Books of the Bible
Adam and Christ
The message for
today continues a series of sermons from the book of Romans.
The gospel are
essentially four histories of the life of Christ. What are the names
of the first four gospels? Can you tell me?
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. These four gospels are essentially
histories of the life of Christ. These histories are composed of
teachings, miracles, parables, and narratives about Jesus of
Nazareth, and these elements are woven together to make a story. The
truth of Jesus Christ was expressed through an accumulation of
After John, comes
what book? Can you tell me? Acts. Luke wrote Luke about the life of
Christ and the book of Acts is about the early Christian leaders. It
is essentially a history book of the life of the early church.
Again, the history of the early church is a accumulation of stories
about the early church, especially an accumulation of stories about
the Apostle Paul. We learned the stories about Paul watching the
martyrdom of Stephen, his conversion on the road to Damascas and his
three missionary trips. The truth about the Gospel was expressed
through an accumulation of stories.
What is the book
after Acts? Can you tell me? Romans. Romans, yes. Romans is the
first of fourteen letters written by the Apostle Paul. Romans is his
last book before he died, his summary of his theology, and the book
of Romans was so good that the church put the book of Romans at the
top of the list of all of Paul’s letter. Romans was written in
about sixty AD, and Paul sent this letter to the Romans before he
Now, the book of
Romans is not a history book like the first four gospels and the
book of Acts. In fact, in the book of Romans, there are no
historical facts about Jesus nor even historical facts about the
life of the Apostle Paul. In the book of Romans, there are no
parables, no miracles, no historical anecdotes about Jesus nor about
Paul. The book of Romans is almost pure theology, pure doctrine,
pure thoughts about God. You learn nothing about the life of Christ.
From Romans, you learn almost nothing about the life of the Apostle
Paul. Unlike the gospels, unlike the book of Acts, even unlike
Paul’s earlier letters, the book of Romans is almost all pure
Christian theology and pure Christian doctrine.
Paul was part of a
triangle of three people who wrote most of the New Testament. Paul,
Luke, and Mark, three primary authors of the New Testament, were
great friends and traveling companions. They spent many years
together traveling and being missionaries for Christ. Mark and Luke
loved history. Mark and Luke loved to tell stories about Jesus,
stories about his parables, his miracles, his teachings, the
anecdotes from his daily life. But Paul was not a
historian. Paul didn’t use any history of the life of
Jesus. In Paul, there are no parables, no miracles, no historical
anecdotes about Jesus. Paul doesn’t even give us any historical
anecdotes about himself in the book of Romans. You have to read the
book of Acts by Luke to find any historical anecdotes about Paul
e.g. the death of Stephen the Martyr, his conversion story on the
road to Damascus, his three missionary trips. None of this is
mentioned in the book of Romans. Romans is pure doctrine. Romans is
pure theology. Romans is filled with ideas about the Christian
The first idea and
sermon. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
We sang the song, Me and My Shadow, and none of us can escape the
shadow side, the dark side, the sin side of our personality and we
are saved by grace.
The next idea and
sermon was: what is the center of the Christian faith, the
nucleus, the core? Faith in Jesus Christ. And to understand faith,
we need to understand the faith of Abraham.
The third idea and
sermon: who is going to pay the price for all of my sins? Who
is going to pay the price for my mistakes which my mistakes have
been so costly. I gave examples: I book the window in the house of
the Chief of Police in Jackson, Minnesota when I was boy of seven.
How could I pay the $300 for the debt? The debt was too great and my
father paid it for me. So likewise, we cannot repay our debt to God for the bad sins
we did and for the good that we did not do. Christ paid the penalty
for all of our sins.
So today, we
continue with the theological truths about Jesus. Not the histories
of Jesus as in the four gospels, nor the history of the early church
as in the book of Acts. We focus on one primary idea of Paul today,
one primary theological notion. Paul says, from one man, Adam, sin
spread throughout the whole world. In the children’s sermon for
today, I took one drop of food coloring and put it into a pitcher of
water and that one drop of food coloring spread out through all
water. You could literally see it spread. So also, from Adam, the
first man, sin began and has spread throughout the whole human race.
Paul then says, even stronger than Adam is the one man Jesus Christ
and his grace has spread throughout the whole world. And
importantly, the power of grace is much stronger than the
power of sin. The power of Christ is stronger than the power of
Would you please
turn to your bulletin insert for today so we can closely examine the
Bible passage from Romans 5. Through Adam, death has spread to the
whole human race and everybody has sin. Everybody has the shadow. No
one is exempt. Then skip a few lines where it says that “God’s
grace is much greater than the power of Adam’s sin and so is
God’s gift to so many people.”
The power of grace is much stronger than the power of sin.
Focus on the line, “how much greater was what was done by
one man, Jesus Christ.” “All
who receive God’s abundant grace.” Circle the word, abundant.
God is never penurious. God is never stingy. The word, abundant,
when it is used, always precedes the word grace.” … “Where sin
increased, God’s grace increased much more.” Circle the “much
more.” “God’s grace rules in our hearts by means of
righteousness or right relationships, leading us to eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
My mind goes to
work and I need to visualize death or evil, when death or evil
starts at one point and then spreads.
Such as cancer.
Cancer always starts in one little place in your body and then it
spreads to another place, and then another and then another, to the
lymph system and the into the bones. And by the time you go to your
doctor, it may have spread all over the place. No matter where the
cancer is, the doctors always try to trace it back to its beginning,
to that spot where the cancer all began.
Chicken pox. A little kid comes to his school class room and he has the
chicken pox. No other kid in the class chicken pox. The little
infected boy touches everybody, breathes on everybody, sits by
everybody, and next week, nearly everybody in the class has chicken
pox. You could trace the chicken pox in the classroom back to the
one little boy who infected all his friends. Chicken pox begins with
one and spreads to almost everybody. That is jus the way chicken pox
AIDs in central and south Africa. It started in the hill country in
Uganda, then into a city, then into the people who drove the trucks
and traveled the highways and had sex in brothels. And pretty soon,
AIDs spread throughout several countries and is the worse epidemic
since the fourteen century bubonic plague. You can trace AIDs back
to one little spot and it grows and grows and grows until it infects
an enormous section of a continent.
It is with these
images that we begin to understand the thoughts of the Apostle Paul.
The Apostle Paul is a thinker, a theologian. He is the one who has
big thoughts about so many aspects of Christ and the Christian
faith. Paul thought about sin. Sin started with one man, Adam. Sin
slowly spread so that it infected the whole human race.
Sin spread, not
because of genes or chromosomes. Not because of genetic mapping and
biological determination. But because of human inter-relatedness.
Because all of us human beings are forever inter-connected.
Because our lives are inter-woven at human beings.
So a little kid
comes into the classroom and everybody has chicken pox. It has
nothing to do with genes and chromosomes. It has to do with the
inter-relatedness of the human family. So sin is spread in the human
community, not be genes and chromosomes, but because we are
inter-related. There is something “copy cat” about human beings.
The spread of
teenage suicide. If there is a teenage suicide in a school, you do
not want to put it into then newspapers because people are
legitimately fearful that it will set off a whole number of teenage
suicides all over the country. You want to put that article on the
back page of the paper and not the front page, because the front
page is suggestive that I can do that as well. How does this spread?
Copy cat. Imitation.
The spread of
shootings in schools. It starts with one place, with one situation,
and that evil idea spreads and soon we face a rash of shootings in
public schools. How does it spread? Genes and chromosomes? No, copy
The spread of
divorce. What I am suggesting to you is that what I do influences
what you do. If my wife and I do not solve the conflicts between us
and get a divorce, that suggests to the children that they can do
the same thing. That suggests to the friends that you can do the
same thing when you can conflicts in your marriage.
The way we live life, we are not islands to ourselves. The
way we do sin, influences others the way they do sin. The way you do
sin is suggestive to other people to do the same.
That is what the
Apostle Paul understood. He understood that the nature of sin is
copy cat, is imitative, is suggestive and it spreads throughout the
whole human race, not because of genes and chromosomes but because
of the nature of inter-relatedness of human beings and the nature of
But…that is not
the point. What Paul said is true, but that is not his point for the
primary point or thrust of the sermon. It is true that our sin is
copy cat, imitative and suggestive; but that is not the point. The
point is; how much greater is the power of God, how much greater is
the power of God’s righteousness, how much greater is the power of
God’s grace. The second half of the sermon.
So my mind says,
how can we visualize taking one drop of goodness and seeing it
spread. Like with the children’s sermon, where I put in one drop
of green dye and it spread throughout the whole pitcher of water. So
how do you take the drop, the Presence of Christ, and drop his
presence into the whole world and it spreads. How does God’s
kingdom, how does God’s righteousness, how does God’s goodness
spread throughout the whole wide world? God’s kingdom, God’s
righteousness, God’s goodness is not spread genetically or
chromosomally, but God’s goodness is also spread through our
inter-relatedness, our inter-connectedness, our lives inter-woven
together. How do we visualize this?
