Benefits and the Bonus of Much More
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how MUCH MORE did Gods grace and the GIFT that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ overflow to the many. ( Romans 5 :15)
Christmas is a time of gift giving in memory of the greatest gift mankind ever received when God the Father gave us His Only Begotten Son, the Lord Jesus. So let us continue to unwrap the gift that keeps on giving and realize it is even much more than we expected.
As we continue to look at the benefits that come from salvation, we will also unwrap what Paul describes as the bonus of much more!
Lets pick up with the description of our benefits which David told us in Psalms 103 not to forget. Romans 5:3&4 describes the process of the character building program of Gods plan for us. This is another benefit of our salvation, although at times the program of character building does not seem like a benefit for it can be painful. Let us remember that our standing with God is perfect- but our state is progressive, an ongoing process of sanctification or maturing. In other words, our position in Christ is perfect, however our practice is imperfect. One of the signs of maturity is to display rejoicing in tribulations or suffering. Glory in tribulations is a sign of maturity that comes through experience. And as all of us who are believers know, this is not the natural response for our flesh detests tribulation and suffering. This is very much a refining process.
Let us follow the process as Paul lists it step by step: the tribulation, the trouble produces patience. Now James told us patience must finish its work that we might be mature and complete lacking nothing. This adversity in the life of a believers works to purify our faith, enlarge our faith and thus prove our faith. The KJV says these actions produce experience, the NIV interprets this as character. In other words this experience which is a refining process is what builds our character. And one of the byproducts of this character is hope that does not disappoint. This hope is what Abraham and Sarah had based on Gods promise- a hope that was a confident expectation, that He who had begun a good work would complete it. It was already done.
Our standing with God is perfect, immutable and guaranteed by the Word of God, the Work of Christ and the witness of the Spirit. Our state is imperfect, changeable and in large measure, dependent on us. We are a work in progress.
Now we have as another benefit- the love of God shed abroad into our hearts, states the KJV. I like the wording the NIV uses- poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. Gods love for us is not only unconditional, it immeasurable. In Psalms 103, where David reminds us not to forget His benefits- we read: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear Him. The more scientists discover about the universe, the more convinced they are it may very well be infinite, never ending. And surely His love is everlasting. But one only need look to the cross, and realize the depths of His love by the magnitude of His gift to us: For God so loved the world, He GAVE His Only Begotten Son That famous verse tells us the proof of Gods love is the sacrifice of His Son. Not only that- listen to what the Lord Jesus did: Christ loved the church and GAVE himself for it. ( Ephesians 5.25) He loved me and Gave Himself for me. ( Galatians 2:20) The proof of love is ever in its gift. The greatest proof of love a parent can give to child, a husband to his wife or wife to her husband is to give themselves, their time, their attention. When we look at our daytimers and our checkbook and they tell us much about ourselves, do they not? For where your treasure is there will your heart be also. It was this love of God for us that created the plan of salvation. And does it not make sense to you- if God did not spare His own Son, but GAVE Him up for us- how will He and also His Son not graciously give us all things? ( Romans 8) Do you see when it comes to love- the gift given is a proof of the love. He gave us His all can we not expect to give Him anything less?
We have the future benefit of being saved from His future wrath. I Thessalonians 1: 9-10 tells us: They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. That is clear, isnt it? We are delivered from the final judgment of God. By placing His Spirit in us we can be sure of this: Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. ( Phil. 1:6)
Paul once again reminds us the benefit of salvation which is reconciliation with God. And in doing so, Paul tells us how much more, having been reconciled we shall be saved through His life. Reconciliation opens the door to the life, Jesus spoke of when He said, I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly. ( John 10)
In the workplace, many employers have not only the salary and benefits, they also offer a bonus, where one can enjoy more, much more than the salary and benefits. So let us carefully look at this next section, as we learn about the much more provided for us.
The much more is a contrast and comparison between Adam and Christ and what each brought to us. Interesting, that in Romans 5:14 we are told Adam is a pattern of the Lord Jesus who was to come. This is a general truth that is the foundation for the verses that follow.
If you have ever thought that Gods condemning of the whole world through the sin of one man, Adam, was unfair, you are not alone. However, when we consider what God did in His wisdom by allowing this universal condemnation, we will come to understand that is was not only fair, but also the wisest and most gracious thing God could ever do.
