Rowing through Romans

January 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Romans | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Book of Romans ends up with one of the Apostle Paul’s favorite preaching techniques. I like to use the acrostic O.A.R.S. to identify it.

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets [O.pening], according [A.lleging] to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations [R.easoning] for the obedience of faith:

Romans 16:26 (bracketed terms added)

The Apostle Paul had “opened” the Scriptures of the Old Testament and “alleged” that the New Testament revelations of Jesus Christ are a fulfillment of those Scriptures. He had “reasoned” with his readers, as the Holy Ghost inspired him to answer questions concerning both the Jews and the gentiles about God’s fairness and righteousness.

And the purpose of this O.pening, A.lleging, and R.easoning, was the S.haring of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Romans 16:25 (emphasis added)

Here is a review of the previous lessons on Romans:

1. God’s Reason for His Delivery
2. Overcoming Shame
3. From Thanksgiving To Thanksliving
4. Making the Argument of Grace through Faith
5. Six Thoughts which Remind Us that We Cannot Achieve Righteousness on Our Own
6. Dr. Law and Dr. Grace(*)
7. The Paycheck You Don’t Want To Receive
8. The True Jewish Justification
9. It’s Just Faith
10. Catechism Question 5
11. Catechism Question 9
12. Rehearsing Repetitive Romans Reigns Really Recognizes Right Reckoning
13. Servant Movers (Commitment)
14. Free FROM Sin, Not Free TO Sin
15. The Reckoning
16. Failure to Yield
17. Marriage and War
18. God’s Will and Our Will
19. Destined for Victory
20. Spiritually Disabled (Romans 8)
21. Fitted by God
22. Ignoring the Obvious
23. Catechism Question 21
24. Bold Mouths, Beautiful Feet, and Blindfolded Eyes
25. The Work that Won’t Work
26. The Castaways
27. Catechism Question 3
28. Therefore and Wherefore
29. Sacrificially Submitting Surrendered Sanctified Service
30. The Anatomically Correct Church
31. Saved, Sure and Serving? Or Suspicious, Sedentary, and Slothful?
32. Heaping Helpings of Holy Hatred? Or Refusing Revenge for the Right Reasons?
33. The Powers that Be (Romans 13:1)
34. Love Demonstrated by Obedience
35. Light Wakes You Up
36. Doubtful Disputations Deter Doxological Demonstrations Displaying Desired Decorum
37. I Can Tell the Future
38. Real Joy Vs. Fake Joy
39. Preferential Treatment
40. The Certain Hope
41. Going Belly-Up

* most-read post in series

Going Belly-Up

December 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Romans | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In his letter to the Romans the Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul save his greetings for his friends and his notes of thanks for the end of the letter.

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

Romans 16:7-9

Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Romans 16:13

Note how the Apostle Paul not only knew his fellow-laborers by name, but he also knew their various accomplishments and things about them personally. It probably makes you feel important when your fellow-ministers at church remember your name, but it’s even better to be remembered for how you’re serving.

I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

Imagine the excitement of Tertius! There he was, taking dictation from the Apostle Paul who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and all of a sudden he gets the chance to put his own little salutation in there! These words became part of the Living Word – to last and be known for all eternity! You and I will never be inspired to add to the Bible, but let me encourage you to listen closely in church. The Lord was speaking to the Apostle Paul, and Tertius was listening and diligently taking it all down, and suddenly the Holy Ghost was speaking directly to him.

These servants of God listed at the end of Chapter 16 have their names preserved for all time in God’s Word, along with the honor of having their character and integrity mentioned. By the same token there are others who were not worthy to have their names preserved in the Scriptures. Although they were also known for their character, they were known for having a bad character.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Romans 16:17-18 (emphasis added)

Some Bible versions say “watch out” instead of “mark,” but the idea of “watching out” is too general because we are talking about people who have shown their character. Once they have established what they are about, we are to place a mental label, or “mark,” on them. They cause divisions and offenses contrary to the Apostolic doctrine, but the Verse does not say to confront them every chance you get. It does not say to go around telling everyone every bad thing you can about them. It does not say to formulate a plot and plan to get rid of them. No, it says to avoid them. They are such that serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own “belly.” “Belly” is sometimes translated as “appetite,” but the fact is, we can’t always see someone’s “appetite.” Everyone can see a big ol’ belly sticking out. “Appetite” is too neutral. You could have an appetite for good things. But those who “serve their own belly” are guilty of more than just mistaken desire. They have a greedy desire to cause trouble: divisions and offenses. The bigger their bellies get, the greater their hunger is. They see a local church assembly as an all-you-can-eat buffet. They will fill up their bellies with strife, contention, and trouble until someone stops putting more food in front of them.

That’s one reason why it is so important to get acquainted intimately with the people you are ministering alongside at church.

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

I Thessalonians 5:12

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

Titus 1:12 (emphasis added)

We have to be on the lookout for those who want to push a false doctrine through division and strife. The Bible says they will use good words and fair speeches to deceive the hearts of those who don’t know better, but by their bellies you will know them.

Saved, Sure, and Serving? Or Suspicious, Sedentary, and Slothful?

December 5, 2011 at 10:52 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans, Uncategorized | 14 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Wife: What are you doing today?
Husband: Nothing.
Wife: That’s what you did yesterday.
Husband: I didn’t finish.

Regardless of whether this type of exchange makes you chuckle, or hits a little too close to home to be funny, one thing is sure: As Christians, we need to stay busy.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

“Slothful” is a word that describes exceedingly slow movement due to laziness. There is even an animal named the sloth, which is known for its slowness of movement.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/slothsleepinginatree.jpg?w=300

A sloth may spend a whole day hanging from a tree branch in the Brazilian rain forest, and only move a few millimeters.

If you are a Christian, one of the main reasons that God did not bring you to Heaven the moment you were saved is because He had some good works, some great opportunities, and some specific tasks which He wanted you to accomplish both for the good of others and yourself, and for His glory. Christians, in other words, must be about our Lord’s “business,” and we must not be slothful in doing it. Our attitude ought to be one of fervency in spirit: an impassioned enthusiasm that gives us joy in serving the Lord.

Preferential Treatment

December 2, 2011 at 10:27 am | Posted in Romans | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Romans Chapter 15 deals mainly with how effective our ministry can be when strong Christians work together with weak Christians, and when long-time believers work hand-in-hand with new believers.

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Romans 15:1-2

We ought to bear the weaknesses of other believers, but even more than simply “putting up” with them, we ought to bless them. Like my old Sunday School teacher used to say: “Be a blessing, not a burden.” It’s not enough to just not be a burden. We should actively seek to be a blessing. The prime of example of this is Jesus. He not only put up with those to whom He ministered – He actually put their lives ahead of His.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Romans 15:4

The Word of God can work in us to focus us on how we should love each other. Even the Old Testament was written for our learning. We bring glory to the Name of God by getting along with each other. We bring shame on the Name of God by fussing and fighting with each other.

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

Genesis 13:8

When a dispute arose between the herdmen of Abram and Lot, Abram set a good example by trying to make peace. He emphasized that he and Lot were brothers – and that the neighbors were watching! If you are a Christian, the lost people around you are watching to see how you get along with other Christians. I hope that we “prefer one another.”

This pattern of receiving the weak, of ministering to the weak, of the weak and strong rejoicing together, of having unity, of bringing glory to God, and of magnifying the Name of Christ is shown in the early history of the Church.

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:8-13

Jesus and the Apostles of the early Church ministered to the Jews. Then the Gospel went to the Samaritans. And finally the Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles worshiped together and served together.

Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:15-16 (emphasis added)

As ministers of the Gospel – as soul-winners – we have a responsibility similar to the Old Testament ministers or priests. We have to bring our best, and to sacrifice our best. The Apostle Paul took this very seriously. He had been wanting to come to Rome, but he had been busy doing the work of the ministry.

Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

Romans 15:19

From Jerusalem “round about unto Illyricum” was about 1400 miles.

Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

Romans 15:20.

Paul went to places where no one else had preached the truth. This refutes the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church which says that Peter founded the church at Rome. It is highly unlikely that Paul would have gone there if Peter had already been.

Heaping Helpings of Holy Hatred? Or Refusing Revenge for the Right Reasons?

November 16, 2011 at 10:47 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18

It doesn’t always lie within us to be able to live peaceably with everyone around us. But it does always “lie with” God. There are some people who won’t let you live peaceably with them. The question is, when they fight against us, do we trust God enough not to fight back?

Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:20-21

What do these “coals of fire” represent? Is the Holy Spirit encouraging us to pray for revenge? There are some Old Testament instances of such prayers. Samson’s prayer is one example:

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Judges 16:28

Sometimes we are tempted to substitute the expression “coals of fire” with the sentiment “fight fire with fire.” The emphasis in Romans 12:20-21 is not on refusing to fight evil with evil – that should be a given. God’s children should not hate other people. Instead, the emphasis is on not being overcome with evil. The admonition is against letting the evil – the hatred – get inside us.

Fitted by God

October 28, 2011 at 10:28 am | Posted in Romans | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 9:4

The Holy Spirit here is answering the argument of those who say that it would mean that God is unfaithful to His promise of salvation to the Jewish people if He has given grace freely to all people. In other words, if Gentiles can be saved the same way Jewish people can be saved, what’s so special about being an Israelite?

The Holy Spirit’s response to this challenge is:

1. The Jewish people were adopted as “His people.”

2. He gave them the Old Testament covenants.

3. He gave them the privilege of having His glory dwell among them in the Old Testament.

4. He gave them the Law.

5. He saved them from among the nations, and delivered them from bondage in Egypt.

6. He made them special promises.

7. He caused Christ to come through their “family line.”

8. He gave them all the signs that pointed to Jesus being the Christ: the Messiah.

Even though they rejected Him, and crucified Him, God will remain faithful to His promises to Israel.

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Romans 9:13-14

In the history of the Church and in Christian theology this has been a controversial passage of Scripture. People don’t like to think that God could “hate” anyone. Some theologians feel that this refers to “national election.” In other words, God “chose” the nation of Israel (Jacob’s descendants) over the nation of Edom (Esau’s descendants). Others feel that God “hated” Esau only in relation to Jacob. In other words, they say that God didn’t really “hate” Esau – He just really loved Jacob a lot, and therefore His great love for Jacob made His feelings for Esau seem like hatred in comparison. I have to say that I find very little warrant in Scripture for this second interpretation. It seems to come from the dogmatic assertion (and Christian cliche’) that God hates sin but loves sinners. This assertion, we might say, has “some truth” in it, but on its face it is contradicted by Scripture (Psalm 11:5; Psalm 7:11). Part of the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of hatred. Most people who are aware that God is love (I John 4:8) and know that God is immutable can not reconcile in their minds how God can be loving and hateful at the same time. What they fail to perceive is that love and hatred are not mutually contradictory, nor are they even opposites. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. God is certainly not indifferent! It might surprise many modern evangelicals to learn that the Greek word translated as “hated” in Romans 9:13 means – quite directly – “hated.”

Now, let’s think about Esau for a second. He’s the one who made the decision to sell his birthright – his heritage as a primary heir of God’s covenant promise to the children of Abraham and Isaac. And even though Esau made this “decision” he was at the same time under the decree of God Who had predetermined that Jacob, and not Esau, would be the heir of the promise. The Holy Spirit brings up the example of Pharaoh to support the way God works out His sovereignty and providence in the affairs of men. Pharaoh hardened his own heart – in a sense – but the serious student of Scripture can not deny that God also hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Romans 9:17-18 (emphasis added)

Pharaoh made the decision to reject God and His mercy, but God was plainly ruling over this “decision.”

The Holy Spirit anticipates sinful man’s reaction to this revelation of God:

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Romans 9:19

How can God find fault in us for the way we are, when He made us that way?

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Romans 9:20-21

Does the clay argue or talk back to the potter? “You should have made me a dinner plate instead of a cup! I didn’t want to be a cup!” The potter had every right to make the clay into a cup instead of a plate. He could have made the clay into a toilet bowl if he wanted!

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

II Corinthians 5:12

God does not show favor based on His surprise at finding us “worthy” in our outward deeds or appearance. God is omniscient. He can’t be surprised. And He can’t “learn” anything. He makes some vessels unto honor, and some to dishonor. No vessel decides for itself with what it’s going to be filled. As living, breathing vessels, with souls and consciences and consciousness, God made us so that we can think and make decisions. Some vessels are “fitted” to destruction the same way that some spoiled and angry and rambunctious children are said to be “fit to be tied.” Whose fault is it that they need to be tied?

The Gentile vessels, compared to the Jewish vessels, did not have all the advantages outlined above. But God, in order to show His goodness and His longsuffering to the vessels who insisted on being filled with wrath, decided that those who are His vessels will be filled with mercy, instead of wrath.

I will not pretend that these truths are easy to explain. They get us into the sticky doctrines of election and predestination, which, by the way, are Bible terms. For a Christian teacher to say “I don’t believe in predestination” is to seriously call into question his view of Scripture and, therefore, his qualification for teaching. Some people believe God made us like wind-up toys, and that we are mindless puppets. That is not the teaching of Scripture. Others believe that God could not have chosen according to the good pleasure of His Own will to save some people from the penalty for their sin, and not others, because that would violate our “free will.” As finite creatures, we are not going to be able to grasp all the eternal decrees or wisdom of God. God is eternal and infinite, and His ways far above our ways. Here are some things we know for sure:

1. God is righteous, not unrighteous.
2. God is just, not unjust.
3. God is good, not evil.
4. God keeps His promises.
5. God tells the Truth in His Word.

Light Wakes You Up

October 14, 2011 at 10:22 am | Posted in Biblical Light, Romans | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

Isaiah 60:1.

The human body can only operate in a state of wakefulness for so long before exhaustion sets in. Mental and physical fatigue are remedied by sleep. Sleep is our minds’ and bodies’ way of recovering and recharging. With the invention of the light bulb and all the artificial forms of light we have today, people acquired the ability to work and play during the night as well as the day, but night time is certainly the traditional time for sleeping. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t sleep as well unless my surroundings are absolutely dark.

Spiritually speaking, however, Christians should live in light and not in darkness. God wants His people to be alert and vigilant, not dull and inattentive. Furthermore, although physical sleep is necessary for good health, there is no place in the Christian life for spiritual sleep. The Lord wants His people to be active. Are you alert, attentive, and active, or are you dozing through life in a state of spiritual passivity? “Rise and shine!” says the Lord. It’s time for Christians to reflect God’s goodness, grace, and glory in a dark, desperate, dreary, depressed, and dying world.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Romans 13:11-12

Doubtful Disputations Deter Doxological Demonstrations Displaying Desired Decorum

October 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans | 14 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I find it easier to explain Romans Chapter 14 by skipping ahead just a little and looking at the very first Verse of Chapter 15:

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:1 (emphasis added)

The “then” means, “Considering what I just said…” Romans 14 deals with the problem of pleasing ourselves at the expense of others’ “infirmities.” Those who have infirmities are called the “weak in the faith.” How we treat our fellow Christians will be determined by answering the question, “Who do you love?” You are going to please those whom you love. Should you be trying to please the exuberant, loud, extroverted believers? Or should you try to please the mean, quiet, bored-looking believers? Those are overt questions, but they are only masking the real question: Am I going to please God, or am I going to please myself?

If you are a parent of siblings, then you know one of the most pleasing things you can experience is watching your kids “prefer one another.”

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Romans 12:10 (emphasis added)

Similarly, God is pleased when, instead of a “me first” attitude, I have a “you go first” attitude toward my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Romans 14:1 (emphasis added)

When a fellow Christian is weak in the faith, we need to receive him – but not for the purpose of disputing with him over his personal convictions. Those who are counted as “weak in the faith” in this passage of Scripture are those who have trouble understanding their freedom in Christ. They think they’re more spiritual because of what they eat or drink (or what they don’t eat or drink) or because they keep certain days holy. Here are two misconceptions which are both dangerous ditches on the sides of the road:

Misconception #1: The rule-keepers are “better Christians.”

Misconception #2: Those who have personal convictions are “legalists.”

We must stay balanced on the road and not fall into either ditch. Here are some examples: I strongly prefer the King James Version of the Bible. It is the translation I study and the only one from which I teach in church. I believe it’s the one that everyone ought to use. That does not make me a legalist. I often wear ties, dress shirts, socks, and shoes to church. That does not make me a legalist. I have friends who use other translations of the Bible. I have friends who wear flip-flops to church. I have friends who wear leather motorcycle chaps to church. I have friends who don’t eat pork because it was forbidden to the Jews in the Old Testament. I have friends who enjoy few things better than killing a deer. I probably eat about a pound of bacon a week, and I wouldn’t shoot a deer unless it was attacking me. Which of us is the “weaker” Christian? I don’t know. But I do know we need to have Scriptural reasons for doing what we do, and, when we disagree on non-essentials of the Christian faith, we need to receive each other in Christian love.

What’s the reasoning for this “receiving in love?” Why is it a good thing to do?

1. God wants us to do it.
2. Ultimately, people are answerable to God, not to me.
3. No true Christian is an island unto himself.

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

Romans 14:7-8

I’m not your ultimate judge and you’re not my ultimate judge. In Christ, we are free from bondage, not enslaved to each other. We will give an account of our freedom one day – not to each other – but to Whom?

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:11

Notice that the verse does not say that every eye will wink, every hat will tip… No, it says the knees will bow and the tongues will confess.

If you are not in Christ Jesus, that verse should horrify you. On judgment day there will not be any mumbling about a lot of different ways to Heaven. No one will be saying, “You called Him Jesus, I called him Buddha, but it was all the same thing.” You will be face to face with the Christian God of the Bible and none other.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:12

In a previous post, I addressed the truth that Christians are not free to sin. We are free from sin – from its power.

Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Romans 14:16-18

The manifestation of freedom is not breaking rules. The manifestation is in joy in the Holy Ghost. Some Christians spend every day reviewing every little mistake and wringing their hands over how mad God is at them. We have to remind them over and over how nothing can separate them from the love of God. Little kids fight over the “last word” or whose “turn” it is. How freeing it is when we don’t feel the need to enforce our freedom! When we can enjoy the true freedom of letting our brothers and our sisters have “our” turn, or the “last word” if they want it. True Christians still battle with the flesh. The flesh will always have a tendency to look at something questionable, and ask, “Why can’t I do that? What’s wrong with it?” But the Spirit asks, “What’s right about it?”

Love Demonstrated by Obedience

August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am | Posted in Romans | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As Christians we need to “get into” the Word of God – and make sure the Word of God is “getting into us.” We are to surrender our bodies and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are not to be conformed to the world. When we are applying these principles, we will exercise our spiritual gifts in our everyday lives, in our relationships with our brothers and sisters, and even with our enemies. That’s the pattern for “proving” the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

Chapters 1-12 in Romans give us great doctrine about the truths of salvation. This doctrine benefits us in very practical ways in day to day living. Romans Chapter 13 continues to deal with our relationships – not just with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not just with our specific enemies – but our relationship to “higher powers.”

