Crossroads Fellowship

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Only Dead People Get Buried

The apostle Paul at this point encourages us with these words. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:5-7 What an encouragement this is that Paul gives us when he assures us that if we are united with Christ in death, then we too shall be united in life with him. This unity in His life is not some future far off event, but is able to be attained even here and now. For the apostle tells us in verse 11 of this chapter to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ.

To put it in the simplest terms that I can I want to put it like this. If I have died to myself and sin through faith and repentance, and have been buried with Christ in baptism then I am dead. I mean I need to believe that I am utterly dead, and a dead man can do nothing except be dead. Yet instantaneously when I died I somehow was miraculously resurrected to walk in newness of life. So the old me is dead, deader than a door nail! That means the man typing these words is a new man, and Christ’s man to boot, because I am walking in his life not my own. Therefore the power to obey God is in me, and at work in me, because Jesus (the only one who can and did obey God) is living in me and it is his power that gives me life. Now keeping what we just talked about in mind read these scriptures, and I think that you will see that what I have just stated is exactly what Paul is saying.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Father God,
I read the words that I am dead, yet somehow the old self tries to come back time and time again. But even though the old nature tries to say it is alive and well I will reckon myself dead to sin and alive to Christ. I need you dwelling fully in me in order that this might be played out in my life, so I again give myself wholly to you this day. May Jesus live in and through me. Amen

Monday, October 30, 2006

Buried In Baptism

I want you to understand as Paul wants you to understand that living in holiness is not a future thing to be attained in heaven. As we have already seen, we need to be keenly aware of our need of the savior and our utter sinfulness. Being aware of that we can throw ourselves on the mercy of God in Christ and strive to live a life that is holy and acceptable to God, presenting ourselves as living sacrifices. The question is this though. Once I have by faith gone to God asking for this to be true in my life, how do I practically live those things out? That is why the apostle Paul then begins to explain in the sixth chapter of Romans how to live this faith out in our daily lives. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4

Obviously Paul would expect that we should have a God given desire to no longer sin if we have repented and trusted the savior. This is evident by verses 1-2. We are not to continue sinning that grace may abound, for if we have died to sin, through the act of repentance and faith in Jesus, then how can we continue willfully living in it? The answer is that we can’t continue to choose to live in sin if this is true of us. However it seems that Paul obviously knows that sin is still going to be present and happen. So therefore we are given practical steps in holy living.

Paul is using the presupposition that the reader has been baptized, or at a very minimum, knows of baptism. He then tells us that part of the symbolism of baptism is being baptized, or immersed, into Christ’s death. If therefore we are baptized into his death, we are completely dead and buried by that baptism. The reason is that just as Christ was raised from the dead, we might also be raised to walk in the newness of our new life in Christ.

Keeping this truth in the front of our mind is paramount to walking in the Spirit, and being living, loving examples of true disciples of Jesus. Paul is not telling us that some magic equation has happened that will automatically make us live holy, but reminding us that the old sinful nature no longer holds us in bondage. We as God’s children can now choose to not sin. And the power to not sin comes from the new life, or new birth. Before the new birth we were slaves to sin, but now we no longer need be. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Lord Jesus,
I want to walk in holiness, yet I seem to stumble far to often. May the truth that I have been baptized into your death, and burial, and then raised a new creature to walk in newness of life always be foremost in my mind. May I no longer offer the excuse that the devil made me do it, because I know that if I am truly your child the devil can not make me do anything, and therefore I will choose to obey you. I need your power in me to help me live this out, because apart from you I can do nothing. Amen

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Want To Love Like That!

Now as the apostle Paul moves through his presentation we see that he makes an important thought shift. We have seen that all men can be saved by the imputed righteousness and justification found through Christ. And now we get to see the true power of that fact. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21 You see Paul says that the law came to increase trespass, or sin. The law made sin exceedingly sinful by bringing about more knowledge of our rebellion against God. But here is the good news, no the great news: But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that grace might reign through the righteousness of Christ Jesus!

Wow! What a powerful statement my brethren. Sin increases by the law, meaning we are more aware of it, and more aware of our need to be cleansed, and because of that grace abounds all the more and becomes truly amazing. But how does this work you might say? For that my brothers we need to look to the scriptures yet again. Take this excerpt from Luke.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher." "A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven--for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:36-50

This dear woman was keenly aware of her spiritual filthiness before God Almighty. The law had made her aware of her need, and sin had become utterly sinful. But praise the Lord that it did not end with utter sinfulness, for the grace of God through Christ abounded and increased all the more. Yes God’s amazing grace caused this woman to love like there was no tomorrow. Do you love God like there is no tomorrow? Have you cast your fortune upon him? Have you taken your precious alabaster box and broken it open and poured upon the feet of the Lord your fragrant offering? Before you answer yes ask yourself one more set of questions.

Does my life reflect this amazing grace? Do I always put God first? Do I read my Bible everyday? Do I pray, not for my own self, but for others every single day? Do I praise God even when life is rough? Do I bring my tithes (10% taken from the Hebrew word מַעֲשֵׂר [ma`asrah] in the Old Testament and the Greek word δεκάτας [dekate] in the New Testament in Hebrews 7, which both mean one tenth) into God’s storehouse? Do I bring my offerings, which are over and above the tithe, into God’s storehouse? Do I seek to obey God by remaining sexually pure? And the list of questions could go on and on. If your answers to any of these questions, or the myriads of others that we could ask are no, then there is yet more and more of God’s grace for you to experience.

