God broke his bargain with her.
She went to church, prayed, shared her faith…loved her husband, was raising her children to love God.
Her husband was a committed father, husband, hard worker, faithful, ethical, read his bible, lead Bible studies.
They were doing it all right…holding down their end of the bargain.
But then the committed father, husband, and servant of God died…leaving 5 young children and a staggered wife wondering how this could happen.
The only explanation she could come up with was…God broke his bargain…he ripped them off…he could not be trusted.
But in fact she had been living on a razor’s edge in regards to her faith…but she didn’t know it.
She believed she was on a wide, wide path…a path where there was no stumbling, no trouble ahead…because if they held up their end of the bargain…did the right things, then God would hold up his keep end of the bargain, all he would keep all bad things from their lives.
Isn’t that the gospel? Gospel means good news.
Isn’t the good news that…If I am a good person, then God will be good to me?
And if God is good to me, then only good will happen to me.
But she was good…she thought…
So God broke the deal…but did God ever make such a deal with her, with you or me?
The “deal” God has made for us…the new covenant, the gospel… is this…
Romans 4:23-25 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Many years before Abraham was circumcised…that symbolic ritual of the covenant…and hundreds of years before God gave the law…the rules and regulations of the covenant…
Abraham simply believed God and God credited his belief as righteousness.
Nothing more was required…no religious rituals or practices, no acts of obedience…faith alone was enough to secure his relationship with God.
This same “deal” is available for us…all of us who believe the Gospel…the good news that Jesus died for our sins and resurrected to bring us new life…the offer still stands.
It’s a good thing that this is the deal…because the truth is God doesn’t need anything we have…our acts of obedience, our religious practices…he doesn’t need anything from us…in fact all we have is from him.
By ourselves we are bankrupt…broke…no resources…nothing to offer in a deal to God.
The gospel says that God “credits to our account (which is empty)” his righteousness.
Jesus bore the full weight of our sin and then was raised to life to bring our justification…our new status as forgiven and free people.
So bankrupt as we are…the riches of Christ Jesus are credited to our account when we trust him.
Zero in on V. 25…here is the heart of the “deal”.
Romans 4:25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
His life was a singularity…in all of history there has never been one like him.
He is the one person in human history who has lived a life of complete and utter goodness with a sparkling reputation, renowned then and now for his brilliance…and yet claimed to be God.
How could he be a person of utter goodness and renowned brilliance unless what he claimed about himself was true?
Was delivered over to death for our sins:
His death was a singularity…in all of the billions of humans who have died, only his death has paid for the sins of others.
Many have died because of the sins of others…but only Jesus died a substitutionary death for the sins of others.
Was raised to life for our justification:
His resurrection was a singularity…he is the firstborn of those who will be resurrected one day.
All this was done for us…we had no role in any of it…this is the good news…the gospel.
The gospel takes us off the razors edge.
On a razor’s edge: Is a phrase that means you are in a very dangerous and uncertain situation.
There is no margin for error, no room to roam…the path is so precariously narrow that I could easily fall…in fact the path is so narrow I will fall; it is just a matter of time.
We are occasionally aware that we live on a razor’s edge in regards to our physical lives…but we tend to have very short memories.
Almost run into a car because you are looking at your phone…and you swear as you wipe the sweat from your brow…you will never do that again…you are vigilant…put that cursed thing down…this is serious business…someone could have been hurt.
“Wow, I will be careful from now on…wait…let me get this text just this time.”
Someone we love becomes sick…and we are afraid we will lose them…this fear becomes gratitude when they recover…this gratitude fades into normalcy the longer they are well and we live once again with the assumption of health…and taking our lives and loved ones for granted.
Its so easy to forget that in so many ways we live on a razor’s edge.
Our entire world, the nations… are on razor’s edge.
A friend is of mine is serving overseas and I recently asked him if things were tense were he is.
He said, “Terry, a few months back our commander told us we need to be ready to go in 48 hours, recently he said we need to be ready to go in five seconds.”
So “yes” he said, “Its a powder keg over here.”
The nations live on a razor edge…but it looks pretty normal out there today…it doesn’t look like a razor’s edge…but it is.
Our bodies are a razor’s edge…
I heard a sleep expert speak recently…he told us some interesting facts about human sleep.
- The human body cannot be trained to need less sleep. (most need 7-8 to function optimally)…Americans have been sleeping less and less since 1942.
- When we go without adequate sleep we have less ability to control impulses, make good decisions, heal in our bodies and minds, interpret the emotions of others, maintain good relationships…it leads to more depression and disease and relational disfunction.
- Sleep is still somewhat of a mystery…but it is one of many factors in our bodies that is like a razors edge.