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Romans 13:1

Our government is one of these “higher powers.” We may not like the way our government is being run, and we may not care for the particular leaders who are in charge of it, but, ultimately, Father God is responsible for “Uncle Sam,” and our Father wants us to be subservient to our uncle.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:3-4

Nebuchadnezzar is a Biblical example of someone who learned this lesson the hard way. Although he was a powerful and feared ruler, he was only allowed to rule his nation and conquer other nations by God’s consent. In Daniel Chapter 4 we find it repeated three times (vv. 17, 25, 32) that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.

Most, if not all, governments today are influenced by Satan or the world, but God’s command to submit to our rulers is clear, as long as we’re not required to break a clear command from God’s Word.

Some people obey because of conscience:

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Romans 13:5

But some people only obey out of fear of being locked up:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:4

These are both good reasons to obey the laws of earthly governments, but the best reason of all is to show our love for God. God’s commandments can be summarized in New Testament language by two commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Can you say you love your neighbor if you commit adultery with his spouse? If you steal from him? If you covet and want better for yourself than what he has, or plot to get what he has for yourself?

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 13:9

As Christians, one of our favorite pastimes is complaining about how ungodly our government has become, and how one day soon there will be laws that try to force us into sin. But we have an obligation to demonstrate love.

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Romans 13:13

Notice how the sins listed in that Verse are paired up: Rioting (wild partying) is often brought on by drunkenness. Chambering (adultery) is often brought on by wantonness (acting like you are available for fornication). Strife (fussing and fighting) is often brought about by envying. The gifts that God has given us are for building – not for fighting with or fighting over.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

When we “make provision” – when we make plans to get into the path of temptation – it will lead to sin. I see this often in marriage counseling. When one spouse considers the marriage to be over, the other spouse will pay lip service to the idea of wanting to save the marriage, but put himself or herself in places where he or she is likely to run into a sympathetic partner. That person then proves to be a temptation to move on to a new relationship. This type of behavior is an example of “making provision for the flesh,” not “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Anatomically Correct Church

August 8, 2011 at 11:41 am | Posted in Romans | 14 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In a local church assembly, each Christian is a “member” of the body of Christ. Members of the body of Christ must be surrendered to the mind of Christ. Think of your physical body as an analogy. Can you imagine if certain “members” of your body had the ability to rebel against your mind? What if my arms decided they wanted to do the walking and my legs decided they would be in charge of handshakes and hugs? What if your stomach decided it wanted to pump blood and your heart decided it wanted to digest food? Those body parts don’t have the ability to function properly in those capacities. In a local church assembly all things should be done “in order.” The body of Christ is a living organism, but it must also be an organized organism. A disorganized organism will either die or malfunction severely.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:3-8

While it is wrong for us to think of ourselves too highly, it is also wrong not to use the gifts God has given us. A rebellious body part could throw a body into chaos, but dead limbs weigh the body down, slow things down, and cause the body not to work as efficiently as it should.

Children who are tested for school are sometimes designated as “gifted,” but being gifted is not really something that should make anyone proud. In fact, it would be better not to be gifted than to waste the gift. Some Christians are failing to use their gifts, and some are failing to share their gifts. Do you have a knack for managing your household budget? That gift needs to be shared with others. Do you have a special talent for dealing with difficult people? That gift needs to be put to work in your local church.

A body is made up of different members, and love is the overriding connector to these various body parts. Love is to a spiritual body what blood is to a physical body. The nerves warn the body of danger, but the blood nourishes the body, strengthens the body, and brings growth and life to the body.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Christians should not be slothful in doing the business the Lord has called us to do. In fact, we should do it as unto the Lord. To be “fervent” means to have a feeling of excitement about something you love. Fervent love is a participatory love – it is love in action.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Romans 12:14

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17

You will always find it easier to love those who love you, but you are commanded to love those who do not love you.

Next Page »


Entries and comments feeds.