Who of us can truly answer yes to the question of do I always put God first? None of us can say yes to that, even the godliest of Christians can not truthfully answer yes to that, to include myself. And so the point I am trying to make is this. We first need to come to the place where we realize that apart from Christ we can not be holy, live holy, or act holy at all. Once there, then we progressively become holier in our actions and lifestyle we will learn more and more to love Christ Jesus, even to the point of kissing his feet and washing them with our tears.

Father God,
Through Jesus' sacrifice I humbly approach your throne giving praise and adoration unto you, and to the Lamb that was slain. I come broken admitting to you that I can not live out the holiness that you have called me to, and I beg you to live fully in me that holy living may be displayed in my life. I admit that I have not always put you first. I admit that I have held back from you my money, my possesions, my time, my talents, and many other areas of my life. However I by faith this day break my "alabaster box" and pour out my life as a living sacrifice to you, and ask that you make your holiness present in me. For where your laws have made sin more real in my life, I want grace to abound the more. Lord I repent, help me to live in that repentance and to keep your commandments. I wish to keep your commandments not to earn favor with you, but because I love you! In the matchless, priceless, holy name of Jesus - Amen.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Difference Between Adam and Jesus

Now as we have sought to understand the concept of original sin the apostle Paul goes on to compare the results of original sin with original righteousness that came through Christ. It may seem confusing that I use the term original righteousness, but I do this in making the point that the only one righteous of himself is Christ Jesus, and so it must be the original. So now brothers and sisters we look to the scriptures.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:15-19

Paul immediately starts off in his comparison by informing us that the free gift is not like the trespass. It is important to keep this concept in mind as we look through this passage. For we know now that many died through and because of that one man’s sin, for the judgment following the sin brought condemnation, death, and the sin nature to all men. However in contrast to that the free gift through Christ brought justification and righteousness, but not for every single person instantaneously, but as a future event.

As we look at verse 19 things can get a little tricky, but I want to look closely even though it is hard because it is so important. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 We are going to focus on “were made” and “will be made.” At the root the Greek word used here is the same root word, but the tense used is different for each. In the case of “were made” it is simply showing that it has happened. However where it is translated “will be made” it is the future tense of the word. It is very important as we look at this that we understand that this is a future tense usage of this word.

Why is this so important you might ask? The answer is simple enough. Because it is future tense, showing that it will happen, it indicates that the justification of each person did not just instantaneously happen at the cross, but rather that justification was made possible for each person at the cross. Some would use this passage to say that all men everywhere are saved, but the truth is that all men everywhere can be saved. The reason the word used is future tense is because we have to personally believe God as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did. Righteousness can and will be imputed, but only when we believe. That is why the free gift is not like the trespass. Because by the trespass all men were condemned by our sin nature coming alive, but by the gift all men can be made justified by the righteousness of Christ Jesus.

Lord God,
May you awaken this truth in my heart, and may I see that all men can be saved and justified through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Father may I truly be aware that though the transaction is completed on your side, that all men everywhere need to hear of this truth, and so choose to believe you. May the truth of this word bring a burning passion to my heart to go tell everyone I know about sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. May the many truly be made right through the actions of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thank You Lord For Not Ending With Adam!

Realizing that the sinful nature is what is passed down to us starting in Adam all the way through our parents we get a basic understanding of the concept of original sin. I know that some out there would say that original sin is way more intricate than this, but let us keep in mind that were ought not overlook the simplicity of the Gospel. Keeping that concept in mind let us refresh ourselves on the scriptures we are studying. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-- for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. Romans 5:12-14

The Bible gives a grand and glorious definition of what sin is. The King James Version says it like this. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4 While the English Standard Version, my personal favorite, says it like this. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 On the surface these translations of the Bible may seem to be saying something different. Yet the truth is that they looking at the truth from a different angle. Sin is transgression, or breaking of the law. Yet sin is also lawlessness, which some would say is also breaking the law, yet it is really being without the law. Now for the really brain hurting part, which is looking at the Greek. The Greek word that John is using in 1 John 3:4 to say what sin is happens to be νομία (anomia). It actually means the condition of without law because of ignorance of it, or because of violating it.

You see sin is breaking God’s law even if we haven’t ever realized that it was His law because we had no knowledge of Him. Paul affirms this basic truth because he says that sin was indeed in the world before the law was given. However it was not counted as sin because there was no law. Yet somehow death reigned from Adam to Moses, whom the Law was given through. Death reigned even for those who broke the law in ignorance of it, even if they were not directly rebelling against a command that God had given them the same way Adam did. The big question on your mind now might be something like this: How can that be, if sin was not counted before the law?

It is essential to remember that Paul said that none are without excuse because God’s Law is written on the conscience. Romans 2:15 The original sin was eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of good and evil – wow doesn’t that sound like our conscience. Isn’t our consciences job to tell us good and evil? Our conscience is direct proof of original sin, that is present in each and every person regardless of whether they want it to be or not. Now thanks be to God that He did not let it end with Adam, for Adam was of a type of the one who was to come. As “original sin” entered through Adam, and death with it, we will soon learn that “original righteousness” and life with it entered through one man as well – the man Christ Jesus!

