Starting a new Sunday morning series February 7th, 2010 entitled Practical Christianity. This will be a verse by verse series of Romans 12:1-15:13. This first sermon will be probably the most difficult one that I will have ever preached. In order to do the main text of the series justice, I’ve got to try and unpack the first eleven chapters of Romans in one sermon! I hope I was able to do God’s Word justice in this sermon. Here it is.
Practical Christianity part 1
Moved by Mercy
Romans 12:1a ESV – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God…
We are beginning a new verse by verse study from Romans 12:1-15:13 entitled, “Practical Christianity.”
Many people really value the book of Romans – myself included. I feel it is the apex of all Christian theology. I personally try to read through the book of Romans a few times a year, over and above my regular devotional study into God’s Word.
In the passage of 12:1-15:13 Paul says many practical things. We are going to look at these things on Sunday mornings for a while. Let’s begin this morning.
What do I mean by “practical Christianity?”
Dictionary definition of “practical”:
- Pertaining too, or concerned with ordinary activities.
- So practical Christianity should be the ordinary activities of a Christian.
The problem is we don’t know anymore what the ordinary activities of a Christian are.
Some things people think are ordinary activities:
- Bible Study.
- Church attendance.
- Conservative causes.
Now while there is nothing really wrong with all these ideas, they are not necessarily what practical Christianity is.
Let’s first look at where it begins.
Practical Christianity begins with God.
Notice the phrase, “by the mercies of God.”
It doesn’t begin with our determination or plans of action – but it is God’s ordained plan for us to become practical believers. If we can’t take our beliefs and apply them to our everyday living, something is wrong with our belief. We’ve got to move our beliefs beyond just thinking, confessing, and discussing; and put feet to them.
That is what Paul is so good at doing. He spends the first 11 chapters dealing with the theological truths of sin, salvation, justification, and sanctification; then he puts flesh and bones on them and shows us what it looks like in 12:1-15:13.
Let’s look at the main point of this sermon this morning.
We are practical Christians because God is merciful.
Romans 12:1a ESV – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God…
Looking at this passage:
- Paul makes an appeal. Other translations say, “I urge you (NASB); I beseech you (NKJV); I beg you (JB).” The Greek word is parakaleo (par-ak-al-eh`-oh). It means, “to call near, to invite, to invoke, to implore, to comfort, to desire.” It is both a tender and yet strong word. Paul is not appealing on the basis of his apostleship or anything else.
- The basis for Paul’s appeal is God’s mercy. The dictionary definition for mercy is: “the disposition to be compassionate and forebearing; the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment.” That is what God has done for us.
Let’s now look at the theological premise leading up to Romans 12:
- The gospel is the power of God to save sinners, and righteousness live by faith.
Romans 1:16-17 ESV – 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
- We have no excuse to set in judgment over others.
Romans 2:1-3 ESV – 1Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
- The reason – all of us have sinned.
Romans 3:23 ESV – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
- Justification is not by the Law, but through the propitiation of the shed blood of Christ.
Romans 3:20 ESV – For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:24-26 ESV – 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
- Abraham was a living example of this truth.
Romans 4:1-3 ESV – 1What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
- Because we are justified by faith – we have peace with God.
Romans 5:1 ESV – Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Justification by faith is not a license to continue to live and be governed by sin.
Romans 6:1-2 ESV – 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
- In Romans 7, Paul uses himself as an example of the Law not justifying and delivering from sin.
Romans 7:5 ESV – For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
Romans 7:9-11 ESV – 9I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
Romans 7:15-24 ESV – 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
- Christ delivers not only from sin and death, but from the commandment that condemns us.
Romans 8:1-4 ESV – 1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
- True Israel is not of natural birth, but they are those that are predestined to salvation.
Romans 9:6-18 ESV – 6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
- Salvation is also available to the Jews as well.
Romans 10:11-13 ESV – 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- The calling of the Jew and Gentile to faith in Christ God does not take back.
Romans 11:29 ESV – For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
As we conclude, I wanted to just run through Romans quickly to show us the amazing theological treatese by the Apostle Paul. He will now begin to show us what all this stuff he has focused on for eleven chapters looks like practically.
We are called to practical Christianity, not because of who we are, but because of our merciful God. We should be humbled and amazed because of His great love toward us.