody has the moral high
ground one per history of man the moral
high ground
who is that Jesus that’s right and
that’s why we have hope that’s why we
have confidence because our eternal
destiny it’s not based on my moral
strength or ability it’s not our moral
strength our ability it is based solely
in Jesus’s moral strength and that is an
encouraging thought amen

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