Dear Lord,
Thank you that you did not quit with Adam, but thank you that you sent your Son. God I thank you for helping me to understand original sin, and ask you to make that truth paramount in my life, for by understanding how sin came through one man I might better be able to understand how righteousness also came through one man, namely Jesus.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The "Sin Nature"

We often find it difficult as Christians to believe that people, who have never even heard of the Bible, or of Jesus, are condemned to die and suffer in hell for their sin. This is an age old struggle, where the mercy we want to feel for people has a conflict in us with the truth of God’s justice being meted out to everyone regardless. The apostle Paul deals with this issue very well in Romans 5:12-21. However the explanation is very complicated in it so we will move cautiously and slowly through it. Let us look at verses 12-14 first and foremost. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-- for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. Romans 5:12-14

The word of God given through Paul tells us here that sin came into the world through one man. That one man was the man Adam. We are afraid in many Christian circles today to deal with the concept of “original sin”, and even sometimes are discouraged from doing so because it is a deeper mystery of the Gospel. Yet Paul here in Romans brings it up. Paul deals with it in a way that even the simplest of people might understand, which is a good thing, because I am pretty simple. The concept is that sin originally came into the world because of the transgression of one man, that man being Adam. Death entered the world directly after, as a result of the entrance of sin.

Some would say at this point, that because of that one sin, all men are to die. However Paul, as well as I, understands it differently. Pay close attention to where he says, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. Romans 5:12b People don’t die and go to hell because Adam sinned, they die and go to hell because they have sinned. It is the “sin nature” that entered into the world through that one man. That very tendency inside of us to rebel against God, and our conscience that he gave us, and do our own thing is the “sin nature”.

Theologically this is a very difficult concept, and so I want to stop for the day with this prayer.

Father God,
The concept of original sin is one that is hard for even the most learned to understand. However I don't want to shy away from your truth just because it is not easy to understand. So I ask that you would renew and refresh my mind, and help me to see the truth, and understand. In Jesus' name, Amen and Amen.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

God Has Friends!

So how does all of this tie together, being with God, believing him and having hope, weak and poor enough in spirit to trust him. Paul would have us to believe that it comes together like this: Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:9-11 If we put off our old selves, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ we are more than saved from the wrath to come. And being saved from the wrath to come is very important, yes even critical, but it is not all.

We were enemies of the Most High, reconciled to God by the death of his Son, but now that we are reconciled, we are saved by his life. The Savior lives, and his life saves us even now. We can rejoice NOW! We have received reconciliation NOW! We are saved from the wrath to come in the future, but walking with God, being a Christian, is more than escaping future punishment. It is more than an insurance policy against hell. It is walking in reconciliation with God now. If you have received forgiveness through faith and repentance, you are no longer an enemy of God, but you are instead God’s friend. The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Luke 7:34 The Lord Jesus is a friend of sinners who have received the gift of life and reconciliation through his shed blood. So walk with God now, not when you die, but now, for he is with you even now, a friend in your present need.

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Exodus 33:11a

Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 2 Chronicles 20:7

Father, Master, Savior,
I want to walk with you now, living out my faith now. I no longer desire to live for some future event that is yet to come, but I realize that I am reconciled unto you even now this very moment, and can call myself a friend of the Most High God! This I do by faith through Christ Jesus, my Lord and ever present Savior. May I walk with you daily, now. Amen

Monday, October 23, 2006

Are You Weak Enough?

Did Christ come for the strong and able bodied, or did he come for the weak and down trodden? Paul would have us to believe that he came for the weak and needy, as would the Lord Jesus himself. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

Sometimes I think we feel as though we have to be strong, because strength is what gets us through. Many great and godly men and women were “strong in the Lord.” But what does strong in the Lord really mean. You see Christ did not come to die for a righteous man, but he came to die for weak, broken, poor, destitute sinners. I think though, that many times in our Christian walk we feel as though we have to be super human, and keep it all together to receive the blessings. Perhaps even from my own writings you have perceived that you have put on a tough face in order to receive the Lord’s blessings, but this is not the case.

We really have to be weak enough, and broken enough, to admit that we need the Lord. Christ died at the perfect time for us, the weak. Believing God, and hoping in his promises doesn’t mean you never feel emotion or disappointment, it just means that in the midst of the trial, when grief and pain abound, you cast it all on the Savior. Surely I have felt powerful pain and sorrow, yet I stay on the course, then Paul who is far better than I endured many hardships and dangers, yet he stayed the course even in grief, sorrow, hunger, danger, and pain. Then the Lord Jesus himself was overcome with sorrow to the point of death, emotion pouring forth from him, yet knowing the plan and promise of God he stayed the course.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 So dear Christian, standing firm in hope, faith with expectation, is not never crying, or never hurting, or never feeling pain. It is always clinging, and ever singing of his great and glorious love. It is, when trials overwhelm us, throwing ourselves on him. You don’t have to be strong enough to believe the promise, you have to be weak enough. Are you weak enough to believe the promise? "Strong in the Lord" is really saying weak in myself, so that His strength can be made known in my life.

Father God,
I admit to you that I have often tried to stand in my own power and strength. Yet never have I been strong enough. So following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, I make myself nothing more than a servant of the Most High. Lord I am weak in you, so that you can be strong in me. I will no longer boast of my strength, but of your strength only.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

With Hope There Is No Shame!

What assurance do we have that God has truly made a promise to us, and that he will fulfill it? The apostle Paul sums up in one brief statement how it is that we can know that we have the promise already received. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5 This is a statement of the most profound kind. It is one thing to read on the pages of the Bible a promise that God will be with us through each of our trials and struggles. Yet it completely another when the Holy Spirit bears witness in us.

Our hope, faith with expectation, that God will fulfill his promise is affirmed in us in that God has poured his love, and therefore himself, into our hearts via his Holy Spirit, whom we have received. Let us just look at a few scriptures outside of Romans to see this at work.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. Acts 5:32

so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. Hebrews 6:18

You see from the scriptures that God is love, so having poured His love into our hearts, He is really pouring Himself into us. This all happens because He gives His Spirit to those who obey and believe Him. And we can rest in the fact that this has happened even if we don’t “feel” it, because it is impossible for God to lie. So therefore, our hope in Him, will not disappoint us or bring us to shame, because He who made the promise is faithful and true to keep the promise. God is worthy to be believed and trusted, and we have the assurance that the promise is true because God is.

