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Wednesday, August 26 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: In the conclusion of last week’s study, we touched on the mercy of God. Where the Apostle Paul quoted Exodus 33:19 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” In today’s study we shall be looking further into God’s mercy. God’s mercy is a gift; seen when He shows compassion or forgiveness towards someone who deserved to be punished.
Verse 16: Mercy is God’s Sovereign Gift
16 So then God’s choice is not dependent on human will, nor on human effort [the totality of human striving], but on God who shows mercy [to whomever He chooses—it is His sovereign gift]. AMP
God’s mercy is not given to us because of what we wish to do (human will), or because of what we actually do (human effort), but simply out of His desire to show mercy. A gift is usually undeserved; it is at the other end of the spectrum of a prize; which is earned.
Verses 17-18: Mercy is at God’s Disposal; He Chooses When and How to Dispense It
17 For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.” (NLT)
These two verses spell out a concept that has confused many. So let’s dig a little deeper.
Firstly, people interpret verse 17 to mean that God created Pharaoh for the purpose of destroying him; so that He could glorify Himself; but that was not the case. Paul was quoting Exodus 9:16. But to understand that verse we must read both verses 15&16 (AMP)
“15 For by now I could have put out My hand and struck you and your people with a pestilence, and you would then have been cut off (obliterated) from the earth. 16 But indeed for this very reason I have allowed you to live, in order to show you My power and in order that My name may be proclaimed throughout all the earth.”
See how different a passage becomes when it is read in context? Does this passage not therefore show God’s mercy on Pharaoh howbeit momentarily?
Secondly. It is not that God forced an “unwilling”, “kind-hearted” Pharaoh to be hard towards Him and Israel. What God simply did was allow Pharaoh’s heart to pursue its natural inclination. Initially, God did not harden Pharaoh’s heart; he was given the opportunity to choose freely to obey God time and time again. Instead, he and the Egyptians freely rejected God’s command to let Israel go. If God had created Pharaoh initially as a vessel for destruction, there would have been no need to harden him later. Hardening only makes sense, if the clay was first soft in the first place. Here is what 1 Samuel 6:6a says:
“Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did?”
Under God’s longsuffering and patience, He allowed Pharaoh additional opportunity to repent and to let Israel go; but Pharaoh decided (himself) not to. This can be seen in Exodus 7:13 (Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened) 7:22 (so Pharaoh’s heart was hardened), 8:15 (he hardened his heart), 8:19 (But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened), 8:32 (But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also), 9:7 (But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened), and 9:34 (he sinned again and hardened his heart).
However, it was after much longsuffering; after 7 plagues before God finally hardened Pharaoh’s heart; freezing it in its rebellious state. In other words, God made sure Pharaoh could no longer change his mind even if he wanted to. Because, due to the suffering of the next two plagues, he could have let Israel go but it would not have been because he wanted to obey God willingly. Exodus 10:1 (And the Lord said unto Moses, go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart), 10:20 (But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart), 10:27 (But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart), 11:10 (yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart)
Verses 19-21: God’s Decisions Are Unquestionable
“19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still blame me [for sinning]? For who [including myself] has [ever] resisted His will and purpose?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers [arrogantly] back to God and dares to defy Him? Will the thing which is formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does the potter not have the right over the clay, to make from the same lump [of clay] one object for honourable use [something beautiful or distinctive] and another for common use [something ordinary or menial]?” (AMP)
Paul imagines someone asking, “If it is all a matter of God’s choice, then how can God find fault with me? How can anyone go against God’s choice?” Paul replies by showing how arrogant and disrespectful such a question is. Just as the clay cannot (not even should not) question the potter so we cannot question God! Does God not have the same right that any Creator has over his creation?
Verses 22-24: God’s Mercy is a Declaration of His Glory
“22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. 23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. 24 And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.” (NLT)
In verse 22, Paul draws our attention to the riches of God’s mercy! He is still very patient with those who deserve His wrath. That is what we saw with Pharaoh (Exodus 9:15&16)
Verse 23 reveals an interesting concept: “He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.”
When you see what could have happened to you and compare it with what God’s mercy did instead, it simply makes the riches of His glory shine brighter! And if God wants to show mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, who can oppose Him? The Jews were inclined to think that God could not make them anything other than vessels of honour. Paul rejects this view and points out that God does what He wills; making us part of those He selected.
Verses 25-26: Conclusion
“25 Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.” 26 And, “Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.” (NLT)
Verse 25 is a magnificent message of hope and joy concerning you and I! Those who were not original God’s people, He now calls us His people! He also now loves us! But this promise also covers Israel. The prophecy of Hosea in Hosea 1:10 says: “Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.”
