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Welcome to the Bible Book of Romans

As the coronavirus began to take its toll in March 2020, we were cautioned that gathering together in our standard classroom setting presented a high risk of infecting others, We began considering other possibilities for sharing our Bible Study time in a virtual group instead. 

Background

Roman Church History

Founding – Unlike many of the early New Testament churches, Rome is not listed as one of the churches founded on one of Paul's missionary journeys.  The date of its founding seems to be during the reign of the Emperor Claudius between 41 and 54 AD.  Luke mentions "strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes" in the list of believers in attendance at Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10).  Once that sermon ended, its attendees started establishing or growing churches throughout the area.  If that was the trigger for the founding of the Church at Rome, the date would be closer to 33 AD.  Commentaries are somewhat divided regarding the founder of the Church at Rome.   Peter and Paul are both mentioned as founders.  


Membership – Luke's mention of "strangers of Rome" would likely be strangers  to Jerusalem.  People who were born as Jews in Rome and those who were, or in the process of, converting to Judaism.  Paul names two of Rome's church members specifically.  They were Junia (traditionally a female name) and Andronicus, who were Christians before Paul, that is, before 37 AD.  That date would fit between the early date of 33 and the later date of 49 AD when  the Roman historian, Suetonius wrote of the serious conflict between Jews in Rome regarding "Chestus" likely a misspelling of the Latin "Christus" for Christ.  Claudius expelled Christian Jews from Rome as a result of the conflicts in 49 AD.  


Motivation – Dr Luke documents the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to provide another Comforter in Acts 2.  As the Holy Spirit fills a collection of missionaries from all over the world, they are filled and sent out to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a planet anxiously awaiting a Word from God.  Rome was just one of the hundreds of churches founded through the motivation of God's Spirit.  It was the beginning of a movement that would change all mankind.  Everything was done to stop it, but no one could.  The more the world tried to quiet the movement, the stronger it got.   Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."  (John 14:1-3, KJV)


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Reach (Romans 15:14-21, 30-33; May 28, 2020)

Fulfill Your Calling (Rom 15:14-16)

Fulfill Your Calling (Rom 15:14-16)

Fulfill Your Calling (Rom 15:14-16)

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Introduction (Romans 15:14-16:27)

Romans 15:14 – 16:27 addresses Paul’s purpose for his letter to the Church at Rome. He was called by Jesus Christ to be the minister of the Gospel to the Gentiles. His desire was to present the Church at Rome as an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord, sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God. But in the process of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, he would be spreading the Gospel to all nations. The zeal with which he persecuted the Christian church before his conversion followed him through his conversion to Christ to become driven in spreading the Gospel of Christ everywhere. 


While his ministry for the Lord took him through three missionary journeys over Asia Minor, Greece and Macedonia, and resulted in a major financial ministry to the saints in Jerusalem, he was now pressed to carry the Gospel through Rome and into Western Europe as far as Spain. He wanted to finish the collecting of the offering for the saints and its delivery to Jerusalem before leaving but his mind was fixed on a European ministry. As routine for Paul, he finishes his letter to Rome (Chapter 16) by mentioning the people he felt were instrumental in the major work of ministering to the new Christian church at Rome.


Fulfill Your Calling (Rom 15:14-16) 

Paul expresses three thoughts for the Roman church in verse 15:14 which summarize his work goals for them. He believes the people of this church are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and able to admonish one another. Think of the close of this letter as Paul’s feelings like those of the departing Pastor as he is leaving the church he loves for a new assignment. He observes that they are a good people; not just generally good, but full of goodness. This is a healthy thought. Pastors can feel the qualities of their churches as they stand before them. The faces of the members flash across the pastor’s mind as he recalls the church and individual needs of each member. A Pastor’s love for his people never leaves, even when he acknowledges the negative aspects of the church. Here, Paul characterizes this church as full of goodness. It is no small comment.


In verses 15 and 16, Paul considers the church through the eyes of his overall ministry. He writes to them in a language to further encourage them to move forward in their ministry for Jesus Christ. He recognizes that even in their strength, they must depend on Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to continue their successes. In some of what he said in this letter, he also observes they are a well-trained church and full of knowledge. 

Boast about Jesus (Rom 15:17-19)

Fulfill Your Calling (Rom 15:14-16)

Fulfill Your Calling (Rom 15:14-16)

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 Fulfill Your Calling (Rom 15:14-16, Continued) 

This is a good church which is also filled with knowledge concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul’s third comment is one a Pastor always wants to be able to say about a church he will soon be leaving: this church is also able to admonish or encourage one another. Coupled with their goodness and knowledge, this means they have the capacity to teach each other and explain the Gospel of Christ. They are not a dependent church; they have the tools to persevere under Christ. This is a strong church.  

Paul was bold and did not hold back his strongly worded comments. He says he did so in this manner because of the grace he had received from God in gifting him for this ministry, specifically. God’s call on him was to be as the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. He was called to deliver the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the hope of causing converts to Christ that might be found acceptable to God and growing in the Gospel for Jesus Christ. They were a good and knowledgeable church who could advance the Gospel Paul had delivered to them to disciple one another in the Lord and to bring others into Christ’s salvation. They would continue to be a healthy and growing church for the Lord. Paul was proud of what they had become for each other under his ministry.  


Boast about Jesus (Rom 15:17-19)

Paul recognizes that the things for which he might be tempted to accept personal glory are things that were gained through the power of Jesus Christ.  They are God’s gain, not his own. He feels strongly that he will not even dare to speak of those things as his personal accomplishments. And further, he will not claim any of the things God had accomplished through other people or things as if they were his own. Paul recognizes that God used many signs and wonders to motivate men and women to draw closer to Christ. 


Paul continues that the power of God through the Holy Spirit and not himself, motivating the people to be obedient to the Lord in accomplishing the ministries He had set out for them. In addition to God’s power, He used mighty signs and wonders to enable Paul to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the region from Jerusalem through Illyricum. Paul believes he preached in the power of God as fully as possible. 

Seek the Lost (Rom 15:20-21)

Partner with Others (Romans 15:30-33)

Partner with Others (Romans 15:30-33)

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Seek the Lost (Rom 15:20-21)

Paul asserts that he has always tried to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in places where It was never heard before. He wanted to make sure the effectiveness of God’s Word was maximized by presenting it to prospects not being reached by other evangelists. In other words, he wanted to plant fresh churches, not built on someone else’s work. Paul understood his ministry as one of taking the Good News of Christ to people who had not learned or heard it before. He was not on a mission to correct how others preached Christ, but rather, to preach the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ.  His message was focused on evangelism, not discipleship. That is not to say Paul did not disciple those who accepted Christ under his ministry. The many epistles of Paul included in our Bibles show Paul had no deficiencies in “growing what he had planted.” But while some ministers are called of God to pastor churches, Paul was called to plant churches. Specifically, “the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Go thy way: for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake” (Acts 9:14-16).  Paul was a chosen vessel of God to take Jesus’ name to the Gentiles, but also kings and Israel. Paul was a Pharisee and a primary tool chosen by the Sanhedrin to destroy the Christian movement, but now he is chosen of God to take Jesus’ name where others have not preached it. Is there any wonder why in a few verses before those quoted from Acts 9 Ananias refused to approach Paul (then called Saul)? Saul was well known for his relentless persecution of all who called on the name of Jesus.


In verse 21, Paul quotes Isaiah 52:15 where the Prophet says, “So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” Paul was the chosen one to fulfill that prophesy, and Paul not only saw it, he acknowledged it and carried it out. Not to build on someones else’s work but to preach to those who have not heard nor have they seen the works of God’s Messiah.  

Partner with Others (Romans 15:30-33)

Partner with Others (Romans 15:30-33)

Partner with Others (Romans 15:30-33)

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Partner with Others (Romans 15:30-33)

However, Paul was never one to work alone. After Paul explains how his ministry has taken him to start churches all over Asia Minor, Greece and Macedonia, his current mission is to deliver the collections he has received from these places to the Saints at Jerusalem (Rom 15:22-27). He promises to visit Jerusalem on the way to Spain to preach the Gospel there. It is in that light that he asks them to join him in prayers for his success in getting to Jerusalem and then to Spain. He asks the Brethren, those who are the believers of the church in Rome to pray for him for the sake of Jesus Christ and for their love of the Holy Spirit that he will be protected from those he meets in those journeys. He knows that the unbelievers in Judea will certainly be waiting for him in order to arrest him. He also asks that they pray that the collections he has will be accepted by the believers in Jerusalem which will release him from that ministry and allow him to travel to Spain. 


In verse 32, he reveals that those prayers would also include a safe delivery of himself to the leaders at the Church of Rome. He anticipates that will be a time of joy and that it will fulfill God’s will for the Roman believers to be refreshed by his teachings while in their presence. In today’s vernacular, Paul is promising to preach a revival at the Church in Rome. He is coming to them by way of Jerusalem on the way to Spain. 


Paul closes the letter to the Church at Rome with verse 33. While we acknowledge there is still the entire chapter 16 after this chapter, we see the content of that chapter is Paul mention of the several saints who have helped him in his ministries there. He specifically recommends Phebe to them but is careful not to leave out many others. Just as the revivalists of today, Paul wants to set up the receiving hospitality committee with the needed planning details. Paul closes with a sincere wish of God’s peace on everyone of them – “Let it be so!” 

Accepting (Romans 14:1-12, May 25, 2020)

Introduction (Rom 14-15)

Stop Judging (Rom 14:1-4)

Stop Judging (Rom 14:1-4)

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Introduction (Romans 14:1-15:13)

Romans 14 and 15 address the idea of accepting one another as fellow believers in Jesus Christ. Paul addresses accepting the weak in the faith (14:1) and all believers, in general (15:7). He finishes with exhorting us to accept all believers as a way of reflecting Christ in our ministries. Christ is the real Judge.


In the Romans 14:1-4 segment below, he approaches three examples of accepting others. In “Stop Judging,” he speaks of stronger Christians who feel permission to eat all foods and weaker Christians who feel they can only eat herbs or kosher foods. He deals specifically with the idea of judging others in the faith. He follows up in Romans 14:5-8 with what seemed to be a question of celebrating Feast Days, but again, the real issue is the fact that whether we live or die, we do so in the Lord. And last, Paul deals with both the strong and the weak as all of us prepare to stand before the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ (Rom 14: 9-12). 

 

Stop Judging (Rom 14:1-4) 

In typical fashion, Paul gets right into the key elements of the issue to be discussed. This Scripture starts with receiving the weak in the faith but not to doubtful disputations (14:1). In the systems engineering side of my world, I learned early that the best way to solve a problem was to acknowledge what was given in the problem statement. Verse 1 shows that we are discussing how to talk with fellow members of the faith. These are believers in Jesus Christ just as we are but are weak because they are new to faith or maybe inexperienced. Paul tells us we must accept these people as full members of the family of faith. We are to show them love and support their integration into the body of believers. But he warns, we are not to receive these to enter in disputes about doubtful issues.

Stop Judging (Rom 14:1-4)

Stop Judging (Rom 14:1-4)

Stop Judging (Rom 14:1-4)

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Stop Judging (Rom 14:1-4, Continued) 

So, the subject of this part of Romans 14 are those who are young in the faith. Be careful not to think of these as young in age. New believers can be of any age. Two of my children accepted Jesus Christ when they were preschoolers. My mother came to Christ in her 60’s and I have seen one lady accept Christ at 96 years old. Age has nothing to do with being young in Christ. So, regardless of chronological age, we must not get those who are young in Christ involved in those issues of the faith that tend to be very deep and have unsettled arguments in the doctrine. Those issues can be discussed after the newer Christian has developed a firm biblical foundation upon which to base the discussions and understand those deeper issues requiring a broader knowledge of Scripture. The resulting confusion or doubt could have a very negative impact on the newer Christian and even cause them to doubt their faith in Jesus Christ.


Verses 2-3 center on the beliefs of what is proper for Christians to eat. The background here almost certainly deals with the fact that the early Christian church was nearly filled with Jewish converts. The devout Jews had a very strong regimen of things they could eat and things they could not eat. As they became Christians, they tended to bring those restrictions into the faith with them. These dietary restrictions are a part of the Law of Moses. Paul puts it simply that those who are under grace are no longer under the Law (Rom 6:14). But that does not deny the freedom of a Jewish convert or a Gentile who wish to eat a kosher diet. What it says is that living or not living a kosher lifestyle has anything to do with our faith or salvation. Hence, it is a doubtful disputation, and we are not to criticize a believer who does it or does not do it.


Paul sums this discussion by asking the question, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” (Verse 4). That person will stand or fall by his own master. The Greek word for judging here implies an attitude of despising a person for their beliefs. All believers (new and old) stand or fall before Jesus Christ, or Savior. So, we are not to despise a believer because of what they believe they should eat. It is not pertinent to their faith in Jesus Christ.  

Honor God (Rom 14:5-8)

Remove Obstacles (Rom 14:9-12

Remove Obstacles (Rom 14:9-12

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Honor God (Rom 14:5-8)

Now. Paul switches to another issue between the Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity (Rom 14:5-8). The Jewish converts were used to celebrating the various Feast Days implemented by the Law of Moses. The same comments made above about kosher diets apply to the mandatory requirement of honoring these feasts, we are no longer under the Law. Paul allows freedom here as in the kosher diet issue, those who want to esteem one day above another should be fully persuaded in their own mind. If they wish to esteem one day over another, they should do it for the glory of the Lord. There is no requirement for it, but it is certainly permitted for a person who wishes to celebrate a Feast Day. They should not be doing such as a matter of personal pride or ego, but rather, do it to honor the Lord, not self.


The summary of it all is that all we do is done for the Lord. Paul repeats the issue of eating certain foods again at the end of verse 6. So, he addresses eating certain foods and regarding one day over another as he summarizes, “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord. So, in each case, we live or die unto the Lord. It is all about Him and not about personal pride, ego or self-exaltation. 

 

Remove Obstacles (Rom 14:9-12)

Here Paul goes directly to the subject of judging one another. First (Vs. 9), he reminds us that Christ died, rose and revived in order to be the Lord of the dead and alive; that’s everyone. He reminds us that Jesus is Lord of all, and He is the One who bought our freedom from domination under the Law. We need to celebrate that common freedom rather than allowing ourselves to remain under the Law or becoming a slave to anything else. It seems strange that we, as people, would suffer under the dominance of one form of slavery (the Law) only to yield to another (restrictive and judgmental religion). Jesus saves from sin AND He saves from religion.

Remove Obstacles (Rom 14:9-12

Remove Obstacles (Rom 14:9-12

Remove Obstacles (Rom 14:9-12

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Remove Obstacles (Rom 14:9-12, Continued)

Look at how Paul handles judging in verse 10. Remember that the word used for judging means despising someone. This is a clear signal of disunity and demeaning of other Christians. He reminds us that there is only one Judge for Christian, and that is Jesus Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ (mentioned here and at 2 Cor 5:10). I make sure to mention “for Christians” because the Great White Throne of Judgment is reserved only for unbelievers (Rev 20:11-15), hence the closing comment, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (already identified as “the second death”).  Briefly, there are no losers at the Judgment Seat of Christ but there are no winners at the Great White Throne.


Paul adds in verse 11 the universal truth that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to God.” The accountability of all humankind is another one of those given statements as presented earlier. The contextual truth here is that we should be careful in our judgment of one another because we will all be judged for “despising our brothers and sisters” at our own judgments. The work of leading a person to Jesus Christ is far too important for us, and the person involved, to cavalierly discourage a new Christian after that hard work is done. Better, we should find ways to encourage the new believer just as we would care for a freshly planted crop in the field. The very future of the Christian Church depends on how we care for the new converts God allows us the privilege of caring for.

Citizens (Romans 13:1-14, May 19, 2020)

Submit (Romans 13:1-2)

Submit (Romans 13:3-4)

Submit (Romans 13:3-4)

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Introduction

Romans 13 follows up on the previous chapter’s two commands to reject evil and cling to good (Rom 12:9, 21). Here, Paul presents three methodologies for Roman believers to do just that. The first step (presented here) was to submit to government authorities because all authority comes from God. The second and third (presented in the next devotional) are the commandments to love and to take action. While all other obligations can be paid, the debt of love perseveres. We are here at a time that demands taking action.


