If you have a Bible, I want you to open your Bible to Romans chapter 6; and if you don't have a Bible, I want you to open your bulletin, and you're going to find today's message there. And I am so thankful for each testimony and each person that we met this morning. We're honored and thankful for you, and we want to be a blessing, and I want to share with you a message today that I trust will be a help and encouragement in your life, as it has been in many, many others. And so, we've been teaching and preaching from Romans 6 on, "What does it really mean to have new life in Christ?" And the series is entitled "New Life Today." And this morning's message is entitled "The Gift of New Life."
Now I heard about a little boy after Sunday School, his name was Danny, and he proudly showed his parents a picture that he had drawn in Sunday School, a picture of his pastor. And the picture had very bright colors, the pastor had a lot of hair, and he had on a bright suit, but his eyes were noticeably incomplete. And so his parent said, "Danny, we don't see the color of Pastor's eyes. What's going on with this?" The four-year-old spoke up, he said, "I don't know what color his eyes are because he closes them when he prays, and I close mine when he preaches."
So I want to encourage you, keep your eyes open for the next few minutes, all right. And there's something psychological about the 12 o'clock hour. I don't know how long this will be, I'm going to try to speak briefly; and I will speak briefly. But I just ask you to listen attentively, because what I want to say is from the Bible, and it's something that we need to hear this morning.
So, Romans 6:17, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." And verse 23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Let us pray.
Lord, we know the Bible says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." So we thank you for those who are in our presence this morning, who would willingly lay down their life in service. But we're always mindful of the service and the sacrifice that you made on the cross of Calvary. And so, we ask you, Lord, in these final moments as we recognize you, that we would have a heart to hear once again about your love and sacrifice for us; for it is in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. You may be seated.
Well, one of the most amazing verses in the Bible is the verse I just read a moment ago, Romans 6:23. If you know the verse I want you to say it with me, all right. Romans 6:23, ready, begin: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Now think about that word "gift." "The gift of God is eternal life."
Now religion sometimes complicates what God meant to be very simple. You see, God said, "I want eternal life to be a gift," but religion somehow makes it into something that must be earned, right? God says, "I've already paid for the gift. My Son shed his blood." Religion says, "But you need to pay a little more. Just do these things and maybe you might have eternal life."
In fact, I've asked thousands of people in the Antelope Valley, "Do you know that if you were to die today that you would have eternal life?" and most people say, "I hope so. Well, I think so." But many people struggle to really know that they have received the gift of eternal life.
Now I would propose to you this morning that if anyone was really qualified to speak about eternal life that it would actually be the Lord Jesus Christ. We just celebrated Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, and we've studied other religions and we've studied the founders of those religions, and it's true and historically accurate to say that only one really can point back to an empty tomb, and that is Jesus Christ. And so, in his word he speaks to us about eternal life. In fact, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." And he is the firstfruits of the resurrection, meaning that others were to come and follow after him. And so, he says to us, "Though the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
And I want to speak to you this morning about this gift of new life, this gift of eternal life that comes to us from God. And there's three words we're going to focus on; we'll be quick and we'll be done; but they're super important words. The first word is the word "decision," and the second word will be the word "deliverance," and the third word is the word "destiny." You see, there's a decision that must be made about Christ that brings deliverance from the penalty of sin; and when you have the forgiveness of your sin, you have a whole new destiny, you have a whole new eternity to look forward to.
And so I want you, first of all, to think about the word "decision." You see, the Bible tells us that the Romans, the Christians at Rome to whom this book was written by the Holy Spirit and the apostle Paul, they had made a decision. It's recorded here in verse 17, it says, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine which was delivered unto you."
Now we'll see in a moment that all of us are sinners; but without Jesus, we are under the control of sin and Satan without his presence in our life. And the Romans, the Bible says, were the servants of sin; but they had made a decision that changed their life. They made a decision to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. This decision to receive is something that is made by faith. You see, you don't earn salvation, you don't buy salvation, you don't knock enough doors or give enough money to gain salvation; it's simply a decision to receive this gift.
And the Bible records for us that these recipients of the book of Romans had made that decision. Salvation is not something that we earn, it's something that we receive. In fact, God has no unwilling children in his family, no unwilling citizens in his kingdom. Everyone that will be in heaven is someone who willingly received Jesus Christ as Savior, they made that decision on their own.
Now this decision to receive Jesus Christ and his gift of eternal life if a decision of the heart. Did you catch that in verse 17? It says that they obeyed from the heart. The heart is the innermost being of man. The heart speaks of the totality of man. And from their heart, they had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation." And so, when someone is saved, when someone receives the gift of salvation, it's a decision of the heart. But it's also a decision of the mind.
You know, we live in a really emotional world. You ever turn on the news, you ever see people picketing, and you ever see people waving the flag for their cause; and, boy, they're ready to fight in an instant. And the officers can tell you: throw a little alcohol in the mix, it gets ridiculous. We live in an emotional day.
And sometimes even in the religious realm there's emotion, and it's not all wrong. In fact, emotion can be a wonderful thing. But when it comes to the Bible, we want to move – watch this – from truth to emotion. We don't want to move from emotion to belief, but Christianity is actually something that involves an understanding intellectually as well. It's not all heart, it's not all emotion. In fact, it says, "They obeyed from the heart the doctrine." So they actually had certain things that they had learned and believed intellectually as well as from the heart. Did you see that in verse 17: "They obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine which was delivered unto them."
Now we don't have time for a huge doctrinal class this morning, but some of the foundational fundamental pillars of the Christian faith would have been things like this: the fact that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. In other words, if Jesus was like just another dude, then really this whole service, the whole idea of worshiping him doesn't make sense. But the Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:16, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh."
Now that's really significant, because if he was God in the flesh, then when he died on the cross and shed his blood, that payment of sin could be efficace for the entire world. But if he was not the Son of God, then the payment on the cross really doesn't have an affect on anyone else. Jesus Christ they understood to be God. They understood that God in eternity past loved us so much, that he sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ, the three-in-one: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.
There was a determination made that Jesus Christ would come in the form of a child born of a virgin. The Bible says in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And so, they understood from their heart that Jesus Christ the Son of God died for us. And then they understood, according to 1 Corinthians 15, that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. And so, having heard these truths from their heart, they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
In fact, it's important that all of us understand that the Christian life, a relationship with Christ involves a decision of the heart. And everyone makes a decision to either receive or reject the doctrine that is presented about Jesus Christ. Jesus on one occasion was in a place called Caesarea Philippi not far from modern day Syria, from Damascus; and he looked to his disciples and he said to them, "Who do men say that I the Son of Man am?" And they said, "Well some say you're John the Baptist, and some say that you're Elijah, and some say that you're Jeremiah, or maybe one of the prophets." And by the way, that's about as far as many people today will go. They'll say that Jesus is maybe like a prophet, maybe a good man.
And they said to Jesus, "This is what they say about you." And Jesus said to his disciples, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter looked at Jesus and he said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter had made his decision, and he had decided that Jesus is the Christ, which means the Anointed. It means the Messiah, the Son of God. And so, from his heart and from his mind he had decided that while others might say Jesus is kind of like on the God shelf with the other gods, and maybe a prophet, maybe a teacher, his decision was, "Thou art the Christ." And so, in order to receive the gift of eternal life we must make a decision about Jesus Christ.
Now when you make that decision to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, when you stop trusting in the church, whether it be Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, Pentecostal; it's not trusting in a church. When you trust Christ as your Savior, that's a decision. And when you make that decision, there comes a deliverance in your life.
Now I want you to see that second word, the "deliverance." Look at verse 18. The Bible says this: "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Now no Christian is a perfect person. I pastor lots of them, I are one. The fact of the matter is that we're all sinners. But the Bible says we're made free from sin. There's a two-fold teaching to that.
First, we're made free from the dominion of sin, the power to continually sin without knowing how to stop. That dominion of sin is no longer upon you. And also it means that you are forgiven from the sin and the penalty of sin. You are made free. The Bible says, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."
And so, you have freedom. You have forgiveness through Jesus Christ through the gift that he gives. There is forgiveness made available for all of us. Now sometimes people that we know, even in our own family, they don't give forgiveness as quickly, as readily as God gives it to someone on the basis of his Son. When God the Father sees that we have received the Son, there is forgiveness that is offered.
