Church of England Diocese of Carlisle Brampton

Trust and obey

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

Everyone knows the tune, even if they haven’t thought much about the words.

John’s Newton’s hymn is about our Lord’s promises of forgiveness, protection, and then life in God’s nearer presence when this earthly life is over. It’s no wonder so many people like the hymn? What is there not to like?

Grace is God’s unmerited favour toward those he loves. This sounds amazing. But nearly everyone who hears about this amazing grace asks the question that goes something like:

“Does that mean I can go sinning, just doing whatever I want, and pick up my free pass into heaven at the end of my life? The answer is, “No!”

People were asking that same question 2 thousand years ago. This is the question Paul is answering in our reading from Romans, chapter 6:

“By no means!” Paul says. “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” We are to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul is correcting one of the biggest misunderstandings in Christianity. To understand what he says, we need to go back to the Christmas story, where the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds:

“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

The angel tells the shepherds that Jesus is both Saviour AND Lord. This is really important to grasp.

If Jesus is Saviour but not Lord, we get forgiveness without morality. Sometimes called cheap grace! Handing out forgiveness willy-nilly without any moral compass is a recipe for chaos [and mayhem].

If Jesus is Lord but not Saviour, we get morality without forgiveness. We would have kingly rule, but no means of forgiveness when we got things wrong. Only judgement and condemnation!

But the amazing thing about Christianity is that Jesus is both Saviour and Lord. He will forgive us our sins when we get things wrong, and also lead us in the ways of righteousness. With Jesus as Lord of our lives, we can expect to be “changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place”.

The modern language baptism service asks the candidates these questions: Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? Do you submit to Christ as Lord? The answer is “Yes!”

Yes! I trust in Jesus for grace, mercy and forgiveness. Yes! I will submit to His kingly rule, and obey his law of love.

We live in a world which turns a blind eye to some terrible crimes. In the same brutal world people dish out the condemnation to their fellow humans with no offer of forgiveness.

Jesus is very different: He understands all our weaknesses and is ready to forgive. At the same time, Jesus guides us in the paths of righteousness, and yearns to see the gospel transform our lives, and al-ways for the better.

Be warned! We cannot abuse his kindness. Jesus knows what is in our hearts. If we try to abuse his grace, … we bring judgement on ourselves. Paul writes elsewhere, “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7, NIV)

In his letters, Paul writes at great length about grace. But it’s not cheap grace! As Christians, we are to acknowledge Jesus as both Saviour AND Lord.

We trust in the promises of Jesus our Saviour. We are to obey his commandments, to show that we love the Lord Jesus and accept his kingly rule. As the hymn puts it:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word, we have freedom to live within a healthy moral framework. We have a God of compassion who picks us up whenever we fall, and brings us back to the straight and narrow way.

As Christians, we are to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God! The world offers us a dazzling array of alternatives, but only one way leads to life. Jesus is the Way.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

Let us pray that we may know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

Eternal God,

your Son Jesus Christ

came from heaven for us and our salvation;

grant us grace to walk in his way,

to rejoice in his truth,

and to share his risen life;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

This message is based on Romans chapter 6, verses 1 to 11. Please share this message with others.

Revd Stephen Robertson

21st June 2020