All Have Sinned

Scripture: Romans 3:23, Romans 1:16-17
Date: 07/17/2010 
Lesson: 3
Paul makes the point that Jews and Gentiles alike are guilty of sin and require Christ's righteousness for salvation.
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. We're so glad that you are tuning in. Some of you do every single week, and you are part of our extended Sabbath school family here at Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. But if this is your first time, we welcome you and give you a special central welcome to "central study hour" this morning. You have written in with favorite songs, and we are so thankful for that because it gives us plenty to sing.

And we have a lot to sing about this morning. The first one, 375, "work, for the night is coming," this is our first request. And this is from joash-- josiah in jamaica, miguel in Maryland, marc in the Philippines, kenyon in south africa, heidi in Texas, and sabelo in the virgin islands. So let's sing this morning, "work, for the night is coming," and we'll do all three stanzas, 375. [Music] Thank you for sending in your requests.

I know there is many more of you who have favorites. And if you would love to sing one of your favorites with us on an upcoming Sabbath, it's very easy. Go to our website at, and click on the "contact us" link. And you can send in your favorite hymn, and we will do our best to sing that for you as soon as possible. Our next song, "rejoice, the Lord is king," 221.

This is from keith and-- how did we decide we were going to say that? Mignonette. Mignonette, travis and aleski in grenada, clifton, justin, Simone, denise in jamaica, and then dinorah in panama. So we are going to sing the first, second and fourth stanza of "rejoice, the Lord is king," 221. [Music] Father in Heaven, this morning we do rejoice. We are so thankful and glad for the opportunity that we have to be here to study Your Word together as a Sabbath school family.

We thank you so much for bringing us here. I pray you'll be with those who are ill, who can't make it this morning, that wherever they are, that you will be with them. And we thank you so much for our extended Sabbath school family who is joining us around the world. And I pray that we will all receive the blessing that you have for us this morning as we open up Your Words and study together. In Jesus' Name, amen.

At this time, our lesson study is going to be brought to us by pastor mike thompson. He is our health and outreach pastor here at central church. Thank you very much, debbie, and soon to be a grandpa again. They haven't picked a name yet, so we've got a week left, so just pray for them. You can always choose a number though if you can't find a name.

Anyway, welcome to Sabbath school this morning. We have a special offer. It's offer number 112 called, "can a saved man chose to be lost?" And there's a phone number you can call, 1-866-study-more, or 1-866-788-3966. So if you call Amazing Facts, they'll send you this book free, "can a saved man chose to be lost?" And it kind of ties in with our theme that we have this quarter actually from the book of Romans, really good quarterly, "redemption in Romans." And today we're actually, we're on chapter-- well, lesson 3 already. By the way, welcome to those of you watching on the internet or three weeks from today on television, on satellite, those of you who are here maybe for the first time.

I'd like to welcome you this morning and see some old faces coming back, good to see you. The lesson title is, "all have sinned." And we have a--we have a memory text here from Romans 3:23, and it says, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The Bible doesn't paint a very attractive and complimentary picture of humanity. It does not like a skilled graphic artist might take a true and telling picture of an aging celebrity. And through the magic of photoshop remove their wrinkles and the warts and the bumps and finish it up with a beautiful smiling face, with a flawless complexion, pearly white teeth, on a glossy cover of some fashionable magazine. The Bible does not give such an airbrushed picture of any one of us.

The Bible presents the true picture of humanity and all the details that are deliberately left in because God is an honest God who deals with us and reckons with us very honestly. And the commentary he gives, along with the pictures left unedited, quite blunt and to the point. See God has no time for photoshop. And God has no time for political correctness. He tells it exactly as it is, and he says, "you're all sinners, every one of us.

" And when the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he made it very clearly that both jews and gentiles were in the same boat, equally fallen. And he doesn't present a very flattering picture either. The Bible says both are condemned and deserving, that's all of us, deserving only of death because, "the wages of sin is death," Romans 6:23. And such wages are the rightful due of each one of us even here this morning. And there's not a single thing that you can do or I can do that can commute that death sentence that hangs over the head of every one of us.