Submit (Rom 13:1-2) 

In the first study of Romans 12, we looked at verses 1-2 and found a significant dichotomy between issues of the natural world and those of the spiritual world. Within the spiritual world, Paul asked us to offer ourselves because it was our reasonable service and to live with a renewed mind so we could discuss what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. Recall that the issue was people who lived in the natural world could not understand or discuss issues of the spiritual world. As we continue this study, Paul begins describing how we behave in that spiritual world or mindset.


The starting place, in Paul’s mind, was that we all have the humility to submit ourselves to higher authorities. Jesus is quoted in three Gospels to say that we must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s (Matt 22:21, Mark 12:17 & Luke 20:25). Humility fed by wisdom suggests there is a necessary dichotomy in the human mind that separates the Holy from the secular. We can only pray that we will live in a nation where our leaders separate the Holy from the secular as well. If they do, it becomes simple to be able to live a Holy life without running into conflict with secular powers. When governments start insisting there is no religion except that of the state (like Rome of old and current communists states), we are in constant conflict.


Here, Paul is assuring us that there is no power in place anywhere that was not ordained (or at least tolerated) by God. Remember that God has a program for Earth that was set in motion before the creation. Revelation 2 and 3 show us an evolution of Christ’s Earthly church from a loving church dedicated to Him to a church in total rebellion against Him. The Holy had become secular. When we move away from submission to the Lord, we become less Holy and more secular in our minds as well. We stop or change sincere worship into worship by rote as we go through the motions of honor to God but the heart is left behind. In God’s program, secular humanity will abandon its reliance on God and turn to self-reliance, worship of idols and denial of God’s existence. The idea of God’s total authority over us will be abandoned. We voluntarily move humanity towards the return of Christ in the clouds and the establishment of worshiping the beast in Jerusalem’s Temple (the Tribulation Period) when we allow our minds to change (Matt 25 & Rev 13).

Submit (Romans 13:3-4)

Submit (Romans 13:3-4)

Submit (Romans 13:3-4)

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Submit (Rom 13:1-2, Continued)  
Between now and the end times, we are to accept that the powers of this world have been ordained by God and worthy of our obedience wherever possible. God’s people are to be model citizens while serving Him with all our hearts, minds and possessions. Knowing that God has ordained those who govern us and denying them our obedience in secular issues, is resisting God (vs. 2). The result of resisting God is always severe. God has given us the personal abilities and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to figure out how to toe the line between loving God with all our hearts, minds and possessions while not resisting the Earthly powers He has allowed to lead us.  


Submit (Rom 13:3-4)

Paul continues in Verses 13:3-4 to illustrate how these leaders whom God has allowed to be placed over us, are permitted to rule us. He states that the rulers are not there to terrorize those who are doing good works, rather, as God’s people do good works in the communities, the rulers will give us praise as well. 


When God’s people are supporting law and order, we are supporting God’s ordained leaders, and in that support, we have no reason to feel threatened or fear death. The leaders are being aided in leading and will praise God’s people for supporting law and order. On the other hand, if we oppose that law and order, and make it more difficult for God’s appointed leaders to lead, we will be seen as rebels and enemies of the state. Evil leaders have the authority of life and death over us and can use the sword of the state to terminate our lives or take our freedom when we oppose them. One only need to read the Acts of the Apostles to see the deaths of deacons and evangelists who not only preached the gospel but stood against either religious or secular leaders or both. It began in the Gospels with Jesus, of course, but continued in Acts with one of the earliest deacons, Stephen, following shortly thereafter. 


Why, one might ask, would Holy people be persecuted and killed as they led works to further the Gospel of Christ. First, keep in mind that Satan was cast down to the Earth. He roams to and fro upon the Earth seeking whom he might devour (1 Peter 5:8). His primary function as the source of evil on Earth is to oppose all forms of holiness. He exploits his knowledge of humankind by changing everything God created as good into the devil’s tools for evil. For example, the greatness of human ingenuity and creativity becomes the source of pride and self-indulgence. Solomon correctly states that pride leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). 


Now one of Satan’s greatest failures has been his causing the destruction of Christian leaders. Because humankind was created with a propensity for worshiping the One God of the universe, they would not be denied worshiping Jesus Christ, and every tool Satan used to kill Christian leaders was reversed on him. The more Christian are denied opportunity to worship God, the faster the Church grew and multiplied. What started as a small movement with a dozen followers has become a worldwide faith movement. The Church is weakest where it is not challenged or forbidden, but strongest when it is made unlawful. 

Submit (Romans 13:5-7)

Submit (Romans 13:3-4)

Submit (Romans 13:5-7)

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Submit (Rom 13:5-7)

Verses 5-7 say simply, “Wherefore ye must needs be subject” (vs. 5). Because God ordained secular leadership and because that leadership has the capability to eliminate us, we ought to be humble. But Paul’s words make it obvious that we are not to be submitted only because of the fear of death, but rather, we should be submitted because our consciences make us know it is the right thing to do. All who have been born again in Jesus Christ know that the Holy Spirit within us makes it very clear to us when we are doing God’s will or opposing it. Here, Paul mentions conscience but when inside the believer, the Holy Spirit dominates and keeps us in God’s will. 


So, we know full well when we are submitting to the God-ordained secular leaders of this world in the spirit of godliness or fear. Further, we fully understand where that submission is righteous submission and when it is given grudgingly or with malice. Our submission should not include and trickery or maliciousness, but honest support of such leaders. 


In verse 6, Paul adds that we must also pay our dues, taxes and customs along with giving full honor. It starts to get difficult for God’s folks to do all that God wants of us when He says we have to honor those who do not love our Savior, but Paul tells us we must contribute to their causes. Between 6 and 7, Paul takes all the wiggle room out of that obedience by specifying that we must pay all dues and continually pay attention to keeping current. Paying all tribute to whom tribute is due and custom to whom custom is due. Is this not another way of saying exactly what Jesus did when He said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s?”


And last, Paul reminds us again that we also owe fear (respect) to those whom fear is due and honor to whom honor is due. Long ago I found it distasteful that I had to salute senior officers who obviously had no respect for the uniforms they wore or the country they served. Then I ran into a crusty old Chief Master Sergeant who said, “It ain’t the man or woman you’re saluting, son, it’s the uniform of an officer commissioned by the United States Air Force.” That put a lot more energy into my payment of due homage. Doesn’t that same advice apply here? Paul isn’t saying we have to honor and respect men and women who don’t worship the Lord as we do, he is saying we have to honor and respect the person ordained to that leadership position by our God. 


“Lord Jesus, please help us to see the secular leaders as those you have appointed to their positions. Help us to be able to see the difference between obedience as good citizens and obedience to the person making the statements and laws. Help us to know when silence is the loudest voice to be heard, and when it’s time to speak up for the Lord. Help us to learn how to pay taxes and customs to those we don’t feel deserve it.  We can learn that lesson by being faithful to paying our tithes and offerings to the church that represents our Savior on this Earth. Certainly, the habit formed by giving because You said so to the church, can be learned well enough to joyfully pay our taxes and customs to secular leadership as well. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving our souls and teaching us tough lessons as often as You teach us the easier ones.”

Love (Romans 13:8-10)

Anticipate (Romans 13:11-14)

Submit (Romans 13:5-7)

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Love (Rom 13:8-10)

Verse 8 gets directly into the issue at hand regarding proper relationships between Israel and all others. Moses documented a discussion with God where He reviewed the Ten Commandments in a broader application than earlier. The Law was not intended to be a set legalistic tools for judging the masses. Rather, it was to be interpreted to establish meaningful relationships between Israel and all her neighbors. The summary line in that Old Testament passage was, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord” (Lev 19:18, KJV). Jesus seemed to use nearly the same approach when delivering His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. 


Here, Paul sums up the “love thy neighbor” teaching saying, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (vs. 8). He echoed the message Moses received from God and what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Note also that Paul listed several of the Ten Commandments just as Moses and Jesus had done as examples. In verse 9, he mentioned the Law’s prohibition against adultery, murder, thief, lying and coveting. He adds, “And if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love the neighbour as thyself” (vs. 9).  I cannot imagine a more clear set of references than those supporting Paul’s statement here. Paul wrote an entire chapter defining love (Greek Agape) in his first letter to the Church at Corinth (1 Cor 13). 


In verse 10, Paul takes an abbreviated teaching from 1 Corinthians 13 saying that love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Paul’s background as “a pharisee of pharisees” sees the fulfilling of the Law as the primary consideration for all problems. He had excellent company with Moses quoting God and Jesus personally teaching the same words. Our problem becomes how to believe the teaching strongly enough to use it to solve real-life problems such as getting along with people appointed to leadership positions over us. 


 Anticipate (Rom 13:11-14)

After exhorting us to submit to those God has appointed to leadership positions over us and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, Paul reminds us that the time for us to set right our ship’s course is short. In other words, we are in an emergency because the time of our salvation is near. Now, recall that there are three verb tenses associated with our salvation. For the born-again, the first salvation is past tense, i.e., we have been saved from the penalty of sin.  Our justification has already happened. We have become children of God (John 1:11-13). 

Anticipate (Romans 13:11-14)

Anticipate (Romans 13:11-14)

Anticipate (Romans 13:11-14)

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Anticipate (Rom 13:11-14, Continued)

Second, we are being saved from the power of sin. That is, at the point of our justification, we entered into a life-long process of sanctification or being made holy. The joys of our victories over trials and tribulations demonstrate the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (James 1:2-4). And third. we will be saved from the presence of sin as sanctification ends in glorification when we leave this planet for an eternity with Christ in Heaven (Rom 5:1-5).  


It is this third tense of salvation that Paul addresses in verse 11. The context of his language makes it obvious he is not talking about justification because that is “when we believed” and the “awaking out of sleep” is the drowsiness of relaxing in the spirit. No, the time is now for us to move into action. He continues that emphasis for action in verse 12 by saying the darkness of night is past and the light of day is upon us. When Paul addresses the armor of the light, he is referencing the full armor of spiritual warfare he detailed in Ephesians 6:10-18. 


So, with awareness and preparation made, let’s walk honestly in the light and not in the darkness of sin any longer (verse 13). The sins mentioned in this verse are an abbreviated form of the Law we began addressing in the beginning of this passage (Rom 13:1-14). 


Paul’s finish here is simply the exhortation to “wear Jesus Christ” (verse 14). Being a member of the team is insufficient. Now is the time to “suit up” to wear the visible uniform of our salvation. We must let the indwelling Holy Spirit come to the surface and show through as the visible soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. And in that awesome power, there is no place for the distractions of the flesh. No, when letting the fullness of Christ show through, there is no power of the flesh in us. We are fully uniformed soldiers of God and prepared to walk in victory over any trials and tribulation of the challenges of the day. “Be ye Holy, for your God is Holy” (Psalms 99:9). 


Take the action to be the person God created you to be. Show respect and honor while letting Christ show through your daily activities. As people notice that something is different about you, the opportunity to share the Gospel will surface. Present the parts of the Gospel that speak most directly to the needs of the person God has allowed you to speak with. When they delay, be willing to wait for them to think through what you shared and ask the next question. Always remember that Jesus saves; not you.


“Lord Jesus, please help us to conquer this moment in history for You. You have given us all the tools for victory against this evil time and prepared us for victory over it. Help us be the example of holiness for you. Help us draw others to the peace that is only found in a life lived for Jesus.”

Sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2, 9-18, May 13, 2020)

Offer Yourself (Rom 12:1-2)

Offer Yourself (Rom 12:1-2, Cont.)

Offer Yourself (Rom 12:1-2, Cont.)

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Introduction (Rom 12:1-21)

Romans 12 deals with the quality of life of the believer. The believer is one who has been saved from the penalty of sin, that is, he or she is Justified. Once justified, the Christian enters that sanctification process. The definition of sanctification is that the believer is being made holy.  Paul tells us that all believers are predestined to conform to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). That is, we are becoming more like Him because of trials and tribulations that challenge our Christian status quo and move toward advancement in holiness (James 1:2-4). The believer will live in this daily growth experience of sanctification until the Rapture of the Saints or the experience of bodily death ushers him or her into the presence of God where we are Glorified with Him. It is in the context of sanctification that Paul addresses the renewing of the mind (Rom 12:1, KJV). It is how we can experience “counting it all joy” when we encounter trials and tribulations (James 1:2-4 & Rom 5:3-5).


Offer Yourself (Rom 12:1)

Paul begins this chapter by saying that he beseeches us. The Greek word is parakaleō and means to ask, demand, suggest, desire, entreat, exhort what follows. We cannot overlook how similar this Greek word is to the word Jesus used for the promised Comforter, paraklētos (John 14:16). Both words have the “come alongside definitions. In “beseech” it is in terms of being of one mind with Paul. In “Comforter” it is the Holy Spirit who is alongside but will be inside. Both have the context of coming alongside. 


But before he specifies the action he wants us to take, he inserts the word “therefore.” Paul has just completed eleven chapters of important theological information intended for the believer’s edification and application to their new life in Christ. So, he is not only exhorting us to take the following action, he is exhorting us to take it because of the previous eleven chapters of information. Put another way, he is saying, built on the foundation of the truth of these eleven chapters, I exhort you to do these things. He also adds the word “brethren” restating exactly to whom he is speaking. This emphasizes that he is speaking only to “Brothers in Christ.” Now, there is only one more phrase to add before Paul gives us the object of his “I beseech you” start. Here he inserts “by the mercies of God.” This is no small insertion because it provides the source of supernatural power whereby we can execute what Paul is about to beseech us to do. That is, we can honor Paul’s request of us by the mercies of God. That is all the power anyone needs.


Now that we know Paul is exhorting us to do something because we heard the previous eleven chapters of theology, and because we are his brothers in faith to Jesus Christ, and because we are under the power of the mercies of God, he wants us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. I have had some acquaintances try to convince me that this is Paul’s invitation to practice human sacrificing to Christ. Certainly not so! Neither is there any hint of offering infants like in the pagan worship of Baal. No, he means that we offer our bodies in service to Christ’s Kingdom. Note Paul says a LIVING sacrifice. 

Offer Yourself (Rom 12:1-2, Cont.)

Offer Yourself (Rom 12:1-2, Cont.)

Offer Yourself (Rom 12:1-2, Cont.)

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 Offer Yourself (Rom 12:1, Cont.)

He wants us to be holy (or set aside for Christ) and acceptable to God. The only holiness we can offer is that holiness provided through Christ’s payment for our sins. Because of Jesus, we are holy and acceptable to God. We wear Jesus’ holiness, and that is the only holiness acceptable to God. So very simply, Paul is asking us, as born-again believers in Jesus Christ, to dedicate ourselves to serving believers wherever we go.   


Offer Yourself  (Rom 12:2)

In verse 2, Paul begins to reveal how one might prepare for a life of service inside the Kingdom of Christ by reminding the reader that service here is not the service one gets in the world. Paul starts, “And be not conformed to this world.” (Rom 21:2a). The first element of this kind of service is that it is not like what you find in this world, so do not conform to the standards of this world; it is not the same. Instead of providing services to people in the natural world, we are providing services to people in the spiritual world. The primary objective in providing services in the natural world is to satisfy the customer. The primary objective in serving people in the spiritual world is to do the will of God. Many times, trying to satisfy the human needs of people will completely miss the will of God for that person. Our job under Christ is to try to meet the spiritual needs of people while communicating the dual world concept. For the seasoned Christian, this no real challenge; but to the new Christian or an older Christian who has not learned to yield to the Lord, it can be quite a struggle.


The greatest spiritual need for all Christians is to learn how to submit to God’s leadership in their lives. Look at the personal example Jesus gave us when He first started His ministry. The first act of obedience He faced was to go and be baptized by John the Baptist (Matt 3:13-17). Now, John’s baptism was the baptism of repentance from sin (Matt 3:11). Jesus led a sinless life; He had no need to be baptized showing His repentance from sin. Even John questioned why Jesus would come to him to be baptized when John knew he had reason to go to Jesus to be baptized. But Jesus insisted that John baptize Him because it “fulfilled all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). John submitted to Jesus’ leadership and the skies opened after the baptism showing Jesus, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the voice of God the Father present together in a single place. If Jesus had been interested in “satisfying the customer,” He would have baptized John, and we would have missed all the evidence that Jesus was God and the Promised Messiah. But Jesus knew what was needed spiritually and insisted that was done. 

