Practical Christian Living, Part 3

 

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

March 2, 2003

Practical Christian Living, Part 3

Rejoicing & Enduring

Romans 12:12

Introduction

This morning we are going to continue in our study of Romans
12. Paul has presented deep theology in the first 11 chapters,
and now he is applying these theological truths to practical,
every day living. In view of God’s mercies to man in Jesus
Christ who, being God in human flesh, lived a sinless life and
willingly laid down His life on the cross as the substitute
sacrifice in atoning for our sins, then rose again from the dead
on the third day proving Himself and His promises of salvation
from sin for those who believe in Him to be true, there should be
a corresponding response by those who profess such faith. They
are to present themselves as living and holy sacrifices which are
acceptable to God. This is the reasonable response of true
worship of God. Such a person is then changed over time to be a
reflection of Jesus as they are transformed by the renewing of
their minds.

We have already seen in verses 3-8 that Paul has explained
that the Christian, as a living sacrifice, is to be humble and
not think more highly of themselves than they ought as part of
the body of Christ. Every believer is gifted by God for service,
and every gift and ministry are needed for the body to mature, so
all basis of pride is removed since the goal is for the common
good of the whole body. Our lives revolve around serving the Lord
for the sake of His kingdom, not our own.

We have also already seen that in being a living and holy
sacrifice acceptable to the Lord, the Christian is to be growing
in their love for God, other believers and all people. This love
is agaph / agape, the love marked by
its sacrificial nature in giving of itself for the benefit of
another and based in conscious choice instead of fleeting
emotions. It is never a love that is feigned, so it is without
hypocrisy. It reflects God’s character and nature, and so it
abhors what is evil while it clings to what is good. It finds
what is not godly to be detestable and hated so there is a strong
aversion to such things. At the same time, it is attracted to and
holds tightly to what is godly.

Last week we saw that beyond this general duty, the Christian
has more specific duties in relationship to other believers.
There is to be a brotherly love among believers because we are
all part of the family of God. We should have the same commitment
to one another that we should for our siblings. This kind of love
is demonstrated in giving preference in honor to one another. We
consider the other more important than ourselves. We are also to
step out in leading the way in showing such respect and honor. We
seek to initiate instead of just respond.

We also looked at verse 11 last week which begins the sequence
of duties listed in verse 11-13 that we will continue looking at
today. Diligence is the primary duty listed here under which Paul
marks out seven more specific areas in which our being living and
holy sacrifices acceptable to God are to be practically
demonstrated.

Diligence without slothfulness

*Fervent in spirit

*Serving in the Lord

*Rejoicing in hope

*Enduring in tribulation

*Continuing in prayer

*Contributing to the needs of the saints

*Practicing hospitality

As we saw last week, diligence without slothfulness is the
idea that we are to be ready to quickly respond in earnestness to
accomplish, promote or strive after whatever is needful in our
relationships with others. A person who is slothful is the
opposite. They hesitant and delay in their response. Because the
Spirit of God has touched our lives, we are zealous in our own
spirit to respond to God’s Spirit in our relationships with
others.

We seek to serve one another in the Lord. That is quite a
thought all in itself. Not only does the holy creator of the
universe wants us to serve Him, but that we can do so in our
relationships with one another by letting Him work through us.
Paul described it this way in Galatians 2:20 saying, "I
have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the
flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
Himself up for me."
Paul viewed his own life as one in
which he had died and Jesus Christ was now living through him. As
living sacrifices, we are to do the same.

This morning we will continue on with verse 12 and two more of
the specific areas in which we are to practically demonstrate our
being living and holy sacrifices acceptable to God. In each of
these we are to be diligent to act and respond.

Rejoicing in hope

Hope is one of the great blessings of being a Christian.
Tragically, Christians can get overwhelmed by the problems of
life, and in losing their focus, they can become discouraged and
even seriously depressed. The solution to this is to go back to
the hope we have in

Jesus Christ.

The first thing we need to understand about this hope is that
it is not a "wish." It is not something we would like
to happen, but which is a great unknown if it actually will.
Biblical hope is not based in speculation, dreams or even
potential. It is based in absolutes and for that reason Biblical
hope is a confident assurance of what will occur in the future.
Our hope in Jesus Christ for both the present and the future is a
certainty. That is why we are to be "in hope
rejoicing." Again, this is something we are to be diligent
about and not slothful.

What is the basis of this hope and why should we rejoice in
it? The basis of our hopes are the promises of God. The reason we
should rejoice in it is because His promises are the expressions
of His love, and they all will come true because they are based
in God’s divine power. 2 Peter 1:2-4 describes this truth. "Grace
and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of
Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us
everything
pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of
Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these
He has granted to us His precious and magnificent
promises
, in order that by them you might become
partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption
that is in the world by lust."

Remember too that this section of Romans is the application of
a proper response to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As those who
have turned from sin to the savior, we have been forgiven and
promised a place in heaven with Christ. In the present, we have
been promised that God will use our lives to glorify Himself,
which is the purpose of our existence, and even more so since we
are to be presenting our bodies as living and holy sacrifices
acceptable to God.

What are some of these precious and magnificent promises that
should cause us to rejoice?

Here are a few.

Forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13,14 "For He
rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the
kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the
forgiveness of sins.
" 1 John 1:9 "If we confess
our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The Christian
has been promised that their sins are forgiven because of their
redemption in Christ.

Freedom from God’s condemnation: Romans 8:1,2 "There
is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ
Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set
you free from the law of sin and of death."
John 3:17,18
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the
world, but that the world should be saved through Him. "He
who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has
been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of
the only begotten Son of God."
Believers have been
promised that they will stand before God without fear of His
condemnation because Jesus was condemned in our place.

Eternal life. John 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to
you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has
eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out
of death into life
." John 10:27, 28 "My sheep
hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give
eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one
shall snatch them out of My hand."
The eternal life
spoken of here is not length of life, for even the wicked will
exist throughout eternity in Hell (Matthew 25:41,46; Revelation
21:11-15). Eternal life is the quality of life of being in proper
relationship with God. That is the meaning of Jesus’
statement in John 10:10 that He "came that they might
have life, and might have [it] abundantly."

A Home in Heaven. The eternal destiny of those who have
placed their faith in Jesus Christ is secure. John 14:2,3 "In
My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I
would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,
and receive you to Myself; that where I am, [there] you may be
also."

Christ’s return for us. Heaven is not a place that
people get to on their own, but one in which our Savior returns
for us and takes us there. John 14:3 above. Phil 3:20,21 "For
our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for
a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body
of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory,
by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all
things to Himself
."

Comfort at death. For the Christian, to be "absent
from the body" is to be "at home with the Lord" (2
Cor. 5:8). We comfort one another with that hope and that we will
meet those who have preceded us (1 Thess. 4:13-18). For the

Christian, to live is Christ, to die is gain (Phil.
1:21f). We have gained victory over our enemy, death, through
Jesus Christ who conquered it. Though each of us will have to go
through physical death if the Lord does not return prior to that
event, we will not experience spiritual death (the second death –
Rev. 20), and physical death cannot keep us. We will be
resurrected.

New, glorified bodies. One of the great things about
God’s promises of a future in heaven with Him is that we
will also have new bodies that will not be subject to the
corruption of our present physical bodies. Phil. 3:21 above. 1
Cor 15:51-53 "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not
all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will
sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be
changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and
this mortal must put on immortality."

Intercession by Jesus & the Spirit. God has also
given us wonderful promises that apply to our present lives
including intercession by both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Romans
8:26 "And in the same way the Spirit also helps our
weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the
Spirit Himself intercedes for [us] with groanings too deep for
words."
Hebrews 7:25 "Hence, also, He
[Jesus] is able to save forever those who draw near to God
through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for
them."

Jesus’ presence now and forever. Not only does
Jesus presently intercede with the Father on our behalf, but He
is also present with us. Matthew 28:20 ". . . and low, I
am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Hebrews
13:5 – "He Himself has said, "I will never desert
you, nor will I ever forsake you."

The Spirit’s indwelling. We describe the Holy
Spirit’s relationship to us in the present as His indwelling
us. The idea here is that He is within you instead of standing
next to you. John 14:16 "And I will ask the Father, and
He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
[that is] the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,
because it does not behold Him or know Him, [but] you know Him
because He abides with you, and will be in you."

