Jesus Enters Jerusalem Prepared to be Our Sacrifice (John 12:12-15)

Jesus Enters Jerusalem Prepared to be Our Sacrifice (John 12:12-15)

I like football a lot. I REALLY like football. One thing I like about football is watching the perfect play.  I like to watch the highlight shows, you know those shows that talk about a particular athlete? It used to be NFL films, now it is “A Football Life.” I’ve watched “A Football Life” about Terry Bradshaw twice. It is really neat watching the film of Bradshaw throwing a long pass to Lynn Swann. I have also watched “A Football Life” about Barry Sanders, it is really neat watching him maneuver to get the perfect run. I have watched “A Football Life” about Jim Brown, wow! The highlights of him playing were amazing. I have watched “A Football Life” about Paul Brown, now he is a coach who does not get the recognition he deserves. I have watched many other football shows in addition to the games. One thing about football, the fans love these players when they are winning, but if the game goes wrong they are quick to start booing. Terry Bradshaw retired and then did not enter the Steelers stadium again until the early 2000’s. He brought his daughters with him and he did not know how the fans would react, but they cheered for him. Isn’t it interesting how the fans will boo one moment and cheer the next?

On Palm Sunday Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people cheered for Him. They were waiting for a Savior. They were waiting for a King. But on the following Friday He would be crucified. Many believe it was NOT the same crowd that cheered for Him as the crowd that wanted Him crucified, but my point is the same, He was welcomed on Sunday and crucified on Friday.

But, today I want to talk about the why. Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem? Why not stay away. Jesus knew that He would be crucified. He knew (Luke 13:33; Matthew 16:21; 17:22; Mark 8:31). If you knew you would go somewhere and be crucified would you go? Jesus did. Why? He enters Jerusalem and the people love Him. He is later crucified. Jesus entered Jerusalem thinking about us. He did this for us (see Phil 2:3-11).

My theme today:

Jesus entered Jerusalem KNOWING that the cross awaited Him. He did this for the salvation of sinners.

My application:

We must stay focused on Jesus even when persecution, tribulation, or difficulty awaits us.

  • Jesus enters Jerusalem, let’s look at John 12:12-15.