Live Authentically (Rom 12:9-13)

Live Authentically (Rom 12:9-13)

Live Authentically (Rom 12:9-13)

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Live Authentically (Rom 12:9-13) 

In the first study of Romans 12, we looked at verses 1-2 and found a significant dichotomy between issues of the natural world and those of the spiritual world. Within the spiritual world, Paul asked us to offer ourselves because it was our reasonable service and to live with a renewed mind so we could discuss what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. Recall that the issue was that people who lived in the natural world could not understand or discuss issues of the spiritual world. As we continue this study, Paul begins describing how we behave in that spiritual world or mindset.


As Paul talks of living authentically, he displays a list of behaviors that characterize that lifestyle. The first is the idea of loving without dissimulation, that is love that displays God’s love. It doesn’t hold back but loves honestly, humbly and honorably. It doesn’t speak one thing but do something else. Paul adds that we should hate evil and love good (Rom 12:9). That also speaks to the idea of consistency. It’s hard to believe a person is full of love if that person enjoys evil things or rejects good things. Paul says in his letter to the church at Corinth, “4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! (1 Cor 13:4-8, NLT).


As Paul continues to describe how this person shows the authentic living of a Christ-centered life, he talks of the person being kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love. When people are rude or have cross attitudes toward each other, it is really tough to see Christian love there. We need to keep our minds focused on the example we set for others concerning Jesus Christ. If only one person a week would take a look at Jesus because of some sincere act, deed or expression we did, that would prove all Paul has to say here. Paul says we ought to honor and prefer one another. That speaks to wanting to be near to people who show the same attitudes we do. Not being slothful in business is one of those areas where some think its away from church so it doesn’t matter, but many people look at leaders when they are not in the church and make decisions about whether they want to be counted in the same number. 


I asked one man who seemed to have a good knowledge of the Bible but never went to church why he didn’t go. He said he didn’t want to be there because he never met a person who behaved the same way on Monday as they did on Sunday. I won’t attempt to qualify his comment, but I will say that we need to display the same love for one another the whole week through. That includes the same love and authentic behaviors toward Christ and His people as well. 


Being lazy or cheating in business is not a Christian characteristic.  Christians ought to set the example of an honest days work for an honest day’s pay. Those who are fervent in spirit and serving the Lord ought to remember that Paul described how servants (employees today) ought to behave toward our masters (employers today). He said, “ Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free (Eph 6:5-8). If I had to summarize the attitudes suggested here, it would be that we ought to work for our bosses as if we were working for the Lord.

Paul finishes up this section by saying we ought to be rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. How are we doing on these attitudes? When things go bad, do we gripe and complaint or display hope and endure trials and tribulations when they come? How is that giving attitude? Are we distributing to the necessity of saints and given to hospitality among those with legitimate needs? 


I have no doubt many will say if they concentrated on each of these many topics, there would be no time left for living life and taking care of one’s own family and friends. These lists are simply reminders of the many ways we can be an example for Christ to those around us. I will repeat John’s comment once more and close this section. He said, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6, NLT). Fair enough? 

Be at Peace (Rom 12:14-18)

Live Authentically (Rom 12:9-13)

Live Authentically (Rom 12:9-13)

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Be at Peace (Rom 12:14-18)

In the last half of this study, Paul comes up with another list. In this one, he exhorts us to be at peace with all those around us. These are opportunities for showing the Christ-like attitude. Blessing those who persecute you sounds a lot like one of the other attitudes, but this one centers on how we respond to others when they seem to wish we would go away. It seems even Paul has a second thought on that one as he follows up with “Bless, and curse not” (Verse 14). Sometimes when people treat you poorly, it almost seems justified to write them off. But that is the time of the best test of our deepest feelings. 


Consider this: Revelation 20:11-15 describes a day when all the unsaved will present themselves for their final judgement. As they all line up in front of the throne, we who have already been judged on Jesus’ cross will stand behind the throne. John describes the scene as the books are opened. The first book is the book of works and each person is judged according to their deeds during life. In this judgement I can almost hear the Judge asking, “How do these deeds you have done compare to what my Son did on the cross? Unless the person being judged can show how their own works paid for their sins, they are condemned. 


But the Judge wants to be completely fair, so He turns to the other book. This one is called the Lamb’s Book of Life. Every person who confessed his or her belief in Jesus Christ in his or her life is listed here. Will the names of the people we wrote off as too difficult to deal with be listed there? I know I will hurt as I see each person I might have reached with just a little more patience receive the negative head shake. The last verse in the referenced series is Revelation 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” I often think about that day. I remember some of the people I have loved dearly but was never able to get the right set of events to cause them to look favorably at my Savior. My mother was led to Christ by a female prison guard in that high security, male prison in Pueblo CO. Go figure. But I had the privilege of baptizing her. That was a very good day!


In verse 16, Paul talks about simply being agreeable with other folks. Take an instant to think about what you are about to say before you say it. Will it be a kind word, or will it be something that sounds angry? When talks about not focusing on the high things but going lower to walk and talk with those of lower estate, I think about the massive mix of people we have in our gigantic church and beautiful cities. The last phrase of verse 16 says we shouldn’t be wise in our own conceits. I hear him saying that we don’t need to boast or brag a lot about what we’ve done or how much we have achieved. Anything worth wild will come out automatically. When someone else brings it up, it seems so much greater anyway. 


Verse 17 says simply not to feel we must get even for every bad thing people did to us. It’s Okay if someone uses ugly words about something you stayed up half the night trying to get right. It was clearly more important to you than to him! No need to tell him he looks 20 years older than last time you saw him. Don’t tell him he has two different socks on today or that his shirt looks like he slept in it. You get the point!! That must be why Paul finishes this verse with making sure we always do right and honest things in the view of the others. One good deed might make the difference in eternity by allowing just one more opportunity for a witness.

   
And Paul finishes with considering whether it might be possible for us to live in peace with all the people we meet or know. I met a young fellow the other day. When traffic was still a problem. We were coming across a median and had a bunch of cars lined up behind us. Miraculously, almost 20 cars made a path to let me and a dozen other cars get through to the side street across the way. But, there was this one young fellow who stopped in front of us. He had at least 25 feet he could have moved forward in, but he thought it best to block us in the median. I motioned to him a few times, but that was met with an obscene hand signal when the light changed and we were still stuck in the median with our 20 other friends. We were all shaking our heads at the young man’s attitude. I wonder if anyone in that line besides us actually prayed for that guys.  I recall I rethought that scene many times trying to figure out what went wrong, but there are just some of those kind of people out there. Maybe the next prayer will get through.


Lord Jesus, Paul knows how to strike all the notes that make us feel uncomfortable. Could there be one more thing in this long list of thoughts we could single out and improve on? Is there a reason why we are doing this study at this particular time. Surely, if we believe all things work together for God’s purposes, there is a reason each of us had to hear this message today. Help each of us to see it and fix Lord. And help that poor young man who had to find a way to get back at the society that angered him. May you show him the Gospel and keep him from being one of those standing in front of the Great White Throne. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Mercy (Romans 11:17-32, May 3, 2020)

Be Humble (Rom 11:17-18)

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24)

Be Humble (Rom 11:17-18)

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Introduction (Rom 11:17-24)

This scripture is presented in the Bible as a metaphor using the olive tree to represent Israel. This is not unusual in the scriptures – the olive tree is frequently used to represent Israel (Jer 11:16). Here, Paul speaks of the vine and its roots and branches. The root is the source of nourishment that feeds the branches through the vine.  Two branches are spoken of: the natural branch which is Israel and the wild branch which contains the Gentiles, or more specifically, non-Jews. 


The Messiah was prophesied to come to save the Jews. Recall the righteous branch was promised to come from King David’s seed (Jer 23:5). The natural branch is that which was supposed to receive that Messiah. However, as John says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).  So, rejected by His own, He offered redemption to the Gentiles. That is, the wild branch was grafted into the righteous vine along with the remnant of the natural branch who did received Him. The Gospel was offered to the Jew first, and then the Gentiles (Rom 1:16).


Be Humble (Rom 11:17-18)

Paul is speaking here in terms of the olive tree metaphor. In Romans 11:17, he speaks first of the branches which were broken off the olive tree. In their absence, a branch of the wild olive tree (i.e., wild branch – the branch which was not a part of Israel) was grafted into the olive tree, they could enjoy the nourishment from the root of that tree and the fatness (richness) of the Israel. The branches broken off are those who would not receive the Messiah of God. They rejected Jesus and their leaders were those who cried “crucify Him” in Pilot’s Square (Matt 27:22, Mark 15:13-14, Luke 23:21 & John 19:6). 

God’s warning to those in that branch who were grafted into the tree was simply not to brag or boast about being grafted in. First, they should not boast because the root that feeds them is the same root that was feeding the natural branch (Israel). They are nor superior to the natural branch; they were grafted in because those to whom the Messiah had to come first had rejected Him.

Be Humble (Rom 11:19-21)

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24)

Be Humble (Rom 11:17-18)

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Be Humble (Rom 11:17-18, Cont.)

And that leads easily to the second reason not to boast. The Lord was in sorrow, not in celebration, for the loss of those who rejected Him. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus came for ALL Israel just as He came for ALL the world. Jesus spent no time celebrating the loss of even one. So, come to Him in a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving. Be humble, knowing that the Master is grieving over each one of the losses among Israel – the chosen ones.


Verse 18 repeats that if the wild branch boasts about being grafted in, they are boasting at the loss of those branches the vine keeper desired to keep. So, don’t boast over them because it only serves to show that you are not supporting the root. That is, you are not improving the tree, you are making the division more obvious and hurting the cause of the olive tree. Bragging or boasting about being grafted in harms the cause of the olive tree. 


Be Humble (Rom 11:19-21) 

Paul finishes that thought in verse 19 asking if those bragging about being grafted in were boasting that those broken off were removed solely to support their grafting in. Paul corrects those thoughts by stating that those broken off were removed because of unbelief (Rom 11:19). They would not receive God’s gift of the Messiah for them. And the branch from the wild tree were grafted in because of their standing in faith of the Messiah. 


Likewise, God’s covenant with Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations; not just Israel (Gen 17:4). In those nations there would be many who would reject Him, but because of those who believe, they would also be grafted into the righteous olive tree. So, Paul’s message is simply do not be high-minded over the fact that you were grafted in, instead use the grafting in as a reason to fear. Think of it this way, if God took such action against those He loved (in the natural branch), what might He do to those in the wild branch? If He spared not those He loved; what might He do to you? (Rom 11:21) 

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24)

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24)

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24, Cont.)

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Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24)

In verses 22-24, Paul offers an alternative attitude to boasting - gratitude. They should look at God from both perspectives. That is, consider God’s goodness and His severity. God’s action toward those who fell was severe, but God’s action toward those who believed was good. 


Paul adds here a conditional statement “if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Rom 11:22). Paul is stressing the idea of Grace here. Just like he said in the infamous verses Ephesians 2:8-9, “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Paul emphasizes that Grace is a choice of God not of man. The wild branch from the wild olive tree has no reason to boast of being grafted into the good olive tree because it was God who did the grafting through His Grace. It was done because God recognized their faith in Jesus Christ and faith is the criteria for grace, not performance; i.e., “not of works, lest any man should boast.” 


Writers have used volumes to discuss the potential of one being lost once one is saved. But it is all based on the grace of God through Jesus Christ. As long as the grace of Jesus Christ stands, our salvation in Him will last. The writer of Hebrews says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). If Jesus never changes, and our salvation is based on Him; than our salvation can never change. 


Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24, Cont.)

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24, Cont.)

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24, Cont.)

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Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24, Cont.)

Further, Jesus says it this way, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one” (John 10:27-30). Pretty strong comments!


So, Paul’s objective here is to reaffirm there is no reason to boast about any kind of superiority over God’s chosen people because we have been grafted into the righteous olive tree. But given part of Israel rejected Jesus Christ as savior, I feel compelled to pray for them and pray for a great awakening of every individual influenced by that lack of belief. Please pray with me.


“Lord Jesus, what a privilege it is to be a part of your Kingdom, grafted into the righteous olive tree of Israel. We thank you for being so very clear that we have nothing to brag or boast about in being grafted in and pledge to pray for those who are not. Father, we know it is your will that all would be saved and that none would be left behind. That said, we pray for an awakening of interest in each person in our circles of influence. Have them begin to wonder why we are different. In Jesus’ name. Amen!” 

Be Aware (Rom 11:25-27)

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24, Cont.)

Be Aware (Rom 11:25-27)

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 Introduction (Rom 11:25-32)

I have had many questions over the years regarding God’s Covenant with Israel and where it stands today. The scriptures under study today offer a couple answers in that direction. Paul talks of “a blindness in part, is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentile be come in” (Rom 11:25). Recall that the age in which we currently live is called “The Church Age.” It began at the delivery of the promised Comforter (the Holy Spirit) at Pentecost and will end with the Rapture of the Saints. Immediately thereafter the 7-year Tribulation Period begins; it is called the “Time of Jacobs Trouble” (Jer 30:7).  Some of that prophecy will be revealed during this study. For greater detail, of course, read all of Jeremiah 30 & 31.


Be Aware (Rom 11:25-27)

Paul just completed a powerful message in the earlier part of our study in Chapter 11. He told us how Israel was made blind and cast off the olive tree in order that the branch of the nations (Gentiles) could be grafted in (Rom 11:17-24). He warned strongly that the Gentiles must not have pride in Israel’s loss; that they must be humble and grateful that God fulfilled his promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations; not just Israel. So, the Messiah came to His own, but His own received Him not, but all who received Him were given the authority to be called the children of God (John 1:11). Israel’s rejection of Jesus as the Messiah has resulted in an uncountable multitude of people outside Israel finding salvation through Him who was first sent to Israel as the promised Deliverer. 


Paul frequently talks of mysteries to be revealed. He often says that he would not have us to be ignorant of the interpretation of such mysteries. Look at his similar language to introduce the Rapture of the Church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Here, Paul repeats his warning to the Gentiles regarding the mistake of being “wise in their own conceits” toward the Jews and how some have been cut off (11:25). In the earlier part of our Romans 11 study, he reminded them that if God would cut off any part of the natural branch (Israel), how much easier it would be to cut off a part of the wild branch (Gentiles) (Rom 11:20-21). 


So, Paul’s mystery is that some of Israel had hard hearts, but that will change in time. The hard hearts are a blindness against Jesus Christ and His Gospel but will only last until the time of the Gentiles is full (vs. 25). I equate the “time of the Gentiles” to the “Church Age.” Revelation 2-3 layout a historic description of seven different church types during the time leading up to the Rapture of the Church (Rev 4:1). The Rapture results in the removal of the Church and the end of the Time of the Gentiles and beginning of Jacob’s Trouble or the Tribulation Period of seven years.


The power of the removal of Israel’s blindness is evident in Revelation Chapter 7 when an angel with the Seal of God shows John that 12,000 witnesses for God from each of the 12 tribes if Israel will be sealed with God’s seal before any further harm comes to the Earth after the Sixth Seal judgement is completed (Rev 6). John also sees a multitude of people, a number too great to be measured, who were saved during the Tribulation Period from all nations and kindred and peoples and tongues standing before the Throne of God in Heaven and serving Him day and night.  When John asked who they were, one of the elders said, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14). So, there were 144,000 Jewish evangelists on Earth during th Tribulation leading a number of unbelievers to Jesus Christ that was too great for any one to count from all nations. Assuming that “all” means “all,” that number would include a multitude of people of Israel as well. Paul says, “And all Israel shall be saved” (Rom 11:26). 

Be Aware (Rom 11:28-32)

Be Thankful (Rom 11:22-24, Cont.)

Be Aware (Rom 11:25-27)

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Be Aware (Rom 11:25-27, Cont.)

Paul quotes Isaiah 59:20-21 and 27:9 in saying, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins’” (Rom 11:26-27). Oh, what a glorious sight! 


Be Aware (Rom 11:28-32)

Paul summarizes what is going on with Israel by saying, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes” (Rom 11:28a). Paul is saying that a part of Israel is blinded or have their hearts hardened for the Time of the Gentiles. But do not worry because their positions in the Elect of God has not been lost. He says, “but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:28b-29). God’s promise to Israel is based on His Covenant with Abraham. He assures Paul through to promises contained in the quoted verses, that Israel will be saved; that is, they will be a part of the Elect of God. In short, no one will be lost or prevented from entering into Heaven because God temporarily blinded them from believing. That should be encouraging for Israel and encouraging for other nations as well. God’s desire is for all to be saved and that none shall be left behind ( 1 Tim 2:4 & 2 Pet 3:9).


