Good News (part 7) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday, September 27, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Romans 3:21-31.  This message was the seventh (and final) part in the “Good News” series.  The sermon audio and video are posted below.


To listen to the audio offline, click on the link below to download:

Good News part 7


To listen to the audio online, use the media player below:


To watch the sermon video, use the Vimeo video posted below:


To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.



Good News (part 7) Sermon Audio & Questions

On Sunday, September 27, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Romans 3:21-31.  This message was part 7 in the “Good News” series.  Below is the sermon audio and a few questions related to the message for further reflection or group discussion.


Sermon Audio:

To listen to the sermon offline, click on the link below to download the sermon audio:

Good News part 7
To listen to the sermon online, use the media player below:



  1. Read Romans 3:21-31
  2. Can you think about a time when learning how something worked gave you MORE confidence that you could trust that thing?
  3. Based on your study of Romans 1-3 (including this message from Romans 3:21-31) how does salvation “work”?
  4. Romans 3:22 highlights the importance of the “faithfulness” of Jesus for our salvation.  Why was Jesus perfect moral life necessary for our salvation?
  5. In 3:24-25 a variety of terms are used. To the best of your understanding, define what “justification,” “redemption,” and “propitiation” mean.
  6. Jesus’ blood paid for all our sin.  Are there any sins that in your own life that you have a hard time believing that Jesus’ death really paid for?
  7. We activate the saving power of Jesus Christ in our life by faith, not works.  By belief in Him, we are saved by Him.  Has there ever been a time in your life where you embraced Jesus as your savior?
  8. What stood out to you most from this study/message?


To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.



Mortgage Spirituality (Good News week 7 Devo)

by Mark Robinson

Millions of Americans own their home.  At least that is what they tell people.  In actuality, most do NOT own their home.  If they owned their home, they would not have to make payments each month to lenders for their right to live there. I own the pair of shoes I am wearing right now, and since I own them, I do not have to pay Nike $10 a month for the right to wear my shoes.  Not continuing to pay for something, in my mind, is the definition of owning it.  Given this definition, how can we say that millions of Americans who make payments on their houses each month own their houses?  Based on my other experiences in ownership, this just doesn’t make sense.

Home ownership is a funny concept in this day and age.  With the rise in housing costs and the urbanization boom that has swept over the country in the past hundred years, the home mortgage has become a necessary step to many people having a place to live.  Banks are willing to loan out money equal to the value of a home to qualified buyers, under the assumption that the buyer will pay back this money over a fixed period of time plus interest.

Most people today have grown up with an understanding of what a mortgage is, and the role it plays in helping people move into a home today that they would not ever be able to afford otherwise.  Since we have grown up in a mortgage culture, is it possible that the concept of a mortgage has infected our understanding of salvation?  Here is what I mean. . .

I believe that there are many people today who practically view salvation as a spiritual mortgage transaction.  Understanding the notion that all people are sinful and separated from God, we have come to know none of us have the personal righteousness in our bank account to please a holy God.  Therefore, we understand the need for a giant deposit of righteousness to be made into our spiritual account from Jesus Christ in order to “get us in” to a relationship with God today, even if we could not “afford” it on our own.  The rest of our lives, we make daily, weekly, monthly, or annual “paybacks” to Jesus through our devotion that help to “keep us into” our relationship with God.  Taking this analogy to its very end, we believe that if we ever stop making our weekly payments to God through church attendance, good deeds, partaking in communion, etc., that we would then be evicted from the good graces of God, and see our eternal security foreclosed on by our God, the lender.  This is a crude analogy, and somewhat of an overstatement, but I believe at our core, many of us today are living our lives with a spiritual mortgage mindset.

So what is the problem with this mortgage mindset?  At one level it seems to makes sense to us.  At the most important level, however, it is just flat out heresy.  Our God is not a lender, He is a giver.  Salvation is not something we pay back, it is something He paid for.  We are not in debt to God, we are heirs of His great promises!  This is quite a switch.

