Slaves ~ Proof of Purchase

Slave-shackles-Does-the-Bible-condone-slavery-e1339625637490People who refuse to hear the good news of Christianity, because they don’t see any difference in others who claim to be Christians, are being influenced by them and following in their footsteps. Both are  deceived; both are slaves to their own sin;  both are obeying their own desires and are at enmity with God. These are continuing to purchase death for themselves and leading others in the same path.

As we’re almost half through hearing the preaching of Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 6) let us recap the main things.

  1. His purpose for writing the letter ~ to bring obedience of faith through the gospel
  2. The power of the gospel ~ doing its own work in the believer
  3. Righteousness revealed ~ in the gospel and in the believer

We have learned how powerful the gospel is over the power of sin ~ greater than the power in man to sin is the power of God to deliver man from the dominion of sin.

0001c4Paul compares the Christian life to that of a slave. We were slaves to sin; slaves of the flesh to our own desires until Christ redeemed us. He bought us with the price of His own blood. So now we are slaves to righteousness. We agree with this purchase when we repent and turn from sin to Christ and follow Him. Proof of His purchase is a new life ~ eternal life ~ that begins here; sanctifying us; setting us apart from the world; and preparing us for His glory.

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The true Christian is not making excuses so as to continue sinning ~ working for the common wage of death. True faith is new life in the Christian, empowered by the word of God, earned for us by Christ as a gift of His righteousness, and working in us the desire to please Him and serve Him.
Those who claim the blood of Christ have the witness in themselves and in the reality of a life of righteousness. We no longer love the things of the world; but we love the things of God. We present ourselves as slaves of righteousness to God; and to the world as proof of His purchase. We bear the fruit of righteousness in our lives as proof of what He has planted in us.  We shall see in chapter seven the continued battle against sin.

 “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God,
ye have your fruit unto holiness,
and the end everlasting life.”
Romans 6:22

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for this unspeakable gift, and the unsearchable riches of Christ, to whom we belong, and in whom we are promised to be joint-heirs of your kingdom.  Work in us His righteousness according to the power of your grace.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Abraham and Paul ~ Heirs of Promise

How exciting is our God!
The Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ continues to amaze me as I sit under the preaching of His word.
It is a joy to have my heart and mind opened to the truths that are expounded through the messengers that He has chosen. Such is the case as I am experiencing the preaching of Paul’s letter to the Romans. I have read it many times and studied it; but never before heard and seen what I am seeing now. So had Martin Luther, and God changed his understanding, his life, and the church.

In Romans 4 there is a remarkable revelationimages of how well the apostle Paul knew Abraham. Should it not be so, since Abraham was his father ~ twice born?
Jews throughout history have claimed him as their father. But, Paul gives us a backward view of who has a true claim to this relationship.

God, the Father, chose Abram to be the father of many nations, not just a nation called Israelites. He made an everlasting covenant through him for all nations and changed his name to Abraham. He chose Abraham, made a covenant with him and gave him a promise to bless people from all nations through his obedience of faith.  This is how he became the “father of faith” to all nations.

Let’s look back in time to this covenant blessing upon Abraham that is our blessing, too. We cannot skim over this, but we need to take the time to see the truths here.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless,
that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”
Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him,
“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. Genesis 17:1-7

The Lord appeared to a mere man on this earth, gave him a promise that through his physical seed a new nation of people would be born; a covenant that God, Himself would fulfill ~ an everlasting covenant ~ not just to the nation of Israel; and not just for a certain time, but a promise and covenant forever to all who believe in His promise.  God is a God of covenant; a faithful God to His people who accept His word as truth.

How would this covenant be established except through Abraham’s physical offspring, a son that God promised to Abraham? Through him would come the Messiah promised by God since the beginning (Genesis 3:15). But do we see the catch ~ Abram was ninety-nine years old and had no offspring. There was yet no son through whom a people would be born.

But God promised. And Abraham believed what God promised, though it was physically impossible. His faith was counted as his righteousness before God.  As difficult as it was for him to believe is it impossible for us to believe through our own insight.  We are each in our own country, our own little worlds until God speaks through the power of the gospel to us.  By human thinking we cannot see the incarnation, the righteous life of Jesus Christ, his death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father in heaven.  It is by His grace, and His light in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6) that reveals Christ to us and gives us the new birth by His Spirit, so that we see and believe. (John 3:3; 6:44-45)

The essence of Romans 4 is that Abraham’s faith preceded his action of circumcision. It was his faith in what God promised that made him righteous, not his works. His obedience to God’s command for circumcision was a result of His believing God’s promise.

(Remember the purpose for Paul’s letter was to bring a people from all nations to the obedience of faith. His preaching the gospel was not to tickle the ears, but to lead people to faith in the gospel and therefore to proof of salvation and righteousness by obedience to God’s word.)

How well Paul relates to his father Abraham; and how well he knew his own people who trusted in their circumcision and the law for their righteousness before God.
The Lord had chosen Saul, appeared to him, changed his name to Paul, and sent Him, first to his own people. They tried to kill him, because they did not like the good news of faith in Jesus Christ. They proved themselves not to be true offspring of Abraham, because they did not believe that God had sent His Son for their salvation.

And so, Paul was sent with the gospel to the Gentiles; and all who believe God are the heirs of the promise; joint-heirs with Christ, Abraham and Paul.