But there is a most wondrous and amazing thing called the Gospel that can change all that. And Paul has an awful lot to say about the Gospel in his epistle to the Romans. Now I'm gonna try and go through each day, say something a bit more structured, go through each day in the lesson, trying to stay on track there. I may say a lot on one and not much on another, but I'm going to go through each day as far as I can. So we're going to begin with Sunday.

And in Sunday we find the apostle Paul without any hesitation or equivocation standing there under the banner of Christ, just letting it know who he stands for. And he says, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." This is Romans 1:16-17. In fact, if we could turn there, Romans 1:16-17, let's read the whole passage. Paul says, "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel." Now maybe there's somebody on this side who--do we have a mic on this side? Yeah. Andrew? Andrew is primed and ready to go, debbie.

Andrew manthe right down here, you know andrew. Thank you andrew. Romans 1:16-17. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the jew first and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'the just shall live by faith.

'" Thank you very much andrew. And again in Sunday's section I think it was, it listed three things there: Gospel, faith and righteousness. And I've kind of put them a slightly different way around, the second and the third one. But Gospel, the Greek word I think was euaggelion. It means actually "good news.

" And if you went to a Greek in Paul's time and said, "the Gospel." They could have meant that the circus is coming to town. It just meant good news. But when we read Gospel in the Scriptures, it's far better news than the circus coming to town. The good news is that for all we have fallen and deserving only of eternal death. The good news is that Jesus came, took our sins and our guilt upon himself, suffered the death which was ours that we might have the life which is his.

And that certainly is good news. I'm going to put faith, the third point, before the second point which was righteousness. Faith, I guess if we could define faith we could kind of say belief. And you know, very often the simpler our believe is, our faith is, the better off we are. The more like little children we are when it comes to believing God, the far better it is for us.

And we give God such a-- such a less grievous time. But faith, in some ways it's a small, but it's a very crucial entity that we've got to learn to effectively exercise in respect to our salvation. We're all fallen. We're all sinners. And the thing that gets us first of all off the launch pad to receive of God's grace is this thing called faith.

There's no virtue in faith. It's the means whereby we're able to reach out and take hold of virtue of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We could say that grace writes the check, but faith has to take it to the bank. And God can write these wonderful big checks of grace, but unless faith comes to take that check to the bank and cash it, it's not going to work, you see. There is a definite definition of faith that says, "faith is getting it before you've got it.

" In other words, you believe so much that God will fulfill his promise, I've got it before I've actually got it, if that kind of makes sense. It's a play on words, but that's how simplistic and effective and forthright that faith needs to be. And we lose much if we don't exercise faith. There's a statement I want to share with you from "evangelism," 286. And the context is those who did not exercise childlike faith in God's mercy and therefore lost much, just a short statement, but it says this.

"Failing to understand the simplicity of the plan of salvation, they lost many privileges and blessings which they might have claimed had they only believed when they first turned to God that he had accepted them." There's a world of difference between faith and feeling. And very often we go looking for a feeling to verify that God has accepted us. Feelings have their place, but when God says, "I forgive you," don't wait for a feeling. You must believe, even if feelings don't come with the belief. Give it time.

Assurance will come as you believe in simple child-like faith. Anyway, we have to move on here, still in Sunday. Also mentioned righteousness. Now the good news is that faith in Jesus Christ can be exchanged, through faith in Jesus Christ, our righteousness, which isn't worth much, in fact it's worth nothing, can be exchanged for the righteousness of God, for the righteousness of Jesus Christ, 'cause the passage says, "the righteousness of God," it's this righteousness that is given to us. As we look in the Greek at the word, "righteousness," it can be literally translated as a God-kind of righteousness, not a human kind of righteousness, a God-kind of righteousness.

And this is very significant because God's righteousness is much higher and far different than the definition that we would very often come up with if we're asked to define righteousness. It's far higher and far greater than we can actually comprehend and even attain to in our own strength. You know, as human beings we're pretty good at--well practiced in defining things our way as opposed to God's way. And our understanding falls far short of his. We're very good, and very skilled, very practiced at coming up and making our own yardsticks rather than using God's yardstick to measure our own moral progress and that of other--well, let's leave others out of it.

