Visions of Peace IV: An Advent Sermon based on Romas 1:1-7
† In Jesus Name †
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,Christ, give you grace and peace!
I could leave the sermon with just the blessing, a simple blessing that plus or minus a word, begins every letter Paul writes to the churches.
If you all believed this promise, if you all knew that God gives you grace and peace, and you shared that with all your relatives, friends, neighbors and enemies, and lived life counting on it… well – sermon is done… let’s get to communion!
The problem is that little three letter word “may” in the translation. It doesn’t sound… solid enough.
Is it going to happen? Is it just Paul’s dream for the church in Rome? In my case, if someone says something good “may” happen, my instinct is, “what will I do that will mess this up”
That’s why we have to take a step back – and to understand that this “may” is not dependent on us, but on the who Jesus came to be, and the promise of God that is ours, because of Jesus.
In this case, “may” means, “this will definitely happen…”
- The evidence
So what gives Paul so much confidence in blessing people like this?
The short answer is the gospel—the good news.
1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. 2 God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. Romans 1:1-2 (NLT2)
Paul tells us he was called by God to speak.
Not only him but God promised this through the Old Testament prophets over and over throughout scripture.
The reason we have confidence that we will have grace and peace because of Jesus has been communicated over and over, it was ingrained in the people of God, even if they didn’t understand it.
The promise was there, and Paul revealed it was there—now. As it is for us now…as we will see.
Paul will then say this,
The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Here is the summary: Jesus is who the prophets said he would be. He was the promised Messiah, the Savior who restore David’s kingdom, who would restore the people of God, whose arrival would result in an eternal, everlasting kingdom.
So he had that going for Him, fulfilling that part of the promise. But then, the mystery that was promised – but never seen before.
Jesus, the Son of God, the one who would lie in a feeding trough when born, would be raised from the dead.
We consider this often around here, not just at Easter
Alleluia! He is risen! (He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!)
And therefore, (We are Risen Indeed!)
And at every baptism, and every celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we realize that we’ve died with Him, so that we may… no we will live with Him.
“He is, He IS Christ our Lord”, Paul tells us.
And before we can come up with another excuse… he makes us understand we are the ones Christ died for, and rose for…
5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
6 And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.
You are included.
That’s my privilege. I don’t care what you’ve done in the past, or what you are presently struggling with guaranteed. God raised Christ from the dead—for you.
His Body was broken, His blood was shed—for you.
Look at the blessing
- Grace and peace!
Therefore, you know this blessing is more than a casual “may”, and a fond wish for a friend.
This is the blessing that has been planned for you since before the foundation of the world
Grace – the gift of salvation. And let me be absolutely clear—salvation is not having sins forgiven. That is what leads to salvation.
And let me be clear—salvation is not the forgiveness of sins. That is how we are saved. Salvation is the relationship that is guaranteed.
I was reminded of that in one of my devotional readings this week. Eugene Peterson wrote,
“The way a pastor uses the language is a critical element in the work. The Christian gospel is rooted in language: God spoke a creation into being; our Savior was the Word made flesh. The (pastor)/poet is the person who uses words not primarily to convey information but to make a relationship,”
My role, just like the apostle Paul’s is not to lecture you, not to teach you Greek or Hebrew, or make you feel guilty about your past. Some of that may happen along the way—but my one purpose, the way I am to use my words, is to make sure you know the grace of God–which is the relationship that Christ claimed for you. It is why you were redeemed.
It is what makes Christmas and Easter special, this incredible relationship we have with God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
Therefore, we are here…to know God’s grace…
And knowing that, we find ourselves at peace.
Knowing this love, knowing all the promises God has in store for us, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
This is what it is all about—this incredible relationship.
This is what makes the difference now, and for eternity.
Knowing He is here, knowing the grace that accomplishes this—may you realize this peace which is beyond understanding… as Jesus keeps you in this peace, your heart and mind secure in it.