Every December, I am given a gift… and it’s probably not what you think.
It’s the Starbucks tumbler.
So, here’s the deal. If you purchase the tumbler for $40 (okay, take a moment and regather yourself), then all during the month of January you get “free” coffee in the tumbler. You see? Totally worth it.
This is the 3rd year that I’ve been blessed by my wife to get the tumbler… and let’s just say, I’ve learned some things along the way.
In year one, I saw the tumbler as my opportunity to stick it to the man. That’s right. Like a high school football player at a Chinese buffet, my job was to get my money’s worth (and then some). So, I was getting up to three giant tumblers of Starbucks dark roast a day… and it was glorious.
Or so I thought.
About a week in, I started having difficulty sleeping (hmmm, go figure). I started getting heart palpitations. I wonder why this is happening? I asked myself. And it was in that feeling of caffeine-induced sickness that I made an important discovery:
You can easily misuse a good thing. You can misuse it so much that it makes you sick.This is exactly how the Apostle Paul sees the Old Testament use of The Law.
Basically, God gave the Israelites The Law so that they wouldn’t die (that was nice). Let me explain:
#1 If a Holy God was going to live in the midst of the people, they had to be holy too. The Law was meant to show them what holiness for humans looks like.
#2 Then, knowing humans couldn’t do it perfectly because of sin, God gave them a sacrificial system. Since death is the penalty for sin, God made a way for animals to die on behalf of the people (and thus setting up how to understand what Christ would accomplish).
#3 Why did God do all of this? Because God wanted them to live. He wanted a relationship with them. The Law wasn’t an end in itself – the relationship was.
Paul believes that the big problem with the Jewish people is that they’ve been misusing a good thing. And it’s making them sick.
Romans 9:30-32: What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.
This might be a good time to ask a question: if it’s by faith that we are saved, how exactly do you put your faith in Jesus?
Romans 10:9: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Remember, God’s end game is relationship. In any relationship, you not only have to believe that you love someone, but you have to say it too. For example, I can believe that I love my kids… or my wife… but if I never say it, they may not know.
So, if you believe it and say it, you are saved by grace through faith.
This is meant to give us peace. I hear from people all the time (many of whom are long time Christians), who ask: How do I know that I’m saved? Well, this is how you know.
Salvation is a process. It’s a lifelong journey that leads to believing and declaring. But it’s also a moment. A moment where we say yes to Jesus with our own lips. In church today I think we often assume everyone’s had their moment. Have you?
Just in case, here’s a prayer that you can pray to make sure:
Jesus, I believe you died and rose again for my sin. I believe you are Lord of all. I put my faith, my trust, my hope, my whole life, in you. Amen.
Now that will give you heart palpitations… in a good way.
So, let’s add that marker to our journey on the road:
Marker #4: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Marker #3: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Marker #2: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Marker #1 on the Roman Road: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
What does this mean for your relationship with God this week?
Pray to God about your relationship. Are you living in the freedom of grace? What would your life look like if you believed, heart and soul, that Jesus loves you, has forgiven you, and wants you to truly live?
If you want to hear more on this, you can listen to Part 4 of the sermon series.