Thursday, May 28 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
We have heard today’s topic several times: “Abraham was justified by faith”. A very amazing concept that leads one to ask: “What is this faith; seeing he did not have a blueprint to follow?” Faith in a broad sense is one of the most misunderstood words in the world today. For some, faith is simply believing in oneself, an attitude of self-confidence. Others are vaguer and say faith is just believing anything, right or wrong. And the modern day liberal theologian would tell us that faith is having a positive attitude towards God and men, fanning the spark of divinity within us. In the second part of last week’s study of Romans 4: 1-15, Paul used Abraham as the supreme illustration of how a person is justified (declared righteous) before a holy God. In today’s study we will look at this “Faith” Abraham was justified by and learn “how it works” from Paul’s analysis of Abraham's faith.
1. Romans 4:16 - 17 –We Share in Abraham’s Faith
“16 The promise depends on faith so that it can be experienced as a grace-gift, and now it extends to all the descendants of Abraham. This promise is not only meant for those who obey the law, but also to those who enter into the faith of Abraham, the father of us all. 17 That’s what the Scripture means when it says: “I have made you the father of many nations.” He is our example and father, for in God’s presence he believed that God can raise the dead and call into being things that don’t even exist yet.” TPT
Verse 16 is a follow up from verse 13 which says: “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.” Abraham became the father of the Jewish race because he was the first Jew; the Jews are the physical seed of Abraham. But because he is the chief example of one who was justified by faith, he became the father of all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who believe in God and His promise. All who trust in God alone for salvation through faith are the spiritual seed of Abraham. Paul, in verse 17 quotes Genesis 17:5. God changed Abraham's name from Abram (high father or father of many) to Abraham (father of multitudes). But he had been justified fourteen years before God changed his name, because he believed God's promise. God, at the point of changing his name, only reaffirmed His covenant promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations. However, many years passed after God made the original promise, and Abraham still had no heir. When his name was Abram (father of many), he had no son, which was quite an embarrassment for an Oriental. It was the desire of every great man to have an heir, and Abram and Sarai had been childless in Canaan ten years. So, one day, with much persuasion from his wife, they took matters into their own hands, thinking they would help God fulfil his promise. The result was Ishmael, a son born by Sarai's Egyptian handmaid. And we know the consequences still being borne by the Jews as a result of this move.
This tells us that genuine faith in God can at times become very weak and we make mistakes or fall into sin, but the person and others may pay for that mistake for generations. So we must be careful!
Abram may have been proud of this son, but Ishmael could never be Abraham's heir. Ishmael was part Egyptian, and archaeology tells us that the Egyptians are descendants of Ham who was cursed by God. The reason the promise was reaffirmed to Abram is that he had to know that this son of the flesh, Ishmael, was not the son of promise. God would send another son to be the promised heir.
2. Romans 4:18-19 - Faith Believes the Impossible & Looks Beyond the Circumstances
“18 Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfil it. He took God at his word, and as a result he became the father of many nations. God’s declaration over him came to pass: “Your descendants will be so many that they will be impossible to count!” 19 In spite of being nearly one hundred years old when the promise of having a son was made, his faith was so strong that it could not be undermined by the fact that he and Sarah were incapable of conceiving a child.” TPT
When you read this verse and discover Abraham was pushing 100 years old, past the age of procreation, and Sarah was about ninety, physically unable to have children. You will not need further convincing that it was certainly a humanly impossible situation. But Abraham had faith in God to do the impossible. He believed God when there was absolutely no hope for fulfilment. Abraham did not find in the realm of his senses, feelings, or sight any basis for hope. He looked beyond himself and his circumstances to God, and accepted God's Word (promise) as the basis of hope. He believed in an all-powerful, miracle-working God. Faith is nothing more than trusting in God's faithfulness. So, after the promise was reconfirmed, Abraham's faith was even stronger. He believed in a God who "makes alive the dead," a direct reference to the fact that he and Sarah were dead sexually, and possibly an indirect reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Abraham had no physical seed, there could be no Messiah because Messiah had to come through the promised line and no other. Abraham believed in a sovereign God with a sovereign plan. God knows the end from the beginning, and when He promises something, it is sure to come to pass. Abraham knew his God and realized that God would fulfil his promise in every detail, that He "calleth those things which be not as though they were."
