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Thursday, November 26 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: The Apostle Paul has a knack for bursting people’s bubbles! Just imagine how the first 12 verses of this chapter would have “encouraged” both “sides” to continue with what they had been engaged in because they had been admonished not to judge or look down on one another; and then in today’s study he issues out instructions for the “mature”; and we come to discover that maturity is characterized by letting go of our liberties for the growth and conscience of fellow believers. Today’s study looks at three actions for the mature as spelt out by the Apostle. If you are mature . . .
“13 So stop being critical and condemning of other believers, but instead determine to never deliberately cause a brother or sister to stumble and fall because of your actions.”
It is very interesting that the Bible never says, "Do not do something," without suggesting a positive action to take its place. It does not merely say, "do not be critical"; it goes ahead to say, instead of pushing liberty so hard, and insisting on your rights in certain matters, and your freedom to indulge in something; make the determination not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block or a source of temptation in another believer’s way.” In other words, consider what the effect of your attitudes and actions have on others and not just your personal satisfaction.
“14 I know and am convinced by personal revelation from the Lord Jesus that there is nothing wrong with eating any food. But to the one who considers it to be unclean, it is unacceptable. 15 If your brother or sister is offended because you insist on eating what you want, it is no longer love that rules your conduct. Why would you wound someone for whom the Messiah gave his life, just so you can eat what you want?”
There is nothing wrong if you have the freedom to partake of something that others are not free to indulge in. And, like the apostle, you may have arrived at that by some direct teaching of Scripture, or even as Paul did in the case of the Lord Jesus himself revealing it to you. But we must leave allowance for others if they regard something as unclean, because for them it is unclean. It is a known fact that people's consciences grow at different rates, therefore, we are to adjust to one another's needs along this line. Apostle Paul also reminds us that we will not be walking in love if we “force” people to move at our pace. To refuse to indulge a freedom that you have for the sake of someone else, to adjust to their pace, is surely one of the clearest and truest exercises of Christian love. Is this hypocrisy? Discuss
“16 So don’t give people the opportunity to slander what you know to be good. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy. 18 Serving the Anointed One by walking in these kingdom realities pleases God and earns the respect of others. 19 So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another.”
To have an understanding of the freedom by which Christ set us free is a good thing. But it will very quickly become something spoken of as evil if we create division by arguing so hard for these rights, or freedom, or by flaunting our liberty in the face of those who do not agree with it, you will be setting an obstacle or trap to make them stumble. You will also be portraying your faith in the wrong light in the sight of an unbeliever when all they see are quarrels and squabbles among believers.
The main point of the Christian faith is not eating or drinking or any other item that pulls us apart. The kingdom of God is not about exercising our liberties; but it is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. They are gifts of God; they do not come from you; they come from Him. And that is what the world must see in us; not wrangling and disputing and fighting over opinions. Let’s consider these gifts.
Righteousness: The righteousness inputted to us by Christ. It is God's gift of a sense of worth about yourself. It tells us that we are loved by Him; accepted by Him; and that we are valuable people in His sight.
Peace: It is that quiet and calm assurance that God is present in the situation; that He will work it out for His glory, and therefore, we need not get upset or angry, or vindictive.
Joy: Joy is that delight in life that always finds life worthwhile, even though it may be filled with problems. Joy, in a Christian, does not come from circumstances.
Paul offers these guidelines: We can enjoy our liberties, indulge them wherever we desire, but we must make sure we make it our top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in our relationships, while eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another.
Conclusion Verses 20-23
“20 Stop ruining the work of God by insisting on your own opinions about food. You can eat anything you want, but it is wrong to deliberately cause someone to be offended over what you eat. 21 Consider it an act of love to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine or doing anything else that would cause a fellow believer to be offended or tempted to be weakened in his faith. 22 Keep the convictions you have about these matters between yourself and God, and don’t impose them upon others. You’ll be happy when you don’t judge yourself in doing what your conscience approves. 23 But the one who has misgivings feels miserable if he eats meat, because he doubts and doesn’t eat in faith. For anything we do that doesn’t spring from faith is, by definition, sinful.”
The Apostle submits the ultimate conclusion to this chapter. First, he said in Vs 20 that insisting on one’s own opinions destroys the work of God. The one who truly loves will exercise restraint to protect a fellow believer (Vs 21). And in verse 22 Paul goes further to say: "Keep the convictions you have about these matters between yourself and God, and don’t impose them upon others."
Be sure that what you are doing is not because of pride on your part, because you want to show off how free you are -- you are doing this because God has freed you by His Word. If you have really based it on that, then your action will be one in which your conscience is free. You will not feel guilty and troubled as to whether you are acting beyond what the Word of God really says. You will be happy, free, and blessed. But, if you do not, if you really have not settled this on the basis of Scripture, but are acting only because you want to indulge yourself; or if you still feel a bit troubled by it; and still go ahead, then you are going to be condemned by your conscience. And if you are condemned by your conscience, you will feel guilty. It will no longer be acting out of faith, and therefore, you will be sinning. (Vs 23).
On a final note, those who are “mature” should bear the burden of refraining from enjoying their liberties for the sake of the “immature” believer. Are you mature or immature?
Parts of this study was culled from:
Wednesday, November 11 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
One author refers to this chapter as the favourite indoor sport of Christians, that is, trying to change each other. One of the struggles many of us have as Christians is truly accepting those whose views differ from ours! And if we dig deep within, we will discover that it is because an aspect of love (that must be patient and tolerant of other people's views- 1 Cor. 13:4, Col. 3:13) has not been completely formed in us. This is in relation to areas that are “disputable or debatable” (things which are not clearly spelled out in Scripture). All through the history of the church, the problem arises from the attitude that most of us share today, “I am sure, that God is clearly pleased with the way we live; but there are “those others” around. They drink beer and play cards; they go to movies; their ladies wear trousers; they work on Sundays; they wear lipstick; they cover their hair, they don’t cover their hair, they dance; they play musical instruments; they use zippers instead of buttons.” There is an endless list of things that can be included, debatable matters that the church has never been able to settle because of a misunderstanding of the principles that are set forth here in this very passage. But the call to all of us today is to pause and think about this for a moment and then listen to what Paul says to do about it.
Verse 1: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters”
In this context, “weak in faith” does not mean not believing in Christ. Instead, Paul is talking about the person whose faith in Christ requires certain additions; like the observance of dietary restrictions or other rules. Such a person could be weak in the faith either because he/she has not yet discovered the meaning of Christian freedom; they see Christianity as a thing of rules and regulations and observation of laws; and are indeed frightened of Christian freedom and Christian liberty. Or he/she has not yet liberated himself/herself from a belief in the efficacy of works. They believe they can gain God's favour by doing certain things and abstaining from doing others.
What Paul is saying is, do not reject them; do not ignore them; do not treat them as second-class citizens. Accept them, but don’t have a hidden agenda. Not for the purpose of arguing with them; accepting them means that regardless of where you may struggle with someone and about what you may struggle, you must realize that they are brothers and sisters in the family of God. You did not make them part of the family; the Lord did.
Verse 2 “One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.”
The backdrop to this was the fact that there were Jewish restrictions against certain forms of meat (Jews did not eat pork, and even beef and lamb had to be kosher that had to be slain in a certain way.) So, because it was quite difficult to find meat prepared in that specific way, they chose rather to eat vegetables. Especially seeing that in Rome and in other pagan Greek and Roman colonies; one could hardly tell which meat had been offered to idols. So there was a real problem in the church.
As in every area of this type, there were two viewpoints. The liberal, broad viewpoint that said there was no problem eating meat bought from the market, and a stricter, narrower viewpoint that said it was wrong to do this. It really does not make any difference what you are arguing about if it is in this area that is debatable (things which are not clearly spelled out in Scripture) you always get this two-fold division. Let us be very clear that there are areas that Scripture speaks about that are not debatable at all. For instance, it is always wrong to be drunk (Galatians 5:21, Eph.5:18, Rom.13:13). It is always wrong to commit adultery or fornication (Exo.20:14, Matt 15:19–20), etc. These things are clearly wrong. In both the Old and New Testaments, God has spoken, and He has judged, in these areas. Christians are exhorted to rebuke and exhort and reprove one another, and, if necessary, even discipline one another according to patterns set out in the Scriptures. (I Cor. 5, 1Thess 5:14, Rom.16:17). This is not judging each other in those areas. The Word of God has judged; it has already pronounced what is wrong.
Verse 3: “The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”
The phrase “look down” here really means "push out." Those who have accepted their liberty and believe that to the pure everything is pure (Titus 1:15) should not push the others out; they must not exclude them. Here is the other side of it. Those who have decided to hold back must not look down on those who have freedom in these areas. They must not judge or condemn them. The word condemn means "to sit in judgment" on them and it involves criticizing or censoring them. We are not to go up to them and tell them, "I do not see how you can be a Christian and do things like that." They could very well turn around and say the exact same to you!
Verse 4 “Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
Paul continues in this verse surmising these first four verses by telling us why we must not look down on, or judge or condemn another. Firstly, it is because it is not your responsibility to change your brother or sister in this area of differences in opinions and preferences. We have no responsibility to change each other and no authority to do so. Paul says “He or she is not your servant.” The Lord chose them without asking for your permission. The Lord, then, is the one responsible to change them. Paul says the person will stand; this means that they will be straightened out if they are wrong in this area. God will straighten them out Himself and it is not up to you to do it. The TPT version says: “His own master is the one to evaluate whether he succeeds or fails. “And God’s servants will succeed, for God’s power supports them and enables them to stand.”
Verses 5-6: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord, and gives thanks to God.”
Paul reminds us that God can read hearts and we cannot. These distinctions and differences of viewpoint arise out of honest conviction which God sees, even though you cannot. They are acting on the basis of what they feel is right, so give them the benefit of the doubt on that. Believe that they intend on being real before God and true to Him as you are. Remember that they really feel that God would be displeased if they did certain things or did not do certain things; it is an honest conviction. The apostle makes clear here that every man should have that kind of a conviction. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own heart,"
Do not just act from tradition, because you were brought up that way or because you just feel it is right. Find some reason in the Scripture for it. Seek justification out of the Word of God. You may change your mind as your understanding of truth develops, but at least let it be on the ground of a conviction of the heart and of the mind.
The next thing Paul says is that God sees both of these categories of people and both of these viewpoints as honouring Him. The one who thinks Sunday is a special day that ought to be kept different from all other days is doing so as unto the Lord, therefore honour that, respect that viewpoint. The one who says, "No. When we are in Christ, days do not mean anything. They are not set aside for any special purpose. Therefore, I feel every day is alike, and I want to honour the Lord on every day." Okay, do not feel upset at that. He is doing so out of a deep conviction of his heart.
It is a question of what the heart is doing in the eyes of God and not ours.
This is the same criteria which Paul uses to settle a slightly different issue in Corinth which also centred on appropriate food and drink. There Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
VERSES 7-8 “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
The last thing Paul says in this area is that our relationship with one another is more important than our life style. We live our lives in relationship to other people; what we say or do affects them, and what they say or do affects us. It is therefore vitally important for us to respect our interdependence and not look down on or judge each other. In verse 8 Paul says whether we live or whether we die, that is not the important thing. The important thing is that we belong to the Lord. Paul expressed a similar sentiment in his letter to the Philippians: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). In both life and death, we belong to the Lord. Life gives us opportunity to serve the Lord, and death will bring us home to the Lord. We therefore must remember this in our relationships with one another. We belong to the Lord. We are brothers and sisters. We are not servants of each other. We are servants of the Lord and He has the right to change us.
VERSES 9-12 “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "'As I live,' says the Lord, 'Every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
Here, Paul says, "Stop trying to be Christ to the rest of the church or playing God to each other. You, the weak, why do you judge your brother? And you, the strong, why do you look down on your brother? It is wrong. You are trying to take Christ's place when you do that. But remember that all of us, men and women alike, all brothers and sisters together, must individually stand before God's judgment seat." 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, "The Lord returns and brings to light all the hidden things of the heart," All the things that we thought nobody ever saw will be brought out to the light. We must then give an account to the Lord.
In today’s study, we see the apostle Paul laying down three important reasons not to judge each other in “disputable matters”. We should not judge others because God has accepted them, God is praised by them and God will judge them and you! What Paul teaches here is that these differences in lifestyle, opinions, preferences and perceptions were the attitudes that were dividing the church. Paul's commands toward both groups make it pretty clear that the "strong" were despising the "weak," while the "weak" were judging or condemning the "strong." All of which was centred around behaviours not explicitly prohibited or commanded by scripture. They lie in a moral zone where each person must exercise conscience to decide how to proceed. Differences in how we follow our consciences always have the potential to threaten our fellowship as believers in Christ. So we must be careful; because in the bid of trying to change each other, we end up despising and judging one another. The footnote in the TPT version of verse 4a says: “We are all “household servants” in the body of Christ, for we each belong to him. When believers begin to judge other believers over our opinions or preferences, we are taking the role that belongs only to Jesus.”
As believers we mostly have agreement on basic principles, where we have disagreements is in the application of those principles. Let us therefore channel our energies to the things that unite us instead of the things that tear us apart!
Parts of this study was culled from:
Wednesday, November 04 2020
Contributor: Clem Roberts
In Summary of last week study we learnt that the scripture admonishes us to obey the rule of law that is constituted in the land. We also, established the fact that God allowed them to be in position does mean that he created them the way they may eventually turn out. We learnt that being subject to the government because it is for our good, and it is the right thing to do. It was reiterated that vengeance is of God and not ours, even in situations where we the wicked is in authority. It was stressed that it is much better to love than hate or curse.
In today’s study, Apostle Paul is making a serious appeal to believers. The world we live in this present times always want to emphasize how knowledgeable and enlightened they are and at the same time neglecting and relegating the instructions and the Word of God. We can see from the entire book of Romans based on our study so far that it is Paul’s desire to the Romans, believers and all humans to live according to the dictates of the Almighty God.
