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The Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Option #1: "A Tale of Two Adams"
Romans 5:12-15
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Introduction: A lot of people are worrying about ATOMS these days. Two Asian nations have a million armed men staring at each other over the border of a disputed region. The fact that both have nuclear ballistic missile capability is making a lot of people nervous. That’s not all: an American citizen who became a Muslim soldier is being held at a Navy brig for plotting to set off a "dirty" bomb--a bomb which releases radiation. You can’t escape even by going to the movies. "The Sum of All Fears" tells the tale of a stolen nuke that is used to blow up the Super Bowl. As frightening as the destruction caused by the splitting of the atom is, a whole lot more destruction was caused by another Adam--the father of our race who brought sin and death into the world. But, thank God, that’s not the end of the story. Paul tells us in today’s Epistle..."A Tale of Two Adams":

I. The First Adam brought death--text, vv12-14; Rom 5:19; Rom 6:23; Gen 3:19 (Note: the name "Adam" means "dust"); Ezek 18:4b; James 1:15; Gen 5:5-7 & 11; 1 Cor 15:56

II. The Second Adam brings life--text, v15; Rom 5:16, 17-18, 20-21; Matt 20:28; Eph 2:8; 1 John 4:9; 1 John 5:11-12; Isa 53:11, 55:7; 1 John 2:1-2; Rev 7:14-17

John MacArthur writes: No truth is more self-evident than the inevitability of death. The earth is pock-marked with graves, and the most incontestable testimony of history is that all [people], whatever their wealth, status, or accomplishments, are subject to death. Since Creation, every person but two, Enoch and Elijah, have died. And people will continue to die until Christ returns. The painful reality of death touches [hu]mankind without interruption and without exception. According to an Oriental proverb, "The black camel death kneels once at each door and each mortal must mount to return nevermore." The very term mortal means "subject to death." The eighteenth-century poet Thomas Gray wrote these haunting lines in his Elegy in a Country Churchyard: The boast of heraldry; the pomp of pow’r, and all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, awaits alike th’ inevitable hour, the paths of glory lead but to the grave. After describing the appalling sin and lostness of all [hu]mankind (1:18-3:20), Paul has revealed how Christ, by His justifying death on the cross, provided the way of salvation for everyone who comes to God in faith (3:21-5:11).

Richard Lenski explains further: "The likeness (between Adam and Christ) consists in this: one man is the source of sin, death, condemnation; one man the source of righteousness and life. Again, one act is the evil source; one act the good source. ...Christ did far more than to restore the state of man[kind] before the Fall, he at once brought the full consummation, for the attainment of which Adam had been created. ...This gift, this ‘charisma,’ went far beyond the damage done by Adam. So grave was the fall of Adam that it killed all [people], so that hope of deliverance seemed gone forever... But the grace of God in Christ exceeds Adam’s fall and the damage it wrought. ...The gift connected with this grace was the full expression of the grace of God, as great as the grace that bestowed it. When they are thus set side by side: the fall and what it did and this grace and what it did, the vast excess of the latter (grace) looms up before us. Each is focused in one man. This produces type and antitype, but what a vast difference! The human cause, Adam’s fall, was exceeded by the divine cause, grace; the human effect, that the many died, was exceeded by the divine effect, the gift for the many. 

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Option #2: "Fearing (God) More, Fearing Less"
Matthew 10:24-33
Rev. Kelly Bedard

A. Sources of fear: 1) self-revelation; 2) self-persecution; 3) self-need

B. Sources of fearlessness: 1) God-revelation; 2) Jesus-persecution; 3) Spirit-provision

C. Result of fearlessness: spreading the Gospel/Good News

Notes

1. skotia (v27): darkness, dark; the darkness due to want of light; metaphorically used of ignorance of divine things and its associated wickedness and the resultant misery in hell.

2. phos (v27): from an obsolete phao (to shine or make manifest, especially by rays); light, fire; the light emitted by a lamp; a heavenly light such as surrounds angels when they appear on earth; anything emitting light; a star; a lamp or torch; brightness of a lamp; metaphorically, God is light because light has the extremely delicate, subtle, pure, brilliant quality of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it; that which is exposed to the view of all, openly, publicly; reason, mind; the power of understanding, especially moral and spiritual truth.

3. diaphero (v31): be better, be of more value, differ from, should carry, publish, drive up and down; to bear or carry through any place; to carry different ways; to carry in different directions, to different places; of people who are carried hither and thither in a ship, driven to and fro; to differ, to test, prove, the good things that differ, to distinguish between good and evil, lawful and unlawful, to approve of things that excel, to differ from one; to excel, surpass one; impersonally, it makes a difference, it matters, is of importance.

4. To deny Jesus is to deny the work of the Spirit. It will later be called blaspheming the Spirit (12:31-32). Mouthing the words of the kingdom while not allowing one's life to participate in God's liberating work in the world is playing a religious game which will be exposed. This has less to do with vengeance and more to do with being brought to face the truth about ourselves. Matthew has no room for hypocrisy. (William Loader)

5. What do you know that falls in the category of truth which runs either slightly or altogether in a different direction from that of the prevailing wisdom in your family, community, nation, or world? Avoiding bringing it forward in order to avoid conflict is not going to work. Eventually this conflict will surface.

So, if you are being as wise as a serpent in knowing when you will bring your part of truth forward, blessings upon you. However, if you are simply trying to avoid issues or are being intimidated into silence, it is time to stop that and be the part of truth Jesus expects from you.

A tricky part of this truth-telling is also having the humility to recognize the ways in which we intimidate others from passing on a helpful word to us. What tricks do you use to avoid responding to a part of truth the larger community has for you? Is it the magic two-year-old response of "No," of the teen response of boredom, or the young adult knowing it all, or the older "Well, my experience is...and you can't change it"?

Here Jesus can also be heard to remind us that the message of repentance we bring to the world does have an echo that comes back to remind us that repentance is a continual process that is not just for others but includes us.

6. Once upon a time back in the last century there was a young woman from Ireland who had lost her parents and all her family. Some kind people wrote to their relatives in America and said "We have this fourteen-year-old orphan here who is very bright and very pretty and very hard working. We don't want her to go to the orphanage because she won't have any opportunities there to develop her talents. Would you consider hiring her as a servant girl? You'd have to pay her way over on the boat, but she'll work for nothing until she earns her fare. You won't go wrong with her." So the Americans, who could afford a servant girl but never had one and weren't altogether sure what they would do with such a person, talked about it and said "Well, what have to lose?" So they sent the fare for the boat and the train and waited for the young woman to come. She sailed from Kinsale. The last she saw of Ireland were the twin spires of the church as they faded into the background. Weeks later, sick and thin and exhausted, she arrived in the city where her master and mistress lived. They took one look at the poor child and said "Dear, we don't need a servant, but we have room for another daughter!" When they brought her home the other children hugged her and said "Hooray! We have another sister." With their help she grew up to go to college and university and become very successful and was a great credit to those who took her into their family. (Andrew Greeley)

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:32 PM