We need to be looking at ourselves. But the purpose of the Gospel is to reveal God's kind of righteousness, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed. Not just for us, but actually in us. Say a bit more about that latter part, just a little later on this morning. So God is righteous, and he wants us to have his righteousness.

Just how righteous is God? Do we have any idea really? The Bible tells us that God is a consuming fire. The angels, the angels veil their faces before him, holy, sinless angels veil their faces before God because these angels are sinless and pure, yet even in the presence of God they veil their faces. Do we get that? I don't--i don't. I see darkly through some very thick coke-bottom bottled glasses. The glory and the righteousness of God.

Moses, bless his heart, he said to God, "show me thy glory." You know, he meant it from the heart. But Moses was as finite as we are. He really had no idea what he was asking for. But God condescended. And he says, "alright," he says, "but I'm gonna put you in the cleft of the rock.

You can't see my face, because it would just--you'd be consumed, but you can see me from the back." That's how holy and righteous God is. Isaiah got a glimpse of God, high and lifted up on his throne. And he says this in Isaiah 6:5, "woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of the people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." And it just completely humbled him. You realize there was no way that he could manufacture in himself any righteousness that could match the righteousness of God or to wash away his sins. But divine grace abounded toward him.

And God sent an angel with a call from the altar and touched his lips. And he said, "thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged." And God gave him a righteousness which matched his own righteousness, a righteousness equal with his, solely because God had given it to him. And that's what God wants to give us all, if we will, as the lesson speaks of this morning, exercise a seemingly small but very crucial thing known as faith. Every one of these sections we could actually have a sermon or a series on. If Pastor Doug was here, he'd do well at doing that.

But he's in atlanta right now. Anyway, let's move on. Let's move on to Monday, because I want to move on to Monday so again, we can enlarge this picture. Remember I used the analogy of a picture of God being a true graphic artist if you like, who doesn't use airbrush. He just presents the portrait as it really is.

And in Monday's section we get a deeper insight, dismal insight actually into our true condition. Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The beautiful image of God that was displayed in humanity before the fall absolutely disappeared that moment that adam sinned. But it was God's purpose, and it's still God's purpose through the Gospel to restore that image, to restore that image through the power of the Gospel. However, however, God is not in the business of redeeming and restoring anyone against their will. God has to have the cooperation of the fallen object, the fallen subject.

And our problem is, you see, we're so fallen and our condition is so dismal that we in our own natural state, we don't even have the desire to want to be saved. We don't have the desire for righteousness. And God has got--God has really got his work cut out for him to try and get these beings who are so fallen, who are really in themselves, who don't even have a right--a desire for righteousness to get them to want to have a desire for righteousness so he can save them through his grace. Let's just have a look at this very dismal picture. We have nothing to boast of, friends.

Let's go to Romans 3. And there's a section there, verses 10 through 18. Now I just kind of distilled this. I'm going to move quickly here. But it says in Isaiah 3:11, he says, "none understand, none seek after God.

" That's just what I said. We don't even have the desire in ourselves to seek after him. Verse 12, we're out of the way, we're "unprofitable," there's none of us good. Verse 13, we're "deceitful," , our mouths are "full of curses and bitterness," , "swift to shed blood." You might say, "well, I'm not in that category. I don't shed anybody's blood.

" You have the potential to do that, every one of us has. That's how fallen we are. Sixteen, "destruction and misery" mongers. I kind of distilled it down to misery mongers. Verse 17, we generate strife instead of peace.

And 18, on top of all that, "there is no fear," nor respect, "for God." So if you take all these different facets, see which we've kind of boiled down from this passage in Romans 3:10-18, maybe we can kind of distill it into two precise definitions of what sin has done to us to make us like we are. And I propose two things this morning. I like to say this. I believe sin, we can define sin as this, the damage it's done: sin darkens the mind, and sin hardens the heart. And as a consequence, takes away any desire for righteousness.

