Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Week #8 - The Defeat of Shame and Death, & the Reign of Grace and Life

The greatest single days of my life have been:
  • A day in May, 1970, when God became real to me in a very experiential way, I knew He existed, and that He incarnated Himself in Jesus.
  • August 11, 1973. I married Linda.
  • July 10, 1982, and September 25, 1985. My sons Dan and Josh were born.
All my life is formed and shaped around these four events. They color everything I do, and will do, for the rest of my earthly existence.

The greatest yearly holy day of my Jesus-life has always been, and remains, Easter Sunday. That's today! This morning I got to play guitar and sing on our worship team. How long will they let an aging man do such things? As I was playing there were some moments when I closed my eyes and said, for the bazillionth time, "Thank You, God, for rescuing me." It's forty-two years after my rescue. My heart was overflowing with gratitude this morning at Redeemer.

I preached out of Romans 5:12-21. It's about the rule or reign of condemnation and death brought about by Adam's sin, and the grace-gift of righteousness effected by Christ's death and resurrection. In Adam, death reigns. In Christ, grace reigns. And, even more than this, we who are in Christ now reign in life.

I shared this morning that, at times, I have gone to a cemetery to pray. In a cemetery one is standing in a field of tombstones. But because I am in Christ, I am standing in a field of grace. (Romans 5:2) In the kingdom of God tombstones don't rule. Grace does. Empty tombs, eventually, reign in the kingdom of heaven, because one tomb opened 2000 years ago.

Sin produces, rightfully, condemnation. "Condemnation," from the Greek word katakrima, has the root idea of separation or discrimination. Katakrima means: judgment coming down on someone. Because Grace Reigns, there's no more condemnation, no more separation. I think that THIS IS HUGE! This morning I celebrated this with my Redeemer brothers and sisters.

We also laughed together. This morning I got up early and drove around reviewing my sermon notes. I thought of something I was going to use as a sermon illustration. It was the old idea that says: "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you." When the point came in my message I said: "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you." With those words many of my Jesus-friends rose up and corrected me, right in our service. After all, they are my good friends, and a good friend doesn't allow their friend to be fooled on Easter Sunday.

So, taking their counsel, I said: "OK - It's 'Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you." It was then that near-rebellion broke out in our sanctuary, since I said it wrong again. Our people were smiling and laughing. The entire congregation (as I remember it) then corrected me once more, because good friends don't allow a friend to be fooled twice on Easter Sunday. I could not get this thing right! I then requested that this message not be put online for others to hear, thus saving me from possible condemnation and shame.

As I'm writing this I just googled it to make sure I get it right this time. Obviously, I'm insecure about this thing, and don't want to be fooled a third or fourth or fifth time. The correct version is: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. If you don't believe this I say to you that IT SAYS SO ON THE INTERNET. And I now remember that, originally, one sin brought shame and death to the entire human race, but two-and-many-more sins brought, not more shame, but grace and life. (Romans 5:15-17) Don't be fooled about this: you can't out-sin or out-fail the grace of God.

The greatest day in history: one Passover Day around 33 A.D.

The day sin, condemnation, shame, and death were defeated.


1. Take time today to thank God for...
- sending Jesus to rescue humanity from sin, condemnation, and death
- rescuing you from sin, condemnation, and death

2. Pray that you may experience and know what it means to "reign in life" through Christ, and by the Holy Spirit.


I took this photo in Israel. Where is it?