While We Were Sinners, Christ Died for Us
Pastor KC Liu / Romans 5:6-11 / March 27, 2016
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Good morning! What a glorious day! Today is Easter Sunday, the most glorious holiday that Christians celebrate. Would you take a moment to wish Happy Easter to your neighbors? Again, if you are a visitor with us today, we welcome you and hope you will come back to worship with us!
Today, we will be continuing our study of the Book of Romans, in the context of the Easter Story. If you have your Bibles, you can take them out and turn to Romans Chapter 5. But before I get into the scripture, I have to paint a picture for you to set up the context. And I am going all the way back to the time of Creation.
One of the most asked questions of mankind is the question of existence: “Where did we come from?” There are many theories out there, speculating where humans came from: some religious theories, some mythical stories, and some scientific theories. I won’t go into all the theories, but if we look into the Bible, the most authoritative book on Earth for which over 2 billion people is the Word of God, we will find the answer: “Where did we come from”.
In Genesis 1:1 it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, and also “God created man in his own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them..” The amazing truth is, God is our Creator, our maker, our father in Heaven, and all things were made by Him through intelligent design. Nothing was random. Nothing was a cosmic accident. Everything was in God’s great plan for humanity.
Everything was going well with Adam and Eve; they were enjoying God’s creation tremendously! They ate the best of all natural organic food, they played with all the animals and named them one by one, they worked the green fields, they rested and slept until they feel like waking up, no alarm clock to bother them. Life was perfect, as it was meant to be. God provided them with everything they needed, and had only one command, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
During that time, a fallen angel named Satan came to them in the form of a serpent and convinced them they wouldn’t die. The devil influenced them to doubt God’s words. So Adam and Eve decided to disobey God, gave in to temptation, and did the very thing that God told them not to do. In that one moment, something catastrophic happened, sin came into the world. Evil entered into the world. Death entered into the world.
Ever since then, things went from bad to worse. Mankind continued to disobey God, and did horrendous, violent things. Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on Earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time…” So God sent a great flood that wiped away everyone on earth. Well, everyone except Noah’s family, because God found Noah righteous and blameless, and God started all over with Noah’s family.
Years later, God raised up a man named Abraham who was nicknamed, “The Father of Faith”. He had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob was important because he was later renamed “Israel”, and became the founding father of the Israelites. And remember a couple of weeks ago, we went through the story of Joseph and his wicked brothers who sold him into slavery. These 12 brothers, though undeserving, became the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Around 1450BC, the Israelites became slaves in Egypt. Even during that time, humans were wicked with lust for power and gold, and that’s why human slavery was so common. In the midst of this chaos, God raises up a prophet named Moses to deliver his people out of slavery. God performs Great and mighty miracles through Moses. God sent the 10 plagues. God split open the Red Sea, and drowned the entire Egyptian Army. God gave them supernatural street lights, with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night to lead them.
God gave them the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai in a dramatic fashion. The mountain top was “covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.” (Ex 19:18) I mean, these were earth-shaking miracles that they could see with their naked eyes! The first commandment was “You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me”. And yet, ironically, that was the first law they broke while Moses was still on the mountain top! The Israelites dishonored God by building a golden calf to worship. It was unbelievable! God was furious over their blatant sin.
Around 1000BC, the Israelites complained to the prophet Samuel, “Other nations have kings, why don’t we have kings? Give us Kings so that they can fight for us!” Essentially, they were saying, “we don’t want an invisible God to rule over us through prophets and judges. We want someone we can see, a powerful king, to rule us and fight our enemies!” So God gave them their first king, King Saul, then King David, then King Solomon. This period of time was called the United Monarchy. Later on, various kings lusted for power, killed each other, and did not listen to God. The nation had a nasty civil war around 931BC, and it split in half.
Horrible things went down during those years, and God sent many prophets to warn the Israelites of their disobedience and rebellion. Prophets like Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah, told them to repent of their sins and turn back to God. But did they? No! They ignored the warnings from God’s prophets. So God punished the Israelites by allowing them to be exiled to Babylon in 597BC, and they were held there for 70 years. Later on, the Israelites returned to Israel with the help of King Cyrus. Then for 400 years, God was silent. No one heard God speak anymore.
In 63 BC, the mighty Roman Empire rose to power and conquered Israel. The Romans ruled over them with brutality and force. The Jews had to pay heavy taxes to the Emperor, upwards of 50% of their income and harvest. By now, the Jews were crying out to God to save them. They cried out to God to send the Messiah to rescue them from their oppressors. They wanted God to send a savior with great military power that can defeat the Roman Empire.
But God, in his infinite wisdom, sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to come and save them. But this Messiah did not come with great military power, even though he could command millions of angels at will. This Messiah was born in a dirty manger, and grew up as an ordinary carpenter. Jesus came into this Earth with humility and love for mankind. He cared for the marginalized people, he befriended the sinners, he healed the sick, and his followers were uneducated fishermen and unpopular tax collectors.
Everyone Jesus did was extraordinary. Most common people loved him and followed him in large crowds. But the Jewish leaders despised him because his teachings were offensive to them. It’s interesting that out of all the people in the Gospels, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders the most.
So it was obvious that the Jewish leaders did not accept Jesus as their Savior. They couldn’t accept the fact that Jesus came in such humble circumstances, and without military power. The Jewish leaders rejected the very person that came to save them. So they handed Jesus’ over to Pontius Pilate to have him crucified on the cross. This was what happened on Good Friday. We remember what Christ did for us on the cross. He sacrificed himself on our behalf.
And through this, Isaiah’s prophecy came to pass, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain, and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Is 53:4-5)
You may be wondering, “why did KC take the time to go through all that history lesson?” The reason is that I wanted to paint a picture of how human beings have always resisted God throughout history, ever since the beginning. Even though we know God, have seen his mighty miracles, and hear his word, we have resisted God. Because of our own pride and our sinful desires for power, money, and fame, we have consistently turned our backs on God.
Of course, there are exceptions, but the majority of people throughout history have turned their backs on God. In other words, we were enemies of God. How so? We put Jesus on the cross! This is really bad news! Whether we know it or not, whether we are intentional about it or not, by rejecting God, we have become his enemy. Jesus himself said, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” (Matthew 12:30)
This is bad news for us. However, I have not come to preach bad news! I have come to preach good news!! And the good news is this:
"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."
Let me ask you something: would you ever die for anyone? Who would you die for? Most likely, it would be one that you love, a family member perhaps. The chances are, parents are willing to die for their children. But would you ever die for a stranger? You might donate blood to a stranger, or donate a lock of hair to a cancer patient. But would you die for a stranger? I don’t think so. How about this, would you ever die for your enemy? Think of someone right now that you dislike, one that you wouldn’t even sit down to have coffee with. Would you ever die for that person? Never in a million years.
But you see now, that’s exactly what Christ did for us. We were his enemies, yet, he died for us. That kind of love is unfathomable to us.
We cannot comprehend it. We cannot understand it. So God had to do a demonstration so people can see it with their own eyes. As the people watch Jesus die, they heard him say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We can only ponder, what kind of love is it? I’ve never seen it before.
I love how the Message Bible translates this paragraph! Even at our worst, God met us where we were at. Now that we are at our best, thanks to Jesus, we can expect our lives to be so amazing! The power of the resurrected life is now available to us! We are empowered by God to do great things for him! Paul tells us, don’t just let this be head knowledge for you. Don’t let it just be a doctrine in your head. Far beyond that! Because of what Christ did, we can sing and shout Hallelujah! We can sing and dance!
I want to tell you, it doesn’t matter what bad things you have done before. It doesn’t matter what kind of dysfunctional family you grew up in. It doesn’t matter how you have rejected God in the past. It doesn’t matter how rebellious you are now towards God. God knew that from the beginning of Creation. God has been compassionate and patient for thousands of years towards His rebellious children. There’s nothing you have done that God hasn't seen or forgiven a million times already. The Bible says, “It is the kindness of God that brings us to repentance.” While you were weak, while you were living like there is no God, while you were even an enemy to God, Christ came and demonstrated His unconditional love towards you, and gave up his life for you. The Apostle Paul knew best - he was a very bad man, he was an enemy of Christ, but he could not help but proclaim, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” That’s good news! That’s really good news!
And there is even more Good News! He died, but he didn’t stay in the grave! By the power of the Almighty God, Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day! Jesus is not dead; Jesus is alive! He defeated sin and death, and He can defeat the problems in your life as well! Whatever difficulties you have in life, whatever battles you are fighting, whatever sins you are in bondage to, there is hope for you! Jesus is the answer to your troubles. Jesus can bring the peace and joy that you desperately need. Just call on the name of Jesus, and He will come and rescue you out of your pits. And most importantly, call on the name of Jesus, and you shall be saved. Call on the name of Jesus, and you shall be made right with God and have the Holy Spirit come to live within you, so he can teach you, guide you, empower you.
And just like the old hymn goes, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow! Because he lives, All fear is gone! Because I know he holds the future. And life is worth the living, Just because he lives.”
Let us bow our heads in prayer. And I want to invite the worship team up. I want to give two invitations here this morning.
First, is there anyone here this morning that needs to say to God, “I am sorry I resisted you. I need you in my life. I have lived as if you didn’t exist. I am sorry. I need you.” Is there someone like this right now? Please raise your hand quickly, I want to pray for you.
Second, is there anyone here today that needs hope in a specific area in their life? Perhaps it is to reconcile broken relationships within your family, with your Spouse, with your children? Or perhaps you need hope in your finances. You have so much burden and pressure on you, and you need hope, that somehow God will bring you out of this mess. If you need HOPE for whatever reason, please raise your hand. I would like to pray for you.