Sermon for October 3, 2021

Is the FAITH you claim justified?

Romans 5:1-5

Romans 5:1–5 (NKJV): 5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Justification is an interesting word that used to be quite known in Christian thinking since the time of the European Enlightenment Period.  From 1715 to 1789, the Age of Reason rediscovered the ancient philosophers of Philo, Plato, and Socrates and gave birth to philosophers like Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant.  It led men like Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau broke down that Catholic Doctrine was to be the rule of thumb for government.   This led to the return of governing the way of ancient Greece.

A philosopher by the name of Montesquieu introduces the ideas of the separation between church and state and the separation of powers within a government.  It was this idea that led Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to the American Revolution and later, the French Revolution.  The philosophers of that time influenced almost every part of the world due to the then world power Great Britain who had sailed the world.  France and Spain had done the same in competition, conquering foreign lands and taking enlightenment reason with them.  Ideas of Capitalism, Liberalism, and Feminism.

You have read of these things in history books.  Enlightened men and women gave way through their ideas to the country you and I reside in, using principles that were 2,100 years old.  I guess Ecclesiastes is right, there really isn’t anything new under the sun.  If it was done before, it will be done again. 

The great philosophers that guided Alexander the Great and the Greek Empire were once again celebrated, the first time since the Roman Empire closed that door in 146 BCE.  Their time of power was impressive as the Greek Empire began in the 8th century BCE, the period where there is the most conflict in the land of Israel.  In between Greece and Israel are the Assyrians who eventually overtook the northern kingdom of Israel and made it to the gates of the Temple in Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah but was never able to get within the walls.  Just east of Assyria are the Babylonians, who are also growing in power.  Just further north-east are the Medes and the Persians, who are growing is power.  And then south of Israel is their frenemy, Egypt, the longest running superpower in history that ran from 3150 BCE to 30 BCE, the last Egyptian Pharaoh being none other than the infamous Cleopatra.  From the 8th century until we open our New Testament, Israel and Judah were in a difficult place as a people.

Why does any of that stuff need to be known for us today.  Well, Paul is writing this letter to Christians, no matter their background.  The key to this passage is that Paul is telling the churches in Rome on how to achieve biblical unity.  Paul places the first idea on finding out what we all have in common, whether they were a Jew, a Gentile, or a Pagan who now follows Christ.

What we find in common in this world:

1. Tribulation or better understood as suffering

2. Perseverance or better understood as endurance

3. Character or the practice of unity

When Paul writes this letter, Rome is a melting pot of nationalities and religious practices.  Paul says they are lacking proper unity, unity that comes along with the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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