Paul then provides an example, “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy” (Rom 11:30-31). Unlike the beginning of the Christian church when almost all believers were converted Jews, now (in Paul’s time) Gentiles are experiencing Christ because of the mercy of God through the Jew’s refusal of the Gospel; i.e., “He came to the Jews first and then the Greeks” (Rom 1:16 & 2:9-10). So now, “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32). God hardened the hearts of part of the natural branch (Israel) in order to graft in the wild branch (Gentiles) in His mercy. That does not mean that God violated or devalued the Gospel, it means that God’s promises are from everlasting to everlasting. He counted Abraham’s faith for righteousness (Gen 15:6) and made a covenant based on that promise. God’s word is faithful.


Just a quick reminder of God’s Covenant from the first part of our study in Romans 11. Likewise, God’s covenant with Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations; not just Israel (Gen 17:4). In those nations there would be many who would reject Him, but because of those who believe, they would also be grafted into the righteous olive tree. So, Paul’s message is simply do not be high-minded over the fact that you were grafted in, instead use the grafting in as a reason to fear. Think of it this way, if God took such action against those He loved (in the natural branch), what might He do to those in the wild branch? If He spared not those He loved; what might He do to you? (Rom 11:21)


“Lord Jesus, what a privilege it is to be a part of your Kingdom, grafted into the righteous olive tree of Israel. We thank you for being so very clear that we have nothing to brag or boast about in being grafted in and pledge to pray for those who are note Father, we know it is your will that all would be saved and that none would be left behind. That said, we pray for an awakening of interest in each person in our circles of influence. Have them begin to wonder why we are different. In Jesus’ name. Amen!”

Saved (Romans 10:5-15, April 28, 2020)

Confess and Believe (Rom 10:5-7)

Confess and Believe (Rom 10:8-10)

Confess and Believe (Rom 10:8-10)

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Introduction (Rom 10:5-10)

Of all the questions that could be asked about Christianity, none is more important than “how can I become a believer?” This devotional takes us back into the Old Testament (OT) and reviews God’s expectations for His people after giving them the Ten Commandments. We’ll take a look at what it took to be a true believer under the Law and move forward into the New Testament (NT) to answer the same question under Grace. Many are surprised to see how similar the process of living under the covenants of Law and Grace are. In the OT, Moses writes of Abraham, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen 15:6, KJV).  In our passage for today, Paul says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:10). Both Testaments stress that righteousness, or a right standing with God, is achieved by grace through faith (Gen 15:6 & Eph 2:8-9).


Confess and Believe (Rom 10:5-7)

Romans 9–11 expands on the teachings of both Testaments regarding one’s sincerity in the faith. Paul speaks of the differences between a person who claims a belief without following through with actions and activities demonstrating those claims.  While Paul is writing in the New Testament, his words are quoted from the Old Testament.


Romans 10:5-7 references Moses’ description of righteousness under the OT Law. To that end, Paul quotes Leviticus 18:5 as his opening verse in Romans 10:5: “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord” (Lev 18: 5). The New Living Translation substitutes the words “he will find life through them” for the KJV “he shall live in them.” So, Moses is saying that if we keep his statutes and judgements, it will show through our lifestyles; that is, we will find life in them. 


Two NT verses come to mind when I hear the truth of that OT verse. First is James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”  Second is 1 John 2:6. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”  I like to paraphrase those verses into, “Faith without works is dead” and “If you call yourself a Christian, you ought to walk like Christ walked.” The OT verse at Leviticus 18:5 paraphrases into, “If you have my words, you will live them.” Some would say you could paraphrase all three into, “If you know what’s right, you ought to do it.” 


Romans 10:6-7 drive that point home as Paul tells us what faith is NOT. I might be more correct to say that Paul quotes Moses in saying:  "12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?"  (Deut 30:12-13)


In verse 10:6 of our study passage, Paul does some of his own paraphrasing. He is paraphrasing Deuteronomy 30:12 but he implies the additional word “again.” That is, Christ has already come down from Heaven to deliver the commandments of life by faith. The Word is already here for us to hear and do. Paul says there is no need to ask Him to come down to deliver that message again.


Likewise, Verse 10:7 is Paul’s paraphrase of Deuteronomy 30:13. Christ has already come up from the deep in that He is resurrected from the dead.  That action proved the Word He gave to us was the Word of God. There is no need to ask Him to come up again. 


It is uncanny that today’s New Testament verses so closely follow the teaching of Moses in the Old Testament! The summary teaching of Romans 10:5-7 is that God has already delivered to us the teachings requested in Deuteronomy 30:12-13. The OT and NT verses are the same; i.e., if you accept God’s teachings in the scriptures, you ought to live like it. 


Confess and Believe (Rom 10:8-10)

Paul continues his application of OT scripture to NT concepts by quoting Deuteronomy 30:11-14 in Romans 10:8-10. Beginning with Romans 10:8 Paul asks,  “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.”  Deuteronomy 30:11 says, “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.” So, Paul is quoting from Moses’ words that the commandments or judgements required for man is not hidden or far away. Paul says the words of man’s response are in a man’s mouth and in his heart.” So, what are those words?

Confess and Believe (Rom 10:8-10)

Confess and Believe (Rom 10:8-10)

Confess and Believe (Rom 10:8-10)

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Confess and Believe (Rom 10:8-10, Cont.)

In verse 9 of our text, Paul says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9). In saying this, verse 9 reveals the source of the title of today’s study, “Confess and Believe.” Paul associates the mouth with confessing Jesus Christ. The Greek word used for confessing here is homologeō (Strong, 2006). The word is a compound consisting of homo and logos. Homomeans the same like in homogeneous meaning the same kind or same consistency. The word homosexual means the same sex or gender. Logos means a word, statement or testimony. So, homolegeo means the same word or same statement or same testimony. In the context of verse 9, its means we must speak the same statements or testimony as Jesus Christ. For example, the prophecy that Jesus would be named “Immanuel” or God with us to fulfill prophecy. He said to the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was, I Am” stating that he pre-existed Abraham, but He also said that He was the “I Am.” That’s the name that God told Moses to use when speaking to Egypt’s Pharaoh (Ex 3:14). There are hundreds of statements of who God is and who Jesus Christ is in the scriptures. Here, Paul is saying that we must say with our mouths that Jesus Christ is all that He said He was: He is God, He is Messiah, He is the Creator, He is the Alpha and Omega – beginning and the end, the bright and morning star, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Messiah and so forth. We are to say with our mouths that Jesus is ALL He said He was/is. Further, Paul specifically mentions we must confess Him as “Lord Jesus.” In that acknowledgement we are saying Jesus is Lord, Leader, Director and Master over our lives.  


Sometimes it is much easier for a person to agree with God that Jesus is the Savior of his life than to agree He is the Master of his life. His work as Savior removes us from all sin (Rom 8:1). When John the Baptizer saw Him coming toward him to be baptized, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). That is what Jesus did for us on the cross. But to pledge our submission to Him is another thing altogether. Nevertheless, Paul says we must confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus. 


Second, Paul says we are to believe these words in our hearts. I am glad that Paul reverses the order of these two things in verse 10. It seems more reasonable to me that we are to believe these things first, and then we can confess them.  He says if we believe and confess these things, “Thou shalt be saved.” 


The idea of salvation is hard for some to grasp. The Bible tells us that “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).  This is not speaking of physical death. Recall that neither Adam nor Eve experienced physical death when they sinned in the garden. But they were removed from the presence of God and prevented from reentering. This is spiritual death. We cannot live in the presence of a Holy God as long as we have sin. Jesus came for the purpose of removing our sin from us. As He was dying on the cross, He said, “It is Finished.” Those words are only one word in the Greek language, tetelestaiI. The root word telos means debt discharged. It was a standard notation during Jesus’ time of a bill or invoice being completed paid or satisfied. The word teteletaiis telos with all tenses applied. It sounds like “all past, present and future sin has been, is being and forever will be completely paid, satisfied, expunged and forgotten.” Paul said it well in Romans 8:1 when he said, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). Simply put, there is no sin left to be paid for. 


Paul sums all he said in Romans 10:10, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  Believing unto righteousness is exactly what Abraham did in Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” When we believe; we are counted to be righteous.” But the deal is not closed with God until we publicly confirm that He is our Savior and Lord. From that point forward, we live in a state of being made holy – Sanctification.  When we leave this life, either because of our physical death or because Jesus has come back for us, we will enter into Glorification, or enter into the Glory of the Lord to live with God forever and ever.


“Lord Jesus, what an immense weight is taken off our shoulders when we realize that, unlike us, when you forgive, you forget. There are so many sins that we remember over and over again. Things that we are ashamed of. Things that make us angry and feel pain.  Things we are terribly sorry for. We fully acknowledge that you have already paid for those sins. We even accept that when we bring them up, they have long ago left your memory. But the accuser of the elect will always remind us of how badly we have failed you. Father, we are so completely grateful that your truth is far greater than the enemy’s fiction. Thank You Lord Jesus for paying a price that we could never pay for ourselves. Thank You for freedom, forgiveness and eternal life with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen!”

Whoever (Rom 10:11-13)

Tell All (Rom 10:14-15)

Tell All (Rom 10:14-15)

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Introduction 

The previous devotional looked at believing and confessing. The Apostle Paul said, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:9-10).  The title of the study was “Confessing and Believing.” It dealt with how to initiate a walk with Christ (Justification). 


This study looks at a couple questions regarding what to do after believing and confessing: To whom do these scriptures apply, and Whom shall we tell about them. Both answers are universal. The scriptures are for “whoever” and we should “tell all” who will listen.


Whoever (Rom 10:11-13)

In Romans 10:11-13, Paul uses the same approach he used to explain the requirements for being born again (Justified) in Romans 10:9-10. Here, Paul answers the question “For whom is the believing and confessing messages for? He references the Old Testament (OT) to set up the New Testament (NT) doctrine. He quotes Isaiah 28:16, “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” The last word in the verse from Isaiah says “make haste” instead of “ashamed” as in the KJV. The Hebrew word for haste means to hurry with joy or excitement. It means that the attention of the believer will be sober and purposeful rather than quick or hurried. The Greek word rendered ashamed in Romans 10:11 means confounded or dishonored in his belief. So, the one who believes in God’s word will not be hurried or overly excited about what he hears, nor will he be sorry or dishonored for deciding to believe. 


The full quote is, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16) To interpret, let’s start with “Zion.” The word means “marked” or “distinctive.” So, when a writer under the influence of the Holy Spirit says “Zion,” he is speaking of the city of the marked or distinctive people. That is the mark of circumcision and specifically identifies the Jewish nation. The City of David is the center of Zion which is Jerusalem.


So, the Lord God tells the prophet Isaiah that He has laid a foundation stone in Jerusalem. It is a tried and tested stone, and it is a precious cornerstone (Isa 28:16). When Peter addressed this verse, he quotes it as, “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (1 Peter 2:6). Peter explained how this cornerstone, disallowed by men but chosen of God, is a stumbling block to those who are disobedient but a cornerstone to the obedient (1 Peter 2:4-6). The Messiah is prophesied as a stumbling block to the Jews who are looking for righteousness through the Law of Moses, but a cornerstone for those who serve and build on Jesus Christ.   Therefore, he addressed both Jews and Gentiles coming to Christ, who is the cornerstone they are seeking for righteousness through grace. 


When Paul addressed similar language in Romans 9:33, he employs some earlier words of Isaiah in verse Isaiah 8:14. There Isaiah says, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Isa 8:13-14). Isaiah as quoted by Paul certainly showed the prophecy that the Cornerstone (identified as Jesus by Peter) would be a stumbling block or rock of offense to both houses of Israel: Israel and Judah. (Recall that at the death of King Solomon (925 BC), the 12 tribes of Israel split into the 10 tribes of the North (roughly Galilee and Samaria) and the two tribes of the South (Judea)). So, the total of Israel would experience Jesus as a rock of stumbling. But, those who followed Jesus, whether Jewish or Gentile, would see Jesus as the chief Cornerstone of their faith, and that which could be used as the foundation stone upon which to build the Church of Jesus Christ.


So, after identifying the who, Paul goes on to say, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” (Rom 10:12). The Church of Jesus Christ will be built upon Jesus as the Cornerstone of our faith. And there is no difference in Christianity between the Jew and the Greek. In Romans, Paul quotes again and draws specific attention to the fact that, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13). Paul ties this statement to OT prophecy by hooking it to Joel, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (Joel 2:32). So, the “who” are everyone who calls upon His name! 

Tell All (Rom 10:14-15)

Tell All (Rom 10:14-15)

Tell All (Rom 10:14-15)

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Tell All (Rom 10:14-15)

In verses 14 & 15, Paul addressed to whom we shall confess. The natural inclination would be to go in the direction of confessing sins, but just like my close in the previous devotional, God is not interested in a list of specific sins committed on which days. Rather, He is interested in your acknowledgement that your entire character as being sinful and in dire need of His help. The Holy Spirit, Who God placed in us at the instant of our confession of faith in Jesus Christ, is the source of power to change one’s sinful character into an obedient child of God. 


So, what Paul is addressing here is, “when I confess or agree with God about what He has done for me, what do I confess to others?” The title of this part of the study is “Tell All,” and that is the answer to the question.  But Paul’s answer seems purposely ambiguous here. That is, “Tell All” answers one question in two ways. First we are to ”Tell All” of the good news (Gospel) we received from God.  In addition, we are to “Tell All” the people who are willing to hear. So combining, we are to speak the entire Gospel of Christ to anyone who will listen.


It is important to acknowledge the context of all Paul’s questions here. He is addressing how we shall confess Jesus Christ. So, the explanation of these verses will be done from that context. All of us have seen the evidence of God’s work in the world through the Holy Spirit. Some of the lost people we have approached are angry at God, blame Him for everything that has happened to them and just want you to go away. I recall a time when one of the evangelists I was training in a church class led a lady to Christ and asked me to speak to her husband. The evangelist told me that the man was so angry and abusive that she was afraid to continue with him. I told her I would be glad to go with her on her next visit to disciple the converted lady to see if I could help the husband.


Once in the house Ester, the evangelist, took the convert off to a separate room, and I was alone with the husband. He was a large man, both in height and in girth. I learned quickly that Ester was right, he wasted no time in trying to put me in my place. I gently asked him if I could tell him what Christ had done for me. He said he would listen for a moment, but he had little patience for the topic. So, I began giving him my testimony of how Christ moved me from atheism to belief in Him. He got up, calmly went to the other room and return with a .45 caliber pistol he pointed in my direction saying, “If you mention the name of Jesus Christ one more time, I will use this on you.: I said while wondering if this would be my last day on Earth, “That would be a mistake you would pay for a long time, but I can’t stop talking about Jesus. I will agree to coming back another time, if you’d like.” He agreed that would be best. So, Ester and I left. The next week the man and his wife were baptized together.

The point is simple, there were no words I could use to convince that madman that he needed to be saved, but God Himself visited him and changed his heart. By the way, after his baptism, I learned he was one powerful hugger as he thanked Ester and me for what we did. Praise God!!!

Here, Paul said that a person cannot accept Christ until they have believed, and they cannot believe until the hear, and they cannot hear without a preacher. As God is busy reaching the lost and revealing Himself to them, any born-again person must be willing to watch for an opening in any discussion that reveals a person’s interest in Jesus Christ. That begins, of course, with being willing to go where lost people might be. One easy way to find them is to listen to people in your family or those you work with. I usually use an entry question like, “Hasn’t God given us a beautiful day today?” The response to that question will say a lot about where you are starting with that person. An answer like, “What’s God got to do with it?” is one end of the spectrum, while “He certainly has!” is the other end. Once you know where to start, you can provide the next steps from there. A good book to help your Bible knowledge might be “How God Gets You Back” or “Profiling the Prospect” by this author. (See fishersinc.net/publications under those titles.) 

So, Paul says a lost person must hear the Gospel in order to believe in Christ, and someone must be willing to deliver that Gospel. In verse 15, he adds that the preacher cannot go unless he is sent. Paul finishes by quoting a great verse, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom 10:15 from Isa 52:7).

“Lord Jesus, what a privilege it is to be a carrier of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ask that You would help us to be faithful in looking for opportunities to lead people to Christ every day. We want to be faithful in delivering the Gospel to our friends and family while we seek to meet new people who need a Savior.  Strengthen our faith to believe we have been commissioned to present the Gospel. In Jesus’ name. Amen!”

Secured (Romans 8:12-25, April 25, 2020)

Humanity Restored (Rom 8:23)

Humanity Restored (Rom 8:24-25)

Humanity Restored (Rom 8:24-25)

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Introduction (Rom 8:23-25)

The scriptures frequently use words or phrases showing connectivity to other parts of scripture. Last time we learned that the entire creation was suffering in pain like that of childbirth for the revealing of the children of God. In child birth, for example, the mother yearns to be delivered, to see the child, to witness the new life created. She anxiously awaits that time even though she knows it will be a painful experience.  Verse 22 summarizes the devotional from last time, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”  Just like the mother who knows the goal is to deliver the baby, the creation knows its final goal is to see the children of God delivered from sin and sin’s curse, death and corruption. For the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). The creation knows that once they see the children of God revealed, the end of separation, corruption and death will dissolve into the glory of God’s kingdom.  The Creator and the creation will once again be one – they will be united in glory.


Humanity Restored (Rom 8:23)

Romans 8:23 begins with “And not only they.” Finding the “they” is not difficult. As above we can see the reference back to the creature and the creation. Paul writes “Not only they,” that is, not only the whole creation that groans and travails as one voice in pain, “but ourselves, also” join with them (8:23). We discovered in the Romans 8:19-22 devotional that the whole creation yearned to see who the children of God were.  Here we learn that it’s not only them, but ourselves (the redeemed) as well. So, we are undeniably connected to the creation that yearns to know the children of God. They know that once they see the children of God revealed, the waiting for the completion of God’s kingdom will be completed.

  

Paul mentions us here as those who have the first fruits of the Spirit. We can get a clarification of what Paul means by first fruits of the Spirit by looking at his description of the order of resurrections in 1 Corinthians 15:21-24. There, Paul states that Christ is the first fruits, then those that are His and then comes the end. So, Jesus was the first of three resurrections. After Jesus, the second resurrection will be of those who are His. This speaks to the Rapture of the Saints (1 Cor 15:51-57, 1 Thes 4:13-18 & Rev 4:1). Paul’s reference to “and then comes the end” speaks to the Second Coming of Christ in Revelation 19, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. 


Reading back to the use of the first fruits in 1 Corinthians 15, it is clear that it means Jesus was the first one ever permanently resurrected. In the use of “first fruits” here in Romans, Paul is speaking of the first people to receive the Holy Spirit as more than the “alongside one” but according to Jesus’ promise, “the inside one” (John 14:17). The Holy Spirit has been here forever as a part of the Trinity (Gen 1:1), but He has always been the One who came alongside. Jesus says we know Him because He was with us but shall be in us. That’s what happened first at Pentecost (Acts 2). That’s what Paul means by saying “ourselves” having the first fruits of the Spirit. The born-again believers in Jesus Christ are the only ones (first fruits) of those who have or possess or are indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God. The restored humanity will reunite the body, soul and spirit of the human. At death, the body remained on Earth. The soul and spirit go to be with Jesus Christ. We will become complete again only at the Rapture, or for those left behind who are born again after the Rapture, the Second Coming.


Humanity Restored (Rom 8:24-25)

Humanity Restored (Rom 8:24-25)

Humanity Restored (Rom 8:24-25)

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Humanity Restored (Rom 8:24-25)

Paul reveals that even when we exist in the Heavenly bliss of being with Jesus in the afterlife, we yearn for completion. We are given a glimpse of that existence when Jesus said there are some standing here who will not perish until they see the Kingdom of God (Matt 16:28-17:6 & Luke 9:27-36). Notice that Jesus, Moses and Elijah were equally transfigured there, but they were actually quite different. Jesus represented those who were resurrected, Moses represented those who die a natural death and came to Heaven without a body and Elijah represent those who were translated, body soul and spirit, but still not completed as Jesus was. Until the Bride is completed for Jesus at the Marriage Supper, these three factions will be present in the Kingdom.


In this vein, we will remain incomplete until the end. Most of us will have died in the natural sense, leaving a body behind. We will yearn to be fully like Christ having body, soul and spirit united in a single place. But the yearning and anxiety will also include the hope of who might be in the Redeemed. Our hope is that all those we believed were born again, were actually a part of the redeemed. However, I believe there will be some surprises on both sides of this issue. That is, there will be some redeemed we never thought were born again, and there will be some missing who we always thought were born again. 


This is the kind of hope Paul describes when he says we are saved by hope. Those of us who have believed in our hearts the Lord Jesus Christ and confessed to others of that belief are saved because Paul says we “shall be saved” (Rom 10:9-10). Our hope is that when we die or when Jesus comes for us, we will be saved.  The hope is that when those events happen, we will be with Jesus for eternity. We can’t know with complete understanding that it is true. But when we get to the Kingdom, our hope will give way to knowledge. At that point hope will cease. He continues that if we could see that which we hoped for, it would no longer be hope. So, there is a crossover relationship between hope and faith. It takes faith to hope for that with cannot be seen.


“Lord Jesus, what a grand hope You have planted in our minds that we who believe will be redeemed. That somehow all we have read, studied or been told about our belief in You will be born out through fact someday. We believe because the Book You gave us has been proven true in so many ways that our belief has long ago turned to faith and hope. But we understand the scripture here which describes a yearning for completion of the body, soul and spirit in one place. After John finishes writing the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he said ‘He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly’ (Rev22:20a).  John’s predictable response and ours as well is, ‘Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20b).  Does your hope allow you to believe you are ready??”

Secured (Romans 8:19-22, April 22, 2020)

Creation Restored (Rom 8:19-20

Creation Restored (Rom 18:21-22)

Creation Restored (Rom 18:21-22)

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Introduction (Rom 8:19-22)

The language used in this portion of scripture might be difficult, so let’s set some basics. First, the “creature” here is all the people who were created by God beginning with Adam and Eve. They are the redeemed and the lost together. Typically, we call the lost “the world.” They are alive in the flesh but dead in the spirit. When God called them as He does for all mankind, they rejected the call and chose to live a life without Christ. The world will never stop doubting the wisdom of their choice, so they wait in curiosity to see who the sons of God – those who chose to follow Christ - really are. 


Creation Restored (Rom 8:19-20)

Verse 19 sets the mood for our study of Romans 8:19-20. The creature: i.e., those who were created (mankind or the universe of mankind), is anxiously waiting to see who the sons of God are. Last time, we were reminded that when Jesus came to His own, and his own rejected Him, all those who received Him were given the authority to be called the Sons of God (John 1:11-13). Simply put, those who are created by God are eagerly waiting to see who have been redeemed by God. Much of mankind has doubts and misunderstandings regarding those of us who are born-again believers in Jesus Christ. Regardless of how gently and respectfully we try to share Christ with them, not only will they reject Christ but they will reject those who proclaim Him.  Nevertheless, it is God who draws all people to himself. Jesus said, “God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beleiveth on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Evangelists make themselves known and available to the lost. When they begin to hear God’s call, we are available to explain it, answer questions and help them respond to Christ.


When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they were no longer allowed to live in the Garden. Their sin had consequences. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). They were removed from God’s presence and made to struggle for their daily existence. God cursed the ground saying, “17b Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:17-19).  It was their own vanity that led to God’s curse on them. In their failure as stewards of God’s glorious Garden, they found themselves in decay and ruin. The creation yearns for intervention by God’s children.


Creation Restored (Rom 18:21-22)

Creation Restored (Rom 18:21-22)

Creation Restored (Rom 18:21-22)

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Creation Restored (Rom 8:21-22)

But mankind was never left without hope. God allowed Adam and Eve to parent Cain and Able. Cain offered an inappropriate offering while Able offered a blood offering. “There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood” (Heb 9:22). Rather than learning from his mistake, Cain experience jealousy at his brother faithful response to God and killed him. Adam and Eve were blessed with a third son and named him Seth. Through him, Adam saw the future, the hope of mankind. Cain felt the agony of being cast out from his brother as he became the father of the unrighteous.

  

But out of righteousness Seth’s generations produced Abram, a righteous man in the eyes of the Lord and he introduced salvation by the grace of God through faith. “And Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness” (Gen 15:6). As vain, wasted and worthless creation had become, there was still hope. So, the bondage of corruption birthed a glorious liberty through hope, grace and righteousness. The glory of God’s imputed freedom from sin, was experienced by Abraham and passed on to the generations. The imputed righteousness eliminated the penalty of sin for those who believed. It wasn’t earned nor assigned. It was the gift of God, so that none of us had a right to boast. “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8-9). 


“Father God, thank you for never extinguishing the fire of hope and the offer of peace with You. Through all generations Your call of us toward You offered us that hope. When generations seemed wasted, hopeless and worthless we still felt Your hope and responded to it. The creation yearns for discovery of God’s sons. They want to see the truth of God’s action to restore mankind to what we were created to be.  We want to see His “peace on Earth and good will toward men.” Jesus is the light that shineth in the darkness (John 1:5).. Some didn’t see it or understand it, but to all who received Him, He gave the authority to be called the children of God” (John 1:10-12). We acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Savor and Lord.  We praise You, Father for sending the Son.” 

Secured (Romans 8:12-25, April 21, 2020)

Eternal Inheritance (Rom 8:14-15)

Eternal Inheritance (Rom 8:14-15)

Eternal Inheritance (Rom 8:14-15)

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Introduction

 Here, we continue our study in Romans Chapter 8 by moving from an “Eternal Future” to an “Eternal Inheritance.” After learning those in Christ would never die but have eternal life with Christ, it was predictable that we would want to ask about the quality of that eternal life. In this devotion, we’ll look at the inheritance that we have today and that which is awaiting us in Heaven. In my experience, when people asked what it will be like in Heaven, I move directly to 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  (The Apostle Paul partially quoted from Isaiah 64:4.) Isn’t it a blessing to know that God is so great that we can’t even imagine the wonders He has made for us who love Him? 


Eternal Inheritance (Rom 8:14-15)

 Verse 14 in the King James Version starts with what some call a reversed sentence; the cause and affect are reversed.  Paul writes, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). It would seem the cause might be that they are the children of God and that results in the affect that they are led by the Spirit of God. Of course, Paul’s intent was to emphasizes the importance of the believer yielding to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Surely, learning that truth is the key ingredient of succeeding in being made holy or being sanctified. Recall that sanctification follows justification and precedes glorification. That is, “we are saved from the penalty of sin” before we spend a lifetime “being saved from the power of sin” in order to spend eternity “saved from the presence of sin.”   

   

The believers who learn to yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit early in life are certainly behaving like they are children of God. They stop resisting God’s work of allowing trials to teach them how to live a Holy life. Only when each of the rough edges of our old natures are made smooth by testing, failing and testing again, will we realize the joy of our salvation. James describes this way, “2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations: 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3-4). Joy in the Lord comes in allowing Him lead us to holiness by yielding to His will and resisting our own. Many of us understand the definition: “Doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results.” The only way we can grow in Him is to let Him work in us. We can accept the trials He allows into our lives and learn from each one. Besides that, hasn’t He told us through Paul, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13)? 


Romans 8:15 has three phrases in the verse:  it begins with a reference back to verse 14 by using the word “for.” That is, because of verse 14, you have to know that we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear (8:15). The bondage of sin is what we escaped when we accepted Christ’s pardon. We are free in Jesus Christ so, why would we accept another form of slavery after experiencing that freedom? Paul told his protégé Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). It is not fear that motivates us to faithfully follow the Lord, it’s power, love and reason. We follow Jesus out of respect, reverence and knowledge that He always wants the best for us (Rom 8:28).


Rather than the spirit of fear, God gives us the Spirit of adoption.  And because of that Spirit, we can address God in the most tender and loving words, “Abba, Father” (8:15). Notice in the King James Version the “s” on the word spirit in front of fear is a lower-case letter while the “S” in the word Spirit in front of adoption is upper-case. The 70 Scholars who completed translating the KJV from the Greek to the English version in 1611 understood that the spirit of fear had a human origin while the Spirit of adoption had a divine origin. Fear doesn’t come from God, but power, love and a sound mind does (2 Tim 1:7). Equipped with the Spirit of adoption given by the Father, allows us to call Him Abba, Father. In the Aramaic language Abba is Father in Jesus’ tongue while Pater is Father in the Greek language. Spoken together is the double yielding to the one created us, saved us and will carry us home someday. We hear it from our children when they say, “Daddy!”  



Eternal Inheritance (Rom 8:16-18)

Eternal Inheritance (Rom 8:14-15)

Eternal Inheritance (Rom 8:14-15)

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Confess and Believe (Rom 10:8-10, Cont.)

In verse 9 of our text, Paul says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9). In saying this, verse 9 reveals the source of the title of today’s study, “Confess and Believe.” Paul associates the mouth with confessing Jesus Christ. The Greek word used for confessing here is homologeō  (Strong, 2006). The word is a compound consisting of homo and logos. Homo means the same like homogeneous means the same kind or same consistency. Homosexual means the same sex or gender. Logos means word, statement or testimony. So, homolegeo means the same word or same statement or same testimony. In the context of verse 9, its means we must speak the same statements or testimony as Jesus Christ. For example, Jesus was named Immanuel or God with us to fulfill prophecy. He said to the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was, I Am” stating that he pre-existed Abraham, but He also that He was the I Am. That’s the name for God that He told Moses to use when speaking to Egypt’s Pharaoh (Ex 3:14). There are hundreds of statements of who God is and who Jesus Christ is in the scriptures. Paul is saying that we must say with our mouths that Jesus Christ is all that He said He was: He is God, He is Messiah, He is the Creator, He is the Alpha and Omega – beginning and the end, the bright and morning star, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Messiah and so forth. We are to say with our mouths that Jesus is ALL He said He was/is. Further, Paul specifically mentions we must confess Him as “Lord Jesus.” In that acknowledgement we are saying Jesus is Lord, Leader, Dictator and Master over our lives.  

  

Sometimes it is much easier for a person to agree with God that Jesus is the Savior of his life than to confess He is the Master of his life. His work as Savior removes us from all sin (Rom 8:1). When John the Baptizer saw Him coming toward him to be baptized, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). That is what Jesus did for us on the cross. But to pledge our submission to Him is another thing altogether. Nevertheless, Paul says we must confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus. 


Second, Paul says we are to believe these words in our hearts. I am glad that Paul reverses the order of these two things in verse 10. It seems more reasonable that we believe these things first, and then we can confess them.  He says if we believe and confess these things, “Thou shalt be saved.” 


The idea of salvation is hard for some to grasp. The Bible tells us that “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).  This is not speaking of physical death. Recall that neither Adam nor Eve experienced physical death when they sinned in the garden, but they were removed from the presence of God and prevented from reentering. This is spiritual death. We cannot live in the presence of God as long as we have sin. Jesus came for the purpose of removing our sin from us. Before He died on the cross, He said, “It is Finished.” Those words are one word in the original language, tetelestai. The root word telos means debt discharged. It was a standard notation during Jesus’ time of a bill or invoice being completed paid or satisfied. The word teteletai is telos with all tenses applied. It sounds like “all past, present and future sin has been, is being and forever will be completely paid, satisfied, expunged and forgotten.” Paul said it well in Romans 8:1 when he said, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). Simply put, there is no sin left to be paid for. 


Paul sums all he said in verse 10:10, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:10). Believing unto righteousness is exactly what Abraham did in Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” When we believe; we are counted to be righteous.” But the deal is not closed with God until we publicly announce that He is our Savior and Lord. From that point forward, we live in a state of being made holy – Sanctification.  When we leave this life, either because of our physical death or because He came back for us, we will enter into Glorification, or enter into the Glory of the Lord to live with God forever and ever.


“Lord Jesus, what an immense weight is taken off our shoulders when we realize that, unlike us, when you forgive, you forget. There are so many sins that we remember over and over again. Things that we are ashamed of. Things that make us angry and hurt and terribly sorry for. We fully acknowledge that you have already paid for those sins. We even accept that when we bring them up, they have long ago left your memory. But the accuser of the elect will always remind us of how badly we have failed you. Father, we are so completely grateful that your truth is far greater than his fiction. Thank You Lord Jesus for paying a price that we could never pay for ourselves. Thank You for freedom, forgiveness and eternal life with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen!”

Secured (Romans 8:12-25, April 19, 2020)

Eternal Future (Rom 8:12)

Eternal Future (Rom 8:12)

Eternal Future (Rom 8:12)

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Introduction

  

These two verses begin our study in Romans chapter 8. The thought process continues from chapters 6 & 7 and show the contrast between living in the flesh and living in the Spirit. The discussion is important to the believer for understanding the functioning and thought processes of a person who is intimately familiar with operating in the flesh, but new to the spiritual side of life. 


Anyone who has tried to lead a person to faith in Jesus Christ has come face-to-face with the contrast. We tend to speak in spiritual terms because we are spiritual people.  But we are interfacing with fleshly people who think primarily in the flesh. The attempt frequently results in two people speaking different languages and not capable of understanding each other. Evangelism, which is an appointed task for all believers, leads to frustration instead of excitement, and resignation instead of eagerness to do more. The answer is remembering what it is like to operate in the flesh and address the issues the unbeliever has from that viewpoint, first. Then the evangelist is speaking the lost person’s language and can succeed in communication and working with the Lord to convert another soul.


Eternal Future (Rom 8:12)

 Verse 12 starts with the words “let not sin therefore reign.” These words speak the powerful truth that we are no longer under the bondage or slavery of sin. The believer received the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit at the moment of his or her belief and confession of Jesus Christ (Rom 10:9-10). Baptism is the first act of obedience to Christians in the new life. Each of the believer’s acts of obedience further impowers him to meet the next challenge or temptation more effectively. That’s why Paul and James can talk of trials and temptations in terms of joy rather than suffering (Rom 5:1-5 & James 1:2-5).  

  

Paul speaks directly to this issue earlier in chapter 8, “7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:7-8). The carnal mind is another way of saying a mind oriented toward the flesh rather than the spirit. The natural order makes sure that the mind of the lost person concentrates on issues of the flesh. Hence, the carnal mind is at odds with God.  It is not subject to God’s law. In other words, the carnally minded person cannot deal with spiritually oriented concepts nor is it reasonable for the spiritually minded person to expect otherwise.  In my decades of training people for evangelism, hundreds of spiritually minded trainees would ask in the frustration of rejection why a lost person would not be eager to accept Christ. When the unbeliever senses a need in his life, he will react favorably to the Gospel. 


There is a natural discomfort associated with a human not being one with his or her Creator. The discomfort drives a seeking spirit which naturally looks for God. The job of the evangelist is to look for and draw attention to efforts of the unbeliever to find Christ. As those questions are answered, the lost person will be attracted to Christ and trust the evangelist to do the introductions. The great debt owed here is the work of the brethren in the spiritual advancement of all they meet. 

Eternal Future (Rom 8:13)

Eternal Future (Rom 8:12)

Eternal Future (Rom 8:12)

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Eternal Future (Rom 8:13)

 Romans 8:13 transitions from the flesh to spiritual side of the discussion by repeating some of the verse 12 truths. The first clause says, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.” But Paul goes immediately into the Spiritual realm saying that the ugly deeds of the flesh can be mortified or terminated and left behind. With those out of the way; i.e., no longer chargeable to the believer, he is free and will never die. I have never stopped feeling tremendous gratitude toward those responsible for leading me to Christ. After almost 50 years I am still drawn to tears when I consider what it took to take me out of atheism and into the wide-open, eagerly waiting arms of Jesus Christ. 

  

The old Gospel song says, 


O, what a wonderful, wonderful day
Day I will never forget
When I was wandering in darkness away
Jesus my Savior I met
 

O, what a tender compassionate Friend
He met the need of my heart
Shadows dispelling with joy I am telling
He made all the darkness depart
 

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul
When at the cross my Savior made me whole
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day
When heaven came down and glory filled my soul


I went back there one day about 10 years after I was born again. Of course, Pastor Joe Penrod had moved on, and I no longer had to make sure drive one of the five church buses to pick up over 150 children every week. But I walked through the empty auditorium to that place at the alter where a piano tuning deacon led me to the Throne of Grace. As I knelt and prayed, the impact of that morning came back to me just as real as if it was yesterday. Yeah, “Heaven cam down and glory filled my soul.” 


Notice on the second half of the figure that contrast between the flesh and the Spirit is explained. The flesh is temporary, it never lasts, and it always leaves a desire for something more. Notice how the Spirit is eternal – it lasts forever. A relationship with Christ returns a person to a right relationship with his Maker. This is where each of us is meant to be. It brings fulfillment of purpose. The believer still has struggles and temptations, but knowing he has the power of God walking with him makes the problems appear a lot smaller.


“Lord Jesus, thank you for making us sons rather than subjects. We have your grace to remove our sins as far as the East is from the West. The Bible says, 

“There is now no more condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Amen.” How long has it been since you went to bed knowing all your sins were forgotten forever?

Free (Romans 6:12-14, April 18, 2020)

Tools for Righteousness (Rom 6:12-13)

Tools for Righteousness (Rom 6:12-13)

Tools for Righteousness (Rom 6:12-13)

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Introduction

These three verses conclude our study in Romans chapter 6. The Apostle Paul begins the discussion with the best scriptural reference on baptism in both, the OT and the NT. He showed how baptism is the complete picture of the death and burial of the believer’s sin and his old self, followed by the resurrection of a new self, submitted to and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. This form and mode of baptism completely fulfills Jesus’ commandment as He was baptized by John the Baptizer (Matt 3:13-17). It also shows the believer’s changed life as described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 


It is also important for the believer and those watching the baptism to know that what they are watching is not the actual death, burial and resurrection of the believer, but rather a testimony or report of what had taken place in the believer’s life. The actual work of changing the believer’s life took place when he believed Jesus his heart and confessed Him publicly with his mouth (Rom 10:9-10). Further, there was no saving grace or act of forgiveness coming out of the baptism itself.  Rather, the ceremony pointed to the historic fact that these things took place in the new believer.


Tools of Righteousness (Rom 6:12-13)

 Verse 12 starts with the words “let not sin therefore reign.” These words speak the powerful truth that we are no longer under the bondage or slavery of sin. The believer received the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit at the moment of his or her belief and confession (Rom 10:9-10). Baptism is the first act of obedience to Christ in the new life. Each of the believer’s acts of obedience further impowers him to meet the next challenge or temptation.  That’s why Paul and James can talk of trials and temptations in terms of joy rather than suffering (Rom 5:1-5 & James 1:2-5).  


Every victory and successful response to these temptations serves to provide more power for the next one. So, sin cannot reign in our lives anymore than we allow. Paul says that we should not obey the lusts of the mortal body. There is great insight there from Paul’s heart. The temptations that come our way are those that are common to all people. Paul says this in his first letter to Corinth, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13). Not only are the temptations common to all of us, but Jesus knows it and prepares us ahead of time with the power to defeat every one of them. Jesus knows because He has personally faced and defeated every one of them (Heb 4:15). 


Just a fast illustration: John tells us the specific character of sin and the devil’s temptations in his first letter. He says, “ For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). The lust of the flesh is the desire for everything a person thinks he needs for this body; i.s., food, water, sex, heat, cool, etc. The lust of the eyes is the wanting of everything we see: new car, new boat, new motorcycle, house, clothes, anything we see and desire is the lust of the eyes. The pride of life is how one thinks of oneself. We will speak to ourselves like, “I’m far too advanced to touch that, I’m much too educated for that, I’ve come too far to fall for that, that’s a temptation for others, but certainly not for me.” 

Tools for Righteousness (Rom 6:14)

Tools for Righteousness (Rom 6:12-13)

Tools for Righteousness (Rom 6:12-13)

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Tools of Righteousness (Rom 6:12-13, Continued)

The devil even tried to catch Jesus with these things in the wilderness after he was without food for 40 days (Matt 4:1-11). The devil knew He was hungry and tempted Him in that weakness to change rocks to bread. That’s working on Jesus’ lust of the flesh. The devil tempted Him to prove who He was by jumping down off a high place. That’s the pride of life. Third, the devil tempted Jesus by showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glories saying they could be His. That was the lust of the eyes. It was also was the most entertaining because all the devil offered already belonged to Jesus! We need to  prepare because these are the common and predictable temptation, yet always effectives ways Satan will distract us from serving God with all our hearts, minds, souls and desires. Paul says not to yield yourselves to these things (vs 13).


Tools of Righteousness (Rom 6:14)

 Romans 6:14 shares another tool of righteousness in the form of a perfect knowledge of the Law of Moses. A great starting place for this comment is in Paul’s letter to the Church at Galatia. Paul says, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:24-29). This verse helps us to see what Paul was saying to the Romans when he said that sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace (vs. 14). 


Paul’s illustration to the Galatians was showing the law as being our schoolmaster. Its purpose was to bring us to Christ. The law is very effective in making sure we understand that we cannot live for very long without breaking some part of the Law. Monks and priest have suffered for years as they served in the seclusion of monasteries trying to bring their bodies into submission and righteousness.  The measurement stick was always the law, and we will always fall short. When I was a young boy, I would keep track of each time I broke one of the commandments, so I could report it to my priest at confession time. I was amazed at how many times I would be guilty of breaking each of them every week. 

 

Paul says to the Galatians that we are children of God through Christ. We have no need of the law to tell us what sin is because the Holy Spirit of God is resident inside us.  We actually FEEL each sin we commit against God. That feeling is sufficient to make us want to do better next time. But, more importantly, we are not under the condemnation of the law. Instead, we are under the grace of God. Every sin we commit was already paid for when Christ said tetelestai from the cross - paid in full – past, present and future (John 19:30). Like Abraham, we believed in God and it was accounted unto us for righteousness. John says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12). Friends we are not longer under the schoolmaster. We are now SONS and DAUGHTERS of the most High.


Lord Jesus, thank you for making us sons rather than subjects. We have your grace and salvation because You sent Jesus to pay for and pardon us. We pray, Lord Jesus, that you would continue to help us follow you better today than we did yesterday. We want to bring honor  to You. Amen.

Free (Romans 6:1-11, April 13, 2020)

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:1-2)

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:1-2)

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:1-2)

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Introduction

The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the Church at Rome by showing how people were in urgent need of a solution for their lack of response to God (Chap 1). In Chapter 2, Paul knew the Jews and proselytes of the Church would think he was writing to the Gentiles, but Paul let them know that those who have the Law and knowledge of God were worse sinners because they claimed knowledge but remained disobedient. Chapter 3 summarizes that all have sinned and fall short of the Lord’s standard (Rom 3:23) proving the need for the Gospel of Christ is universal.


Paul announces there is great comfort for those who know their sins will no longer be counted against them. He reminded them that the concept of God’s grace through faith was as old as Moses’ writings in Geneses 15:6 where Abraham’s faith was counted for his righteousness. The Apostle Paul uses Chapter 4 of his letter to communicate how forgiveness for those who believe in God through Jesus Christ finds the same right standing with God as Abraham did (Rom 4:5).  He closes the paragraph saying a man finds contentment in knowing that his sins will no longer be counted against him (Rom 4:8).  In 5, Paul deals with the question of benefits for living after justification. He explains the new availability of the peace of God, access to grace and hope of glory. 


Romans 5:1-5 pulls three aspects of the believer’s relationship with God together better than any other scripture. The idea of justification is that original relationship with God when He removes all sin from us because of our faith in Him. In other words, we have been saved from the penalty of sin (Rom 8:1). We enter a journey of sanctification where we are being saved from the power of sin and end our journey when we leave this Earth.  We will be saved from the presence of sin.


Dead to Sin  (Rom 6:1-2)

Paul initiates and answers two questions resulting from his earlier discussion of the relationship between sin and grace in Romans 5:19-21.  "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. 


He immediately recognizes that some might take the comment “as sin abounded, grace did much more abound” to say, “If grace can prosper because of its need against sin, then it would make sense to sin more so that grace can prosper even more.” Paul responds, “God forbid” (Rom 6:1).  That is to say, “Let it never be true” or “You have it all wrong.”  That kind of a response emphasizes the absurdity of that kind of thinking. The rebirth experience emphasizes that what was once alive has died. That is, the old nature with its propensity for sin had to die in order for the newly born person, the person has a propensity for righteousness, can come alive. The whole definition of repentance speaks to reversing the direction of one’s steps. We once were going in one direction; now we are going in a different direction. 


I recall shortly after I was born again, I was driving down the street with my family in the car. Another car sped into my street from my right, forcing me to make an emergency stop. Out of habit, I spoke a few obscene words, and something like a punch hit my solar plexus as a voice said, “Twenty minutes ago, that was OK, but now you belong to me.” I made no overt attempt to clean up my language, but somehow what I used to say was no longer consistent with what I had become. It was an involuntary action to have me become more consistent with the reborn person. Paul captures the involuntary action idea in verse 2 when he says, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”   


Consider the old Gospel song “Thanks to Calvary” for example.  Space doesn’t permit copying the entire song here, but the chorus goes:

     Thanks to Calvary I am not the man I used to be
    Thanks to Calvary things are different than before.
    And as the tears ran down my face, I tried to tell them,
    Thanks to Calvary, I don't come here anymore. (Bill and Gloria Gaither)


Dead to Sin (Rom 6:3-4)

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:1-2)

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:1-2)

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The song says a change had taken place. It was not because the person had become self-righteous or developed a “holier than thou” attitude. It was because he no longer fit in since becoming a new person. Those who try to return to their previous way of living after tis change find no pleasure in being a part of it anymore. “Therefore, if any man bein Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17)


Dead to Sin (Rom 6:3-4)

In this slide, Paul explains the meaning of baptism. Not a lot is spoken on the meaning of baptism in the New Testament because many of the members of the early church were either Jews or Jewish proselytes who had converted to Christianity. All of them were very familiar with the Mikvah ceremony of cleansing and its specific application for accepting proselytes into Judaism. Specifically, after a proselyte to Judaism completed all the superficial acts of becoming a Jew; like, accepting a life under the Law of Moses including male circumcision; the proselyte would step down into the Mikvah Pool to join a Rabbi already there. The Jewish family sponsoring the proselyte would look on while standing next to the pool. After the Rabbi was assured by the sponsoring family and the proselyte that they had completed those things, the Rabbi would lay the person down in the water signifying his death as a Gentile. The Rabbi would announce his death as a Gentile and raise him out of the water announcing his new birth as a Jew. From that time forward, the proselyte would have all the rights and privileges of one born as a Jew.

  

So, when John the Baptizer came to shore of Beth-Abara at the lower region of the Jordan River, he began doing baptisms, he baptized because of repentance from sin (Mark 1:4). He was not baptizing into Christianity. Notice Paul’s visit to Ephesus after passing by the upper coasts (Acts 19:1-7). As he talked with these disciples, he sensed there was something missing. So, he asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit after they believed. They told him they had not even heard there was a Holy Spirit (vs 2). Paul asked them unto what then were they baptized. They responded that they had been baptized unto John’s baptism (vs 3).  Paul explained that John’s baptism was a baptism showing repentance from sin, and John said they had to be baptized confessing belief in Jesus. Paul baptized them after they confessed Jesus Christ and they received the Holy Spirit shortly thereafter. 


This information is crucial to the walk of any new believer. Like the twelve disciples of John outside Ephesus, if you are not baptized proclaiming the right reason, you have only had a bath. John’s disciples were baptized into the baptism of repentance from sin. That is not the same as being baptized into Jesus Christ. Paul says here that we should know that we are baptized into Jesus’ death. Just like Christ experienced death, we experience the death of the old person; that is, person we used to be before we prayed to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. John’s disciples who Paul met displayed no apparent power of the Holy Spirit.  Paul was able to see it from the very beginning of his talk with them. Baptism is the first act of obedience for a new Christian. It is crucial that a person submit to baptism and that they are baptized in the right spirit. Examples of baptismal doctrine that will fail to deliver God’s power are all around us. Being baptized for church membership, infant baptism, baptism for the dead, baptism to receive salvation, baptism as a sacrament and so on remove the emphasis of being baptized as a reenactment of the death of the old self and the birth of the new self. 


When John challenged Jesus saying that he should be baptized by Christ rather than Christ being baptized by him, Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). After John baptized Him, the skies opened and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove landed on Jesus and the Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in who I am well pleased” (Matt 3:16-17).  Those who say the trinity is never mentioned in the Bible tend to leave this verse out.