First of all if God had tested each of us individually, the result would have been the same- disobedience. But God in His Infinite wisdom, knew that by condemning the human race through one man, Adam, God was able to save the human race through one man, Jesus Christ. In fact in I Corinthians 15:45, listen how Paul describes the Lord Jesus. So it is written, the first man Adam became a living spirit, the LAST ADAM a life-giving spirit. The spirit did not come first, but the natural, after that the spiritual. Did you get that- Paul called the Lord Jesus, the Son of God in flesh- the last Adam. God had in His wisdom planned a do-over for mankind. He knew before the foundation of the earth this would be necessary, that is why we read the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation. Do you understand this wisdom ? God in allowing sin and death to enter through one man, the first Adam, and reign in man, God could thereby allow the gift of righteousness to reign in the life of one man, the Last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. We were born the first time physically in the first Adam, we were born again, spiritually in the Last Adam. The natural always come first, the spiritual second.
Therefore , just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned- for before the law was given sin was in the world. ( Romans 5:12-13) Adam and Eve are not mythical figures, they are actual humans created by God and residing in the Garden of Eden. We are told we are in Adam. We are his physical descendants. We came from the loins of Adam. Just as you were in your great, great grandfather,- you were in Adam your great-great great great- every how many generations back that was. You know this is a biological fact, just as you were present in your fathers body. Theologians refers to mankind as being in Adam, federally and seminally. He is the father of the human race, our federal head who produced the human race, and we were in his loins, therefore his physical descendants. Notice when Adam was created by God , he was created in Gods image and in Gods likeness. Notice however after the fall, when Adam and Eve in their fallen nature conceived a child, the child born was described as a son born in his(Adams) own likeness and his own image. Genesis 5.
This means all who would come after Adam and Eve after the fall would inherit Adams image and likeness for God said each species would reproduce after their own kind.
God had told Adam beforehand, the penalty for disobedience- which is what all sin is. The penalty would be death. So by one man sin entered the world and death by sin. God told Adam he would surely die and the serpents blatant lie was you shall not surely die. Adam died spiritually the day he sinned, and died physically years later. Paul explains- in this way death came to all men, for all have sinned.
Here then is the problem of sin. Adam, by the fall, introduced to his race, as yet unborn, the deadly virus of sin. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. And because we sinned in Adam, death is imputed to us. Therefore we will all die, some younger, some older, but sooner or later we all die. We are born under the penalty of death because of the sin of Adam. That is why a baby will die- not because they have committed sins, but because they have the virus of sin, inherited from Adam.
What is Gods solution for this problem of sin? The answer is the second Man, the one Paul called the Last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the Last Adams obedience, he can restore all that which the first Adam threw away when he disobeyed God. Here lies the solution: But the gift ( made possible through the Last Adam) is not like the trespass ( of the first Adam.)
We often hear this description of Jesus as being fully God and fully man. Never less than God, never more than man. How can this be? Well first of all remember with God- nothing is impossible. Next if we believe the word of God is true, the Word of God tells us in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. God with us ( John 1). Colossians 2- tells us for in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Hebrews 1:3 tells us The Son is the radiance of Gods glory and the exact representation of His Being. So the Word of God tells us in clear statements- God became flesh in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Why did God do this?
God the Son became flesh, Jesus Christ, the Messiah for our salvation. This is the way God saves us. The only way Jesus could die for our sins, is if he was a human being. God showed His love for us by coming to us as a human being, to die for our sins in our place, that we might escape death and be given eternal life. This is the plan of salvation as stated by Jesus in John 3:16.
Okay- we get that- this is the gift of eternal life, the forgiveness of sin, the by grace through faith operation that is the gift of God, not of works. We are saved and going to heaven when we die. What about the here and now- what does it do for me now? How is it relevant to me while I am in a world of hurt?
Life is full of pain, isnt it? There are physical pains and emotional pains. Some pain is caused by accident, some on purpose by evil. Some pain we bring on ourselves, and some is inflicted on us by others. But the bottom line is life has pain and then we suffer and die physically some day. Trials, pain, sorrow and death are a part of this sin-stained, fallen world we live in. Christians are not given a get-out-of pain free card, we suffer also and Jesus told us we would. Do you realize Jesus suffered pain also? He knows what heartache is all about. He understands about betrayal, for he was betrayed. He understands hunger, fatigue, and intense physical pain. And here is where His dual nature is so important: because he was not merely just a human being but because He is also divine, He is now at the right hand of God to help us with our pain and sorrows. I would also remind you, He has promised to never put more on us than we can bear.
Listen to what the Bible tells us Jesus did and is doing: Phil. 2: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness . And being found in appearance as a man , he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross. For this very reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way in order that he might become the merciful and faithful high priest in service to God to make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2). Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ( Hebrews 4).
Now do you begin to fathom the depth of this love God has for us? The fact that Jesus was made human gives us confidence that He understands what we are faced with. We can be confident that He not only hears us, but understands what we are going through. And because He is also God, He is able to help us. He has the power to do so and the wisdom to do it the best possible way. This is really good news!!
You may have come here today and you are in a season in your life of suffering and you feel like Habakkuk. Listen to his prayer : How long, O Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen?
No one struggles to understand joy and good things when they occur, do they? But when pain and suffering take place, everyone wants to know why and make some sense out of this suffering. Just look at the tragic event in Newtown and the national debate taking place- why did this happen? I recall the day Carrie called us from the doctors office when she was pregnant the first time and told us- they could not find a heartbeat for the little boy in her womb. She miscarried. Our hearts were broken. Why did this happen? We wondered would Carrie ever have children. Should they adopt? We had so many questions and had prayed so hard-why was God not listening? Or was He listening and His message to us was the same as it was to Habakkuk?
We can certainly empathize with the prophet cant we? But you know how God answered him? God told Habakkuk : Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told, I am raising up the Babylonians that ruthless and impetuous people who sweep across the whole earth to seize the dwelling places not their own. God was at work and working things out, lets continue to read this account. The message is made clear in the 2nd chapter of Habakkuk where God says the revelation awaits an APPOINTED TIME; it speaks to the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See he( the enemy) is puffed up, his desires are not upright; but the righteous shall live by faith.
God says I am working and you are to wait patiently on me during this time and live by faith, trusting a Sovereign, All Wise, all Powerful God to be working all things together for good. For He always does what will accomplish the most good for the most people for the longest period of time by the best possible method.
Do you know what an all wise, all loving Heavenly Father did for us? He gave us two years later- two grandchildren, a boy and a girl! Oh praise the Father from whom all good gifts come- the giver of the MUCH MORE. He gave our daughter and son-in-law not one, but two children. Not just a little boy- but a little boy and a little girl. If you earthly fathers being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, HOW MUCH MORE will your Heavenly Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! ( Matthew 7- Jesus speaking.)
So look again under the Christmas Tree for there is much more to be opened to us. For just as through the disobedience of the one man( the first Adam), the many ( all men) were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man( the Last Adam, Jesus) the many will be made righteous.
Then Paul tells us when the law was added so that the trespass might increase. The law was not made to keep in order to earn righteousness, the law made us more conscious of sin. The result of the law was sin abounded, increased. But where sin abounded, grace abounded more. His Grace is always sufficient and always more than enough, for God gives liberally- just as His love is poured out which speaks of a gushing spring, which really is more like the Niagra Falls- it keeps on flowing, new and fresh every day for every occasion.
For if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how MUCH MORE WILL THOSE WHO RECEIVE GODS ABUNDANT PROVISION OF GRACE AND OF THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS REIGN IN LIFE THROUGH THE ONE MAN, JESUS CHRIST. (Romans 5:17) Verse 19 gives us the symmetry of this comparison and contrast: For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The disobedience of the first Adam ruined us, the obedience of the last Adam saves us.
How were the first Adam and the last Adam alike? Both the first Adam and the last Adam were tempted by the enemy. The first Adam sinned, the last Adam did not. Both the first Adam and the Last Adam had brides fashioned from their sides by God. The first Adam in the garden when God put him in a deep sleep, the last Adam at the cross where we are told blood and water gushed from his side when pierced with the soldiers sword.
My prayer for you this Christmas is you would begin to open this gift- that offers the abundant, much more that God has provided for us.