Sat, May 31st - 1:11PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
God forbid: yea let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged(3:4).
Because the faithfulness of God is true and cannot be changed the unbeliever that raises this question is a liar and God is going to make him out to be a liar one day. This is very important, as we see in I John 5:10, "He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that does not believe, God has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son." To not believe that God gave His only begotten Son to die for you places you in the position of saying that God is a liar. It is that simple.
But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who takes vengeance? (I speak as a man)(3:5).
By some deceptive argument it might be said that since the nation's unbelief simply puts in contrast the faithfulness of God, God is not justified in punishing that which brings greater glory to Himself. Paul faced severe criticism in preaching the gospel of grace. If God uses sin to get glory to Himself, then He should not punish the sinner. Of course, even today we find those who use this as an excuse to continue sinning. This point will be seen again in Romans 6:1 and I'll dicuss it more then. Paul asked his question in such a way in the Greek that it demanded a negative answer. God is not unjust. Paul says, "I speak as a man." That does not mean that Paul is not writing this specific passage by inspiration, but that he is presenting this question from the human standpoint.
The whole point is if my unrighteousness reveals the marvelous, wonderfully infinite faithfulness of God in the grace of God, then has God the right to judge me? Each of us must ask and answer this question. Paul in this passage made it extremely clear to all of his readers and listeners that he was preaching salvation by the grace of God.
God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?(3:6).
Again, if God would have no right to judge us because our sin simply reveals the grace of God, then He would have no right to judge any person because they would reveal something of the common grace of God.
The answer is once more an emphatic denial of any such argument that God is unjust. Once more the question gets put that if this particular sin simply enhances the glory of God and the grace of God, then all sin would do the exact same thing. Therefor, God would not be able to judge the world. He would abdicate His throne as Judge of all the earth. This argument would claim that Adolf Hitler ought not to be judged. Does this make any sense to you? All of us would admit that there are some people who ought to be judged. You might not believe that you ought to be, but you believe somebody ought to be judged. We have an innate sense within ourselves today of this belief and it is God who has put it there.
For if the truth of God has more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why am I still also judged as a sinner(3:7)?
Here "lie" means moral falsehood. Each individual could claim exemption from the judgment of God because his sin had advanced the glory of God. Paul painstakingly covers this subject as we continue over the next three verses for these are arguments that unbelievers have resorted to over the centuries for not repenting of their sinful behavior. Next time, beloved, I will write about how you do not have to take God's salvation offer. Really, it is true. Until then, peace and grace be with you this fine weekend!
Fri, May 30th - 12:34PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
The theme of this chapter is the availability of a righteousness from God Almighty.
What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of being circumcised?(3:1).
"Profit" means that which is surplus, which is excess, and the question has to do with the outward badge of God's covenant with Israel's Jews, circumcision. At first glance it would seem that Paul is dangerously erasing a distinction which God has made. If Jew and Gentile are on the same footing before God, what then is the advantage of the Jew and what good is circumcision?
This is the same question that is asked today of Christians. The gospel that I preach says that church membership has no advantage for salvation, that any rite or ritual you might go through is meaningless as far as salvation is concerned. God has the entire world shut up on His cross. He's not asking anyone to join anything or do anything. What God IS doing is asking the lost sinners to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and he shall be saved. Until a person answers that question, God hasn't anything else to say to that person. After the person is saved, then God will talk to him bout church membership and about baptism. People say today, "Doesn't my church, my creed,, my membership, my tithing, my baptism help toward my salvation?" The answer: no, it does not help you one iota toward salvation. But it you are saved, then all of these things are a badge, and they help communicate to the rest of the world who you now are. If you are not saved, then church membership and baptism become a disgrace, instead of being sacred they become profane. So, just as circumcision was of no advantage to the Jew if he did not believe in God, so too, the Christian today has no advantage in claiming salvation if they do not believe on Jesus Christ.
Much every way: chiefly, because that to them were committed the oracles of God(3:2).
See here, we are told that the Jew has a definite advantage since they were given the promises of God, not yet fulfilled, The faithlessness of the Jews does not destroy the promises of God. His promises are eternal. Said advantage created a responsibility. We need to tread carefully here for there is great confusion in this area. There are men who teach that there is no difference between Judaism of the Old Testament and the church in the New Testament. In this book it is made clear that God not only gave to nation Israel the oracles of God but in the Word of God was something special for them. God is not through with nation Israel, simply read the book of Revelation. If God did not have a future for Israel, why would He have any future for any of us? All God's promises are in the same Word of God. God is going to make good John 3:16, and He is also going to make good His covenant with Abraham in chapter 12 of Genesis. The Old Testament, the record of God's oracles, contains not one promise either of or to the church as an organization. It does not predict a church; it foreshadows a kingdom in which the Jew shall be head and not lose his national distinction as he does in the church. That might be a profound statement. I do not know. Is Israel merely a shadow of the church, and now that the type is fulfilled it vanishes from our sight? Or is that viewpoint unscriptural? Perhaps Israel is not the shadow fulfilled and absorbed in the church, but it is the basis on which the church rests? For Paul is telling all of us today that the Jew has an advantage. God still has a future for the Jew, and his faithlessness will not put aside God's promises.
For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God of no effect?(3:3).
Shall the lack of faith of some cancel out the faithfulness of God? Here is the argument of many, that if the advantage of the Jews did not serve the intended purpose, doesn't this mean that God's faithfulness to His people is also annulled? No. God's promise to send Israel the Redeemer was not cancelled out by their willful disobedience and rejection of Him. All of God's promises for the future of the nation will be fulfilled exactly as He said they would, inspite of their unbelief. You may not like that, I understand perfectly. But I thank God that He keeps His promises inspite of my unbelief, otherwise I would still be lost and on a oneway road to destruction in the lake of fire.
I will stop there for today, beloved. Next time I will cover Paul's response to this last question that he posed. Paul drives his argument to its logical conclusion via argumentum ad absurdum. Paul in this addresses the concept of the end justifying the means. Until next time, peace and grace be with you all.
Wed, May 28th - 7:41PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Let's begin looking at the apostle Paul's question:
You therefore which teach another, don't you teach yourself? you that preach that a man ought not to steal, do you steal?
You who say that a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? you that abhor idols, do you commit sacrilege?
You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you"(2:21-24).
Quite a series of questions. Paul first of all mentions three common, or basic, sins: (1) immorality-sins against others; (2) sensuality-sins against self; (3) idolatry-sins against God Himself.
"Teach not yourself?" In plain english, "Do you practice what you preach?" Or do you live differently from what you say. "Do you commit sacrilege?" This means robbing temples. Anything taken this way was sacriligious. When the Jews were in their Babylonian captivity they were cured of making idols out of gold. They were not given to idolatry in that particular form anymore. However, they did not mind handling merchandise that came from the heathen temples and selling it for profit in their shops. How about you? Do you condemn certain things while at your worship service, but at work you handle the exact same things in order to gain a profit? Hypocrisy.
Now Paul has already spoken about these three sins in the inverse order back in chapter 1. Idolatry was the absolute climax in sinfulness for the Jews. How about us today? Do you and I make a mockery of the person of Jesus Christ? What is the gospel according to you? According to me? Is it remaining faithful to the Word of God? Or is it transforming into something less?
Now we come to the extremely vital point:
For circumcision verily profits, if you keep the law: but if you break the law, your circumcision is made nonexistant(2:25).
That is a slightly different version of the verse yet it makes the thought very clear. For the Jews, circumcision gained them very much IF they kept the law. Everything hinged upon keeping the law. Their covenant depended upon them doing this. If they failed to obey the law then their physical circumcision was voided of any usefulness. We all know about the physical aspects of circumcision with the Jewish people. We tend to forget about what it stood for spiritually. The act of circumcision was the "badge" of the Mosaic system-and that is all that it was. There was no merit in the rite itself. There was no salvation gained in the rite itself. That "badge" simply indicated that the man believed the Mosaic Law. Now for them to become transgressors of the Law placed them in positions of disrepute. That which should have been sacred, now became profane, polluted.
What does this have to do with Christians today, you ask? Everything in the entire world. Water baptism is rightly a sacred rite in the church, IF it is the outward expression of a work of God in the heart of that person. But it is a mockery if the person who is baptized gives no evidence of true salvation. This also is true of church membership. Church membership can be profaned due to the nature of the lives being lived out by its members. We can profane the cross of Christ, and His blood. It is all the same thing. Listen to Paul:
Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision(2:26)?
Perhaps if I use a different figure of speech it will become clearer? If my wife loses her wedding ring, that does not mean she becomes unmarried to me. Marriage is more than a wedding ring, although the ring may be a symbol for it.
And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge you, who by the letter and circumcision do transgress the law(2:27)?
Still using the wedding ring picture, to wear the ring speaks of something sacred, something set apart by God. But to be unfaithful to that which it stands for makes the wedding ring a disgrace. So to, circumcision ought to stand for something sacred.
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision simply outward and physical.
But he is a Jew, which is one on the inside; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God(2:28-29).
Whoa! There is the slam! Here is Paul ,who used to be a Pharisee, verbally coldcocking the Jewish listeners! These Jewish men were of the opinion that once they were circumcised they were home free spiritually. God would take them home to heaven when they died. Paul comes along and verbally punches them in the nose, and then punches them squarely in the stomach. Physical circumcision is nothing more than, and never had been, anything more than a "badge" showing the belief in God. This is what the Mosaic Law clearly stated centuries earlier except that man decided to transform what God actually said into something else entirely. Look to Deuteronomy: "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked"(10:16). I suspect that there were a few influential Jewish men at some point in time who decided to make that scripture a wee bit more comfortable for them and all following generations. This verse clearly directs a person to look inside themselves to discover whether or not they believe in God, and today, in Christ. The Mormons, despite all the good works that they do, have changed the scriptures to suit themselves and not God. They have made a mockery of His written Word and disrespected Jesus Christ who is the second Person of the Trinity. The same holds true for the Jehovah's Witnesses.
So, are we Christians failing God in a similar fashion today? Is our declaration of faith in Christ simply on the outside? Or is our proclamation of faith in Christ driven by an inner belief in Him? Are we circumcised in our hearts, or not? That is where God always looks, to our hearts and not to outward appearances. How is your heart today? Are you stiff-necked? Stubborn? Refuse to change anything about yourself? Refuse to put your children's needs ahead of your personal wants? Refuse to acknowledge that your addiction/s are negatively affecting you kids? If so, do not think that your outward pledge of belief in Christ, designed to get people off of your case, will change any thing in your life. Nothing can change for the better since you have not changed and the only way to for you to change is to accept Christ into your heart, allow Him to circumcise the foreskin of your sinful heart. Allow Him to cleanse you and forgive you of everything bad and evil that you have ever done. Find peace for yourself and your family. Find it today, find it right now. All you need is to ask Him to forgive you for being such a sinful person, tell Him that you believe He came and allowed Himself to be crucified in your place. Tell Him that you love Him. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine at this point. Why not find out just how much He loves you?
Well, beloved, that is all for tonight. Next time I will begin with chapter 3 where Paul continues on in his blitz against Judaism. It is not that Paul, or God for that matter, hates the Jews. It is that God is trying forcefully to wake up His people to reality. And isn't God still doing that today with all of us? Sure. Until then, peace and grace be with you all.
Tue, May 27th - 1:12PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.
(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified(2:12-13).
Here is another great principle by which God intends to judge mankind. The Jews were given the Law and the Gentiles do not have the Law. This covers everybody who ever exists. But these two verses are not the beginning and the end of this principle. We need to continue on with reading the next verse or two:
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)(2:14-15).
Have any of you heard people tell you that the native tribes are lost because they haven't heard of Christ and haven't accepted Him? Friends, they are lost because they are sinners. That is the basic condition of the entire human race. Verse 13 informs us that it is not enough to simply listen to God's Word and agree with it. One must get up and do what they hear in God's Word. We must practice what we are reading and hearing in God's Word.
God can, and surely will, judge us by our own conscience. That is why the native tribes and those who never hear about Christ will still be judged. Verses 14+15 tell us that when people naturally act the way the Law says we all ought to act then that becomes just like a law. They will then be judged according to that "law."
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel(2:16).
Too many of us believe that because we feel that we are good that we will be saved and automatically enter into heaven when we die. Too many believe that because they have grown up in "Catholic" or "Protestant" families that they automatically make it into heaven. Nothing in God's Word gives us that indication, nothing states it in fact. God is going to judge everyone, including the do-gooders. He will judge everyone by Jesus Christ who said that if a man looks upon a woman to lust after her, he is guilty of adultery (see Matthew 5:27-28). This is only one example of what is thought about it in secret. Do you want the secrets of your heart brought out into broad view of everyone? I am sure some are lovely things that you wish you had said, but there are others that are dirty, ugly, little thoughts that demeaned, belittled, denigrated others. These secret thoughts ought to force us to run as fast as we are able to Jesus Christ for salvation. What about all of the religious people? Are they getting off of the hook here?
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law(2:17-18).