Every believer must look at the power in their ministry. If there is any doubt or indication of weakness in the power of their ministry, confess Jesus Christ as Savior and follow Him in Baptism.  As the first act of Christian obedience, missing it could seriously limit spiritual power. Paul offered, “If you believe with your heart and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, you will be saved.” (Ron 10:9-10). 

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:5)

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:1-2)

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:6-7)

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Dead to Sin (Rom 6:5)

Paul drills down on the ideas of baptism picturing the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as those of the believer in Christ. The proselyte to Judaism, after yielding to do those superficial things of the Law, was buried as a Gentile in the Mikvah pool, and raised as a Jew. For unbelievers entering the baptismal pool, the picture is the death of a self-willed unbeliever followed by the resurrection of a Christ-willed believer. Nothing less will suffice.


Every detail of baptism is important. The mode of Christian baptism follows the mode of Mikvah pool example. The Greek word “baptizo” is a derivative of “bapto” meaning to become whelmed or fully wet. This word speaks fully to the Christian ceremony of Baptism (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).  Remember that the earlier discussion from Acts 19:1-7 dealt with believers who were not baptized appropriately.  The action of being baptized into John’s baptism because of repentance instead of Jesus’ baptism of death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ resulted in insufficient power for personal and evangelistic ministry. When person is baptized, they mirror the example set by Christ, Himself. 


The Apostle Matthew records the events like this, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:16-17). The Gospels of Mark and Luke echo the Gospel of Matthew saying that Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit and publicly endorsed by God the Father began His ministry by fasting for 40 days and being tempted by Satan. In other words He was filled with God’s Spirit and began Hid ministry immediately after baptism. He surrendered to baptism by John and in the power of all three members of the trinity on the side of the pool that day, Jesus entered His ministry as the example for all who follow Him..


Considering the fact that serving as a minister for Christ, one invites opposition from Satan just as Jesus did, full power from God is the only power great enough to say, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7) and “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Warfare in the Spiritual realm is not to be entered into lightly.


This idea of burying the old person is worth one more illustration. Many of those people I had the privilege of leading to Christ confessed to me after the fact that their source of power just wasn’t working. They agreed that the definition of insanity was to keep trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When they agreed willingly that what they were using wasn’t working, finding Christ was an easy next step. Burying the old person is nothing more than being willing to give up on that weak source of power in exchange for the power of the Holy Spirit. Look how Paul wrote it on this next reference.

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:6-7)

Alive in Christ (Rom 6:10-11)

Dead to Sin (Rom 6:6-7)

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Dead to Sin (Rom 6:6-7)

Here Paul sees the picture of a person entering the baptismal pool as a picture of Christ’s crucifixion. He describes it as a fitting end for that body of sin that we carried for so many years. Crucifixion is not generally a short execution. Most sufferers are not severely beaten like Jesus was before they suffered crucifixion. Recall that when the soldiers who crucified Christ wanted to speed thing up, they broke the legs of the two thieves being crucified with Jesus that day. The death a person who dies on the cross is one of repetitively allowing their body to slide down the face of the cross until their full weight was on the nails in their wrists. At that point, their bodies would have shut off all air into their lungs. When near suffocation, the person would push down on the nails in their ankles to lift their bodies up to draw another breath of air. The pain on their ankles would force them to allow their bodies to slide back down the cross, and so on. When the centurion ordered the legs to be broken on the thieves, he took away the option for them to draw any more breath. They would soon die of suffocation. Many called it mercy.


But Jesus loss pints of blood prior to being forced to carry His cross. His body was exhausted, weak, used up. When the legs of the other two were broken, a soldier believing Jesus to be dead, thrust a spear into His side. The mixture of blood and water coming from the wound made the soldier declare Him dead. Medical journals often interpret that symptom to be called a broken heart.


Now, Paul says the burial of the body of sin in the waters of the baptistry must be done to destroy sin. You see, the soldier of the Lord must have crucified sin. His preparation for battle with the enemy requires nothing less. We know the games of the enemy. The Bible calls him the accuser and says, “the power of His [God’s] Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night” (Rev 12:10). The accuser will speak against us to the Father day and night. His accusations will be devastating, discouraging and untrue. A person not prayed up, paid up and made up with God will not persevere. The power of the Holy Spirit is the force that is greater and cannot be stopped. The Good News is the Jesus saves, He always wins and he will never leave or forsake us. 


Crucifying the old person (that person we used to be) requires the elimination of personal ego. It’s admitting we were wrong. It’s surrendering to a being who is outside of our control. But the other side of that surrender is the sweet fragrance of victory in Jesus. 


Try praying like this, “Lord Jesus, I believe you have provided all that is needed for us to be free from sin and reconciled with God forever. You said through John ‘But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.’ They are reborn - not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:12-13, NLT). Tell the Lord, I believe in Jesus and want freedom from sin.”

Alive in Christ (Rom 6:8-9)

Alive in Christ (Rom 6:10-11)

Alive in Christ (Rom 6:10-11)

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Introduction

Paul left us at the end of the previous study by driving home the point that we who confess Jesus as Savior and Lord are in fact “Dead in Christ” (Rom 6:1-7).  That death was the sentence for all the sin that was in us and condemned us because we denied Jesus Christ – the only remedy available to erase our sin. In fact, Jesus paid the full price of our sin while He was on the cross, so there is no longer any condemnation for that sin (Rom 8:1). However, being dead to sin is not the end of our spiritual life any more than being placed in a grave was the end of Jesus’ life. Christ absolutely had to rise again for His death for sin to become effective. Likewise, Paul proclaims that our death to sin must become a new life in Christ to be effective (Rom 6:8-11).


I often say it this way, if a person is born once, he will die twice. If a person is born twice, he will only die once. That is, the person who is born again is born twice (once physically and once spiritually). He may die physically but never spiritually, so he can only die once. If a person is only born once (physically – not spiritually), he will die twice, once physically and once spiritually. 


Alive to Christ (Rom 6:8-9)

Paul reasons that if we are truly dead to our sins in the likeness of Jesus death, then we must also be made alive in Him to a new life (vs 8). Paul’s statement is a standard philosophical approach using an “if-then” structure. Paul says, “if we be dead with Christ; then we shall also live with him.” After all, this is the entire picture of Christian Baptism.  We see the old man – the man we used to be - being buried in the likeness of Jesus’ death, that we may be raised again – that is the new man must be raised again in the newness of His life. If the death part of baptism was the end point, than none of us would have survived it. Church baptistries would be full of the bodies of those who believed if that was the end. 


At this writing, we have just finished the Easter Celebration. It differs significantly from the sad worship of Good Friday. But, Glory to God, when Jesus said the Greek word tetelestai from the cross, it signified that all debt for past, present and future sin was fully paid (John 19:30).  It was a promise that His penalty would be accepted by the Father. The picture of that acceptance is, in fact, what we celebrate on Easter morning. When Jesus came out of the tomb, it was proof positive that the earlier promise of the resurrection would be fulfilled indeed. The Father had accepted Jesus’ sacrifice to remedy the penalty due for sin. Paul says there was truly no more condemnation due for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). Feels like a great place for a SHOUT!


Verse 6:8 does not end with a period, instead, it provides additional support for why we should believe.  The fact that Jesus raised from the dead put sin in its place forever; not just for a period of time but forever. But even better, it shows that death has no more dominion over Christ, and through Him, spiritual death has not more power over the believer. It speaks to the permanence of Jesus’ solution. Paul says in 1 Cor 15:55-57, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Amen!!

Alive in Christ (Rom 6:10-11)

Alive in Christ (Rom 6:10-11)

Alive in Christ (Rom 6:10-11)

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Alive in Christ (Rom 6:10-11)

Romans 6:10-11 continues in the truth surrounding the passion of the Christ. Here, Paul echoes the words of Hebrews 8-10 as that writer talks of how Christ is the better sacrifice, the better priest, the better servant. In 6:10, we see that Jesus died only once. Hebrews 9 begins a New Testament description of the Old Testament sacrificial system. It speaks specifically to the Tabernacle and the separation into the Holy and the Holy Holies. Only the High Priest could enter there and only with the blood of an unblemished animal.  


The writer tells us that Jesus is a better high priest because the OT priest had to enter the Holy of Holies time after time, each year forever. But Jesus didn’t offer Himself at an alter made with hands but to the perfect alter of Heaven. “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:25-28).


Just as His sacrifice was offered once forever, our coming into life is presented once forever. And we are offered life inside that eternal existence with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (vs 10). We were brought into that life through Jesus Christ and we live inside that life under the power of Christ. Jesus defeated the bondage of sin for us, and we maintain the victory over sin through the Holy Spirit within us. Jesus said to the Apostles at the Last Supper that He would provide a New Comforter. He said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John 14:16-17). Before Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit was the Spirit of God which was alongside the children of God. Here Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come to live inside the believer. God, Himself will dwell with mankind but dwell inside the believer.


Lord Jesus, thank you for the abundant provision You have made for us. Help us to continue to surrender to you will. Help us, Lord, to use the great power you have planted inside us to accomplish Your will on Earth. Amen.

When John challenged Jesus saying that he should be baptized by Christ rather than Christ being baptized by him, Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). After John baptized Him, the skies opened and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove landed on Jesus and the Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in who I am well pleased” (Matt 3:16-17).  Those who say the trinity is never mentioned in the Bible tend to leave this verse out.


Every believer must look at the power in their ministry. If there is any doubt or indication of weakness in the power of their ministry, confess Jesus Christ as Savior and follow Him in Baptism.  As the first act of Christian obedience, missing it could seriously limit spiritual power. Paul offered, “If you believe with your heart and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, you will be saved.” (Ron 10:9-10).  

AT Peace (Romans 5:1-11, April 11, 2020)

Justified with Benefits (Rom 5:1-3a)

Justified with Benefits (Rom 5:1-3a)

Justified with Benefits (Rom 5:1-3a)

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Introduction 

Recall our study of Romans picks up after Chapter 1 where Paul spoke to the Church at Rome saying that Gentiles were totally and completely evil and far from God (Rom 1:18 ff).  In Chapter 2, Paul adds that those converted Jews who claim to have the Word of God and teach others the godly way from the Scriptures, yet STILL commit sin are even worse than the Gentiles. The audience was now somewhat more constrained. Paul said, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Rom 2:1, KJV). Paul returns to the simple statement of what a true Jew is, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom 2:28-29). Just as Abraham’s faith in God was accounted unto him for righteousness (Gen 15:6), so shall we who believe in God through Jesus Christ find the same right standing with God (Rom 4:5), Paul closes the paragraph saying that a man finds contentment in knowing that his sins will no longer be counted against him (Rom 4:8). 


Justified with Benefits (Rom 5:1-3a)

In Chapter 5, Paul goes on to describe justification as having great benefits. Our new faith comes to us with the peace of God, access to grace and a hope of glory. The peace comes in elimination of any wrath or anger between God and mankind. We have access to God’s grace because the blood shed on Calvary is sufficient to cover all sin. The hope of glory gives us eyes to see a future time when all those with a right relationship with God will be in His Kingdom with Him.  The big words of these truths are justification, sanctification and glorification. 


This small section of Romans pulls these three aspects of the believer’s relationship with God together better than nearly all other scripture. The idea of justification is that original relationship with God that removes all sin from us because of our faith in Him. In other words, we have been saved from the penalty of sin (Rom 8:1).  It is in the past tense, and it is an event not a process. At the instant a person believes, he or she is justified. An event in project planning has no start time or end time. It starts and is finished in the same instant.


The next big word is sanctification or being made holy. We are being saved from the power of sin. Unlike justification, sanctification is a process. It has a start time which is immediately after a person is born again, and it has a stop time at the death of the believer. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus. The Apostle John says, “If you call yourself a Christian, you ought to walk like Christ walked” (1 John 2:6). Paul emphasizes the sanctification of the believer when he says we have grace wherein we STAND in verse 2. That power to stand in Christ increases during the process of sanctification. More will be said about how Jesus through the Holy Spirit causes us to become more like Him on slide 2. 

Justified with Benefits (Rom 5:3b-5)

Justified with Benefits (Rom 5:1-3a)

Justified with Benefits (Rom 5:1-3a)

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Justified with Benefits (Rom 5:3b-5) 

The final tense of salvation is glorification. Paul says we can rejoice in our hope of glory. This is the assurance that when we breath our final breath here, we will be with the Lord in His glory. There will be no more pain, no tears, no death (Rev 21:1-7). Our becoming more like Jesus will end with becoming like Him in His glory (1 John 3:2). The justified who travailed through sanctification will finish in glorification. We will be saved from the presence of sin.


As promised, the second slide covers the idea of sanctification more completely; that is, being made holy. Paul gives us a series of benefits of the challenges we face. When we face trials and tribulations, we seldom think of thanking God for helping us mature as Christians and taking another step toward being more like Jesus. Almost everyone I know (including myself) start complaining as soon as the trials begins. It seems like the knee-jerk reaction is an “Oh, woe is me” or a “Why me, Lord?” From God’s eye, we still have weaknesses and lack dependence on Him.  We fall short of trusting Him to allow just the right set of challenges come into our lives at just the time to help us be more like Christ. We know that God prepares us to handle every temptation He allows into our lives (1 Cor 10:13). And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). 


So here, the Lord allows challenges into our lives that improve patience, experience, hope and shame. We struggle with these things, but as we get closer to God, we get better at allowing the Holy Spirit in us provide the power to conquer rather than continuing in the misplaced ego of believing we are not dependent on Him for every success we can have. 


Remember the old Blackwood Brothers’ hymn, “Learning to lean, learning to lean. I’m learning to lean on Jesus. Finding more power than I’d ever dreamed. I’m learning to lean on Jesus.” The simplicity of the lyrics is almost as overwhelming as their truth. The more we respond to the challenges of life with the power of the Holy Spirit, the more we become more than conquerors (Rom 8:31-39). 


“Lord Jesus, I believe you have provided the strength, knowledge, wisdom and judgement through the Holy Spirit for me to handle every challenge you allow. I also know that victory over the challenges of life often come as I yield to your power. Help me Lord to become less like the old man I once was and become more like You. Help me believe “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” (Phil 4:13)

Justified Through His Death (Rom 5:6-8)

Justified Equals Reconciliation (Rom 5:9-11)

Justified Equals Reconciliation (Rom 5:9-11)

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Introduction

The Apostle Paul began his letter to the Christian Church at Rome saying that Gentiles were totally and completely evil and far from God (Rom 1:18 ff).  In Chapter 2, he added that those converted Jews who claim to understand the Word of God and teach others the godly way of living from the Scriptures, yet STILL commit sin are even worse than those Gentiles.  The audience was now somewhat more constrained.  Many moved to the front edge of their benches. Paul said, “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse!  When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things (Rom 2:1, NLT).  Paul returned to the simple statement of what a true Jew is, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:  But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom 2:28-29, KJV).  Just as Abraham’s faith in God was accounted unto him for righteousness (Gen 15:6), so shall we who believe in God through Jesus Christ find the same right standing with God (Rom 4:5), Paul closes the paragraph saying that a man finds contentment in knowing that his sins will no longer be counted against him (Rom 4:8). 


In the first part of Chapter 5, Paul describes justification as having great benefits. Our new faith comes to us with the peace of God, access to grace and a hope of glory. The peace comes in the knowledge that any wrath or anger existing between God and ourselves has been removed. We have access to God’s grace because the blood shed on Calvary is sufficient to cover all our sin. The hope of glory gives us eyes to see a future time when all those with a right relationship with God will be in His Kingdom with Him. The big words of these truths are justification, sanctification and glorification. 


Justified Through His Death (Rom 5:6-8)

Romans 5:1-5 pulls these three aspects of the believer’s relationship with God together better than nearly all other scripture. The idea of justification is that original relationship with God when He removes all sin from us because of our faith in Him. In other words, we have been saved from the penalty of sin (Rom 8:1). Further, we are being saved from the power of sin, and when we are taken from this Earth, we will be saved from the presence of sin.


So, justification cleanses us of all sin and is accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Hence, the title of the first half of today’s study, “Justified through His Death.” I often look at the Book of Hebrews as the place to find how God has done everything at the right time and the due season (Heb 1:1-3).  But here, Paul tells us that when we had no power within ourselves, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6). God did not create mankind with enough personal strength for them to save themselves. Nor did He wait for the time when we could ‘train for the fight.’ He knew that we were helpless and hopeless to save ourselves, so He did it for us when the time was right. 