Galatians 4:6 "Because you are sons, God has sent forth
the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba!
Father!"

Adoption into God’s family. As Galatians 4:6
mentions, we can approach God as His children crying out
"Abba! Father!" We can do this because God adopts the
Christian as His child. Romans 8:14-17 "For all who are
being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you
have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but
you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry
out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with
our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs
also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ . . . "

This truth made John marvel in 1 Jn 3:1 "See how great a
love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called
children of God; and such we are."

Access to God the Father. Our adoption into God’s
family also allows us direct access to the Father. Most religions
restrict personal access to God and make you go through a priest
of some type. Biblical Christianity believes what God has said
Himself about who can approach Him. That is why we can follow
Jesus’ instructions and address God directly as "Our
Father, who art in heaven."
Ephesians 2:18,19 tells us "for
through Him
[Jesus] we both have our access in one Spirit
to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,
but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s
household."
Hebrews 4:16, "Therefore let us draw
near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may
receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

His provision for everything needed in this life.
God’s promises to us also take care of the common needs of
everyday life in the present. Matt 6:33 "But seek first
His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be
added to you."
What things? All that is needed for daily
life including food, drink and clothing. God makes these promises
because He wants our minds to be focused on Him and not the
common things of life. Romans 8:32 "He who did not spare
His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not
also with Him freely give us all things?"
Phil. 4:19 "And
my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in
glory in Christ Jesus."

Paul explains in 2 Cor 9:6-12 a further reason that God
provides for all our material needs. "Now this [I say,]
he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows
bountifully shall also reap bountifully. 7 Let each one [do] just
as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under
compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to
make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency
in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9
as it is written, "He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor,
His righteousness abides forever." 10 Now He who supplies
seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply
your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your
righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all
liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. 12
For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the
needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many
thanksgivings to God."
God’s provision for us
allows for us to be the means by which He will meet the needs of
others.

Emotional stability. God’s promises also encompass
our emotional needs. We can be at peace when non-Christians are
in turmoil. Since God has promised to meet our physical needs as
we seek first His kingdom and righteousness, we do not need to
worry about such things. But we do not need to be anxious about
anything else either because we can present the need to God and
rest in His peace. Philippians 4:6,7 "Be anxious for
nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the
peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Or as 1 Peter
5:7 says, "You can cast all your anxiety on Him, because
He cares for you
."

God is also "the Father of mercies and God of all
comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will
be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the
comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God
" (1
Cor. 1:3,4). Whatever turmoil may come into our lives, God can
meet our emotional needs.

Purpose in life. God’s promises also remove the
futility and vanity of life. Ecclesiastes expounds on the
principle that anything man might achieve in life is ultimately
futile if it done apart from God. Amass wealth or power and you
must leave it to someone who will come after you, and they may be
a fool who will squander it. Gain fame, and it also fades away.
As the years go by, you are forgotten. Seek pleasure, and you
will always be seeking, because pleasure is always fleeting. It
never lasts. But God’s promises give the Christian an
eternal purpose for their lives.

As already pointed out, the Christian is brought into a
relationship that will last for eternity. The believer was chosen
by God in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we
should be holy and blameless before Him (Eph. 1:4). He or she is
a "vessel of mercy" which God has "prepared
beforehand for glory"
(Romans 9:23), and so will be
changed into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29), and serve
God forever. In the present, the believer is to do the good works
that God has prepared for us (Eph. 2:10), and they are to do them
in such a way that men will see them and glorify God (Matt.
5:16). God choose those who are saved to be His own people who
would proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9). Jesus has
commissioned us to go into all the world and make disciples,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and
teaching them to obey whatsoever things He has commanded (Matt.
29:19,20). That includes raising our children in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

Triumph in trials. God also makes promises related to
the trials that we face in life. Jesus said in John 16:33, "
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have
overcome the world."
Trials are just part of life in a
sin fallen world, but the Christian has hope in the midst of them
because Jesus has overcome the sin of this world. God’s
general promise in Romans 8:28 is that He "causes all
things to work together for good to those who love God, to those
who are called according to [His] purpose."
But God also
specifically tells us that the trials that bring about the
testing of our faith will produce endurance and that in turn will
result in maturity (James 1:2-4). God promises to chasten the son
whom He loves, so the trials might also be the demonstration of
that love in correcting us. (Hebrews 12:5-11). Back in Romans 5
Paul said that we could "3 exult in our tribulations,
knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and
perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and
hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured
out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to
us."
He went on to point out in verse 8 that "God
demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us."

