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Gospel Key Verses (God’s Gift of Eternal Life and Living Hope in Christ)

Romans 6:23-6:23
Key Verse: 6:23b

Through M. Esther’s message, we saw the direness of the situation of man because of his sin. We don’t like to talk about sin and we especially don’t like to hear about judgment, particularly when that judgment is about us. These are very uncomfortable subjects. But we need to hear, know and be awaken to these things, because we need to understand the holiness and goodness of God. God who in His goodness cannot leave any sin go unpunished; who in His justice He cannot allow evil to flourish without consequence. But we must also understand His heart. In revealing the truth about our sin and the judgment it deserves, God showed no joy or pleasure in the perishing of man. The verse of Romans 6:23 beautifully illustrates exactly what the desire of God is.

I. God’s Gift of Eternal Life in Christ

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23b

Romans 6:23a tells us that the wages of sin is death. “But the gift of God is eternal life…” (Romans 6:23b) God’s very desire is to not see us perish, but for us to have eternal life (!) Sometimes our sins may burden us so much that we may quietly wonder to ourselves why we’re even alive. Does God even care? Does He even care about what’s going on with me or the troubles I’m going through? Yes! Very much so. God knows exactly what is killing you and it is exactly His desire for you to not die as a result of your sin, but for you to have eternal life.

Here we see how ‘wages’ are contrasted with ‘gift’. Wages are earned. Eternal life however, cannot be earned. Eternal life can only come to us when we accept it as a gift. Only God can give eternal life, because only He is eternal and only He is life. Where can this God’s gift of eternal life be found? The gift of eternal life is found and received in the person Jesus Christ, to those who claim Him as Lord.

Why does God give this gift? John 3:16 tells us exactly why: it is really out of love. Does God love you? This is a question that has plagued man since the dawn of his existence. Are you really loved---in the most deepest, unconditional sense? How do you know? The answer is a loud resounding yes! God has answered it so that man no longer has any need to ask this question; answered it in a way that there should be no room for any more doubt. The proof that God loves—yes, even you--- is proclaimed in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” He didn’t merely ‘love’, but He ‘so loved’, because He gave His Son whom He loved most just so that you may not perish, but have eternal life.

Eternal life is not only about living forever as it is so often falsely understood, because as we just learned from the previous message, one ‘goes on to live forever’, either with God or in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. In the same way, eternal life is not only about being saved from hell, though that’s really great. John 17:3 tells us what eternal life is: “Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Without the gift of eternal life, we are spiritually dead here and now and cannot know God. We cannot hear God though He may speak to us His Word, nor could we listen or obey Him. Without eternal life, we are in constant doubt of His love, living moment by moment from one fear to the next. So the gift of eternal life is really not just about the intellectual knowledge of God, but about being restored into life with Him, restored back to His love through the Son He loved and sent---- not only after we die, but right now. God gave the Son He loved that we may know His love and grow in the knowledge of Him, presently and daily.

Sin as we know however, comes with a wage that must be credited to the sinner. The sinner pays for his sin with his life. Unsolved sin really makes life miserable for all of us. Have you ever experienced sorrow because of your sins? Sin is not within our own power to solve, because of our enslaved relationship to it. This is why those who know this truth cannot help but rejoice greatly upon hearing the words, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Jesus came to take away my sin. Not just my sin and your sin, but His sacrifice is so perfect that it is sufficient to take away the sin of the whole world. Take pause and think for a moment: Can you imagine a whole world without sin? That is exactly what Jesus came to do. This world without sin begins inside one sinner’s heart. For this reason, Jesus came to die on the cross, and shed His perfect blood sacrificially, as the Lamb of God. Are you tired of your sins? You may say, “I do not want to live with this sin any longer’. ‘Lord, I want to be clean.’ What good news it is to hear that God sent the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.

Some people cannot abide by the fact that there is only one mediator between God and men. But the reality is that there is that there is actually no one righteous, no one who seeks God, not even one. (Romans 3:10-11) It is an impossible task to mediate between God and man when one is clearly not qualified by God. The need for a mediator points to the fact that two parties are at war with each other, and the mediator qualifies as one who is able to represent both. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5) Jesus is the only one qualified to be the mediator because He is perfectly God and perfectly man. Concerning His Divinity, Jesus is the man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47). Concerning His humanity, Jesus is one who is able to sympathize with our weakness, being tempted in every way, just as we are---yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) The ugly result of sin made us dirty, corrupted and unlovable in our truest and most honest selves. Sin has so corrupted the image of God in man that if we’re truly honest, we’ve become exactly what we’re even too ashamed to admit. Who can be for us? Who can be with such a sinner? “God sent one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” This is the good news of the gospel.

