“US” in RighteoUSness

As in life, so, in Bible study and the preaching of God’s Word we sometimes stray off the main path, forgetting where and how we started, and losing sight of our purpose and goal.

So, before I post my notes on Romans 14, I want to again look back to our starting point, and look forward to the purpose that Paul set in the beginning. This will give us a better understanding of where we are in the application of Paul’s letter in this chapter.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16-17

The first point we remember is that it is the power of God through His own word ~ the power of the gospel by His Holy Spirit ~ that brings us as sinners from our horrible state, to faith and repentance to live in the state of righteousness. In faith the righteousness of Christ is revealed. The nature and disposition of Christ is exemplified in those who believe. The power of God is able to bring His people to Himself with the purpose of our living in “obedience of faith.” This purpose for Paul’s letter to the Romans was stated in the first and last chapters.

“By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:” Romans 1:5

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”   Romans 16:27

The power of God brings us into the state of being “righteous” in Christ. Being “righteous” means that we are not only “right” in Christ, but that we are actively living righteously; seeking and praying to do what is “right” in God’s sight through Jesus Christ, our righteousness. (Hebrews 13:20-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21) This is obedience of faith. This active obedience is proof of the gift of faith that is by His grace working in us. Everything focuses and keeps us riveted and holding on to Christ and not our own work or abilities.

With these thoughts before us, focused on Him, let us get back to this path of righteousness with Paul in chapter 14. He has brought the attention to what it means to fulfill the law; of doing what is right, and of obedience to God. He has in the previous chapter zeroed in on this, in the main area by which all our righteousness is expressed.

All of the law was based on love for God and for man. That which man was unable to do by the law was made possible through the power of God in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Again, man’s ability to love as God means to love, through the law or the gospel, is not possible for man, but only by the power of God working in the lives of those He has brought to faith and repentance through regeneration. This great love that Paul spoke of in Romans 13 is shown to work out in relationships between believers. The love is initiated by God.  In Christ that love penetrates, is spread abroad and forms a new heart, saturates, and perpetuates this love toward God and toward others.

Called to be Servants, Not Judges.
He speaks to the whole church in Rome; to the weak and the strong in faith. The main principle of love makes no distinction in relationship with Christ. When He is the center of the body of believers each one is answerable to Him. The state of righteousness excludes none who are seeking to serve Christ through faith. We live in Christ, in His righteousness, to serve Him and one another. We are clothed with His righteousness so as to exclude all self-centeredness. Therefore, in differences of opinion, we do not strive to make our liberty known, so as to influence those who are weaker in the faith to sin against their own conscience. In private life we may be free to indulge in a freedom not yet known to a weaker brother; but not exercise such a freedom in public; which is to exercise our pride. Neither is free to judge the other for what they do or what they do not do. We are not called as judges, but as servants. To keep another from stumbling we, in love and humility think of Christ first, and what would glorify Him, and by out actions build up our brother in Christ.

The main point in Romans 14 that keeps us on the path of righteousness, progressing in our obedience of faith, is verse 17.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Where there is righteousness there is peace. If we are actively seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness our life will not be about food and drink. Peace and joy in the Holy Spirit follow the fruit of love that He produces through us.  

The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:18
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Dear Father, you knew our need before you created us. Continue to work in us this love, joy, and peace that is ours in Christ, by the power of your Holy Spirit, for your glory and more joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Indebted To Love

OThough pilgrims in an alien land we still must depend on those offices and laws that are part of this land. We own property according the rules that govern. We have the privileges that enable us to freely go about our daily business; although some of the these are being threatened. According to the apostle Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:1-7 we must, while citizens here, live in respect and obedience, knowing that all is under the rule of our mighty God and King; and all things work for good to those are His. Many Christians have problems with paying taxes and respecting those who rule over us. If we look back to Matthew 17:24 and Mark 12:13-17 we get a clear picture from our Lord Jesus Christ of this duty to earthly authorities.