Hope does not fail and it is the basis for rejoicing because
it is based in the very character of God which cannot fail.
God’s love extends His grace and mercy to us granting us
forgiveness of our sins in Jesus Christ and bringing us into a
personal relationship with Him. He extends to us wonderful and
precious promises that cannot fail because God is omniscient,
omnipresent and omnipotent. Nothing can thwart any of His
promises.

This hope also becomes the basis for what Paul says in the
second phrase of Romans 12:12. In tribulation, the Christian is
enduring.

Enduring in tribulation

Bad things do happen to believers. Christians can find
themselves in crises. Those devoted to God will face
discouragement. But as has already been pointed out, none of
these things should remove our hope in Christ. We can rejoice in
the midst of them.

The word for "tribulation" here, (qliyiV / thlipsis), is the same word as used
in John 16:33 and Romans 5:3 which we have already looked at. It
is also often translated as "affliction."

The word here for "enduring," (upomenw
/ hupomeno), means to "abide under" and hence to
"endure," "put up with," "stand
firm," "persevere."

The sense of our enduring in tribulation is the same as Jesus
as he faced the cross. Hebrews 12:2,3 says that "for the
joy set before Him
[Jesus] endured the cross, despising
the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of
God."
If we keep our focus correct, we can endure
current tribulations because we have a hope of something better
in the future that will result from it. 2 Corinthians reveals
that Paul had lived through some very nasty times including being
beaten, lashed, struck with rods, imprisoned, went hungry,
thirsty, and had sleepless nights. He was also shipwrecked and
endured an untold number of other dangers and hardships in his
travels (2 Cor. 11:23f). Paul’s own comment on these trials
in 2 Cor. 4:16-18 is "Therefore we do not lose heart, but
though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being
renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing
for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things
which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Life can be tough for Christians, and there are things that
arise in our lives that can be very difficult. If we do not keep
our focus correct, we can become discouraged or even depressed.
It can be enough to drive you to your knees – no wonder the next
phrase in Paul’s list is "devoted to prayer." We
will examine it next week.

We do not have to succumb to the pressures around us. We do
not have to become discouraged or depressed. We have the promises
of God that give us ongoing hope regardless of the circumstances.
We can endure the afflictions of the moment in view of what God
will bring about in the future and what He is doing in the
present. But to do that you must keep your perspective correct.

Life is not about your pleasure or comfort. It is not about
your wealth or fame. It really is not about you at all. It is
about the holy God who created us and saved us for Himself
despite our rebellion against Him. Those who profess to be
Christians need to respond to God’s mercy toward them by
presenting themselves as living and holy sacrifices that are
acceptable to God. They need to continue to resist the pressures
of the world and be transformed by the renewing of their minds.
When your mind is set on things above, instead of the things of
this earth, you will be able to live in godly wisdom in a godly
manner.

But what about the times when you are overwhelmed and become
discouraged or depressed? That is when you are in the greatest
need of the rest of the body of Christ using their gifts properly
to help you along. The problem is that this is also the time when
you least want to be around other people. There is much that you
can do to alleviate discouragement and depression simply by doing
what is right before God regardless of your feelings at the
moment. But at the same time, you should not have to endure it
all alone.

There is a responsibility that the rest of the body of Christ
has towards those who are down, but before we can reach out to
them we must first remember our own frailty. We are not to judge,
condemn or look down on those who struggle as if somehow we are
superior because we are not currently struggling. Each of us has
our own weaknesses and we are to treat others the way we would
want to be treated ourselves. In addition, if one part of the
body suffers, then we are all suffering (1 Cor. 12:26). We are to
humbly seek to help others. Yes, we need to remind them that as
Christians we are living sacrifices whose lives are to revolve
around God’s will and not our own desires. But we are also
to encourage them with all the wonderful aspects of God’s
love that cause us to rejoice in His care for us. We are to lift
them up and encourage them with the wonderful promises God has
made to us. We are to help one another rejoice in hope, and
persevere in tribulation.

Are you down, discouraged or depressed? Then turn your focus
once again to our loving Lord and rejoice in the hope we have in
Him for both eternity and the present. Jeremiah sat looking over
the ruins of Jerusalem, yet amid the destruction he still
recognized his hope in the Lord and said in Lamentations 3:22-25
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His
compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy
faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"Therefore I have hope in Him." The Lord is good to
those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
"

Press on in the midst of the current afflictions knowing that
in due time, we will reap if we do not give up (1 Cor. 15:58;
Gal. 6:10).

Do you see people who are struggling? Don’t ignore them.
They need help. Step out to encourage the fainthearted and help
the weak (1 Thess. 5:14). It is not your job to fix them, but it
is your job to make yourself available and useful to the Lord as
He works in their lives, possibly through you. They might need a
shoulder to cry on and their tears wiped away. All of us do at
times. They will need others to patiently point them back to our

hope in Christ so that they might once again rejoice.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * *

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your
children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children
draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon.
Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older
Children :
Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many
times the word "hope" is used. 2) Discuss with your
parents the what our hope is in Jesus Christ and how that can
cause you to rejoice.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.

What is the reasonable response to God’s mercies to us in
Jesus Christ? What are some of the practical ways in which that
should be demonstrated presented in Romans 12:3-8? How do you
demonstrate those things? How are you doing at loving without
hypocrisy? How are you doing at showing brotherly love? What is
the level of your diligence at these things? What is the hope in
vs. 12 that we are to rejoice in? What is the basis of our
rejoicing in that hope? List out as many of the promises God has
made to believers as you can think of. For each one, describe the
hope that it gives you and how it is a cause of rejoicing? What
does it mean to "endure in tribulation?" Why do bad
things happen to Christians? What can God do in you in the midst
of tribulation? What bad things have happened to you? How did you
endure through them? Did someone help you? If so, how did they
help. If not, what could someone have done to help? How could you
help someone who is depressed rejoice again in hope?

Sermon
Study Sheets

 

Sermon Notes – 3/2/2003 am

Practical Christian Living, Part 3
Romans 12:12,13

Introduction

Rejoicing in hope

2 Peter 1:2-4

Forgiveness of sinsColossians 1:13,14; 1 John
1:9

Freedom from God’s condemnation – Romans
8:1,2; John 3:17,18;

Eternal lifeJohn 5:24; 10:27, 28; John 10:10

A Home in Heaven – John 14:2,3

Christ’s return for usJohn 14:3; Phil
3:20,21

Comfort at death2 Cor. 5:8; 1 Thess. 4:13-18;
Phil. 1:21f

New, glorified bodies – Phil. 3:21; 1Cor 15:51-53

Intercession by Jesus & the Spirit – Romans
8:26; Hebrews 7:25

Jesus’ presence now and forever – Matthew
28:20; Hebrews 13:5

The Spirit’s indwellingJohn 14:16;
Galatians 4:6

Adoption in to God’s familyGalatians 4:6;
Romans 8:14-17; 1 John 3:1

Access to God the FatherEphesians 2:18,19;
Hebrews 4:16

His provision for everything needed in this life – Matt
6:33; Romans 8:32; Philippians 4:19; 2 Cor 9:6-12

Emotional stabilityPhilippians 4:6,7; 1 Peter
5:7; 1 Cor. 1:3,4

Purpose in life – Ecclesiastes

Eph. 1:4; Romans 9:23; Romans 8:29; Eph. 2:10; Matt. 5:16;
1 Peter 2:9; Matt. 29:19,20; Eph. 6:4

Triumph in trialsJohn 16:33; Romans 8:28;James

1:2-4; Hebrews 12:5-11; Romans 5:3-8

Enduring in TribulationRomans 12:12.

qliyiV / thlipsis = tribulation

upomenw / hupomeno = abide
under; enduring, persevere, stand firm

Hebrews 12:2,3

2 Cor. 4:16-18 cf. 11:23f

1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:10

1 Thess. 5:14