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

  • I am not going to talk a lot about the passage today, instead I am going to focus on applications.
    • We see in the passage that Jesus is entering Jerusalem. A large crowd had gathered for the week of Passover. The feast is Passover.
    • The next day would have been Sunday (cf. v. 1). The great multitude that had come to Jerusalem for the Passover undoubtedly included many pilgrims from Galilee, where Jesus had His greatest following. The crowd evidently surrounded Jesus since Matthew and Mark wrote that there were many people in front of Jesus and many behind Him (Matt. 11:9; Mark 11:9).[1]
    • Allow me to share some background: Those already present in Jerusalem typically welcomed pilgrims to the feast and strewed branches in their path. Palm branches were used at the Feast of Tabernacles but had to be brought from Jericho. They had been one of the nationalistic symbols of Judea since the days of the Maccabees, were consistently used to celebrate military victories and probably stirred some political messianic hopes among the people. “Hosanna” means “O save!”; both this and the next line of verse 9 come from Psalm 118:25–26. Psalms 113–118, called the Hallel, were regularly sung at Passover season, so these words were fresh in everyone’s mind.[2]
    • I like what one source shares: Unfortunately, many in the crowd thought of Jesus only as a political deliverer and not a spiritual Savior. Instead of riding in on a horse like a warrior, Jesus chose a donkey—a burden-bearing animal. OT prophecy had identified the Messiah-King (Zch 9:9; see the comments there) as coming to the daughter of Zion (v. 15; a common OT idiom for the people of Jerusalem) seated on a donkey’s colt. The donkey was also a symbol of peace and humility (2Sm 19:26).[3]
    • Most of us know this story. Most of us have heard it many, many times. Jesus enters Jerusalem. We now begin Holy Week. Jesus will wash the disciples feet in a few days. In between now and Maundy Thursday Jesus will teach as well as anger many of the religious elite. Now, what I want to focus on is the application. Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem?
    • Jesus entered Jerusalem knowing that suffering was ahead of Him. He entered Jerusalem because He was going to the cross. He entered Jerusalem because that is what was necessary.
    • Jesus did NOT avoid His mission. He was always about His Father’s will (Luke 2:49 and many other passages).
    • This is so different from what we do. Oftentimes we take the easiest path.
    • The rest of this message is about applications.
  • We must stay focused on Jesus even when persecution, tribulation, or difficulty awaits us.
    • How much do we care about the salvation of others?
    • It would be easy to apply this as “Stay focused on God’s will even if things are difficult.” But that is not the main reason Jesus went to the cross. Yes, Jesus went to the cross for the Father’s will, but specifically He did this for our salvation.
    • How much do we care about the salvation of others?
    • Are we being intentional thinking about the salvation of others?
    • Like Jesus, we must be willing to go through with situations knowing that we are in God’s will even if suffering is ahead of us.
      • Jesus went to the cross for us our need (Phil 2:3-11). We must also be willing to go through death, or persecution, or difficult times for the need of others.
      • Jesus went to the cross for our salvation. We must be willing to go through persecution, tribulation, and even death for the salvation of others.
    • This must have been very difficult for Jesus. He knew what awaited Him throughout this week, yet He entered Jerusalem.
      • We may know family members or friends who need salvation, but being around them is difficult for us. We can be like Jesus and enter those relationships thinking about the greater need.
      • We may think that our neighbor, or our coworker, or our relative, are our enemy because of our conflicting worldviews, but they are not. They are our mission field. Jesus entered Jerusalem for the mission of the cross.
      • We must be willing to enter what we think of as enemy’s territory for the Gospel.
    • We must be willing to be INTENTIONAL and PURPOSEFUL for the Gospel. Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem knowing that this was His Father’s will.
      • We must seek the Lord’s will and NOT avoid difficult situations.
      • We must pray and seek the Lord’s will knowing that nothing is off limits.
      • Maybe the Lord will call us to serve in overseas missions EVEN in our retirement. I was in the Dominican Republic and met a couple who chose to serve the Lord there during their retirement years.
      • Maybe the Lord will call us to pick one day a week and serve at the Rescue Mission.
      • Maybe the Lord will call us to pick one day a week and serve at the Pregnancy Help Center.
    • Jesus did NOT avoid the most difficult day, and the most difficult week in history. He stayed on mission. We must stay focused on the Lord’s work.
    • We must NOT rely on peace meaning that we are in God’s will.
    • Let me explain the last point. Many times, we think if something is the Lord’s will we will have peace about it. Invert that. Turn it around. Sometimes if it is the Lord’s will you may NOT have peace about it. Sometimes if it is the Lord’s will it will be difficult, but the Lord wants you to depend upon HIM. The Lord wants you to trust Him. The devil wants you to take the easy way out. To be sure, the Lord can give you peace in the midst of difficult times, BUT that is often when we jump into the deeper water and trust Him. Don’t rely on the peaceful, easy feeling. Trust the Lord. Seek Him. Quit taking the easy way out.


In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace had many opportunities to take the easy way out, but he did not. He wanted to die for his cause.

Anyone who has seen the movie knows the major speech he gives halfway through the movie:

A soldier shares with him: “Fight? Against that? No, we will run; and we will live.”

Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!![4]

In fact, he went through torture yelling “Freedom” knowing that was his mission.

That is a movie based on the legend about a real person. But Jesus was also a real person and He went through to death, on a Roman cross, in order to give us freedom. Jesus gives us freedom from sin. Jesus gives us life everlasting. Jesus gives us abundant life. That is why He went to the cross for us.

Love Him. Worship Him. Serve Him. Live with Him.


[1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 12:12.

[2] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Jn 12:12–13.

OT Old Testament

v. verse

OT Old Testament

[3] John F. Hart, “John,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1642.


We have hope in Christ’s triumph over Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21).

We have hope in Christ’s triumph over Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-21).

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21, 2021

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, coined the term “eucatastrophe,” which means “good catastrophe.” When it looks like a hero is doomed . . . but then the plot turns! The death of Jesus certainly qualifies as a eucatastrophe! As one writer explains, “Jesus’ crucifixion was the most evil event in history, but it secured the redemption of those who believe in Jesus’ substitutionary atonement for their salvation.”

Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for us (and all of humanity) to start over. That is why Paul depicted Him as the new Adam.[1]

My theme is:

We have hope in Christ’s triumph over Adam’s sin.

My application:

Serve Christ out of love for Him. Worship Him for His free gift.