There are many things that can interfere with sleep and when that happens we begin to deteriorate, body and mind.
Sleep…something so simple is very complex…our bodies and minds are ruined without it.
On a side note…contemplate the fact that even the richest, strongest, smartest, most powerful people on the planet.
All have to lie down, close their eyes and sleep.
If you are tempted to be overly impressed with some human…remember that the president, Kings, billionaires…you name it…they all lay down just like little babies…and fall into a helpless, oblivious sleep
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
Speaking of souls…that’s another razor’s edge that many are oblivious to.
A term that was coined for the first time in 1994 but has only recently become a topic of international interest…is Moral injury.
PTSD: Fear, horror, helplessness as the result of actual or threatened death or serious injury.
-What is lost? sense of safety…the world is not safe.
-What is needed? To feel safe again.
Moral injury: Different from PTSD
*Shame, guilt…acts that violate deeply held moral values.
-What is lost? sense of honor, trust, well being.
-What is needed? Forgiveness
Many who have moral injury describe it as “their souls being ripped from their body.”
This is not what happened…but it was they felt…our souls are on a razor’s edge.
I recently heard a psychiatrist describing moral injury and he said that science is late to the scene on this…its just now playing catch up to what religion has long known of moral injury.
The 3rd chapter of Genesis…the book of beginnings…shows the first man and woman sinning…then experiencing guilt and shame.
Guilt is the moral response to sin, shame is the emotional response of guilt in relationship to others… they tried to hide from God…their sin had separated them from him…and each other.
Back in 1992 a book was published that described human Reponses to the bad things that happen in life, traumatic things…it was called “shattered assumptions”:
The author said humans tend to live with three necessary assumptions:
*Necessary in the sense that without knowing it, we assume these things are true and we need them to functional normally.
- The self is worthy
- The world is benevolent
- The world is meaningful
Trauma shatters all of these as we fall off the razors edge…the edge we didn’t even know we were on.
That place of illusion where all by myself…”I think am worthy ” “The world is full of good” and “My life has meaning.”
Trouble shatters these illusions in our souls.
I understand that this is a gloomy message for Easter Sunday.
But the fact is every Sunday we hear an Easter sermon…all of the Scriptures point to the Gospel.
And the resurrection is the centerpiece of the gospel.
That’s why we worship on Sunday rather than Saturday like our Jewish roots would warrant.
Our worship is shaped by the fact that Jesus rose on a Sunday…In the New Testament it was called the Lord’s day.
Every week, every Sunday…we celebrate the resurrection…we celebrate the reality of the Gospel.
And the gospel requires that we hear the bad news before the good.
The bad news…we are perched on the edge of disaster…we live on a razor’s edge…our sin has ruined us…and at the same time it deceives us…we don’t see our precarious situation.
The good news of the gospel is that we can live life in a safe place, off the razor’s edge.
But what does this mean exactly…if we are not promised that all bad things will be kept from our lives…how are we safe?
- In regards to the world: Bad things can and will happen here…but
The world is under his dominion…it is not at the mercy of blind, undirected forces of nature or history…or even governments and kings.
We are in a world full of purpose, not random, meaningless events.
This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
Our bodies, will die…but death is not final for us…death has been defeated.
Our souls, undone by sin have been remade by his grace and are being restored by that same grace.
So in regards to those shattered assumptions.
The gospel alone has answers…it takes us off the razors edge, we live now in a “safe place.”
Because we have a different set of assumptions…tested and challenged by life events…but unshattered by those life events.
- Can I become worthy? Yes…but not by my own efforts…only by the riches of Christ credited to my account.
-I do not have to live with guilt and shame.
- Is there ultimate goodness? Yes, and it comes only from God.
-Evil does not have the last word in my life or in the world.
- Is there meaning to all this? Yes, and it is found only in relationship with God.
-Whatever comes my way…there is purpose in it.
When you look at what is…the world as it is, your life as it is…and you look at what should be…it is the gospel alone that can close the gap.
The gap between what is and would should be.
The sleep expert said that there are Owls and there are Larks…those whose biological clocks are set to make them more alert at night or more alert in the morning…and those who are in between.
There are genetic predispositions to our sleep styles.
So even if you are grown, your mom and dad are still telling you when to go to bed…through your inherited genes.
There are other things we are said to be predisposed to by genetics…some say things like adultery, or revenge, or selfishness…are built into us.
Or maybe you are in the gravitational pull of your family dynamics and it was a toxic training ground…or what was done to you, or what you have done…has brought you perpecutally shame, guilt.
Maybe you live focused on the past…a path to depression
Maybe you live focused on the future…a path to anxiety
All these things are what of is in our lives…but are they what must be?
