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Monday, June 28, 2010

Roaming Through Romans (Romans 5 & 6)

Roaming Through Romans (Romans 5 & 6)

There are so many treasures to be found in the book of Romans, so many truths to be discovered. Gods’ Word, the Bible is a miraculous living book that will change us if we read it and believe it. And the book of Romans is commonly considered the greatest exposition of Christian doctrine anywhere in the Bible. Let’s read through several more chapters of Romans and see what we can find.

Romans 5:1&2 tells us that we are “justified by faith” and that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ, by whom we have “access by faith into this grace in which we stand ...”. Here again we learn that God has prepared a special place for us to stand in His grace; a place of hope, joy, peace and salvation. The ticket to this grace place is faith, and we are taken there by Jesus Christ. He is our transport, but without faith there is no access. I want to have the faith to go there. I want to stand in this grace place –this special place of mercy that God has made for us, don’t you?

Reading on to Romans 5:18-19 we learn that we inherited our sinful nature from our forefather, Adam. But we are born again and made righteous through Christ, the second Adam. We are in Adam by birth, but we are in Christ by faith. Again our all important faith is required.

Reading on to Romans 6:3 we find: “Or do you know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” Romans 6:5 goes on with: “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” When we are persecuted and rejected we act as if something strange is happening to us. But Scripture tells us that when we follow Jesus we will share His sufferings. If the world hated Christ it will hate us too. As the bride of Christ we will be identified with Him and carry His cross. But we will also share His resurrection! We see these mysteries through a glass darkly now.

As we move on we come to another treasure in Romans 6:7 : “For he who has died has been freed from sin.” Other scriptures state this same truth. Perhaps we get so used to living in this sinful world with our sinful selves that it is hard for us to imagine that when we die we will be instantly transported to a sinless place where we will be changed and will be completely sinless ourselves.

As we continue to read through Romans we come to some powerful promises that we can use when we resist sin. Romans 6:11 says: “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:14 reads: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” These passages in Romans as well as others throughout the Bible impart the truth that we never have to say that we are defeated by a sin.

Another scripture, 1 Corinthians 10:13 speaks to this same amazing promise. “”No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Although we can never say in this life that we are free from all sin, we can know that through Christ we can overcome any sinful addiction. Romans 6 expounds on the fact that we no longer have to be “slaves” to sin. Christ has set us free and Scripture says that we never need to be trapped in a sin. Sometimes we don’t appreciate it but through faith in Christ we have been given this power to resist sin. Let’s take advantage of our freedom!

You see, I told you that there are many treasures to be found in the book of Romans, and many truths to be discovered. Take these truths we have discussed and make them your own. Stand on these promises. And read through Romans 5 and 6 and see how many more treasures you can find that we didn’t mention here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Roaming Through Romans (Romans 1:1-5:1)

Roaming Through Romans (Romans 1:1-5:1)

Many scholars believe that the book of Romans was a letter that Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to the church in Rome about 55 A.D. Paul had founded churches throughout the Mediterranean world. But the church in Rome had been founded by other Christians. Nevertheless Paul wanted to visit them, encourage them in the Faith and hopefully impart a spiritual gift. The letter to the Roman church was probably hand delivered by Phoebe as Paul commends Phoebe to them at the end of his letter. Romans 16:1-2.

Romans is a book of Christian doctrine. The main theme of Romans is that the Righteousness of God is shown through His amazing Gift to us in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. And the first four chapters teach that all people are sinful and that we should not trust in our own good works for salvation. God has given us salvation as a gift that we should accept His gift with faith. In chapter four we are encouraged to imitate the faith of Abraham.

Romans begins with Paul’s greetings and discussions of his upcoming trip to visit the Roman church. But by Romans 1:18 Paul gets into theology. He discusses God’s anger against people who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. Romans 1:19-20 continues with: “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

Verse 21 continues: “because, although they knew God they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Verse 25: “who exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

It seems according to this first chapter of Romans that God doesn’t let the atheist off the hook. Romans 1:20 tells us that the people who say they don’t believe there is a God really know better. They know in their hearts that God is God. But they reject God because He is inconvenient. Believing in Him would mess up their lifestyle. So they don’t believe on purpose. This verse says that Gods’ “invisible attributes are clearly seen” so the unbeliever is “without excuse.” Verse 20 continues by declaring that we humans are able to see plenty of evidence that there is a God when we look around at the created world we live in.

Verse 18 tells us that people’s sin often causes them to suppress the truth and hold false views of God. The rebels cover up the Truth so they won’t have to change. They feel at home with their demons but not with the Lord who can cast out those demons. They love their selfish ways too much to be willing to give them up. Verse 23 goes on to say that often these unbelievers “exchange the truth of God for the lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator …” They hold to their false views of God because they know that the truth would require that they turn from their sins.

So we see that the first two chapters of Romans comes down hard on people who refuse to acknowledge God. The blame is put right back on the unbeliever. They choose to reject God and their judgment is self induced. They want to do it their own way. Gods’ anger and punishment is promised on all the ungodliness of the people who reject Him. The first two chapters of Romans make that very clear.

As we read on through Romans we come to descriptions of Gods’ grace and provision for our salvation. Romans 3:24-25 says: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith to demonstrate His righteousness because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” And in verse 28: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” These verses tell us that Gods’ righteousness is demonstrated because He has loved us so much that He has given us His Son. And because of Christ’s sacrifice, because of His blood, our sins are passed over and cleansed.

In the fourth chapter of Romans, we are encouraged to accept this Gift of salvation through faith. Abraham’s faith is held up as an example that we can follow. Faith is choosing to believe what God has said. The most important thing that we can do is to have faith in God and in Christ as our Savior. God has declared in His Word that faith is the attitude of heart by which one can obtain salvation. Scripture declares that we are “justified by faith.” Romans 5:1. We can’t please God without it. Faith is the one childlike attitude that is exactly the opposite of trusting ourselves. Our faith in God is all important but it is so simple that we almost stumble over it. God has given us this great Gift of salvation. Our part is to just simply believe and thank Him for the Gift. God has done His part. Now let’s do ours.

Monday, June 14, 2010

God's Promises to Father Abraham and his Children Israel -- and Us

God’s Promises to Father Abraham and his Children Israel –And Us!

Abraham lived about 2,000 B.C. in the town of Ur, which was in the land we now call Iraq. The people of ancient Ur worshipped idols and knew nothing of God. One day God spoke to Abraham. In Genesis 12:1 we read that God told Abraham to leave his home and his relatives and everything he had known and travel to an unknown land far away. He was to trust God to lead him there. Abraham wasn’t given a map or any directions of how to get to this land. But Scripture says that Abraham believed God and obeyed. Abraham “went out not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8.

Traveling back then was difficult and dangerous. Abraham left his comfortable home with his wife Sarah and along with relatives, servants and flocks he followed Gods’ leading some 800 miles across the endless desert to the land God had promised him, - Israel. Now isn’t that faith?

God was pleased that Abraham trusted Him and God made some promises to him. “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless, thee, and make thy name great: and thou shall be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.! Gen. 22:18. Genesis 12:2 and 3, and “All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth.” Genesis 13:15-16. And again in Genesis 17:8: “Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” Did you notice that God promised this special land to Abraham and to his children for ever?

Abraham believed Gods’ promises even though he didn’t understand their full meaning. Even though Abraham was a sinner God was pleased with him because of his faith. We read, “He (Abraham) believed in the Lord: and He (God) counted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6.

God had made promises to Abraham that his children would become a nation that would bless the earth and as always Abraham had believed God. But God tested Abrahams’ faith and as the years passed by, still Abraham and Sarah had no children. Old age was setting in and Sarah was past the age to bear a child. And as always Abraham waited and believed that God would keep His promise. Finally when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90, God gave them their promised child, Isaac. Abraham was even willing later to offer up his special son Isaac to God when God tested him, because he trusted that God would bring Isaac back from death. There wasn’t anything that Abraham would hold back from God. Throughout his life Abraham consistently exhibited his faith in God.

God made a covenant with Abraham concerning these promises (Genesis 15:8-18) and continued repeating His promises later to Isaac and then to Jacob. These special promises were to be given only through Abrahams’ son Isaac. Hebrews 11:18-19. God made other provisions and blessed and set aside land for Ishmael. (Genesis 21:12-13) And God kept repeating these promises down through the generations through Israel’s prophets. These promises from God to Israel were recorded again and again in the Bible.

All of these promises were made a long time ago and at first they don’t seem to matter very much to us today. But Matthew 1:1 reads: “Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Jesus was also the promised Son of Abraham. Galatians 3:16 says: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” The promises that God made to Abraham were made to Christ. Ezekiel 39:27-29 describes how God will bring Israel back to their land from where they have been among the nations and pour His Spirit on them and be their God. More Bible prophecies concerning those original promises to Abraham tell us that Jesus will come back and set up His kingdom in the Promised Land with His people Israel.

One of Abrahams’ promises from God was that Israel would become a nation and would bless all of the nations of the earth. We Christians have been blessed with salvation through Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah. Our Bible is Jewish, our Savior was born Jewish, even our Christian faith is Jewish. We have definitely been blessed by Abrahams’ Seed.

In fact, Scripture tells us that if we have faith in Christ Jesus we are also sons of Abraham and have inherited the wonderful promises that God gave Abrahams’ children, Israel. We have been given these promises through Christ. Galatians 3:26&29 reads: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. … and if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So we along with the Jews have inherited the promises made to Abraham, and we are also considered “sons of Abraham!” Since Abraham believed God, all of us who also follow in his footsteps and believe God are his “sons”. There is an old gospel hymn that goes something like this: “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them and so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord.”

Since Scripture says that God makes us sons of Abraham through Christ because of our faith, do we have anywhere near the faith in God that Abraham had? Will we leave our comforts like Abraham did and follow God anywhere not knowing where He is taking us? Can we keep believing God like Abraham did when he had to wait decades into his old age for his promised son? Would we be willing to offer up our most precious possession to God like Abraham did? God was very pleased with Abrahams’ faith. Is He pleased with our faith? Philippians 4:19 tells believers in Jesus: “My God shall supply all of your needs, according to His riches in Glory.” It appears that God is giving us the same sure promises and blessings that He gave Abraham. Let’s try to give God back that same believing faith that our father Abraham had. Scripture says that God was very pleased with Abrahams’ faith. Let’s follow in Abrahams’ footsteps and also exhibit a faith that pleases God. It’s the most important thing that we can do.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jesus' Sacrifice for Us Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Old Testament Prophecies Foretelling Jesus’ Sacrifice for Us - Isaiah 52:13-53:12

“See, My Servant shall prosper, He shall be highly exalted. Yet many shall be amazed when they see Him – yes, even far-off foreign nations and their kings: they shall stand dumbfounded, speechless in His presence. For they shall see and understand what they had not been told before. They shall see My Servant beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know it was a person standing there. So shall He cleanse many nations.

But, oh, how few believe it! Who will listen? To whom will God reveal His saving power? In God’s eyes He was like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. But in our eyes there was no attractiveness at all, nothing to make us want Him. We despised Him and rejected Him – a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised and we didn’t care.

Yet it was our grief He bore, our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, for His own sins! But He was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was chastised that we might have peace: He was lashed-and we were healed! We are the ones who strayed away like sheep! We, who left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on Him the guilt and sins of every one of us!

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He never said a word. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter: and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He stood silent before the ones condemning Him. From prison and trial they led Him away to His death. But who among the people of that day realized it was their sins that He was dying for—that He was suffering their punishment? He was buried like a criminal in a rich man’s grave; but He had done no wrong, and had never spoken an evil word.

Yet, it was the Lord’s good plan to bruise Him and fill Him with grief. But when His soul has been made an offering for sin, then He shall have a multitude of children, many heirs. He shall live again and God’s program shall prosper in His hands. And when He sees all that is accomplished by the anguish of His soul, He shall be satisfied: and because of what He had experienced, my righteous Servant shall make many to be counted righteous before God, for He shall bear all their sins. Therefore I will give Him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because He has poured out His soul unto death. He was counted as a sinner, and He bore the sins of many, and He pled with God for sinners.