God is going to judge religious people, the Jewish people in particular since theirs was a God-given religion. These two verses lay out the "religious" trap. If a person relies upon their denomination and its traditions to get them into heaven then they are in error. The Jews who do this and boast that God has mandated their admittance into heaven are in error. If any claim to know His divine will and defend those things that are excellent as pointed out in the Law, but they do not do them, then they are in error. The tendency is to become proud and self-sufficient. The Hebrews had ten advantages over all of the Gentiles, which are listed in these verses. The first five are what he was: (1) bears the name Jew; (2) rests upon the law; (3) boasts in God; (4) knows the will of God; (5) proves the things which are more excellent, being instructed out of the law.
And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which have the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law(2:19-20).
The last five advantages of the Jew are what he did: (1) art persuaded that thou thyself art a guide of the blind; (2) a light of them that are in darkness; (3) a corrector of the thoughtless or immature; (4) a teacher of babes or followers; (5) having in the Law the outward form of knowledge and truth. Can you see some similarities between the Jews of old and the Christians of today? Christians bear the name of Christ; we rest upon God's Word; we boast in Christ; we know the will of God; and we prove those things that are more excellent since we learn of them from in God's Word. Those are the five things that we are. The five things that we do are that we are persuaded that we are guides of those who can't see the truth; that we are "lights" to those who still live in sinful darkness; that we correct those who have not matured spiritually and do thoughtless deeds; we are teachers of those who have just accepted Jesus Christ; we know through the Law what knowledge and truth is. Christians can succumb to the very same trap that the Jewish people fell into. If I am a guide to the blind who stumble upon this post, I must not fool myself into believing that that is gaining me "points" with Christ. It is merely something that I ought to be doing to please my Lord and Savior. If I am honoring, loving, and sacrificing for my spouse and children then that is merely something that I ought to be doing to please my Lord and Savior and not to be gaining "points." Everything that I do, think, and say, ought to be done as if doing it to Christ. There is the bridle and bit for my unruly tongue! There is the bit for my conscience! That is how I need to go about getting things under my control, by remembering my Lord is with me always.
That is about two days worth of postings, beloved. I intended to post the first half of this yesterday but it got lost in cyberspace somewhere. It may very well still be out there orbiting some unknown computer server! Next time I will get into a section of Romans where Paul asks some questions about sins and cuts to the heart of the error of orthodox Judaism. Until then, serve one another in love and tenderness. Search out ways to care for each other, and teach each other the ways of Christ our Lord. In this fashion the lost will clearly see Jesus working in our daily lives.
Sun, May 25th - 4:13PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Who will render to every man according to his deeds(2:6).
Everyone will be rewarded of God according to what they do. Absolute justice is the criterion of judgment or rewards. No man, or woman, wants to be judged on this basis. Deeds encompasses physical accomplishments, mental thoughts, verbal utterances, and written words. Do not think that what you may have written secretly in bitterness and sent off to another person anonymously will be ignored by Almighty God. He shall weigh in His balances all of our deeds.
To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life(2:7).
Please keep in mind that a way of life is not the subject here. Instead, a way of life is the basis of judgment. The "do-gooder" will be judged according to his works. John said, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works"(Revelation 20:12). If you wish to work for eternal life you may do so. You will be judged by your works but you are also warned that they will be useless to you. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire"(Revelation 20:15). Trust Christ and your name goes into the book of life. Eternal life is not a reward for your efforts, it is a gift to those who trust Christ.
But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;
But glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile(2:8-10).
Here we can see what the consequences will be for those who are only looking out for "#1." Anyone who has clearly heard the gospel and decided to reject it out of hand is going to be judged with wrath and anger. Anyone who has done evil things will experience trouble and distress whether they are Jewish or not. Their names will not be found written in the book of life and so they shall discover that their final destination is the lake of fire. Of course, those who strive to do good, who strive to obey God and who love Him, for all them there will be glory, honor and peace. Amen!
For there is no respect of persons with God(2:11).
Here is a principle of judgment. God plays no favorites. He has no pets. All of us are alike before His throne of judgment. Justice is blindfolded, not because she is blind, but that she may not see men in either silk nor rags; all must appear alike. Church membership, a good family, being an outstanding citizen, or having a fundamental creed give no advantage before God at all. Being wealthy or poor gains one no advantage before God. Do you have the Savior, or don't you? That is the all important issue before each and every one of us on this planet.
That is all for today, my dear friends. Pray for each other this holiday weekend. Keep loved ones in your hearts and prayers. Lift them up before our God who hears our intercessions. Until next time, beloved, peace and grace be with you all.
Sat, May 24th - 9:42PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?(2:4)
We should know that the goodness of God ought to bring us to our knees before Him. But how many times do we see that it drives men from God? The psalmist was disturbed by how the wicked could prosper. God did not seem to be doing anything to them. In Psalm 73, it says, "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men...They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth...Until I went intothe sanctuary of God; then I understood their end." The wicked will face God's judgment, my friends. Do not waste time worrying and fretting over why they are skating by right now, rest assured that at the appointed time God shall deliver His holy judgment on them.
If you happen to be lost and reading this post, do not think that I am trying to take everything away from you. If you haven't trusted Christ Jesus and your only hope is in this life, you had better suck this earth like it is the water of life! Get all that you can out of it. Drink all that you can, sin all that you can, because you will not have anything in the next life. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you shall die. Take pleasure in all that you can today for no man knows what comes tomorrow. My friend, you need a Savior and the goodness of God can lead you right to Him.
But after your hardness and impenitent heart treasures up unto yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God(2:5).
Here we see a reference to what we can find in the book of Revelation. The day of wrath and revelation is spoken of frequently in that book and it is a day of divine judgment against all of those who have refused to believe in Jesus Christ. Here in Romans we see that those who refuse to repent of their sinful ways save up for themselves the wrath of God on that fateful final day of judgment in our history. It will matter not that you have died one thousand years or more before that final day. God shall bring you forth to stand before His throne in heaven and receive His divine judgment. Eternity always stands before us all. it is merely a matter of choosing where to spend it all in. Shall you spend eternity in the lake of fire, or in heaven? Personally, I have chosen heaven since I do not enjoy pain and suffering all that much, and I realized that I was living wrongly in the eyes of Christ. It is akin to traveling to a distant destination in one's car. Once realizing that you have taken a wrong turn, unless you turn back and find the correct path you will never reach your intended destination. That is how it is in this life. Heaven cannot be reached except to turn back, retrace your steps if need be, and find the correct "way."
That is all for tonight, beloved. Next time we shall continue on our "way." Until then, pray that Christ's will be done in your life, and in mine. Pray for my family as I pray for yours. Ask Christ to help us remain strong in our faith, practicing what we read in His Word. Love the saints of Christ over all of the world.
Fri, May 23rd - 12:55PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things(2:2).
Paul here seems to be saying, "We know that the judgment of God is based on reality." There are very many people today, including church members and leaders, who live in a world of unreality. They do not want to hear the truth of the gospel. They prefer to live in a world of perception and feelings. Can I trust my perceptions? No, since God tells me that faith is in those things not seen. My eyes can be fooled, my ears can mishear, my mind can be fooled also. A great many people say that they do want to study the Bible. Then, when they get into the Word of God they find what John the Revelator found in the Book of Revelation when he began to see the judgments of God handed down. When John first started out, it was thrilling, it was "sweet in his mouth." But when he ate that little book, it gave him indigestion, it was "bitter in his belly" (see Rev. 10:9-10). And so there are many Christians today who say they really want Bible study, but they do not want reality. They do not want to hear, and accept, the truth. They would much rather change that truth into untruth and lies so that they will feel better and not have to face the truth.
Now, these are principles of judgment and not of salvation. Man has an innate, or natural knowledge that he must be judged by a higher power than himself. The coming judgment of Christ is a thing that every man out of Christ either dreads, or denies. Scripture is quite clear on judgment. In Acts 17:31 read this: "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." Remember how Paul reasoned with Felix about righteousness and self-control and judgment to come? Felix became so frightened he did not want to hear any more about it. The judgment of God is in stark contrast to man's judgment. Mankind does not have access to all of the facts and thus his judgments are partial and prejudiced. God's judgment takes in all of the facts; God knows the actual state of mankind. On that basis He will judge us.
Do you feel that you are a moral person? "Thou art weighed in the balances..."(Daniel 5:27), is God's answer to every person that boasts of their morality. I believe the great delusion of the cultured person is that the depraved person must be judged, but they're confident that they will escape because they are different. Most people believe that Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin ought to be judged, but they should escape. God will judge everyone as He sees them, not as we see ourselves.
And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgement of God?(2:3)
Robert Govett has called attention to the four ways of escape which are available to the person who breaks human laws:
1. His offence will not become known.
2. He may escape beyond the jurisdiction of the court.
3. After arrest, there may be some legal technicality which will cause a breakdown of the legal procedure.
4. After conviction, he may escape from prison and stay under cover.
Some people continue to believe that these means of escape are available to them in regard to divine judgment from God. What basis they rely upon I cannot tell you. It is definitely faulty for there is no where to hide from the sight of God. We cannot excape beyond God's jurisdiction. God knows everything that happens, knows about it before it even happens. There will be no technicalities that will get you "off." There will be no way to escape from the lake of fire. Perhaps this is why it is written in Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation...?"
Well, beloved, that is all for today. I am sure there is enough here to cause you to ponder and scratch your chin today. Consider this: Every time we open our mouths we utter either words of life, or words of death. We are honoring God or we are dishonoring Him. It is a black and white issue, unlike how the world likes to feel about things today. Situational ethics, cultural morality, legislated morality, all of these things today are claimed to be non-absolute. The claim is made that no truth can be known, that there are no absolutes any more. That there are not black and white issues anymore. Man says these things, God says otherwise. Perception versus reality. Anyone can claim that God does not exist, but it does not make it true. There still remain consequences to all of our actions no matter how much we may try to deny that truth. Until next time, be true to God's Word and determine within your heart to do what Jesus asks you to do. Do not procrastinate, for time is running out and cannot be reclaimed once it is gone, believe me I know what I am talking about in this area! Peace and Grace be with you all.
Thu, May 22nd - 3:18PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
I have not mentioned my latest picture at the top of my blog but have you noticed how similar it looks to an atomic bomb cloud? A thunderstorm is like an explosion in our atmosphere, releasing tremendous amounts of energy. It is truly awesome in nature, and in appearance.
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(2:1).
And here is put before us the very important issue of this chapter of Romans. Keep in mind that Paul is not writing about salvation but is talking about sin and the basis on which God will judge men. These principles of judgment are not the basis of salvation; they are the basis of judgment. I do not want to be judged by them, I doubt that any of you desire to be judged by them either. Scripture presents the gospel as the only means of attaining eternal life. To reject the Son of God immediately brings upon you the judgment of God, and the only verdict here is "guilty." "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life"(I John 5:12). And He also says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life"(John 5:24). And in John 3:17-18 which gets overlooked: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." So today, as in all days, folk who do not have Christ are lost. You might be a very religious person, you might be a very good person, but without Christ, my friend, you are utterly lost.
"Thou art inexcusable, O man" contains the Greek word anthrope which translates into "man." It is a generic term used to refer to both men and women. It includes both Jews and Gentiles and refers to mankind in general. Paul passes from speaking in general terms to becoming very specific. "Whosoever thou art that judgest" switches from the masses of mankind to the individual person. He is speaking to any person of the human race, but it is limited to those who judge others. Here the word for "judge" carries the though of judging with an adverse verdict. The implication is that condemnation is ocurring. Therefore this question is raised here: What should be the the attitude of believers today toward this awful, horrible group of people who are mentioned in Romans 1? The answer is this: We ought to want them to get saved; we should try to get the gospel to them; they are poor, lost creatures. It should all be done in tenderness and love. This should be our attitude, while making it very plain and clear that they need to be saved and delivered from perversion, addiction, and/or immorality.
"For thou that judgest doest the same things" may give the wrong impression. "Same" is the Greek word auta, and the meaning is not identical things, but things that are as bad in God's sight as the awful, depraved acts of the lost which are offensive to the cultured and refined sinner. Let's illustrate this. There was a man who was not saved and he said that he didn't believe that hell could be heated hot enough for Hitler. My friends, he was sitting in judgment. He was taking the place of God. We use society's standards today, and it varies. If someone does not measure up to the standard of your particular group, you condemn him/her. There are churches where members can get by with lying, with being gossipers, and with being dishonest, but they couldn't get by with smoking a cigarette! They would be condemned for that. We need to be very careful when we judge others, for we assume the position of judge. God is saying here that by the same right that you and I have to judge other people by our standards, He has the right to judge us by His standards. Therefore, we need to be sure that we use God's standards in judging others.
