March 28, 2021

By Faith Alone: Humble and Happy

Passage: Romans 4:1-8
Service Type:

NOTE: The audio of this sermon does not include the introductory illustration below. Read the transcript for the full introduction:

Romans 4:1-8
Imagine with me a young boy, a 15 year old, an orphan. Nobody ever wanted him for long. Passed around from foster home to foster home. At the high school where he attends, he keeps mostly to himself. His personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired. Even the teachers have pretty much given up trying to get him out of his shell.

But imagine a classmate, another boy around his age, starts to befriend him. This other boy doesn’t need more friends—he’s got plenty. He’s one of the most popular kids at school. He’s the all-star slugger on the school’s baseball team. As a matter of fact, his dad is the coach. But this other boy, the all-star, starts to sit with the orphan at lunchtimes. Starts to ask him questions about his life, his interests, his hobbies. Before too long they’re shooting hoops together, doing home work together, playing video games occasionally (you don’t become an all-star anything if you don’t limit video games to occasionally!)—and actually, if you watched these two boys, you’d discover that more and more of their time is spent on the baseball diamond, with nobody else around–and the school’s all-star athlete is teaching his friend, the orphan, how to play baseball—which is something he’d always longed to do.

But one day, the most tragic thing you could imagine happens. Our 15-year old orphan, who’s been having a terrible time at his foster home, starts going down a bad path. He starts going off with some of his so-called buddies from the block, during school hours. He starts drinking. He starts street-racing. And somehow, he doesn’t even remember how, he ends up behind the wheel of a car one night, speeding right past the school, racing his car down the quiet street– like Andrews Ave right outside. And out into the street, coming out of the school in front of his dad after a long day of baseball practice, unaware of the car careening toward him, steps the orphan’s friend—right into the car’s path. And the orphan’s friend is killed on impact.

Imagine several months later, a visitor comes to see the orphan, sitting in the detention facility. And it’s his high school’s baseball coach—the father of his friend. And this man looks at this orphan and he says —“I want you to come home with me. I want to adopt you as my son. It’s all worked out with the courts, you’re free to come home now. Follow me.”

If our orphan actually believes that this is true – and if as incredible as it sounds, he has indeed just been offered not just forgiveness but a family, a father – by the very man who had every reason in the world to hate him … and if this orphan, in humility and astonishment, gets up and follows his new dad into a life he can’t even really imagine yet, but he knows that this is like resurrection from the grave, this is being given a new destiny, a new identity, a new family, a new life… Then there are two things that will be true for this young man, no doubt about it:
1. He will know he’s done nothing to earn his father’s love—so he’ll be humble.
2. He will know nothing he’s done can forfeit this kind of father’s love—so he’ll be happy.
I don’t know if something exactly like this has ever happened in real life. But I can tell you what: this book tells us that something better than this has happened in real life. God offers forgiveness and restoration and adoption as beloved sons to people whose evil and rebellion against God deserved his judgment. And instead, it was his Son who received God’s judgment in our place. Our sins killed God’s son. Our sins killed God’s son. And God invites you to come to his Son, risen from the dead, and to receive not just forgiveness from God but a new life, a new family, a new existence as a child of God. If you have faith in Jesus, then two things ought to be true of you:
1. You should know that nothing you’ve done earned God’s love—which should make you humble.
2. You should know that nothing you’ve done or ever might do can forfeit God’s love—which should make you happy.
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