St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

A Message For The Entire World

Sermon on Romans 5:12-15

Text: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned — 13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

When we think of people involved in the Revolutionary War, we might think of George Washington, John Adams or Benjamin Franklin. Another famous character is Paul Revere. He, of course, is remembered for his ride to warn the villages of Lexington and Concord that the British army was on their way to seize the arms and munitions that were stored there. Years later, his ride was immortalized with a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. However, few people remember that Paul Revere never finished his ride. He was captured by the British partway there. Another man by the name of William Dawes is actually the one who carried the message all the way to Lexington and Concord. Even if Paul Revere didn’t fully accomplish his mission, he is remembered for his attempt to get the message out. This morning, we are going to look at A MESSAGE FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD. 1. Death For All Through Adam. 2. Life For All Through Christ.

This morning, we began by talking about a rebellion; a rebellion against the British government. Another rebellion took place centuries before, which is a focus of part of our text for this morning. This rebellion happened shortly after the creation of the world. God had created everything perfectly. As his crowning act of his creation, he created Adam and Eve. They, too, were created perfectly. God gave them his blessing. He gave them dominion over the rest of creation. He placed them in a beautiful garden. God gave them everything. God, also, gave them a command. We read in Genesis 2:16&17, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” God gave Adam and Eve all the freedom in the world, except for this one command. Note that God was not trying to hold out on Adam and Eve, or keep something good from them. It was not as if this was the only tree in the garden. Rather, God gave them this command as a way in which they could show their love for him.

However, as we know, this command was too oppressive for Adam and Eve, or so they thought. After Satan came and tempted them to seek the freedom that God was holding out on them, Adam and Eve looked at that tree and, in a deliberate act of rebellion, took some of the fruit from the tree and ate it. Now they thought that they were really free. They were their own bosses. They could do whatever they wanted. However, this was not the case, at all. They thought that, in their rebellion, they would become free, but they weren’t. They were now slaves to sin, unable to do what was pleasing to God. They, instead, became subjects to another. We read in verse 12, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin.” God had told them that, if they ate from the tree, they would die, and that is just what happened. As you read chapter four of Genesis and following chapters, one phrase comes up again and again like a tolling bell: “and he died.” This is the inheritance that we all receive from father Adam. Death comes to all through Adam. When Adam sinned, we all sinned. He was the world’s representative. That is what Paul meant when he wrote, “In this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” (Verse 12)

That is why this message is for the entire world, because it affects everyone that has ever been born or will ever be born. Death is the inheritance that is passed down from generation to generation. This inheritance is more than just physical death. It is an eternal death. With Adam’s sin, the entire human race was condemned to hell. Death has come upon all people, because, in Adam, all people sinned.

Another part of this inheritance that we received from Adam is our natural inclination toward sin. No one is born free from sin. Already from the time of our birth, indeed our conception, we are sinners. In our natural state, we cannot help but sin.

Because of Adam’s sin, we are all born sinful. However, that does not relieve us of any of the blame for the sins that we commit every day. We do not have the excuse that, since we are born sinful, we have no choice but to sin. Every person is responsible for their own thoughts, words and actions. We are responsible for our own acts of rebellion, which is exactly what sin is. It is an act of rebellion against God. We rebel against God in many ways. One of these ways is the way that we rebel against God’s representatives on the earth, the government. Perhaps, we do not lead an armed rebellion against the government, but do we always give them the respect that is due them? We find it so easy to talk about the government, but many of the things that are said are unfavorable. That is not to say that the government is always right. It is, after all, run by sinful human beings, who will make mistakes. There may well be things that need to be changed. However, we are to be careful about our attitude toward those whom God has placed over us. They represent God. When we bad mouth them, we are, in essence, badmouthing God. This is an act of rebellion, and rebellion against God brings about dire consequences. Adam found that out, very clearly. Because of Adam’s rebellion, death came to all people.

Rebellion does not always bring about the freedom desired. In Adam’s case, his rebellion brought death to all people, himself included. Sometimes, it is better to be loyal subjects to the king. Sometimes, there are more benefits to be loyal. Such is the case with those who are the subjects of the King of kings, Jesus Christ. For, although there is death for all through Adam, there is life for all through Christ.

Paul makes a comparison of Adam and Christ in verse 15, focusing especially on their actions and the consequences of their actions. We read, “The gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” Paul notes the exact opposites. Adam’s actions brought death into the world. All who follow him will die. However, Christ’s actions bring life into the world. All who believe in him have life.

We celebrate Christ’s actions during the church year. We celebrate his coming to the earth as a man. Jesus had to be true man so that he could keep God’s law perfectly. What we were powerless to do, Jesus did for us. The next great festival part of church year is Lent. There we see the greatest act of love ever shown. Jesus suffered and died to pay the debt of sin that each of us owed to God. We hear Jesus cry out in victory, “It is finished!” The greatest day of celebration is Easter, for there Jesus showed his victory over sin, death and the devil. He won the victory for us.

That, in itself, is amazing. What makes it even more amazing are two words in our text — grace and gift. Grace means God’s undeserved love. We are recipients of this because God loved us, the rebels. He had every right to execute us for the treasons that we committed. However, in his love, he has taken us back to be his own and live under him in his kingdom. Again, it is a gift. We did nothing to earn these blessings of eternal life and salvation. They are gifts that are given to us by our King, Jesus Christ. Life is ours through Christ.

We were made subjects of this kingdom, when we were brought to faith. When we were baptized, the Holy Spirit came into our hearts and created the faith that is necessary for entrance into Christ’s kingdom. We are subjects of Jesus Christ, with all of the benefits that are there. We have the ability to come to him, with our prayers and requests, confident that he can and will help us. We have his protection. We have his promise to provide for us. We have his promise that all things will work out for our good. However, the greatest blessing of eternal life, we will have to wait for, until we are forever with him in heaven.

In the meantime, let us be careful to live as loyal subjects of our Savior. Let us look at what is going on in our lives. Are they the things that a loyal subject would be doing or are there still pockets of rebellion? Let us actively seek out those rebellious things and exile them from our lives. Let us live as loyal subjects of our King, Jesus Christ, who gives life to all of us. He is a good and gracious King, who only wants the best for us. May we give our best to him, in thankfulness for all he has done for us.

Paul Revere failed in his attempt to get the news to the people it was intended for. He was stopped on the way. May we make every effort to spread this news to all people. All people are equally in need of hearing this message. This message affects all people. People need to be told that, if they continue to follow in father Adam’s footsteps and rebel against God, there are dire consequences, including eternal punishment in hell. However, God wants all people to learn that there is life for them. There is life for all people through Christ. May God make us faithful messengers of this important news. Amen.