Some people give the impression that heaven will be a better place when they get there. How is that to be true since earth has not been a better place while they were here? God won't judge us by our personal standards, He will judge everyone according to His divine standards. That ought to begin to move each of us for we do not come close to meeting God's standards. This brings to remembrance John 8:7 where Jesus puts this query to the scribes and Pharisees: So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. These people wanted to stone this woman to death, to condemn her as being more sinful than any of themselves. Jesus simply forced all of them to face up to the sobering fact that none of them were in a position to throw a single stone in her direction for all of them had committed some sin during their lifetime. Stones could be cast at them likewise, so they all meandered off from their confrontation with Jesus. Was Jesus saying that this poor woman had committed no sin? Heaven forbid! Jesus turned and advised the woman to go and sin no more. He told her to stop being involved in adultery. So, we do not condemn anyone who is sinning but rather, we point out the sin and advise them to stop sinning. We advise them to repent of their sinful lives and turn to Christ, accept Him as their Lord and Savior. We pray for the Lord to speak to their heart, to bring others into their lives to speak the gospel message to them also. We entreat Christ to call them to Him, to send His holy angels to protect these people from themselves and from other, evil people.
I will end there for today, beloved. Next time I will continue with the next couple of verses, or so. Until then, if you have the ability to help someone who is in need, then please help them. Jesus Christ desires for us to do this on an ongoing basis. Words are fine, up to a point. Eventually words must be backed up by actions performed. That is the reality of what James preaches to us from his epistle. Do not simply hear God's Word, but go out and actually do it.
Wed, May 21st - 1:18PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Let's look at "covenantbreakers." The Greek word is asunthetos which means faithless or covenant breaker. Our current dictionary definition for "faithless" gives us this: not true to allegiance or duty; treacherous, disloyal; not to be relied upon. Faithless applies to any failure to keep a promise or pledge or any breach of allegiance or loyalty. These words indicate that these sorts of people are untrustworthy. They will pledge themselves with no intention to follow through over time. They will say what you want to hear so that you will leave them alone. Or, they intend to deliberately mislead you. When it comes to spiritual matters, these people are the ones who tear and rend entire congregations into oblivion. They are the ones who fuel church splits, the firing of pastors, the demotion of elders. They will usually be the ones who refuse to forgive anyone who disagrees with them. We believers need discernment in order to spot these people when they appear amongst our brethren. Wolves in sheep's clothing.
"Without natural affection" is translated from the Greek astorgos which means inhuman, unloving, without natural affection. The first two can be found in II Timothy 3:3. This condition is scarey to me. To consider that there are people walking along our streets in this country who have no ability to naturally be affectionate with others, that they are unloving and so much so that they no longer are human. I suppose this category contains those people who never were able to develop attachments to their parents, or siblings. They are antisocial, and consider themselves outside of the laws that govern others in society. They are like isolated islands drifting through our culture, often similar to a stick of dynamite just waiting for its fuse to be lit so that it can explode. When that explosion does take place many, many people can be injured or even killed for the person without natural affection has a lack of those feelings that normally prevent us from doing injury to others. For anyone who lacks affection they ought to go to Jesus Christ's words and discover how to love themselves and also why they should love others. It is not an easy task, to relearn something that has been missing in one's life, but it is necessary if one is to have any chance at all of making it to heaven.
"Implacable" comes from the Greek aspondos which means without a treaty or covenant; cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant. Our dictionary defintion is this: not capable of being appeased, significantly changed, or mitigated. No amount of concessions will change the opinions or actions of such people. You cannot reach a "peace treaty" or bury the hatchet with this sort of person. They will always have a grudge against you, against Christ, and against the Church of God. We, as saints, must come to realize this truth. Jesus warned us that the more that we stand for God, the more resistant will lost sinners who have hardened their hearts become to the gospel message. We will be persecuted for Jesus' name sake. Those solidly in league with Satan will become more and more implacable, unable, and unwilling to change their thinking. They believe the lie: God is evil, a tyrant who orders entire nations to be eradicated through slaughter.
Finally, we come to "unmerciful." This word is translated from the Greek aneleemon which means without mercy, merciless. Our dictionary definition is this: having or showing no mercy, pitiless. That is not too filling. How about if we look at what mercy means? Definition: compassion or forbearance shown; lenient or compassionate treatment; a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion; compassion shown to an offender or to one subject to one's power. I can spot God's mercy here; Christ came and died for our sins. We offended God's Law and since we are subject to God's power we would expect to be asked to pay the bill owed. Jesus Christ substituted Himself in our place and paid our debt to God. Mercy. So then, there are those who have no mercy inside of themselves for both themselves or for others. They do not have any pity within themselves for others who are in need of some pity, some compassion. They will turn their back on the unfortunate, walk away unconcerned. They will drag any and all to court in order to sue them and obtain compensation for perceived wrongs, whether or not the object of their wrath is even capable of paying. Whether or not it would force a person to forfeit their home and make them homeless. These people simply do not care. "I have been wronged, and I demand justice!" is their cry before the judge in our courts.
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them(1:32).
Man has a revelation from God here, but he flagrantly defies this judgment against such sins. Man continues to practice them and applauds and approves those who do these sinful things. This is the end of chapter one of Romans.
In chapter 2 we are shown that God will judge self-righteous and religious people. There are many people like the man on the top of the hill who looks down at the man at the bottom of the hill and says, "Something should be done for that poor fellow. We ought to start a mission down there. We should start giving him soup and clothes and a shower. I am living on the top of the hill, and I do not need anything." Whether at the bottom or top of the hill the personal need is the same. To meet the demands of God. The man at the bottom of the hill will probably see his need sooner than the man at the top of the hill. Religious people, self-righteous people, and the so-called good people, need a Saviour. Here in this next chapter God puts down certain princles by which He is going to judge "good" people. Whereas chapter 1 revealed the unrighteousness of man, the next chapter reveals the self-righteousness of man. Until then, peace and grace be with you all. Be a pursuer of peace, for the peacemakers will be the children of God.
Tue, May 20th - 2:30PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Here we come to an interesting phrase. "Inventors of evil things," pricks our ears, intrigues us. What can possibly be meant by such a turn of speech? If we look at the Greek words we gain some insight into what God is trying to get us to understand here. The Greek word for inventor is epheuretes which means a discoverer. The word translated here as "evil" is the Greek kakos which means intrinsically worthless. So we have warning given out against those people who discover and promote worthless things instead of promoting the love of God. These are things which mislead others from finding God, or are things which misdirect our focus from being just on Jesus Christ(i.e. calling Mary the Queen of Heaven and praying to her for intercession before God the Father), or they are things which cause masses of people to doubt how this world was first formed by God. These could also be groups of people who invent slightly untrue versions of faith and teach them to others. Examples of this: Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Catholicism. I understand that that comment makes some feel like I am an intolerant person. But if they are going to borrow from God's Bible and not remain true to what is written originally, then they open themselves up to this sort of commentary. Their forms of revised faith merely confuse everyone as to just what is Christianity. Confusion is not of God, it is of Satan and thus we can pinpoint who it is from and what its true purpose is intended for. I am trying to be as unconfusing as I can possibly be.
Our next phrase is quite apparant, "disobedient to parents." The Greek word apeithes translated here as disobedient means "unpersuadable." These are those people whose parents never have been able to persuade them to obey. If told to stop, they keep on running. If told to be quiet, they continue to speak. They are quick to argue "why?" Instead of doing and THEN questioning as to why, they prefer to disobey and debate the issue. My grandchildren daily illustrate this problem. If told to stop because they are running and I can see the accident that is plainly awaiting them five feet from them, they choose to continue to run instead of obeying. The result? Bruise on the forehead from smacking into a doorknob. Or tripping on shoes someone else left out in the middle of the floor. Or being stung by angry wasps from the nest that the running person foolishly disturbed. All avoidable injuries simply by obeying a parent. When this continues into adult years the individual becomes disobedient to authority figures in general. Why should they listen and do what they are being instructed? They have not up to this point in their short lives! This, I personally believe, derives from how children are raised in the home. If they are allowed to do whatever they wish to, they shall become disrespectful and disobedient to their parents. Set boundaries and standards and then enforce them consistently. Obedient children just do not happen by accident, they are created through hard work by their parents.
"Without understanding" comes from the Greek, asunetos, which means unintelligent, by implication wicked, foolish. These persons simply do not have intelligence, even if considered by society to be intelligent. They have invented theories or philosophies that in their mind appear to be consistent, supported by scientific facts. As we all know, these creations are frequently not true.
That is all for today, my friends. Next time I shall attempt to finish up the final four words in this section of Romans. Until then, beloved, peace and grace be with you.
Mon, May 19th - 1:29PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
I continue on with the term "backbiters." This term cannot specifically be found elsewhere in scripture, however, if one looks at the Greek from which this was translated it is seen that the Greek word katalalos means a defamer, an evil speaker. Then if one goes to a good dictionary it is found that defame means to harm the reputation of by libel or slander; to disgrace. Turn to I Corinthians 4. Looking at verses 9-14 we see that the apostles were sent forth from God last of all, and that they were meant to be statements made by God to the entire world. Beginning in verse 12 Paul talks about how they responded to personal attacks made against them. They blessed those who hated them, who rejected them, who persecuted them. They did not struggle against the persecution but simply suffered through it, as did Jesus Christ. When they were slandered and their personal reputations were ruined by the evil speaking of the lost, they entreated, or interceded, on their behalf to God. They pleaded with those who spoke evily of them, pleaded that they repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. We all need to remember these passages for they are written as warnings to us. Believers need to understand that the day of being considered as the "filth of the world" is everpresent with us. A day will come when we will experience this sort of treatment, especially if we publicly stand up and preach repentance of sins. It is inevitable.
"Haters of God" translates from the Greek word theostuges, meaning "hateful to God, impious and wicked." These again, are people who have given over to acting unethically, immorally, and perhaps actively working against the things of God. They will most likely worship not only idols, but the most grotesque idols they can imagine or find. They will create the most malicious and blasphemous arguments against serving God.
"Despiteful" stems from the feeling or attitude of despising, contempt, malice, spite; to provoke to anger. This word dovetails into or out of, "despise." So all of the verses that deal with despise are applicable to this word also. These people wish to provoke others into anger, thus showing the lack of the "love" of Christ in so-called Christians. "Contempt" means a lack of respect or reverence for something; the willful disobedience to open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body. These types of people show open disrespect to Christ their Judge. They show an utter lack of respect and openly and willfully disobey the laws of God. They will go to great lengths to argue rationally how their philosophical position is right and logical.
"Proud" comes from the Greek word huperephanos which means an over weening estimate of one's means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt. Here are a few synomyms: arrogant, haughty, insolent, disdainful, and overbearing. Pride is something that all of us need to have a healthy amount of in order to feel good about ourselves. It is when we allow it to run out of control that problems are created and it becomes sinful in nature. Naturally, this word comes from the word "pride." Out of 46 occurrances only two are found in the New Testament. The first instance is found in I Timothy 3:6, Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. The second instance is found in I John 2:16, 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. Here we see that when we give into the temptation of excessive pride we fall into the exact same condemnation as Satan for he controls the world's philosophy. He is the ruler of this age. I will not even dare digress into how pride relates to the lust of the flesh and of the eyes. Study that one out on your own for now. I will only say this: cosmetic surgery.
"Boaster" comes from the Greek word alazon meaning an empty pretender. Our current dictionary defintion means: one who speaks of or asserts with exessive pride; can involve crudity and artlessness in glorifying oneself; one who speaks vaingloriously. I want to bring just four out of perhaps 40-50 verses that mention boasting. Turn to Psalms 10:3 and see: For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. See how the lost sinner will trumpet his/her heart's desire and also highly esteem those who desire those things that others possess. Even though God hates these things they continually boast of what they think that they have accomplished. Most of the time these people have not accomplished anything except in their minds. They believe that they are important, whether or not it is true. Often they will become quite angry with anyone who refuses to pay attention to what they are saying about anything. In their minds they believe that they are always correct, they have all of the answers. Now turn to Proverbs 27:1. Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for you do not know what a day may bring forth. How can I possibly know what will happen an hour from now, let alone tomorrow? How dare I become so self-assured that I believe that nothing can prevent me from doing what I want to do on the next day. That smacks of arrogance and of not trusting in Christ but trusting in myself. It should alwasys be "God willing" when we part company with anyone but especially when parting company with fellow believers. Not my will be done, but Christ's will be done in ALL things. Let's go to Romans 3:27, Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Boasting is excluded from our speech and our thinking because of the law of faith in Jesus Christ. Our boasting ought to be in Him only. If we have excessive pride in anything it ought to be in Jesus Christ. And yet, it cannot include crudity, artlessness, or vainglory. Those must be gone from us. Finally, let's look at II Timothy 3:2, For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Ouch! That is who we are, beloved. That is what we must be on guard to root out of our lives, out of our hearts. What is the beginning of this string? Lovers of themselves. What is the end result? Unthankful and unholy. I do not want to end up there, my friends. The lake of fire is my final destination if I become unthankful and unholy. I will be doing and thinking all of those things in between. I would rather spend my time thinking of Christ and what He desires for my life. I would rather be thankful for all the blessings that Christ has bestowed upon me. I would rather be obedient to, and respectful of, my parents. I do not want to desire the things that my friends and neighbors have but I do not. That puts me in debt. Can you all see that all of these terms that I am defining continually swirl around, through, and into each other? It's as if you cannot practice one without the others coming home to "roost" on you in time. Love yourself too much and you will become boastful of your achievements. Too proud and you will become unthankful and disobedient to your parents and other authority figures. Become deceitful and how long can it be before you become a whisperer, or a backbiter? How long before wickedness cloaks you completely?