In Romans 13:8-19 we see the great debt that we owe. This debt is much greater than any physical debt that requires our respect and our money. The comparison takes us beyond the scale of even our nation’s debt. To owe nothing but to love each other seems a simple thing; and an easy thing to do. But, when we contemplate the true meaning of this debt we see that it is a debt that we cannot pay. We are not able, even as Christians, to love, as we ought. The first commandment, “to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength” is the commandment that we all break.

As I meditated on these verses after hearing our pastor’s sermon on this passage there was a realization that the love that we owe is like money that we don’t have.  To love as we are commanded to love requires a source that beyond our own ability, is exhaustive, and one that supplies us every moment, every day. This only comes from a heavenly Father who loves, through His Son who came to give us this love, and His Holy Spirit who works this love through us supernaturally.

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New Love, True Love,
There is much in this world that is called love. The sons of God exhibit a different love that the world can never know except as they see it in us. We truly love, as we know this love, received by the power of the Holy Spirit. The new heart and new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) are filled with this love.

In Christ this love is the expression of eternal life. It is the living water springing up within us to everlasting life. (John 4:10, 14)

By the birth of the Holy Spirit love is the flow of rivers of living water. (John 3:3; 7:38-39)

How can we not love, if we are recipients of God’s love?
The power of the gospel that Paul speaks of in Romans 1:16-17 is the power that saves us from the power of oppression, anger, and hate. The obedience of faith is the proof of God’s saving power ~ proof of our salvation ~ working in and through us. The righteousness that comes by faith expresses itself in all that we receive, beginning with the first fruit of the Spirit ~ Love.

The power of the gospel was first expressed in the omnipotent love that transcended the heavens and the earth; coming down in the form of God’s Son. Giving Him as our means of new life, through His righteous life and perfect obedience, we receive in faith the power of this love to love as He loved. It is not our own. We cannot pay what we do not have. “To love” begins with loving God and “loving each other.” He was writing to the Roman believers. Only believers can understand and express this love.

Resource
We must examine our resources. Many buy, in extravagance, things they do not have money to pay. We think, perhaps, that we have the resources of love that are commanded of us when in essence our hearts are bone dry, lacking the resources that we need.
It grieves my heart to think that those who claim the love of Christ, His suffering and His sacrifice show no sign of His love in their hearts and lives.

We are called to His Word to daily receive the abundance of love that is needed to live in this world. It is the resource that will lead us through this wilderness to the Paradise that is promised to those who are loved of God.

Do you know this love? Do you testify to it daily in your relationship to the heavenly Father? Does this love flow from a new and daily replenished heart and soul? Do you love freely in Christ; or do you hold resentments against others?

Paul in the latter part of this chapter points out the need to awaken; to cast off the works of darkness; to put on the armor of light. He lists the natural character of the citizens of this world, including quarreling and jealousy, which are the opposite of faith and love.

But, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (vs.14)

 There is a difference in the nature of the world and the kingdom of God. The love of Christ is the proof in us ~ Christ in you, the hope of glory ~ the witness of God’s love in us, that we are born of His kingdom. Love is His nature and practice in this world in preparation for the next. Both John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 speak of this love.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,”

 “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

 Dear Father, prove your love to us, in and through us. Make the light of your love the brightest, the greatest, and most powerful thing in each of us. This true love would light up this world. Thank you for the power of your love in us, through us, and to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“O, The Deep, Deep, Love of Jesus”

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Radical Mercy

What is a reasonable response to the pouring out of God’s mercy upon this human race? The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans brings us through eleven chapters and shows us how God, by His own grace, evokes a sacrifice from us. We have learned that the power of the gospel is able to effectually bring about the obedience of faith in those whom God reveals Himself and His Word, those whom He has chosen.31118_000_011_08

Just as Abraham, by believing God’s word, in obedience offered his only son as a sacrifice, so, we, sought by His mercy, cannot resist; but willingly offer our own bodies as living sacrifices. This is the power of the gospel that he mentioned in chapter one ~ God’s own power, through His Word and Spirit ~ to save a people for Himself and His eternal kingdom that is being prepared for those of His household of faith.

He has spoken of justification, through the only just one, who is the justifier. In chapter eleven He ends His presentation of God’s work through Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit’s working through His mercy.

Being that it is all of His mercy, and none of our own work we come to chapter twelve to find what obedience of faith looks like. From beginning to end this was his purpose for writing; to show that it is God’s work of mercy and grace that effectually brings the power of obedience in the life of His people. (Romans 11:30-31)

Radical Response
Now that His mercy is revealed we are called to respond. The command is two-fold ~ a negative and a positive. Where there is a negative it is so He will be revealed as working the positive.

“Do not be conformed to this world.” This is what we were being naturally. The negative is what we normally do. From the time of birth into this world, we are being conformed to it. Here, then is where we see the difference that His power of the gospel makes.

 “But, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He does not command something that is not possible. His commands are promises of what He will do.

By His mercy we are brought from being conformed to the world naturally, to being transformed supernaturally, by the renewing of our minds. How? Through the same power of His Word and Spirit as He saves us in faith, and calls us to obedience in Christ. The gospel that justifies us is the same gospel that sanctifies us and is preparing us for His glory ~ the same power that will bring us to glorification.

As the power of the gospel has worked to justify us, this is our only reasonable worship in response to His great mercy. This is the work of His Spirit in our hearts, through the power of His Word and Spirit. imagesIt corresponds to the work in every heart that is turned to Christ. To offer our bodies as living sacrifices is the offset of His sacrifice for us. He died for us that we may live for Him.

Just reading the effects of the gospel in the heart and life we see the description of a true believer. The people of faith have a radical change take place, so radical that to read the characteristics makes one know that such a new life is beyond our own doing. (Romans 12:9-21)

Each of us, with whatever measure of grace He gives, brings it together with all others, as one body of Christ, so that we are offering what He has separated unto Himself, in obedience and sanctification, willfully becoming that noble vessel for His use. We lose ourselves and become one with His people wherever He calls us to serve and worship Him. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is totally different than any other religion on earth. Unlike other religions who take other lives and die in the process; Christ enables us to live victoriously and to seek to save others.

Mercy begets mercy.

Father, we are not our own. You have bought us with the price of your precious Son, Jesus Christ.  Enable us to daily offer to you what you have sanctified for yourself, so that you may reveal the power of the gospel to others.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Related Article:  The Glorious Gospel

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O The Depths of the Riches of God

What a blessing it is to sit under the preaching of the word of God, especially these last several weeks, as we have heard about the power of the gospel that saves God’s people. Paul’s letter to the Romans is not easy to understand; and so, much of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge are lost. But, I have come to the end of chapter 11 with a better understanding than I had before hearing it preached.

At the same time we are studying this book we are continuing through the Shorter Catechism. This week’s question asks how God’s word is an effectual means to salvation. The answer is, “The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.”

 The preaching of the word rooted in the new heart brings us to new awareness and desire to know; and the Spirit leads us to plunge into the depths of that which He still wants us to know. If all we experience is a “tickling of the ears” we will never know, or grow. It is when our own beliefs are challenged that we seek more of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge.

My purpose in these last several weeks is to document a little of what has impressed me in the preaching of Paul’s writing; to challenge you the reader to go deeper in your own study and meditation of God’s word, and to seek the preaching of the “whole counsel of God.”

 The Mystery of Salvation
Paul’s presentation of the power of God in the gospel to save His people is brought to an end in Romans 11. He has made known this wisdom of how God planned to save and does save His people of every nation. His explanation and exclamation end with all glory to God.

Beginning in chapter 12 we will see the response of all people who are brought under the power of the gospel through faith unto salvation ~ the obedience of faith.

Briefly summing up, Paul has shown us how God at first chose a people, the people of Israel, through which He would save His elect from all nations. He could have chosen any other nationality, but He chose and made the Jews a special people for the purpose of revealing Himself and executing His plan of salvation.

We see from Paul’s writing ~ himself being a Jew ~ that there is a remnant of the nation of Israel that are elect; just as there are some of every nation who are elect.  He makes it very clear that not all of the nation of Israel will be saved. Whether we understand his meaning to be contemporary or for all time, we must let the text explain his meaning.

Romans 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.”   In Romans 8:29 Paul speaks of those whom God “forknew.” The Jews are not set apart, but included in this category.

They are included in the “election of grace.” “

“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Romans 11:5

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Romans 11:7

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.” Romans 11:28

 All Men’s Disobedience and God’s Mercy
“For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 

“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” Romans 11:30-32

Paul sums up the whole plan in these verses. Salvation came through the nation of Israel. Through all the years of their rebellion, finally to the coming of Christ, their rejection and hand in the death of Christ; and their continued rejection of the gospel, salvation has been made known to all nations (the Gentiles). Christ’s death and resurrection put the nation of Israel in the same boat with the whole world. They need mercy as much as all other people. They are included in the covenant of grace ~ not all, but like all other nations, as many as are of the “election of grace.”

Scan 143450000Gracious Father in heaven, we are not able in our own power to approach your throne of grace, nor do we merit your mercy, but we come at the invitation and initiation of your Son, Jesus Christ, on the authority of your word and the power of your Spirit, as sinners saved by your grace.  We thank you and praise you for the riches of your wisdom, the knowledge that is bestowed upon us, in us and through us, that brings us to you and keeps us until the day of redemption.  What a glorious day that will be to see the height of your glory revealed to us who are in Christ.  In His name we thank you and praise you.  Amen.

The Heart and Beauty of the Gospel

It has been said that one picture is worth a thousand words. While we sometimes need images to help us see a hidden truth there is no image that will portray the word “faith.” Many people look at the cross, but walk away unmoved and unchanged from their thinking. The picture means nothing to them. Some look but reject the truth of the gospel, thinking that they are good enough. They, like the Jews, in response to the good news of a Messiah and a Mediator have established their own righteousness. Without knowledge, they are ignorant of God’s righteousness; His righteousness established in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We, who have been born of His Spirit, given a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life, are brought through conviction and repentance by the goodness of the Lord and the power of the gospel, to see Christ as the end of the law for rightousness. (Romans 10:4)

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Romans 10 gives us the image of CHRIST, the only means of righteousness before God. Christ is the center, the heart, the beauty of the Gospel, its power and its glory. It comes to us through the knowledge of His word. We need nothing else but the truth of the gospel and the Holy Spirit to work His righteousness in us. We do not need to bring anything else down from heaven, or anything up from the dead.

Since Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension we have ample witness to the righteousness that has been supplied for us. We have all that is needed.  We have the gospel that has been preserved for centuries, but the power of the gospel that brings nations to obedience of faith is not in the word itself, but in God’s will and compassion to fill our hearts with grace for believing it; for faith and obedience.

“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. Romans 10:8-10  Compare the following from Ephesians 2:8-10

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God:
 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 

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Those who have the word of faith in the heart know the beauty of it. We carry it; we confess it, not just to God, Himself.   We preach it in all that we say and do, wherever we go.  We live it to His glory and our joy.

Dear Father, let those who see us and hear our hearts speak, know that all is from you, the beauty of Christ, the center and whole of life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Turning Everything Heavenward

Having lost a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law in less than a month has brought me to think beyond my own state of existence to something higher than man and life here on this earth. Such is the case with recording my notes as we continue hearing the   preaching of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Again, Paul’s purpose for writing to the Roman Christians is to bring not just one or two, but, some from every nation, to obedience of faith. It is in the power of the gospel that accomplishes what God sent His Son to do; the Son of God with power (1:4) the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. (1:16-17). We start with God and continue in a God-centered gospel through the book of Romans.

As we come to the most unpopular and unsettled passages of God’s word (for some) in Romans 9 we must, as Paul, let God speak for Himself. In chapter eight Paul begins writing on the doctrine of predestination. If that is not enough he drives the point home dramatically in the next three chapters, to the point of showing that God has the last word on the subject.  Getting through these we come to chapter twelve; to which we are brought in response to His mercy; to present ourselves, as living sacrifices to Him.

Not a Man-centered Gospel
A man-centered gospel cannot save anyone. It tends to bring God down to our own level and make Him what we want Him to be and to say what we want to hear.