Abraham sized up the situation and concluded that he and his wife were dead as far as producing a child was concerned. The circumstances were against them, but he was not weak in faith. He believed in a miracle-working God, a God for whom nothing was too hard to accomplish. He faced the obstacles squarely, and by faith trusted God to get him over the circumstances.
3. Romans 4:20-21 - Undivided (Absolute) Faith Rests in God's Promise and it Empowers
“20 He never stopped believing God’s promise, for he was made strong in his faith to father a child. And because he was mighty in faith and convinced that God had all the power needed to fulfil his promises, Abraham glorified God!” TPT
Abraham had no mental struggle; he did not doubt or waver in unbelief concerning the promise of God. He looked at the situation from a divine point of view and he was made strong in his faith. Until a person gets a divine point of view towards life, he or she will always be frustrated and would struggle with doubt and unbelief. We must look at life through God rather than through human circumstances. Abraham believed God for the impossible, and throughout the episode he was glorifying God. As Christians we must be willing to give God the glory in impossible situations. It is when we resolve to doing this that we will receive deliverance from them. Abraham had absolute confidence in God, and rested his case there. He relied on the fact that if God promises something, He surely is able to perform it. If God promises, He must produce, for He cannot lie and He cannot go back on His Word. Abraham did not "push the panic button." He was fortified with faith in a Sovereign, Omnipotent, Miracle-working God. All these without having prior knowledge, experience or guidance from another!
4. Romans 4:22-25 - Faith Is to Be Exercised by All
“22 So now you can see why Abraham’s faith was credited to his account as righteousness before God. 23 And this declaration was not just spoken over Abraham, 24 but also over us. For when we believe and embrace the one who brought our Lord Jesus back to life, perfect righteousness will be credited to our account as well. 25 Jesus was handed over to be crucified for the forgiveness of our sins and was raised back to life to prove that he had made us right with God.”
When God first called Abraham and Abraham believed God's promise, God declared Abraham righteous before him. But Abraham had not one shred of physical evidence that this promise would be fulfilled; he had only God's promise. His saving faith lapsed at one time and produced Ishmael, the son of the flesh, but it was not extinguished. After 14 years his faith was revived when God reaffirmed his covenant. This shows that the faith he originally exercised was genuine faith.
Verse 23-24a says: "And this declaration was not just spoken over Abraham, but also over us."
These things about Abraham were recorded for all men that all might know the way to be justified before God. As an example for us, Abraham believed God and was declared righteous. To be justified today a person must also believe the promise of God, which includes the full revelation of the crucified and resurrected Christ who alone can forgive sins. It is not enough just to believe in God. One must believe in the God who put Christ to death for sin and raised Him from the dead.
God put Christ to death to be the sin bearer. In His death, Christ made a complete and perfect sacrifice for sins, and there is none other, that can forgive sins.
He died to pay for the sins of His people, and His resurrection makes their justification possible. There is no forgiveness of sin, no justification, no eternal life, no heaven, and no hope for the one who has not made the death and resurrection of Christ personal in his or her life by faith.
Without Christ, there is only separation from God in time and separation and eternal punishment in eternity.
For the Christian: God has made some seven thousand promises for the child of God. Abraham had a promise from God and believed it. He shall see its fulfilment because he knew his God and did not lose faith. The Bible is God's Word for us today, and God has given promises that we must trust by faith. When a Christian does not trust God's Word, frustration and confusion result. In short, the Christian must learn to take God at His Word! For the non-Christian: God has promised salvation to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour from sin and Lord of his life. But you must come to Christ and receive him by faith. He alone can forgive sin and fill the vacuum in the human heart.
Culled from: http://www.cleartheology.com/expo/45Romans/NT.Arnold.Rom.22.html
Thursday, May 21 2020
Contribution: Peter Folikwe
We have learnt from earlier studies that Paul’s letter to the Romans is themed upon Salvation. Epistle to Romans should therefore be used as the standard to constantly review our salvation as Christians. Paul in Romans chapter 1&2 warns of ‘The coming wrath of God’, that ‘The laws are given to show the sinful nature of man, that the ‘World is condemned as sinful, and that ‘Good works alone will not prevent man from God’s wrath or judgement’. Although the Jews received the revelation of God as a nation, yet they were also under the wrath of God. The privilege of being chosen by God & knowledge of the Law & Prophecies does not in itself qualify the Jews for heaven. The Unfaithfulness of the Jews (God’s people) over generations however does not stop God’s faithfulness to mankind. The lack of obedience on the part of humanity does not nullify the teachings, good deeds & promises of Jesus Christ. Paul emphasizes in Rom 3:10 AMP “As it is written and forever remains written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS [none that meets God’s standard], NOT EVEN ONE.”
1. ROMANS: 3:21-31 BREAKDOWN
"But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago."
The picture of gloom & despair painted by Paul in Chapters 1-3:20 took a turn for hope & God’s grace in V21 NLT which says “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the Prophets long ago”. Paul states here that only God is righteous. This was revealed in the law, proclaimed and confirmed by prophets. Salvation does not come by keeping the law. The righteousness of God is apart from the law.
Verses 22 -24:
"22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins."
Paul states that the righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for everyone, whether Jew or Gentile, provided you believe and trust in Jesus, and acknowledge Him as the son of God. The righteousness comes through faith in Christ for all believers. In verse 23 it says “all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God”, further confirming his submission in Rom 3:10.
Verse 24: says that we are declared free of the guilt of our sins (justified) and granted eternal life as a gift through the redemptive blood of Christ Jesus. Through the righteousness that God offers, we are justified by His grace. Justification could be inferred to mean: “Just as if I never sinned against God”. Just for the reason of our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, He adjudges us justified without sin.
"25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,"
This verse describes Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Jesus being our propitiation (atonement and reconciliation) meaning He turned away the wrath of God by His blood. His sacrifice on the cross was an atonement for our sins & reconciliation back to God. Jesus had to take the wrath of God that was coming on mankind, but now without some feeling of nostalgia in Matt 26:39 where fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
1Thess 5:9 tells us “For God has not destined us to [incur His] wrath [that is, He did not select us to condemn us], but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”. What a loving God! We are not destined to incur God’s wrath, but instead obtain salvation through Jesus.
In the latter part of V25 we read that “God passed over the sins previously committed before Jesus’ crucifixion”. Meaning God left all sins committed before Jesus died on the cross unpunished. We could be quick to refer to animal sacrifices in the Old Testament for the remission of sins. No animal blood can atone to for the sin of humans. They were simply used as reminders that the blood is required to atone for sin. It took the blood of Jesus to fully atone for our sins.
"26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus."
Emphasis here is that The only way God can prove to be just is that sin came into the world through man & it’s by the blood of a man that sin can be forgiven. God found a way to judge man’s sin and save man at the same time. God found a way to punish sin and save the sinner. By sending His only begotten son to die for the redemption of mankind.
Verses 27 & 28:
"27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law."
Paul here asked by what we boast of, by law or by faith. Certainly not by law, because by keeping the law we still remain sinners, however by faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross; we are justified. You can’t boast by having faith in what someone else did. V28 says Being declared free from the guilt of sin (justification) only comes by faith in Jesus, not on our religiosity of our understanding of the law.
"29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law."
Our takeout from these verses are that God is God both for Jews & Gentiles. He has chosen to justify the circumcised by faith (Jews) & uncircumcised through faith (Gentiles). V31: “Do we then nullify the Law by this faith, making the Law of no effect? Paul says Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law, since it convicts us all of sin, pointing us to salvation in Jesus Christ. Salvation is therefore achieved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
2. ROMANS 4:1-8 BREAKDOWN
Paul in these passages happed on “Faith which takes God at its Words”, asking how a mortal man/woman can be right with God and placing Abraham’s faith at the centre of his teaching. Paul moves orchestrate Abraham for some good reasons.
1. The Jews regarded Abraham as the great founder of the Jewish race and the life pattern that all man should follow. Paul asked to know what was the special thing that Abraham had when God picked him out to be the ancestor of his special people? Paul sets to answer this critical question in this chapter.
2. The sign of God’s covenant, the circumcision made Jews believe they are God’s covenant race.
3. Paul tried to prove that what makes a man right with God is not the performance of the works as laid down by the law, but instead our simple trust and complete obedience to take God at his word and believe that He still loves us, even when we have done nothing to deserve His love.
Verse 3 (AMP)
“For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED IN (trusted, relied on) GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIS ACCOUNT AS RIGHTEOUSNESS (right living, right standing with God).”
Paul was referring to Gen 15:6 here. This verse was further emphasised in Hebrews 11:8 By “ sayswhich AMPfaith Abraham, when he was called [by God], obeyed by going to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went, not knowing where he was going.” The disposition of Jews was that a right standing natural man must earn God's favour. However, Paul equivocally states that all men should take God at his word and stake everything on the faith promised trough the death of His son on the cross.
Verse 5 (NLT)
“But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners”.
Meaning God justifies the sinner. A good passage to hold on to each time we are accused by the devil.
Abraham depended on God resigning his entire faith on Him. Prov 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not onto thine own understanding”
From the ongoing, we have discovered that we do not need to torture ourselves with a losing battle to earn God's love by our righteous deed as Christians, but instead accept in perfect trust the love which God offers to us.
"9 Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. 10 But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!11 Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. 12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised."
Our proper understanding of the importance that the Jew attached to circumcision will help our understanding of these verses of the bible. If a man who was not circumcised after the 8th day he was not a Jew, irrespective of his parental background. The Jewish belief is premised on “baptism, sacrifice and circumcision.”. The Jew always believed that just because he was a Jew he automatically enjoyed the privilege of God's blessings and immunity from his punishment. Paul questioned and nullified the Jewish parochial belief system by bringing to the fore how Abraham's circumcision happened in Genesis 17:10, fourteen years after Abraham's call, God blessings upon him and his entry into the unique relationship with God in Genesis 15:6. Paul proved that circumcision was not the pathway to Abraham’s right standing with God; it only represented a sign and seal that he had already entered into a relationship with God.
Paul reiterated that Citizenship of a nation does not in any way guarantee access to God, but faith that takes God for His word and makes everything dependent, not on man's achievement, but solely upon God's grace.
"13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)"
Paul concludes that Abraham is not just the father of Jews, but all those who put their faith in God. Paul’s latter to Gal 3:5-6 states that those which have faith are the children of Abraham. To Abraham God made a very great and wonderful promise not through his observance of the law, but through the righteousness of faith in God.
The promise, as Paul saw it, was dependent on two things and two things only - the free grace of God and the perfect faith of Abraham.
Finally, in Verse 15, Paul concludes that the Law only brings wrath/kills transgressors. Where there in no law, there will be no violation. We are saved by His grace and mercy.
Ref: Pastor Paul LeBoutillier – Calvary Chapel Ontario, Canada (www.ccontario.com).
Thursday, May 14 2020
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
God's faithfulness is an expression of His continuous gift of grace on all who believe in Him. In today’s study we will discover the magnitude of God’s faithfulness on the Jews based on His unquestionable prerogative on the Abrahamic covenant. The coming of Christ opened the door for anyone who believes in Christ Jesus regardless of their origin to connect to God’s faithfulness. The covenant of circumcision was a physical sign for Abraham and his descendants, but God expects us to circumcise our hearts to partake of a new covenant in Christ. Our previous lesson focused on the complexities of understanding the law by the Jews (Romans 2:25 -29). The Jews were dogmatic in their approach to the law and lacked an understanding of God’s grace concerning the inward circumcision which is what Christ’s salvation represents. Indeed, the law was complex to understand because the Jews didn’t realize that Christ’s coming brought a new dispensation and a fulfilment of the law. Christ himself explained the significance of keeping God’s word as required than a physical claim to Abraham but the Jews rejected it - John 8:55-58
1. VERSES 1-4 (GOD REMAINS FAITHFUL TO HIS COVENANT)
"1 Then what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? 2 Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God.3 True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? 4 Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.”
After being hard on the Jews in the preceeding lesson, in Romans 2:25 -29, Apostle Paul starts with a question on the advantage of being a Jew, and the tradition of the Abrahamic covenant through circumcision. This advantage was echoed in Rom 9:4, which referred to the Israelites as a people adopted by God and given both His promises, the service of God and the law. Regardless, we must realize that God on His part is faithful in keeping His covenant to the Jews as heirs of Abraham. This does not mean God is partial to how Jews or Gentiles relate to Him, but He is committed to His covenant with Abraham. Initially, to be connected to this covenant in the old testament, you had to do was to be circumcised Genesis 17:1-27. This was also a sign of preservation for the Jewish people. In Exodus 4:24-26, Zipporah had to circumsize their son to prevent God from killing Moses.
Also, the benefit of the circumcision was God’s covenant to bless Abraham and His descendants (Gen 17:7 “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”). Hence, the Bible often referred to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:6, Mathew 22: 32). We must also realize that Abraham believed God, obeyed His precepts and God counted it unto him as righteousness. So, it is not just about having ties to Abraham, but about faith and obedience to God just like Abraham. Paul noted the Jews placed more importance on the law than on having a relationship with God, because they didn’t reverence God from their heart. The unfaithfulness of the Jews as heirs of Abraham didn’t mean God will be unfaithful. This is because God swore to preserve the Abrahamic covenant, but now it is our faith that guarantees our eternity. God is faithful to covenants just as He also swore to keep David’s throne forever in Psalm 132:11, despite Rehoboam’s error in 1 Kings 12 which led to the division of Israel.
2. VERSES 5-8 (UNFOUNDED ARGUMENTS HANDLED)
"5 “But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.) 6 Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world? 7 “But,” someone might still argue, “how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” 8 And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned."
In verse 5, Paul anticipates what argument a Jew may put forward and frames the objection in light of a typical human argument. Someone might try to argue that “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” The obvious answer to this argument—an emphatic denial of its conclusion—comes forcefully in verse 6. Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world? 7 “But,” someone might still argue, “how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” 8 And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.
It is important to note here, that Paul anticipated possible arguments of his audience and decisively addressed and silenced and debunked them because they can cause distraction and derailment.
3. VERSES 9-20 (NO ONE IS RIGHTEOUS):
"9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. 11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. 12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
From this point, we notice that Apostle Paul‘s “rhetorics” changes to “caution” about the human nature of sin. This further strengthened Paul’s previous emphasis on God’s faithfulness on the Jews and Grace to all men. Paul explained how the Jews were neither exempted from sin nor was different from the Gentiles because all men manifested the nature of sin; which means all men have sinned and cannot claim righteousness by the law. This was important for Paul’s audience which some Bible scholars’ believed to be a combination of Jewish and Gentile Christians living in Rome. The admonition for the community of believers in Rome was for them to have the right understanding of the law and the righteousness of God.
• Verses 9-12: Paul made reference to Psalm 53:1b-3 (“there is none who does good. 2 God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one”). Paul’s aim at the point was not to castigate the Jews, because they claimed to believe in God (Yahweh); but like in previous times, He took his argument back to the Old Testament. This made it obvious that the Jews didn’t pay attention to the law which they claim to have received from in the Old Testament. This was in their observance of the law at that various points in time and despite this, the law made provision for the atonement of sin which meant even obedience to the law didn’t guarantee power over the nature of sin.
"13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.”“Snake venom drips from their lips.”14 Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
• Verses 13-14: The nature of sin is observed in the conversation of sinners; expressed in these verses; “Their talk is foul......and their tongue filled with lies”, “their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness”. Sinners talk without spiritual discretion because the nature of sin in man does not connect with the edifying word to God.
15 “They rush to commit murder.16 Destruction and misery always follow them.17 They don’t know where to find peace.”18 They have no fear of God at all.”
• Verses 15-17: The nature of sin here is revealed not only in utterances, but also in the actions of as many who try to please God in their human nature prone to sin because they lacked His righteousness in their hearts. Their unguided words have now found roots manifesting as actions and as well, the consequences “they rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace”.
• Verse 18: This verse reveals to us how the sinful action of man further leads to a situation where the fear of God becomes alien to all men who are trapped in sin. “They have no fear of God at all”
4. VERSES 19-20 (THE LAW EXPOSES SIN):
"19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are."