“11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” NIV
In summary - How can we achieve this?
Thursday, October 29 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Paul wrote the book of Romans to Christians, some of whom were Jews, in the capital of the Roman Empire. Claudius, the previous emperor, had expelled the Jews from Rome a few years before because he viewed them as dangerous (Acts 18:2). The Jews hated being under Roman rule. This is similar to the unrest we are experiencing in many countries of the world today. So Paul wanted the Roman Christians to be clear on how they should relate to the civil government. The same applies to us today.
1. Since God has ordained government authority, we must be subject to it (Verses 1-2).
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” (NASB)
Paul first lays down a general principle (Vs. 1a), “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.” Then (Vs. 1b) he explains the reason behind this principle: “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” He follows this in Vs.2 with a logical conclusion: “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
God has ordained various spheres of authority for the blessing and protection of those under authority: the government, the local church, the family, etc. But due to sin, those in authority are often prone to misuse their authority for their own benefit. But Paul, writing under wicked Nero, does not allow for exceptions. He states categorically (13:1b), “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Therefore, every person is to be subject to their civil government.
When Paul says (13:2) that those who disobey government authority “will receive condemnation upon themselves,” he was primarily referring to the judgment that the government brings on law-breakers. In verse 4 he says that the government “bears the sword,” which refers to the authority to punish law-breakers. He also calls it “an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” These expressions do not refer to God’s eternal wrath, but to a temporal wrath inflicted by the government on evildoers so that it can uphold law and order.
Having said that, when a government commands us to do something that is disobedient to God’s Word, we must resist the government and obey God instead. (Acts 4:19-20, 5:29) “We must obey God rather than men.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (Dan.3). In defiance of the king’s edict, Daniel continued to pray (Dan. 6). If the government forces us to abort babies as population control, we should resist. If a government forbids us to gather as believers, we should gather anyway. If the government bans the Bible, we should own and distribute Bibles anyway. If the government commands us not to say anything against homosexual behaviour, we should teach what the Bible says anyway.
2. The Government is to protect law-abiding citizens and punish law-breakers (Verses 3-4).
“For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behaviour, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” (NASB)
In these verses, Paul presents the general purpose and practice of government: to protect those who do right and to punish those who do wrong. We cannot deny that there have been many exceptions throughout history where corrupt governments punish law-abiding citizens who speak out against the corruption and they reward scoundrels who help keep them in power.
If God’s purpose for civil governments is to protect law-abiding citizens and punish law-breakers, then it follows that we should use civil authorities for protection and due process. Paul himself did this in Philippi, where he was unjustly beaten and imprisoned without a trial, although he was a Roman citizen. When the authorities realized their error and wanted to quietly usher him out of town, Paul wouldn’t stand for it (Acts 16:35-40). He also invoked his Roman citizenship to avoid a scouring and to appeal to Caesar rather than face a kangaroo court (Acts 22:25; 25:11).
This means that if someone is physically or sexually abusing you, you should report it to the proper authorities. If your husband is physically abusive, if he is a church member, let the elders know so that we can implement church discipline; otherwise, call the police. If you have been defrauded by a church member, first attempt to resolve the matter in the church (1 Cor. 6:1-8). If it can’t be resolved, you may have to take your case to secular courts. The purpose of government is to protect law-abiding people and punish evildoers. The highest form of love will be to accept to be defrauded but be wise in the future
3. Be Subject to the government because it is for our good, and it is the right thing to do. (Vs 5)
“Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.” (NASB)
Paul means that we should be subject to our government not only because we fear punishment if we break the law, but also because we fear God, who knows our hearts. This makes keeping the laws of our land not just a matter of outward compliance, but also of inward obedience to God. With outward compliance, you are honest on your income tax forms because you’re afraid that if you aren’t, you might get caught. With inward obedience, you are honest because you want to have a clear conscience before God
4. Paying taxes and respecting government officials is part of submission (Verses 6-7).
“For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (NASB)
For the third time Paul mentions that government officials are servants of God, but this time he uses a different word that is sometimes used for those who serve in the temple and also of angels (Heb. 1:7). By saying that they are “servants of God,” Paul wants us to see the importance of submitting to them, paying taxes, and giving them proper honour.
5. Practical Application in living right (Verses 8-10).
“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law. For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law.” (NASB)
Interestingly, Paul starts off with debts in verse 8. “Owe no one anything” The MSG version says: “Don’t run up debts”
Debts create pressure and pressure is unhealthy. The Bible also warns against the dangers of debt. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Often debt reveals underlying greed that drives us to buy things that we can’t afford. Or it reveals that we love the world and the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15). The only debt we are allowed to run up is love. 1 Cor.13:4-7 tells the characteristics of this love.
In one of our previous studies, we emphasized that the secular moral laws of the world are mostly coined from the ten commandments. In verse 9, we see Paul while discussing being subject to governing authorities cites the ten commandments: “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,”
As Christians, loving others fulfils God’s law. Paul says this severally in these verses; (Vs. 8, “he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law”; (Vs. 9 “it is summed up,”) and a third time in Vs 10, “love is the fulfilment of the law”)
I have observed an amazing truth in how the Lord deals with us in relation to living by the Word and not just being hearers only. He always brings situations our way as a church or as individuals to practice what we preach or what we have heard. Last week we looked at 9 tasks that differentiate us; and in today’s study, we have been presented the opportunity to be different or behave like everyone else. Especially as it relates to the last week’s sad events.
Are we going to hate or love? Curse like the rest of the world or bless? Are we going to repay evil for evil, or overcome evil with good?
It is possible for people to think that we are experiencing a more difficult time than Paul’s time. By the time of Paul’s writing, Nero was the Roman emperor in rule. His reign was associated with tyranny, extravagance and debauchery. During his rule, he murdered his own mother, his first wife, and allegedly, his second wife. In addition, ancient writers claim that he started the great fire of Rome in A.D. 64 so that he could re-build the city centre. Hundreds of people died in the fire and many thousands were left homeless. He then blamed the devastation on the Christian community in the city, initiating the empire's first persecution against the Christians. Paul, writing under this wicked emperor, does not allow for exceptions. He states categorically in verse 1b “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Therefore, every person is to be subject to their civil government. Here is what he also told Timothy during the reign of Nero
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV)
Parts of this study was culled from: https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-88-government-and-you-romans-131-7
Thursday, October 22 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Romans 12:1-8 establishes the foundation upon which 12:9-21 is built. In verses 1-8, we saw Paul painting with a “broad brush”, showing us generally what Christian discipleship requires; offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, etc. In today’s study we will see him stepping closer to the canvas, working with a finer brush to colour in detail regarding specific attitudes and actions that must grow out of the principles established in verses 1-8.
PART 1 - VERSES 9-13: THIRTEEN ESSENTIAL ATTITUDES/BEHAVIOURS
“9 Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honour. 11 never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; 12 constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], 13 contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.” AMP
In these five verses, Paul lists thirteen behaviours that the Christian should adopt. The list begins with love. Love sets the tone, and the other dozen desired behaviours grow out of love. They are as a matter of fact, natural expressions of love.
1. Exhibit Sincere and Active Love (Vs 9a). The NLT says “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” Paul refers to Agape - love without a selfish agenda—love that seeks what is good for the beloved.
2. Hate Evil (Vs 9b) Hate is a strong word meaning to dislike, to abhor, or to have a horror of. The proper Christian response to evil is not simply to avoid it, but to be repelled by it. We hate evil, because evil has the potential to destroy the beloved. We must hate the sin while loving the sinner; evil-hating is one of the ways that we demonstrate genuine-loving.
3. Hold Tightly (Cling) to Good (Vs 9c). What Paul is calling us to do here, is to have a very strong attachment, to glue ourselves, or connect ourselves to what is good. Just as tendons bind bone to muscle.
4. Be Devoted to Each Other (Vs 10a). Paul shifts from agape love to family love and brotherly love. Family love is special, because the family is special. Members of healthy families know each other’s weaknesses, but love each other anyway. When trouble looms, the family is a refuge and strength second only to God. The same should apply to the Body of Christ.
5. Prefer One Another (Vs 10b). Instead of wanting to outdo others in the sense that we win and they lose. So we can feel better about ourselves and have people admire us, Paul calls us to different kind of ambition-behaviour. He calls us to “be tenderly affectionate one to another in honor”—to focus on satisfying the other person’s need for approval. There are many ways to accomplish this: remembering birthdays, saying thanks, complimenting them, encouraging them to understand that they have important gifts, etc.
6. Make Diligence Your Watchword (Vs 11a). Never be lazy; instead be careful and persistent in your work. The AMP says: “never lagging behind in diligence” instead be in the forefront!
7. Be Zealous (Passionate) (Vs 11b). Paul admonishes us not to let our zeal subside. Whatever you are engaged in with the Lord, let it convey passion, enthusiasm and conviction.
8. Serve God Enthusiastically (Vs 11c). The Greek word used here speaks of slave-like service—service under bondage. As Christians, we serve under obligation.
9. Rejoice in Hope - constantly (v. 12a). Because of our confidence in Christ; not because of things (money, power, prestige) that, in the eyes of the world, should produce joy and hope because they don’t. They may provide “joy” that feeling of great pleasure and happiness but it fades quickly, leaving the individual feeling as restless and empty as ever. We find joy and hope in the assurance that our lives count, not just now, but also for eternity. (Titus 2:13) tells us what this hope is.
10. Be Steadfast and patient in distress” (v. 12b). Paul refers to Christians exhibiting tough endurance. To keep the faith, even though suffering. To bear our afflictions bravely.
11. Be devoted to prayer (v. 12c). The AMP adds: “continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength.” Prayer is one of the channels through which the Christian receives strength. First century Christians, suffering persecution, required constant prayer to gain the strength to keep the faith. So do we.
12. Contribute to the needs of God’s people (v. 13a). Don’t be an onlooker when it comes to meeting the needs of God’s people. Take a constant interest in their needs. (Acts 6:1; 2Cor. 8:13-14, Jas1:27)
13. Pursue [the practice of] hospitality (v. 13b). Paul is advocating that we actively look for opportunities to provide hospitality. To be pursue a thing implies we are invested in it.
PART 2 - VERSES 14-19: NINE ACTIONS THAT DIFFERENTIATES
“14 Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them]. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself. 17 Never repay anyone evil for evil. Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” AMP
1. Bless Don’t Curse (Vs. 14) Paul calls us to meet violence, not with violence, but with blessing—a shocking idea, but not original with Paul: Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:38-44). In the Lord’s prayer (Luke 6:37). At the cross. (Luke 23:34). Stephen (Acts 7:60), Paul in (1 Corinthians 4:12), and finally (1 Peter 3:9).
2. Identify with the Joys and Sorrows of Others (v. 15). We often observe people jealous of other people’s good fortune and judgmental about their bad fortune. We should be different!
3. Live in harmony with one another; (v. 16a) literally, “thinking the same thing toward one another.” While this does not require us to agree at every point, it does require us to be agreeable.
4. Be Humble (v. 16b). Be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own. Remember you are what you are by God’s grace and not your effort. Rom 3:24
5. Do Not Overestimate Yourself (v. 16c). This is good advice for every human relationship. Humility draws people near, but conceit repels.
6. Never repay anyone evil for evil (v. 17a) is similar in meaning to “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse” (v. 14).
7. Live Nobly in the Sight of All (v. 17b). We must be careful, not only about proper conduct, but also about appearances. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. This is not eye service but preventing those who are weak in faith from stumbling. The more visible our position, the more careful we must be.
8. Live at Peace with Everyone (v. 18). Here, we see Paul inserting two qualifications for living at peace with everyone (a) “If possible” and (b) “as far as it depends on you”. There are, unfortunately, people who will not allow us to live in peace, and Paul says that we do our part to establish peaceful relationships. He doesn’t hold us responsible for the other person’s response to our efforts. We can’t control the other person; we can control only ourselves.
9. Don’t Seek Revenge (v. 19). Paul tells us not to seek vengeance (also see 14, 17). The reason is simple—we can trust God to do the right thing. If a person deserves punishment, God will take care of it, whether now or in the Day of Judgment. Seeking revenge is consuming! Leaving the matter in God’s hands solves a host of problems. For one thing, God is a perfect judge, and will not make a mistake. For another, God is in a position to insure that justice is served, whereas we might put ourselves in physical or legal jeopardy by seeking vengeance.
Verses 20-21 CONCLUSION
““20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.” AMP
When Paul tells us in verse 20 to feed and to give drink to our enemy, he was using food and drink as metaphors for any kind of needed help. If we were to see our enemy stuck in a ditch, this verse would call us to lend a helping hand, instead of saying “serves them right!” “You will heap burning coals on his head” implies you will make the recipient of your grace burn with shame at having treated you badly. Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Vs 21). Does the end really justify the means? This verse says that it doesn’t. If we use evil means to achieve a worthwhile end, our evil means will compromise both our character and our witness. If we are to accomplish what Christ has called us to do, we must accomplish it through the ultimate Christian virtue, love. That expresses itself in these attitudes and actions.
Wednesday, October 14 2020
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Apostle Paul is considered a man filled with the knowledge of God’s Word and His grace. His letters and books in the Bible testify of this truth. Despite this, he was a modest man and would go on to say in 1 Cor.13:9 that “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete].”. Also in 1 Cor.15:10, “But by the [remarkable] grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not without effect. In fact, I worked harder than all of the apostles, though it was not I, but the grace of God [His unmerited favor and blessing which was] with me”. In appreciation of his privileged position and calling, Paul in the concluding verses of Romans 11 will go on to express his awe at God’s depth of riches of knowledge and wisdom, and His Sovereignty (supreme power and authority). In today’s lesson, we will consider Paul’s injunction to the Spiritually transformed Christian and the Body of Christ in general.
Romans 12: 1-2 [Present Your Bodies a Living Sacrifice]
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” NIV
“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God” (v. 1a). The word, “therefore,” links this chapter to what went before—namely, Paul’s treatise regarding God’s grace and our faith.
“to present your bodies (Greek: soma) (v. 1b). There are two Greek words for body: (1) Sarx, often translated “flesh” the external, physical body that was seen as worldly and opposed to God and (2) Soma one aspect of the person, who is united as body and spirit.
So Paul said, “Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its lusts” (6:12). In his view, there is nothing incompatible in body and spirit. Both are important. Both are sacred. Both are essential to human life, and both are compatible with Christian discipleship and our relationship to God.
“a living sacrifice” (v. 1b). Torah law required Jews to observe a complex system of animal sacrifices to atone for sin and to remind the people of the significance of their sins. Only animals without blemish were acceptable offerings (Leviticus 23:18). Christians are not allowed to substitute an animal’s life for their own but are instead required to sacrifice their own lives. The requirement, however, is no longer ritual slaughter, but is instead the presentation of the living person to God—a living sacrifice—a life dedicated to the service of God—a life committed to doing God’s will—a life lived in faith and lived out in faithfulness. They are to present their bodies for God’s purposes on Sunday in worship and on Monday in the workplace.
This living self-sacrifice, Paul declares, is “holy, acceptable (Greek: euareston - well-pleasing) to God” (v. 1). Animal sacrifices were holy, because they required taking something precious (a life) and offering it to God.
The slaughter of the animal reminded the person that, apart from the grace of God, it would be his/her animal life required on the altar. Now Paul tells Roman Christians that it is indeed their lives that are required, but not on the temple altar. Instead, they are to offer themselves as living sacrifices. Such sacrifices are holy and pleasing to God, offered in the right spirit, were holy and pleasing to God. Living sacrifices are holy in that they represent lives lived in accord with the will of God.
“which is your spiritual (logiken—rational, genuine, true) service” (v. 1). The word logiken has a variety of meanings, and it would seem that Paul chose it for its breadth. To present our bodies to God as living sacrifices is, indeed, a spiritual act. To live lives dedicated to God’s service, whether as clergy or laity, is genuine worship—the logical outcome of a decision to follow Christ.
“Don’t be conformed to this world (aioni—age), but be transformed (metamorphousthe) by the renewing of your mind” (v. 2). The word that is translated “conformed” has to do with conformation that is malleable—that can change from day to day or year to year. The person who is “conformed to this world/ age (aioni)” is free to embrace the next popular philosophy or fad at will. Being “conformed to this world” is rather like being a leaf blown by the wind, never knowing exactly where you are going next—or why [Engineering Illustration of Plastic Mould/ Frozen Water Bottle].
The word that is translated “transformed,” however, is quite different, and involves transformation at the core of one’s being. If being “conformed” would leave us adrift like a leaf, being “transformed” leaves us with feet on the ground—anchored—steady. Paul is calling us not to be caught up in every fad or wafted by every breeze, but instead to let the Spirit transform us at our core so that we can have a faith strong enough to maintain course in spite of the winds of popular opinion.
What are the things of this age that mold and shape masses of people? They include popular culture, such as motion pictures, movies, music, and sports. They include popular philosophies e.g. New Age thinking. They include incentives to succeed, even at the expense of vulnerable people. They include racism, nationalism, sectarianism, and denominationalism—forces that teach that our tribe is good and other tribes are bad, etc.
“but be transformed (metamorphousthe) by the renewing of your mind” (v. 2b). Metamorphousthe is the word from which we get our English word, metamorphosis. The example of metamorphosis that comes to mind is the caterpillar, which is transformed into a butterfly. For a time, it is one thing, but then it becomes, by the grace of God, a wholly different thing. The caterpillar is not beautiful, but the butterfly is. The caterpillar crawls, but the butterfly flies on gossamer wings. So it is by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit that we who were one thing (conformed to this age) can be transformed (metamorphosized) into something wholly different—people who are Godly and holy.
Paul calls us to permit the Holy Spirit to transform our minds, knowing that the person who learns to think Godly thoughts will soon experience a changed heart as well [see 2 Cor.3:12-18, Philippians 4:8]. Godly thoughts transform every aspect of our being. As an example, the person who adopts Godly thinking often enjoys improved health, because he/she learns to regard his/her body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and is therefore more likely to treat his/her body with new respect. That is not to say that Christians do not engage in unhealthy practices, but the more Godly our thinking, the less likely we are to become victims of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, tobacco, promiscuous sex, workaholism, worry, and other unhealthy practices.
“so that you may prove (dokimazein—prove, test) what is the good, well-pleasing (euareston—well-pleasing), and perfect will of God” (v. 2c). The renewing of our minds enables us to “discern the will of God” (v. 2). The world is full of people who assume that God’s will mirrors their own. If we are to discern God’s will, it will not be by trying to remake God in our own image—by having God conform to our prejudices—but by allowing the Spirit to renew our thinking, by becoming putty in God’s hands, so to speak, by allowing God to shape our thinking and our lives.
Romans 12: 3 [Not to Think of Himself More Highly]
“3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” NKJV
Paul had come from a background where Jews thought of themselves as God’s chosen people (true)–chosen for privilege rather than service (false). He wants to make sure that Christians don’t take on that superior attitude. Unfortunately, Christians often fall heir to that failing nevertheless, even to the point that we tend to disparage other Christian brothers and sisters whose views differ from ours.
Romans 12: 4-5 [So We Are One Body in Christ]
““4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
Paul further appeals to the Roman Christians to think of themselves realistically, humbly, by comparing the church to a human body. He uses this same metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, where he speaks of the interdependence of the various parts of the body. Each member of the human body has a specialized purpose, whether a hand, foot, eye, ear, or nose. The various members do not compete for prominence but cooperate for mutual benefit. Each member contributes to the body’s welfare in accord with its ability, and each member enjoys the benefits of contributions made by other members. If the various members were to be of a different frame of mind, competing rather than cooperating, seeking to gain advantage instead of contributing unselfishly, the body would cease to function effectively, and all the members would suffer as a result.
So it is with the church, which has many members, each with differing gifts and able to contribute in particular ways “according to the grace (charin) that was given to us” (v. 5). Instead of competing or quarreling, which would render the church body less effective to the detriment of all its members, the church works best when all its members work in harmony—just as members of the human body work in harmony.
Conclusion: Romans 12: 6-8 [Having Gifts Differing According to Grace]
“6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
“Having gifts (charismata) differing according to the grace (charin) that was given to us” (v. 6a). Paul mentions seven specific gifts in these verses—prophecy, ministry (or service), teaching, exhortation (or encouragement), giving, leadership, and compassion (or showing mercy).
Some have thought of these seven gifts as corresponding to official church offices, but many of these gifts have been distributed generally to believers without respect to church offices. The fact that Paul addresses himself “to every man who is among you” (v. 3) makes it unlikely that he intends these gifts to apply only to holders of official church offices. God grants grace (charis) and gifts (charismata) to every Christian, and the church is best served by honoring and celebrating each person’s grace and each person’s gift.
Difficulties arise not only when Christians begin “to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (v. 3)—in the sense that they value their personal gifts more highly than they value the gifts of others. Difficulties also arise when, like James and John, Christians seek seats of honor for selfish purposes (Mark 10:35). Our motives in seeking or accepting church offices are crucial. If we serve out of love for Christ, we can expect that Christ will bless our service (but not that he will make it easy for us). If we serve for selfish reasons, we cannot expect that our service will be a blessing to anyone.
This study is culled from https://sermonwriter.com/biblical-commentary/romans
Wednesday, October 07 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
The first 11 chapters of the book of Romans cover amazing truths about the foundation of our faith. In these chapters Paul shows God’s faithfulness to His Word and that He has a saving purpose that will not fail! He has a gracious purpose in election, and choosing a remnant of Jews. He also has a sovereign plan for the inclusion of Gentiles in His saving purpose! In last week’s study we saw how God in His sovereignty allowed the rejection of Jesus by the Jews become an avenue for the rest of the world to be saved. Interestingly, we saw that He is ready to allow the hearts of the Jews continue to be hardened until all the Gentiles He’s determined to be saved are; and then He will release the grace for salivation to the Jew so that all the Jews will be saved! The point of all the deep doctrinal truths of Romans Chapters 1-11; and the knowledge of God’s sovereignty; how He designed and carried out His plan for salvation history is one that should instinctively bring a person to the place of awe and worship. It is the proper response to God and His sovereign purposes. And so Paul begins verse 33 with the exclamation, “Oh!”
Verse 33: God Is Beyond Comprehension – A Trigger of Delight and Worship
“33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
“Oh the depth of the riches . . .” Here, Paul runs out of words to express the greatness of God. “Both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” God’s knowledge is His active involvement in the affairs of men. Not merely knowledge about, but making it happen. God’s wisdom is the execution of that knowledge in the world.
God’s judgments are unsearchable and His ways are incomprehensible! Here Paul gives praise to God, not just for what he knows of God, but also because of what he doesn’t know! For the apostle Paul, not being able to understand what God is doing was not a reason to abandon the faith. Instead it was a reason for praise. This is what God declares of Himself in Isaiah 55:8-9,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God is far greater than we can ever comprehend. His riches, wisdom, knowledge, judgments and ways are beyond comprehension! Matter of fact, we can never know Him completely on this side of eternity!
This awareness triggered in Paul a level of delight in worship that he expressed by starting off with “Oh!” It should have the same impact on us too!
Verses 34-35 God Is Above All – A Trigger of Silent Amazement in Worship
“For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counsellor?” 35 “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?”
Not only was Paul filled with awe at the greatness of God’s plan, he was also speechless at God’s greatness! Who wouldn’t be? In these verses, Paul asks three rhetorical questions; all three have the assumed answer of “No one!” These questions have the effect of silencing all who hear them. Habakkuk 2:20 says “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
These questions serve to shut the mouths of all those who might seek to boast in God’s presence. In verse 34, the apostle uses the language of Isaiah 40:12-17 (which in its context is dealing with the return of the nation of Israel from the Babylonian captivity). The implication is that no one could have foreseen God’s deliverance of the nation of Israel from their Babylonian captivity. No human could have devised this plan. In a similar way, Paul uses this verse in Romans 11 to highlight that no human could have devised the plan for God to turn again to the nation of Israel in the last days and remove their blindness that they might experience salvation, but this is exactly what God has done.
Also, in Job 38:2, God begins by asking Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” He proceeds to hammer Job with question after rhetorical question, such as (38:4-5), “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it?” In the verses just before Job 41:11 (cited in Rom. 11:35), God continues pounding Job by asking whether he can draw out Leviathan with a fishhook. God taunts him (41:8), “If you so much as lay a hand on him, you won’t live to tell the story.” If neither Job nor anyone else cares to tangle with the Leviathan, God concludes (Job 41:10b), “Who then is he that can stand before Me?” In verse 35, the same question God asked Job in Job 41:11 is repeated - “Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.”
The question is who gave first to God, tell us and He’ll pay you back! Silence! There in the context of chapters 40-42, God questions Job and Job is reduced to silence! See Job 40-42.
Silence is usually the response of those who have encountered the greatness of God. They are silenced at His majesty! It should have the same impact on us too!
Verse 36a God Is All in All – A Trigger of Exalted Praise and Glory
“36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Finally, in verse 36, Paul was struck by the centrality of God in all things! This is the basis of doxology, God Himself! God is shown here to be the source of all things, the means of all things, and the goal of all things!
Verse 36b CONCLUSION
To whom be the glory forever. Amen. Only God deserves the glory. Psalm 115: 1 says “We don’t deserve praise! The Lord alone deserves all of the praise, because of his love and faithfulness.” Also see Revelation 4:9-11
The primary desire for anything and everything we do and seek to have should be so that God is glorified. Whether it is in the rearing of godly children, or succeeding in our careers or to any other goal. Our main aim should be that Christ would be exalted through us, whether by life or by death (Phil. 1:20). It should all end up in Him and for His glory!
In concluding this I will like to read these four verses in the MSG version
“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favour that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.”
Wednesday, September 30 2020
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
We had previously studied how the Gentiles became saved and became ingrafted into the body of Christ (Romans 11:11-24). The lesson reminded us of how Israel’s rejection of salvation paved way for the gospel to spread to the Gentiles who received the word of God with the fullness of salvation. Paul also considered his ministry to the Gentiles as an opportunity to spread the gospel to other nations but more so to his Jewish people. Although the Gentiles were not originally of Abraham but have now been engrafted as partakers of the blessings of Abraham through the salvation in Christ Jesus. Our focus on today’s study is on Romans 11:25-32 with emphasis on “All Israel Shall Be Saved”. The rejection of Christ by the Jews was a mystery itself (John 11:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not”) but this didn’t change God’s promise to Israel as His chosen (Isaiah 41:8 But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend). Therefore, as we progress in this study, we will understand that God’s prerogative is for all Israel to be saved is certain and unchanged despite their initial rejection of Christ.
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (NKJV)
Paul admonishes the believers about how God revealed His salvation to the Gentiles by temporarily hardening the hearts of the Jews should not be taken for granted at all. The Jews’ current blindness to the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ is but temporary because they are not even aware of their ignorance. The salvation of Gentiles came at this time so that they could also preach to the Jews’. The hardness of the heart of the Jews is not permanent but that the same message of Christ rejected by the Jews will now be preached back to the Jews by the Gentiles. This means that since Israel who is the chosen elect rejected God’s salvation, then God’s grace was also made available to the Gentile nations to receive the vastness of His salvation, and at the fullness of time, the Jews will eventually realize the magnitude of God’s salvation.