All you gardeners
understand plants that spread e.g. the ivy on our hillsides or banks
of flowers. My wife planted the hillside below our deck many years
ago, and now that hillside is lush and full as the plants have
spread. The kingdom of God, the kingdom of life, is like that. In
the kingdom of life, goodness and beauty spreads.
Johnny Apple Seed.
The kingdom of God, the kingdom of life, is like this. Do you
remember the Johnny Apple Seed song? Johnny came west in the
seventeen hundreds and he spread all kinds of apple seeds. You
remember the song, “O the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the
Lord, for giving me, the things I need, the sun and the rain and the
apple seed.” Johnny
went and spread apple seed all across the United States, weaving
over hill and dale. And it all began with one source: Johnny Apple
Seed spreading his seeds. The kingdom of life is like that. It
country. Or, you go over to the Palouse country and you see mile
after mile after mile of wheat fields. Originally, there was not one
wheat ranch there. And it began with the first wheat farm, and then
another and then another and pretty soon as far as the eye can see,
all you see is fields of wheat. But it all originally began with one
Or, the universe
itself. What a grand picture. Some theorists theorize that the
universe all began with a big bang. God set off the fire cracker,
the gases of the universe, and the universe continues to spread into
the infinity of space at the speed of light. My mind cannot begin to
comprehend the expansion and spreading of the universe at the speed
of light, but yet I can comprehend the idea of it.
America. I have been thinking about those things which are good,
which began from one source, and the goodness spread and spread and
spread. I am thinking about the spread of Christianity here in the
United States. In 1491, there were no Christians in America; the
name of Christ was not here; the grace of Christ was not known here
in North America. Soon there were thousands of Christian immigrants
to our country. Soon there was Jonathan Edwards and is great
revivals. We skip forward to 1850 and the great historian, Alec de
Tocqueville wrote the following comment, “There is no other nation
on earth which is more Christian than the United States where one in
six, 16%, belong to the church.” Between 1850 and 1950, there were
enormous numbers of Christian immigrants moving to this nation;
there was an enormous religious revival going on in our nation. By
1940, 67% of the population belonged to the church. From 16% to 67%
in merely one hundred years. The growth of Christianity in the
United States has been staggering. Five hundred years ago, Christ
was not known in America. Look how Christ and grace have expanded.
What Paul is saying
is this: through one man, Adam, sin spread throughout the whole wide
world. And through one man, Christ, grace spread throughout the
whole world. And this grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is much
stronger than sin. The power of grace is so much stronger
than the power of sin in your life and so….
So what does this
mean for our daily lives? Don’t ever give up hope. Don’t you
ever despair of God. When things are down in the mouth in your life,
and you feel you are being overwhelmed by temptation and sin,
don’t you ever give up. The message of the gospel is this: the
power of grace is so much stronger than the power of sin. Everyone
once in a while, when you get overwhelmed by the power of sin and
darkness in your life, and every once in a while when you feel like
throwing in the towel, remember the gospel of God, the truth of God,
the grace of God. And the gospel is this; the power of grace is so
much more powerful than the power of sin.
This is also true
in our personal lives. I would like to tell you a story which
illustrates what I am talking about. One day, some time ago, this
family ran into tough times and ran out of money. He was a
recovering alcoholic. So
we got several people in our church and helped this family move as
they had been evicted from their apartment. It was really a hard
time for the family. They were all so depressed. This family moved
into a little trailer down the block and lived there a few years.
Mom and Dad both got help and that was a miracle for both of them,
he with his alcoholism and she with her co-dependence and
depression. And then, another miracle happened and they moved into
their first house. This family had moved from homelessness to a
home. The family was so excited about their first house and they ran
and showed me the whole house and yard with glee. He said, “Come
to the back of the yard,” and he showed me the first garden he had
ever had in his whole life. He said, “I believe in miracles. I am
a walking miracle.” He said, “I didn’t know that miracles were
so much work.” And now they are leaders in our church. … This
family. They never gave up. No money, no apartment, no possibilities
and they never gave up. The power of the gospel, like the spreading
of the green food drop in the pitcher of water, spread in their
lives and transformed them, changed them, and made that family well.
Not perfect, but well.
Christ is much more
powerful than Adam in us. Amen.