Darkens the mind and it hardens the heart. And from these two evils, through this all-encompassing state of these two things here, we find all kinds of evil spring forth. This is why the world is in such a wretched and a miserable state. This provides the ideal conditions for sin to germinate, to thrive; a darkened mind and hardened heart is a fertile breeding ground where evil can be conceived and perpetuated. It's in these two places combined, a dark mind and a hardened heart where satan establishes a stronghold to control and hold captive his--every human being.

And the last thing satan wants is to allow God to take that person out of his control, out of that terrible morbid state of being with a darkened mind and a hard heart and to change the picture. The devil doesn't want that. And try as we might, if we kind of get a glimpse of the light and say, "you know what? I think I would like to be saved," no matter what we do in our own cell, whether it's some branch of psychology, some humanistic tool, something that will modify our behavior to some degree, we are still absolutely powerless and helpless to liberate ourselves to bring light to the mind and to melt the heart that is hardened in sin. We just don't stand a chance. But that remedy, I tell you again, friends, is one thing called what? The Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And this alone can break satan's power and persuade a confirmed sinner with a dark mind and a hard heart, persuade them to take another course in life and to find liberation through Jesus. And again, I'm going to get more into that aspect of it a little later on. Tuesday, Tuesday says from the st to the 21st century, from the 1st to the 21st, we may look and think, "oh those people, back in those times, you know, they can't hold a match up to us." No, no, that's not true. Human nature has always been human nature, whether it's the st century or the 21st century. There were people in Paul's day with dark minds, and hard hearts, just as much as there is in our day.

In Paul's day, there were people who were otherwise very intelligent, but at the same time were not very smart. And therefore did a lot of damage. And there were people in our day, in the 21st century, just like in Paul's day who are otherwise very, very intelligent people, but at the same time are not very smart. And therefore they can cause a lot of damage, you see. Remember this.

Don't forget this. A person may be very, very intelligent and have a very high iq, but they may not be very wise. And there's a big difference between being smart, intellectual, and being wise. And the reason why somebody might be very intellectually smart but actually very dumb on the other hand is because they've drunk at their own fountain instead of drinking at the fountain of divine truth. And that is the Word of God.

A person can be very talented, very sophisticated, very cultured and intellectual, but if they reject the grace of Christ, they become nothing more than an intellectual sinner without a hope. And with the ability because of their smartness to be able to destroy themselves and others in a most sophisticated and very scientific way. Now note what happens when someone eschews God and walks in the sparks of their own intellect. This is a verse again now from our lesson today, Romans 1:21-22. Again, I'd like somebody to read this passage.

"Because, that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Thank you very much, kelly. Welcome back by the way. And your wife. Yeah, "professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

" Very smart people. I submit this to you today, friends. I believe we're reaching the culmination and ultimate demonstration of such foolishness in our day. Both in the world, and dare I say even in the church, every church, every denomination, such foolishness. And I believe that satan has engineered this to lead people who are otherwise very intelligent to finally go down the path of perdition and take others with them, to blind them to the saving truths of the Gospel and leave them totally unprepared for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

I believe we're there--i believe we're seeing it happen before our very eyes. I want to just discuss a little bit of history here which dates back to the mid-19th century. It's interesting--which is of course the mid-1800s. It's very interesting to note that at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, which ended in 1844, the judgment began, the pre-advent judgment began in heaven. As the remnant church came into being, it was commission to take the third angel's message to the world, to preach the Gospel and to restore the Sabbath.

There arose especially in the, you might even say the Christian nations of the west, there rose something known as secular humanism. Now it wasn't really anything new. It was the same old pagan, vain philosophy, but with a different picture and a new name. But we call it secular humanism. And that's the kind of the general term for it.

And in actual fact, from secular humanism, and in connection with it, came forth a title wave of humanistic ideas and practices that began to permeate society and especially the educational systems. Got into the--got into the schools, but especially in the places of higher learning. Darwin's theory of evolution, dovetailed perfectly well with all this secular humanism, which came up in the mid-19th century. Fit in very well with karl marx's, "communist manifesto," because in essence secular humanism is atheistic and has no place for God. And all this arose about the mid-1800s as the great prophecy of Daniel 8:14 was being fulfilled.

And of course I won't labor this point this morning, but other things too came out. Also the rise of spiritualism, the modern rise of spiritualism, all tools in the hands of satan to undermine the message of the third angel and to leave people unprepared so they couldn't even understand it, because they'd be so confused and would lose their way. It's not by accident as we look back in history we see these two things coming up all at the same time. And suffice it today as from the mid-1800s and beyond society began, and the halls of learning began to marinate in this ideas of secular humanism. The 20th century rolls around.

And along with this secular humanistic philosophy, men had advanced in technology and science. So we find ourselves with a world, just as more depraved of ever and just as dangerous as ever. And we all know the rest of the story, what happened in the 20th century, two devastating wars and others besides and weapons of mass destruction which are still out there somewhere. And the final chapter of man's frivolity and foolishness and his ability to perform great acts of self-destruction. Such folly, the final chapter is soon to be written.

Professing himself to be wise, he became foolish. And the damage that satan accomplished in the world, in the rise of secular humanism--he's done it before, but especially there's an agenda for the time of the end. But the damage that satan caused beginning in the mid-19th century, this secular humanism, is paralleled in the church by something else which also arose at the same time, the mid-19th century or thereabouts, the third angel's message was going to be proclaimed, something which for want of a better term, we'll call it high criticism, higher criticism. A method of biblical analysis and interpretation, which has done nothing in the main but to undermine the veracity of Scripture and to destroy the confidence of many in the Word of God. I don't have time this morning, but I could tell you about the oxford movement at oxford university in cambridge, where especially there, there were individuals who got in through that, infiltrated the church of england.

That's why the church of england today it's--the church of england, the leader of the church of england said years ago, "if there's a merge with rome, then the pope should be the head." It's gone. It's gone. This is all the damage that has been done. But I'm speaking of every denomination today. This higher criticism, you can give it another term if you want.

But it's the same underlying, undermining of God's Word, to destroy it's voracity and to destroy people's faith in it so that when the Gospel is preached, they say, "I don't know about this third angel's message. You know, I read this and this from some theologian. And I really don't know. In Daniel 8:14, the cleansing of the sanctuary, I really don't know about that." The greatest danger, I want to tell you that straight up this morning. The greatest danger for the world and for the church, is not some atheistic hitler, or some atheistic stalin, is a highly-educated, well-qualified clergyman who undermines the veracity of Scripture.

The greatest curse is not some atheistic stalin or some atheistic hitler, but is a highly educated teacher in a school or a college that also undermines the literal truths of God's Word. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And unfortunately there are those who unquestionally look to them for guidance and instruction and finish up being equally foolish, equally blind and unless they come to the light will be equally lost. And so all of these factors serve only to worsen the condition of fallen humanity and leave so many in the world and in the church unprepared for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Friends, if there was ever a time to take tHis Word, especially because our theme is we're fallen, right? We've all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

We've always needed tHis Word, but if there is ever a time for tHis Word, it certainly is now, because the devil is pulling out all the stops. But God has more stops to pull out in the area of his grace, that we need never be deceived. We need never be overcome. And we can be victorious. And if others in their so-called wisdom choose to take the path of intellectual self-conceit and go down to destruction, pray for them.

Who wants to see them go? But if they must go, let them go alone. Don't go with them. And those within the church, us, we have more to answer for than anybody else. And the higher our position, the more accountable we are to God. I'm moving into Wednesday's section which speaks of jews and gentiles together, okay.

Romans 2:1-3, would somebody like to read these three verses? Romans 2? Ron's right here in the front row. "Therefore you are inexcusable, o man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge in another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, o man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?" Thank you very much, ron. Thank you, I appreciate that.

We ought to be very careful how we point the finger. Now I want to make one thing very clear here. Some people use this thing, "oh, don't judge me." Well, we cannot judge the motives, okay. But if I see you stealing $20 out of ron's pocket here, and I come and say, "you're a thief." Don't turn around and say, "how dare you judge me." Bible says, "by their fruits you shall know them." So, you know, let's keep things in balance here. It's motive we cannot judge.

