Are You In Remission?
Text: Acts 10:24-48
Proposition: If our heart is willing we can know through faith the way of freedom from sin in Jesus.
Introduction: Remission. It’s come to be a word that is associated with cancer. In it’s simplest form cancer is rogue cell growth that occurs because of corrupted DNA in those cells. In healthy DNA a life cycle for each cell is blueprinted, including the replication of other cells from it and then the death of that cell. When the DNA is corrupted the cells begin to replicate and grow beyond normal cycles, they don’t die off when they should and cancer occurs. When a person has received some form of treatment that either removes, destroys or preferably reboots the DNA of those rogue cells back to normal then the person is said to be in remission. That’s generally the way we understand that word ‘remission’. Interestingly, scripture also uses the word ‘remission’, especially in the older translations like the King James or New King James. It’s the Greek word, ‘aphesis’ that is translated as ‘remission’. It shows up 17 times in the New Testament in verses like Matt. 26:28, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Literally the word ‘remission’ means, ‘a release from bondage or imprisonment, a forgiveness or pardon of sins, letting them go as if they had never been committed.’ Real remission is exactly that, a release from prison. It’s not a temporary release from prison with the possibility of re-imprisonment, which is how we typically understand remission in medical terms. No, the remission that scripture talks about is a release and full pardon as though it had never happened in the first place. By faith we ask Christ to pay that price of sin for us and to forgive us of it. When we have remission of sin in this way it results in being released from the imprisonment of sin here and now. Though sin is still present in my nature I can see it and overcome its pull on me. Even after I die I believe that I will be accepted by God because of my new position in Christ. That’s the present and future tense of what remission is when it is referred to in scripture. So the question is asked, according to scripture, Are You in Remission? That’s what the gospel is all about and it’s what Peter was called to preach when he travelled to Caesarea to meet with the Roman officer, Cornelius. Have a look at Acts 10: 24-48.
I. Remission Is Centered on the Truth of Who Jesus Is.
When Peter, the Jewish Apostle, meets Cornelius for the first time, he is greeted by the Gentile Centurion. In fact Cornelius reveres Peter, literally bowing down before him as an act of worship but Peter corrects him saying that he too is just a man. Jesus once instructed his disciples to call no man ‘rabbi’ or ‘father’ or ‘teacher’ (Matt 23:8-10), meaning that Christ is our ultimate teacher and God is our ultimate father. Peter is honoring that directive when he corrects Cornelius. Peter is led into the house and there he sees a crowd of people that Cornelius has called together to come and hear some incredible news about real remission. So Cornelius says to Peter in verse 33, “…Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” It’s a statement about the receptivity of their hearts to God and it is the fertile ground into which the truth of the gospel is planted. If you want to hear from God quit arguing with Him and make up your mind to be present before Him and to hear what He wants to say to you. This morning I believe there are four things that God wants us to hear:
1. There is No Partiality with God. What Peter says is that people of every nation are included into the kingdom of God. No partiality means God doesn’t play favorites, He loves each as much as the other. He loves each not on the basis of what they have done or not done but on the identity of who they are as people created in the image of God. So those who fear God and do works of righteousness are already moving towards Him, seeking Him. Their faith in this small step is what God will cause to grow even more as they now receive the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. So being ‘good enough’ is not what it’s all about. God shows no partiality towards each of us because none of us can be good enough, not even this centurion Cornelius. If he was good enough Peter would not have had to come to preach the truth about Christ to him. There is no partiality with God because all are the same, all have sinned and all need Jesus. He is our good!
2. God’s Word Reveals Who Jesus Is . The point here is clear, God wants you to know Who Jesus is. It was for this purpose that He inspired the writers of Scripture the way He did. He used their personalities and circumstances and then He directed them by the Holy Spirit to record without error all that he wanted them to proclaim. Scripture then is not just a human record of ancient history, it has the same power locked up in it that the spoken Word of God has. Think for a moment about the power of the spoken Word of God at creation. The power of atoms, the forces of gravity, the intricacy of galaxies and neuropath ways all called into existence by His spoken word. That same power is in the written Word of God and look at what it accomplishes…verse 36, “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ--He is Lord of all-.” Who is Jesus? He is Lord of all! This refers to the supremacy of Christ over all kings and nations and races and religions. It refers to His supremacy over every spiritual power, over every created thing in heaven and on earth. It refers to His supremacy over the very forces and laws that hold things together, cells, molecules, gravitational powers to the edges of all the universe. That’s what Lord of all means and that’s who Jesus is and that’s what the Scripture reveals about Him. When I get that I receive the invitation to come to terms of peace with God through the cross of Christ. Peace with God leads to the peace of God and that is what we preach.
3. Only Jesus Can Do What He Does Because He is Both Man and God. Have a look at verse 38, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and
with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Jesus of Nazareth describes where He was raised as a man, it testifies to the reality of His human existence. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, meaning that though He was fully God He was also fully man and would need the Third person of the Trinity to direct Him. The NIV puts it like this in Phil 2:6,7 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Letting the Spirit guide Him and using the power put upon Him as a man He went about destroying the works of the Devil. So Jesus was fully man and yet He was also fully God. Being both man and God Jesus did what the first Adam failed to do… resist the devil and demonstrate righteousness. As both God and man He was the unique person in all creation and all time to do what God the Father wanted Him to do next.
4. God sent Jesus from the Trinity into Humanity to bring about the Remission of our Sin. God the Father was with Jesus through 33 years of life, through miracles and times of teaching until He was finally brought to Jerusalem, to Caiaphas the High Priest, to Pilate the Roman, to Herod the Edomite and to the people of Jerusalem… to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. God the Father blueprinted the death of the Son into the Incarnation and the Son was in total agreement with the plan. By faith in Him our sin could be put upon Him and His perfection would cover us. Just read the words of 2 Cor 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” From noon until three, from the 6th hour till the 9th hour, darkness came over the whole land as the Christ hung on the cross, the weight of our sin being fully imputed to Him. Then He died! The Son of God died! At sunset that day He was put in a tomb as a preliminary step to burial. All that happened that day perfectly paralleled the symbolism of the Passover, the meal that memorialized the release from captivity, once for all, of the people of Israel from Egypt. Then the third day, Sunday morning came and He was raised back to life in a transformed, glorified body by God the Father. The resurrection of Jesus openly proclaimed the eternal message that the price of Christ’s death on the cross was absolutely sufficient to pay the debt of our sin. Having triumphed over death and undoing the penalty of sin and destroying the works of the Devil, Jesus is the just Judge of the living and the dead. So Peter utters these last words, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” In the power of His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. So the question is asked of us all, Are You In Remission?