Your Past Through the Lens of the Cross

Discussion Questions

1. In the message this Sunday, we learned that justification is the process of being made right with someone.  Share a time when you had a troubled/broken relationship (friend, loved one, etc) and how it was justified. 

2. Bro. Larry mentioned that we gain peace through justification and we need to be justified because of our past (sins, struggles, hopelessness, etc).  Share an example of how how being right with God has given you peace.  

3. Hebrews 11:1 in the KJV says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." And remember that as Christians our hope is not just something that will come one day in the future, but is here today also.  How has knowing God's promises and trusting in them made an impact on your life? What is something that you could trust God with more? 


Your Past Through the Lens of the Cross

Today we are going to see some very practical and applicable aspects of seeing things through the Lens of the Cross! It's one thing to talk theology and the rational for why we believe what we believe, but if there were no application to where we live then it would simply be knowledge for knowledge sake.
God gives us knowledge for a purpose. He wants us to apply His Word to the circumstances and situations in which we found ourselves!
Here's what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

 These Scriptures will teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us to view our past through the lens of the Cross!
Let's pray and ask God to pour out His wisdom and understanding today in a very practical and applicable way!

Let's read our main text for today.
Romans 4:25-5:2
25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 4:25-5:2 (NIV)

Ok, today's message has two parts. In part one we'll talk about the amazing details of these 3 verses. In part two we'll see how, through the lens of the Cross, these verses impact our past.
Ok, part one... Romans 4:25
25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Jesus was delivered over! No one took His life! The Father had made the unbelievably tough decision to let His Son become the substitute for us on the Cross. The Son had decided to follow The Father's will and give Himself as the substitute for us! Remember the conversation between Jesus and Pilate when Jesus was on trial? John 19:10-11a...

10“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.         John 19:10-11a (NIV)

Ok, so He gave His life. Why did He have to do that? Let's look a little further and we'll see!

25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Death was the punishment we deserved and death was what Jesus had to go through. Jesus knew this was coming...

17Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them,
18“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death
19and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
Matthew 20:17-19 (NIV)

Remember, God's Word tells us

23For the wages of sin is death...
Romans 6:23a (NIV)

But Jesus was perfect! Doesn't the Bible say He never sinned?
Yes it does. So what's the deal? Look back at our verse...

25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

You and I have sinned and someone had to pay. If we payed for our own sin it would take us an eternity of separation from God! That was unacceptable to God! Listen to 1 Peter 2:22-25

22“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
25For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:22-25 (NIV)

Wow! He committed no sin, yet He bore my sin, my guilt, my shame, my punishment!

Isn't it amazing how much detail is in one verse of Scripture and we're not done with Romans 4:25...

25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

He died and was raised to life for our justification! Just what is justification? Big word, big meaning!

Justification: 1. The Process by which and individual is brought into an unmerited (undeserved), right relationship with a person, whether that relationship is established between people or with God.  
2. The action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.

In order to declare and make us righteous before God, someone had to justify us! Why? Because we're sinners!

We have no righteousness of our own and what's worse, according to Romans 3:23 ...

23... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:23 (NIV)

So we all have a need to be justified, made right with God!All of us! No one is exempt! No one!

Let's look at the next two verses of our text. Romans 5:1-2...

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

We are not justified by our good works, our righteousness, our church attendance, or religious activity. Don't get me wrong, it's good to do good things, to attend church, (I'm so glad your here), to be involved in Godly activities, but it is our faith in the perfect life Jesus lived and the fact He was willing to exchange that perfect life on the Cross for our sinful lives in order to justify us… that's what makes the difference. Paul put it this way when talking about his previous religious life apart from a personal relationship with Christ. Philippians 3:4-9

4... If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;
6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. Philippians 3:4-9 (NIV)

I know what some of you are thinking. "Pastor Larry, you told us last week to bring our note pads to take notes, because this weeks sermon was going to be so practical we would want to take notes! So far it's more theology!"
Ok, we're going to get really practical and applicable! Get ready to underline some words in your Bible!! Romans 5:1-2

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:1-5:2 (NIV)

If you underlined the words I had in yellow, then what a list of words you have...

Faith                                   Peace                               Access                                Grace                                Stand                                Rejoice Hope

Faith! This word is in our text twice. This is signficant because it is through faith and by faith in Jesus Christ all the other words take effect. What is faith? We turn to Hebrews 11:1-3 and 12:1-3 for our answer.

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
2This is what the ancients were commended for.
3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV)

 Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  The King James version puts it this way...

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!"
                                        Hebrews 11:1(KJV)

See, when we put our faith in our Almighty God, that faith becomes the very substance of the things we hoped for! And this hope is not the trivial hopes some people have of fame and fortune, but is the hope we have of being made right with God. The hope we have of being forgiven for our sins. The hope we have of finding eternal purpose in our
lives right here on earth. And remember Christian hope is not a hope so someday, it is a know so one day!
Why is our faith so certain? You've heard me say before, it's not how big and great our faith is, but how big and great the God is in which we place our faith. That makes all the difference. Look at Hebrews 12:1-3...

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

This is so powerful and potentially life changing, if you'll let it sink in to your heart, soul and mind. If you'll apply this to your life. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith! What are your eyes fixed upon?
Are you chasing the things of the world which can never really satisfy? Things that can never bring the one thing we all seek. What is that one thing humankind universally seeks? It's the second word in our list...

Faith                                   Peace                               Access                                Grace                                Stand                                Rejoice Hope

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Peace with God! You might ask me if I really believe this is the one thing humanity universally seeks. Let me put it this way...
Even if someone doesn't believe in God, they still have a God shaped void in their heart. They still have an innate desire to have peace in their heart. They may not realize or admit it but they're looking for this. They my try to fulfill this God shaped hole in their heart with many other things, but only God can ever really bring them the peace they're looking for.

Remember the U2 song, 
"I still haven't found what I'm looking for"?
Now there may be a few folks here who looked at the title of the message and are a bit confused. What's the connection? Ok, the title of our message is "Your past through the Lens of the Cross!" Let's put the pieces together! In order to find peace, we have to be justified, made right with God! We have to be justified because of our past!  

Remember Isaiah 53:6 from a few weeks ago. Listen...

6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)

You see, whether or not you've ever been arrested or spent time in jail, we all have a rap sheet of sin. I realize we are all at different levels when it comes to things we've done, but as Isaiah said we've all got some issues. Our mistakes, mess ups, blunders, and outright sins have left us guilty and talk about a joy killer. Talk about not having peace. And sometime it's not what we've done, but what someone else has done to us that robs us of our peace of heart, soul and mind. God wants to heal you of that pain. And if it is things you've done...
There's only one way to have your record cleared. There is only one substance that can take away the guilt of sin and the only place to find this substance is at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 9:22-26

22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
23It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.
25Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.
26Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Hebrews 9:22-26 (NIV)

There are people here today in different places. Some of you may have great faith and great peace. There are others who have great struggles and you can't seem to fine the peace you long for. I'm here to tell you your peace will be found at the foot of the Cross. When you stand at the foot of the Cross you begin to understand just how much God loves you!

You'll begin to understand the awful price Jesus paid in order to pay for your sins. Now I know some of you here may be thinking, "Pastor Larry, I'm certainly not perfect, but I've really not ever done any of the "Big Sins!" I'm a pretty good person and I don't have a boatload of guilt. Ok, I get that, praise the Lord you've not done any of the big sins, but remember, it doesn't take but a little bit of sin to separate us from God and God doesn't want to be separated from us and I don't believe you want to be separated from God. There really is no difference in a little sin and a big sin when it comes to our need for forgiveness. Now don't get me wrong, there are great differences in the consequence department, right? And some of us have had to endure some pretty hefty consequences for sin. And sometimes Satan will use those consequences and scars to rob us of our peace. Here's what you do…

When Satan brings up your past mistakes, tell him that it's covered under the Blood of Christ! Keep talking about Jesus, the Cross, your faith in God, and your trust in His promises of forgiveness and cleansing! Satan may just leave you alone to just get you to stop talking about Jesus.
James 4:7
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 (NIV)

If there are terrible things in your past and difficult consequences still lingering today, ask God to cover the sin under the Blood and through His grace and strength to help stand strong in your new identity in Christ. You are a child of God! And if you were a victim of someone else's evil, don't let who you are be defined by what happened to
you. Don't let victim become your M.O. Let victor become your theme in Christ!
If we are really going to have the peace God wants for each of us, we must come to the Cross and receive the cleansing that can only happen through the Blood of Christ! I know what you're thinking. What about all the other words in the list? Today we looked at our past through the lens of the Cross. Next week we will look at our present day lives through the lens of the Cross. Those words of encouragement will be such a blessing to you. What Jesus did on the Cross was not just to cleanse our past, it was so He could empower us today! I guess I should preface my closing verses with this…
Spoiler Alert!!!!
Listen to 1 Peter 5:6-11

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:6-11 (NIV)

 End Sermon here!!

Pre sermon work!

ETS: Jesus went to the Cross so we could be justified.
(Justified from what? Sin!)
(Why do we need to be justified? We've all sinned!)

ETS: Seeing your past through the lens of the Cross will transform your life!

OSS: I want my hearers to be free from the guilt of sin, the power of sin, the punishment of sin, the destruction of sin,

and the separation from God sin brings.

Unifying Word: Elements

Probing Question: What elements of our past change when we see them through the lens of the Cross?

 Transitional Sentence: Let's look at the elements of our past that are transformed through the lens of the Cross.