Only God knows motive, so we need to be careful there. But anyway, jews and gentiles together. Paul's making a point, again, that both jews and gentiles, they're both sinners. But the jews being what they were, they were more inclined to point to the gentiles and condemn them because the jews had actually the law of God which gave them a greater understanding of light, a greater understanding of right and wrong. But yet, somehow for all they had this, in many ways they seemed blind to the realization that the greater light they possessed, made them all the more accountable to God and made their sins all the less inexcusable and offensive to God.

So we have to be careful here. We're the Spiritual jews, right? So let's be careful. And we look at the gentiles out there, they may not know any better, but you and i, we've got the book here. And this book takes away every excuse. And so my question is this morning, how do we stand as spiritual jews of the remnant in all this? Are we quick to point the finger? Are we quick to want to say, "hey, let me get that speck out of your eye," when it's Jesus say you've got a plank in your own.

We all need to walk humbly before God. There's a book I have at home. I forgot the gentleman's name. He was a Greek scholar. But it's called "word pictures in the new testament," page 326.

He says this very succinct statement in respect to light and opportunity and the consequence of that. He says, "the jew is first in privilege and in penalty." Why is the jew first in privilege? 'Cause he's got the oracles of God. The gentiles didn't have that and don't now. But as a consequence, because of the privilege, is also a first in penalty. Judgment begins where? It begins at the house of God.

And the judgment will be first of the highest order for those within spiritual Israel, who have continued in deliberate sin and have turned away their light--their face from the light. It takes every excuse away. And this is why Jesus was so distressed as he approached Jerusalem and just the final days before he was crucified. And he looked down and he wept over that city. He saw the coming doom when he foresaw what would happen to these people who had such light, far more light than the gentiles ever had.

Then he was in the temple and they gave this awful declaration just before he left in Matthew 23:37-38. As he saw the darkness of their minds and the hardness of their hearts, he said, "oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which ascent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together? Even as a hen gathereth her chicks under her wings and ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you desolate." The jews as a nation had a house. As individuals if you like, we have a house. We need Jesus to live in there.

The last thing we want is for Jesus to leave this little house desolate. And he will. He doesn't want to, but he will if we follow in the footsteps of the jews in Jesus' time who had all the light and privileges, but use that light and privilege just to browbeat other people, condemn them, criticize them. The old saying is, "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." And indeed the sin that so readily darkens the mind and hardens the heart will ultimately bring a terrible price. Fearful to contemplate and awful beyond all our ability to comprehend, especially to those who have had great light and squandered it.

And it was partly the realization of this that added to Jesus' anguish and suffering when he was on the cross. I want to read you a statement from "Desire of Ages," and 753. "It was not the dread of death that weighed upon him," that is weighed upon Jesus. "It was not the pain and ignominy of the cross that causes inexpressible agony. Christ was the prince of suffers.

But his suffering was from a sense of malignity, of the malignity of sin. And knowledge that through familiarity with evil man would become blinded to its enormity. Christ saw how deep is the hold of sin upon the human heart. How few would be willing to break from its power. He knew that without help from God humanity must perish and he saw multitudes, he saw multitudes perishing within reach of abundant help.

" Caused him such anguish. Through familiarity with evil, we may be blinded to the enormity of our sin. We may see it in others, but not so readily in ourselves. And through familiarity with evil, our hearts can become hardened. But the good news is, my friends, there abundant help is available for the most darkened mind, for the most hardened heart because of what Jesus accomplished on behalf of each one of us upon the cross.

Thursday's section, we're going there now, speaks of repentance. And that is important because Jesus said in Luke 3-- Luke 13:3-5, "except you repent, you shall all likewise perish." But here's the thing. As we go to the cross and see what Jesus has done for us, in a wondrous and mysterious way, it is the cross that is able to make us be repentant and truly sorry for our sins and have that desire to want to come to know God and to want to know the light and to walk in the light and turn away from everything that may be very ingenious, but is such utter foolishness and will lead us down to perdition. God has a way of being able to lead us to repentance through his gracious kindness. This is what Romans 2:4 means when it says, "that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.