In Romans 3, we see this played out in vivid detail.  After spending the better part of the first three chapters of the book of Romans convincing mankind that we are all sinful, Paul concludes in Romans 3:9, “What shall we conclude then?  Are we any better?  Not at all!  We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.”  Paul goes on to let us know that our need before God is not partial, but total.  Our salvation is not 20% us and 80% God.  Since our need is total, our salvation needs to be 100% God’s gift to us.  The great news of the gospel is that God was willing to provide 100% of the funds for our salvation, and not require us to pay it back (which is great, because we could never “afford it”.)  Romans 3:25-26 say it this way, “God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.  He did this to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”  The price of our home in heaven is 100% paid for by Christ on the cross!  This gift is truly a gift, as Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.  However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”  In other words, we do not pay back the deposit of righteousness that Christ places in our spiritual accounts the moment we trust in Him.  We merely receive this as an unbelievable gift!

Take a moment and think through your perspective about the Christian life.  Do you view your relationship with God as a free gift, or as a 70 year mortgage?  Do you see your sin (past, present, and future) as paid for or still requiring further payment by you?  Do you realize the full extent of the blessings you have been given in Christ?  If you have trusted in Christ, your salvation is paid for . . . you are completely forgiven.


To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.


“Winning” Sermon Preview

Two years ago, my family went to the happiest place on earth — Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.  We had a magical 4 days in the “Kingdom” riding rides, seeing shows, and often standing in line.

Apparently tens of thousands of other people thought it would be a good idea to pull their kids out of school in late April to “beat the rush.”  (*SIDENOTE:  When I was in high school, my family went to Disney World on the week of July 4.  I can confirm that there were indeed LESS people there in April than a holiday in mid-summer.)

Lines at Disney World are more of an experience, though, than a beating.  They have gone to great detail to make the line part of the ride, complete with stories, theming, and entertainment.  But they are lines nonetheless, and they are everywhere . . . for rides, for trolleys, for food, and even for the parades.

Going to Disney World with a five year old (at the time) we really enjoyed all of the parades as they were great chances for Josh to see some of his favorite characters.  Being just a little over 3 feet tall at the time, however, made seeing the parade difficult for our son.  Therefore, I became a human scaffold for the week.  My shoulders created the perfect press box perch for Josh to catch all the action.

I was thinking about this experience today as I prepared for Sunday’s sermon where we will be looking at Philippians 1:19-24.  In these verses, Paul says that there is something in his future that he is “eagerly expecting.”  The Greek word behind this English translation has a very picturesque meaning.  The Greek word describes someone straining their neck to see something that was coming down the road.  Like my son climbing on my shoulders and angling his head up to see as much of the parade as possible, there is something in Paul’s future that he cannot wait to see unfold . . . but what is it?

  • Knowing that Paul was in prison at the time of writing this letter to the Philippian church, we might expect him to talk of “eagerly expecting” his release from prison.
  • Or, knowing that Paul was very much in danger of being killed for his faith in Christ, we might expect to see Paul “eagerly expecting” circumstances that would lead to his survival.
  • Or, knowing that Paul was an itinerant evangelist/church planter, we might expect Paul to be “eagerly awaiting” the conversion of thousands in response to his next sermon.

However, the thing that Paul was straining to see, the hope he was climbing on top of someone else’s shoulders to behold, was not his release, or his safety, or his success.  What Paul was “eagerly expecting” to see was how Jesus would be glorified in his life no matter what happened next.  Wow.

Where does that faith come from?  How does one get such a perspective on life, and what does it look like in our lives today?  We are going to be wrestling with this thought this Sunday at Wildwood in a message I have entitled “Winning” from Philippians 1.  I hope you can join us in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship services.

Also, I would appreciate your prayers this weekend.  I am speaking 3 times at a Student Ministry retreat called “D Now” at Wildwood (once Friday night, and twice on Saturday).  Pray that my words would be clear and that Jesus would be glorified through the weekend.  One specific thing you can pray for me is a quote I love from Dr. John Hannah.  He says:

When I preach, I try to create a category called Jesus.  And if the Spirit would bless it, to make it beautiful that people might follow Him, for we choose what we like.

Pray that Jesus would be beautiful in my preaching this weekend and that students might follow Him.

