1st Sunday in Lent
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, we bought my son Lucas a little lego plane for his birthday last year. Katie spent some time with him putting it together. He liked it, he played with it, but one day his little brother got a hold of it. All of a sudden Katie heard the toilet flushing several times. She went into the bathroom and there was David- and to this day we have absolutely no idea why- but he had broken the plane apart and flushed the pieces down the toilet. We were able to retrieve a few of them- but needless to say, the plane was destroyed and irreparable. Has that happened to you? Maybe something much more significant than a lego plane, perhaps a glass family heirloom that accidently gets knocked over and shatters- destroyed and irreparable. You can’t repair it, can’t salvage it, no matter what you do it won’t ever be the same.
Our world is in a constant state of trying to do salvage the unsalvageable, repair the irreparable, fix the unfixable. What is it that has been shattered and destroyed? Life. People are in a frustrated frenzy, a discontent desperation, a bothered busyness, a scared scramble to get it all in before the inevitable end, death. So what do we see? People have mid-life crises because they feel their life isn’t going in the right direction or they’re going to miss out on something before they die, people spend their whole life trying to get more and more stuff before they have to leave it all behind, knowing that death is their inevitable end causes people to self-medicate their frustration and anxiety with drugs or alcohol, with workaholism or busyness, with countless hours of entertainment, with sexual perversions, etc.
There is one great uninvited equalizer in life and it’s this: death. That’s why everyone is scrambling, everyone is desperate, everyone is discontent, everyone is looking for more out of this world: more money, more sex, more power, more honor, more prestige. Deep down everyone knows what waits for them: death. Some are more aware of it than others, but it’s there and it’s unavoidable. Everyone tries to get what he can while he can. One commentator stated, “The death of man as man’s doom means that man lives at a “dying rate” as he moves toward the time when death shuts up the story of his days.” (Franzmann) People are living at a “dying rate” trying to repair the irreparable.
So, we ask why? Why do people live at this “dying rate”? Here’s the answer, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” You see, it all started with the first Adam. When the first Adam disobeyed God and took that fruit off the tree, death came into the world. That’s what God had warned them: You must not eat fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden or you will die. When Adam, our first father, sinned, he died in three ways. There are 3 kinds of death. If life is the enjoyment of God’s blessings, death is the separation of God’s blessings. Physical life is the enjoyment of God’s physical blessings, spiritual life is the enjoyment of God’s spiritual blessings, eternal life is the enjoyment of God’s eternal blessings. But death is separation. Physical death is the separation of the physical blessings of God, spiritual death is the separation of the spiritual blessings of God, and eternal death is the separation of the eternal blessings of God. The first Adam experienced those three deaths: His body became subject to physical death, his soul died, and he faced eternal death.
And it wasn’t just Adam- it was all his descendants. Even though the people from the time of Adam to the time of Moses didn’t have commandments from God like the 10 commandments, so they didn’t have commands from God to break, they still experienced the consequence of sin: they died, which shows that they inherited sin and death from Adam, they were born into it. I have six children, none of them had a choice whether or not they would like to be born into my family, they just were. So it is with sin, every person born of a sinful father and a sinful mother is born in sin.
And that’s the problem. We inherit sin and we perpetuate sin with our thoughts, words, and actions. And so, as we’re told, “death reigned.” People live at a “dying rate” trying to repair the irreparable. And so, could it be, that all our frustrations, all our discontent, all our irritableness with circumstances or with people, all our anger and bitterness, all our frenzied busyness, all of that is from trying to repair the irreparable? We will never get out of our earthly life what it is incapable of offering. All the things of life will never give you hope, peace, satisfaction, security, joy, or eternity. If we look to our earthly life for those things we will live at a “dying rate.” It’s impossible for us to repair the irreparable.
But what did God do? So that we don’t miss the point we are told the same thing in five different ways in verses 15 through 19. He compares the first Adam (Adam) with the second Adam (Jesus). Look at what the first Adam did: “many died by the trespass of the one man,” “judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation,” “by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man,” “one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people,” “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners.”
Now look at what the second Adam, Jesus did: “How much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” “The gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.” “How much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ,” “So also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people,” “Through the obedience of the one man the many will be made [established] righteous.” Wow! You see, Jesus, the second Adam, came to not only undo everything that the first Adam did, but he came to give us even more than we lost through our first father Adam. God’s incredible undeserved grace didn’t just match the sin of Adam, it totally surpassed it.
Jesus is the one righteous act, the obedience of the one man, in every single way Jesus remained perfect, perfectly defeated Satan’s temptations and accusations, perfectly carried out every single detail of God’s holy will and command, perfectly suffered all of God’s wrath and punishment against sin, and Jesus rose from the dead victoriously. Through Jesus- his perfect life and innocent death – God has declared the entire world, every single person in the world who has ever lived and will ever live as justified, forgiven, acquitted in God’s courtroom, and declared innocent of all their sins.
In the first Adam the whole human race sinned; everyone was declared guilty because Adam did something wrong. But by God’s grace in Christ Jesus all people are declared not guilty because Jesus did what was right. The one sin of Adam brought God’s judgment and condemnation on him and every sinner, but the gift of God’s undeserved grace in Christ is a verdict of absolute acquittal to everyone. That means you can go up to anyone on earth and say, “Your sins are forgiven.” We don’t have to ask them, “Are you saved?” We tell them they are saved and we hope that they will believe it. The Holy Spirit works through that message to create faith. When we say that message a person only has 2 options: believe it or not believe it. If someone doesn’t believe that they are forgiven through Christ, they are dead spiritually, will die physically, and will die eternally missing out on all the spiritual and eternal blessings of God’s verdict of acquittal.
This is extremely comforting and I can’t express it enough. Three things. First there will be times when your heart will condemn you or Satan will say, “You’re a condemned sinner, you deserve to go to hell for what you’ve done.” You can respond, “But God says I’m forgiven.” God has forgiven the sins of all, that means my sins are forgiven.
Second, “how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” Notice that? That’s talking about believers. We were ruled by death, but now we will rule and reign eternally. Here I am frustrated, irritable, cranky, self-medicating discontent in this life, but God says we will rule with Him forever and ever and ever in heaven! Who cares what you have or don’t have! Who cares what you’re going to “miss out” on before you die! You will live and reign with Christ eternally- you can’t even begin to imagine how great that’s going to be!
Finally, if this is God’s verdict for all humanity and if God works faith to believe in order to enjoy the benefits of it through His Word, we can’t do anything but share it. Share the forgiveness that is yours by living as God’s child, not in sin, but according to His will. Share it by telling it to others- friends, relatives- this is an incredible, unconditional verdict from God! Share it by supporting this church and church body! First Adam brought sin and death, second Adam repaired the irreparable bringing forgiveness and life for you, live it, relish it, share it! Amen.