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In his letter to the Romans, Paul makes a logical argument for why we need faith in Christ alone. He begins by considering our need of a saviour, followed by introducing us to the Saviour. In our passage for this podcast, Romans 5 v 1-11, Paul presents to us the benefits of faith and he begins with the peace that it brings.

Followers of Jesus are called to turn away from the superficial peace the world seeks and eagerly pursue the radical peace of Jesus. The peace through him gives us hope in the glory of God and reconciliation with our Heavenly Father. Paul challenges us to be sure that we know this peace and not something that is fleeting.

Romans – The heart of the Gospel is a teaching series from Annalong Presbyterian Church. Find out more at

David McCullagh:

As we go through Romans chapter 5 this evening, I hope you'll realize why that struck a chord with me. Maybe I shouldn't have confessed that while we were singing one hymn, I was looking at another, but it's amazing how your mind can work in the moment. But they are very fitting words for what we will look at. And before we do get into that, I want to say. You will know that we record everything, and we record it there for your benefit. Romans is a deep book. I've tried to make it as accessible as possible, but if you do want to go back, simply go to the website, and if you go to the top, there's a little button called teaching, and either click on that or let it drop down, and you'll see something about Romans. Um, you can go back and you can listen to sermon only, um, or you can... click a button and you can get things wonderfully sent directly to your phone. And Monday morning, following a Roman sermon, you can get again the sermon from the night before. It's not because I think that I have a great voice. Maybe you can put it on at night and I'll put you to sleep. I don't know. Um, but simply because the truths, I think the truths of Romans are worth listening to again. Um, I don't read this passage once. I read it again and again and again over a number of weeks, and I would encourage you to, to not only read it, but to listen again, so that we can learn how to grow deeper in love with this gospel that Paul is talking about. So, Romans 5 and the first 11 verses. And I have another confession for you because over the past number of weeks, although our Christmas tree is embargoed until at least the 1st of December, Christmas has truly been on my mind. Now, I'm not a Christmas fanatic. I don't have to have Christmas at the beginning of October. I will listen to Christmas music from the 1st of November, but again, that's about it. But because of planning and church life, my head truly has to get into Christmas in the summer. But it's only in October when I start to flesh out what things are going to be looking like. But over this past week I've suddenly realised the postal date for Christmas is getting closer and closer and I need to buy some Christmas cards. And as I was perusing some of the cards that are available, I saw a myriad of designs and a myriad of slogans, but the one that kept appearing again and again, particularly this year on Christmas cards, both secular and Christian, is the word. Peace. Now, from society's point of view, peace is a great aspiration. It's seen as a thing that keeps everyone together, that it stops the fighting. Peace is always perceived from the perspective of the one wanting it, and it normally fits their opinion and perspective of peace, rather than true peace and reconciliation between two people. And if you listen to many of the secular Christmas songs, they do speak of peace as well. These songs include John Lennon's Happy Christmas, War is Over, or even Stevie Wonder's Someday at Christmas. And when you look at the lyrics, and you'll hear them on the radio over the next couple of weeks, it all reads very simplistically. And it's all very general. There are no specifics about this piece. Just one great aspiration. And the reason why this is, because actually, peace is not simple. It's not something that can be sung about. Peace is hard. We know that here in Northern Ireland, peace is difficult. Peace is hard. For peace to happen, we need to forgo some of our ways so that we can achieve peace. Peace does not mean we get everything on our terms. And that will become very clear in this passage. In fact, we don't get anything on our terms when it comes to peace. But that's how society views peace, a great aspiration, thinking it's very simplistic, but it's not. Because when I look at Christian Christmas cards, such as the one on the screens, and as I read the lyrics of our Christmas carols, I see a very different peace. Peace. Prince of Peace. And it turns out that whenever you look at what peace is from a biblical perspective, it isn't that general at all. Nor is it ours to initiate. Peace is displayed to us in the person of Jesus Christ as the prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 9 in verse 6. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And it's okay to read a passage like this because this is the first Sunday in Advent, so we're okay. But look at who he is. He's the prince of peace and these are wonderful words on first reading And to be honest for secular world read out of day would agree Because it actually fits their secular, liberal ideals. And thereby, peace looks easy. You see, the secular world wants to believe that Jesus, as the Prince of Peace, was long foretold as being the one who would come, hold our hands, tell us we are fine, wear a long robe, and make us sing Kumbaya. That's what the world wants to believe about Jesus, and don't get me wrong, peace in this world is a great aspiration. But the reality, however, is that in this fallen human world, we can't be at peace with ourselves. with each other or with God because of our sin. As Isaiah will later write in chapter 59 and verse 2, but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not. That's our problem. There is a great separation. Between humankind and God. And it's not just because of original sin in Genesis 3. We can't, we can't always keep pointing the finger, well, it's Genesis 3 fault. No, no, no. It is our fault. It is truly our fault. Because even though we are born in sin and shapen by it, we still choose to sin. We still choose to go against God. So it's not Adam and Eve who are guilty for our sin, we are guilty. For our sin and our actions and this is why the Christmas story and the message of the gospel that it brings is so Radical. Now as Presbyterians, we don't like to think of things being radical. Dare I say it radical scares us And I'm not being facetious or even trying to be funny But it genuinely does but but we need to understand this message of the gospel is radical It's so different from anything in this world, and it is the only message in this world that, from generation to generation, has changed that generation. No other message has, and no other message will. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, as Isaiah says. This means that he is the one who not only has the authority of peace, But actually peace is his very nature and it is his very mission. But this peace isn't superficial peace between ourselves, between humanity, between one warring nation and another. Nor is it peace that lets us live the way we want. Live and let live. That's not what this peace is. This is a peace that truly reconciles us with God because Christ is the one who dies for our sins. So that we can know God and that's how Paul begins Romans chapter 5 because in verse 1 he says therefore Since we have been justified by faith We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul has been building a very strong argument for it. In fact, it's even an apologetic of why we believe in salvation by faith alone through Jesus Christ. He has presented us with why we need a saviour, how we gain salvation, and now the next logical step is what he says here in verse 1. What it means for us to live this way. And so he begins by telling us of the peace that we gain through salvation. Now, I have mentioned before the book that we read with our children entitled Five Minutes, peace of Mrs. Elephant and all that she wants to do in just getting that five minutes peace and there's, there's nothing wrong with wanting a bit of peace and quiet in your day. But if all we do is see peace in this way, that we're just getting a break from the world, then we're looking at it the way the world looks at it. And we're looking at it from the world's perspective. And that perspective is, well, peace gives me what I, I want the silence. I want to be away. Me, me, me, I, I, I. Jesus says. that his peace is radical. His peace is different because it is his peace that saves us and it's his peace that makes us right before God but it's only through his death, blood and resurrection. And so there are two things from this passage this evening. And the first thing is that this peace that only comes through Jesus enables us to rejoice. And that's there in verses 2 to 5. And so the first thing that Paul wants us, wants to tell us about is that we can rejoice and that this peace makes us rejoice. I think we recognize because we've seen it on our television screens that when peace deals are signed or peace is declared there is great rejoicing. We saw it on the streets in World War II, or at least we've seen the movie reels of it. We saw it at the coming down of the Berlin Wall, in many of our own timescale and in our own lifetime. We even saw it here in Northern Ireland, as galling as it might have been to us, but when there was a peace deal, there was great celebration. But the rejoicing that Paul talks about... isn't simply a passing afternoon or a passing hour. The rejoicing that Paul talks about is eternal because this peace makes us right with God even though we did nothing of ourselves to secure that peace. That's why we can rejoice because it is all of God and it's all of his goodness. Verse 2 tells us that peace through Jesus, that reconciliation with God that we'll come to later in the passage, brings us to, uh, to the grace in which we stand. And this grace in which we stand is God giving us what we do not deserve. We don't deserve to be reconciled to God. Whenever you hear the term that God is love, that defines his character. It doesn't mean that he is an all encompassing God who will choose to love us regardless of what we have done. That's universalism. Universalism says that no matter how bad I am, at the end of the day, it's gonna be alright. I'll just keep living my way. And there's this great God who is universal and will treat all of us the same. The reality is God indeed will treat us all the same because we will all face judgment. But for those who know Christ, who know reconciliation with Him, we pass through the judgment and into the eternal realms. But those who don't know Him, who face judgment, well, they face it on their own. And rather than going to this notion, I'm good enough to get to heaven, no, you're bad enough to go to hell. That is the reality. We don't deserve this reconciliation with God yet. And this is where his love comes in. Through Christ's sacrifice, we have this wonderful position of being called children of God. And Paul is eager to tell us more. This is one of these passages where it's almost as if Paul can't get it out of his mouth quick enough. And he takes us from one part to another part to another part. And he's eager to tell us in verse 2 that we rejoice because this peace gives us the hope of the glory of God. And that's an amazing thing. Hope goes, at Christmas time, with peace. Because it's peace that gives us hope. That when we know reconciliation with God, we have this sure and certain hope of what is to come in eternity. And verse 3 then again tells us that we can rejoice, but this time it may not be the rejoicing we like. Paul says that we can rejoice in our sufferings because our sufferings have a purpose. He says in verse 3, not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance. And so begins a logical list of how our faith develops as we know reconciliation with God. We go from endurance. We go to hope, we go to security in God. And Paul finishes in verse 5 by telling us, And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. You see, this is our security. We're not put to shame. The Spirit is the one who envelops us so that we can stand firm in Christ and Him alone. And what this means for us is that we do not need to fear the evil one, nor the world that supports his cause. Being enveloped by the Holy Spirit means that we know God's full protection. And that is why the psalmist would sing in Psalm 46 verses 1 3, God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble, therefore. We will not fear, though the earth gives way, Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains tremble at its swelling. I wonder if this is what you need to hear tonight. I wonder if this is the peace that you desire. Do you need to know the security and protection of God? That it is a wonderful and an awesome thing? He promises to be our God if we place our trust in Jesus and the salvation that He brought. And each of our circumstances in life differ, but there is no doubt that we face joys and we face sorrows. And I wonder if you know the presence of God in each. He is not just the God who blesses us with joy. He is also the God who sees us through the hard times. And we all go through hard times. Difficult times. Heart wrenching times. And I would like to say, as I've been asked even in this week alone, why do such things happen? And I will never give a satisfactory answer. I know, I know that. But what I do want to say is the truth that we live in a fallen world. Sin filled and broken world that will spread its pain, its sorrow, and its suffering far and wide. We're not immune from it, but we have a Savior who is mighty to keep us. As James writes, Actually in chapter 1, verses 2 to 4. Hard words for us to read, but he says, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, That you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Sin's shadow casts long. We will face difficulty and heartache, but it does not mean that we are abandoned. In fact, it means that God is with us even more as we look to Him as our strength and as our refuge so that we may be perfect, lacking nothing, and complete before Him. And you see, we lack nothing because of the goodness and the generosity of God. He doesn't leave us wanting, rather He wants us to trust fully in Him, and He will see us through. He doesn't promise that it will be easy, but each sorrow draws us closer to Him so that we may know His steadfast love towards us. Peace truly does bring us to rejoicing in each and every circumstance. Because it is God alone who is with us and sees us through because he is making us ready for something far greater than this broken and sin filled world. If your heart's heavy tonight, as the words of that hymn that we sung before coming to this, the doubting, the fear, will you allow the doubting to be stilled? Will you allow your fear to be calmed? Will you allow your soul to rest in the Lord? So that he can minister his goodness to you So that your sorrow of the night may burst forth in a morning of rejoicing The second part of this passage about peace is that it brings reconciliation in verses 6 to 11 We've already mentioned it, and I'm sure that you've had the experience like me where you have said something or acted in a way that has caused a rift with friends or with family members. And if we're honest, the situation eats away at us, and we long to be reconciled to them. Reconciliation is that coming together and knowing the grace of forgiveness. And this is the next logical step for Paul. If we have peace with God, then we are reconciled with Him. And Paul sets the scene for us in verse 6. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Here we see that salvation has always been and will always be God's initiative. We didn't have to have all of our ducks in a row before God demonstrated his love towards us. He sent Jesus to be the saviour of the world while we were sinners. And notice what he calls us in our unrepentant state. He calls us ungodly. Now I don't think anyone here would want to think of themselves like this. But I have to say it is an accurate term for us. If we don't know saving faith in Jesus Christ, Yes, we can believe in the person of God, but we will be ungodly. We will be focused on seeing him as a good luck charm rather than our maker and our saviour. And Paul challenges us to think differently, and he goes on to speak in the language of parables. He affirms that it is very unlikely that anyone would give their life for another, no matter how good they are, but yet that's exactly what God did. We didn't deserve his love, but he gave it freely, and it cost him his very own son. The sole purpose was so that we might be reconciled to him. And it's verse 10 that tells us how all of this works, where Paul says, For if while we were sinners we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, now that we are reconciled, Shall we be saved? The earth shattering and indeed the sin shattering truth is that we are loved more than we can imagine so that we will not perish. But it isn't an automatic right. We can say that Jesus is the saviour of the world in a very broad way, where we think that at the end, as I said, universalism, we will think we will be fine, but we won't be. Jesus died, and we need to recognise that, and we need to live in the light of that. This means that we follow God's best for us. He saves us. So that we might live for Him. And verse 11 concludes this whole section by once again assuring us of this great transaction of reconciliation. Christ died and because of the faith that is now open to us, we will be saved if we seek after Christ and thereby have faith. And that's a wonderful thing for our wonderful God to do. I wonder this evening, are you reconciled to God? Are you sure tonight? Stop and think. Do you have full assurance of salvation that in a heartbeat you could be with Christ? If you are assured, praise the Lord and live for Him until He comes or calls you home. But if you don't have that assurance tonight, that in a heartbeat you could be with eternity, in eternity, then you need to do something about it. These words in Romans from verse 1 of chapter 1 right through to where we end this evening in verse 11 of chapter 5, they've been read, they've been learned, they've been preached, and they have been responded to for 2, 000 years because they are true. And they are true tonight for each and every one of us. Will you follow the path that Paul leads us on with his logic and know that there is no other way for you tonight to live but to live in Christ? He offers life eternal to you. He gave his very own life for it. Will you trust him with your very soul because he invites you to come to him and to know true peace? That brings true reconciliation to God, so that we may have the opportunity to escape hell and live forever in that glorious heaven. A beautiful new song, just released a few weeks ago by an artist called Laura Storey, says this in its second verse and chorus. Joy of the comfortless, light for the straying, hope for the penitent, peace. in our strife. Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying, my yoke is easy, my burden is light. Come unto Jesus. Come unto Jesus. Lay down your burdens. He is enough. Come unto Jesus. The invitation for each of us tonight is to come onto Jesus and know that he is enough and rest in his love. Paul wrote about this gospel so that we too would know that it is the power of God for salvation for you and for me. He began by saying he's not ashamed of it. Because of the power that it brings and can bring to each of us this evening. Will you be assured tonight that in a heartbeat you could be with Jesus? Because if you're not, you need to do something about it. You need to come onto Jesus. and rest in his love. Let's pray. Our Father God, we thank you for Romans, that it is the heart of the gospel. And here we see it laid out in black and white before us this evening. Help us, no matter who we are, to come unto Jesus and rest in his love. May our weary souls find rest. May the burden of grief and pain and sorrow and hurt and anger and anxiety All real emotions. Father, may we come to you knowing that you are greater than these and that it is you who will lead us through. Young and old alike, may we come unto Jesus, find rest in his love, and know the assurance of life eternal this night and forevermore. Amen.

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