Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Romans 3:1-8 The Jewish Advantage

As we saw last week in that latter part of chapter 2, the apostle has made it very clear that being an ethnic Jew was of no value regarding being reconciled to God. He had already established that those apart from the Hebrew nation have no advantage. Things do not get better in chapter 3. He asks another rhetorical question, knowing his kinsmen of the flesh are not easily put off from their thinking that their covenant status (circumcised in the flesh, keepers of the Mosaic Law) makes them “right” with YHWH.

Rom 3:1 So what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?

The Pharisees had taught those who could trace their lineage back to Abraham that such a connection was THE thing that was needed – and that connection with Abraham required circumcised. “So,” they are portrayed here as asking Paul, “what about this stuff? You said all that stuff in chapter 2, but what Abraham our father and our circumcision?” It’s so the apostle could say, “I’m so glad you asked that question!” 

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Romans 2:17-29 Self Righteousness Denied

Romans 2:17 – 22. These first 6 verses are a series of questions aimed at bringing self-righteous Jews to see themselves rightly. Paul starts off by playing on their pride, granting them the status they think they have – experts on the law, in good standing with YHWH, providing guidance to lesser folk. We see in the terms Paul used in this opening sentence that, in fact, the Jewish leaders of his day were condescending to anyone not in their group. Doug Moo observes that in the first two verses Paul has listed 5 blessings that Israel enjoyed as God’s temporal people, then he lists 4 prerogatives Jews enjoyed as regards other peoples – teacher, etc.

The apostle then gets to his rhetorical questions, diagnosing his kinsmen of the flesh. They who claim the honored status of being custodians of God’s law do not teach themselves. They do not follow the law they tell others is required. They are, as Jesus told them, blind guides rather than trustworthy guides. In fact, much of the Old Testament is filled with prophets rebuking and pronouncing God’s judgment on Israel and Judah because of just these things! Paul sounds much like an Old Testament prophet as he pronounces doom on the Jewish leaders.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Romans 2:12-16 No Escape for Sinners!

Romans 2:12 – 16 bring us to focal point of Paul's teaching of God's judgment on man, pointing out that those who have not heard the Word of God have sinned and are condemned apart from Christ as well as those who know the Truth and have transgressed it. Paul’s use of the term “the law” in this paragraph is very clearly meant to refer to the Mosaic Covenant and the Law of Moses – most of the time. Those without the law are Gentiles: everyone who was not a Jew in Paul’s day. In verse 12 we see that these people (which includes all here) are no worse off than those with the law. Sin was announced as carrying the sentence of death in the garden, long before the Law of Moses was given to the Hebrews. The soul that sins, it shall die! That is the consistent judgment of God throughout His Scriptures. The Jews had no problem seeing sin in the Gentile camp, their religious leaders tended towards self-righteousness. The apostle, a Jew of Jews, lumps both groups together, telling his kinsmen of the flesh that having the Law of Moses is not the same as keeping it. Verse 13 spells it out: those who hear the Law of Moses are not justified; those who DO the Law of Moses are. Hence the common but deadly wrong assumption by many Jews that they were keeping the Law of Moses because they were following the traditions laid down by their fathers.

The audio of this message can be found here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Biblical Gospel

What is more important to those made in God’s image than being cleansed from the sin that stains and separates us from our Creator? Jesus said it’s more important than the whole world! And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Luke 9:23-26.) If we take God at His Word, we will want to get this part right. Proclaiming His message of reconciliation is the only role He has given us in His grand plan of redemption. We can’t save anyone’s soul, we can’t know who God will save. All we can do, and it is a glorious privilege, is to be faithful with His Gospel, trusting Him to do what only He can do.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Romans 2:1-11 Vindication of God's Wrath

Our old Baptist brother John Gill considered this chapter a “vindication of the justice and equity of the divine procedure against men, … concluding that such, be they who they will, Jews or Gentiles, are inexcusable … that the judgment of God, in the condemnation of them, is right … cannot possibly be escaped.” Just as with the promised second coming of Christ, there are some who say since it’s delayed (Christ’ return or His judgment on sin), it must not be real. This is another evidence of the unrighteous suppressing their knowledge of the Truth. The covenant with Noah gives even reprobates seed time and harvest, but that kind provision of God will cease when this age is brought to an end by the glorious return of Christ Jesus.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Romans 1:18-32 The wrath of God is real, and it's NOT the gospel

Although the central message of Romans is the gospel, just as with the entire canon of Scripture, not all in Romans is the gospel. We see this now as he describes the wrath of God, contrasted with the righteousness of God in the previous verse. The wrath of God is related to the gospel in a negative sense but it is NOT the gospel.

Recall how Paul said, later in this letter, that where sin abounds grace much more abounds. By this he means grace is always more than sufficient, it outshines sin. In the same way, the holiness of God is better seen by us mortal when contrasted against our sinful nature – as when Isaiah was confronted with this contrast. So we have it here: the righteousness of YHWH is more clearly seen by us when we see a bit of His wrath. Christ Jesus suffered the wrath of God on our account so we would have His righteousness. The more clearly we see and understand His wrath, the more clearly we will comprehend the imputed righteousness we have been given and the cost paid for it by our Lord. 

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Traditions. We have them. We run into trouble when we teach them as the commandments of God. Let us be careful and sober minded about our traditions, willing to examine them and cast aside those that cause people to stumble.

This message can be listened to here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Romans 1:1-17 Paul, an Apostle of Christ

Verses 1 – 7 form one complex sentence. This makes me wonder what they were thinking when they assigned verse numbers to Scripture. As Paul starts this letter, he identifies himself. Why is important for Paul to be known as he has described himself here?

In calling himself a servant or slave to Christ, he draws a line between the two kingdoms, which he will go into more detail in chapter 6 as he teaches that there is no neutral zone in the spiritual realm (Gal 1:10). In claiming to be called to be an apostle he is establishing his authority to instruct the church (1 Cor 9:1). What qualified a man to be called an apostle and why is it important? (Acts 1:15-22)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Evangelism by the Book

Evangelism: When We Scatter. I call this lesson Evangelism by the Book. Last time I reviewed several methods used by many people that simply are not evangelistic. This week, we turn to the Word of God to see how we should go about this holy task. Paul’s letter to the Colossians helps.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:2-6).

With Paul’s persistent desire to take the gospel to all the world, he asked a gathered group of God’s people to pray for him to have the open way to keep on proclaiming the gospel. Wanting the saints at Colossi at Arpelar to work with him in this endeavor, he told them and us to be wise in how we engage lost people, always speaking truth with grace to each person. We are ambassadors of His gospel not one of our own choosing; we should seek to honor Him as we scatter to take His message to our area and the world.

(Note: While listening to myself, I noted that about 11 minutes into this I said "God saves God from God." Stupid tongue. That should have been "God saves His people from Himself." Sorry about that, chief!)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Introduction to Romans

We begin a trek through the book of Romans today, starting with an overview of this epistle. This is not intended to be a lecture, but a framework for us to better comprehend God’s message to us.

 To get the right understanding from a passage of Scripture, we need to have some knowledge of the historical and biblical context of the passage we are fixin’ to read. There is one over-arching narrative in all of Scripture, from Creation to re-creation, and that story is the gospel narrative – Creator God revealing Himself as such, contrasting His holiness with our sin, promising and providing a redeemer to reconcile sinful men to Himself and to ultimately make His home with us.

While not every passage in the Bible is part of the gospel, the tale of our Redeemer is the central focus of the whole of Scripture and every message taught from it must point to Christ. Further, one must determine the nature of the communication: is it historical narrative, prophecy, poetry, instruction? And we must know the audience of the passage and how we relate to them. Instructions written to those in the Mosaic Covenant have something to teach us, but not necessarily the same points or application as intended for them. The covenant you are in helps determine how to apply Scripture. Christians are in the New Covenant, not the Old one.

This message can be listened to at this link.