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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
Preached At:Lynwood United Reformed Church
 Lynwood, IL
Title:How Did We Get This Way?
Text:LD 3 (View)
Topic:Our Salvation

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

How Did We Get This Way?

Romans 5:12-21; Lord’s Day 3

Preached by Rev. Keith Davis at Lynwood URC on 7-1-12 (Songs: 204, 388, 270, 70, 428)


Beloved in Christ, just a few moments ago we witnessed the baptism of Everett Bultema.  And while this -- and every baptism -- is a beautiful and touching moment, while we see Christian parents faithfully bringing their covenant child to the Lord, to receive the sign and seal of God’s covenant promises, and while this is a wonderful occasion for which we give thanks, the fact is, baptism reminds us of a not so wonderful truth about the human condition.


It’s a truth that few people want to talk about anymore, not even people in the church.  It’s a “skeleton in the closet” so to speak.  The truth is: baptism reminds us that from the time of our conception and birth, we, with our children, are dead in our trespasses and sins.  


It reminds us that Everett Peter, as good of a baby as he may be, as cute and lovely as he is, as innocent, guiltless, and blameless as he -- and other infants appear to be – he stands condemned in Adam, and thus, he too, even at his tender age, is in need of Jesus Christ as His Savior.


True, not everyone agrees with that.  For thousands of years, people have embraced the teaching of a man named Pelagius who denied the doctrine of original sin; who taught that sin was a learned behavior, that man is born with a free will to choose to obey God’s commandments.     


And one of the far reaching (devastating) consequences of this false teaching is that people not only ignore their need for a Savior, but they also look to wrong solutions when addressing the problem of sin.  While everyone can clearly see that evil exists in the world, some say that all we have to do to overcome evil is improve society; improve man’s circumstances; just educate man, give him the opportunity & tools he needs to succeed, and the world will be a better place.  


Yet, God’s Word says something much different.  God’s Word reveals that man himself is sinful.  And as such, man’s condition requires something more drastic than social renewal and economic equality and educational incentives.  Sinful man needs regeneration.  Sinful man needs personal renewal.  Jesus said it best when He said: You must be born again (John 3: 7). 

And that is precisely what Lord’s Day 3 teaches us.  Here, We Believers Learn the Truth about our Sinful Condition.  We learn this truth in relation to  

1)      Our Perfect Creation

2)      Our Sinful Corruption

3)      Our Desperate Condition   


1) Our Perfect Creation 

Question 6 asks: Did God create man so wicked and perverse?  The question put before us is perfectly reasonable.  It not only rises out of a sense of natural curiosity, but it seeks to get at the very heart of the issue.  It follows the argument of the catechism thus far (Lord’s Day 2). 


If, as we heard last week Sunday morning, that man cannot obey the perfect law of God, if man is truly inclined to hate God and his neighbor, then how did man come to this point?  How did we get this bad?  Who’s to blame?  Well, when looking for someone to blame, it makes perfect sense for us to begin with God.  After all, He is the Divine Architect and Creator of the universe.


He is the Almighty God who created man by forming us from the dust of the ground, and by breathing into us His own life-giving Spirit, the very breath of life.  So, just as we might return a faulty piece of equipment to the manufacturer, or return rotten produce to the farm stand where we bought it, so too, the catechism is asking – is it God’s fault?  Is God to blame for man’s sin?


Perhaps there was a flaw in the way we were created?  Could that be the case, boys and girls?  Do you think God could have made a mistake when he made us, and that’s why we sin?  Some people think that way – even without intending to blame it on God, they do it anyway.  Adam did that when he was caught in sin – Lord it was the woman you gave me.  And we do the same thing to a certain degree.


Some people argue that a bad temper runs in the family (that’s just the way I am – that’s how I‘m wired).  Some blame their life of crime on their social circumstances – it’s our environment, or it’s our social structure.  I wasn’t born with a silver spoon on my mouth, I didn’t win the gene pool; or my parents weren’t Kennedy’s or Rockefeller’s, so I grew up on the streets and was forced to steal, and con, and hustle, and swindle my way through life (nature vs. nurture).

Then there are those who struggle with sexual sins who argue that they can’t help the way they are.  God made them this way.  And they even turn to scientific studies which suggest that there is a specific gene that is linked toward homosexual behavior.  And so in this way, and many others, we blame our sins on our Creator.  I can’t help it, this is who and what I am.  But is it so?  


The answer given is clear.  No.  God created man good and in His own image, that is in true righteousness and holiness, so that he might truly know God His Creator, love him with all his heart, and live with him in eternal happiness for his praise and glory.


This answer stands in agreement with the account of creation in Genesis 1.  For after every day of creation we read God saw that it was good.  And that especially applied to the sixth day of creation, the day God made man.  For after the sixth day, Genesis 1:31 says And God saw all that he had made (including man, God’s own image bearer) and behold, it was very good!


The Lord God created man to excel in every area and aspect of life and to enjoy perfect fellowship and communion with God and man.  Nothing was overlooked.  Nothing was neglected. No mistakes were made.  God created man in a state of perfection. 


In the beginning man possessed a true and perfect knowledge of God, which means that man’s mind--his thoughts, his ideas about who God is and who we are in relation to God was perfect and undefiled.  Even man’s imagination and dreams were pure and holy and entirely free from sin and selfish desires and motives.   


Likewise, man’s heart was holy and pure and righteous.  Man desired nothing more, nothing else than what God provided.  And man loved God wholeheartedly.  Man’s affections and his allegiances were not torn or divided as ours are.  Adam and Eve truly loved God with heart, soul, mind and strength – with that perfect love we talked about last week.  Besides Jesus, God’s own Son, they were two individuals on the face of this earth who could say that they loved God as they were called to love; that they obeyed with perfect obedience! 


What’s more, God created Adam and Eve with a will that was free, so that they would willingly choose to obey God; they were not robots programmed to follow orders.  Adam and Eve obeyed God because they desired in their hearts to obey Him, because they loved God and wanted nothing more than to know God more and more, to please God and serve Him everyday.


I’m reminded of the wedding meditation I heard a couple of weeks ago at Ross and Joanna Hodge’s wedding.  The minister said how during the first few months of marriage there would be nothing that Ross wouldn’t do for his new wife.  He encouraged him to keep loving her like that.


That’s the way true love works – we love someone so much that we live to please them.  That’s what man was like in the beginning with God.  Man loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength; God lived with God in a state of blessed happiness and fellowship.  That’s what God intended, but then sin came into this world through Adam, and sin ruined, it poisoned the good creation that God had made.      


So who’s to blame for man’s sinful condition?  Is God to blame?  Hardly.  The blame for ous sin lies at our own feet.  That’s what the next Question and Answer tell us.  Here we learn of Our Sinful Corruption.


2)  Our Sinful Corruption:  

Here, we consider next, our Sinful Corruption.  Question 7 asks: Where then does man’s corrupt nature come from?  The answer: From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve in Paradise.  This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners—corrupt from conception on.            


Before we get into the details of what this answer DOES say, I want to take a moment and explain what it does NOT say.  The answer explains the origin of human corruption, tracing it back to our first parents, Adam and Eve, but nothing is said about the origin of evil itself.


Nothing is said about the fallen angel we know as Lucifer/Satan and how he (and his angels with him) fell from their position of glory to become the great adversary of God and his people. In essence, nothing is said about the origin of evil itself.  That is a great mystery, to be sure.


We wonder: how can a perfect God create a perfect world, yet within that perfect creation, how can an angelic being named Lucifer became puffed up with pride and rebel against God and be cast out of heaven, now to focus his hatred on the man whom God created in His image?     


Why would God do that?  Why would God allow that to happen?  Why would God even allow for the existence of evil in the first place?  Interestingly enough, the Bible is silent on that issue.  Here we are reminded again that God does not reveal to us everything we want to know; he has only revealed to us the things that we need to know as far as our salvation is concerned.


So, the fact that evil exists is clear – that truth is painfully evident in the world around us.  But why evil exists is not clear.  And the fact that God has allowed for the entrance and existence of evil in his perfect Creation, in no way makes God the bad guy or the one to blame.  God cannot be blamed for evil, nor can the existence of evil be attributed to Him or traced back to Him.


God is perfectly good, and in Him there lies no sin or evil.  But as far as the fall and corruption of man is concerned, on that the Bible is not silent.  The Bible speaks volumes on the cause of man’s sin and guilt.  Man’s guilt can be traced back to our original parents, to Adam and Eve. 


That’s what Paul argument is in Romans 5. He said -- it all goes back to one man.  Yes it was Adam and Eve who sinned, but the responsibility for man’s sin lies at the feet of Adam, the head of his wife, and the federal head of the entire human race – the father of humanity.  Verse 12: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. 


Why do we lie in the midst of such misery?  Why is there such sadness and pain and suffering in this world?  Why is there disease and death and devastation?  How can certain people be capable of committing unspeakable acts of evil and inhumanity against other people, or against defenseless children, or against one’s own wife and family? Why, why, why we ask.


Here’s the answer.  Adam disobeyed God, and as a result, what God had warned Adam would happen, happened.  On that day Adam and Eve and all generations after them, were plunged into a sea of spiritual and physical misery and corruption, decay and death. 

Like a deadly virus that attaches itself to our human nature -- sin and evil, darkness and death affected every child that was conceived and born, so that without their knowledge, without them ever having done anything wrong, even a child in the womb carries within his heart and soul the guilt of Adam and stands condemned. 


Sin has so poisoned man’s nature that, spiritually speaking, man (in his sinful state, without the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit) is incapable of do anything to please God.  

Now, that doesn’t mean that man cannot do any good at all.  As a testament to God’s good gifts of intelligence and wisdom and ingenuity, man can still build a skyscraper over 100 stories high.


Man can still create beautiful art, and build a vehicle with wings so that it can defy gravity and fly like a bird an at can; man can even build a rocket that can take him to the moon, and a submarine that can plunge hundreds (even thousands) of feet into the depths of the ocean. 


Sinful man can come up with a treatment for cancer, a surgery to give us a new heart, to remove tumors and give us new joints -- but the simple fact is, without the saving power of Jesus Christ at work in a person’s heart and soul, that person cannot please God.


Without the saving grace of God, without a sinner being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, and thus saved from all the impurities and poison of sin and guilt, sinful man cannot ever bring true delight to God, because sinful man always lives in hatred and enmity against God.


In other words, until and unless sinful man repents from his sin and is saved by grace, he will continue to serve and obey his earthly master, who is none other than Satan.  But that is precisely why God has given us the Gospel, the good News of salvation, so that by the preaching of the Gospel, by proclaiming to the world that God has made the way of salvation through Jesus Christ His Son, many millions might hear and be saved.


Many millions might be free from the treachery of Satan, and the misery and darkness of sin, and find light and life in Jesus the Son.  And that is where the last question of this Lord’s Day directs us as we consider our Desperate Condition.     


3)  Our Desperate Condition

How bad is it?  How serious in this infection that we have?  It’s like we’re in the doctor’s office and we want him to tell it to us straight; give us the truth about our condition so we know for a certainty what we’re dealing with.  And the doctor says – alright.  You’re condition is terminal.

You’re going to die and there’s nothing (humanly speaking) that can be done to save you.  There is no cure.


That’s the sense of Q & A 8:  But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?  Yes, unless we are born again by the Spirit of God.  Unless God, by His grace intervenes, in my life, in your life, in the life of Everett Peter, we are going to die in our trespasses and sins; we are going to carry our sin and guilt with us to the grave, we are going to be subject to eternal condemnation. 


unless we are born again.  And that is why in Romans 5 Paul also speaks about Jesus Christ, who is the second Adam.  Jesus is also the federal head of humanity – of all those who by faith, believe!  It is Jesus who came on our behalf so that He could stand where the first Adam fell, and where we fall each day.  It was Jesus who came to obey God perfectly and not give in to the temptations of Satan; thereby Jesus might fulfill for us all the righteous requirements of the law.


So, it was Jesus came and paid the price of our sin and guilt not only through his perfect life of obedience, but also through His sacrifice on cross – where His innocent blood was spilled for the guilty – for our sake, for our cleansing, so that we might be counted as righteous before God.


That is the gift that Paul talks about in Roman 12.  In Adam, one man sinned, and death came to the entire human race.  But this shows us how much more powerful God’s gift of grace and righteousness is than the power of sin – for in Jesus Christ, in one man’s obedience and one man’s atoning sacrifice – God’s forgiving grace, and new life, and salvation unto eternity is won for the many!


That is the supernatural miracle, the supernatural gift of God that this covenant child, that we ourselves, and that every sinner needs to be free us from our terminal condition.  We must be born again.  We must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  We must be born again of the Spirit, through the blood of Jesus the Son. 


This is precisely why the waters of baptism are called the waters of regeneration, the waters of rebirth, because they signify and seal unto us that we, by grace, are born again unto new life in Jesus Christ our Lord.  And that is why we can celebrate today!


We celebrate what God has done for little Everett, but also what he has done for each of us.  For God, in Christ, has redeemed us all from our sin and guilt; He has given us the gift of eternal life.  And by God’s grace, He continues to restore to us what we lost in Adam: true righteousness, holiness, and knowledge of God.


By His Holy Spirit, God gives us hearts to love God completely and entirely; minds to know God more and more, and souls which desire to dwell with God, to commune with God, to fellowship with God both now and forevermore.  Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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