Thursday, August 20 2020
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
In our last in-depth study of the concluding verses of Romans Chapter 8 we considered the depth and intensity of God’s love for us. We were reminded that as long as God is for us, no one can be against us; If He justifies us, then no one can condemn us. How fulfilling and refreshing to be reminded that no matter what we go through, nothing can alienate us from Christ’s love. In Romans chapters one through eight, Paul thoroughly convinced us about man’s need and God’s glorious provision in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Now, in Romans 9 through 11, Paul deals with the problem associated with the condition of Israel. What does it mean that Israel has missed its Messiah? What does this say about God? Or about Israel? What does it say about our present position in God? Some of these questions will be addressed in today’s lesson.
Romans 9: 1-3
“I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,”
Romans 9: 4-5
“Who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
The pain Paul feels for his lost brethren is all the more severe when he considers how God has blessed them with all the privileges of being His own special people.
Romans 9: 6-9
But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
Romans 9: 10-13
And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
CONCLUSION: Romans 9:14-15
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
This study is culled from https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/romans-9/
Thursday, August 13 2020
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
In our last lesson, we considered the present suffering and the future glory for all believers from Rom. 8:18-30. What is considered as suffering is simply our battles against the flesh and the kingdom of darkness. We are encouraged to stand our ground by focusing on the glory ahead which surpasses any challenge of the present time. Jesus is still our best example according to Heb. 12:2 “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”
Romans chapter 8 actually holds the central theme of the 16 chapters of the entire book.
The chapter begins with the message ‘no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (vs. 1) which only makes sense to those who have grasped that without Christ we are and must be condemned. The chapter ends with ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus’ (vs 39). Within this chapter, Paul highlighted the works of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.
We shall be focusing on the last nine verses to see how apostle Paul concluded this interesting chapter.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
We must never doubt if God is on our side according to Jer.29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
If then God is pleased with us and so is willing to work on our behalf, Paul asks what does it matter who opposes us or is displeased with us? Of course, many people may in fact oppose us. Satan will surely oppose us. But if the omnipotent, all-wise, loving God of the universe is pleased with us, no one else really matters! Compare Psalms 118:6; Matth. 10:28. Far too often we are much too concerned about how others view us. We let them hinder our service to God, because we want people on our side. We must love God above all others (Matth. 6:33; 10:34-37). Though parents, spouse, children, friends, and enemies all oppose us, we should still serve God, since His attitude toward us is all that matters in the end. See also Gala. 1:10; Matt. 6:1-18; 23:5; 2 Corin. 10:12,18; 1 Thess. 2:4: John 12:42,43; 5:44.
Vs 32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
Paul here offers the supreme proof of God’s love and of His desire to give us all that we need in His service. He did not spare even His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. This was God’s supreme sacrifice (John 3:16; Rom. 5:5-8; 1 John 4:9-11). If God is willing to make such a sacrifice, how can we doubt His love and His ability to meet all our needs?
We should rest assured that God will always give us everything we need to serve Him: all the blessings mentioned here and even things we may not realize that we need (Eph. 1:3; James 1:17). Why would we ever doubt His wisdom, love, or provisions for us? Why would we question Him for allowing problems to come? This is surely Paul’s point in context
33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Paul here asks who can cause us to stand condemned if God has justified us? If God is pleased to forgive our sins, who has the power to defeat His purpose and election? Who can bring such a charge against us as to cause us to stand condemned? The obvious implied answer is that no one can
do so (compare verses 31,32). We are assured of our blessings under the gospel by the fact that Christ died for us and arose, so that He is now at God’s right hand to make intercession for us according to Heb. 7:25. He is also our advocate with the Father according to 1 John 2:1.
3) What problems in life can separate us from Christ’s love? Rom. 8:35-36
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Paul here listed specific suffering that Christian can likely go through because of our faith in Christ;
Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword. Then he asks whether or not any of these particulars can hinder our relationship with God. The answer in each case must be “No!”. Separation from the “love of Christ” can refer either to our love for Christ or His love for us’. God can never cease loving us because of our suffering or persecution, but we must decide that none of these problems can force us to stop loving Him like Job did according to Job 2:9.
If within ourselves we lose our commitment to God’s service, we surely will die spiritually and be separated from God. We must keep ourselves in the love of God – Jude 21
Can anybody relate how their love for God was tested under pressure or persecution.
Vs 36, As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Here, Paul quoted Ps.44:22. He suffered intense persecution in the process of bringing the gospel to others. God’s people do suffer in this life. Doctrines that teach otherwise simply cause despair when hardship and persecution continue even for those who are faithful according to 2 Tim.3:12.
4) We are more than conquerors; Rom. 8:37-39
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In all these trials, God will always be there to help us endure the hardship and overcome. But in what sense are we “more than conquerors” through these trials? If we allow suffering to lead us to sin, then we are separated from God. This is what Satan hopes suffering will produce, as he hoped in the case of Job. But if we use God’s provisions so that we remain faithful, then we defeat the trials; they do not defeat us. Jesus already gave us the victory even before any trial according to John 16:33, Phil.4:13.
We are conquerors, if the trials do not defeat us. But we are more than conquerors, because we actually benefited by that which Satan sent to defeat us. We are actually drawn closer to God. Our weaknesses and impurities are removed. We learn patience and faith, and ultimately receive eternal rewards if we endure to end according to Rev.2:10, Matt.24:13.
In vs 39, “no created thing,” neither those listed nor any other can keep us away from the benefits of Christ’s love. If we take the way of escape (1 Corin. 10:13), we can always defeat
Satan and his power by the armour God provides (Eph. 6:10-18).
The Holy Spirit is our greatest help or helper in any trial according to Eph.3:16 “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man”. He also helps us to pray and show us the way to overcome. Rom. 8:26
Saturday, August 01 2020
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
Verse 18 – A Comparison That Makes Suffering Worth Our While
Apostle Paul acknowledges the challenges of staying knitted to Christ is likened to one form of suffering or the other. In previous verses, Paul echoed on the struggles of the flesh and the carnal nature of man. The suffering of these present times is nothing if we endured partaking in the incomparable glory ahead. We must accept that the suffering of this present time is real and Christians should not be ignorant of this. For instance; Christians are regularly mocked for openly confessing their faith, while others are persecuted, and the church as a who is often a victim of government legislations to curtail its influence. Also, some other Christians are faced with the temptation for quick wealth, etc. Regardless of all these situations, we were able to endure for the glory ahead to be revealed in us.
Verses 19-22 – The World Eagerly Waits Our Manifestation
Paul makes it clear that the world now eagerly awaits to see us as God’s children because they realize how difficult it is to be consecrated unto God. For the Christians in this generation to partake of the glory of Christ, we must endure the sufferings of Christ and flee from all forms of evil. The world is subject to ungodliness and evil but now all men who turn to Christ can benefit from the glory ahead if they see Christ in us and turn from all unrighteousness. The glory starts from here on earth but it is a glory unto eternity which is the reason why we have to endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ (2Tim 2:3). Be aware, of the silent cry of those
Verses 23-25 – Desiring to manifest God’s Glory
It is not enough to be a Christian, but we must desire to manifest the Glory of God. This glory is not an imagination, but that our lives portray God’s goodness all the time till the point of the rapture (At this point we are transformed from our carnal nature to glory). We must spiritually see the glory ahead, and endure all the temptations, shame and be unshaken in our faith. Hebrews 12: 1-2, tells us about how Christ despised the earthly humiliation for the glory ahead. Paul himself had to wait in perseverance for glory ahead which is the ultimate reward for all who finish their earthly race in Christ in 2Tim 4: 7-9. This should be the attitude of a Christian soldier who endures all situations (the good, bad, and ugly roads in life) without been dismissed from the Lord’s army and he/she is eventually rewarded here on earth from God’s gloriousness and most importantly with God’s eternal glory which is the ultimate goal
Verses 26-27 – The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Pray
As sons of God who have been redeemed to reveal God’s glory to this generation, we must embrace God’s will all times because he will make all things beautiful in its season. It’s an irony Christians forget that we are expected to tarry before God till the very end. For instance, 1Peter 5:10, we learn that the Holy Spirit sees the genuineness of our hearts and helps us if we are willing to persevere. Christ our High Priest was also tempted like us as it is written in Hebrews 4:15, but Christ prevailed. Let us always endeavour to ask the Holy Spirit for help, as we cannot overcome the world by motivational words but through a Holy Spirit filled and controlled life. Then, the Holy Spirit helps us to pray in accordance with God's will and gives us the grace to live a victorious life in Christ.
Verses 28-30 – God Makes All Things Work Together
God is always ready to help us get His best in life and make every aspect of our earthly pilgrimage to work for our good if we love Him and stay in His purpose whether in good or bad times. It’s God's will for us to manifest the image of Jesus here on earth because the world is waiting for us to unveil God’s glory as sons adopted in the similitude of Christ. Therefore, let us not feel discouraged or ashamed in displaying His love when we suffer all sorts as Christians, for God will eventually make it work out for His glory at the end of the day. Paul himself had unpleasant experiences in his apostolic ministry and voyages but he endured at all times. We can be assured that tarrying and discomfort for the sake of holding fast in our salvation will eventually make us perfect unto His glory - James 1:2-4 (2 Count it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing).