Sunday, February 17, 2019

Series Title: Romans: Good News for You 

Kevin Berry | February 17, 2019  

Good News: Everybody could use some. How about you?  

In the headlines: “’One of my worst fears,’ says man who choked mountain lion.”  

On February 4, 2019, Travis Kauffman was running in the mountains of Colorado when a mountain lion lunged at him, latching onto his wrist and clawing his face and legs. As Travis tumbled to the ground, he grabbed sticks, rocks, anything to defend himself with, but nothing worked. 

At that moment, he said his fear response turned into a fight. Some things are worth fighting for! He fought for his life, his future, his family. Though the lion refused to let him go, he was able to get his foot on the lion’s neck and choke it to death. Twenty-eight stitches later and grateful to be alive, he said, “The story is bigger than my puny form. 

Some of you have been in a fight. I see it in some of your eyes… you’re tired of the fight. The bad news has been so fatiguing, and you could use some good news.

Peace be to you!

Good news: The story is bigger than you.  The story of God’s grace—the good news of God’s grace applied to your story—is bigger than anything you could pull off.

The Romans needed some good news, so the Apostle Paul wrote the letter we know as Romans. The book of Romans is known for bringing about transformation. This message of grace through Jesus is transformational for you. Martin Luther called Romans, “The chief book of the New Testament.”  As we go through Romans together, let’s ask God to transform us! 

The goal of God’s Word is not to inform you, but to transform you. 

What is the gospel? What do we know about the gospel?   

Gospel means “good news.” The book of Romans unpacks the gospel, this good news about Jesus! 

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, (Romans 1:1-6) 

Paul described himself as a servant – one who served his master to the disregard of his own interests, one whose will was swallowed up in the will of his master. Furthermore, Paul was called to be an apostle, something entirely different than what he was. He was a terrorist… but called to be an apostle. 

Paul relates to real people; he knew what he was, and where he had come from. Maybe that is why he could say with such confidence those words, “Such WERE some of you!” He knew what he was once like.

Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11)

Read that again. Some of you were like that, but you were cleansed, made holy, right with God. He can make you what you could never be on your own. Truth be told, this is what the church is made of – people that used to be one thing that are now something else. Everybody has a story; what’s yours?

Lastly, Paul was set apart for THE GOSPEL OF GOD – the good news.

What makes the gospel good news for you?

#1 The gospel has always been God’s plan to adopt you.

“…set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through the prophets…” (Rom. 1:1)

The gospel was not an afterthought; it was His plan before the creation of the world. You may wonder if God even knows you are around, if He cares. YES! He is the God who sees! In Gen. 16:13, Hagar said, “You are the Lord who sees me and cares for me.” 

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Eph. 1:4-5 NLT)

The gospel is the good news of God’s plan to adopt you into His family.

# 2 The gospel is about Jesus and what He did for you.

“…concerning His Son… Jesus…” (Rom. 1:3-5)

If we don’t remind ourselves the good news of what Jesus did for us, we beat ourselves up and fight a battle against sin that we could never win. Some live their entire lives feeling defeated, like they are not enough and don’t measure up. If that’s you – STOP and listen to the gospel. Remind yourself what Jesus did for you! He stepped out of Heaven, took on human skin, lived a sinless life, and willingly allowed Himself to be crucified. All of your sins were nailed to that cross so that you could be free from the penalty of sin. Jesus died so you could really live! When Jesus rose from the dead, He proved He really was the Son of God. Oh, what a joy to know that in Christ your sins are forgiven! 

What does the resurrection mean? What has been purchased?

I keep a simple reminder in my office – a fishing lure. Out of the six hooks it had, five remain. The sixth hook was stuck in my hand, a hook that I could not get out by myself. That situation reminds me of when I was stuck in sin, and I could not get myself out until Jesus came and did for me what I could never do on my own. He gave His life for me and now the rest of my life is all His. Oh,  how we need to be reminded of the gospel today!

#3 The gospel transforms you.

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 1:7)

In Rome, where the Christians were thought to be substandard, where they were treated more like animals than humans, Paul called them ‘loved by God, saints, children of the Lord.’  This is who you are! 

We see Paul’s transformation moment in Acts 9 – he went from terrorist to apostleship. See how Paul spoke to the Roman church that he had never visited before; hear his heart and see the transformation that took place!

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (Rom. 1:8-12)

The transformed Paul was thanking instead of killing; praying non-stop instead of hunting them down non-stop. He longed to see them as a father sees his kids—with a desire to impart, encourage, strengthen—not destroy them as he did before.

Paul was changed by God’s grace, radically transformed. How about you? Have you been changed by God’s grace?

#4 The gospel is for everyone.

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (Rom. 1: 13-15)

The gospel breaks all barriers; there is no “us” and “them.” Why do you think that there is this “us and them” attitude in our society? What keeps that from creeping into our lives?

The gospel obligates you to think of everyone – from the person across the street to the one across the sea. The gospel obligates us to go global. This otherworldly love compels us to include everyone.

#5 The gospel gives you the only way to be right with God, by faith ALONE.

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes – the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Rom. 1:16-17 NLT)

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18)

The gospel affects everyone. It is our response to the gospel that puts us on a path that is either “headed for destruction” or “being saved.” The problem today is that people are caught by a roaring lion, and many struggle their whole lives to accomplish what they never could on their own – freedom! 

Your story is bigger than your ability. 

It is bigger than what you can make happen. Your future is bigger than your past.

The gospel: God took our sin, put it on Jesus and treated Him as our sins deserves. So now through faith in Jesus, God treats you like Jesus deserves to be treated. That is why the gospel is such good news for you!

Song: “So Will I” by Hillsong United spotify:track4sB4BfFmlQeG7tM6GLvN5j

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