“26 And so all Israel will be [b]saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” (NKJV)
At this point, it seems as if it is only the Gentiles that are getting saved but the salvation of Israel is God part of God’s covenant to Israel and so Israel shall be saved as it was written. See also Isaiah 59:20 - ”The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, says the Lord”.Ezekiel 34:30 “Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God”. But at this point, all Israel is a combination of both the true Jews and those by adoption provided they all believe in Jesus Christ. Note, after a while, God will release the grace for faith to the Jews receive Christ Jesus (in verses 23) because God has a covenant to take away their sins and if they repent from their unbelief, they will be engrafted in like the Gentiles as one people of God. For now, the gospel will continue to spread far and wide to all nations of the world until Christ’s coming when He will banish ungodliness from the house of Israel. See also Mathew 23:39 “I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.
“28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (NKJV)
At this point, Israel is described as a people who rejected the gospel of Christ and became an enemy against God’s salvation but we must still realize that according to God’s covenant with Abraham they are still His beloved. Now it may seem as if the Jews are God’s enemies but their rejection of the Christ resulted in the persecution of the early church which propelled the gospel of Christ to other parts of the world. This became an opportunity for us Gentiles to receive the gospel but regardless of this, the Jews are still a people loved by God, and His promise of salvation to Israel cannot be revoked.
“30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has [c]committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” (NKJV)
It is important to realize that we Gentiles who have received the salvation of Christ were not different from the Jews who reject Christ while we are still in ignorance. Both the Jews and Gentiles were both disobedient to God and now God’s mercy is available to us to repent from our sins and to receive Jesus as our Lord and saviour. This also calls for reflection to the Gentiles who are believers to appreciate the salvation of God upon their lives and that is why Apostle Paul often rebuked the Gentile churches who started compromising their salvation in sinful conducts such as in Galatians 3: 1, 1 Corinthians 5:1, 11:18, etc. At this point, God has decided to be merciful to all people either Jews or Gentiles so that we all can have the opportunity of eternal salvation.
The second coming of Christ is real and God desires that we who have already received Christ live a rapturable life so that we can go with the rapture. This is because the reign of the antichrist will begin after the rapture (This is also known as the Great Tribulation ) and it would be more difficult for people to receive the salvation of Jesus Christ but God’s mercy unto salvation would still be opened to the Jews. See also Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. This is because God’s covenant to save Israel as His chosen people cannot be revoked (Romans 11:28). More so, all the promises of God in Him are Yea, and Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Friday, September 25 2020
Contributor: Peter Folikwe
Review of last week’s study: The remnant of Israel.
In today’s study Paul takes us through how the Gentiles became saved by grace and were ingrafted into the body of Christ. This brings untold blessings to Gentiles that will make the Jews envious and come to accept Christ as Messiah. Ultimately, God’s originally purpose to save the whole world – Jews and Gentiles will become fulfilled.
“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” NIV
Here Apostle Paul refers to the notion within the body of Christ whereby some believe that God no longer regard the Jews as His chosen people, that the Christian church is now the Israel of God. Paul here says that is not the case.
In V11b Paul says that salvation came to the rest of the world (the Gentiles) because the Jews rejected the Messiah. That is true till date. Majority in Israelites hold the strong belief that the Messiah is yet to come. It was part of God’s plan for the Jews to reject salvation, so that God bring even more people to the saving faith in Jesus.
“Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” NLT
Paul here is asking if the failure of the Jews to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah brought riches, blessing & salvation in particular to us - Gentiles, it is therefore unimaginable the blessings and riches the Gentiles will receive when the Jews eventually acknowledge Jesus as Messiah.
“13 I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, 14 for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them.” NLT
Paul considers his ministry to the Gentiles as a way of indirectly reaching out to his own people - the Jews. In pursuant of his ministry as an Apostle to the Gentiles, his belief is that the more the Gentiles believers, the better the chances of saving the unbelieving Jews.
Remember, Paul was not part of the original 12 Apostles selected by Jesus, until Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus.
Paul’s objective is to make Israelites jealous of the blessings of the Gentiles which should have been for the Jews, if not for their sheer disobedience and rejection of the Messiah. By this action Paul believes that the Jews will be won back to Christ which is God’s original plan for saving the world. Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
“15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,” NIV
Paul here drives the point home that if their rejection of Jesus Christ brought salvation and blessings to Gentiles, it connotes that their acceptance of Christ as the Messiah would bring untold blessings to the word, when they eventually do. That so many more people will be gained into the faith if the Jews believe the gospel.
Since Jesus (offered as firstfruit) the root/source of Salvation is holy, therefore all who accept Him as Lord and Saviour will be counted as holy – Jew and Gentile. Paul also metaphorically used the root of a tree (Abraham in this case) is holy, it means the branches (the children) of Abraham should also be holy (saints/sanctified). 1Pet 1:16 reminds us: “…. Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Paul declared that some of the branches (Abraham’s offsprings) have been broken off from their source.
In V17 the Bible says “And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in”.
So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.”
The Israelites were the natural branches, but we were grafted branches (e.g. Implantation of a donor tissue into another body). We were supernaturally grafted as branches to the root by God. Paul uses the olive tree here to represent God’s kingdom and those of us connected to it are like branches connected to a tree.
The root represents the good news (Gospel of Jesus) that feeds the branches (believers). Therefore, the branches do not support the root to survive but the other way round. The branches cannot survive without the root.
“18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”
Paul admonishes us - Gentiles not to be swollen headed because we replaced the original branches and enjoy the benefits accruing; just because they rejected Christ and we accepted Him. Paul warmed us to jealousy guard our salvation with humility, because verse 21 says “For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either.”
We need to constantly remember as grafted branches that the Israelites (the original) branches were cut off because of unbelief. It calls for us to guide our faith (salvation) with fear and trembling. Phil 2:12b “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
“19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”
Paul warns the Gentiles that it is possible to lose your faith when as a believer your cut yourself off from the gospel. Worship, prayer & fasting, the Word of God and the Holy communion are unique avenues through which believers’ faith are fed regularly, therefore you cannot afford to cut yourself from these sources of spiritual nourishment.
The branches can be broken from the root could also mean; believers cutting themselves off from the gospel all the time. It is the gospel that nourishes & sustains believers’ faith in Jesus. Just like a river do not cut itself form its source; otherwise it dries off.
“22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!” NIV
Paul reminds us that God has shown kindness to us by reason of our faith - accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord & Saviour. He urges us to continue in the forgiveness message in Christ lest we harden our heart against God’s words and lose our faith. That God will not hesitate to cut us off as branches if we misbehave “And if the Jews do not persist in unbelief, they will ultimately be grafted in, for God is able to graft them back again to the original root.
Paul here reiterates that nobody is beyond salvation. Paul himself was saved. If Israel turns around to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, they have another opportunity to be grafted back to the original root.
Finally, Paul says if God could graft us - Gentiles (wild olives) to the original olive tree, God can graft the original branches back to the original olive tree with ease. God bless you.
Thursday, September 10 2020
Contributor: Clem Roberts
We have been able to ascertain that the law cannot redeem us, and that our righteousness is like filthy rags before God and only Christ can save us. We have also seen Paul’s eagerness for everyone to be saved. Bringing to light God’s ultimate desire for us all.
VERSES 14 – 15
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!
The sequence here is:
Sent => Preach => hear => believe
“Preach,” means “to be a herald, to announce,” and this is not limited to declaration from a pulpit! Paul quotes from Isa 52:7. Where the messenger announced to Judah that God had hath brought to end their Exile in Babylon
What Paul was doing here was applying Isaiah 52:7 using words and scriptures that the Jews of his day to whom the gospel was being given would understand.
This tell us how accurate and knowledgeable Paul is with reference to the scriptures.
“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
If we focus on the word “Obeyed”: it means:
Again, Paul is quoting the introductory part of Isaiah 53. He is also giving them a reminder of the prophecies. Paul was enthusiastic in letting them know that they really do not have any excuse regarding their rejection of the Gospel. He pointed consistently that in all of the scriptures The Jews, you and I have been told that about the Messiah.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Our God speaks and still does to his people and the world. We only need incline our ear to Him and He will speak. When speaks, He expects obedience
VERSES 18 – 21
“18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. 19 But I say, did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. 20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21 But to Israel he saith, all day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
Understanding the message of Christ is the next step after hearing it. So Paul's logical question concerning Israel was; did they not understand this message? Israel was given the law and had the prophets and patriarchs as their guide. Israel had understanding of these things and lived daily by them. However, they were so indoctrinated by the letter of the law they missed the fact that this was a type or shadow of Jesus (Hebrews 10:1)
Isaiah foretold this. He saw that Gentiles would come to Jesus and accept the gospel message and Israel would reject it.
This has implications for us today. We can start out through faith in Jesus only to be yoked once again to the rules (or "law"). It is important to understand the truth of Jesus and what he did for you as a basis of how to live. We have died to the law through faith in Christ so we are free to live by the Spirit. Paul said in Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:20-21).
If we go back to religion, to the rules and doctrines of men, after we accept this marvellous grace then Christ died for nothing. We can nullify the word of God in our hearts by living according to man's rules and regulations. What a harsh reality.
In summary, Paul’s argument or conclusion is that Israel had plenty, sufficient, adequate and abundant opportunity, by all-purpose and distinctive revelation, to embrace God. For you and I, everything we see or hear has already been orchestrated for our benefit. God is giving us His Son and the one and only instrument of salvation.
Thursday, September 03 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Two weeks ago we looked at Paul's Anguish over Israel in verses 1-15 of Chapter 9. It was not enough for Paul to feel sorry for Israel. He wished he could demonstrate his love in an even more active way. Being ready to, like Christ, sacrifice himself for the salvation of his fellow Jews. In today’s study we will be considering how the Jews jeopardized their enviable position and what God, in His mercy offered His chosen people.
PART 1: THE RIGHT AND WRONG WAYS TO GOD (CHAPTER 9, VERSES 30-33)
“30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (NIV)
There is a right and wrong way to come to God. If we pursue the righteousness that we need to stand before God by our works, we will fail. If we come to God by faith in Christ, we attain righteousness, even if we were not previously pursuing it.
The Jews were trying to approach God through their works built on faith in their abilities to obey the commands; this wrong approach caused them to stumble over the stumbling stone, which is Christ. Romans 9:32b-33.
The reason the true Gospel offends is that it confronts our sinful pride (1 Cor. 1:29).
So God deliberately put Christ and Him crucified at the centre of salvation to humble our pride, which is the root of all of our sins. To come in faith to Christ, God must humble our pride. That leads us to the right way to come to Him: because salvation by human righteousness always falls short. We need God’s righteousness, imputed to us; this refers to justification, where God declares the believing sinner blameless and imputes (assigns) the very righteousness of Christ to that sinner’s account.
We cannot bring our best efforts and combine them with the righteousness of Christ. That muddies the pure water of His righteousness and it robs Him of glory. To follow Jesus, we must deny ourselves, especially deny our self-righteousness and good deeds as the basis for right standing with God. Salvation is not a joint project, where we try hard and let God do the rest. It is all of God.
PART 2: WHY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE MISS SALVATION (CHAPTER 10, VERSES 1-4)
“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
Once again, Paul starts off by expressing his desire and prayers for the salvation of the Israelites. He testifies of their zeal for God and then proceeds to answer the questions that would have been bothering the Romans. “If the Jews are God’s chosen people, why are most of them rejecting Christ?”
In his answer, he revealed that the Jews and all religious people often miss salvation
Israel failed to attain righteousness because they did not pursue the law by faith, but as if it could be attained by works. In so doing, they were only seeking to establish their own righteousness (10:3), which always falls short.
All roads do not lead to the top; being sincere or zealous is not enough. Good intentions are not good enough if they are mistaken about the truth of the Gospel. Religious zeal must always be tested against the core truth of the unchanging Gospel.
The Jews did not understand God’s saving righteousness, namely, that He imputes righteousness to the one who believes in His appointed substitute.
Verse 4 says: “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
This is a wonderful verse, but unfortunately it is one of the most disputed verses in all of Paul’s letters. The problem is that the word “end” (Greek, telos) has different nuances of meaning. It can mean “termination,” it can mean “goal,” (Gal. 3:23-25), and it can mean “fulfilment” or “culmination,” (Matt. 5:17). To understand what Paul was referring to here, we must combine verse 3 & 4. Verses 3 & 4 are saying that either you are seeking to be right with God by establishing your own righteousness through good deeds and morality (10:3), in which case you will miss God’s salvation, because all such attempts fall short. Or, you will recognize that you need perfect righteousness to stand before God. Thus you will abandon your own attempts to establish your righteousness and trust in Christ alone to be your righteousness (10:4). His perfect righteousness is credited to your account, so that God declares you to be righteous or justified. In other words, “Christ came to fulfil the law so as to make righteousness available for everyone who believes.”
PART 3: HOW TO BE SAVED (CHAPTER 10, VERSES 5-10)
“5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
In these verses, Paul contrasts the righteousness based on the law (verse 5) with the righteousness that comes through faith (verses 6-10). To be saved by keeping the law, you must keep it perfectly. But to be saved by faith, you trust in what God has done in sending His Son to die for your sins and raising Him from the dead. Salvation is not by keeping the law, but by faith in Christ.
So Paul’s point is that human effort is not necessary to procure God’s righteousness. God has done it all: He sent Christ. Christ died for our sins. God raised Him from the dead. All that we must do is to believe in this word that Paul was preaching. The fact that this word “is near you” (10:8) means that you don’t have to go through some difficult or impossible process like (ascending into heaven or descending into the abyss) to find Christ and be saved. Rather, you can believe in Him at this moment and be saved.
PART 4: GOOD NEWS FOR ALL (CHAPTER 10, VERSES 11-13)
“As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Verse 11 means that the Gospel is good news for all. Good news is only good news for you when you hear it and act on it. So we must preach it to one and all!