Christian – these are truths that should make your heart sing with joy, and yet still your troubled mind. Therefore brethren we should flee to the arms of the waiting savior, even in our trials, even when the road is hard and the night is dark. Because hope that is in God will never, and God means never, disappoint or bring you to shame.

Dear Lord,
I believe your promises and stand assured that my hope in you will not be put to shame. I lay down all my doubts, and ask you to still my troubled heart. I worship you because you are, and love you because you will always be. I surrender.

Friday, October 20, 2006

We Are WITH God!

As we talk about our life circumstances, and the trials, and sometimes insurmountable odds we face, we struggle to rest peacefully in the arms of the loving Creator. However, as Christians, born again of God’s Spirit, it need not be so. Take for instance what the apostle Paul says here: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, Romans 5:1-4

I believe that many times we think about what Paul is saying here and we view the peace that we have with God that Paul is referring to here as being only peace between ourselves and God through Christ. While this is very true, that we have obtained peace between ourselves and God, by faith, through Christ, I believe that there is also another form of peace that God would have us to rest in that is mentioned in this passage. Paul mentions this same peace to the church at Philippi. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

I would go so far as to say that it is the primary peace that Paul, and God, want us as believers to know about. Many God fearing men, greater teachers than I am, might disagree with this, but none the less let us explore it briefly. Paul says that since, or because of, our justification we have peace with God through Jesus. Before we were justified we were not with God, we were enemies of God in our minds through wicked works. (Colossians 1:21) But now, after having been justified, by faith through the blood of Christ on Calvary we can have peace. Not only between us and God, but now with him. For as the scriptures say: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

And so as we look back at Romans 4, Abraham had peace believing God, because by faith he was with God, and not against him. So as we look at the beginning of Romans 5 we can see that because we are with God, we have peace. Keeping that in mind it suddenly makes sense when Paul goes onto explain that we can rejoice in the hope of glory, and more than that we can rejoice in our sufferings. We are with God, and because we know that God will not bring us to something that He can not bring us through, then we can rejoice in peace, knowing that our suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

Because Abraham believed God, and was with God, he could rejoice in suffering with no heir, enduring the pain and shame, growing in godly character, which ultimately produced hope (faith with expectation), that he would be the father of many nations. All of this because by faith and belief he was with God. So if by faith you have obtained access to the grace in which you stand, do not waver in your faith, distrusting God, but live in the peace that you have because you are with God.

Father God,
My life circumstances are not always what I would wish them to be. But I know that I have been justified by faith through Christ, and that I have died to sin and self, having my life hidden with Christ in You. Therefore I ask that you would fulfill your word in me, that I would have peace, and patient endurance as I go through these many trials. Father, my flesh would have me to be anxious, but my spirit would wait upon you. And so I wait with hope against hope, crying out to You --- fulfill Your purpose and plan in me. For the glory of the King, and Jesus only, Amen.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hoping Against Hope!

Trusting and believing God fully was something that Paul knew that Abraham had done. He was familiar with what the scriptures had said, and he was a descendant of that promise, as one who had partaken of the faith of Abraham. As it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"--in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness." But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 4:17-25

The promise that God spoke to Abraham was not, I will make you the father of many nations, but rather, I have made you the father of many nations. Abraham could have looked at his old and broken down body, and at the barren womb of Sarah, and chosen to believe what he saw with his eyes and his past experience. But in hope against hope, believing that God could do what he said he could do, he did not distrust God, and waver in his belief of the promise God had made. No on the contrary he grew strong in his faith! He was fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. And therefore his faith was counted as righteousness.

Praise be to the Father in heaven that the story does not end there though. For the words were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted as righteousness for us who believe in him who raised our Lord from the dead, and justifies us by faith.

Abraham had a choice, he could believe God, and in hope (which is faith with expectation), could live out his promise with God. Or he could make God out to be a liar and lay down and die, never receiving righteousness. My brethren the choice today is the same for us. You may look at your circumstances around you, your tough job, your marriage, your kids, or whatever and believe that God is God and is working out his plan for you. Or you can take the other option, and just lay down and die. I say to you though that those of us who have believed God, we must believe Him the same way Abraham did. We must hope against hope, having faith with expectation of receiving, that God is working out his plan for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

You see, we can let our life circumstances, our trials and tribulations, our persecutions and sufferings, be the things that destroy our faith. Or we can do as the father of the faithful, Abraham, did and cast ourselves on God and Christ headlong trusting in him who rewards those who earnestly seek him. You see faith that saves, and faith that keeps, is faith that believes God no matter what. Even as James says, for if we doubt we should expect to receive nothing, because we are tossed about as like a ship on every single wave of trouble. So like Abraham I need to believe God, even when it doesn’t make sense to me, I need to believe God, because he is worthy to be believed.

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
I come to you with troubled heart, weary from my burdens. Like Abraham I am "old and broken" and feel as though my life were barren like the womb of Sarah. The scorching heat of trials are burning all around me, but I will not lay down and die, rather I will die to myself and my desires and cast myself headlong into you believing that you can do exactly as you said you can do. Draw me ever closer and nearer to thee, may I walk with you as one through your life giving Spirit. In Jesus' matchless name - Amen.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not By The Law!