Now I heard about a fellow that was pulled over by a police officer, and there was a conversation that was made. And the officer said to the man, he said, "Let me see your license." And the man says, "What's the problem, officer?" and he said, "Well, you were going 75 in a 55." The man said, "I was only going 65." And his wife leans over and says, "You were going 80!"
He kind of stares his wife down. And the police officer says, "Well, I'm also going to have to give you a ticket for a broken taillight." And the man said, "Broken taillight? I don't have a broken taillight." She said, "Harry, you've known about that broken taillight for weeks!"
Again, he kind of stared down his wife. Police officer says, "I'm also going to have to give you a citation for not wearing your seatbelt." He said, "No, I just took off my seatbelt right when you walked up, officer," and the wife said, "Harry, you never wear your seatbelt!"
The man looked at his wife and said, "Would you be quiet for once!" The officer said, "Does your husband always speak to you that way?" She said, "No, only when he's drunk."
Now I've seen this to be true. I've seen family members who kind of wish problems on their family members, who kind of wish that maybe they'd have a time to learn their lesson, and they don't give forgiveness as quickly. Have you ever seen that? Have you ever been around a bitter family member?
But God says when you receive this gift, that you are delivered from the penalty of sin; you're forgiven. You're delivered from the dominating presence of sin. In fact, Ephesians 1:7 says, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." The forgiveness of sins is not something – look, you can come up to me and ask for my prayer, and I'll pray for you. But I can't forgive your sin, there's no way I can do that. No pastor, no priest, no church can forgive sin.
The Bible says, "Even the forgiveness of sin." Where do we get that from? It's from Jesus Christ; he shed his blood. We used to sing a song when I was a kid in Sunday School, "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." There'll be a second offering for that solo after the service.
What can cover sin? Just the blood of Jesus Christ. There's no other sacrifice that's as pleasing to God. So we're covered from the penalty of sin. There's a decision we have to make: "What are we going to do with Jesus Christ?" And when we make that decision to put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, then we have a deliverance from the dominion of sin and from the penalty of sin. It's a wonderful deliverance indeed to have through Jesus Christ.
And so, there is a decision that every person must make. That decision can bring a deliverance. And ultimately, and finally this morning, it can change your destiny, it can change your forever. Now this is what Jesus offers. Jesus says to someone who is needing deliverance, that if they'll come by way of the cross they can overcome and they can have the forgiveness of sin, and ultimately an eternity with the Lord.
Now notice this in verse 23 as we close, just this one verse, and think about these words again: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Now let's think very quickly about the word "wages," right, wages. "The wages of sin is death."
God says that there's a deserving payment; and before we look at the destiny that we will have through Christ, let's think about what we really deserve. And God says, "The wages of sin is death." Death speaks really of a separation from God. God says, "What I deserve because of my sin nature is not to be in heaven with God; but what I deserve is separation from God."
The Bible says in Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Adam and Eve in their sin brought sin into the world. Sometimes Adam is referred to as the federal head of the human race. And when they sinned, sin came into the world.
In case you haven't noticed it, we don't really have to teach children how to sin, they just pick up on it just all by themselves. You go over into the nursery this morning, you'll see some of your children pulling toys from one another, biting one another, pulling one another's hair. I hope you didn't teach them how to do that. They pretty much pick up on sin by themselves. Why? We have a sin nature. And the Bible says sin has passed upon all men, and because of that, the Bible says, "We fall short of the glory of God."
And sin is a problem that we all have. I heard of a fellow hurrying to take his child to school, and he did a U-turn, and he said to his daughter, he said, "Oh, I just did an illegal U-turn," and she said, "It's okay, Dad, the police car right behind us just did the same thing." That's not a good thing when that happens. Sin has a payment to be made.
Now the Bible says, the wage, what I deserve because I'm a sinner, is not the gift of God. What I deserve is separation from God. And we could preach more about that. But suffice to say, no one wants to spend eternity separated from God. There's a time coming in Revelation 20 referred to as the great white throne judgment. And the Bible speaks about the books that will be opened, the book of life that will be opened. And the Bible says, "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire; this is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Now you're not at a Baptist church if you don't hear about the lake of fire.