The gospel explains in clear-eyed ways…what the world is right now and why it is.
It is broken, we are broken because of sin…we bear the genetic predisposition of our first parents…who sinned in the garden and took on themselves the first moral injury…a self-inflicted curse that they passed on to us.
It also tells us that clearly this is not how the world should be…it is not in its original state of being.
But telling us what is, and what it should be is not the good news…it is preamble of the good news.
The good news is that what should be…can be again.
The lady who believed God broke the bargain with her…that he ripped her off…slowly came to see things differently.
She realized that the supposed deal that she had made with God was something he had never signed on to…a promise he had never made.
She had believed that if she did the right things, lived the right way…then God would give her what she really wanted…a life free of trouble.
But in his severe mercy…she came to see that the only deal he had made was called the New Covenant…a bargain where Jesus paid her debt with his life.
This deal was completely his grace…she did nothing to earn or deserve it.
The promise was never for a trouble free life…the promise was relationship with God…the restoration of our primary and most important connection.
With the one who made us…for his purposes.
It is easy to turn the gospel into an earning and deserving religious deal with God.
A religion where God is the means to our own ends.
If we do the things God wants us to do…be good, don’t be bad…observe certain religious rituals…pray, read, worship…then he is obligated to give us what we really want.
A life full of blessings (that don’t necessarily include him other than to provide them to us) and a life absent troubles.
When the good doesn’t happen, when bad does…then we question God’s goodness.
What does this tell us that we have done to the gospel?
It has become “earning and deserving”
In order to “get a good life from God not life with God”
What can I expect from God if I put my faith in him?
You can expect that all of your sin will be forgiven, that your primary relationship will be restored…you were made by God for God.
Is that it? No…but that’s the heart of it…the rest flows from that.
I think many have been disappointed by God…because they have come to him in order have what they really want…and what they really want is not him, but rather what they believe he will give them if they only do the things he requires.
I’ll pray, read the Bible, go to church…change my lifestyle…if that what it takes to get what I want.
Then when “it doesn’t work”…they don’t get what they want…this doesn’t work.
God is to blame…or God is not real.
When we put our faith in him…we are restored to relationship with him…this is the heart of the gospel.
The good news is that we can have our sins forgiven and our essential relationship restored…we can have peace with God.
The lady that lost her husband: had turned her faith into razor’s edge…because she had unknowingly believed that a life of faith was primarily about “doing” the right things in order to get God to give me what I really want.
In fact the “doing” of the life of faith is in order to more fully know and love God and make God’s love known…not to earn that love, or to get God to give us the stuff we really want.
We want to know what is on God’s heart so we read his word…that’s why we read and study the Bible.
We want to be shaped into people who reflect God…so we pray, we worship, we live in community…but this is not how we get God to act like we want him to.
This is how we know him better…and when we consider who he is…how could we not want to know him better?
We want to maximize our joy and his glory so we try to live lives of obedience.
Good things do flow from this kind of life…but why is that?
Its because this is the kind of life that aligns with the reality of God…these choices help us know and love him…they don’t earn anything from him.
It is not some “penny in, candy out” kind of life…that is the most common delusion that has disillusioned people of.
It is no wonder that many have concluded God is not there, or God is not good…this approach to life is not real…it is not the gospel.
What can I expect if I put my faith in God?
-Relationship with God
What follows from that, is a new and growing desire and ability to live life as God designed it to be lived.
To close the gap between what is and what should be…the power for what could be is in place.
Relationships with others are transformed when my foundational relationship is restored with God.
Relationship with myself is transformed…I don’t have to live in the past torn up with guilt, or in fear of the future.
In addition other things do change…but Christians are not exempt from trouble in fact we are promised it, just like everyone else.
But when we live in line with the way God has designed our lives…everything about how we live our lives is changed.
When we prosper…we prosper like people with eternal values.
When we suffer…we suffer like people with eternal hope.
The gospel moves us off the razor’s edge…to safe place.
God made you…your purpose is to know him and love him and make his love known…your purpose is to enjoy relationship with him forever.
This kind of life begins now…and extends indefinitely.
- Not a follower of Christ…get off the razor’s edge…
- If you are follower of Christ…stay off the razor’s edge
*The good news is not that you can be good enough to get God to be good to you.
It is that while we were bankrupt…God credited the riches of Christ to our account.
We have relationship with God and this changes everything about our lives.
We must watch our perspective…the good news is that we can be “Born Again”
John 3:3 Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
The Kingdom of God is the realm of his power and presence…it is relationship with him that puts everything that is wrong back into order.
The gap between what is and what could be…begins to close when we put our faith in him, when we are born again.