We have learnt why the Jews for the most part were rejecting Christ: they were trying to be saved by their own good works so that they stumbled over Christ. They missed God’s way of righteousness through faith in Christ. So the emphasis is on human responsibility and sin. We will see in future studies that although Israel rejected Christ because they were disobedient and obstinate (10:21); God’s sovereignty is still present. It is God’s sovereign plan to use the salvation of the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy, so that eventually they will turn to Christ (10:19; 11:11, 14).
Parts of this study was culled from https://bible.org (lessons 62-65)
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).
Wednesday, July 22 2020
Contributor: Peter Folikwe
By way of recap, from our previous study of the book of Romans, Apostle Paul focused on the problem of sin as a limitation of the natural man. In the last study of Chapter 7, Apostle Paul emphasized the unending war between the natural flesh and Spirit of man.
For instance, in Rom 7:15 NIV Paul says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” In Verse 24, Paul declared how wretched he was asking who shall deliver his body from death, because of our fleshly desires. He stated that the law is spiritual, but we are carnal because of the lust of the flesh. Since the law is spiritual and we are carnal, we are often condemned by the law. The law, as a mirror, keeps exposing our sins. The law according to Paul, therefore, has a right to condemn us, because we flesh out often. By the end of chapter 7, our condemnation by the law leaves us wondering; who can save us from this condemnation?
VERSE 1: A RAY OF HOPE
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (KJV)
Chapter 8 opens with Paul’s declaration. This opening verse simply gives us that ray of hope that we are not indeed condemned by the law. Why? We shall understand by the time we get to Verse 17.
VERSE 2: NOT CONDEMNED
“because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (NIV)
The law Paul refers to here is not the law of Moses (the law of righteousness), but something/natural authority that has “power” over us. For instance, the Taoiseach enacted a law at the beginning of the pandemic that religious houses and some other places of social gathering should be closed. Violation of that law comes with consequences. Eccl 8:4 says “Where the word of a king is, there is power:”
So if you replace “law” in the above verse with “power”, the verse reads “the power of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the power of sin and death”. Therefore, if the ‘power of the Spirit’ dwells in you, it will save you from the ‘power of the law’. In essence we need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the power of the law.
VERSE 3: THE WEAKNESS OF THE LAW
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:” (KJV)
Paul here switches back to the law of Moses (law of righteousness). This law sets out rules but does not empower anyone to keep it. The weakness in the flesh often weakens the ability of the law to change our lives. God, understanding of our weakness, sent His only begotten son Jesus in likeliness of our sinful flesh, not as a sinner. Jesus was without sin in the flesh and had to be without sin to qualify to pay for our sins. If Jesus had sinned, He would have to pay for His sins and not for you and I. If you lend me money, I can’t be owing you and decide to pay another man’s debt, except only after I have settled my debts. Since Jesus took on our sins, He became condemned for our sins. Going back to the introductory verse, there is therefore no condemnation for them who are in Christ Jesus, why? Simply because Jesus has been condemned for our sins. This however does not give us freedom to continue in sin.
VERSE 4: RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW FULFILLED IN US
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
This verse tells us why Jesus was condemned; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us....... Paul here talks of the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled “in” us, not “by” our own actions of obedience. Because none of us can fulfil the righteousness of the law in our sinful flesh. It will be fulfilled in us, only if we walk after the spirit. Because Jesus (through the power of the Holy Spirit) lives in you & I, therefore He can empower us to live & keep the requirements of the law. It does not mean that we do not occasionally fall (not deliberately) into sin, but Godly sorrow through the Spirit of God that lives within us, we confess & repent of our sins.
VERSE 5: SPIRIT CONTROLLED VS FLESH CONTROLLED
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set (constantly thinking) on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set (constantly thinking) on what the Spirit desires.” (NIV)
Paul clearly distinguishes between those whose minds are inclined towards living a life controlled by the flesh and others whose focus/mindset are focused on spiritual desires. Luke 12:34 says “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
VERSES 6-8: THE CONSEQUENCES
“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” (NLT)
Paul admonishes us to bring our body under subjection, otherwise our bodies will bring us instead under its control. It is usual for the natural man to run contrary to God’s laws. Adam was instructed not to eat the apple; exactly that he did with eve. Paul says “I find myself doing those things I hate to do”. Caution a child not to touch an object, just look away, your guess is as good as mine. It is impossible to live gratifying the flesh and live a life pleasing to God. It is by the spirit of God that lives within us we are redeemed (born again).
VERSES 9-13: IT IS ALL ABOUT GOD’S SPIRIT IN US
“9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (NIV)
Paul says if the Spirit of God is not in you, then you are not a believer. It is the spirit of God, not our own righteousness that makes us born again children of God. Verse 10 says our physical bodies are subject to physical death because of sin. Jesus however did not die for our physical body, but for our souls. For those who Jesus will meet on earth when He returns in glory will have their physical bodies transformed/changed, not redeemed. Verse 11, talks about the glorification of our bodies at resurrection for as long as we have the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Verse 12 says we are debtors, but not to the flesh anymore because it has been paid by Jesus on the cross. Verse 13 implies you can only put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, not by our own strength.
VERSES 14-15: LED BY THE SPIRIT
“14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (NIV)
God sees us as His children provided, we have His Spirit dwelling in us. Unlike some ‘so-called Christians’ who believe they can only make heaven based on how hard they work for God, but do not have a Spiritual relationship with God through Jesus Christ. For you and I who walk by the Spirit, we can boast of a personal relationship with God; calling Him “Abba Father” - our dear Father.
VERSES 16-17: CONCLUSION
“16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Verse 16 tells us that we are His children only if we do His will enabled by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The Spirit in us testifies/bears witness with us that we are children of God. 2Cor 13:1 says “.... In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” The two witnesses here are the Spirit of God in you and yourself. Verse 17 talks about our inheritance in His heavenly kingdom. This inheritance is however predicated on our sharing in His sufferings (salvation, persecution, putting our bodies under subjection of the Holy Spirit etc). Ultimately, we will also share in His glorification. Jesus explained this inheritance in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats: Matt 25:34 NIV
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. God bless and help us all to abide in His Words. Amen.
Thursday, July 16 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Let’s have a quick reminder of what we have learnt from the last two studies; so that we can keep today’s study in perspective. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has set you and I free. Having said that, it is possible to miss out on this freedom for two reasons. First, Romans 6:1-14 points out that, even though you are a Christian, you can deliberately choose to give yourself over to the bondage and slavery of sin. There’s also the notion that God, in His grace, will forgive us, so we can continue to indulge in sin. The answer to that attitude is found in Chapter 6, Verses 15-22. The Scripture says that anyone who lives on that basis, will be enslaved, shamed, limited, corrupted, defiled, saddened and ultimately eternally separated from God by sin.
Verse 7: THE LAW’S LEGITIMATE FUNCTION
The MSG version renders verse 7b thus: “The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behaviour would be mostly guesswork.”
Verses 8-11: SIN’S MANIPULATIVE POWER
The MSG version renders verse 8b thus: “What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Verses 12-13: THE LAW IS HOLY & RIGHTEOUS – NOTHING WRONG WITH IT
The MSG version renders verse 13b thus: “No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing:
The Law was designed to expose sin, and to make us feel this way so that we begin to understand what this evil force is that we have inherited by our birth into this fallen human race. The Law shows sin to be what it is, something exceedingly powerful and dangerous, something that has greater strength than our willpower and causes us to do things that we are resolved not to do.
Verses 14-15 – TWO PROBLEMS
In these verses, Paul switches to the present tense. This is significant because it means that he is now describing his experience at the time he wrote this letter to the Romans. These verses always raise a problem. Recall in Chapter 6 verses 17-18, where Paul said: " But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" (NIV)
How could a man write that he had become in Christ, a slave to righteousness, and just a few paragraphs later write, "I am unspiritual (carnal), sold under sin, a slave to sin"? Was he confused? Not at all! He was simply describing what happens when a Christian tries to live under the Law. When a Christian, by his dedication and willpower and determination, tries to do what is right in order to please God, he is living under the Law. And what Paul is telling us today is what to expect when we live like that -- for we all try to live that way from time to time. Sin, you see, deceives us. It deceived Paul as an apostle, and he needed this treatment of the Law. It deceives us, and we need it too.
In Verse 15, Paul tells us that there are basically two problems: The first is spotted in the b part of verse 15 and the second problem is in the c part
Verses 16-20: THE EXPLANATION - “I” vs “Me”
Paul says that as a Christian, redeemed by the grace of God, there is now something within him that wants to do good, that agrees with the Law, that says that the Law is right. But also, he says, there is something else in him that rises up and says "No!" Even though he determines not to do what is bad, he suddenly finds himself in such circumstances that his determination melts away, his resolve is gone, and he ends up doing what he had sworn he would not do. Have you ever felt that way?
So, what has gone wrong? Paul's explanation is this: "It is no longer I who do it; it is sin living in me." Isn't that strange? He implies a separation within our humanity. There is the "I" that wants to do what God wants, and there is the "me" indwelled by sin, that is different from the "I". Human beings are complicated creatures. We are made up of a spirit, a soul, and a body; these are distinct, one from the other. What Paul is suggesting here is that the redeemed spirit never wants to do what God has prohibited. It agrees with the Law that it is good. And yet there is an alien power, a force that he calls sin, a great beast that is lying still in the flesh until touched by the commandment of the Law (remember, it is the spirit that is regenerated when we are born again and not the flesh); that springs to life, and overpowers us and we do what we do not want to do.
Jesus implied the same when He said, "If your right hand offends you, cut it off," (Matthew 5:30). He was implying that we should take drastic action because we are up against a serious problem. Agreeing that that there is a "me" within us that runs our members, that gives orders to our hands, feet, eyes, tongues, brains, sexual organs, and controls them. That "me" gives the order to do something wrong, but there is another "I" in us who is offended by this. This "I" does not like it, does not want it. And so, Jesus' words were, "Cut it off."
Verses 21-23 THE BATTLE OF LAWS
These verses emphasize the same problem. You want to do right and determine to do right, knowing what it is
Verse 24: THE HEART’S DESPERATE CRY
The Message version says: “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is
This desperate cry at the end is where the Lord Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 5:3). Blessed is the man who comes to the end of himself. Blessed is the man who has arrived at spiritual bankruptcy. Because this is the point -- the only point -- where God's help is given.
Verse 25: THE CONCLUSION
Who will deliver me from this body of death? The Lord Jesus has already delivered us! We are to respond to the feelings of wretchedness and discouragement and failure, to which the Law has brought us because of sin in us, by reminding ourselves immediately of the facts that are true of us in Jesus Christ. Our feelings must be answered by facts. We are no longer under the Law; that is the fact. We have arrived at a different situation; we are married to Christ. That means we must no longer think, "I am a poor, struggling, bewildered disciple, left alone to wrestle against these powerful urges." We must now begin to think, "No, I am a free child of God, living a normal human life. I am dead to sin, and dead to the Law, because I am married to Christ. His power is mine, right at this moment. And though I may not feel a thing, I have the power to say, "No!" and walk away and be free, in Jesus Christ."
Culled from: https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/romans/the-continuing-struggle
Friday, July 10 2020
Contributor: Clem Roberts
PART 1: CHAPTER 6
There is no middle ground between being a slave to sin and a slave to obedience to God; you are either for one or the other
VERSES 17-18: A NEW NATURE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“Thanks be to God” because He did it. And Paul also admonishes us in Col 2:6: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him...”
VERSES 19-23: CONCLUDING CHAPTER 6
PART 2: CHAPTER 7
Paul made a very powerful illustration, pointing out that if a wife marries (lit., “if she comes to”) another man while her husband is still alive, she is called (future tense, “shall be publicly known as”) an adulteress. Conversely, on the death of her husband she is free from that marriage. So, she is not an adulteress if she marries (lit., “even though she comes to”) another man. A widow who marries again is not guilty of adultery.
VERSE 4: WE ARE DEAD TO THE LAW
He said that you also died to the Law. Just as a believer “died to sin” (6:2) and so is “set free from sin” (6:18, 22), so he also died to the Law and is separated and set free from it (6:14; cf. Gal 2:19). As a wife is no longer married to her husband when he dies, so a Christian is no longer under the Law.
VERSE 5: WHAT DID THE LAW DO FOR US?
This verse describes a believer before he was saved (Rom 6:19). The Law by its prohibitions aroused sinful passions. Sin, Paul repeatedly affirmed, leads to death (Rom 5:15, 17, 21; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:10-11, 13; 8:2, 6, 10, 13). The law energized our rebellion... The law cannot bring us into a righteous life. All it does is to demonstrate our sinful nature.
VERSE 6: WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE LAW
But now, being identified with Christ, believers are dead to the Law. Like the widow released from marital obligations, so believers are released from the Law and its arousal to sin. Like we read in Romans 5:20; Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
Thursday, July 02 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In our last study we considered two teams: Team Adam and Team Christ. We learnt that by Adam’s sin, sin entered the world and we became sinful in nature from birth. But glory to God we also learnt that by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we have become free from the curse of sin; as long as we choose the join Team Christ. In today’s study we shall be looking at a fundamental aspect of a believer’s standpoint; depicting the power we have in our everyday life to live in ways that are faithful to God. In Romans 5:20, Paul said that where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. And in the first two verses of Chapter 6, Paul answers the question that stems naturally from that verse.
