The Book of Romans – Chapter 08

If your walk of faith is similar to mine, you more than likely find yourself frustrated by how easily you fail to do the good things you desire to do. Inwardly, in your heart and mind, you desire to please God; but, you often end up choosing to do the things that please yourself instead. It is a very frustrating and vicious cycle, to say the least; one that tends to cause doubt and leads us to question whether or not our faith in God is genuine. After all, if our faith is genuine then we would not struggle the way we struggle; right?

Wrong!

The apostle Paul understood our frustrations all too well; and, he even referred to himself as a wretched man because he had the desire to do what was good, but he was often unable to carry through. Yet, none of us would question the genuineness of Paul’s faith.

Chapter eight was written for those of us who struggle to do what is right; for those of us whose desire is to please God but whose actions often betray that desire.

Listen closely to the message:

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus … For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God … The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children … the Spirit helps us in our weakness … Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…

No wonder Paul concluded chapter seven by saying, Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Chapter eight provides some much needed comfort to us imperfect people, those of us who desire to please God but often fall short; for it reveals that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Abraham, whose faith did not waver through unbelief, was not perfect. David, who was a man after God’s own heart, stumbled and fell. Peter, who walked on water and promised not to deny Christ, began to sink and denied his Lord three times. And, Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, struggled to do the good he desired to do. Yet, all of them are loved by God. So are you; so am I.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God!

Don’t forget it.

The Book of Romans – Chapter 07

It has been a couple months since my last post in the book of Romans study series. For those of you who have been kind enough to follow my studies, I apologize.

In our last post we discussed the sixth chapter of Romans; particularly noticing our need for an Abrahamic type faith that does not waver through unbelief regarding the promises of God. We noticed how this type of faith is involved in baptism and how baptism connects us with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; which, according to Paul, is the gospel, God’s power to save.

After informing us that we are alive to God through the gospel, Paul insists that we do not let sin reign in our bodies; because, if we allow sin to reign, we will obey its evil desires. Instead, we are encouraged to offer ourselves to God – to offer every part of our bodies as instruments of righteousness. Sin is to no longer be our master; because, through the gospel, we have been set free from sin. But, we need to remember that we are slaves to the one we obey; whether sin or God. The chapter ends by indicating that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Chapter seven contains Paul’s thoughts regarding law and sin; which, to be honest, can be quite confusing and difficult to read. However, just keep in mind that we have died to what once bound us and have been released from the law to serve in the new way of the Spirit.

The law was good, in fact – holy, and served its purpose; it helped bring recognition of sin. The problem, as I see it, is that we often sell ourselves as slaves to sin; because of such there is a constant battle, a war, raging within. Paul described this as a desire to do good, but not following through with that desire and doing good. He states that although he wants to do good, evil is right there with him. He felt like a wretched man and wanted to know who would save him from this body that is subject to death. The answer was Jesus Christ.

I’m sure you are just as familiar as I am with the battle that exists within us – the desire to do good, the realization that we often fail to do so. Sin often wins and reigns in our body, we often feel as if there is no hope. But, as Paul indicates, “Thanks be to God, who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Keep reading, because the next chapter begins with GREAT news!

These are my thoughts, what are yours?

The Book of Romans – Chapter 06

The message of the book of Romans is that the gospel is the power of God to save mankind. If such is truly the case, then one must ask “What is the gospel?”

The word “gospel” simple means “good news.” As it applies to our journey through Romans, the “gospel” is the “good news” that both Jew and Gentile – both of whom are sinners worthy of God’s wrath – can be reconciled to God and counted as righteous through Jesus Christ.

Okay, I know what you are thinking – that sounds amazing; but how are we reconciled and counted as righteous? What do we have to do? Well, if you recall from chapter four, Paul informs us that God blesses an Abrahamic type faith; the type of faith that is “fully persuaded that God has the power to do what he has promised.”

This type of faith comes into play in chapter six; where we learn that baptism in water is more than a symbolic reenactment of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. So many people today see no real connection between baptism and reconciliation to God; but, the connection is that baptism is our personal statement of trust in God to do what he has promised and our identification with the gospel that is God’s power to save.

Consider what Paul writes in chapter six:

“Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

“If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly be united with him in his resurrection. Our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

“If we died with Christ, we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”

“IN THE SAME WAY, count yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Baptism is our connection to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; which is the gospel, the good news, the power of God to save.

Some will say, “I don’t understand how baptism saves.” To which I respond, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, EVEN THOUGH HE DID NOT KNOW WHERE HE WAS GOING.” “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice … Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead…”

Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God; he was fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness.

The Book of Romans – Chapter 05

Our journey through the first four chapters of the book of Romans has been somewhat like a roller coaster ride – beginning with an uphill climb as Paul indicates that OTHERS are sinful and deserving of God’s wrath, then quickly plummeting down the other side of the hill as he shifts focus and indicates that WE are also sinful and deserving of the same wrath.   WE are ALL sinners in need of salvation; but, thanks be to God, who, by grace, has freely given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we begin today’s chapter, let us quickly review:

Chapter one, they are sinful. Chapter two, we are also sinful.  Chapter three, everyone has fallen short of God’s glory.   Theme of Romans – the gospel is God’s power to save everyone.   Chapter four, righteousness is credited to those who have an Abrahamic type faith.