" That is the goodness of God exercised toward us when we deserve it the least. See when Jesus died for us, he was dying for a world that in no way was worthy, and neither are we. He died for a world and suffered for a world that in no way was deserving, and neither are we. But he died for a world that, though in some ways in doesn't make sense, he loved infinitely. And that is the same for you, and it's the same for me.

And Jesus said in John 12, he says, "if I be lifted up from the cross, I will draw all men and all women unto me." Perhaps we could illustrate it this way. When Jesus became our sin bearer, he was swallowed up by a darkness, a darkness of all the accumulated evil of every sin that had ever been committed by the human race. It was a darkness, darker and more dense than every midnight put together and distilled as one. Yet in the dark cradle of Jesus' awful affliction, there was kindled a light that is able to pierce the deepest and darkest gloom in this world. When Jesus died upon the cross, there was kindled a light that is able to penetrate the darkest sin-hardened mind that ever is or ever was and for that light to dispel the shadows and draw that person to the source of that light.

When Jesus hung upon the cross and died, that same light was a warmth that emanated from him. And that warmth of his love, when it's beheld, can breach the defenses of every hardened heart, whether it's encased in ice or concrete or rebar or rock or steel. Psychology can't do it. Behavioral modification cannot do it. But the cross of Jesus Christ can.

And that light that was kindled upon the cross is that same light that is able to radiate and to penetrate and take a blind, dumb, intellectual but stupid--and whether you're not intellectual, I'm not intellectual I'm still just as stupid--even draw the likes of me to the saving light of the grace of Jesus Christ. And the apostle Paul was one who understood this wondrous miracle in his own life. And he was never the same again. And this is why he says, "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Why? Because he knew that it worked. It had worked in his life, and he'd seen it work in the lives of other people.

And this is why in Thursday, Thursday's lesson it says this. There's a little statement I want to read from Thursday. It says, "true penitence--" and we all need to be penitent and sorry and truly repentant-- "true penitence, the kind that comes willingly from the heart, a heart that was once hard and resistant and stubborn and saying, 'nope, don't want it.' But that heart can be changed. True penitence, the heart that comes willingly from the heart will always be followed by a determination to overcome and put away the things that we need to repent of. And that is exactly what happened in the life of one who was called Saul.

He had the light. He had the truth. He was an intellectual. He was smart, but he wasn't very wise. And he caused an awful lot of damage.

But God changed him. And the experience of the cross, the light of God's grace shone from the cross into his once darkened mind and into his hardened heart and changed him. And he found the strength in the cross of Jesus to put aside the sins that God loathed and hated and empowered him to live a different life. Hence his declaration, "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the jew first and also to the Greek." And it's that passage there in Romans 1 that takes us back to where we came in at Sunday, at the beginning of our lesson here. When we looked at Sunday, remember I mentioned it mentioned three things that we looked at, Gospel, righteousness and faith.

But there was a fourth point that wasn't listed with those three things in Sunday's section. Or was it Monday? I forget which. But it's something that Paul refers to right here in this passage. "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power-- for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the jew first and also to the Greek." So yes, we've got Gospel, we've got righteousness and we've got faith. But along with this, it is power.

It is the power of God. The righteousness of God is something that not only covers somebody, but it actually changes them from the inside out. And the righteousness of God is synonymous with the power of God. Now some of you probably know the Greek word that we find there is dunamis, dunamis, it's from that Greek word, dunamis, which means power, that we get the word dynamite. Now as you know, dynamite has a powerful and a dramatic way of changing things.