 “Abraham believed God, and it 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 3:4, 24,25

 Gracious heavenly Father, thank you for calling Abraham out of his own country to establish a new country, a new people of faith and obedience to your word. Thank you for stopping Saul from persecuting your people, that he might become your servant to all nations with the good news of our salvation. Thank you for giving us your word and your promises through others of faith. Thank you calling pastors to preach the gospel in our time. Thank you for calling each of us as your people, by your Spirit and through your word, that others may see and know who are your children; though there are those who will reject your promise and persecute us who live in obedience of faith.  Today make us to know who you are, that we may know whose we are ~ heirs of promise. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Obligated and Eager  Romans 1

Obligated And Eager (Romans 1:1-15)

imagesSo as not to lose the main thoughts of the study begun by our pastor yesterday in the Book of Romans I wanted to note and save these ~ not all, but those that we come away with; that apply to here and now, for us.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans described himself as “called” and “set apart.”

He had “received grace and apostleship” for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
His purpose for this grace and apostleship; his calling and being set apart for the gospel of God concerning His Son, was to bring about “obedience of faith” in others who were called. (See The Purpose of Paul’s Letter to the Romans)

This book was written by one “called to be an apostle.” Vs. 1
It was written to those “called to belong to Jesus Christ.” Vs. 6
It was written to those in Rome “loved by God and called to be saints.” Vs. 7

Though not all are called to be an apostle, all who are called, then and now, belong to Jesus Christ; all are loved by God and called to be saints. None are called to be nominal Christians, then to go their own way.

It is a holy, high, and heavenly calling, as noted in Paul’s other letters and in the Book of Hebrews. All are called to live out our faith in obedience to Christ wherever He has placed us.

Paul describes his obligation to those he ministers to as an apostle. He has “received grace” and in his calling as an apostle administers this grace to Greeks and barbarians, to the wise and foolish.

And here with the obligation is the proof of his “calling and receiving.” He is “eager to preach the gospel to those in Rome.” Why was he still preaching the gospel to those whose faith was proclaimed to all the world? It was the gospel that had been preached that brought them to believe the gospel. It is the gospel that keeps us receiving and believing. It is the gospel that keeps us encouraged, obligated, eager and obedient to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 We can easily forget the debt we owe for the mercy and grace that has saved us through Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
To keep us in obedience of faith we need, as Jerry Bridges in his book Discipline of Grace, to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.

It is in hearing the gospel that we receive our calling, and know where our obligations and eagerness are directed. As our pastor spoke of this I was reminded again of where my calling is at this time. My obligation is to my husband as his wife and caregiver. As I am writing this he is still sleeping. I am eager to spend the day with him, realizing that the Lord has planned our time together; and all will be to His glory, and our joy.

The Purpose of Paul’s Letter to the Romans

From beginning to the end Paul specifies his
purpose in writing to those who were “called imagesto be saints”  ~  “called of Jesus Christ.”  Only those would read the letter would know his purpose.  Only those who were “loved of God” would understand his words.

In the first chapter: Paul, from God’s work in him, has received “grace and apostleship for obedience of faith.”

In the last chapter: “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ,… according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen  (Romans 16:25-27)

Without anything else these two quotes are a front and back cover, encasing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ~ its purpose; its work; its glory to God alone.

Martin Luther, a forerunner of the Reformation and a discoverer of the hidden truth of a relationship with God being in “righteousness by faith alone” did not come to his understanding on his own volition, but as Paul, by the “effectual working of His power.”

What does righteousness have to do with faith?  Righteousness, a word ending with the suffix “ness” indicates a condition, or state of being.  No man, since Adam, exists in this state, but, in God’s sight, all exist in a state of “sin and death” ~  “there is none righteous.”  Existing is not the same as living.  All men are  “dead in sin and trespasses” before God, except for the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

This state of righteousness is a condition based on God’s own righteousness as revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ.  We fell from this state, with Adam; but are restored to this state in Jesus Christ.  This new condition that we share with Him is a state of being “righteous.”  And if we share this state with Him we are “right” before God and will do what is “right.” (Hebrews 13:21)  When Jesus said that we must first “seek His kingdom and His righteousness” He did not mean that this would be a natural seeking on our part, but the result of His working in our hearts and lives.

Psalm 1 is as clear as Paul’s writing.  Those who are “blessed” to be called by the Holy Spirit, through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, will experience the love of God’s law and meditate on it day and night; bearing fruit in its season, and prospering in Him.

imagesObedience of faith is the response and outworking of His own power in the heart and life of the believer. By His own grace He brings us to faith.  It is not a cheap grace, nor a cheap faith ~ one that we conjure up on our own.  It is a powerful faith that draws us to Christ (John 6:44-45) and keeps us always seeking Him.  Faith is the root of the seed of God’s word; obedience is the fruit.

Read Paul’s letter to the Romans with this understanding, and the desire for such a faith that works obedience to the heavenly Father that created us and redeemed us.  And as Paul “beseeches” the believers in Rome ~ by the same “mercies of God” that has saved us ~ we present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God  ~  the only reasonable response.  This holy desire for Him to work all that He desires in us is the nature of righteousness and obedience.

Not being “conformed to this world,” but being “transformed by the renewing of our minds” is the desire of all who have found their righteousness in Christ alone, and will prove in us what is the will of God in all that is “good, acceptable and perfect.”  (Romans 12:1-2)

In the middle of Paul’s letter we see the overall purpose of God for us, as believers ~
to be conformed to the image of His Son.  (Romans 8:29) Only He can create; only He can transform what He has created, and make us what He wants us to be.  Let us, with a voracious desire, seek to be all that He has redeemed us to be.  He will by the authority of His Word, and the power of His Spirit make us all that He wants us to be ~ obedient children of faith.

Dear heavenly Father,  attend to the hearts of your children today.  Bring us on your wings of love close to you. Nestle our hearts unto your precious word, that they never be separated from one another.  Show us your ways, teach us your paths, lead us in your truth and teach us; for Thou art the God of our salvation.  On Thee do we wait all the day.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen