Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thoughts on Romans 10:16-17 (click here for NET Bible)

It seems as though verse 17 is out of order. However, if you take verse 17 as the summary statement for 10:14-16, then the order makes sense. As we partner with God as His sent messengers of the Gospel, people hear the Gospel, some will transfer their trust onto Jesus Christ and express their faith in Christ in prayer (verses 14-15). However, some won’t believe Jesus is the Messiah (verse 16). Paul then summarizes the importance of Christ-followers communicating the Gospel in verse 17: “Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NET) God has sovereignly chosen to weave together His redemptive work with our proclamation of the Gospel.

On Sunday, I stated that in verses 14-15 is a four step process of salvation: God sends every believer, those sent are to communicate the Gospel, those hearing the Gospel may choose to respond with faith, and those who choose to transfer their faith onto Jesus express it through prayer. I emphatically said that this process begins with us, with those who are Christ-followers.

To be honest, I am surprised that I have not received emails about this statement. Salvation from a human perspective begins with a believer engaged in prayer, care and share. However, from a divine perspective it all begins with God. Romans 8:29-30 makes this abundantly clear: "... because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30 NET) The four step process in Romans 10 takes place between God's call and justification.

Praise the Lord our salvation is totally a work of God in which He chooses to use His people as instruments to communicate the Gospel!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thoughts on Romans 10:5-8 (click here for NET Bible)

I am thankful that everything that needs to be done for my salvation has been accomplished through Jesus Christ. I don't have to measure up to the law's righteous demands. It would be an exercise in futility. I don't have to pray for the Messiah to come because He has come. I don't have to pray for Jesus to prove that He is God and His death on the cross is sufficient for my sin. He already did that through the resurrection. All that's left for me is to believe - to transfer my trust from myself onto Jesus Christ for salvation. I am very grateful to the Lord that He led me to do that 41 years ago.

This is, then, is one of the core differences between Christianity and all other religions. Religion says, "Do." Christianity says, "Done." Salvation is near because everything needed has been accomplished in order for God to forgive us our sin. All we must do is appropriate what Christ did for us by placing our total trust in Jesus Christ.

By the way, today is Day One of our 40 days to pray for our city. The "Seek God for the City" prayer guide asks us to pray for our youth today. I don't think it is "coincidence" that today is the monthly "SOS" day for our middle school and high school students. "SOS" stands for "serve our schools." It is an effort of many youth groups in our area. The students from various churches serve the students and faculty in creative ways one day a month. It is student led and implemented. Please pray that God would be honored as these students serve their peers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thoughts on Romans 10:3-4 (click here for NET Bible)

Paul asserted that the Jews ignored the righteousness that comes from God. This means that they had the information they needed to "submit to God's righteousness." Their pride would not let them. Instead, they sought to establish their own faulty righteousness which falls far short of God's perfect holiness.

How do people today ignore God's righteousness? The Jews were recipients of God's revelation. But what about the many who have never read the Bible? How can they be ignoring God's righteousness? Obviously their pride is causing them to establish their own righteousness.

I think the answer lies back in chapter one of Romans where Paul declared, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20 NET)

Every person is under the wrath of God because each one has willfully ignored the truth and sought to gain their own deliverance through their good works.

"Father, may You break through the ignorance of those who are far from You. Please remove the blinders their pride has put in place. May they realize the futility of the performance treadmill."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thoughts on Romans 10:1-2 (click here for NET Bible)

I'm sitting in my sunroom watching the shadows decrease as the sun rises. I am warm, comfortable and satisfied. I just had a great day with my church family sharing God's Word with them. As I look out over the golden-white field behind our house, it is hard for me to imagine what hell is like. I know intellectually that it is a place of unending torment and eternal exclusion from the presence of God. Jesus described hell as the place, "where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched." (Mark 9:48) The "worm" represents the internal torment and "fire" represents the external torment of hell, both never end. This is the place where those who don't transfer their trust from themselves onto Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sin will go when they die. Hence, every person needs salvation. This is what Paul was praying for - the salvation of fellow Jews.

"Lord, please help the reality of hell to grip my heart for those who are far from You. May I sense the urgency to pray for my neighbors, family members, co-workers, community members who are one last breath away from hell. Thank You for allowing me to have a role in rescuing people from the coming judgment. May my prayers lead to opportunities to care for them and share the Gospel with them."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thoughts on Romans 9:22-24 (click here for NET Bible)

What if God is willing (and He is) to make know the wealth of His glory on the objects of mercy that He has prepared beforehand for glory - even me, whom He has called. What a mind blowing thought that the Creator of the universe, God almighty, chose me to be an object of His mercy!

The Apostle Paul declares, "I am grateful to the one who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me faithful in putting me into ministry, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I was treated with mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief, and our Lord’s grace was abundant, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' – and I am the worst of them! But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life. Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen." (1 Timothy 1:12-17 NET)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thoughts on Romans 9:19-21 (click here for NET Bible)

I am so humbled by these verses. There are times when I criticize God for how things are going. I'm not asking honest questions. I am irritated (aka angry) at how my day is going or some "stupid" thing someone else did. What right do I have to criticize God?

Paul clearly answers that I have no right. I am clay in the Potter's hands. God has every right to do as He wishes. He is sovereign. Who am I - a mere human being - to talk back to God? A mere piece of clay. A finite, frail and foolish person.

Paul is giving a loose quote from Isaiah 45:9. It is interesting that Isaiah included a stern warning for those who persistently blame God and criticize Him for their troubles.

“Destruction is certain for those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you are doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be!’" (Isaiah 45:9 NLT)

Lord Jesus, I humbly acknowledge Your sovereign right to do as You please. I have confidence in Your skill to use all circumstances for my good and Your glory.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thoughts on Romans 9::14-18 (click here for NET Bible)

Paul began these verses asking "Is God unjust?" The answer is a clear, strong, resolute negative answer, "Absolutely not!" Then Paul asserts the truth about the sovereign election of God. God declares, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compasssion." God is a just God because all of humanity is infected with sin resulting in eternal damnation. God out of mercy and compassion chooses some to rescue from condemnation. This does not indicate injustice. The just thing is for every person, including you and me, to face the consequences of sin, which is death. This is why sinners don't cry out for justice. We cry out, "God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!" (Luke 18:13)

Paul continues to explore God's justice in verses 19-33 when he examines the issue of God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Since God is sovereign and chooses whom He will save, then how can He hold us responsible for our choices? We will explore this tomorrow in the sermon and next week through the daily readings. As we do, may we remember Paul's words,

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God that God needs to repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 NET)