Happy Birthday Kimberly

I once heard Pastor Robert Lewis say that the key to a long marriage was “a commitment to serial monogamy to the same person.”  By this, Lewis was saying that both people and circumstances change over time, and couples who are still happy decades into marriage are those who maintain their commitment in each season of life.

Today, we are celebrating my wife Kimberly’s birthday.  Amazingly, God has blessed Kimberly and I with the opportunity to celebrate nearly 3/4 of the birthdays of our lives together.  Over that span of our lives, many things have changed . . . but my love for her continues to grow.

When you get married, you exchange a set of vows which basically say, “I am committed to you no matter what.”  No one can see the future clearly through the veil on the wedding night, but that commitment and God’s faithfulness have seen us through many changes.  Just some of the seasons of our life together:

  • From friends, to dating, to friends, to dating (better), to engaged, to married, to married without kids, to married with wanting kids, to married with kid, to married with trusting God with our future.  We have learned what it means “to have and to hold.”
  • From having a year where our combined W2 was less than $13,000 to years where we can have a conversation about where we want to go on vacation.  From times when eating out meant the dollar menu at Wendy’s to dates eating the Chicken Club salad at Charleston’s.  We have learned the meaning of “for richer for poorer.”
  • From the day Kimberly nearly died on the operating table due to complications, to months of preparation for and recovery from a kidney transplant, to watching Kimberly fly through the ropes course at summer camp (fully recovered).  We have learned the meaning of “in sickness and in health.”
  • From seeing our son born at 31 weeks and spend the first 6 weeks of his life in the NICU, to watching him score a goal in soccer and dance in celebration.  We have learned the meaning of “in good times and in bad.”
  • From deep long talks staying up way too late, to putting up with my selfishness.  We have learned the meaning of “forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Over the 27 years I have known Kimberly, and the 17 years we have been married, I can honestly say that we have both changed.  This is not a bad thing.  This is a great thing!  I have never understood why people write “don’t ever change” in people’s High School yearbooks.  I remember my high school days.  I needed to change! (And by the grace of God both of us have.)

Over our time together many circumstances have changed.  This is not a bad thing.  This is a great thing!  It means that we are living life and trusting God as we press forward.

Over the past 27 years, even my love for Kimberly has changed.  I love her more and more deeply now than ever before.  You get to know someone better over time, and the more I know of Kimberly the more I love her.

I am so glad that Kimberly and I have a commitment to “serial monogamy to the same person.”  My life is much richer as a result.

As a Pastor, I have had the privilege of serving as the officiant at nearly 100 weddings over the past dozen years.  At most of those weddings I say to the bride and groom, “one of the greatest gifts God will ever give you is your spouse.”  I learned that, not just through a study of Scripture or reading a Tim Keller book.  I learned that by being married to the most wonderful woman I know.  Happy birthday Kimberly.  My serial commitment to you is the best decision I have made since trusting in Christ.

Waiting for Christmas Morning

2013 Morning
View from the top of the stairs: C-Day 0700

At 6:15 AM, Josh came into our room.  He was ready to go downstairs.  He was not interested in reading the newspaper or letting the dog out.  Nope, today is Christmas, and Josh was ready to see what presents downstairs might be for him.

Staying at Kimberly’s folks’ house, we had a prearranged agreement with Kimberly’s sister.  All 4 kids would not go downstairs until all 4 kids were up . . . and no one would go downstairs before 7:30.  Josh was up first, which meant that we were in for the longest 75 minutes in the history of childhood.  How bad was it?  Josh was so restless, he actually asked for hand sanitizer at one point to “go wash his hands.”  I have known this boy for nearly 7 years . . . never once has he ever even THOUGHT about washing his hands without being told.  I think he was hallucinating.

Finally, about 7:20, the other three children got up and began circling around the upstairs landing like eagles ready to swoop in on their prey.  “Who is the big package for?”  “I hope I get Legos!”  “Is it time yet?”

Finally, all parents were up and positioned, cameras in hand, and ready to unleash the great present run of 2013.  Right before we turned them loose, my brother in law asked the question, “Do you know where you need to go first when you get downstairs?”  (He meant, over near the chimney where the stockings and a few toys were laid out).  My nephew drooped his head and murmured, “breakfast 🙁 .”  He was delighted when we told him the wait was over.  He did not have to wait for breakfast, and he and his cousins could go see the bounty that awaited them.

When the four kids hit the living room, a party broke out.  A police station for one, Legos for another, princess dress up for the girl, and a castle for the J man.  It was worth the wait.

As the events of this morning unfolded, I had this great sense of appreciation for the waiting that the people of God had to do before the arrival of the Messiah.  For thousands of years, God’s people had waited for the Christ to come to the earth.  Generations struggled through the longest “75 minutes” of history from the Garden of Eden to Bethlehem.  Great prophets of the past circled above the incarnation straining their eyes to see Emmanuel.

Finally, after all those years . . . after all that history, it was time.  When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a new era had dawned.  You and I don’t even have to stop to have breakfast . . . we get to celebrate the reality that Jesus is born.

Over the past week, I have seen how Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Anna, and Simeon were all longing to see the Son rise.  This Christmas morning, I am amazed that we have been born in an era where we have to wait no longer.  We can embrace Christ by faith today.  What are you waiting for?  Run downstairs in faith.  Open the present of salvation.  And join the party.  Forgiveness, love, purpose, and hope await in relationship with Him.

Josh with his new Landry Jones Rookie Card.
Josh with his new Landry Jones Rookie Card.

Advent #25 – Looking, Longing, Waiting

Stable Influence

Over the past 25 days, we have walked through all the typical “Christmas passages” in God’s Word.  It has been a true joy to be able to reflect on these great truths with you all each day.

The last of our passages is Luke 2:36-38.  In these verses, the prophetess Anna recognizes Jesus as Messiah when Jesus was presented at the temple about 40 days into His life.  Read these verses below:

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Anna had spent a lifetime looking, longing, and waiting for Jesus to come.  Even though we are people who celebrate the first coming of Christ, like Anna, we are a people who are looking, longing, and waiting for Christ to come again.  After all the presents are opened this Christmas day at our houses, and our hearts embrace the fact that Jesus came 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, may our hearts look forward to the fact that one day Jesus will come again!

Jesus Himself, before He went to the cross, promised His disciples that He would return to earth again.  Since Jesus has not yet returned to the earth, we live today awaiting the second Advent of the Savior.

Because of that, the lyric to Charles Wesley’s great hymn, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” has double meaning for us.  We look back to His first coming, as the child who was a King, while we look forward to His second coming, when He brings His kingdom and raises us to His glorious throne.

As you read the lyrics to this hymn today, be reminded of the fact that just as Jesus came once (in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago), He will also come again!  Think of all the things in this world that are impacted by sin or cause us to fear.  The second advent of Christ will put an end to that.  Indeed, “Come Thou long expected Jesus!”

“Come Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free.

From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art.

Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart

Born Thy people to deliver.  Born a child, and yet a King.

Born to reign in us forever.  Now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone.

By Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.”

My Christmas Gift to You

Stable Influence

Dear Friends,

I wanted to write a quick note on my blog today to unveil two resources that may benefit you this Christmas season.  For the past several years, I have written a blog post each day during the month of December to help keep our focus on Christ at Christmas time.  This year, I turned a few of my favorite posts into two Christmas devotional books.  Both are available for free here for download.  Each book is available both in ePub (for those using iPads, iPhones, Kindles, or Nooks) and PDF format (for everyone else who want to download and print out a copy of the book).

The first resource is called “Cross to Cradle:  Following Christ through the Gospel of Luke.”  These devotionals follow the book of Luke from chapter 24 (the resurrection) backward to chapter 1 (the announcement of the birth of Christ).  Download this devotional book here:

The second resource is called “A Stable Influence.”  This book contains three sections of devotionals, focusing on Old Testament Prophecy, Christmas Carols, and more general Christmas thoughts.  Download this devotional book here:

If you are using these resources, please let me know!  This is the first time I have released these resources in this way.  I hope it is a blessing to you and your family this Christmas season.