Monday, July 29, 2013

Grace, Peace and Pressure by Martin Wiles

Romans 5: 1-5

A. What does it take for you to be at peace?
1. You make enough to pay your bills and have some left over for pleasurable activities?
2. No one in the family is arguing?
3. Your employment is secure from all outward appearances?
4. Your health appears intact?

B. How do you deal with life’s pressures?
1. Get angry and lash out at any who may have caused the pressure?
2. Grow bitter because life has handed you a raw deal?
3. Walk away and quit?
4. Turn to substances you think will help you handle the pressure?

C. Paul will deal with some difficult subjects in the next four chapters.
1. To adequately understand them, we must realize the two sided reality of the Christian life-peace and pressure.
2. We are in a spiritual battle every day.
3. While we are complete in Christ, we are also in the process of growing-we cannot nor should we remain babes in the faith.
4. Though we reign with Christ, we are still his slaves and are responsible for doing the bidding of our Master.
5. Though we have the presence of Christ in us through his Spirit, we still face the pressure to sin.

I. Grace By Faith Leads To Peace (vv. 1-2)
A. Because of what Christ has done-and through our faith in him, we are now at peace with God.
1. Paul has already dealt at length with faith. It is said that when attempting to translate the word “faith” for the Chamula people of Southern Mexico it was discovered there was no single word in their language to translate that word.
2. Translators crossed a major hurdle when they translated it as follows: “taking seriously what God has obligated himself to do.”
3. We can read this into verse one-“Therefore, since we have taken seriously what God has obligated himself to do, we have peace with God.”
4. The process of justification brings us into the peaceful condition Paul will now speak about.
5. As mentioned in the introduction of this lesson, we often feel certain things have to take place or that we have to possess certain items for peace to be experienced.
6. Spiritual peace, however, has nothing to do with our circumstances or what we might own.
7. Biblical peace is peace beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7) and possessed regardless of or in spite of the circumstances.
8. The Greek word for peace (eirene, [i ray’ nay]) means there is no more hostility between us and God.
9. Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, references this peace that surpasses our understanding.
10.  It is a peace that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. In other words, this peace God gives will keep us focused and will wart off anxiety and worry no matter how intense our circumstances appear.
11.  It is preceded by bringing our prayers and supplications to God, for only as we share our concerns with him will he in turn give us that peace.
12.  As we bring those things that appear unpeaceful to God, we acknowledge our lack of control over the circumstances and express our trust in him to carry us through the difficulty we are currently experiencing.

B. There is a greater peace than peace in troubling circumstances.
1. This superior peace has nothing to do with our circumstances.
2. In fact, we can only have peace in our circumstances when it is preceded by peace with God.
3. We have peace with God first because of what Christ has done at Calvary but second because we have accepted that gift by faith.
4. Jesus brings peace because he is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
5. This peace results from knowing our sins have been forgiven, that we are no longer under condemnation and that we will never have to face God as our judge because we are a part of his family and a joint heir with his Son.
6. One characteristic of Hebrew writing is its poetic repetition which allows a person to see an already revealed truth from a different angle.
7. So it is with the matter of grace. Not only does God justify and reconcile us to himself through our faith in Christ, but our faith also ushers us into the grace in which we stand. That is, Christ ushers us into the presence of God.
8. We might imagine an opportunity to visit the President in the Oval Office. We approach a closed door-all the while knowing the most important man in the free world is behind that door sitting at his desk. We cannot go in there, however, by ourselves. One of his cabinet members opens the door, ushers us in, and introduces us to him.
9. Satan may accuse us, but his accusations carry no weight for Christ intercedes for us.
10.  There is a wonderful peace that comes in knowing nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)
11.  The position we stand in is one of highest privilege. We are a part of God’s family and are even considered his friends. (John 15:15)
12.  We can confidently and joyfully look forward to our eternal sharing of God’s glory.
13.  So the state of peace is much different than feelings of peace.
14.  Feelings are determined by circumstances while the state is given by God.
15.  Our old nature no longer blocks our interaction with our Heavenly Father, for we have been given a new nature in Christ.
16.  While unconfessed acts of sin can affect the quality of the relationship, they do not separate us from God in our position.