We will notice here that the law was given previously to guide lives and keep people aligned to God but it didn’t prevent the Jews from sinning. However, a new dispensation of grace through Christ for both the Jews and Gentiles unto righteousness before God.
Today's nation of Israel can recount their ancestral linage as true Jews from the 12 tribes of Jacob which is their symbolic identity. The Israeli Prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu for instance, believes his paternal and maternal tribes are Levi and Judah respectively. Several other people in Europe, Ethiopia also claim their Jewish ancestry. Regardless of this, we all must not take for granted God’s faithfulness as an excuse to sin. The Jewish nation are a special people of God; this has been proven by historians in their victories in wars and how they reclaimed their land in 1948. However, God remains faithful to all men who believe in Him and He is still faithful to His promise made to all the heirs of Abraham on earth both physically or by adoption as spiritual Jews through faith in Christ.To this end, believers should realize that the gospel is not just for those people from countries or cultures that are predominately Christians but for all people worldwide. We should also be aware that being born into a Christian family, or attending church for decades does automatically mean that we are born again; but that, we are born again by accepting the gift of salvation God offers through Christ by faith. And this new life is maintained and groomed by adherence to God’s Word.
Tuesday, May 12 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
- Overview of the book of Romans
- Paul is universally accepted as the author of the letter to the Romans. Throughout the entire letter it is easy to see Paul's sincerity, his unique insights in the teachings about God, the Jews, about Jesus, and salvation to all mankind. Most scholars believe Paul wrote the letter around AD 58 from the city of Corinth.
Outline of the Book of Romans
- Chapters 1-8 address Doctrine and Theology – In these chapters, Paul explains the fundamentals and foundations of the Christian faith (Rom.6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”). This is the Gospel Message, which all believers are commanded to share with the entire world.
- Chapters 9-11 address God's Plan for Israel – Here, Paul explains God’s sovereignty over salvation. He also spells out how an individual may come into a right relationship with God (Rom. 10:10 - “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”).
- Chapters 12-16 address The New Life in Christ - In these chapters, Paul gives instructions for all Christians about how to live a holy lifestyle (Rom.12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”
- Romans 1:1-13 Paul Introduces Himself and The Gospel
- He identified himself in verse 1 as:
- (1) A servant of Christ Jesus: indicating his allegiance and commitment; (2) Called to be an apostle: indicating his divine commission; and (3) Set apart for the Gospel of God: indicating his mandate.
- Verses 1b – 3a & 9: Paul Introduces the Gospel
- (1) That it is “the Gospel of God”: This teaches us that the Gospel originated from God. (2) That it was “promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures”: Not only was (and is) the Gospel God's Gospel, it has always been God's intention from the onset. And (3) It is about “His Son”: Here the whole content of God's good news is encapsulated in two words: 'His Son'.
- Verse 3-4: Paul Introduces Jesus Christ
- (1) He is God's Son, (2) He is, according to His human nature, a descendant of David, (3) He is 'Christ'. The 'Messiah'. the Anointed One, who came to save and lead God's people and (4) He is 'our Lord'.
- Verse 5: Paul Introduces His Ministry
- Paul saw Jesus Christ as the source, origin, goal and purpose of his ministry. His ministry was not to make a name for himself, but it was a Christ-focused, and Christ-centred ministry.
- Verse 6-8: Paul Identifies His Readers as Believers
- They were already loved by God. They were already “saints” - set apart by God, for God, and they already had faith.
- Verse 8-13: Paul Introduces His Priorities in Relation to The Romans
- That he may impart them with some spiritual gift to make them strong, and that they and him may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
- Romans 1: 14-17: The Power of the Gospel
- In verses 14-16a we learnt of Paul’s attitude towards the Gospel.
- He saw it as an obligation and he was clearly eager to preach it
- He also mentioned that he was not ashamed of it
- In verse 16b, He said that the Gospel was the power of God onto salvation. The power that . . .
- Takes away the penalty of sin.
- Rom 6: 23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
- Destroys the power of sin.
- Eph. 2:5 “When we were dead in our transgressions God made us alive together with Christ… and raised us up with Him”.
- Creates new life.
- 2Cor 5:17 says: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come”.
- Finally, in verse 17, The Gospel Reveals the Righteousness of God.
- Romans 1:18-23 The Reason Why God was angry against Humanity
- In this study, we looked at the two main reasons God became angry against humanity:
- We saw in Verses 18-20, that God was angry because man rejected His revelation by suppressing the truth. For instance, by EVOLUTION - denying God as the Sovereign Creator, or PHILOSOPHY - speculating that we cannot really know God at all, or PSYCHOLOGY - telling us that we are not responsible for the problems we face as a result of the choices we make.
- Then in Verses 21-23, We learnt that God was angry because man rejected His glory and honour. People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they ended up trivializing themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.
- Finally, we learnt that one of the most difficult topics for people to understand; believers and unbelievers alike, is that of “THE WRATH OF GOD”. It is hard to reconcile for most people, that God who is a LOVING GOD is also a WRATHFUL GOD; You cannot have a complete, prefect, holy and just God without love and mercy as well as His wrath and anger.
- Romans 1: 24-27 Part 1 of Sin's Consequences
In this study, we learnt that all unrighteous comes with its own consequences and without genuine repentance, God can also deliberately withdraw His presence from such people. This means a person or persons may face the consequences of their unrighteousness which may eventually lead to eternal damnation.
- In verse 24: The first consequence we learnt was that God withdrew His grace from them and gave them up to a reprobate mind (to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among themselves)
- In verses 25-27: The second consequence was for those who “edit” the truth of God’s word to suit themselves. People who abandon the truth of God’s word end up accepting the lies of the world, substituting the place of God with earthly things. They also become addicted to doing terrible and shameful things without any remorse; and they consequently suffer the penalty they deserve.
- Romans 1: 28-32 Part 2 of Sin's Consequences
- In this study, we considered the driving force behind man’s disobedience. Verse 28 tells us that it was the absence of the Knowledge of God. Actually, what happened was that they did not approve to have God in their knowledge. Men and women tested the idea of God and concluded that He would destroy their freedom and made the conscious choice to dispel Him from their thinking. But since we are instinctively religious, it is impossible for us to go from God to nothing. And so, they went from God to idols.
- In verses 29-31, Paul listed the Products of such Depraved Minds
- 1. All unrighteousness, 2. Sexual immorality, 3. Wickedness, 4. Covetousness, 5. Maliciousness, 6. Full of envy, 7. Murder, 8. Strife, 9. Deceit, 10. Evil-mindedness, 11. Whisperers, 12. Backbiters, 13. Haters of God, 14. Violent, 15. Proud, 16. Boasters, 17. Inventors of evil things, 18. Disobedient to parents, 19. Undiscerning, 20. Untrustworthy, 21. Unloving, 22. Unforgiving, 23. Unmerciful
- Finally, in verse 32, we considered those who support and promote evil. Even though people know such moral vices are wrong, they not only practice them, but congratulate others who do so also. Paul says these people are deserving of death.
- Romans 2:1-7 Part 1 of God's Righteous Judgement
- In chapter two of the book of Romans, Paul addressed the topic of judgement. Why we should be careful about judging others, How God’s judgement differs from Man’s, and How the nature of God influences His judgement.
- We learnt that the word “judgement” should not only be viewed from a negative stand point because after a judgement not everyone is condemned. Some are acquitted and “commended” too.
- In verse 1, we learnt that we should never “judge” [from a position of arrogance or self-righteousness] or a position of hypocrisy. For when you judge another from these stand points, you condemn yourself too.
- In verses 2-3, we learnt that it is only God that can truly judge righteously because He is all-knowing
- In verses 4-5, we considered the goodness (kindness), forbearance (tolerance), and longsuffering (patience) of God and that this knowledge should bring us to a position of humble repentance instead of an attitude of superiority and condemning others.
- In verses 6-7, we considered an awesome and fearful thought that God will render to each one according to their deeds
- And finally, to judge isn’t in itself a bad thing unless we are condemning others.
- Romans 2:8-16 Part 2 of God's Righteous Judgment
- In this study we learnt that God will judge according to the result of obedience or the lack of obedience to truth (God’s Words) in a person's life. (Verses 8-10):
- We learnt that God will judge everyone according to . . .