But if eternal life can only be found in Christ, where is Jesus now? He seems nowhere to be found. We may have our own ideas on how we may imagine or even want to receive eternal life, but the Bible is crystal clear that eternal life comes only through hearing and believing the Gospel. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) Where is Jesus, you ask? Indeed, Jesus said: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) This goes to show that hearing God’s words is not at all about the passing of His words from one ear and out to another, but about opening one’s ‘door’ to Jesus. It about resigning the lordship you have of your life over to His Lordship of it. Romans 10:9 helps us to understand this: “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This type of surrender is not easy, but it is the only way of salvation because eternal life comes only through Christ.

II. God’s Gift of Living Hope in Christ

God gives more than just eternal life in Christ. He also gives us Living Hope (!) Let’s look at Acts 2:23-24 together. “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge. And you with the help of wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” With the help of wicked men, we who are wicked and against God with our sin put Jesus to death by nailing Him to the cross. This is a tragic and horrible crime for which our sinfulness bears responsibility for. But God purposed it with His foreknowledge that He might meet our greatest sorrow with the greatest gift of hope. In our wickedness we crucified God’s Son. But God raised Jesus from the dead that we may really see the righteousness of Christ and have overwhelming confidence in His victory over our greatest enemy. In this world, there’s a persistent groan impossible to ignore that troubles us as we live out the moments of our lives; it is the fact that all things end in death. The moment a baby is born he/she has a death sentence. Death makes life meaningless. No matter how hard one may work, no matter your merit or renown or how great your achievements may reach, death makes everyone equal and its reality renders everything futile. In this sense, death has absolute power over man. What makes the gospel exceptional above everything else in this world is that it does not end in death. With the enemy of man defeated, those who placed their hope in Christ’s victory live no longer as slaves to fear. Indeed through the living hope one has in Christ, scripture says they become more than conquerors. They begin to live their lives no as slaves to meaninglessness, but cognizant of God’s eternal purpose. Work begins take on an eternal perspective---even something as mundane as school work. Can you imagine working without fear of failure or condemnation? What’s more is that no labour in the Lord is in vain, because Jesus is living. He sits at the right hand of God and He is able to reward those who sincerely seek His heart to please Him.

One of my favourite verses in the Bible is 1 John 4:18. It says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Through preparing for this message, I came to grow in my love for the gospel because I came to grow in the knowledge of just how sinful I am. As much as I am ashamed to admit it, I am every one of those named in Revelation 21:8 deserving to be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. I wasn’t just one of them, but all of them. There was nothing I could do about my sin. I have a pretty strong will, but my strong will cannot make me clean. Besides, for all the social veneer we maintain inside, I’m actually perishing. What power does one perishing really have? They could only cry. I know God is living because He must’ve heard my cry and sent His Son Jesus to give me the gift of eternal life. His Son Jesus shed all His blood, left no drop for Himself, so that it may all be used to cleanse me thoroughly from my sins. It was by His wounds that I am healed. Because of God sending Jesus, I came from being despicable to one so loved. I am discovering that as I grow in the knowledge of God, I am also growing in the knowledge of just how much of a sinner I am. But this knowledge is also accompanied by the growing reality of God’s grace in Christ and how greatly His blood covered and cleansed all my sins. His love is sufficient to drive my fears away and gave me a new purpose to live each day to please Him.

Let’s read the last gospel key verse together: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3,4) We labour our all in this life to gather treasures that only seem to rot, grow moldy, and are susceptible to various degrees of entropy. But what God really wants to give us is an inheritance that will never lose its value, and one that can never fade away with time.

What exactly is the content of this ‘living hope’? The content of our living hope is a shared life with Christ. Romans 8:16-17 talks about how the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Once we were objects of God’s wrath. In Christ, we are made into God’s sons. And that as God’s children, we are heirs---heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. We share in Christ’s sufferings; which means we experience God’s heart and participate in what He desires and what He hates; growing in the knowledge of Him everyday. Our labour is no longer about ‘another day, another dollar’, but becomes meaningful and bears eternal significance. Thus, even suffering has an element of joy, when it is in Christ. And just as Christ was glorified, those in Christ too---have future glory in store for them.

How does one come to have this living hope? Scripture says it is through being newly born into it. No one qualifies to belong to the family of God. God Himself in His mercy is the one who gives us new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that we may share in Christ’s inheritance as God’s sons and daughters.

Man is perishing because of sin. Spiritually dead and cut off from God’s love as he lives in this world, only to be cut off eternally and perish in the fiery lake of burning sulfur once he physically dies. This is not God’s joy or desire. His desire is for man to not perish, that He sent His one and only Son Jesus as a sacrificial Lamb to die and take away our sins, that through His death and resurrection, we may have the gift of eternal life and living hope. There is no news greater or more urgent than the gospel that should reach the ears of those who are already perishing. May God really help us to see the reality of ourselves in light of His judgment and His mercy that we may look upon Jesus. “For what I received, I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that HE was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.”

(Written by Jemmie)

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