Now Paul, seeming to know what is coming next, moves again to the Law, but this time he very specifically points out the purpose of the law. Read the passage of scripture that we are about to explore. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring--not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, Romans 4:13-16

This mighty man of God here states that the promise did not come to Abraham and his offspring through the law. As I have asserted before, I do so again, the law had yet to be given in written form, but merely at this point was written upon the hearts of men only in the form of the conscience. God did this as well, knowing that if righteousness came through adhering to the law, that faith would be of no use, and his promise to Abraham would be null and void. Why is that though?

The reason that I believe it is that way is contained in verse 15 of this passage. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. Romans 4:15 You see the law brings wrath, not righteousness. For by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 The purpose of the law was not to bring us into right relationship with God, but rather to give us the knowledge of how badly messed up our relationship is with God. For when the law came, we could finally understand what sin was. Sin is transgression, or breaking, of God’s law. And breaking his law brings his wrath to abide on us. However, his free gift of grace and mercy imputes to us righteousness through, from, and by Christ’s perfect atoning sacrifice. See the righteousness comes not only to the adherent to the law, (Jesus being the only one who ever adhered it fully), but also to the who shares the faith that Abraham had in God.

So then, while we know that we must always walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1), our righteousness does not depend up it, but rather on our faith in the one who is Perfect, Holy, Upright, and Blameless.

Mighty God,
While I know that you have called me and set me apart to do good works for you, may I always know, and revel in the knowledge that my righteouness comes not by works of the law, but by faith in Him, Jesus Christ, through whom the law was fulfilled. May I always walk worthy of that calling, by humbling admitting to you that it is not by my works, but by Jesus, and his imputed righteousness that even I can look upon you and cry out Abba, Father. May it be so in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Circumcision or Uncircumcision?

The apostle Paul at this point swings his argument from works in general, to the specific act of circumcision. Just as today many “Christians” claim God’s favor and blessing based upon the act of baptism, so the Jews would claim righteousness based upon circumcision. Let’s read the scriptures to see what they say.

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. Romans 4:9-12

Paul knowing his audience quickly moves to cut off the argument of circumcision based righteousness. Paul states that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness and then explores how it was counted. He asks the question “Was it before or after he had been circumcised.” Quickly he answers that it was before he was circumcised that he was credited righteousness. A quick study of Genesis 15 – 17 will show that it was actually fourteen years before he was circumcised that God credited him with righteousness through faith.

Paul is correct when he asserts that circumcision was merely a seal, or an outward symbol, of the righteousness he received by faith. For as the Genesis account records: You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Genesis 17:11 Paul asserts that the reason for this was so that Abraham would be the father of all who believed without having been circumcised. The reason is that righteousness would be credited to them by faith as well. The point that the apostle is making is that Abraham, the father of the faith-full, is the father of those who are righteous and justified by faith, and not by works, whether those works be obeying the law, or being circumcised.

How then shall we apply this truth to our lives today? Is what Paul is saying here diminish the importance of our covenant sign with God, that sign of baptism? By no means does it do so, but rather it should serve to give us a deeper understanding of the sign of baptism. It should open up to us that our baptism is not what imputes righteousness to us, but rather our faith. Our baptism is merely a seal of that faith. Think of our baptism as a wedding ring that we have with the Lord. Husbands and wives wear rings as a seal, or sign, of their pledge. So to should we “wear” baptism as a sign of our pledge and God’s pledge. However never should we trust baptism as our means of righteousness, for to do so would put us into a grievous sin of trusting our works rather than what Christ did.

Many who claim to be Christians today would state their baptism as the means of righteousness. From many different cults, to even those in strongly evangelical churches. The misunderstanding the Jews had of the sign of circumcision is an oft repeated mistake we make in the church with baptism. We therefore should strive to keep baptism important as an ordinance in the church, without letting baptism replace repentance and faith, for if we are trusting anything other than the blood of Jesus, then we have a false hope which will ultimately lead us to destruction. For those who are not baptized, but are believers, get baptized. For those who are baptized, don't trust the water for salvation, but always Jesus only for your righteousness.

Gracious Father,
Help me to see the importance of baptism, without trusting in it for my salvation. Lord may I learn from those who have gone before me that righteousness and justification is by faith alone, and that baptism is merely an outward sign of an inward working of your Spirit in my life. May I continue to grow in understanding of you, and may you continue to reveal yourself to me that I might worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Trusting God Like Abraham

At this point in the epistle Paul moves in, so as to take a closer look at Justification by Faith. As I have stated on many different occasions, and as many great Bible Scholars have stated, the early church did not have the New Testament to go by, they were actually writing the New Testament. So in order for Paul to show that justification was by faith, he would have to return to the Old Testament, and show how it was supported by the Law and the Prophets. Bearing that in mind Paul makes the following assertion, which we will study after reading.

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." Romans 4:1-8

Paul puts forth the question: What shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, gained by works? Immediately answering it saying that if he was counted righteous, or justified, by his works then he has something to boast about, namely his own goodness and not God’s goodness. If that were the case, his being justified by works and not faith, then his righteousness would not be counted as a gift, but rather his deserved payment. However we know that this is not the case, for in Genesis 15:6 the word says that Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness. As we look at the Greek translation of this word as Paul writes that scripture quote here, we understand that that belief is more than just mere mental assent, but it means that he trusted God.

Abraham’s trust in God is why he was counted as righteous. It was not anything that he had done to deserve it by observing the law, for on the contrary the Law as the Jews know it had not yet been given. That is why Paul quotes David, not only having been king of Israel, but a psalmist as well, as saying that we are blessed, whose lawless deeds are forgiven. Yes, blessed, when our sins are not counted against us.

Are you trusting God today? For if your full faith and confidence is in him, believing him for all its worth, and trusting in him, then you have the promise of the blessing. If you are then you are a partaker of the promise in Romans 4:16-17 where Abraham is counted as the father of the faithful. Trusting him first and foremost with you eternal salvation, but even more than that, trusting him today as the Lord of your life! For Abraham did more than just trust him as a Savior, but he trusted him as provider when he left his land to go where the Father sent him! He trusted God as a provider when he lay his son on an altar to sacrifice him, even before the angel of the Lord stayed his hand. You see he trusted God. He really, really trusted God.

Gracious God who is worthy of my trust,
I come before you today, openly saying that I have not always trusted you as I should. I ask you today to do a work in me, that I may trust you as Abraham did, trusting you with all I hold dear. May you truly be the Lord of my life, and may I come to know you more as I seek you in all your fullness. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Our Boasting Is Excluded

Paul in the Epistle to the Romans now moves from the thought that the only advantage Jews have knowing God’s law intimately, and being entrusted with his oracles, is that it should cause them to throw themselves on God’s mercy faster, to a very brief explanation of how that can work. Let’s take a look at what the scriptures say: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Romans 3:21-31

You see from the God inspired text that the righteousness of God, or right standing with God, has been made known apart from the law. Is this to say that right standing with God can come without the observance of the Law? By no means is it to say that, but what it is saying is that “our righteousness” comes separate from the law. You see the Law and the Prophets, the Old Testament, bear witness to and predict the fulfillment of the Law by Christ. Our righteousness does not come without the law being fulfilled, it simply comes with Christ fulfilling the law for us, because we were not able.

Paul worked so hard for the first three chapters of this epistle to show exactly how the Jew and the Gentile had sinned. He even made a very long list of what those sins were. (see Romans 1:24-32) So when he makes that statement that all of us have sinned it makes sense. And falling short of the true worship and glory of God, we can now see that if ever we are to be justified in the sight of a holy God it will have to be because someone else, namely Jesus Christ, made us justifiable by God’s grace through his redemptive work on the cross.

God put Christ forward as a propitiation, or appeasement, by his very life blood. All of this to show God’s righteousness because in forbearance he passed over former sins. Paul is saying here that all of the animal sacrifice that ever was never washed a sin away one, but rather God merely “passed over” the sins, patiently waiting knowing that Jesus would redeem us by his blood.

So as a Jew what is to become of their boasting in the Law? Paul says that it is excluded, or no longer allowed. Not because of a law of works though, but because of the law of faith. For no one is justified by their law keeping, buy rather by their faith in the only one who could keep the law, Jesus Christ! Showing that once again there is only one God, and He is the God of the Jews and the Gentile. Are the results of this faith an overthrowing and wiping out the law? Not at all, but rather they are upholding the law, because all who are justified by his blood through faith and repentance receive the gift of his Holy Spirit, and we can then walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. For as Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Not because we are able, but He who lives in us is able.

So what does this mean to us today? Have you been boasting in the law? Proclaiming that you have something that you do not, and therefore participating in the very legalism that Jesus condemned? If so, then be afraid, for God says that our boasting in ourselves is no good, for we can never boast that we are able. The only true boasting that may come from our mouth is that He is able. Are you guilty before a holy God? Then just repent. God will be delighted when you admit to him how much you really need him for your power to live today.

Father God,
I admit to you that I have tried to live my life apart from you. I repent from all of my foolish boasting about my own righteousness, and ask for your forgiveness. Lord, may I only boast about the righteousness of Christ from this day forward, and may I always be excited to serve him. In Jesus’ matchless name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What Advantage Have We?

In the beginning of Chapter three of the Epistle to the Romans Paul states the question, “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?” (Romans 3:1) The answer is spelled out plainly and simply in verses 2-20.

Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged." But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?--as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.", "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:2-20

You see as Paul explains just because some were unfaithful, it does not nullify God’s faithfulness. And if we are condemned by our evil, God is still just in doing so. For God says that no one is righteous, not one, and none seek after God, not anyone. The Jews are not better off, for everyone Jew and Greek is under sin, just alike. The advantage comes in that God was seeking the Jews through the law, for by the law speaking every mouth is stopped from boasting of self righteousness before God, for by the law comes the knowledge of sin. You see by God giving his law to the Jews he explained to them in detailed account of how they had fallen short, that they could no longer justify themselves, but rather they would hopefully throw themselves on the mercy of the Divine Judge, God himself, for when the law came to them they would see their sin as God did, for exceeding sinfulness.

So what advantage do we have who have been “inside” the church. Are we better off than those outside the church? By no means! Are we worse off because hypocrites, who claim to be Christians, have blasphemed the name of God? By no means! For the unfaithfulness of those who are hypocrites does not nullify God’s faithfulness. Our advantage merely comes from the fact that those “inside” the church know what God’s law says, and so we should not need as much convincing that we need to throw ourselves on the mercy of God. For we who know God’s laws and decrees know that we can not keep what is written it them, and we should realize all the more quickly just how badly we need him. For as Paul said, “by the law came the knowledge of sin!”

Lord Jesus,
I ask that you would cleanse and forgive me as I throw myself at your feet. Your words are true, and I have been unable to keep myself unstained by the world. My self-righteousness is filthy rags compared to your holy standard. I cry out to you in desperation, clean me, save me, free me from this body of guilt. Set me apart for the work of the Gospel, may I glorify you with my life! In your holy name, Lord Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Responsibility of Knowing His Word

Paul, in Romans, now begins to move from looking at the guilt of every human being based upon God’s moral law, the Ten Commandments, being written on our conscience, to looking at the special guilt of Israel. As keepers of the divine law, being God’s covenant people through whom the law came as well as the Messiah, the people of Israel are especially guilty. Let’s take a look at what Paul specifically says in Romans: But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-- you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. Romans 2:17-29

You see that here the Jews relied upon the law, and boasted in the law, and the fact that God had given it to them, as a matter of proving God’s divine favor of them. Every Jew of his time would have agreed that God was surely inclined to give the Israelite favor, just as most Jews are inclined to believe today. While it is true that the Jews are God’s covenant people, the fact does not excuse them from guilt, but rather serves to condemn them even further. As we can read, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-- you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? (Romans 2:20b-21a) A stern rebuke to those who were Jews, yet an even sterner rebuke came when Paul quotes Isaiah saying, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

The covenant sign they have with God becoming nothing because as Paul states that no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, but rather someone is a Jew inwardly, when their covenant sign is more than physical, by becoming circumcision (cutting away the flesh) from the heart of the man himself. And when we they are God’s people inwardly, then the praise they receive is not from other men, but from God himself.

So how can we apply this to us today? The answer lies in the fact that those of us who have been “in the church” are entrusted with Spiritual wisdom, and it doesn’t bring upon us divine favor, but instead brings upon us even more responsibility. As Paul admonishes Timothy that those who teach will be judged more strictly. If you are claiming to be a Christian, claiming to be one of God’s chosen people, redeemed by the blood of the lamb, yet are one only outwardly (by signs of attending church, being baptized, etc.), and are not one inwardly (by signs of living out God’s words, keeping his commands, serving him faithfully, etc.) then you should fear the Lord even more. For we who have his word must not only instruct the sinner, but should also instruct ourselves, and live a life of holiness, where we are set apart and consecrated unto him.

Let me not fall into the trap of merely teaching others what you require. But Father may personal holiness be something that happens in my life, even now, as I live by the power of your Spirit! Amen

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Conscience

Paul now moves efficiently through why Gentiles are without excuse. Let’s read the scriptures and see what they have to say: For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Romans 2:12-16

The basic premise in these four simple verses is very clear. God’s moral law is written on our hearts in the form of our conscience. The word that we translate from the Greek into conscience is the prolonged form of suneidō ( or for you Greek readers συνείδω). This word means to become aware of, or to be informed of. The English word conscience means with knowledge. Con = with and science = knowledge. Paul is basically saying here that God has given each person individual knowledge of what is required of us by placing in us our conscience. That is why each person is without excuse.

So what does this mean to me today? Well if you are a Christian this should impact you with the urgency of taking the Gospel message to anyone who has not heard it, because clearly their lack of knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ, will not keep them out of hell, because their knowledge of right and wrong shows that God has placed within them his righteous requirements and holy standard. This is why evangelical Christians work so hard to take the Gospel to all nations.

If you are not a Christian this should hopefully move you to a place where you seek God with a truly repentant heart, asking to be forgiven of your sins, and trusting the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. You may still be saying what sins? So let me explain. Is it wrong to lie? Who can say no to that? If you have ever lied even once you are a liar! Is it wrong to steal? Of course it is, and if you have ever taken anything that wasn’t yours you are a thief. The value of the things stolen is irrelevant. Whether it was a stolen answer to a test, a cookie, or a burned CD, God will punish you accordingly. Have you ever lusted? Jesus said that whoever looks with lust is guilty of adultery in their heart. These are just three of God’s Ten Commandments. There are seven more where they came from. If you can admit that you are guilty of these things then you are admitting that you are a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart. As we have explored earlier in the book of Romans we know that all such sinners deserve to be punished. So repent of your sins today, because today might be your last day, and trust the Savior.

A prayer for the Christian:
Help me to see the need of each man, woman, and child in the world to have the words of life, the Gospel, spoken to them. Help me to not only faithful support missionaries with my prayers and finances, but also help me to be a witness for you. Lord that may mean that I have to share the Gospel with those I know and meet in my home town, or it may mean that I have to quit my job and become a missionary. Either way Lord give what I need to follow your leading in my life.

An example of a prayer to become a Christian for those who are not:
Heavenly Father,
I admit to you today that I have broken your moral law, and I stand without excuse. I admit that I have (list sins that come to your mind here), and that I am in desperate need of your forgiveness. I also confess that telling you about my sins are not enough, and that I need to live a life that forsakes and flees from sin. So help me to live a life of true repentance, as I put my trust in what Jesus did on the Cross when he died for my sins. Father I wish to make Jesus the Master, and Lord of my life, help me to live my life in total submission to your will. Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit in me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

You may also want to look at Psalm 51 as this was King David's prayer of repentance when he had sinned against God. Whether you have prayed that prayer or not get out your Bible every single day and read it. Start reading through the book of Romans, or the Gospel of John, and simply obey what you read. If you read the Scriptures and obey what is written there you will never go wrong, because they teach you to repent of your sins and trust the Savior, and live your life in a godly manner. If you are not in church, find a good Bible believing church, and fellowship with other believers so that you can grow in Christ.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No Partiality Between Jew or Gentile

Paul now begins to transition his argument from the “whole of mankind” down to Gentiles and Jews. Consider the following passage: He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. Romans 2:6-11

This thought process of Paul has enormous implications to the both the Jewish world, as well as to all Gentiles. Paul is calling out that God will judge each person according to his works, declaring that those who patiently seek to do the will of God are granted eternal life, but those who are self-seeking and unrighteous will receive God’s wrath and fury. Both Jew and Greek will be treated the same under this revelation. The Jew will come first to his judgment, but the Greek (Gentile) will likewise be judged. Each one will be judged according to his works with no partiality shown. The reasons why no partiality will be show are further explained in the rest of Chapter two of the book of Romans.

Many people in todays world would like to claim that they do have an excuse for their unrighteous behavior, pointing out that they have neither known God, or his Son, and that they should be excused on this ground. Yet the apostle Paul shatters this hope for the Gentile in the next section, and in the section following that utterly destroys the hope of the Jew claiming special protection by being God's chosen people. In the next two days we will explore why Gentiles are without excuse, and why Jews are guilty as well, even thougt they were God's chosen people.

Heavenly Father,
I ask that you would continue to work in my heart as I explore the book of Romans. That you would continue to teach me the truth of why mankind desperately needs your Son and the forgiveness that comes through his shed blood on Calvary's cross. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Why We Are Without Excuse (The Second Reason)

As we saw earlier Paul has laid out an argument about why everyone is without excuse. His first argument for us being without excuse was laid out in the fact that all of creation testifies to the presence and reality of God. (Romans 1:19,20) Paul now begins his second argument about why all men are without excuse. In chapter two of the book of Romans we will explore how Paul shows that Jews and Gentiles alike are without excuse because everyone has the knowledge of right and wrong. This is really a three part argument, so let us look first at part one of this argument.

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things. Do you suppose, O man--you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself--that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:1-5

The apostle Paul points to the fact that each on of us is without excuse, for as we sit in judgment over others condemning them for their unrighteous acts, our judgment of them condemns us as well. Why does our judgment of them condemn us though? Is it because we are judging that we are condemned? I would say the answer to that is no! It is not because we are judging them that we are condemned, but it is because by our judging them that we begin to show that the work of the Law, God’s moral law, the Ten Commandments, is written upon our hearts. Paul even points out that we know inwardly that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things.

He then goes on further to point out that we should not presume that God’s kindness, and patience will let us escape judgment. Rather that his patience and kindness is meant to lead us unto repentance. However because of our hardened hearts we continue to store up wrath for ourselves on the Day of Judgment! This is a strong appeal for us to repent of the wicked works that we are involved in.

Please open my heart to the truth that all men are without excuse otn the Day of Judgment. Father open my heart to the fact that I know the difference between right and wrong, and that as I have judged others for their wrong and sinful actions in their life I am actually showing that your moral law is written on my heart. Father lead me into all truth, and to a place of true and lasting repentance before you, a Holy and Just God!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Results Of Denying God

So what are the eternal results of this denying of God? The apostle Paul lays out for us the consequences of our suppression of God’s truth by denying his very existence when he explains in the remaining verses of this chapter what God did to us as because of these things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:24-32

Verse 24 starts off with the word therefore, which clearly indicates a consequence of our behavior and denial of God. The results of denying God is him giving us over to a lifestyle of sin that we so desire. God could strike us down for denying him, but rather he leaves us to sin, in hopes that as he beckons us to repentance that we will one day confess and forsake our sin and return to our Creator. Paul then goes into great detail about what this sin life looks like. Because we denied him he gave us over to our sinful lusts which include, but are not limited to:

1. Sexual impurity and immorality

2. Homosexuality

3. Covetousness (jealousy)

4. Malice

5. Envy

6. Murder

7. Strife

8. Deceit

9. Maliciousness

10. Gossip

11. Slander

12. God hating

13. Insolence

14. Haughtiness

15. Boastfulness

16. Inventors of evil (schemers)

17. Disobedient to our parents

18. Acting foolish

19. Living faithless

20. Being heartless and cold

21. Being ruthless

Not only do we do such things, even though we know they are wrong and that we deserve death because of them. But we even give our approval to others who practice such evil things. I will go so far as to say that even if we do not do these things ourselves we are guilty of giving our approval to those who do. Take Albert Haynesworth for example. Mr. Haynesworth is a professional football player for the Tennessee Titans, who made big headlines recently for stomping on the head of another player on an opposing team with his cleats during a game. The other player had to have 30 stitches as a result.

Now the NFL took immediate action suspending him for five games, yet we still immortalize this man as a hero who just slipped up. I do not pretend to know if Albert is a Christian or not, but his actions were deplorable to say the least, yet we still support his playing of the game, and long for the day he comes back to the team.

One more example that we can make about this! Take a recent block buster movie. The movie title is the dirty word for donkey. Please do not use the title of this movie on a comment that you post. This is a no cussing blog. If you use the word I will delete your comment and ban you from the site. The movie is about nothing but filth, and is part 2 in a two part series. Just a few weeks back it was number one at the box office. We should be taken aback by this movie as Christians, and moral beings, yet we approve of those men who made it because we think it is funny. We may not practice the things they practice, but we surely approve when we give them our money for making it. It should not be so, and just because everyone else is watching it doesn’t make it ok for us to watch it. This is all because we have denied the very one who created us.

Help me to break the cycle of sin where I approve of and support those whose life is a living testimony to sin. Father help me break also the cycle where I commit those sins as well. Help me to see that when I do I am totally denying you, and that I am proving that I do not love you. For Jesus said that if I loved him I would keep his commandments, and that those who do not love him do not keep his words and deny not only Him but you as well Holy Father. I ask that you would sanctify me, and bring me into a deeper life of holiness with you. That I may trust in you and walk by the Spirit for all of my days. In Jesus name, Amen!