II. Grace By Faith Helps Us Deal With Life’s Pressures (vv. 3-5)
A. Our Power to Overcome.
1. First century Christians were familiar with suffering. In fact, suffering was the rule rather than the exception. Paul was also acquainted with it.
2. Paul lists some things pressure helps us become, but the becoming is not necessarily enjoyable unless viewed with the proper perspective.
3. The Greek word for tribulation is thlipsis (th leep’ sis) means affliction, distress, straits or a pressing together.
4. Our suffering can result from our stand for Christ, or it can come because of sin in the world.
5. Sin has affected the creation of God, and it certainly enslaves those apart from Christ as is manifest in the multitude of sinful actions we witness each day.
6. While we are overcomers now, the reality of our full overcoming is reserved for heaven.
7. Trials and tribulations by their very nature are not enjoyable, but we do learn through them if we respond in the correct manner. Instead of pondering the why of the situation (unless it is to contemplate whether sin in our life has brought this), we need to question what God may be trying to teach us or what he can teach us through the experience.
8. God can send trials, tribulations and periods of suffering as discipline for unconfessed sin (as long as they do not violate his nature). So examining ourselves is useful.
9. Yet a great deal of the above comes because we live in a sinful world.
10.  No matter how difficult the pressure, God endows us with his strength which allows us to overcome and move through the difficulties of life.
11.  Jesus told his followers they would have tribulation but they were to be of good cheer because he had overcome the world. (John 16:33) Because we are associated with Christ, we have as well.
12.  We also understand everything that comes into our life is either permitted or brought by God, and he has promised to work all things together for our good and his glory. All things touching our life-pressures included, are Father filtered.

B. What Pressures Teach Us.
1. Pressures help us learn endurance or perseverance.
a. We certainly do not like pain nor do we welcome news of tragic events.
b. We cannot deny, however, that there is a growing element involved when we face and move through pressure.
c. When we refuse to be overcome by fear, when we reject depression, when we forsake anger, bitterness and rage, and when we avoid disappointment, we can grow through life’s pressures.
d. We are more sturdily formed in life by difficulties than by easy situations.
e. The word is also translated patience and is active. We do not simply sit back and endure but actively respond in such a way that something is changed.
f. When viewed through God’s lenses, difficulties are not random, meaningless or wasted.
2. Our endurance develops character.
a. Character is somewhat like integrity and the Greek word dokime (dah’ key may) means that we have been approved and proved as a result of testing.
b. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking or when everyone is looking.
c. Character is who we truly are and will express itself in integrity.
d. Suffering-pressure, reveals who we are as well as assists in the process of conforming us to the image of God’s Son.
e. We have heard of cracking under pressure.
f. A proper response to life’s pressures develops us and makes us stronger if we respond correctly. Otherwise, we will fold.
3. Character strengthens our confidence about our salvation or future.
a. Salvation is progressive-we are saved from the penalty of sin, being saved from the power of sin, and will be saved from the presence of sin.
b. Character development strengthens our expectation of eternal salvation.
c. As we grow in our faith experience, our faith in God and his promises become stronger.
d. As we near that future, we become more confident of it.
e. We will never be disappointed by the hope we have in Christ.

C. Our confidence in the results of facing pressure as well as in our eternal security will not be disappointed.
1. God has loved us, and sent his Son to appropriate our salvation.
2. He has sent his Spirit to indwell us and give assurance we are his children.

A. Rejoice in the peace you can have through faith in Christ-a peace that really is beyond our comprehension.
B. Let God use life’s pressures to mold you. Do not let Satan use the difficulties to destroy you.

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