Well beloved, there are only seven more terms to cover and then we will be moving on in our study of Romans. I hope that you are being patient and following along with me. I have never claimed to be one who walks an arrow straight path through the scriptures! Or to being extremely fast in covering points. I proceed as fast as I can according to what needs to be printed on the page. Perhaps that way I can allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me to you, perhaps. I do not want to boast. Until next time, peace and grace be with you all.
Sat, May 17th - 8:21PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
We move along to consider the term "debate." This word means agitate, argue, canvass, dispute, quarrel, wrangle, rebut, contend, contest. It does not always mean something negative as we can find out in Proverbs 25:9: "Debate your cause with your neighbor in person; and discover no secrets to another." Pretty much, do not try to answer your neighbor's arguments with you unless you are doing so with them present. We should be doing these things face to face, not in absentia. In the 58th chapter of Isaiah where are found ethical instructions being continued, we find God rebuking the wicked for fasting in order to do strife and debate. Anyone who contends with saints of Christ and strives to block them from doing God's work is doing a wicked thing in the sight of the Lord. This verse apparantly speaks to the strife that arises from within a congregation of believers for they would most likely be fasting in our day. We are seeing a reference to improper use of fasting.
The word "deceit" means the act or practice of imposing upon the credulity of others by dishonesty, fraud, or trickery; cunning, dissemblance, duplicity, or deception. There are some 25 instances found in the Bible of just deceit, and over 20 instances of finding the word deceive. If we turn to Psalms 10 we find much being said about the wicked. Once we get to verse 7 we read how the wicked person speaks: "His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity." This is the perfect picture of people who wish to mislead others and to cause them heartache and loss. They work through deception and by being basically dishonest in their relationships with people. In Psalms 36:3 it says, "The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he has left from being wise, and chosen to do evil." Verse 4 continues this thought and gives us the definite impression that this sort of person spends all of their time thinking up ways to cause others trouble by ways of deception. In Mark 7:21-23 we see where all of these sins originate from. What issues from our hearts contaminates us, it corrupts us.
Malignity is a word which means malice, despite, grudge, ill will, malevolence, spite, vindictiveness, maliciousness. This obviously relates closely to the earlier term of maliciousness. This represents someone who is vindictive, who must always "get even."
Whisperer means one who murmurs, mumbles, mutters, rumors, gossips, and deals in hearsay. They go behind the back to speak their half-truths to others. They are not the sort to be so bold as to speak face to face, but rather, they deal in the behind-the-scenes gossiping that tears people down, destroys reputations, and causes anguish of the heart.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will continue on with these definitions and work toward finishing them up this week. Until then, peace and grace be yours. May you all have a blessed First day of the week.
Fri, May 16th - 1:04PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
The next term from 1:29 to define is envy. This word means painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. We find 26 instances of "envy" being used in the bible. In Job 5:2 we see: "For wrath kills the foolish man, and envy slays the silly one." We see that envy is considered to be silly in God's eyes. It is an immature feeling, something that mature people ought not to be engaged in. There are several references found in the Proverbs. Proverbs 3:31 says, "Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways." Here is advice to not incorporate the sinful ways of those who oppress you and/or others. Too often, the oppressed become free and immediately begin to treat others in their country exactly the way they were being treated. This is wrong. In Proverbs 14:30 it says, "A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones." Envy leads us into corruption of our spirit, it creates a wicked heart inside of us. In Proverbs 23:17 says, "Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long." Instead of looking at what the sinners all around us are doing, we should be focusing our energies on worshipping God each and every day all day long. This way there is no room for envy to enter into our thoughts.
In Mark 15:10 it says, "For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy." Jesus Christ knew why the priests of the Sanhedrin arrested Him and delivered Him for crucifixion. All because they envied Him, desired to have what He alone possessed. Remember our definition from the beginning, they wished to have the power and authority that Jesus had. In Acts 7:9 Joseph's brothers moved against him out of envy. They wanted what Joseph had. In Acts 13:45 Paul withstood the envy of the Jews. Again, in Acts 17:5 envy is at work causing a few to cause an uproar throughout a city, the goal of which was to seize those who were preaching the Word of God. I will finish this with a stop at James 3:16: "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." That is the bottom line for us as saints of the Living God. Envying partners with strife(for envy desires to have what someone else has) and in the presence of these two sins there will be confusion. Confusion is of the devil and not of God.
Murder means to commit the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought. This term occurs some 37 times in the bible. In Matthew 15:19 Jesus pointed out once more that all of these sins originate in our hearts. They sprout from out of our thoughts and become acted out in the physical, outer world of our lives. I will only give you these three final references: Galatians 5:21, I Timothy 1:9, and I Peter 4:15. In these passages we see that those who participate in murder will not have eternal life in heaven. Their fate is the lake of fire forever and ever. Some feel that any killing is to be considered as murder but the bible differentiates between the two. In the Old Testament we find the establishment of "sanctuary" cities where those who accidentally killed someone could go to live in safety. These were ordered by God and not by man. Even today there is a difference between someone being killed by accident versus being killed in maliciousness. One involves no thinking about the act while the other involves the person doing some planning and scheming to accomplish the act.
I will stop here for today, my friends. Next time I will continue on with the next couple of terms. Until then, may God's peace and grace be with each of you this day.
Thu, May 15th - 12:20PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
I am not going to repost the verses that contain the sins that I trying to define and flesh out with scriptures. I do direct anyone who is joining today for the first time to go back two to three days in the posts and begin there, catching up with us in due time.
Today I am looking at maliciousness. This word means being given over to desiring to cause pain, injury, or distress to another person; desiring to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse. Malice implies a deep-seated often unexplainable desire to see another person suffer. There are undoubtedly some examples of malice that can be found via synonyms in the Old Testament, but I am going with those found in the New Testament. First up is I Corinthians 5:8 in which we have already seen mention of wickedness, and now we see again that malice is tied to it. Take a look with me at I Corinthians 14:20 where it says: Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be you children, but in understanding be men. Somewhat confusing wording, but after puzzling it out I see that we are not to be "children" in our understanding of spiritual matters for "children" tend to be the ones who act out in malice towards others. Rather, we should be adults in our understanding of spiritual matters. God points out here the importance of becoming spiritually mature, grown up so that we then set malice aside for acting that way is immature.
If we move over to the book of Ephesians, we read: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.(4:31). Just look at that list leading to the last phrase. Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking. All of these are actions involved in causing another person suffering. They can include physical acts, but notice the last two: clamour and evil speaking. Clamor means to become loudly insistent; insistent public expression. Sort of sounds like the Presidential campaigning going on, eh? Of course, evil speaking pretty much follows what evil's definition is: something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity; morally reprehensible, sinful, wicked. As can be seen, malice and evil fit hand in glove with each other. If a person is speaking evilly of you, they are seeking to cause you suffering, sorrow, distress, and even some sort of calamity to happen to you. They are actively talking to others about you in negative terms continually. They go about ruining your good reputation. Perhaps even to the extent of causing you to lose a promotion or even your job. They want you to suffer.
Turning now to Colossians 3:8-9 we can see a reinforcing shot of the same phrasing from God. We are not to engage in anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy speaking. We are not to lie to each other for we have become new creations in Christ once we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour. In Titus 3:2-3 we read: To speak evil of no man, to not be brawlers, but be gentle, showing all meekness to all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. Here we learn that we too, before becoming saved, lived maliciously, enviously, hatefully, foolishly. We disobeyed God and even worse, we deceived ourselves into believing that we were correct in our thinking. That is the problem with science today, deceived into believing that they can discover all answers to all questions, just give them enough time. Supernatural things are beyond the capabilities of scientific methodology. How can you answer a question on supernatural origins when your tool is ineffective? You can't. We need to embrace the love of Christ, we need to turn our backs on childish practise of disobedience, maliciousness, and envying.
Come with me now to I Peter 2 and read the solution we, as Christians, must embrace and live each and every day of our lives: Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby: If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.(2:1-3). I could go on through the rest of this chapter and point out the variously given reasons as to why we ought to give up these adolescent practises. We are to desire God's Word, to study it and grow in maturity. To do so allows us to discover that Christ is extremely gracious. When we reach this point in our relationship with Christ we shouldn't still be clutching to us the urges to gossip, tattle, slander, or set others up to fail. That ought to all be gone, we are new creations in Christ.
That is all for today, beloved. I know this is going slowly but I think it really needs to go slowly so that we all can let these things sink in. Next time I plan on covering envying, murder, and debate. Until then, I salute you! Greet those that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.
Wed, May 14th - 1:45PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit...(1:29).
I left off with fornication yesterday and want to pick up with wickedness today. The dictionary meaning for this word is the quality of state of being wicked. Yup. Wicked means morally very bad; evil; disgustingly unpleasant; causing or likely to cause harm, distress, or trouble. I think that we all would agree that that is the common meaning, and usage, of the word. God basically views wickedness as being sinfulness. As we look at some scripture together that ought to become plain.
We do not have to flip too many pages into the Bible to find "wickedness:" And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually(Genesis 6:5). Sounds like it lines right up with our current meaning of the words. In I Samuel we see how David views his situation with King Saul and what should be the correct reaction to wickedness: As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee(I Samuel 24:13). In Psalms we see the request made of God that wickedness come to an end: Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins(Psalms 7:9). In Psalms 45:7 we find what God's thoughts are on wickedness: Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore god, thy God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows. In Mark 7:20 begins a discourse by Jesus in which He points out to us that wickedness originates from inside of us, specifically in our "hearts." Evil, wicked thoughts begin in the secret places within us and blossom out in the open for all to see eventually. In Luke 11:39 Jesus speaks to the Pharisees about how they spend so much time and energy making themselves clean on the outside, but do absolutely nothing about their "hearts." He condemns them for being full of ravening and wickedness. The first word implies an unquenchable hunger, all consuming in nature. In Corinthians we find Paul writing about this sinfulness not to be included in the Passover Feast or Communion Meal. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth(I Corinthians 5:8). In Ephesians 6:12 we find that wickedness is found not only on earth but in the spiritual realm as well: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spriritual wickedness in high places. This is a verse that can easily support an entire study of its own, but I will not digress into that now. We need to focus on the fact that wickedness drives our world, not love as the quaint saying goes. Yes, love ought to make the world go around but mankind does not desire to embrace love. Rather, mankind chooses to embrace pursuit of self-gratification. And those choices are further driven by spiritual wickedness in the person of Satan and his demons. Finally, we come to I John 5:19: And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness. You see, each and every day we wake up, get up out of bed, and must realize that we are confronted with the fact that we live in occupied territory. We are living in the enemy's controlled territory and he will snipe at us constantly, attempting to take us out of the struggle. That is why it is so important to understand Ephesians 5 & 6.
The next item is "covetousness." Its meaning is to desire what belongs to another inordinately or culpably; to be greedy, acquisitive, desiring whatever someone else has. Most of the time it means desiring what material possessions another person has but it can also mean to desire to have the status or position of another person. The Bible begins speaking on this sin in Exodus 18:21 and then in Psalms 119(the New Christian's Psalm) we see in verse 36 a prayer for God to help someone to avoid coveting. If we want to live a long life, then we need to embrace Proverbs 28:16. Are any of us exempt from feeling covetousness? Jeremiah 6:13 says: For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. In Jeremiah 22:17 God is speaking concerning the wickedness of Jehoiakim but it explains how we are motivated and tempted. Our eyes and heart bring in images of what others own and we decide to give in to the temptation of wanting them for ourselves. The problem is that we do not usually want to work honestly to obtain them and we then worsen our sins by stealing them, somehow or other. In Ezekiel 33:31 we find the knowledge about hypocrisy in people. They will be telling us with a smiling face how much they love us, meanwhile inside they are devising ways to rob us of what we have because they desire to have it for themselves. That could be your car, TV, clothes, or even your spouse. Theft is theft, no matter what it might be. In the little book of Habbakuk is a stinging comment in 2:9-10. There God tells us that covetousness is a sin against your very soul, that when you do such things you are inviting evil into your life. In Luke 12:15 Jesus said: And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. So much for prosperity theology! I have a feeling that that belief system is secretly driven by covetousness. Justification for that particular sin by twisting scripture. We should not be concerning ourselves with "things" unless they are going to directly help us reach the lost, provide for the needs of our family, or provide for the needs of our fellow brethren in Christ. In II Corinthians 9:5-10 we read about how to combat the sin of covetousness through the grace of giving. If we name ourselves as Christians, then Ephesians 5:3 rules over us completely: But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints. There is no wiggle room provided in that scripture, Jesus did not intend to give us any. Once we get to Colossians 3:5 we learn that to covet what someone else has is simply another form of idolatry. The possessions of someone else are your god, you worship them. Reading further in chapter 3 of Colossians leads us on into the reminder that we used to do all of these wicked things before accepting Jesus as our Saviour and that we cannot go back to doing them now. Instead, we are to do as told in 3:12-15. Hebrews 13:5 puts the exclamation point to this discussion on coveting peoples' possessions: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Jesus Christ will never leave us nor forsake us, amen. Be happy with what you currently have, it is sufficient for now. If God plans for you to have more, He will provide it at the appointed time. Trust Him.