He drives home the point of His seemingly unreasonable act in the next verse by saying it is a rare thing for a person to give his life for a completely righteous person, or it might happen that a person would give his life for a person of good character (Rom 5:7). Paul is making the point that Christ did not give His life for us because we deserved it, or that we earned it, or certainly not because there was something in our character that merited the loss of Jesus’ life for us. 

Justified Equals Reconciliation (Rom 5:9-11)

Justified Equals Reconciliation (Rom 5:9-11)

Justified Equals Reconciliation (Rom 5:9-11)

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Justified through His Death (Rom 5:6-8, Continued)

Rather, Paul says in verse 8, that God showed how much He loved us and treasured His relationship with us by sending His only Son to die for us while we were still guilty of our sin (Rom 5:8). That is, He paid the full price for our past, present and future sins 2,000 years before we were born. We remember that believing in Jesus in our hearts and confessing our sins publicly is what applies Christ’s death to our specific case and saves us from the penalty of sin (Rom 10:9-10).  But Paul’s point is that Christ paid for our sins nearly 2,000 years before we were born! Again, God sent Jesus to pay for our sins BEFORE we acknowledged who He was. Having that payment count for us is what believing in Him and publicly confessing that belief accomplishes. 


Justified Equals Reconciliation (Rom 5:9-11)

The figure of this justification can be seen in the sacrificial system introduced in Exodus 25 and explained in Hebrews 8-10. God told Moses to place three representations of Israel’s rejection of Him in the Ark of the Covenant: the second set of ten commandments, Aaron’s rod that budded and the golden pot of manna (Ex 25: 21 & Heb 9:4).  On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies where the ark was kept. He would take the blood of an unblemished animal and sprinkle it on the mercy seat covering the ark. Moses wrote that God would commune with the high priest and tell him all the messages He had for Israel (Ex 25:22). Israel would be reconciled with God and He would commune with their representative. But on the next Day of Atonement, the high priest would make the same sacrifice again. 


The writer of Hebrews notes that if the sacrifice was perfect, the priest would not have to repeat it year after year. He says that Jesus Christ, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God (Heb 10:12). So, Jesus made perpetual forgiveness of sin (justification) through His single sacrifice. Paul tells us that this sacrifice saved us from the wrath or anger of God and the associated punishment of separation (Rom 5:9-10). 


Paul reasons that if we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son while we were still sinners, we will have that relationship eternally now that Jesus has sat down at the foot of God. But even more, the joy we experience through justification is multiplied in God through Jesus because we have received His atonement, I like the way that word breaks down into “at-one-ment” and establishes the fact that we have become “at one” with God, fully reconciled (Ron 5:11).  This is how justification equal reconciliation. The separation between God and man has been removed forever for those who believe.


How can we better celebrate us becoming one with God than at Easter? The message of Easter is that “He has Risen!” The significance of that Resurrection is that God has accepted the sacrifice of His Son as the full payment for all of man’s sin. When Jesus spoke the word tetelestai from the cross, He declared the full account or debt of man’s sin – past, present and future – has been paid (John 19:30). Paul said in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Do you have the peace of knowing this is God’s promise for you?


“Lord Jesus, I believe you have provided all that is needed for us to live in peace with God forever. You said through John “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn - not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:12-13, NLT). Lord, I believe and want that peace.”

Palm Sunday Devotional (April 5, 2020)

“My Time Has Not Yet Come”

“My Time Has Not Yet Come”

“My Time Has Not Yet Come”

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As Jesus began His ministry with the first miracle at Cana of Galilee, He had to remind those around Him that His time had not yet come. Recall when His mother approached Him to ask Him to solve the problem of the wedding host running out of wine, Jesus said “Mine hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). That was not the last time He would have to keep people from revealing He was the Messiah of God before the time was right.

As He preached and worked miracles, large crowds of people would follow Him (see image). They would want to exalt Him and name Him as the promised One, but Jesus refused saying, “My time is not yet come” (John 7:6, 8). Each time they approached Him to crown Him King, He would depart from Israel until the crowds calmed down. He left Galilee for Tyre and Sidon, the Decapolis and Gadara (see references on the slide). But there was a day when Jesus announced to His closest followers that His time had come. He told two of them to go ahead of Him into Jerusalem where they would find a donkey tied outside a man’s house. That date was 10 Nissan, AD 32, but what was so special about that day?

More than 530 years earlier, a Jewish prophet held in captivity in Babylon would pen words that predicted the specific date the “Messiah would come.”  The Scripture said, “Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler - the Anointed One - comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times” (Dan 9:25, NLT). The text drives three obvious questions: 1. When does the counting of the time start? 2. Exactly how long does the counting continue, and 3. When does the counting end? 

On slide 2, the start date, “the command given to rebuild Jerusalem” is documented by Nehemiah, the prophet. King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah the order to rebuild on 1 Nissan of the 20th year of his reign, or 14 March, BC 445 on our calendars (Neh 2:1-6).

The time starts at that point and continues through 7 plus 62 sets of seven years each or 69 sets of seven. That equates to 69 x 7 or 483 years. The prophetic year used 360 days rather than the 365 we use today, so 483 x 360 equals 173,880 days. That is the time between the command to re build Jerusalem and the appearance of the Messiah.

Matt 21, John 12, Dan 9:25

“My Time Has Not Yet Come”

“My Time Has Not Yet Come”

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If this is correct and Jesus is the promised Messiah, 10 Nissan, AD 32 should be a significant date in history. Slide 2 has the numbers using our Julian calendar. The dates would be 14 March, 445 BC through 10 Nissan, 32 AD. The years between the two dates total 476 years. Using our standard 365 days per years, that is 173,740 days. We must add the 24 days between 14 March and 6 April bringing the total to 173,764 days. The final adjustment is to add in the 116 extra days for leap years. The final total is exactly 173,880 days just as Daniel’s prophecy said. There were no other prophets who rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey that day, so Jesus is the only candidate according to Bible prophecy. 

Of course, Jesus’ fulfilling of this specific prophecy is only one of the more than 300 He fulfilled from the Old Testament. Some count more than 430 prophecies if duplicate prophecies are not eliminated. The probability that any one person could fulfill all of these prophecies and NOT be the Messiah is statistically impossible. So, as we study the Palm Sunday message of Jesus’ Triumphant Entry, relax in the full knowledge that we are studying a miraculous fulfillment of prophecy, and a demonstration how absolutely accurate God’s Word is.

Acknowledging that you are finally convinced that Jesus is the Christ, and that He paid the complete price to free you from all sin, has a particular advantage on Palm Sunday. That is, you can celebrate your conversion experience by asking to be Baptized on Easter Sunday. Think of it: Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it could be the celebration of your being born anew; a picture of the death of who you used to be, and a resurrection of the new person Jesus died to make possible. See if these words state the feeling you are having right now. If yes, tell me or one of our church leaders and we will help you move on from there. Paul said if we would believe in our hearts the Lord Jesus Christ and confess with our mouths, we would be saved from all our sins (Rom 10:9-10). This Palm Sunday can be YOUR day.


“Lord Jesus, I believe you paid the penalty for all my sin when you went to the cross on Calvary in my place. I want to accept you for all you claim to be. I want to wear your righteousness for the rest of my life.”

Justified (Romans 3:21-26, April 3, 2020)

Through Faith (Romans 3:21-22)

Through Faith (Romans 3:21-22)

Through Faith (Romans 3:21-22)

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Introduction

Our study of Romans picks up after we finished Chapters 1 and 2 in class. In Chapter 1, Paul spoke to the Church at Rome saying that Gentiles were totally and completely evil and far from God (Rom 1: 18ff). You can imagine how the church, mostly Jewish converts at this time, all shouted, “AMEN!”  All Jews believed that Gentiles were unholy and hopeless of holiness short of converting to Judaism.


But then we looked at Chapter 2 which said that those (converted Jews) who claim to have the Word of God and teach others the godly teaching from the Scriptures, yet STILL commit sin are even worse than the Gentiles who sin. Those who have the knowledge of God’s teachings and commit sin do so in the full knowledge of their sin. Paul said, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Rom 2:1).  Paul returns to the simple statement of what a true Jew is, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom 2:28-29).  


Early in Chapter 3 Paul establishes the fact that all people are guilty of sin against God. He said, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:19).  It is in this spirit of total sinfulness and guilt that Jews and Gentiles, alike are found guilt before God. 


But our study for today is the first two slides entitled “Justified” (Rom 3:21-4:3). This slide says we are justified through faith and uses Romans 3:21-24 as the focal passage. 


Verse 3:21 tells us that God’s complete righteousness and full holiness is shown by the fact that God pre-existed the Law and Prophets, but He measured up beyond the Law and Prophets levels. God is more righteous than the Law and more righteous than the Prophets call for. Now, verse 22 says that level of righteousness is available to us by having faith in Jesus. So, that level of righteousness and holiness can be the way God sees us if we believe (have faith in) Jesus’ substitutionary death for us. In other words, God promises to accept the sacrifice of Jesus as our sacrifice if we believe God’s promise. 


Through Faith (Rom 3:23-24)

Through Faith (Romans 3:21-22)

Through Faith (Romans 3:21-22)

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Paul says later in Romans “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Rom 10:9-10, NLT).


So, instead of living by the Law, which is impossible, we can accept Jesus’ sacrifice as our own and receive the righteousness equal to God’s righteousness. This is the doctrine of atonement, propitiation, substitution. It is the crux of the promises of God in the Old Testament and the New. It is the Good News of the Gospel. That’s how we can be justified freely through the redemption offered by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. 


Now, the second slide continues from verses 3:21 & 22 into verses 3:23 & 24.  Verse 23 is the summary verse of all that has come before. That is, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). The first part of this verse expresses the total and universal natures of sin, i.e., it is common to all people forever. There are no exclusions among men except Jesus of Nazareth. The second part of the verse establishes the standard or basis of measurement of man’s righteousness. That is the only acceptable standard is to have a personal righteousness that is equal to God’s righteousness. Obviously, we all fall short of that standard. 


But verse 24 comes as the finishing of this first bullet and says that we are justified by faith. In other words, Gods standard of righteousness is met through Jesus’ sacrifice and is available to us if we believe He got it for us. That is the definition of faith. The writer of Hebrews defines faith as “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Heb 11:1, NLT). So, solving the totality of sin in our lives, whether it is past, present or future sin, is achieved by the death of Jesus at Calvary. But it is only available to us if we believe, or have faith, that Jesus achieved it for us. If we believe in our hearts and tell someone (publicly confess) that Jesus is our Lord, sin is no longer counted against us. Paul says in Romans 8:1a. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). Put simply, Jesus paid for all out sin, past, present and future with the words from the cross, “It is finished” (Greek: telelestai) (John 19:20). All we to do to get it is believe it, accept it and say it publicly.


“Lord Jesus, I believe you paid the penalty for all my sin when you went to the cross on Calvary in my place. I want to accept you for all you claim to be. I want to wear your righteousness for the rest of my life.” 

In Jesus (Romans 3:25)

In Jesus (Romans 3:25)

In Jesus (Romans 3:25)

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Our study of Romans picks up after we finished Chapters 1 and 2 in class. In Chapter 1, Paul spoke to the Church at Rome saying that Gentiles were totally and completely evil and far from God (Rom 1: 18ff). You can imagine how the church, mostly Jewish converts at this time, all shouted, “AMEN!”  All Jews believed that Gentiles were unholy and hopeless of holiness short of converting to Judaism.


But then we looked at Chapter 2 which said that those (converted Jews) who claim to have the Word of God and teach others the godly teaching from the Scriptures, yet STILL commit sin are even worse than the Gentiles who sin. Those who have the knowledge of God’s teachings and commit sin do so in the full knowledge of their sin. Paul said, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Rom 2:1, KJV).  Paul returns to the simple statement of what a true Jew is, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom 2:28-29).


Early in Chapter 3 Paul establishes the fact that all people are guilty of sin against God. He said, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:19). It is in this spirit of total sinfulness and guilt that Jews and Gentiles alike, are found guilty before God. 


But our study last time showed us that we are justified by faith (Rom 3:21-24). The study reinforced Paul’s statement in Ephesians (2:8-9), “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” In today’s language “you are saved by the grace of God. You can’t get it for yourself through behavior, payment or sorrow. Rather, it is the personal gift from God so, none of you have any right to brag about it.” 


Now, Paul goes on to tell us through Whom that grace is available. He says it is through Jesus (Rom 3:25-26). The first slide expands on verse 3:25. Paul makes it very clear that God sent Jesus (God in flesh) to be the propitiation for us through His blood. The Greek word for propitiation is hilastērion (Strong’s). It speaks of a substitutionary exchange of a sinless and perfect sacrifice for a sinful, imperfect and guilty subject. It is fitting that Strong’s definition includes a reference to the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant. While Exodus 25 speaks of its construction and installation in the Tabernacle, Hebrews 9 provides the transitional information relevant for this study. 


The writer describes the content of the Ark as three representations of Israel’s rejection of God’s law (the second set of Ten Commandments), God’s provision (a pot of manna) and God’s leadership (Aaron’s rod). As God looked down upon the Mercy Seat on the lid of the Ark, He could see the sin of His people; the tablets, the pot and the rod. But God offered to allow the High Priest of Israel to come into the Holy of Holies, where the Ark was kept in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple not without a pail of blood from an unblemished (perfect and sinless) animal. After he spread that blood over the Mercy Seat, He said He would no longer be able to see the sin of man and would come to speak with the High Priest the words He had for Israel (Ex 25:22).   

In Jesus (Rom 3:26)

In Jesus (Romans 3:25)

In Jesus (Romans 3:25)

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The writer of Hebrews says if that blood was sufficient to erase the sins of mankind, it would not have had to be offered over and over, year after year. But JESUS came once and for all time to offer His blood upon the mercy seat and sat down at the side of the Father forever (Heb 9:25-28).


It is interesting that one of Jesus’ final words on the cross was “It is finished” (John 19:30). Strong’s tells us that the three English word represent the Greek word teleo. Unfortunately, Strong’s takes shortcuts because they can’t list all the tenses of the words used. A good Greek Lexicon will show that word is telelestai, or teleo with past, present, future, perfect and passive verbs included. Teleo was the common word written on invoices of Jesus’ time meaning the bill was paid. Tetelestai says the bill was completely discharged for the past, present and forever. So, Jesus’ final words did not simply mean the crucifixion was over. Rather, it meant He had resolved the sin and the resulting separation it caused, He reconciled us to His Father forever more! To get it for ones self, all one must do is believe Jesus did it: “For by grace ye are saved, through faith…”


The last bullet on this slide answers the question of how big or sufficient is Jesus’ sacrifice. It is God’s OWN righteousness we are offered. There is none greater!


Now, the second slide continues from verse 3:25 to verse 3:26. Paul clarifies that the operational force of gaining that righteousness is none other than God’ only Son, Jesus. Those who will believe in Jesus allow Him, who is fully just, to be the one who justifies of us all.


Here Paul makes the statement that God’s righteousness offered through the blood of Jesus is the complete and final sacrifice ever needed. In fact, he says, the only One who is completely just, completely sinless, is the same One who is the One who justifies those of us who are not. The measure or criteria for salvation is determined and appropriated by the same Person. There can be no discussion of whether the sacrifice is enough or sufficient for our salvation because the One who measures its sufficiency is the same One who determine what is sufficient. 


Think of it this way: if we stood before an Earthly judge, he would consider the amount of punishment we deserved. He would decide the place of punishment and whether there was anyway to have time off for good behavior. But in this case, God establish the penalty of sin long ago (Gen 2:17, Rom 6:23). Throughout the Old Testament, God levied that death upon perfect animals, but in these last days, He levied that death upon His own Son (Heb 9:13-14). 


Now, we all understand that the blood has been offered long ago. There is no additional sacrifice that can or will be offered. So, the question for each of us is simple, will we recognize the sacrifice of Christ that God gave for us as the only sacrifice that achieves the level of forgiveness required to make us holy? We all recognize the guilt. We feel the pain of separation from the perfect love that God has for us. Can we match our need to His provision and settle the separation forever. See if these words summarize your feelings about what God has offered and your need for it.


“Lord Jesus, I believe you paid the penalty for all my sin when you went to the cross on Calvary in my place. I want to accept you for all you claim to be. I want to wear your righteousness for the rest of my life.”