But let me just tell you something. To be separated from God is not a good thought. And the wages of sin is death or separation from God. Now that's kind of a bummer part of the story, isn't it. That's like the bummer part of that verse, "The wages of sin is death." No one really wants to hear that. But like I said a moment ago, you cannot appreciate your deliverance unless you understand what you're delivered from. We can't appreciate heaven unless we understand the price that was paid to take us there.
So it says, "The wages of sin was death"; and here it is, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." So let's say the last part together. Ready, begin: "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Now let's think about that gift, then we'll close. "The gift of God is eternal life." I said this earlier: the church can't give eternal life, the pastor can't give eternal life, it's the gift of God. Only God gives eternal life. The gift of God is eternal life.
Now some people say, "I don't know if I can have that." First John 5, it's in your notes: "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. And he that has the Son has life." Remember that decision we talked about. "He that has the Son has life. He that has not the Son has not life."
So that decision has ramifications. If someone has received the Son, he has the gift of life eternal. If he has not received the gift of God, he has not eternal life. And verse 13 says, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God."
So, the Bible says, "The gift of God is eternal life." But let's look at this last phrase, "through Jesus Christ our Lord." So what if there's someone here who says, "Well, I know I need the forgiveness of my sin, and I want to know that I have eternal life. What do I do to have eternal life?" And, boy, all of a sudden there's 57 arrows: "Do this. Go to this church. Do this. Do that." I just want you to remember this truth, and this is not Baptist theology or Chappellolgy or whatever. This is what the Bible says: "The gift of God is eternal life," hear this, "through Jesus Christ our Lord."
There's one way and that's Jesus Christ. Now I know we live in a pluralistic society, I know that these officers, you should serve everybody whether they believe in God or not, I get that. But we're not talking about serving the community, we're talking about how to know that you're going to be in heaven someday. And that happens through Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me."
It's very exclusive. And we've got to realize Jesus said, "I'm the door." Jesus said, "I'm the bread of life." And when we come to Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can have the gift of eternal life. Now that's something you've got to receive.
Brother Ferso, come up here for a moment, I've got a gift for you. It's something that we have to make a decision to receive. Brother Ferso, I just want you to know that this is – you've done a great job getting ready for this event, I really appreciate it. I want you to take this and have it, all right. Wait a minute. By the way, there's nothing in it, don't get your hopes up; but just thanks for helping me.
If I said to him, "Hey, you want this? I paid $20.00. Give me $10.00, it's yours," is it a gift? No. If I said, "Hey, if you want this gift, all you've got to do is knock on every door in Lancaster telling them about God, and then you can maybe go," is that a gift?
I mean, you make up your own list. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are we saved through faith; it's not of ourselves, it's the gift of God." If you've got to do something to get it, it's not a gift. But if I said, "Jerry, I paid for this with my own money, and I love you and I appreciate you, and I want you to have this," all he has to do is decide to receive it.
And when you make that decision to receive Christ, he delivers you from the penalty of sin, and he gives you a destination in heaven, a home in heaven. And it's a literal place – you can study the Bible: gates of pearl, streets of gold. It's a gated community, there's no graffiti, there's no police officers. "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Thanks Brother Ferso. Here, you can take that.
Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Now I remember very well when Captain Dealey called me and said, "Pastor, I need you to go out to see Christ Sorenson with me." And I remember walking into that house and meeting Christ. And I remember when the mayor called me a few years ago and said, "Hey, you need to get over here. Steve Owen's been shot." And some of you were there.
And I just want to tell you, there's a brotherhood in the law enforcement community and I respect that, I love seeing it. But at those moments, there's only one question that a Bible-believing pastor asks: "Did he ever receive the gift? Did he ever make that decision? What did he do with Jesus?"
All that ever matters at those moments is, "What did he do with Jesus," because, "The wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus." And when someone says, "Ah, you know, that's not for me," and they walk away from Jesus, there's ramifications. There's eternal ramifications.
Jesus said, "Who do you say that I am?" And I ask you today, "Who do you say that he is?" not just from your head, but from your heart. Has there ever been a time in your life when you received Jesus Christ as Savior. Have you ever received that gift; because when you do, your sins are forgiven, and you have the promise of a home in heaven. You can know that you have a home in heaven.
I don't care if you're a member of this church or some other church, that decision needs to be made in this lifetime. It's the most important decision you'll ever make. And I pray that if you've never made it, that you'll make it even today.
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