Well, beloved, I made it through two more terms. Hallelujah! Next time we will see what maliciousness and envy are all about. Until next time, monitor what you say. God tells us that we are to watch what we say so that we do not utter covetous words. At the very least, it will mislead other saints into believing that your profession might be false. Idle words get us into trouble every time so do not speak overly much. Think before you speak. Say exactly what you mean, and mean exactly what you say. It avoids confusion that way. Pray for one another, ask God to bless all of the brethren. Ask Him to enable all saints to walk as children of the Light that enlightens the entire world.
Tue, May 13th - 2:29PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful(1:29-31).
Well, beloved, there is a mouthful! We could look at a daily newspaper from any metropolitan area on this planet and find a headline for many, if not all of the sins listed above. How much longer will God be patient and tolerate all that we do? He has judged great nations in the past who have gone down this immoral road.
No less than 23 different sins are covered in these three verses. All have an element in them of hatred of God and what He represents. I am going to attempt to define each one as best I can. Please bear with me as I ramble through scriptures that speak on each of them for I believe that it is important that all of us have a solid understanding of this passage of scripture for it continues the thought from in the previous verses. Let's attack this in logical order of how these sins are listed. Unrighteousness begins to be spoken of in the Bible back in Leviticus 19:15: "You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: you shall not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness you shall judge your neighbor." Here we see that we cannot make any judgments that involve anything less than righteousness. The only righteousness that we can have comes from Christ Jesus so that means He must be involved in all of our judgments. These people who have turned their backs on God do the exact opposite of this. They are all involved in cliques, brown-nosing to get advancement at their jobs. Instead of treating everyone alike, they esteem some higher than others. Looking at John 7:18 is enlightening: "He that speaketh of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." Interesting, if we seek Christ first then we have no unrighteousness found in us. But if we only speak about ourselves, then we are seeking out our own glory, our own growing reputation of fame. I only remention Romans 1:18 at this point, for it speaks about holding God's truth in unrighteousness. II Thessalonians 2:12 delives another punch in the gut: "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." People do not only live unrighteously, but they take immense pleasure in doing so. I direct your attention to II Peter 2:12-19. There it is seen that unrighteous men speak evil things about God whom they do not understand in the least. They feel that they are right in their blind ignorance of spiritual things. They are so completely corrupted spiritually that they are incapable of becoming aware of their personal corruption. Unless God calls to them and they hear. Verse 13 tells us that they shall receive the reward reserved for their unrighteousness. They are "dead men" walking, yet strut about boasting of how smart they are. A sad, sad. picture. Finally, looking at I John 1:9 we see that there is a spiritual light at the end of the tunnel: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanxe us from all unrighteousness." Ahhh! IF I confess my sins, He is faithful ...to forgive me of my sins, and cleanse ...from all unrighteousness. So all of these people who are so far gone in unrighteousness have a loophole to avoid damnation: repent of their sins, turn to God, and be totally cleansed from all unrighteousness.
Fornication's definition from the dictionary is consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other; used to mean doing such with prostiutes. There are five references found in the Old Testament and they generally use it symbolically to picture national general moral decay. In the New Testament we find this term in Matthew in three instances, 5:32; 15:19; and 19:9. They talk about marriage and what the lone reason for divorce can be. The dictionary definition governs in these instances of usage. Fornication happens whether or not either individual involved is married or not. If married, then other issues such as adultery become included in the act. One sin leading on into other sins is commonplace. There are many more references in the New Testament but I would say check out these primarily: I Cor. 6:13, 18; I Cor. 7:2; Gal. 5:19, I Thess. 4:3; Jude 1:7; and in Revelation 2:14, 20-21; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2; 18:3, 9; 19:2. Beloved, the bottom line with God is simply this: avoid fornication, and if you have engaged in it then repent of it and do it no more. These scriptures all condemn homosexuality for that practice leads to fornication. I clearly comprehend why there has been a push to legalize same sex marriages; if it is legal to be married to someone of the same sex then I am not fornicating! God does not care what legislation man passes to make himself feel better about his sinful lifestyle, truth is still truth.
That is all for today, my friends. Next time I will pick up with "wickedness." Be warned! This could take several days to get through all of these definitions. If you have been praying for God to give you more patience, then here is a partial answer to your prayers! There is no quick way through these verses in Romans, one must walk slowly through these fields in order to not trample the beautiful, fragrant flowers God has planted for us to appreciate. Until then, ponder your heart today. Examine your past actions to see if they sometimes fell into some of these sins that are listed here. Have you repeatedly promised your kids that you would attend their sports event? Yet you have always failed to attend them? Covenant breaker. Do you really enjoy good arguments? Ever catch yourself baiting your spouse into a pointless argument, just to make yourself feel better? Yeah, you're in here then. Ever not do what your parents have asked you to do? Then you are disobedient and you are in this section. Are you unable to love yourself or anyone else? You are in here my friend and I sincerely hope that you can find the path to asking Christ into your heart and repenting of your sins. He will forgive you of everything, He promises you that. And He is faithful to complete the work of cleaning up your problems so that you can love yourself and others. Because that is what He wants for you. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of serving God joyfully. I pray for all of you. I pray also for myself and my family, that we continue to grow in Christ and walk steadfast in His love.
Mon, May 12th - 1:32PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves(1:24).
Now we get to see the results of mankind's revolution/rebellion against God. In the rest of this chapter it says three more times that God gave them up. Man's degeneration is measured by his perversion of sex. While many churches in our day are embracing sex perversion rather than condemning it, God says here He has given them up. Idolatry and gross immorality are the nasty tasting fruits of rejecting God's revelation.
"God gave them up" is literally God handed them over---it is a positive, not a passive attitude on God's part. Notice that God allowed them to dishonour themselves physically in that He gave them over to desiring the same sex in intercourse. Where do all of our venereal diseases come from? From uncleanness through the lusts of the heart. Man pays the price of rejecting God. Man pays with diseases that incapacitate physically, and eventually kill the individuals involved. I want to point out that the word used is not "love" but is "lust." The definition of "lust": intense or unbridled sexual desire; to have a sexual urge; personal inclination. This is not love that is being spoken of in this verse. It is a personal desire that drives the person to do unnatural things inorder to satisfy the urge.
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen(1:25).
The implication here is that man turned from God to Satan, the author of the lie and the father of idolatry. This behaviour leads to the lowest depths of moral degradation. It destroys families and marriages.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet(1:26-27).
All of these are passions of dishonor and disgrace and depravity---no matter what public opinion is today. This truth does not ever change. Perversion entered into Greek life, and it brought Greece down into the dust. Go to Greece today and take a look around, do you see any evidence of glory? No, because they allowed depravity and immorality to take control of their culture. Quite obviously homosexuality, for one, is being spoken of here. Perhaps bestiality also is implied in verse 24. When I was growing up homosexuality still was considered "unseemly." This term means to be inappropriate, not according to established standards of good form or taste, not suitable for time or place. It also falls into the realm of transgressing good ethical practices or logical thinking. Logic dictates that a species cannot survive if male and female genders do not come together for procreation of offspring. Common sense, folks. Someone once tried to convince me that homosexuality is commonplace out in the animal kingdom! My jaw simply dropped! Astonishment overwhelmed me. Unbelievable thinking was taking place right in front of my eyes. This person believed in evolution AND felt that homosexuality did not actively work directly against evolution! How could a race or a species hope to flourish into the future if fewer and fewer offspring were going to be produced one generation to the next? The mortality rate would overtake the population group and they would be waving to the rest of us from the dust of time. And this person claimed that real science backed up their stance on this subject. We must be very careful when listening to what others believe, and why they believe so.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient(1:28).
Anybody who tells us that he/she can be a child of God and still live in perversion, live in the thick mire of our contemporary permissiveness, is not kidding anyone except themselves. Come to Christ and obtain deliverance. "Reprobate" means morally corrupt, to refuse to accept, to be unworthy or unacceptable. This is what sort of thinking God gives people over to once they reject Him.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time we will look at three verses that list a frightful group of sins which follow man's rebellion against Christ. Until then may God's peace and grace abound in your life today.
Sun, May 11th - 5:06PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things (1:21-23).
These three verses refute the premise of evolution. Man is not improving physically, morally, intellectually, or spiritually. The steady pull is ever downward. Naturally this goes counter to all of the anthologies of religion that paint man in a primitive condition as cavemen with very little intellectual qualities and then proceed to move him up toward God. This is the exact opposite to reality. Man is ever moving away from God and probably further away from God today than at any other time in its history. The fact is that virtually every primitive tribe has a tradition that in the beginning their ancestors knew God. Although they all had a knowledge of God, they all moved away from God and chose to rely upon their own understanding.
"They glorified him not as God." They chose to not give Him His rightful place, and chose instead to become self-sufficient. During recent history man has made the announcement that God is dead. In the very beginning mankind did not suggest that God was dead, they simply turned their backs upon Him and made man their god.
"Neither were thankful." Ingratitude is one of the worst sins there is. Recall that Jesus Christ healed ten lepers. How many came back to thank Him? One. Just ten percent of those healed of leprosy showed gratitude to the One who gave them back their lives, enabled them to rejoin society. Is the percentage today any greater, or is it even less?
"Became vain in their imaginations." The theory of evolution fits right in here. A free-thinking premise that cannot be reproduced anywhere. But it is allowed to influence our entire culture absolutely.
"Their foolish heart was darkened." Here is where the move into paganism took place and continues until this very day. You can see the evidences of it if you were to walk down the streets of Cairo, Egypt or Istanbul, Turkey. Indeed, simply walk down the streets of almost any of the American metropolitan centers and you will see evidence of man's heart being darkened.
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Man searches for truth through logical reasoning but arrives at a philosophy that is foolish in the sight of God. Our wisdom from interpreting scientific data is utter foolishness.
"And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man." Have you ever noticed how many caricatures of God have been made by the lost world? Look at all of the images and the idols that have been made and then prayed to. Let's consider the ancient city of Ephesus. That particular city in the Roman Empire probably reached the highest degree of culture in civilization that any city has ever attained. And yet at the heart of that city was one of the most terrible images ever imagined, enshrined in the temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Called also Diana, she was not the lovely image you see in Greek sculptures. She is like the Oriental Cybele, the mother goddess, the many-breasted one. She had a trident in one hand and in the other a club---she was obviously a mean one. That is the best idea the most civilized, cultured people had of God? She was a female principal, and gross immorality took place all around her temple, and dishonesty of the worst kind. If we think about it, idolatry is a cartoon of God; it is a slander and a slur against Him.
As for us, we should not have pictures of Jesus up on our walls and pray to them. That is smacking of idolatry. We do not know what Jesus looked like during His time on this planet, that was done on purpose for God knows our hearts. Read II Corinthians 5:16 to get some idea of what God is about. Or go and find out about how God dealt with the bones of Moses after he died. Why would God not want Moses' bones buried here on earth? Because of idolatry driven mankind.
Man did not begin in idolatry. Primitive man was monotheistic; idolatry was introduced later on. In the Word of God we have perhaps our first record of idolatry in connection with Rachel stealing her father's idols in Genesis 31. Sir William Ramsay, who was once a belligerent unbeliever, wrote in The Cities of Paul: "For my own part, I confess that my experience and reading show nothing to confirm the modern assumptions inreligious history, and a great deal to confirm Paul. Whatever evidence exists, with the rarest exceptions, the history of religion among men is a history of degeneration...Is it not the fact of human history that man, standing alone, degenerates; and that he progresses only where there is in him so much sympathy with and devotion to the Divine life as to keep the social body pure and sweet and healthy?" My friends, the reason today that there is failure in our poverty programs and health programs and other social assistance programs is because of gross immorality and a turning away from God. The intellectuals say they wish to be practical; well the only practical thing for us to do is to return to the Living and true God.
That is all for this Mother's Day, beloved. Next time I will move further into this chapter and look at the retrogression of mankind. Until then, guard your hearts, keep them from dangerous doctrines of foolish men. Do not allow your heart to become darkened by anyone or anything. Above all, be gracious. Thank people whenever possible when they have done something beneficial for you.
Sat, May 10th - 8:09PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse(1:19-20).
To those who think that we cannot know anything about God, here is their answer. God has shown things about Himself in each of us. This universe in which you and I live tells two things about God: His person and His power. This has been clearly seen from the time of creation until now. How can invisible things be seen? It is made a paradox by God purposely to impress upon all of us that the "dim light of nature" is a man-made falsehood. Creation is a clear light of revelation. It is the primary revelation to know God by. The Psalms say, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained"(Psalm 8:3). Also, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1).
The laws of physics, the laws of nature, the cycles of nutrients within our world's ecosystems, all proclaim the handiwork of God Almighty. Can we conceivably delude ourselves into believing that all of these things happened accidentally? Or that they always will happen this way no matter how many times the universe might recycle itself through more Big Bangs? Based upon what data can we conclude such things? Is it not merely long leaps in free-thinking, without any trappings of actual scientific methodology involved?
"His eternal power and Godhead"---creation reveals the unchangeable power and existence of God. His deity, and Person are shown to us throughout our natural world and the universe. Paul said this, "...he left not himself without witness, in that he did goo, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness"(Acts 14:17). And because all of us are the offspring (not the sons) of God, Paul said, "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device"(Acts 17:29). I agree with Dr. McGee that the most ludicrous position man can hold is that of atheism. It is illogical and senseless. When the psalmist said, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God"(Psalm 14:1), the word for fool means "insane." A man is insane when he denies the existence of God. I am sure that there will be many who read those words and will no longer return to read my posts again. So be it. Truth is truth whether we wish to acknowledge it or not.
"So that they are without excuse." Creation so clearly reveals God that man is without excuse. This section reveals the historical basis of man's sin. It did not come about through ignorance. It was pure, willful rebellion in the presence of clear Light.
Study the phenomenom of thunderstorms and one must conclude that this could not possibly be an accidental system in our weather. It is an engine of power and heat redistribution within our atmosphere. It regulates electrical charges within the atmosphere, regulates temperature also. Our weather systems all regulate temperature and humidity of our planet. It is such an intricate and complex system of regulation that the meteorologists have much difficulty in reaching true understanding of how it works. How do we separate actual changes in the system versus changes in planetary climate? Do we have enough data to determine what our planet's climatic cycle is? How does sunspot activity, or lack thereof, actually impact our weather patterns? The list goes on and on and punctuates God's point in Romans. The invisible things of God can be figured out by studying those things that are already made. That is what science can do for us, help us understand the nature of God, the unseen things of God. Instead, mankind has decided to use science to try and show that God does not exist at all. Perhaps one day we will realize our error and become truly free to study our universe.
That is all for today, my dear friends. Hopefully none of you have been insulted with any parts of this post today. Hopefully it has inspired you to look around you at this wonderful created world and search out signs of Christ. He is there, I guarentee it. Next time I will continue on into chapter one of Romans. Until then, peace and grace be with you all. I wish a most blessed Mother's Day to all mothers out there tonight!
Fri, May 9th - 1:07PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (1:17).
"A righteousness from God is being revealed" is a literal translation. It is not our righteousness, something that we concoct up in our minds. God has already said that He will not accept the righteousness of any man, for it is as filthy rags in His sight according to Isaiah 64:6. Paul is writing about the imputed righteousness of Christ. God places the lost sinner in Christ, and He sees the sinner in Christ. The sinner than is accepted because of what Christ has done for him. The one and only method of obtaining this righteousness is by personal faith. You can not work for it, you can not put a deposit on it, you can not buy it. Nothing but faith. "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Philippians 3:9)."
The word for "righteousness" is the Greek dikaiosune. I'm informed that this word occurs 92 times in the New Testament, 36 times alone in the book of Romans. The phrase "a righteousness from God" occurs 8 times in Romans. The root word of this Greek word is dike, which means simply "right." Justice come from the same word. "To be right" is the main meaning which is the opposite of sin. This righteousness is what God demands, and it is what He provides us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
"From faith to faith" means simply that God saves you by faith, you live by faith, you die by faith, and you'll be in heaven by faith. "As it is written" is a reference to Habbakuk 2:4, there it is written: "...the just shall live by his faith." This verse is quoted in three letters of the New Testament: here in Romans, in Galatians, and in Hebrews.
Justification by faith means that a sinner (me) who trusts Christ is not only pardoned because Christ died, but I also stand before God complete in Christ. Sin has been subtracted from me and righteousness has been added. Romans 4:25 mentions this point further on in the book.
God's decision in giving us justification by faith is not arbitrary. He has not disregarded His holiness and justice. God saves us by grace since we have no merit in us. God saves us based upon our trusting Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the way into heaven. Since Christ paid the penalty/wage for our sin, salvation becomes ours "through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25).
This finishes Paul's introduction to the Roman congregation of believers. He now begins a new section in which is revealed the sin of mankind. You could label it as "sinnerama." The ecumenical movement is always away from God. In this section Paul is not going to try to prove that man is a sinner. All that he is doing here is stating the fact that man is a sinner. He will show that there is a revelation of the righteousness of God, but that there is also the revelation of the wrath of God against the sin of man.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.(1:18).
To know what salvation really is you must know how bad sin is. Dr. Stifler said that, "Sin is the measure of salvation." It could very well be viewed that way. This verse is an answer to those who assert that the Old Testament presents a God of wrath, while the New Testament presents a God of love. The revelation of God's wrath is constant and continuous throughout the entire Bible. God has a constant and insistent displeasure with evil. God is merciful and He changes not. He is merciful because Christ died, not because He is lenient with sinners. The gospel will not, and has not, changed God's attitude toward sin. Each sinner has two choices: either the mercy or the wrath of God. Both have been revealed from heaven itself. We can see evidences of how bad sin is all around us today. Look at the cases of venereal diseases and ask whether or not sinful behavior carries any consequences. Look at the various addictions that plague us and ask if there are consequences to sinful behaviors that do not carry over from one generation to the next, and the next, and the next. Rest assured, beloved, we reap what we sow and we reap much from what we sow.
God's wrath is revealed for a reason. All that is against God is considered as ungodliness. That word means that which denies the character of God. Anyone who denies that God could possibly know everything is ungodly. Anyone who scoffs at the possibility that God could have power over life and death is ungodly. If anyone disregards the very existence of God they are ungodly. And it is all counted as sin.
Unrighteousness generally is considered to be against man and ungodliness to be against God Himself. What does this mean? It is the denial of the rule of God. The man/woman who gets intoxicated, goes out in their vehicle on the roadways, breaks the traffic laws, and kills someone/s is unrighteous. He is sinning against man. And anyone who actively works at suppressing the truth through unrighteousness is going to face the wrath of God as revealed here in Romans. Still believe that God loves us too much to judge us?
I will stop there for today, beloved. Next time I move on to a section of scripture that many people do not like to consider. They become uncomfortable with the tenor of God's Words. Those who believe that mankind is basically good at heart do not like this upcoming section in Romans. I warn you in advance, be prepared. Verse 20 is one that I have focused upon for a good many years now. When I taught science to 7-12 grade Christian students I had this verse as a standing extra credit option on every exam. Most students new it by rote at the end of the school year. It is important to each of us for understanding. Until next time, peace and grace be with each of you.
Thu, May 8th - 1:35PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me (1:12).
As is always true amongst believers, we each come away with something when we share our faith with each other. Here, Paul and the believers in Rome shared something with each other. They would be mutually blessed in God's Word. Just as happens each time I post messages on this blog. So, I urge you all to leave comments so that I am mutually blessed with you. In this fashion we minister to each other. This is what Paul is speaking about in this verse.
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that often-times I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles(1:13).
Paul wanted these people in Rome to understand that he had wanted to visit Rome several times but had been prevented. Many of these people were his converts to the faith, as he had met them in various parts of the Roman Empire during his various missionary trips. His desire to "have some fruit among you also," probably does not mean soul-winning but rather means witnessing the fruit of the Spirit in their individual lives(see Galatians 5:22-23).
I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise(1:14).
Here we come upon the first of three "I am" claims made by Paul. "To the Greeks, and to the Barbarians" was the Greek division of all mankind. The Greeks were cultured, educated, and civilized. The barbarians were those whom we label as pagan and heathen today. In fact, it is a false division, but it encompasses all of humanity and was understood by Romans.
How did Paul become indebted? Did he run up a bill for fine clothes? No. He did not have any business transactions with these people. But he did have a personal transaction with Jesus Christ which put him in debt to every man, woman, and child because the grace of God had been so bountifully given to him. Paul was in debt to a lost world full of sinners. Now, if you are saying, "I pay my honest debts," I have to ask, "Do you?" Once every person has heard the gospel of Christ, then you and I have paid our honest debts. Paul identified himself as a debtor and that was another reason for him wanting to reach Rome.
So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also (1:15).
Paul previously has said that he is a debtor, and here he indicates that he is also ready to pay. Paul might not be a master of his circumstances but he sure is a master of his purpose. He is ready and he is eager to preach the good news! This is the kind of enthusiasm and anticipation that each of us needs to have each day!
In verse 14 we found the first "I am" claim of Paul. His claim of being debtor to all mankind must become our claim as well, otherwise we fail to fulfill God's purpose in our lives. Here in verse 15 is the second "I am" claim of Paul. He claims to be ready and eager to come and preach the gospel. This too must be our claim today for if we are not ready and eager to preach the gospel, who will?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek(1"16).
Here we find the third "I am" claim of Paul. He was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He spoke of it proudly, boldly. We too, must be proud of the gospel of Christ and not ashamed. Some would say that here we can find the three "missions" of Paul: admission(I am debtor), remission(I am ready), and submission(I am not ashamed).
Why would Paul say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel?" Perhaps it was as simple as the fact that people would gripe about his not coming to preach to them in Rome and would use excuses such as "Well, Bro' Paul hasn't come here because he is just preaching to the poor folk. Since there aren't any great temples connected with what he is preaching he's ashamed to bring it here to Rome." So Paul said that he was not ashamed of the gospel message.
Why is Paul not ashamed of the gospel? This is a different question than the first one. Why no shame? "It is the power of God unto salvation!" The Greek word translated as "power" is dunamis, from which we get our word dynamite. Divine energy, dunamis! In and of itself the gospel has power, innate, life changing power.
This power of the gospel is for a very specific thing: "It is the power of God unto salvation." The endpoint of the gospel alwasys is salvation of the sinner. Deliverance. It embraces everything from justification to glorification. It is both an act and a process. It is equally true that I have been saved, I am being saved, and I shall be saved.
The gospel is for who? The Hebrew first and also the Greek. The gospel is for everyone. No racism allowed here. No gender bias allowed here. No age bias allowed here. And the gospel is personal; it is directed to every individual---"whosoever will may come." It is universal in breadth, but it is limited to everyone that believes. This wraps up election and free will in one package. The only way of obtaining salvation is by personal faith.
That the Jew is listed first does not make them the top priority to the gospel today. What is important is to make sure that the Jew is on a par with the Gentile as far as evangelism is concerned. Chronologically the gospel went first to the Jew. On the day of Pentecost Jews heard the gospel in their own dialects. And Paul on his missionary trips around the Empire took the message first to the Jewish synagogue, but as is seen in Acts 13:46 once the Jews rejected the gospel the focus shifted to bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. The gospel began in Jerusalem, a Hebrew city, but spread out into all of the world.
So in conclusion, we see that the gospel is salvation, for everyone, requires faith in Jesus Christ. That is as concrete a statement as I can make.
I will end there for today, beloved. Next time I will continue on with verses 17-19. These verses lead us up to a basic truth revealed to us by God. Until then, I pray that you gain some edification from this post. I hope and pray that your faith in Christ is increased, that you are made stronger, bolder. I gaze ahead and I cannot see the finishing line as of yet. The race continues, I continue to run. My goal is to finish strongly. I pray that you also will run strongly and cross the finish line in good order.
Wed, May 7th - 12:55PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ (1:7).
And there all of you are: "beloved of God, called to be saints." Isn't that a lovely concept? Again, this should read as "called saints" in order to be consistent with the original language. I am a called saint, you are a called saint, and that is how it shall ever be until He returns. A saint is not a person who has been "exalted" by the Pope; a saint is one who exalts Jesus Christ. A person becomes a saint when they accept Jesus Christ as their savior. As Dr. McGee used to say; "There are only two classes of people in the entire world: the saints and the ain'ts. If you are not an ain't, then you're a saint." And as a saint you have trusted Christ. Your character does not make you a saint, it's your personal faith in Christ and the fact that you are set apart for Him.
"Grace and peace" make up the formal introduction in all of Paul's letters. Charis, or grace, was the gentile form of greeting, while peace, or shalom, was the Hebrew form of greeting. Paul combined both into one.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world (1:8).
Here was witnessing power! The entire world back in that day had heard of this congregation's faith towards Christ. They were having a positive affect on the culture around them. Can we say the same thing of ourselves today, beloved? Can you see some of the motivation for my beginning this blog? After reading and pondering such verses as these, can I do anything less? Can you? Has anyone heard of your personal testimony? Is it akin to a state secret? Is your testimony worth anything today?
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers (1:9).
Paul had a very long prayer list. I am trying to build just such a prayer list of believers. Scripture indicates that each of us ought to be creating and maintaining prayer lists of people for whom we should be praying for, about, and with, unceasingly. Paul makes it clear who he serves, who is his witness, and what he is proclaiming to everyone he meets. He serves God, is witnessed by God, and he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is exactly what each of us need to be doing also. Anything less is unacceptable to God. If you have limited your Christian living to "pop culture" levels, you have very little witnessing power. If you have accepted your status as a bondservant of Christ and are working at living out your faith in your daily life, then your witnessing power will be immense.
Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you (1:10).
Paul prayed that somehow he could journey to visit with the Roman faithful. Not only that, but that it would be "prosperous." Reading in the book of Acts we discover that his journey doesn't look very prosperous at all, by the world's standards. How could it be, being a prisoner, shipwrecked by storm, bitten by a snake? He requested the visit to Rome by the will of God. I would say that he got there under the power of God's will. We all need to remember this fact: if we ask for something by the will of God we can be confidant that it will happen according to His will. Things might not unfold exactly as we had figured them to happen, but God is in charge and He gets it done His way, in His appointed time.
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established (1:11).
Paul does not want to visit Rome for sightseeing, socializing with his friends, or to just be on a holiday. He wants to come to Rome to teach the saints there about some aspect of the Word of God. Paul loved to teach the Word of God. What would it say of him if he suddenly did not feel that way? Any preacher who does not want to preach/teach the Word anymore, he becomes a clergyman, an administrator, a promoter. He no longer is a minister of the Holy Word of God. Perhaps that man ought to go and sell cars? I do not know. I do know that the end result of all teaching/preaching of God's Word is the establishment of the listeners. It is to build up their character, their faith, their endurance, their trust. It always ought to lead to the increase in the fruit of their works for Christ. It can also lead to repentance of sins and acceptance of Christ on a personal level.
That is all for today, my dear friends. Next time I will move on to the "I ams" of Paul that we all ought to embrace and live out as our very own. Until then, guard your testimony zealously. Avoid all resemblance of sinful living. Pursue modesty each and every day. Allow Christ to order your footsteps each day.
Tue, May 6th - 1:25PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh(1:3).
First of all, this little explanatory passage is all about Jesus Christ. The word concerning is the Greek preposition peri---which is used in periscope and perimeter---and it means "that which encircles." The gospel is all about Jesus Christ. It is what He has done. It is "concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
We see His full title in this verse. He is the Son of God, He is Jesus Christ, He is our Lord. We often hear today that all that we need is the religion of Jesus. My friends, Jesus had no religion. He didn't need one---He is the Living God. What we do need today is a religion that is all about Jesus, that surrounds Him, that is all about what He has done. Jesus cannot worship; He is to be worshipped. Someone out there may already be objecting, "But Jesus prayed!" Yes, He sure did pray. He did so because He took the place of all humanity. He prayed in order to teach others to believe that He was indeed sent from God. For instance, at Lazarus' grave: "...Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast herard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me(John 11:41-421)."
We need to notice that He is also of the seed of David, according to the flesh. This speaks of Jesus' humanness. He is virgin-born because He is declared---horizoned out to be---the Son of God with power.
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead(1:4).
The resurrection did not make Jesus Christ the Son of God; it simply revealed who He truly was. Declared is from the same Greek word horizo, which we have seen earlier. Jesus is declared, He is horizoned, the Son of God. Together we now have the perfect humanity and deity of Christ. Jesus Christ is not any more man because He is God, and He is not any less God because He is man. He is God-man.
He is declared to be the Son of God "according to the spirit of holiness." This could mean the human spirit of Jesus, but I do not believe that He had two different spirits. It is most natural to think that this refers to His Holy Spirit which is part of the Trinity. Notice also, He is declared to be the Son of God "by the resurrection from the dead." The resurrection proves everything. It is what sets Him forth as the Son of God. As you read through the entire bible you discover that Jesus Christ is presented in power. In the Old Testament He is seen in Creation, He appears to Abraham, is with Daniel in the lion's den, with the young men in the furnace. In the New Testament He is first seen in the days of His flesh, walking upon the earth, despised, hated, rejected by men. He is seen even in weakness as he sits down to rest at a well, or on a boat to sleep. Finally, He is brought to humiliation and shame and death upon a cross. There came a time when He was raised from the dead. It proves that He was extremely accurate when He said: "...Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world(John 8:23)." Days of walking along dusty roads in Israel are now over; He has come back from the dead in almighty power. His resurrection proves His virgin birth.
Another truth to be seen here is this: The resurrection guarantees that each one of us is going to have to face the Lord Jesus Christ one day. Acts 17:29-31 tells us that our ignorance shall not gain us a free pass from judgment. Will you and I stand before Him as one who has trusted Him as our Savior, or will we stand before Him to be judged?
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name(1:5).
"Grace and apostleship." Grace is God's method of salvation. None of us could ever have been saved if God had not been gracious. Although "apostleship" specifically referred to Paul and the others who were technically apostles, every believer is a "sent one." The Greek word apostole, means "a sending forth." So each of us ought to be a witness, one sent forth with a message from God. The question then becomes, "What am I doing to get the Word of God out in these days?"
The second half of this verse directs the reader to obey God. As we shall eventually see, Romans opens with obedience and closes with obedience. Obedience to the faith is extremely important to God. God saves us by faith, not by works; but afterwards He wants to speak to us about our works, about our obedience to Him. Saving faith makes you obedient to Christ.
Can there be a difference in faith? Most certainly there is. It is in the object of your placed faith. If I believe in George Washington I then believe him to be a great man, first President of America, Father of our country. My faith in Mr. Washingtom has never done anything for me, it does not make me a better or badder person. It does not cause me to live any longer or shorter a period of time. My faith in Christ, however, is quite different. This faith brings me salvation from death, it brings me reconciliation and forgiveness, it brings me eternal life. This faith causes me to surrender to Christ, to be willing to believe and do what God tells me. In order to be the "salt" of the earth we have to combine belief with works. Another picture for us, table salt is composed of two things also. It is composed of sodium and chloride, and each taken separately are poisonous to us. Combine the two and they form a very useful ingredient. And so it goes for believers, trust and obey when combined form a very useful thing for God to work with, and through.
Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ(1:6).
All of the called are the elect. Who are the called? Those who have heard the Word. Christ made it painfully clear when He said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me(John 10:27)." If you are following someone or something else, you haven't heard Jesus, you aren't following Him, and you are not one of His sheep. Those who hear and follow Him are the called ones. Election is very simple: Jesus calls, and you answer.
This concludes the "parenthesis" in the introduction of the letter to the Romans. Dr. James Stifler points out four features that are in this parenthesis: Paul has a message in accord with the Scriptures; the message is from the risen Christ; the message is universal; and the message is for the obedience to the faith.
That is it for today, beloved. Next time we shall return to the introduction of this letter to the Romans. Paul's purpose will be revealed to us and we will see three important statements made by him that ought to be ours today. Until then, become confident of your being called of God. Become confident that He has a message for you to carry to a sinful world. Become confident that God enables you to accomplish this purpose of taking His message out to the lost souls all around you.
Mon, May 5th - 1:46PM
STUDY IN ROMANS
Romans teaches the total depravity of mankind. Man is hopelessly lost and must have the righteousness of Christ for he has none of his own. The interesting thing is that the congregation of believers in Rome to whom this letter was written with the purpose of preventing them from falling into heresy, did not do so. This group of believers moved the farthest from the faith. It illustrates for us that man does not understand, neither does he seek after God.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (Romans 1:1).
Paul identified himself to the Romans as a slave, or doulos, of the Lord Jesus Christ. God did not force this position upon Paul, Paul took it of his own free will. God waits for you to willingly come to Him and make yourself His slave. In Luke 13:34 and in John 5:40 we see illustrated this very principle, that God waits for us to come to Him for life eternal.
On the road to Damascus, God said to Saul, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Saul asked who was speaking, Jesus told him who, and right then and there Saul accepted Christ for who He was. Saul asked Christ what He wished him to do and that is when Saul became a willing servant of Christ. That is the picture set for us here: first accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, then willingly become His servant by asking Him what He wants you to do.
When we look closely at the "to be" part of this verse it can be found out that this infinitive form of the verb is not found in the original manuscripts. It means that Paul was a "called apostle" and that is an adjective. He did not decide to become an apostle, God called him to be one. There are too many men and women today that claim to be apostles of God and they probably are not called at all. They have decided that they are called. Where was God's decision in all of that process? Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet when he was just a child. An apostle had to have been a witness of the resurrected Christ, and still must have seen Him today in order to actually be an apostle of God.
Apostle means "one who is sent." John 13:16 tells us how he that is sent is not greater than he that sent him. Again in Phillipians 2:25 we see this same word being used. The technical meaning in the New Testament is that of one chosen by Christ to declare the Gospel. In I Corinthians 15:8 Paul stated that the resurrected Christ had appeared to him: "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." The implication of these words is that there have been no other apostles since Paul.
Some other evidences of Paul being an apostle was that he had what today are called "sign gifts." He could speak other tongues/languages. He had the gift of healing. He could also raise the dead. So Paul is a called apostle; and he is "separated unto the gospel of God." "Separated" is used with the preposition unto, not from. Paul was separated to the gospel of God. Too many today speak about being separated "from." What good does that do anyone? That leaves you left out in oblivion.
This word separated is quite interesting. For instance, there is the word cleave. It can mean that an object will cleave to something or an object can be cleaved asunder. One means joining together and the other means to separate. Paul was a separated Christian, but he was separated to something, not from something. The Thessalonians turned to God from their idols. If a Christian is separated from something and not separated to Christ he/she will have an empty life. There will be no joy, he/she will become critical and sometimes cynical. Marriage is all about picturing this exact type of relationship with Christ. The marriage vows are to separate unto one person, to cleave to your spouse, becoming one flesh. That is how we are to be with Christ. Are you still holding back, not wanting to commit to Christ completely? Too many Christians today do exactly that, they hedge their bets, trying to cover all of the bases. They do not trust and completely believe Jesus.
The word separated is the Greek word aphorizo, from which we get our word horizon. It is absolutely wonderful to be separated to Christ for He brings you to the place where your horizons are enlarged. I believe this is what Paul was alluding to in I Corinthians 13:11 when he said: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I become a man, I put away childish things."
Notice Paul says he is separated unto the gospel of God. Man did not create the gospel. When I was born back in 1954 the gospel had already been in existence for some 1900+ years. It is God's gospel, and we can take it or leave it. We just need to be sure that we are willing to accept the consequences of our choices.
(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures(1:2).
This tells me that the gospel is not brand new. It was promised by God's prophets all throughout time. This gospel message brings good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, that God loves the world and presents continually a plan for saving mankind from itself. It brings us into a love relationship with God. We come to know that God loves us and gave Himself for our salvation.
I will halt there for now, beloved. Next time I will get into the next 4-5 verses which form what is called a parenthesis, or explanatory passage set apart by punctuation marks which are seen in verse 2. Until then, remember "who shall separate us form the love of Christ?" And the answer always is: nothing shall ever separate us from the love of our God. Rest assured in that promise from Christ our Lord.
Sun, May 4th - 11:03PM
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Beloved, tonight I am not going to begin a study on all of the fruit of the Spirit. Please open up your bibles and read Galatians 5:19-25. The first three verses focus upon the works of the flesh and inform us that anyone who does these things will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is not an exhaustive listing of the works of the flesh for the phrase "and such like" implies that there are others that would qualify for this list. We are given the broad picture here and can draw our own conclusions. I want to focus more upon the last two verses which follow the listing of the fruit of the Spirit.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts(vs 24).
We are told here how to determine who is Christ's and who isn't. Anyone who continues to wallow in lustful living does not belong to Jesus. When was the flesh crucified? When they decide that when Christ died, they died, they will yield themselves on that basis. In Romans 6:13 we are told: "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." So until I decide that I died when Christ died on the cross I will not yield myself to truly serve God. Here's another passage: "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God(Colossians 3:3)." In these passages the thought is that when Jesus was crucified, the believer was crucified at the same time. The believer is now joined to the living God, and the victory is not by struggling but by surrendering to Christ. The word is yield, it is an act of the will.
Here is the key to it all:
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).
Hhhmm? This implies that I could be living in the Spirit but perhaps not walking in the Spirit. How could that happen? How can I begin walking in the Spirit? Perhaps if we continue on to verse 26 we can begin to see how to start that process.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
So apparantly there are steps in this process of learning how to walk spiritually. Just as we had to learn how to walk physically, we must learn how to walk spiritually. Man, more work! We learned to physically walk through trial and error, practice. Just so, we must follow the exact same methodology in the spiritual sense. It means that we must lean upon God to help us walk this path, we must ask Him for help when we fall down. It might mean that you must step out in faith today and depend upon Christ, yield yourself to Him; it is an act of the will.
But I think that part of the intial process is also not being desirous of personal glory. I ought not to desire to have the position of someone else within my congregation and attempt to obtain it from them. That is wrong. If I am living out this particular verse I eliminate alot of stress and misunderstandings from my associations with other Christians. I will be honest with all of you and admit that I had a personally tough time dealing with compliments that got made after I would sing a "special." Did that mean that I did want to continue to sing them? Of course not. But I remained vigilant that I did not start basking in the "glory" of the compliments since then I would be stepping ever closer to desiring that vain glory spoken of in verse 26. I had to continually learn to accept the compliments as being genuine. Why? Because out in the world I had experienced too much deceit, too much manipulation. So, each of us must learn new things in this, our new family of brothers and sisters in Christ. So let us not desire vain glory, nor provoke one another, nor envy what someone else has, or what we may believe that they have. This all brings us to a couple of questions:
What grows in your garden without any help from you? and What will grow if you help it?
You ask, "What in the world does this have to do with walking in the Spirit?" Bear with me. If we now look at Galatians 6:7-10 we find some interesting references to gardening/farming:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall ge also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Would you all say that if I accidentally sow a few sinful seeds that I then will be forced to reap a harvest from those in the future? Likewise, if I deliberately sow sinful seeds in my life then I will be forced to harvest the consequences of what I sowed. I cannot avoid that fact of life. So, perhaps if we are only living in the Spirit and not walking in the Spirit also, we could be sowing some bad seeds simply by our walk. This would then translate into some loss of witnessing power when we try and share our faith with others who are seeking answers in their lives.
So perhaps we need to consider sins to be equal with weeds out in our gardens. Weeds will grow profusely even if we do not pay any attention at all to them. It does not even have to rain and they will grow! But if we desire to grow carnations, roses, columbine, nasturtiums, etc. then we are forced into taking care of them, feeding them, removing the weeds that threaten continually to choke the desired plants out. Can you see the close similarity between weeds and sins?
So which fruit are growing in your life? Which plants are blossoming in your garden? Which sins are "dead and buried?" Which sins are "mortally wounded" but not yet dead and could potentially regrow? (Pulling a weed out by the roots versus simply cutting it off at ground level) Which sins are "alive and well?"
HOW CAN WE AND THE SPIRIT WORK AND GROW GOOD FRUIT WHILE KILLING OFF THE BAD FRUIT IN OUR LIVES?
Since I am running out of time due to the lateness of the hour, I will give you the scriptures to read and study out for yourselves at your own pace.
Read Ephesians 4:25-32 Read Ephesians 5:8-11, 19-21 Phillipians 2:14
Galatians 6:2 is a means to keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 6:3 is meant as a warning. Galatians 6:4+5 are a means to begin self examination.
If you desire further study: Romans 11:17-24 deals with ingrafting, agains, having to do with gardening/farming. Romans 12 and Romans 15:1+2 which brings us back to how to "walk the talk" and live out a Spirit-filled life. If we are stronger in faith than someone else, and they are suffering through infirmities then we need to support them, to lift them up. We ought to do whatever is necessary for them. That is Christian love as it ought to be according to God.
That is all for tonight, my friends. I apologise for leaving you with several references to study out on your own, but I think that that is good every once in a while. Next time I believe that I will embark on a study of the book of Romans verse by verse. Until then, decide in your heart today to begin walking in the Spirit. Decide to do all within your power to accomplish the will of God in your life AND when you reach a wall that you will have prepared yourself to ask God to empower you to overcome the obstacle so that you may continue on. May His peace and grace fill your cup to overflowing.
Sat, May 3rd - 7:33PM
UNTIL HE COMES
( Matthew 26:29) " I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."
One of the many uses of ritual is to teach. Most of us learn best through repetition. If you think not, try diagramming this sentence. Unless you happen to teach English, most likely you can't do it. It's not that you weren't taught how; it's just that you don't practice it. The same thing is true in our ritual life. If you wish to learn from it, you must repeat it. So we repeat those rituals whose lessons need to be learned and relearned; therefore, we repeat the Lord's Supper.
One reason for this is that in Communion we proclaim not only the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, but also His coming again. It is not an aspect of Communion which is much emphasized. Indeed, I find that the return of the Lord is a subject which is dealt with very lightly in most congregations today ( with some notable exceptions). This is strange, considering that we proclaim it every time in our Communion ritual.
Make no mistake about it: we do proclaim it in the Lord's Supper. Our Lord explicitly connected this Passover meal with His return. Indeed, not with a return visit, but with the establishment of His Father's kingdom. You cannot take the Lord's Supper and consistently deny the return of Christ.
Christ also taught that when He returns in power and glory we will see the resurrection of the dead. There are many disputing theories about the details of this, but all agree on these things:
- All of the dead will be raised---to face some sort of judgment.
- The dead in Christ will be raised like He was raised---incorruptible.
- The resurrection is a bodily resurrection, not just a "spiritual" one.
More than this is difficult to say. Leaving aside the controversial, those who are in Christ will be raised from the dead, in bodily form, to meet Him at His return. That body is an eternal body; the fellowship with Him and with the Father is eternal.
And we proclaim this truth every time we take Communion. Whether we take Communion once per year, twice per year, quarterly, or weekly, we are proclaiming His return. Our deepest thoughts, the ones which surpass words, are acted out in symbol and ritual. This is a part of the deepest ritual in Christianity.
Note, "a part." The resurrection of the dead cannot be separated from the Passion of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is not an afterthought; it is not a pleasant epilogue to Christ's ministry. The resurrection is part and parcel of the first coming of Christ. He meant to bring this message. The Old Testament hints at it (in a couple of passages rather explicitly); all of Christ's teaching on the subject presumes it. Paul develops it more fully. Jesus Christ did not intend His sacrifice to be effective in this life only. When you take that cup and that bread, you look backwards to the sacrifice---and forward to His coming again.
Use this meditation to prepare your heart for worshipping the Living God tomorrow if your congregation is observing Communion. Until tomorrow, beloved, keep your eyes to the heavens seeking out signs of our Lord and Savior's return in the clouds. Have a most blessed seventh day.
Fri, May 2nd - 1:16PM
I AM NOT ALONE, PT. 6
GOD'S PRESENCE GIVES US CONQUEST
The very presence of Christ leads us to conquest. Not only will God walk with us through our times of trouble and pain, but He will enable us to endure them and ultimately to triumph over them. It is found nowhere that God has promised us freedom from problems, trials, troubles, sickness, injury, and tribulations. In fact, quite often it seems that God's people suffer the most. To borrow a line from a once popular song, "I never promised you a rose garden!" That is what God reminds each of us. Even if He had, roses have thorns.
CONQUEST OVER CIRCUMSTANCES
His presence gives us strength to overcome our negative circumstances. Sickness strikes. Misery befalls us. Unknown, unseen trouble stalks our very footsteps. Through all of these afflictions we can build our assurance on the foundation promise that God gave the Jewish people, through Isaiah the prophet, during the Babylonian exile: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee(Isaiah 43:2)."
Those of you who have studied the bible are probably recalling that the last part of this promise literally came true during the exile. Three of Daniel's Jewish friends were thrown into a "fiery furnace" for refusing to worship the image of the king. Remember those three? In the furnace, another person was seen to be walking with them, according to the astonished King Nebuchadnezzar: "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire,and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God(Daniel 3:25)."
The king then called the three men by name, telling them to come out of the furnace. All three men walked out of the furnace without a singed hair, without the smell of smoke on them. God's promise had become fact. God had been with His people in the fire, and they had not been burned in the least.
Grantedly, you and I will probably never experience such dramatic deliverance and divine intervention; yet Christ is constantly with us and actually moving in our lives 24/7. Christ is with us whether we are richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, in abundance and want. In Matthew 28:20 He promised His disciples, and us, to never leave us. Perhaps you have read the piece written by Margaret Fishback Powers, it reflects this promise.
CONQUEST OVER CHEERLESSNESS
Our Lord, while on earth, depended completely on the promises of God the Father. His incarnation brought Him into a world filled with hate, ignorance, superstition, and war. Sound familiar? Human life was cheap. Again, sound familiar? Slavery was widespread. Women frequently were considered chattel. The atmosphere was oppressive.
But Jesus had conquest over this cheerlessness. Yes, He was called "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." But He was also cheerful. He reminded His disciples of the reason for His positive attitude: "In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world(John 16:33b)."
Three different times Jesus spoke this imperative: to be of good cheer. In the above verse He indicated conquest of "tribulation," meaning trials, persecutions, pressures, hard times. He had conquered the world. In Matthew 9:2b Jesus instructed the man sick of the palsy: "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." And then Jesus reassured His disciples, when they beheld Him walking on the water toward them and became fearful: "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid (Matthew 14:237b)."
All through the ensuing centuries followers of Jesus Christ have caught this cheerful aspect of His Spirit. They have sung in prisons and while being tortured to death. They even sing while the casket of a loved one was lowered into the grave. They have lifted their voices in praise to Christ even while being torn to shreds by wild animals. Through all of these afflictions, persecutions, and torture, true believers have heard their Master's voice calling out to them to be "of good cheer; for I have conquered the world!"
Followers of Christ have every reason to "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory"(I Peter 1:8). They are assured of life both now and forever more. Our lease on eternal life began the split second we received Christ as our Saviour. We are kept and sustained by God's power. God indwells us with His Holy Spirit. We are "sealed" by the Spirit, never to be lost to Satan.
CONQUEST OVER CORRUPTION
The psalmist must have gazed prophetically down the halls of time and wrote of the Messiah:
"For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fulness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore(Psalm 16:10-11)."
It would seem that the writer was speaking of Jesus' descent into the grave before being resurrected. Christ is the "Holy One" and this concept is seen in Ephesians 4:8-9. In I Corinthians 15:53-54 we see this idea extended to each believer in Christ:
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
No matter what perspective is considered, Christ has covered all of the bases for true believers in Him. They/we will never suffer spiritual decay, this "mortal" will be clothed with immortality. In the letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that...nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39)."
"I am not alone," Jesus said. Because he lives, we live, and we are not alone. He is with us now and forever. We have inherited all of His promises. So we can be confident in that God's presence gives us comfort, courage, and conquest. In ending, I give you the words of an unknown lyricist:
I've seen the lightning flashing,
I've heard the thunder roll.
I've felt sin's breakers crashing,
Trying to conquer my soul.
I've heard the voice of Jesus
Telling me still to fight on.
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone....
No, never alone,
No, never alone!
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone!
That concludes this series of posts on the great I AMs of Jesus. Much material was drawn from the writing of Dr. R. Earl Allen of which I am extremely thankful to have been given in love from a brother in Christ. Next time I will begin a new topic, perhaps a study of the book of Romans. Until then, beloved, believe that you are more than conquerors in Christ. You should be cheerful in all that you do for you have assurance from God that He will carry you through to the completion of what He has set before you to do. Do all as unto God.
Thu, May 1st - 1:11PM
I AM NOT ALONE, PT. 5
NO FEAR OF DEATH
Even when faced with the prospect of death we are not to have fear, for here, also, God's presence gives us courage. Didn't the psalmist sing joyfully: "Yea, though I wald through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me"(Psalm 23:4).
As our Lord and Saviour Jesus stared at the horrendous reality of betrayal, trial, and crucifixion, He called on all of the Father's assurances. Strengthened by the presence of the Father, He was able to abide in His decision to obey the Father's will. He was able to confront the Roman soldiers with courage, "I am he" (John 18:5). On the cross His final cry was, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit(Luke 23:46)." Commend means "to entrust for care or preservation." Obviously Jesus had confidence in His Father's ability to preserve His spirit.
So if we are not to fear death, why did Jesus pray that He would not have to drink "this cup"? "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will, but as thou will(Matthew 26:39)." And again he spoke on this matter in Matthew 26:42. Does this mean that Jesus Christ was afraid? Really?
Or could it just be that the Christ knew that He would have to taste death for the sins of every man, woman, and child from the entire history of mankind? Now, that is daunting! Some commentators have surmised that perhaps it was the human part of Jesus that recoiled from the impending crucifixion since He was both God and Man at one and the same time. I tend to side with those commentators who feel that Jesus' divinity shrank from the idea of becoming sin, of having His holy, pure, self polluted by the sins of the world. In the garden at Gethsemane when Jesus was praying He no doubt was considering exactly what Paul wrote later on: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him(II Corinthians 5:21)." The Father made the Son incarnate in the flesh to be our substitute on the cross, in order that our sins might be forgiven and we could become righteous through Christ Jesus.
Exactly because Jesus was willing to die on our behalf upon the cross at Calvary, and miraculously rose from the grave, there is no longer fear of death. He has drunk the cup of iniquity, died the death, paid the price for all of us. Because He conquered death, hell, and sin, we need no longer fear any of them:
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive...For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death...O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?...But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ(I Corinthians 15:20-22, 25-26, 55, 57)."
Charles Wesley sang these words joyously in response to the above scriptural truth:
Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle done, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened Paradise, Alleluia!
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will begin the final section of this study on the great "I AMs." I will post thoughts on how and why God's presence gives us conquest in our lives. If conquest is absent in my life, could God's presence be lacking in my life also? We shall see next time. Until then, rejoice ecstatically over the fact that death has no hold over us once we accept Christ as our Saviour. Once we repent of our sins and ask God for forgiveness we can experience the presence of God Himself. Fear nothing, be courageous in the face of everything. That is how we as Christians must live our lives each and every day.
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