  • Verse 12 gives a nice summary of the passage.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned

  • There is a dash at the end of verse 12 because it is not picked up again until verses 18-19.
    • As we get to this passage we are picking up from the previous section.
    • Notice that verse 12 begins with a therefore and this means that we are making an inference based off of the previous material.
    • Verses 1-11 are all about our reconciliation with God. Verse 10 reads: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
    • So, now Paul is building on this idea.
    • Look at verse 12: sin came into the world through one man, who was that?
    • Sin came into the world through Adam.
    • Death came into the world through sin.
    • In Genesis 3 when sin came into the world they did not die right away, but they all died eventually. In fact, they did die spiritually right away. Also, if you look at the genealogies in Genesis 5, notice the emphasis on death. Notice how it emphasized, “and he died.”
    • Death spread to all men, why? This is because all have sinned (see Romans 3:23; 6:23).
    • In these verses, death is both physical and spiritual. Death in the Bible is always thought of as unnatural. Death is not just a natural part of living.
    • I like how MacArthur says it: Because all humanity existed in the loins of Adam, and have through procreation inherited his fallenness and depravity, it can be said that all sinned in him. Therefore, humans are not sinners because they sin, but rather they sin because they are sinners.[4]
  • History of the sin of Adam leading up to the justification from Christ (Verses 13-17).

for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

  • Verse 13 is interesting. Does it means that they were not accountable for sin before the law? I do not think so.
    • What law is he talking about? He is talking about the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments and everything from Exodus-Deuteronomy.
    • Basically, before the law, there was the moral law. This would be God’s law. There was still the general revelation of right and wrong which God gives to us all. They were still held accountable but based off of God’s moral law.
    • So, they still had the law of God.
    • Verse 14 helps us interpret verse 13.
    • In verse 14 we see that there was still death, which means there was still sin. Death reigned from Adam through Moses. Moses brought about the Ten Commandments and the Law. Yet, before Moses they were still dead spiritually and they died physically. In Romans 2:12 Paul had said that those without the written law are still judged by God. In Genesis 6-9 they all perished in the flood. In Genesis 11:19 people faced judgment at the tower of Babel.
    • Verse 14 continues to show that death reigned even over those who did not sin like Adam sinned. They all sinned, but Adam was the head of the human race and the first one to cross God’s Divine commandment. Further, verse 14 shows that Adam was a type, in other words a foreshadowing of the One, that is Jesus, who was to come.
    • I like how one source shares: In this passage Paul explores the contrasts between the condemning act of Adam and the redemptive act of Christ. They were different in their effectiveness (v. 15), their extent (v. 16), their efficacy (v. 17), their essence (vv. 18, 19), and their energy (vv. 20, 21).[6]
    • In verse 15 Paul continues to build on the free gift of Christ. Verse 15 shows that the condemnation through Adam versus the redemption in Christ were different in their effectiveness.
    • The free gift is not like the trespass… Paul is about to use a “how much more” argument. Many died because of Adam’s trespass, that is Adam’s sin. That means that God’s grace is so very much more.
    • Paul also emphasizes the grace as a free gift.
    • Paul will continue to build on this idea. Paul will build on our great salvation.
    • In verse 16 Paul once again says the gift is not like… Notice how he is contrasting the greatness of the grace of God through Jesus with the death from Adam’s sin. Judgment came through sin. Judgment resulted in condemnation.
    • But through Jesus, through the free gift (it says “free” gift again), from all the transgressions we received justification. This means that we are declared righteous through Jesus. There were all the transgressions, that means to cross a moral or Divine law, all those transgressions came from Adam’s first sin. But through Jesus we are all made righteous.
    • Verse 16 shows that the condemnation through Adam versus the redemption in Christ were different in their extent.
    • In verse 17 we see that death reigned through that first sin, much more the gift of righteousness will reign.
    • Verse 18 shows that the condemnation through Adam versus the redemption in Christ were different in their efficacy. That means Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished His purpose.
  • Contrast of sin of Adam versus obedience through Jesus (Verses 18-21).

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Paul continues to build up his case.
    • He has already stated the case. Now, he is building on it.
    • One trespass, one cross of the law, led to condemnation. So, one act of righteousness, that is Jesus’ obedience to the cross leads to our being declared righteous. He says justification for “all” men, but we know from other Scriptures that this would be all who trust in Jesus for salvation (John 3:16; 14:6; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10).
    • Again, verse 19 is restating this. The disobedience of Adam versus the obedience of Christ. Humans were made sinners through Adam’s sin because he represented humanity. As stated before, we were all in his loins. But in Christ we can be made righteous.
    • Verse 20 is interesting: the Law came, what law? This is the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, and with the law our transgressions/sins increased. What does that mean? It means that with the Ten Commandments we now had written culpability/accountability for sin. Verse 20 continues, where sin increased grace abounded all the more. That means that God’s free act of forgiveness through Jesus was given more.
    • This does not mean we should go on sinning, NO! Paul answers that in Romans 6:1. No, this is simply exalting how awesome our salvation is. Sin hurts God. Sin breaks His heart.
    • Verse 21 summarizes this passage and this awesome truth.
    • Sin reigned [ruled] in death. Sin caused death. Grace, that is God’s free gift of salvation, rules through righteousness, that is Jesus’ righteousness, and this gives us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen! Praise God!
  • How do we apply this?
    • To me, this is a worship passage, do I worship Christ for the awesome salvation which He has freely provided.
    • I notice an emphasis on “free gift” in verses 15-16, which is used four times. We would be stuck in our sin except that Christ stepped in and gave us a free gift.
    • Do we try to earn our salvation? We cannot earn our salvation and that is why Jesus gave us the free gift of His righteousness.
    • We must serve and worship Jesus who gives us His grace.

To give today’s passage even more context, re-read the record of the original Adam and the Fall in Genesis 3–4. How were Adam and Eve led to disobey? What were the consequences? What evidence was there that God continued to love them? Rejoice that “as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22)![8]


[2] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2166.

[3] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1789.

[4] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 5:12.

OT Old Testament

[5] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1752.

[6] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 5:15–21.

[7] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2167.


Assurance of Hope (Romans 5:1-11)

We talked about justification last week, so today we are going to talk about the results of justification.

Recall that justification gives us complete forgiveness, but also gives us Christ’s righteousness. Several years ago, I was working on a roof and got roof tar on my shoes. I liked those shoes but for some time that tar was still sticky on the bottom of the shoes. So, eventually I was told that gasoline would take care of it and that is what I did. I rubbed gasoline on the bottom of the shoes, and it cleared things up. The gasoline made the shoes perfect, like a new pair of shoes. It still happened in time and space, meaning the situation with the roof tar actually did happen, that was not erased, but the gasoline made the shoes pure as if they were a new pair.

In justification we are forgiven, and we receive Christ’s righteousness. We still sinned, but we are right with God because of Jesus.

There are two results of justification that the Bible talks about which I wish to focus on today. Today, we focus on peace with God and reconciliation with God.

Let’s read Romans 5:1-11:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

My theme today is that we have peace with God and reconciliation with God.

  1. First, because of our justification we have peace with God (v. 1).
    • We have so many benefits because of justification. Our salvation is great.
    • Think about “Peace with God.”
    • You see, God does not need peace with us, we need peace with Him. We violated His standard. As a consequence of our sins, we were at war with God. But as a consequence of Christ’s death and resurrection we are at peace. This is awesome.
    • Amen!!!
    • I believe that peace with God goes along with reconciliation, so let’s look at that.
  2. We have assurance of our salvation: verses 4 and 5 bring up the hope which we have in Christ. This means we have assurance of our salvation.
    • This hope comes in two ways. First, our hope comes through our sufferings. Verses 2-4 are written about how suffering builds us up. This is not suffering because your dog ran away, you lost your house, or something like that. Those are life problems which we deal with and they are not easy.
      • This is suffering for Christ specifically. This is persecution. This has to do with people in the Middle East who are Christians and because of this they have lost their homes. That really happens. There are Christians all over the world suffering for Christ.
      • The hope is that after we see how Christ takes care of us one day, one way, we can remember that in the future. Then the next time we are going through a struggle for our faith we can think, “This has happened before, and Christ took care of me.”
    • Secondly, our hope, our assurance, is from the Holy Spirit. God’s love dwells in us by the Holy Spirit. This is a big deal.
      • We must remember the power of the Spirit Who resides in us.
      • So, a Christian has assurance from God.
  3. In verses 6-11, Paul expands on what he has written about in a nice, concise way.
    • Verses 6-8: we aren’t good, and we aren’t righteous, yet Christ died for us.
    • Verses 9-11: we have been justified by Jesus’ blood. We have been saved from His wrath, that is reconciliation. We are saved by Jesus’ life, that is, His death and resurrection.
    • Verse 11: rejoice! We are to rejoice because of this complete salvation. This means sing songs of praise; worship the Lord and boast about the Lord and His goodness. 
  4. Reconciliation with God (v. 11).
    • In these 11 verses every time I see the verb “to justify” I also see Paul talking about reconciliation. In verse 1 Paul is talking about how we have peace with God. Then in verse 9 Paul is talking about how we are saved from God’s wrath. That is really what reconciliation is.
    • Simply put “to reconcile” means to restore friendship or harmony. In Genesis, Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden as friends. But then sin came, and this separated him from God (I am extrapolating this from Gen 3:8-9 and the setting of the Garden of Eden. I am sure I have heard other scholars say this). 
    • Have you ever had a time when you had a dispute with someone? We all have. When we are reconciled with God, God has peace with us. The dispute is gone. God had a dispute with us. He had a rightful dispute with us. We had offended Him. In a Biblical sense we had offended God’s holy law. Verse 6 says that we were ungodly when Jesus died for us. Verse 8 says that we were still sinners when Christ died for us. Verse 10 says because of this we were enemies of God. Ungodly! Sinners! Enemies!
      • We needed reconciliation.
      • We needed to be reconciled to God.
      • We had offended Him. We still offend him.
      • We had, and still do, cross His perfect law.

Many of you know of the hymn Amazing Grace. This was a hymn written By John Newton. John Newton ran a ship of the slave trade during his younger years. After he became a Christian, he was convicted of this; convicted of the brutality and inhumane treatment of the slave trade which he was part of.

John Newton appreciated salvation because he was so convicted of the slave trade ships that he captained in his younger days. This conviction and appreciation came out in his hymns.

In this passage, in Romans Paul shows that our salvation is complete because of the process of justification and reconciliation. This passage also gives us assurance of our salvation. I hope we all realize how desperate we were, how badly we needed salvation. Then, I hope we are challenged to rejoice with Paul in our great salvation.

  • Review Romans:
    • In Romans chapter 1 Paul spent most of the chapter writing about our ungodliness. In verse 18, He says the wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
    • You may say that that is not you. But it is. It is all of us.  
    • Romans 2:1: You, therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things
    • Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
    • We couldn’t be reconciled to God without being justified; however, reconciliation naturally follows justification.
    • Hebrews 4:16 says let us approach the throne of grace with confidence. We can because of reconciliation.
    • Ps 103:12: as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Justification.

Let’s apply this. Every sermon should have encouragement and conviction. Every sermon should have grace and truth. This is because the Word of God gives us encouragement and conviction.

                Are you living as free? Are you living as though you are forgiven by Christ, not only that, are you living with an understanding that you are pure to God, that you are righteous in God’s sight? Are you living knowing that you can approach God’s throne without a human mediator? This is because of justification and reconciliation.

Or, are you trying to earn your salvation? Do you feel like you can’t approach God? Do you have a secret sin? Confess your sins to God. Accept God’s forgiveness and know that you are forgiven. Know that you are more than forgiven; you are pure, righteous, and reconciled to God. Your relationship with God was broken, but it is restored. Many times, we get our self worth from trying to please people and trying to do things. Trouble is, we can never do enough to earn our salvation and make things right with God. But Jesus did it for us. Jesus has accomplished what we couldn’t accomplish. Lean on Him! Stop trying by yourself! Lean on Jesus. Then Jesus will give you the assurance of your salvation.  

  • Our Salvation is complete. Forgiven: our sins are forgiven; our debt is paid by Jesus. Justified: we are righteous in God’s sight. Reconciled: there is no longer a barrier between us and God.


Again, back to our example, John Newton the hymn writer. Recall that John Newton was in charge of a slave ship in his younger years. John Newton was saved, justified, this means he was seen as pure in God’s sight and reconciled to God. So, there was no dividing wall between him and God.

Throughout Newton’s years in ministry, God’s amazing grace remained central to Newton’s thinking. When it was suggested he retire (at age eighty-two!) due to poor health and a failing memory, he responded, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior!”[1]

Amazing grace how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see.

Think about those words. Our salvation is complete, but not complete by what you do, but what Jesus has done. Having faith to believe in Jesus, accept His forgiveness and commit to Him gives you complete salvation. This means you are forgiven of your sins. You are justified, declared righteous by God. You are reconciled to God, no longer being enemies. You have peace with God. You receive the Holy Spirit and have assurance of your salvation.

There is an old hymn by John Newton:

Approach My Soul the Mercy Seat

Approach, my soul, the mercy seat,
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before His feet,
For none can perish there.

Thy promise is my only plea,
With this I venture nigh;
Thou callest burdened souls to Thee,
And such, O Lord, am I.

Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By war without and fears within,
I come to Thee for rest.

Be Thou my Shield and hiding Place,
That, sheltered by Thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him Thou hast died!

O wondrous love! to bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners, such as I,
Might plead Thy gracious Name.

“Poor tempest-tossèd soul, be still;
My promised grace receive”;
’Tis Jesus speaks—I must, I will,
I can, I do believe.


[1] The One Year Book of Hymns. 365 Devotional Readings Based on Great Hymns of the Faith. Compiled and edited by Robert K. Brown and Mark R. Norton; Devotions written by William J. Peterson and Randy Peterson. Tyndale House Publishing, Inc. Wheaton, ILL. 1995. March 17 

Abraham, Our Ancestor, Jews and Gentiles (Romans 4:1-25)

Abraham, Our Ancestor, Jews and Gentiles (Romans 4:1-25)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, 2021

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, 2021

I recently re-watched some of the Star Wars movies. In the fourth movie, “A New Hope” Luke Skywalker is introduced. If you watch numbers 4, 5, and 6 Luke is a lot different in “Return of the Jedi” than in “A New Hope.” Luke matures and goes through Jedi training. His Jedi training took a lot of determination. 

How do people change like that?

I submit to you that for the Christian Jesus changes us. Jesus changes us and the change in us is instantaneous when we are saved. When we are saved Jesus gives us His righteousness.

Today, I wish to talk about how Jesus changes us.

I want to talk about “justification.”

Everyone say, “Justification.”

The theme:

Abraham was justified by faith and we can only be justified by faith.

This is a lengthy passage, so today we will only read the first 3 verses and then the last 3 later on.

Read with me Romans 4:1-3:

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 

  • First, let’s talk about justification.
    • In Romans 3:23 the Bible says that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
    • Then Romans 3:24 says that we are justified freely.
    • Romans 6:23 says the same thing.
    • At this point, Romans could almost be complete but Paul is now illustrating that we are justified by faith alone and Jews and Gentiles need Jesus.
    • I talked about justification when I preached through Galatians so some of this is review.
    • So, what is justification? Is it “just-as-if-I-never-sinned”?
    • Not really. Unfortunately, I have used that but there is so much more to justification then that.
    • Justification is a legal term.
    • Justification has two parts:
      1. Forgiveness of sins
      1. Imputed Christ’s righteousness
    • Without forgiveness of sins, we are guilty so this removes the guilt.
    • Imputing Christ’s righteousness takes the wrath of God away from us and makes it so that we can stand before God. Imputing Christ’s righteousness restores our relationship with God.
    • As an example, we stand before the JUDGE— He examines the defendant against the evidence (using omniscience). The judge is God, and He is examining us.
    • He pronounces judgment. Later, will follow the pronouncing of sentence.
    • HIS JUDGMENT = NOT GUILTY by reason of the Atonement of Christ.
    • Rom 4.5  “Justifies the ungodly”
    • The definition of justification is To Declare Righteous
    • NOT, To Make Righteous (Sanctification, and finally glorification).
    • Therefore, your right standing is a declaration of the judge, not the result of your actually being good.
    • Forgiveness of sins:
    • Forgiveness of Sins

Romans 4:8

         “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

  • Negative Side – clearing away
    • Imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

Rom 3.21-22:  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith inJesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile…

Positive Side – the merit of God’s son.

  • Justification implies a freedom from guilt.
    • Not that we were not guilty, but that we have been freed from its condemnation (Rom 8:1).
    • The forgiveness of sins by confession (1 Jn 1.9) should be fully accepted.  To do less implies an ineffective atonement.
    • “Go and sin no more”  (John 8).
    • Implication: God receives me as he would his own son (Heb 4.16).
    • So, that is justification.
    • Isn’t that awesome! We are not just forgiven! We are declared righteous in a legal way.
  • Example Abraham and his faith
    • In verse 3 we have the quote from Gen. 15:6: Abraham believed God and it was credited to Him as righteousness. Abraham was justified by his faith.
    • This was a big deal because the Jews would have thought Abraham was right with God because of circumcision, but as verses 9-12 say the justification happened prior to the seal of circumcision.
    • Abraham was justified some 14 years prior to circumcision.
    • The chronology of Genesis proves Paul’s case. Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (Gen. 16:16), and Abraham was 99 when he was circumcised. But God declared him righteous before Ishmael had even been conceived (Gen. 15:6; 16:2–4)—at least 14 years before Abraham’s circumcision.”
    • We are grafted in. Look at verses 23-25: 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.


How do people change? How do Christians change? The first step is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. The first step is surrendering to Him. God will take it from there, if we surrender to Him.

This passage is not about Abraham but about God. God transforms people!

Have you been transformed? Is that worth sharing?

Go and share it!

Go and worship that you are not just forgiven but you are righteous.