Paul answers this kind of reasoning in his day, not by using his own understanding or his own words, but even as Jesus when He was tempted answered with the recorded word of the Father, words that had already been established centuries before.

In Romans 9:14-15 Paul states, in defense of God’s own choice of who He loves, “Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Then in Romans 9:21 he puts man in the hands of a potter. A pot has no mind of its own, nor power of its own to decide what shape or for what use it is made.

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“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,
but of God that sheweth mercy.”
Romans 9:16

As the creature we are at God’s mercy. Read the book of Romans and any part of God’s word, and our mouths will be shut, until we know His mercy and grace to us.
Then we will be thanking and praising Him for giving us a new heart and a new spirit. A new life beginning in faith and repentance will prove the power of God in our obedience to His word. The Lord our God leaves no room for argument, only the invitation and power to believe and live heavenward, to His glory and our joy.

“And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,
which he had afore prepared unto glory.”
Romans 9:23

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Gracious and merciful Father, thank you that we live today only as you give us the Spirit of your Son to accomplish the work for which you created and redeemed us. We praise you for your grace and yours alone that has saved us from your wrath and made us a vessel for your own use. Fill us with your fullness that you may pour out your grace and love through us today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

No Separation ~~~~~~

God sent His Son
God’s Son sent His Spirit
God’s Spirit lives in us

We find these truths throughout the Word of God, and Romans 8 expounds on the work of the Trinity. From the planning to the inception God is sovereign; in control; and bringing to pass His plans for our salvation; made before the foundation of the world.

The power of the gospel that brings about the obedience of faith in all nations (1:5; 16:26) is the working of the Holy Spirit since the completion of Christ’s work (1:4); and will be finished as He has planned.

Connecting the Dots
The Holy Bible is a precious book; a canon; a volume of many books; but more than anything else, it is a workbook, which we must use for all time and endurance of life. It identifies the author, His work, and His workers. We go through, looking for God. He permeates the whole book. We find Him in the beginning and the end. We find Him in Jesus Christ. We find Him in the Holy Spirit. We see Him working in His creatures; in His creation and His redemption. All is His.

Sarah Roap Romans 8-26When we come to the book of Romans we go a little deeper in our understanding of truth that has been hidden from some because of the change in the teaching and preaching of the gospel in the last century.

It is only as we see that God has full control to work what He has planned from the foundation of the world; before the world began (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9) that we can be assured of “no condemnation” and “no separation.” We cannot save ourselves from God’s wrath; or keep ourselves through the suffering and temptation of this world.

This chapter connects these truths to each of the Trinity. They are united in this great plan for the power of the gospel for our salvation. As we meditate we look for the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In all study of the Bible we find Christ at the center; all things connecting to and pointing from and to Him for all things.

Treasure, Impact, Assurance
In the halfway mark in Paul’s letter to Romans we need to stop; take a breather; and sit down with this letter that is included in God’s word. I cannot in these notes unpack what has been recorded here for His people. If we take the time to read, meditate, saturate, and absorb what is here we find a treasure box from which God, by His Spirit, brings us to understand the fullness of the truth which we have been given in and through Christ Jesus, our Lord. To understood predestination we need to let God lead us to see the truth of His own work and glory in us.  To get the full impact of the whole book of Romans we must allow the Holy Spirit, that intercedes for us, to lead us and teach us here and through the remainder of Paul’s letter.

In Romans 8:19-39 we can look for these words; meditate on the verses from which these come; experience the impact; and be assured of the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit to accomplish all His work within us ~ for His glory and our joy.

Expectation
Delivered
Liberty
Waiting
Saved
Hope
Patience
Spirit
Intercession
Saints
Everything
Know
Good
Purpose
Foreknow
Predestined
Conformed
Image
Called
Justified
Glorified
Intercession
Conquerors
Elect
Persuaded
Love
God
Christ
Lord

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Dear Father, we are helpless, except for your life that is given us in Christ. I pray for the authority of your word to be commanded in us by the power of your Holy Spirit; to accomplish all that you have planned for each of us today. In Jesus name I thank you and praise you. Amen.