Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on December 4, 2016
Open your Bibles to Romans 2:14-15. Today we are taking a break from our journey through the Gospel of John and we begin our Christmas Sermon Series titled “King of Kings.” This will be a five part sermon series, with each sermon focused upon Jesus being the King of Kings. Today the title of my sermon is “Created for a King.” Next week the title of the sermon will be “The Shadow of the King.” On December 18th the title will be “The Birth of a King.” On Christmas Eve the title is “The Rule of the King” and then finally on Christmas morning the sermon is named “The Return of the King.” And, yes, I am aware that this is also the title of one of JR. Toilken's last book in the Lord of the Rings series. My hope that each of you will be very deliberate this Advent season to be intentional in coming each Sunday, as well as Christmas Eve. For I believe you will get the most out of the series if you see how all the pieces fit together.
Let's begin where we should always begin, in the word of God. Our beginning text for this mornings sermon is Romans 2:14-15. Let us read that text together, pray that God would open our eyes, and then see what the Lord has for us this morning.
Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. The Secret of Man
Every Monday from 4:00-5:00 p.m., a small group of men from this Church meet at McOttos in Anamosa. Our purpose is to equip ourselves for the work of the Lord. We are currently working our way through a book written by Os Guinness titled, “The Call.” Chapter 3 of this book is titled, “The Haunting Question” and in that chapter Os Guiness describes a man by the name of Vaclav Havel. Havel was an outspoken playwright who lived in the former Soviet Union. His outspokenness led to his imprisonment in 1979 in a “First Category Correctional Institution.” While there, he wrote a series of letters that are titled “Letters to Olga.”
In those letters, we see the diary of a man who is struggling with human identity. In the midst of living in horrific conditions, stripped of his liberties, his freedoms, his dignity, he wrestles with the question of, “Who am I?” As Guiness describes in his book, this the question that “Haunts” all of us. It looms over us, day in a day out. And in the clarity of brokenness Havel concludes “the secret of man is the secret of his responsibility.”
What does Havel mean by “the secret of man is the secret of his responsibility”? Responsibility assumes something. It assumes that there is One whom we are to be responsible towards. Responsibility assumes that there is an Authority figure that stands above us with certain expectations. Havel, who was not a Christian, initially calls this figure the “Eye.” E-Y-E. A being who is always watching everything we do, both in public and in private. Havel goes on to say, “Human responsibility, as the word itself suggests, is responsibility to something. But to what? What is this omnipresent, omnipotent, and undeceivable instance of authority, and where in fact does it reside?”
What Havel is sensing while sitting in prison is the same thing that Paul is writing about in Romans 2:14-15. Look at verse 14. It says “For when the Gentiles.” Who are the Gentiles? The Gentiles are the Havel's of the world. The Gentiles are people who do not believe in God. As it says, Gentiles are people “who do not have the law.” What does this mean? It means that they do not read and trust the Bible. They do not make an attempt to live their life in accordance to God's written Word. Therefore the Gentiles that Paul is referring to includes a majority of people who live on this planet. People who do are oblivious to the Scriptures.
We are surrounded by Gentiles. This world is full of people who are Biblically illiterate. They love to argue about God, but are clueless about what God reveals about Himself and His expectations. Barna Group did a study and found that fewer than half of all adults in America can name the four gospels. Sixty percent of Americans cannot name five of the ten commandments. Eighty-two percent of people believe the quote, “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse. Eighty-two percent! The crisis in America, is not the economy it is ignorance. Ignorance of the Word of God.
Having said that, even though these Gentiles do not know what the Bible says, what does our text say? They “by nature do what the law requires.” What does that mean? It means that even though most Americans are clueless to God’s purposes and design, they are instinctively in line, to some degree, with God's will. There is something about humanity that causes us to live a certain way that resembles the law outwardly. This is what it means to say, by nature. It is natural. It is intuitive. It is just what we do as humans. By nature a cow eats grass. By nature birds fly. By nature corn makes more corn. And by nature we follow the law.
Now, before I get too far, let me make a major qualification. Just because Gentiles follow the law in a Romans 2 general sense, this does not mean they follow the law perfectly. We have all broken the law of God, and therefore we all deserve punishment. Paul covers this in Romans 3, the next chapter. It is the failure to follow the law perfectly that shows us that we need Jesus, a man who was without sin. The law shows us that we need a Savior. What Paul is saying in Romans 2 is that humanity, by default, instinctively operates within the general guidelines of the law naturally.
For example take the concept of justice. This is a principle that every human being embraces. Both believers and unbelievers. Christians and non-Christians. We see it in our children almost immediately. They say things like, “This isn’t fair.” What they are saying is that they perceive an injustice and it must be made right by making their brownie the same size as their sisters. Justice also exists in the adult world. When someone does an evil against another human being, our hearts cry out for punishment. Every civilization that has ever existed has had a form of natural justice. It is universally accepted that truth is good and lying is bad; that working hard is good and stealing is bad; that life is good and murder is bad. Having said that this does not mean Jacob won't lie, David won't steal, and Moses won't murder.
By nature, humanity does what the law requires, to an extent. The question is why. Why do young and old, male and female, rich and poor, from all nations, throughout all time have this sense of justice? This is what Vaclav Havel was on the verge of understanding. He felt the weight of the law, even in the midst of prison, but he was not a Bible reader.
Our text tells us that this universal human display of law abiding shows us something. It is evidence, it proves something. What does it prove? Look at verse 15. “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts.” When someone tells the truth verses lying, which is the majority of the time, it is an outward display of an inward reality. That inward reality is that you have the law written on your heart. A code that is programmed within you. This is why we tell the truth. This is why we don’t murder. This is why we don’t steal. It is because there is a law that is written on your heart. This law written on our heart is why humanity across the globe, throughout all time embraces some form of justice. This is what Havel called “human responsibility.” You Cannot Have the Law, without a Lawgiver
The bigger question is, if the writing on our heart is the reason for general worldwide obedience to the law, who is the Writer? Who is the Author? Who is the Lawgiver of the law? For you cannot have a writing, without a Writer. You canot have a code without a Programmer. You cannot have a law, without a Lawgiver. So who is this law giver? Who has the power of the pen? This is obvious, it is God.
God is the one who makes all things. He is the designer, and Creator of life, of humanity. Isaiah 64:8 says “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” God is the one who fashioned the Gentiles referred to in Romans 2. God is the one who formed Vaclav Havel. God is the one who created each one of us. Psalm 33:13-15, “The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; 14from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, 15he who fashions the hearts of them all.”
This is why there is so much consistency in the creature of man, for we have something in common. Every creature has the same Creator and he fashioned our hearts, and as he did this he wrote his law upon it. Many times we refer to this law as our conscious. It is the unwritten law of humanity. It is the secret of identity. No matter what name you put on it, it does not change that it exists and is displayed by all humanity.
This undeniable reality of the moral human nature is what CS Lewis's book “Mere Christianity” is based upon. Lewis was an atheist at one time, but the one thing he could not escape was the reality of the universal moral law of man. He saw the moral law as compelling as natural laws, such as the law of gravity. You cannot deny seeing the evidence gravity every day, and you cannot deny seeing morality every day. This is one of his quotes from Mere Christianity, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” Lewis, was an honest atheist. He recognized the hypocrisy of this position of saying that there is a universal law, but no universal law giver.
Lewis's ponderings led him farther than it led Havel. Lewis started to wonder, if there is a universal moral law, therefore a Universal Law Giver, who is this Law Giver? Which is exactly where I want to direct our attention to this morning. Who is this law giver? The Sovereign King
In my profession as the Jones County Attorney, it is not uncommon for me to think about he concept of Sovereign Immunity. The idea of Sovereign Immunity is that the sovereign or the state, cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution in the performance of their Sovereign duty. The idea is that the law giver cannot have the law used against it. They are Sovereign. The latin for this concept is rex non potest peccare, which means “the king can do no wrong."
Behind the law, is not just a law giver, but a Sovereign King. This is more than just a Creator. A Creator makes things. A King has authority. A king has expectations. A King has rules. And for the human race, this King is God. He is more than just a Creator, he is the Creator King. God is the ruler of all creation, and he is the ruler of all humanity.
Perhaps the passage that I quote more than any passage, other than Psalm 16:11 is Isaiah 46:9, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Does this not sound like the Creator King? When God speaks things actually happen.
Earlier we mentioned the laws of nature, this is actually a blasphemous term, for nature has no laws, only God has laws. God is the one who created time. God is the one who created light. God is the one who created matter. God is the one who created mathematics. He is the one who implemented a created order that is governed by His rules. Psalm 93:1 says, “The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.” God has laid the foundations of the Univese and governs them as he sees fit.
The world was created for a King, and we have likewise been created for a King. Just as the stars were made to be governed by God, so we are made to be governed by God. This is what makes a human, a human, to be a servant of the King. To obey the commands of our Sovereign God. And this makes sense. When is the Sun the most sun-like? When it is obeying God to shine. When is water the most water-like? When Hydorogen and Oxygen obey God and bond to each other in their proper combination. They are at their purest when perfectly obeying, and we are likewise at our purest, when we perfectly obey the Lord. Why? Because we are created for a King.
This may be what Jesus was getting at when he said the famous words “the truth will set you free.” If you actually look at the verse before these words in John 8:31 you see something very interesting, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Freedom flows out of abiding in God's word. The more you abide, the more free you will be. The more you submit to God's will, the more free you will be.
We are like a sailboat, if we turn ourselves to the winds of God and allow Him to guide us in the turbulent seas of our life, then we are truly sailing, however, if we resist his will, the only thing we will accomplish is making a shipwreck of our lives.
This is the sad reality of this world, so many people think they are living when in fact they are dying. Instead of people recognizing that they were made for a King, they instead make themselves King. They rip the crown of God off his head and place it on their own. They have embraced the lie of Satan first whispered in the Garden, “You will be like God.” So we have billions of little gods running around creating their own definition of good and evil, suppressing the knowledge of God that is written on their hearts, and pursing the lust of their hearts, exchanging the Glory of God our true King for the glory of themselves. Since I mentioned Lord of the Rings earlier, let me use an example that only a few of you will understand. We have become the Steward of Gondor, unwilling to relinquish the throne to the rightful heir.
The Bible has a phrase for this, it is the opposite of freedom, it is slavery. Just two verse after Jesus said the truth will set you free says in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” Disobeying the will of God is nothing more than slavery. When we sin, we are acting non-human. Our transgression give off an aroma, not of life, but of death. Conclusion
So where does this leave us? First, let me address those of you who are not Christians. Who have not yet submitted to Christ. This morning in Sunday School we read in Luke 13, “The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree.” In this parable, a man planted a fig tree. Why? Because he wanted figs. For three years he came and examined the fig tree to see if it was producing figs like it was suppose to, and for three years he founds no figs. Do you know what his solution was for the fig tree? Cut it down. Why? Because what good is a fig tree if it produces no figs. For those of you who reject Jesus Christ as your Lord, that fig tree is you. And the fruit of your life is obedience to God. You are created for a King. And God has his Eye upon you. He is looking for fruit, the fruit of repentance and faith in Him. There will come a day, when God says, enough, and you will be cut down and burned as fire wood.
In the parable there is also a vinedresser, who intercedes for the tree and he says, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” What I am doing right now is vinedressing. I am digging around your life, and throwing the fertilizer of God's word at your heart, hoping that you will become what you are created to be, and submit to God's will. To turn from your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Lord. To trust in his blood to cleanse you from all of your sin, and follow him all the days of your life as your one true King. This is my plea for you this morning. Will it work? I do not know, I am not God. But what I do know is that the day will come, when your life will be asked of you and you will stand before God, and in that moment it is too late.
Now for the Christian, for those who have confessed Jesus as your savior and your Lord, the command is not much different. Sure you may be following him, and sure you are free, but you are not perfectly free. You are created for a King, and you must live consistent with this reality, not just when it is convenient, not just when it is Sunday, but every moment of your life.
I believe the best description of this is found in Philippians 3:12-16 when the Apostle Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”
As Christians, it should be our life's ambition to submit to our King. Why? Because our eyes have been open, and obedience to Christ is the only thing that makes sense. Following Jesus is where we find purpose, it is where we find abundant life, it is where we find peace, it is where we find power, it is where we find joy. So let us fully embrace what God created us to be, servants of a King.
So right now, you are thinking what does this have to do with Christmas? Everything. Isaiah 9:6, perhaps the most popular Christmas verse that exists says this, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” Christ came to establish and uphold the Kingdom that was created for Him.