Chapter five reveals a reconciliation that brings peace and hope.   OUR sin separated us from God; HIS sacrifice brought reconciliation.  OUR action brought death, HIS brought life.  You see, at just the right time, when WE were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (US).  God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  This is why chapter five begins by stating, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Chapter five also indicates that what was lost in Adam was regained in Christ. Through Adam death reigned, through Christ death has lost its power; the grave is no longer victorious.

Through Christ I am justified, meaning that I stand “just as if I’d” never sinned. This is true peace, knowing that I am no longer separated from God.   The gospel truly is God’s power to save.

The Book of Romans – Chapter 04

Our journey through the first three chapters of the book of Romans has revealed much regarding the condition of man and his need for the gospel.   Regardless of how much we would like to believe that we are better than others; the book of Romans informs us that we are all the same. One may be consumed by unnatural acts and passions, another by hypocrisy – BOTH are guilty before God.   Whether Jew or Gentile, both were deserving of the wrath of God because of sin; “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  BUT, Paul was quick to inform us that all is not hopeless; the good news is that we can be “freely justified by grace through Jesus Christ.”

Chapter four reveals the process of this justification by informing us that we are justified by faith just as Abraham was in the long ago. Paul writes, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  The word “credited” in the NIV is translated as “accepted, accounted, counted and reckoned” in other translations. The idea here is that God granted Abraham a righteous status because of his faith; a status that would not be fully recognized until the sacrifice of Christ.  Abraham’s righteous status was a gift, by grace; it wasn’t earned, it was credited to him.  This is why Paul would inform the church in Ephesus that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this (their salvation, or right standing before God) is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

We all understand the concept of earning wages for work performed, correct?   Well, Paul informs us that righteousness (a right standing before God) is not earned, and cannot be earned, by our works.  If such were the case, it would not be a gift; and one could boast because of his actions.  The only thing we can earn by our actions is death (separation from God); for Paul writes, “the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal lift through Jesus Christ.”

Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. But, keep in mind that Abraham’s faith was much more than just “belief” in God; it was a faith that did not waver, it fully trusted that God had the power to do what he had promised – which led Abraham to obey.   “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him (God) who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. Jesus was delivered to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

The real question is, do we desire this justification?   If so, do we have the faith of Abraham – the type of faith that believes beyond hope that God will do what he says he will do, that leads us to obey when called?

 

The Book of Romans – Chapter 03

As was mentioned in two previous posts, Candace and I have begun our new journey; one that will lead us through the book of Romans. Unfortunately, this has been a very busy week at work and I have fallen behind in both my reading and posting of thoughts.  Over the next four days, I will present several new posts for your consideration as I seek to catch up with Candace.   As always, it is my prayer that all of us will have ears, eyes and hearts that are open to hear, see and accept God’s message for our lives.

Before we discuss chapter three, here is a quick reminder of what we discovered in the first two chapters of Romans. Chapter one revealed the general theme of the book of Romans; stating that the gospel is the power of God to save mankind.  It also contained the first part of an extensive argument concerning the sinfulness of man and his need of salvation; an argument that focused on the sinfulness of the Gentiles.  Chapter two continued that same discussion but switched the focus from the Gentiles to the Jews; revealing that the Jews were no different than the Gentiles they sought to condemn.  The message of the first two chapters was that BOTH groups were deserving of the wrath of God – BUT, in the background we reminded that there is hope, because the gospel is God’s power to save both Jew and Gentile.  

Chapter three contains these words: “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”   No wonder the text states that “there is no one righteous, not even one … all have turned away, they have together become worthless…”

Yet, here is where the good news of the gospel comes into play, as“…all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

 Wow!  ALL are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus!  Neither can boast as BOTH are saved the same way – through grace by faith.   ALL now stand on equal ground before God and ALL have access to the gospel.

No wonder it is called the good news!

The Book of Romans – Chapter 02

As was mentioned in my previous post, Candace and I have now begun our journey through the book of Romans. We have chosen to read only one chapter a day; as it allows us plenty of time to focus on the message before us rather than feeling pressured to maintain a larger reading schedule.  As always, we continually pray for ears, eyes and hearts that are open to hear, see and accept God’s message for our lives.

Chapter one revealed a concise statement of the general theme of the book of Romans; stating that the gospel is the power of God to save mankind. Chapter one also revealed the first part of an extensive argument concerning the sinfulness of man and his need of salvation; an argument that focused on the sinfulness of the Gentiles.

As chapter two begins, Paul continues his discussion of God’s wrath against sinful humanity; however, the focus shifts from THEM to US – from the Gentiles to the Jews.   Yes, the Gentiles were deserving of God’s wrath; BUT, so were the Jews because of their hypocrisy. Uh oh, Paul had stopped preaching; he had now begun to meddle.  

The Jews were passing judgment on the Gentiles because of their deprived actions, but they were guilty of doing the very same things. Paul asked, “Do you think you will escape God’s judgment?”  Then, he answered his own question by indicating that “because of their stubbornness and unrepentant heart, they were storing up wrath against themselves for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment would be revealed.”

Judging others while we partake of the same sin is hypocrisy. Those who boast in their knowledge of the law dishonor God when they break the law.  And, unfortunately, because of our hypocrisy the result is that God’s name is blasphemed by the very people we seek to reach.

Chapter one indicates THEY are sinful; chapter two indicates that WE are sinful. BOTH of US deserve the wrath of God; but remember, the gospel is God’s power to save mankind. Therefore, there is hope!

I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to chapter three.