And man's dynamite is very destructive and very lethal to human life if it's not handled carefully. But God's dynamite, the dynamite of his grace, denudated within the hard, hardest human heart is also just as destructive and lethal, but to the sin that presides there, but not to the person. That dynamite will obliterate evil while at the same time miraculously sparing the life of the person. Not only at that moment, but saving them for all eternity. And this is the power of the Gospel that God has provide for us, because as the lesson tells us we've all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

And there's not one single thing we can do ourselves to change that situation around. Such is the power of God's righteousness that is to be revealed. And at the very end, before Jesus comes, his sleeping church--two things are gonna happen. He's sleeping church, his remnant church--it's already being shaken, but it's being even more mightily shaken, finally a persecution is gonna become the greatest sifting and shaking entity. It's church is gonna be rid of all the chaff.

It's all going to get blown away, ron. It's going to be gone. And God's going to be left with the wheat. And that wheat, he's going to pour out the latter rain upon it. And that wheat, few in number as they may be, they're going to go forth.

And they're not only going to preach the Gospel, they're going to take the third angel's message to this world with such power that's never been seen before. But also in the lives of those who take it, there is going to be a demonstration of righteousness that has never been seen since pentecost. In fact, it's going to actually exceed that. For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the jew first and also to the Greek. So my question is to us this morning, and to those of you out there watching in internet land or television land, is the power of God's righteousness, is it being revealed? Is it being experienced in your life? If it's lacking, just face the fact there's something wrong.

But if it's lacking, don't despair, don't give up, don't walk away. You get down on your knees and you ask God to show you. Go to the Word of God and say, "Lord, show me from tHis Word. Don't leave this work undone because remember grace writes the check, but faith takes it to the bank to cash it, to draw on the reserves of God's abounding grace, to give us the power of his imparted and his imputed righteousness. But it is presumption that takes that same check and takes it to the bank and expects to be able to draw on the abounding reserves of God's grace.

You won't get nothing if you've been presumptuous, okay? The grace is there, but you'll get zilch. You can go to God and say, "Lord, paint that true picture. Show me the picture of it as it is. Reverse the airbrush. Reverse the photoshop and let me see the bumps and the scabs and the warts and the wrinkles and all the stuff that I really don't want to see, and my yellow teeth.

We need to see ourselves as we are in front of the cross. When we see the true picture in light of the cross, God is then in a position to draw us and change us such as never before in our whole life history. "Steps to Christ," 33, "even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire persistently cherished will eventually neutralize all the power of the Gospel." The Gospel, the power that God wants to put into you, sin will take it right out or stop it getting there in the first place. So there is a work to do. And God will do it if we will let him, because grace is available even today.

I want to read you something from this book, "the atonement," by edwin reiner. I found it at the abc. They were selling it for I think cents. It's a treasure. Some librarian from another church thought it was worth a nickel so they gave it away.

One man's junk is another man's treasure. I want to read something here. This is from page 274. And he's got a statement from "signs of the times," April 9, 1894. It says, "if you bore the guilt of your sin it would crush you.

But the sinless one has taken your place. And though undeserving, he has born your guilt. By accepting the provision God has made, you can stand free before God in the merit and virtue of your substitute. You will then have a proper estimate of sin. And the Godly sorrow of true repentance will take the place of hopeless discouragement and grief.

For you will turn from sin with grief and abhorrence. God does not ask you to feel that Jesus is your Savior, but to believe that he died for you and that his blood now cleanseth you from all sin. You have been bitten by the serpent. And as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness that the dying might look at live, so Christ was lifted up that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. Saving faith is simplicity itself.

Look to the uplifted Savior and whoever grievest may have been your sins. Believe, believe he saves you." Can you say, "amen?" Through his forgiving grace, God will wipe the canvas of your life clean. And through his empowering grace paint a different picture. And through the glory of God, that which was lost in our lives becomes the glory of God restored through his abounding grace. Therefore this morning, though you may feel ashamed perhaps, take it to Jesus.

He'll do all these wonderful things for you. You'll know the power of the cross. And like Paul, you'll be able to say, "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.

The just shall live by faith. Therefore let us go and do likewise." In conclusion this morning, we have our special offer which is offer number 112, "can a saved man choose to be lost?" You can have this free if you live in the continental u.s.a. Just call 866-study-more or 866-788-3966. "Can a choosed man--" sorry, "can a saved man choose to be lost?" God bless you, thank you.

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