- His Impartiality (Verse 10): The wrath of God is coming upon all those who do evil; none will be free of this judgment. No person who does evil can plead innocence; all will know themselves to be guilty.
- Opportunity Given (Verses 11-13): God will judge everyone for sinning against “the light” they were given. The Gentile who sinned without the Law will be judged without the Law. The Jew who sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law.
- His Omniscience (Verse 16) Whether a person had God’s Law or not, he will stand guilty before God on that day if they are not in obedience to God’s truth. There will be a certain day of judgment. God has fixed the day (Acts 17:31). If we believe that, we’d better be ready! And if you don’t believe it, that does not mean that it will not happen!
- God doesn’t just look at our outward deeds. We can put on a pretty good show towards others. We can impress people with our knowledge of the Bible or our prayers or religiosity. But God sees and knows the true contents of our hearts.
- Romans 2:17-24 The Jews and the Law - The Consequence of Hypocrisy
- We learnt in this study that whether you are a Gentile or a Jew, whether without the Law or with the Law, whether you have never heard the Gospel or whether you have heard the Gospel, all people are under divine condemnation and in desperate need of the salvation that God gives in Christ Jesus.
- We also learnt that we must be wary of hypocrisy - saying one thing and doing another! Paul’s argument was that if we do not act upon the knowledge and belief we have in Jesus Christ, then, in reality, we are worse-off than those without the knowledge of the Gospel. There will be a greater judgment for those who have the light of the truth but do not act upon it.
- In verses 17-18, Paul began with a bit of sarcasm listing four privileges the Jews were taking for granted. That, (1) They Received the Law (given through Moses), (2) They Boast in God (3) They Know His Will in the Law, and (4) They Approve the Law.
- We also learnt the five main purposes of the moral law (1) It reveals the character and attributes of God, (2) It reveals the sinfulness of man, (3) It is a tutor to lead the sinner to Christ (Galatians 3:24), (4) It is a restraint to evil in society & (5) It reveals the will of God
- Verses 19-20, Paul lists four practices that gave false assurance to the Jew using sarcasm once more, (as if he was prodding and shaming them): (1) A guide to the blind, (2) A Light to those in the Darkness (3) A Corrector of the Foolish (4) A Teacher of the Childish (Immature) He accosted them with this because although they claimed to practice these, they were not.
- Then in Verses 21-22, Paul brings four charges against the Jews. He is aggressive in exposing sin. Unlike most preaching today that pull back from this kind of exposure. Most witnessing today also pulls back from exposing sin in the lives of people. So he asked.
- “well then, you who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal [in ways that are discrete, but just as sinful]? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob [pagan] temples [of valuable idols and offerings]?”
- Finally, in Verse 24 we learnt that when our lives don’t line up with the Gospel we preach and teach, we bring shame to God’s name.
- Romans 2: 25-29 The Jews and The Law- Understanding The Complexities
- In this study, we looked at spiritual circumcision and learnt how best we can please God moving from the condemnation of the Law to a life of Grace.
- In Verse 25: (We considered the Intricacies) - We learnt that circumcision is: valuable if you practice the Law; It becomes hypocritical and futile if you habitually break the Law. And therefore, meaningless in the sight of God. Grace demands circumcision of the heart and not the flesh.
- In Verse 26 (We considered the Complexities) – Here, Paul asked rhetorically: “So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded [by God] as circumcision?” According to Paul, he will certainly be regarded as such
- In Verse 27, (We considered the Standard) – And concluded that obedience to God’s word is the key. And our obedience in keeping to His word must be perfected.
- Finally, in verses 28-29 we learnt that circumcision cannot offer anyone a ticket to heaven, and that it is of no value to the Jew, if not attended by faithful practice of the Law. Paul says there is a reason for circumcision, but by itself guarantees nothing. This is because true religion is first and foremost- and as a matter of fact, always a matter of the heart.
- This first major section of the book of Romans reveals mankind’s need for the Gospel. We see Paul laying a massive foundation upon which he will build our towering salvation. The taller the skyscraper, the deeper the foundation must be. Paul’s plan is to teach about the Gospel, that will soar to the heights of heaven, but first he must lay a firm base. You have to know the bad news before you can appreciate the good news. No one can be saved until they know their true need for the Gospel.