The opening two verses of Romans 6 make it very clear that the apostle was dealing with the question of whether a believer can go on living in sin after he or she has come to Christ. Can they go on in a lifestyle that is basically wrong and sinful? Can they live as alcoholics, or swindlers, adulterers, homosexual, or slanderers? Is it possible to maintain such a lifestyle and be a Christian? The apostle's answer -- as we have already seen in the first two verses -- is, "By no means!" (Romans 6:2a NIV). It is impossible, Paul says, because, as he puts it in these four little words, "We died to sin," (Romans 6:2b NIV). When we stand in grace it is bizarre to
VERSES 3-4: THE SYMBOLISM BAPTISM OFFERS
Paul draws attention to baptism as the starting point. It is the act which communicates our identification with Christ's death. But the water isn’t what cleanses us! It is a demonstration of how we died to sin, how we became separated from being in Adam, and how we became joined in Christ. You will agree with me that no water can do that. It is the Spirit of God! John the Baptist, who made his reputation because he baptized in water, said, "I indeed baptize you with water, but there comes One after me, greater than I, who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit," John 1:33). That is what Paul is talking about here -- the baptism of the Holy Spirit --
VERSES 5-7: GRAFTING – WHAT IT MEANS TO BE UNITED IN DEATH WITH CHRIST
Paul draws out inferences in terms of death to sin. We can't die with Christ and not be risen with him. If we died with Him, we must be risen with Him as well. In other words, we can't pick and choose. The word united means "to graft a branch into another." The branch is tied together in such a way that the life from the trunk of the tree flows into the branch and they grow together until finally you can't tell the difference between the graft and the natural branch. The life is fully shared. This is the figure Paul is using here to describe our tie with the Lord Jesus. His life becomes our life. We are no longer in Adam, in any sense. The tie is totally broken. We are now in Christ, and He is our life from now on.
VERSES 8-10: RISEN WITH HIM
Next Paul traces this parallel. Jesus was crucified, and we were crucified too. Our old self, the old man, the man who was in Adam, the tie with Adam, has been broken by death. All that we were as a natural-born human being ended when we accepted Jesus. Paul was referring to our spirit man here. He explains that Jesus was crucified in order that the sin which was in His body on the cross should come to an end; that His body be rendered powerless with respect to sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says "he was made sin for us," In Adam, sin filled the whole of man -- our spirit, our soul, and our body. We were slaves to sin, and no matter how much we wanted to be different, we couldn't be. But now that bond has been broken. In Christ our spirits are free, and have become united with Jesus; have risen with him, and now free from sin. (1 John 3:9). Here John was talking about our spirits; our spirits are who we are, not our bodies!
VERSES 11-13: TWO KEY STEPS TO OVERCOME TEMPTATION
When we feel temptation in our bodies or minds, then there are two things we are to do:
Paul closes with such a wonderful statement. Interestingly, he brings in the Law because he is dealing with one of the most basic problems of the Christian struggle, the thing that oftentimes depresses and discourages us more than anything else -- the sense of condemnation we feel when we sin. You see, the Law produces condemnation. The Law says that unless you live up to this standard, God will not have anything to do with you. We have been so engrained with this that when we sin, even as believers, we think God is angry and upset with us and He doesn't care about us. We think that way about ourselves, and we become discouraged and defeated and depressed. We want to give up. "What's the use?" We say. But Paul says that is not true; we are not under the Law. God does not feel that way about us. We are under grace, and God understands our struggles. He is not upset by it; He is not angry with us. He understands our failures. He knows that there will be a struggle and there will be failures. He also knows that He has made full provision for us to recover immediately, to pick ourselves up, and go right on climbing up the mountain. Therefore, we mustn’t be discouraged. Sin will not be our master because we are not under the law and the condemnation that comes from it, but under grace. And even though we struggle, if, every time we fail, we come back to God and ask His forgiveness, and take it from Him, and remember how He loves us, and that He is not angry or upset with us, and go on from there, we will win the battle over sin!
Culled from: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3882, https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/romans/the-true-baptism-of-the-spirit
Thursday, June 11 2020
Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
• VERSE 12: Adam- Effects and Consequences of Adam’s Sinful Act
Vs 12. Is not a complete sentence. It sounds as though Paul wanted to finish it by saying, “even so …” but he got side-tracked. The King James Version help us understand that by putting the next five verses in parenthesis. Paul doesn’t actually finish his thought until the middle of verse 18. The first of the verse actually repeats exactly what he said in verse 12, and then you will see the words, “even so”. It shows the completion of Paul’s thought in verse 12. Everything between is a digression- a very important digression. But even without the conclusion in verse 18, Romans 5: 12 contains some crucial truth that we need to understand- particularly about a vital doctrine that has usually been called the doctrine of original sin. The one man is obviously Adam; he is mentioned by name in verse 14. And is one act of sin had two disastrous consequences according to Romans 5: 12
1. Sin entered the world as a direct result of Adam’s one sinful act
2. Death spread to all mankind as a direct result of Adam’s one sinful act.
• VERSES 13-14: The Evidence
The question is this: If all mankind was not present in Adam and did not sin in Adam, then why did people die from Adam to Moses before the law was given?
• VERSES 15-17: The Clarification
There are three major difference between Adam and what he did, and Christ and what He did:
1. In Adam many died; in Christ grace abounded to many.
2. In Adam there is condemnation; in Christ, justification.
3. In Adam death reigns; in Christ we reign in life.
• VERSES 18-19 - The Effect of Christ’s Righteous Act - Justification and Life
We have seen the effect of Adam’s sinful act. Now the effects of Christ’s righteous act. And there are two. The first half of verse 18 is essentially a summary of what we ‘ve just studied in Romans 5:12 and the verses that follow. Romans 5: 18a. “Therefore as through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation”- that’s a repeat of that whole passage, particularly verse 12.
All of us can be on the winning team. We don’t have to be losers. We can all be on Christ’s team. He provided that for all mankind. Don’t miss that in verse 18. You see, “the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” It’s certainly not unfair for all to suffer for Adam’s sin since all can benefit from Christ’s sacrificial death.
• VERSES 20 – 21 - Superabundant Grace
That’s the first effect of Christ’s righteous act; Justification and life. But there is a second effect in verse 20 and 21, and that is super-abundant grace. Another question that can be asked is “what about the law? What role does it play in all of this? Did Paul not talk about righteousness and life?
Wednesday, June 03 2020
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Have you ever thought of what life would be like without God’s immeasurable and unquantifiable grace? His salvation? Thank God for Jesus Christ, who provided the platform through which we can access this grace and gain access to the Father through faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross. Ephesians 2: 14 says “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,”. We will be continuing in our study on Justification by faith and its implications and eternal benefits for us as believers in Jesus Christ. Today’s study is a follow up on last week’s focus on Abraham, justified by faith.
We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:1)
On the basis of justification through faith Paul makes the statement that we have peace with God. 'We' includes all who believe in Jesus Christ; 'have' indicates that right now, at this present moment of existence, and at every moment of existence, we possess peace with God. Because it is through faith and through Jesus Christ this present peace is not conditional on our goodness, not conditional on our degree of sanctification, not conditional on our present sinlessness. It is grounded in Christ. And what is this 'peace’? This peace with God is the removal of the enmity, alienation and hostility between us and God. It is the freedom from the necessity to strive to gain or maintain our acceptance with God. It is being able to live in his presence without fear of rejection, condemnation and punishment today or in the future. This is the subjective peace with God that issues from a firm grasp of the gospel.
Through Whom We Have Gained Access by Faith into This Grace in Which We Now Stand and We Rejoice in The Hope of the Glory of God' (5:2)
The words 'through whom' indicate that Jesus Christ is always the mediator; that our relationship with God is always and only through Jesus Christ. This 'grace' this 'peace with God is never, even for a fleeting moment, gained through our own goodness and/or endeavors. 'We have gained access' that is, into the presence of God; this was previously barred to us because of our sin. Right now, at this existential moment, we have this access. 'By faith' - faith is always the present operating principle in our relationship with God. It is the only valid and effective operating principle by which we relate to God at any and every moment right through our lives. 'Into this grace' for a sinner to enter the presence of God, and live, is sheer grace. The complete salvation which was gained for us by the death of Jesus Christ is here compacted in this one word 'grace'. It is totally incongruous (out of place) with this definitive one-word summary of the Gospel to assume that we have to maintain our salvation by our own efforts. 'In which we now stand' Grace is also now, not only a description of the way God relates to the believer, but indicative of the sphere in which the believer now exists; the believer is in the arena, or the kingdom, of grace, not the arena or kingdom where law and performance rules.
Not only is there now peace with God, there is also confident joy. The word translated 'rejoice' is the same word translated with 'boast' or 'glory', depending on which translation you read, in 3:27 and 4:2. The salvation we have in Jesus Christ outlaws boasting or glorying or rejoicing in our own actions. Not only is there now peace, there is also certain hope. This 'hope' is not the uncertain, wishful thinking such as we express in 'I hope it doesn't rain' or 'I hope I get this position'. Biblical hope is a certain and fixed confidence and assurance.
So Paul is saying 'we rejoice in our certain expectation', 'we rejoice in our calm and confident assurance. Here is something to boast and glory about, here is something to be confidently, exuberantly happy about, here, if you wish, is something to brag about, to talk about all the time, because it is so sure, so certain, so guaranteed.
What is this 'glory of God' in which the Christian believer rejoices with strong and certain confidence? What is this 'glory of God' which apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ we would not and could not attain. It is that pure, untarnished knowledge of God in which there is no darkness and no doubt, where the fullness of his holiness and majesty are uncorrupted by our human misconceptions of his being.
Not Only So, But We Also Rejoice in Our Sufferings ... (5:3-5)
The unexpectedness of this statement surprises us. Why should Paul, in the middle of his lengthy explanation of the gospel truth of justification by faith, abruptly refer to suffering? It is a common human perception that suffering is a punishment for sin, that if something bad happens to me, then I must have done something bad to deserve it. We can see this quite easily in the frequently asked questions 'What have I done to deserve this?’ and 'Why do innocent children suffer?’ Suffering is clearly viewed as punishment, as an expression of the 'justice' that 'god', whoever or whatever 'god' is, is meting out on the inhabitants of earth. But Paul says that not only do we rejoice in our hope, but we also 'rejoice in our sufferings'.
This is because our suffering is:
We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that;
Hope does not make us ashamed, or put us to shame because God has poured out his love into our hearts ... ''This is the ground or foundation of our confidence, our hope. The verb is perfect tense: it happened in the past and the effects of that are continuing in the present. Note that this is not speaking of our love for God but of God's love poured into our hearts, so that we have experienced and still experience His love. By the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us ... 'It is God's Spirit within us, who testifies to the love of God for us, who assures us that we are now children of God - see Romans 8 and Galatians 4. God himself, by his Spirit, assures and comforts us (John 14:15).
When did God's justifying act in Christ occur (Romans 5:6-11)
'You see, at just the right time'. Paul's point here is that God saved us when we were totally unable to save ourselves, totally disqualified, totally cut off from him by our sin. He stresses this very strongly, because of our ever-present inclination to relate to God on the basis of our own merit and ability, and to assume that God relates to us on that same basis.
How does Paul describe God's justifying act in Christ (Romans 5:6,8,9,10,11)
This study is culled from https://godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/romans/174-study-ten-justification-by-faith-its-radical-and-liberating-implications-romans-51-11.html
Thursday, May 28 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
1. Romans 4:16 - 17 –We Share in Abraham’s Faith
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.
2. Romans 4:18-19 - Faith Believes the Impossible & Looks Beyond the Circumstances
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."
3. Romans 4:20-21 - Undivided (Absolute) Faith Rests in God's Promise and it Empowers
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
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.
Culled from: http://www.cleartheology.com/expo/45Romans/NT.Arnold.Rom.22.html
Thursday, May 21 2020
Contribution: Peter Folikwe
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.
"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.”
"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
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
Ref: Pastor Paul LeBoutillier – Calvary Chapel Ontario, Canada (www.ccontario.com).
Thursday, May 14 2020
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
1. VERSES 1-4 (GOD REMAINS FAITHFUL TO HIS COVENANT)
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.
2. VERSES 5-8 (UNFOUNDED ARGUMENTS HANDLED)
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.
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.
Tuesday, May 12 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Outline of the Book of Romans
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.
Thursday, March 19 2020
Introduction: Apostle Paul’s knowledge of Jurisprudence (the theory or philosophy of law) coupled with his revelation of the mystery of the Christ (the Gospel) informed his exordium and exposition on the subject of - Jews and the Law. The complexities of this subject as it relates to physical circumcision and spiritual circumcision is rooted in his exploration of the dispensation of Conscience, Human government; Promise; Law and Grace rather than the subject itself. In our last study, we learnt about the hypocrisy of the Jew as it relates to the privileges they had in terms of receiving the Law, their ‘ego’ in God, knowledge of His will in the Law and their approval of the Law. Moreover, we learnt that Moral Law reveals the character and attributes of God (His holiness, righteousness, sovereignty, love and His will), it reveals the sinfulness of man, it is a tutor to lead the sinner to Christ (Gal 3:24), it is a restraint to evil in society, it reveals the will of God. In addition, we learnt about the confidence of the Jews as to the practice of the Law; with their belief as guide to the blind, light to those in darkness, corrector of the foolish and teacher of the childish. Lastly, we examined Paul’s challenging questions to the adherents of Law – Do you teach yourself? Do you steal? Do you commit adultery and Do you Rob Temples?
Today, we shall learn how best we can please God from moving from the condemnation of the Law to a life of Grace in the context of spiritual circumcision.
Text: Romans 2: 25-29 [Amplified Bible (AMP)].
25 Circumcision [the sign of the covenant of Abraham] is indeed of value if you practice the law; but if you habitually break the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision [it is meaningless in God’s sight]. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded [by God] as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps [the spirit of] the Law will judge you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, break the Law. 28 For he is not a [real] Jew who is only outwardly, nor is [true] circumcision something external and physical. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and [true] circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by [the fulfilment of] the letter [of the Law]. His praise is not from men, but from God.
The intricacies of circumcision. Vs 25
Paul explains why Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because the Jews, even though circumcised, do not live up to their profession. The verse reveals that circumcision is: Valuable if you practice the Law; It becomes hypocritical if you habitually break the Law. Hence, it becomes a futile effort and meaningless in the sight of God. Grace demands circumcision of the heart. Our liberty in Christ is not a call for wilful sin. See Heb 10: 26-29.
King David’s life is an example of genuine repentance. He never repeated any sin he confessed and repented of before God.
The Complexities. Vs 26
Paul continues his argument by asking a rhetorical question that demands a positive answer, though not all Jews would have agreed. He asks: if an uncircumcised man who keeps the righteous requirements of the Law can be regarded as “circumcised”, i.e., a member of the covenant community and heir of the promises of God? According to Paul, he will certainly be regarded as such. Further, that very man who is uncircumcised by birth and yet keeps the Law, he will judge the circumcised lawbreaker as though uncircumcised. And he will do this despite the fact that the man claims to have both the written code, namely, the Mosaic Law and circumcision as a sign.
The Standard. Vs 27.
Obedience to God’s word is the key. Our obedience in keeping to His word must be perfected.
Jos 1: 8 ‘This book of the law shall not depart …’. Psa 119: 11. ‘Your words have I hid in my heart …’ Lam 3: 40 ‘Let us examine and test our ways ….’. Psa 119: 105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet ….’
Circumcision not a ticket to the world to come. Vs 28-29
Paul maintained that circumcision is of no value if not attended by faithful practice of the Law for which it was a sign. Hence, he goes further than just to explain the reason for Gentile blasphemy- it is as though the man is not even circumcised. It means that such a man is not a true member of the covenant community and is unregenerate, as 2: 28-29 would seem to indicate.
In verses 28-29, Paul says there is a reason why circumcision by itself guarantees nothing. It is because true religion is first and foremost- and always – a matter of the heart (i.e., genuine faith) or the inner man. To be sure circumcision was a sign of membership in the covenant community of Israel, but it was only a sign. It could not create the reality of participation in the saved community, nor could it somehow replace the means of participation in the covenant community, i.e., by living faith (Rom 4). The true Jew, therefore, is one knowledgeable of what constitutes true religion should know this better than anyone. Now the Scripture gives a clue as to what is true religion:
What do you cling to as a sign of your Christianity? (2: 25-29)
The Need for Inward Transformation. The Centrality of God over Human Opinion.
We cannot but ask ourselves this question: Who is a true Jew? A true Jew is not one who is merely circumcised outwardly, that is, in the flesh. The true Jew is one who is circumcised inwardly, a circumcision of the heart done by the Spirit and not by the written code. The circumcision Paul intends here is keeping with the promise of Jeremiah 31: 31-33 and refers to a supernatural rebirth, the same thing about which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus (John 3:1).
Thursday, March 12 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
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. In today’s study, Paul moves from addressing the Gentiles to addressing the Jews.
In verses 12-16, Paul focused on the one without the Law. This was referring to the pagan Gentile, who has never heard the Law or the Gospel. He said the Law was written upon their conscience and upon their heart. And that they are without excuse in their life of sin. In verse 17, the first word is "But," indicating Paul is making a sharp contrast from what he previously said. Paul shifts to addressing the Jew. He is putting his arms around all of humanity and reveals the universal condemnation of all mankind, both those who have never heard the Law and even those who have the Law.
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. There are points in today’s study that will hit very close to home for us who live where the word of God is made known. We can put ourselves into the sandals of these Jews who have grown up in a privileged place of hearing the revelation of God. We must be wary of hypocrisy - saying one thing and doing another! Paul will argue that if we do not act upon this knowledge and believe 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.
“But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely on the Law [for your salvation] and boast in [your special relationship to] God, 18 and [if you claim to] know His will and approve the things that are essential or have a sense of what is excellent, based on your instruction from the Law,”
Paul begins with a bit of sarcasm, "If you bear the name ‘Jew,’" he is implying that they are not true Jews. In other words, they are Jews in name only, but not in heart reality. A true Jew would be one who is born-again. A true Jew would be one who is not only circumcised in the flesh, but circumcised in the heart.
The first privilege Paul mentions is they "rely upon the Law" (verse 17). This is their greatest privilege, because of the special revelation they have received in the Law. No one can be saved without special revelation, and the Law is a part of this special revelation. The Law can be divided into three sections: the moral law, the ceremonial law, and the civil law. The moral law is how the Jew was to live, the ceremonial law is how a Jew was to worship and approach God, and the civil law contains how the Jew was to function as a nation and society. When Paul mentions the Law in verse 17, he is referring to the moral law as stated in the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are still directional for our lives today. All ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament, and nine out of the ten are still binding upon us as originally given. The only one that has been fulfilled is the Sabbath requirements.
The second privilege of the Jew who has the Law is that they can claim a special relationship with God. Paul continues that those with the Law " and boast in [your special relationship to] God" (verse 17). They boast in having this special relationship with God, because they have received the Law. God has revealed His will to the Jew, and they know the holy character of God.
The third privilege is that the Jew knows God’s will. Verse 18 says: “and [if you claim to] know His will”. The Law reveals the will of God for their lives; it reveals the way God wants them to live & conduct themselves.
Fourth, the Jew gives hearty approval to, and fully affirm the teaching of the Law as from God. Verse 18b says: “approve the things that are essential or have a sense of what is excellent, based on your instruction from the Law”
THERE ARE FIVE MAIN PURPOSES OF THE MORAL LAW.
* It reveals the character and attributes of God: His holiness (distinguishing between the holy and unholy), His righteousness (promising His reward for obedience and punishment for disobedience); His sovereignty (making known His right to command our lives); His love (revealing the path that leads to abundant living); and His will. We learn much about God by simply looking at the Ten Commandments.
* It reveals the sinfulness of man: The Law is like ten plowshares that break up the hardened soil of our hearts. The Law prepares the heart to receive the seed of the Gospel so that it may be received into our hearts. When our heart is hardened by sin, the seed of the Gospel merely bounces off the surface. There is a necessary place for the use of the Law to bring about conviction of sin.
* It is a tutor to lead the sinner to Christ (Galatians 3:24): The Law is that which points us away from ourselves in order that we would look to Jesus Christ. Christ is the only One who obeyed the Law perfectly. Because Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law, He Christ alone can forgive our offenses against the Law. Christ alone can give His perfect righteousness that He achieved under the Law.
* It is a restraint to evil in society. It is a limited restraint, but nevertheless, it does serve to some degree as a restraint. That is why we want laws in a general way to say you cannot kill, you cannot steal.
* It reveals the will of God. It points us into the very centre of God's will. It tells me how I should relate to my parents. It tells me what I should teach my children. It shows me how I am to work. It shows me how I am to be content. It shows me how I am to use my mouth and my lips.
“and [if you] are confident that you are a [qualified] guide to the blind [those untaught in theology], a light to those who are in darkness, 20 and [that you are] a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the [spiritually] childish, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth”
Paul says in verse 19, “And if you are confident that you are” This confidence brings about a false assurance to the Jew. Just because they have the Law and are using it, even telling others about it, does not mean that they have taught themselves the Law. They are preaching it to others, but they have not applied it to their own life.
* A Guide to the Blind: The Jew is confident that they are, number one, a guide to the blind. To be a “guide to the blind” means to be a teacher to those who are without the Law. It means to bear witness to those who do not have special revelation in the written word of God. But the Jews were not doing this. So Paul was using sarcasm, almost prodding or shaming them.
* A Light to those in the Darkness: Second, Paul says they are “a light to those who are in darkness” (verse 19). God declared that Israel was appointed to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). Christ Himself became the ultimate fulfilment of this passage, when He declared, "I am the Light of the world" (John 8:12). In reality, they were not actually being light to those in darkness.
* A Corrector of the Foolish: Paul then says they are confident that they are "a corrector of the foolish" (verse 20). The “foolish” refers to those who have worldly wisdom. Those who sat at the feet of the Greek philosophers and presumed that wisdom was found in the brilliance of the Greek intellectual mind. Paul says that the Jew was supposed to be teaching the Law, the wisdom of God, to these foolish men.
* A Teacher of the Childish (Immature): The Israelites were to teach the younger generations, those who were immature, the Law of God (Deuteronomy 6:4,6-7) says: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God; the Lord is one…. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them” Again they failed to be this to themselves.
“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]? 22 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]?”
Paul is aggressive in exposing sin. Most preaching today pulls back from this kind of exposure. Most witnessing today pulls back from exposing of sin in the life of other people.
* Do You Teach Yourself? “Well then, you who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” (verse 21). The Jew was good at running everyone else's life. But Paul wants to know how they are at running their own life.
* Do You Steal? "While you teach against stealing, do you steal?" (verse 21). It is as though Paul is putting the religious Jew on the witness stand and examines him with questions. Paul’s appeal in this statement is to the eighth commandment. He is still dealing with the moral Law.
* Do You Commit Adultery? " You who say not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery?" (verse 22). That is the seventh commandment in the Law. Paul will not let go of the Law. We need more appeal to the Law in our evangelism and Christian living.
* Do You Rob Temples? "You who abhor and loathe idols, do you rob temples?" (verse 22). Again he is appealing to the Law in the first and the second commandment. “You shall have no other gods before Me” and “you shall not have a graven image by which you worship Me.”
“You who boast in the Law, do you [repeatedly] dishonor God by [f]breaking the Law?”
This now leads to one grand judgment, one great indictment, found in verses 23 and 24. These verses may have seemed to be somewhat difficult to follow. Paul writes, “You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonour God?” (verse 23). The Jew boasts in his possession of the Law. He boasts in his knowledge of the Law. He boasts in his ministry of the Law, in his teaching, preaching, and speaking of the Law. But despite all this ministry with the Law, the religious Jew is a lawbreaker, just like everyone else. He is no better than the man on the other side of the globe who has never heard the Gospel. He is in the same category.
VERSE 24 - CONCLUSION
For, “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written [in Scripture].
When our lives don’t line up with the Gospel we preach and teach, we bring shame to God’s name.
What are we to learnt?
First, the necessity of personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ. To only know about God without coming to faith in Jesus will still condemn you. You must be born again.
Second, we should note the importance of personal obedience to the word of God. Be careful to practice what you preach. Your life should reflect the Gospel that you share with others.
Third, we see the importance of bearing witness with the word to those without the word. Jesus Christ has charged us, His followers, to share the Gospel with all the nations.
Wednesday, March 04 2020
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
INTRODUCTION: Last week we started in the topic “God’s righteous judgement” where we studied how dangerous judging others could be. Romans 2:3 reminded us that by pointing fingers at others does not mean God will be distracted from seeing our misdoings! We have all heard the question before: “Is God fair to judge those who have never heard about Jesus Christ?” Will they go to hell because they did not believe in Jesus when they never heard of Him? Another variation of the question is, “Won’t those who have done the best that they could do get into heaven?”. Hopefully, after today’s teaching, we will better understand how to answer such questions.
Those who do not obey the truth, that is, the light God has given them, stand under the wrath of God. God will judge according to the result of obedience or the lack of obedience to truth in a person's life.
Romans 2:10 "Tribulation and anguish on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first, and also the Gentile. But glory, honour, and peace, to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.”
The wrath of God is coming upon all those who do evil. It is upon every soul; none will be free of this judgment. No person can plead innocent; all will know themselves to be guilty. This judgment will come first on the Jew and then on the Gentile. Why? Both have rejected God's light, but the Jew had so much more light.
These blessings are for those who give genuine evidence of inner salvation by their good works. Possibly the Jew who has responded to Christ will be rewarded before Gentiles who have received him.
Romans 2:11-13 "For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;”
God is holy, just and shows no favouritism towards any man. God will judge everyone with perfect justice. Paul is anticipating a Jewish objection, “But surely God will treat us more favourably than the pagan Gentiles. We know God’s ways as revealed in His Law, but they don’t!”
Or, perhaps a Gentile would object, “It’s not fair for God to judge me for disobeying a standard that I knew nothing about! I’ve done the best that I could with what I knew. God won’t judge me, will He?”
Paul therefore highlights that God will impartially judge everyone for sinning against the light that they were given. His line of reasoning - The Gentile sinned without the Law, so he will perish without the Law. The Jew sinned under the Law and so he will be judged by the Law (2:12). In other words, as verse 6 stated, God “will render to each person according to his deeds (actions).” Paul is not looking at how a person enters into a life of obedience, but rather at the results of it. Note carefully that both groups have sinned and both groups will be judged for their sin. The Gentiles who sinned without the Law will perish, which refers to eternal condemnation. We will see later in verses 14 & 15 how to answer questions such as: “How could the Gentiles be guilty of sin if they didn’t have the standard of God’s Law to live by?” The point of this verse 12 is that God will judge every person, Gentile or Jew, regardless of: Background, education, position, privilege, upbringing nor heritage. So, God can’t be accused of partiality.
Merely hearing God’s Law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what He commands (2:13). The Jews boasted in having God’s Law. They heard it read every week in their synagogues. But here Paul says, “Hearing it is not enough. Hearing the Law doesn’t put you in God’s favour ahead of the Gentiles, who have not heard the Law. The issue is, doing it. Only those who do God’s Law will be blameless.”
Romans 2:14-15 "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them).
Those who do not have God’s Law are a law to themselves in that they still have an inner sense of right and wrong that convicts them when they violate it. Sometimes they do what they know to be right. But they often disobey what they know to be right, so that their conscience condemns them. Paul is not saying that the Gentiles automatically know all of the Laws but rather, he is pointing out the obvious fact that even pagans, who have had no exposure to God’s revealed Law, have a built-in sense of right and wrong that matches with God’s Law. The work of the Law [is] written on their hearts,” (teaching the difference between right and wrong).
The issue is even though we all have this built-in sense of right and wrong, we all have violated our own standards. When we do, we justify it by various arguments. “I know that I treated him wrongly, but he had it coming!” “I know that I shouldn’t cheat on my taxes, but everyone else does it. Besides, the government wastes so much money. And I’m not a millionaire!” So, our conscience and our thoughts go back and forth, either condemning us or trying to defend us.
Our conscience is not an infallible guide, but we should never go against our conscience. It is not infallible in that it needs to be informed by Scripture, not just by what our culture may think is right or wrong, or by what we may unconsciously feel is right or wrong.
Romans 2:16: “in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
Whether a person had God’s Law or not, he will stand guilty before God on that day.
Romans 2 springs a trap on any religious person who read Paul's lists of sins at the end of Romans 1 and thought it wasn't about them. Paul calls them out for making themselves judges when they are also guilty. He shows that God will judge everyone, including those under the law, based on their works. This prefaces this letter's theme of salvation by grace, through faith, rather than by works. Many benefits come with having the law, but only if those under the law keep it.
Wednesday, February 26 2020
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
In our study last week, we had an in-depth study of Romans 1:28-32 where we considered the consequences of willful and deliberate sin. We looked at the results of not retaining and embracing the knowledge of God, the products of depraved minds and the very subtle way that people can be supporters of evil. We make further progress in our study of the Book of Romans today as we deliberate on God’s Righteous Judgement.
How often do we hear people say, “Don’t judge me!” or “You are judging me!”. Well, Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians addresses the topic of Judgement in Chapter 2. Why should we be careful about judging others? How’s God’s judgement different from Man’s? How does the nature of God influence His judgement? These and many more will be discussed in today’s study.
Verse 1: “Therefore you have no excuse or justification, everyone of you who [hypocritically] judges and condemns others; for in passing judgment on another person, you condemn yourself, because you who judge [from a position of arrogance or self-righteousness] are habitually practicing the very same things [which you denounce]”.
A good example of this mind set is Jesus’ illustration of the Pharisee and the Publican. If we take those figures from Jesus’ parable, Paul spoke to the Publican in Romans 1 and now he addresses the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14).
Verse 2: According to truth: This has the idea of “according to the facts of the case.” God will judge (and condemn) the moralist on the basis of the facts.
Verse 3: The point is made clear: if the moralist is just as guilty as the obvious sinner how will they escape the judgment of God? You is emphatic in the question, “[do you think] you will escape the judgment of God?” Paul bears down here, letting his reader know that he is no exception to this principle. Paul knew how to get to the heart of his readers. “Our exhortations should be as forked arrows that stick in men’s hearts” Hebrews 4:12
I. Or do you despise the riches of His goodness (kindness), forbearance (tolerance), and longsuffering (patience): Paul points out what the moralist himself presumes upon the goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering of God, which all should bring the moralist into a humble repentance instead of an attitude of superiority.
i. Goodness may be considered God’s kindness to us in regard to our past sin. He has been good to us because He has not judged us yet though we deserve it.
ii. Forbearance may be considered God’s kindness to us in regard to our present sin. This very day – indeed, this very hour – we have fallen short of His glory, yet He holds back His judgment against us.
iii. Longsuffering may be considered God’s kindness to us in regard to our future sin. He knows that we will sin tomorrow and the next day, yet He holds back His judgment against us.
iv. Considering all these, it is no surprise that Paul describes these three aspects of God’s kindness to us as riches. The riches of God’s mercy may be measured by four considerations:
v. Knowing how great God’s kindness is, it is a great sin to presume upon the graciousness of God, and we easily come to believe that we deserve it.
II. Forbearance and longsuffering: Men think of this as weakness in God. They say things like “If there is a God in heaven, let Him strike me dead!” When it doesn’t happen, they will say, “See, I told you there was no God.” Men misinterpret God’s forbearance and longsuffering as His approval, and they refuse to repent.
“It seems to me that every morning when a man wakes up still impenitent, and finds himself out of hell, the sunlight seems to say, ‘I shine on thee yet another day, as that in this day thou mayest repent.’ When your bed receives you at night I think it seems to say, ‘I will give you another night’s rest, that you may live to turn from your sins and trust in Jesus.’ Every mouthful of bread that comes to the table says, ‘I have to support your body that still you may have space for repentance.’ Every time you open the Bible the pages say, ‘We speak with you that you may repent.’ Every time you hear a sermon, if it be such a sermon as God would have us preach, it pleads with you to turn unto the Lord and live.” (Spurgeon)
III. Not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance: Many people misunderstand the goodness of God towards the wicked. They don’t understand the entire reason for it is to lead them to repentance.
Men should see the goodness of God and understand: God has been better to them than they deserve; God has shown them kindness when they have ignored Him; God has shown them kindness when they have mocked Him; God is not a cruel master and they may safely surrender to Him; God is perfectly willing to forgive them; God should be served out of simple gratitude.
Verse 5: I. You are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God: Because of this presumption on God’s graciousness, Paul can rightly say that the moralist is treasuring up… wrath in the day of wrath.
(i) The moralist thinks he treasures up merit with God as he condemns the “sinners” around him. Actually, he only treasures up the wrath of God. “Just as men add to their treasure of wealth, so dost thou add to the treasures of punishment.”
(ii) As men treasure up the wrath of God against them, what holds back the flood of wrath? God Himself! He holds it back out of His forbearance and longsuffering! “The figure is that of a load that God bears, which men heap up more and more, making heavier and heavier. The wonder of it all is that God holds any of it up even for a day; yet he holds up all its weight and does not let it crash down on the sinner’s head.”
II. In the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God: In the first coming of Jesus the loving character of God was revealed with greatest emphasis. At the second coming of Jesus the righteous judgment of God will be revealed most clearly.
Verses 6-7: Will render to each one according to his deeds: This is an awesome and fearful thought, and it condemns the moralist as well as the obvious sinner. Eternal life to those: If someone genuinely did good at all times, he could merit eternal life of his own accord.
Salvation is not works based, but condemnation/judgment is. – Some Scriptures can be a bit confusing because they share bits and pieces of the story, but not the entire thing. Verse 7 is like this. Taken only by itself it appears to be teaching works-based salvation. However, when weighed against the scores of passages (including some later in Romans) teaching justification by grace through faith, it clearly cannot mean that. It is only showing one piece of the puzzle and that is the works. The person doing good works will receive eternal life. But why can they do good works? Why can they actually please God? We know that no one can please God by themselves. This person can only do these things because He has already trusted in Christ and been saved. These are evidences of his salvation, not the cause. Salvation doesn’t depend on works because if it did no one could be good enough. Our works can’t save us, but they can condemn us.
This study is culled from https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/romans-2/
Monday, February 24 2020
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
INTRODUCTION: Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is adjudged to be the “chief book” of the New Testament, the “purest Gospel”. It deserves not only to be known word for word by every Christian, but to be the subject of his meditation day by day, the daily bread of his soul.
Calvin said of it ‘when anyone understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scriptures.’ Coleridge pronounced Romans ‘the most profound work ever written!’ Meyer considered it ‘the greatest and richest of all the apostolic works.’ Godet referred to it as ‘the cathedral of the Christian faith.’ … Gordon H. Clark recently wrote of Romans that it is ‘the most profound of all the epistles, and perhaps the most important book in the Bible …’ Hamilton, in his recent commentary on Romans, calls it ‘the greatest book in the Bible.
Last week we studied Romans 1:24-27. We focused on the plight (or what would be) of those who refused to repent of their wrongdoings despite knowing the truth about God’s righteousness. We understood that Sin is any human conduct that displays Satan- in-nature (SIN) 1 John 3:9-10 NKJ. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother”.
A sinful person who is unwilling to repent will be ABANDONED by God to continue in their ways, without any caution and will suffer the consequences of their sinful lifestyle. Rom.1:26-27 “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
This week, we are focusing on Vs 28 to 32;
28 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
As people did not see fit to acknowledge God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things that are not fitting. The expression to see fit to acknowledge God is literally “they did not approve to have God in their knowledge.” The word “approve” (ἐδοκίμασαν, edokimasan) means “to test,” “to examine,” “to come to a conclusion based on evidence.” And the idea of knowledge (ἐπιγνώσις, epignōsis) always means “moral or religious knowledge” in the NT. The point Paul is making, then, is this: Men and women tested the idea of God and having concluded that he would destroy their freedom made the conscious choice to dispel him from their thinking. But since we are instinctively religious we cannot go from God to nothing, for that would be impossible, but instead from God to idols. At least the latter makes no moral demands on one’s conscience and life. God gave them over to a depraved mind, literally, an “unapproved” mind, in order to do things that are not fitting, i.e., things not in accord with the will of God expressed in the created order. Such is the divine response to rejection. We disapprove of God in our thoughts, so he gives us over to disapproved thinking!
The list of moral vices suggest that the condition of these people is deplorable and worthy of the most severe judgment. We must remember that it is to these people that the offer of salvation in the gospel is extended: For all have sinned and are justified freely. (Rom.3:23-25). The list is;
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
3. Supporters and Promoters of Evil; Rom.1:32
“who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
In conclusion, Paul says one more word of condemnation. He says that even though people know such moral vices are wrong, they not only practice them, but congratulate others who do so also. Paul is not saying that encouraging others to sin is necessarily worse than committing the sins themselves. Instead, he seems to be arguing that we are as equally bent on damning ourselves as we are on delivering other people to damnation. The knowledge Paul is referring to here is undoubtedly that to which he has already forcefully made reference in Rom.1:19, 20, 21, and 28.
People know via their conscience, which itself is sparked through God’s creation, that such sinful behaviour will result in ultimate punishment. But, says Paul, even though they know this firm decision of God, i.e., his immutable decree to punish sin, they continue in it nonetheless. The knowledge of this decree is not through the Mosaic Law, but rather through God’s truth implanted in the conscience (Rom 2:14-15). We must remember that the Gentiles were without the revelation of the law. Therefore, Paul must have in mind here the universal revelation in the conscience. Such revelation is certainly enough to condemn, although it is not enough to save.
Culled from: https://bible.org/seriespage/4-study-and-exposition-romans-118-32
Thursday, February 13 2020
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
INTRODUCTION: Apostle Paul in the admonition in Romans 1:24-27 focused on the plight (or what would be) of those who refused to repent of their wrongdoings despite knowing the truth about God’s righteousness. The focus here reveals that the Romans were knowledgeable about the righteousness and true faith in God. Apostle Paul issued this warning to all men to depart from all unrighteousness or else face the judgment of God as seen in earlier verses (Romans 1: 18-23); in that, the same men who had known God, still dishonoured Him in their unrighteousness. They rejected God in their unrighteousness, thinking the availability of grace is an excuse to sin, but forgetting the consequences. (Romans 6: 1 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound”). Thus, 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(s) will face the consequences of their unrighteousness which eventually leads to eternal damnation. Sin is any unrighteousness towards God that separates us from His presence, (Isaiah 64:6-7) and even if it looks righteous or acceptable towards men. Sin separates us from God which leads to death. Sin is any human conduct that displays Satan- in-nature (SIN) 1 John 3:9-10 NKJV, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother”.
Apostle Paul’s Emphasis on Sin’s Consequences (Romans 1: 24-27)
The word “Therefore” in V24 used in the NKJV means, consequently, as a result, for that reason, or the consequences of actions. Explaining at this point, God’s GRACE was no longer available for repentance, they abandoned God, and He also left them to their carnality. The focus is on the unrighteousness actions which were summarised in V18-23 ( * those who suppress the truth by their wickedness, * those who knew God, they rejected Him and did not glorify Him as God; Professing to be wise, they became fools, * those who changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things). The CONSEQUENCES start in V24 because God withdrew His Grace. It is, therefore, a terrible thing when God withdraws His presence from us due to sin and we fail to realize it. Some people don’t feel convicted any more of their sins and they don’t even care if they have backslidden. If such a person keeps on sinning, they might never receive God’s grace for repentance, no matter the volume of spiritual revelation they claim to have in defending their unrighteous conduct. Thus, a sinful person who is unwilling to repent will be ABANDONED by God to continue in their ways, without any caution.
Here we realize that there are consequences for those who edit the truth of God’s word to suit themselves when God forbids it (see also, Deut 4:2, 12:32). A person who abandons the truth of God’s word would end up accepting the lies of the world and also substitute the place of God with earthly things. (This is against the commandment of God to worship any other thing apart from Jehovah God Himself in Exodus 20:3-5). For instance: Some people are obsessed with food, pride, fashion, wealth, ambition, fame, etc. all of which have all taken the position of God in their lives despite the warning in the bible.
The beginning of Romans 1:26NKJV, used “For this reason”, which refers to as a result of or punishment of denying the truth that God revealed Himself to mankind. This is important because God is concerned about how we receive His word and the way we conduct ourselves in spiritual things (worship) and usage of our body which all have consequences. The consequences we see in V26-27 tells us that such persons have become addicted to doing terrible things which are un-shameful to them without any remorse.
What a tragedy when people become dead to the presence of God. (For instance, in Psalm 106:14-15 NKJV, “But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, And tested God in the desert. 15 And He gave them their request, But sent leanness into their soul)”
We are in an era whereby people choose to walk in their own ways and decide to serve God the way they feel, without accepting the truth of what the bible says. We must always bear in mind that there is a difference between a mistake and sinning perpetually. The latter could easily find grace if there is genuine repentance, while the former should be prepared for the severe consequences from God the great rewarder.
There is no such thing as good sin even if the sinner thinks it doesn’t affect others, because our actions matter to God at all times. Also, let’s us be aware that nobody is excusable or exempted when it comes to righteousness in God and we cannot be wiser or claim to know more than the word of God (1 Corinthians 1: 25 NKJV, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.). Hence in the future study of Romans 1:28-30 NKJV, we will realize that those who think they know God but didn’t retain His righteousness; only deceived themselves. This is so unfortunate because they eventually stand to lose eternity Mathew 7:23 NKJV “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”.
Friday, February 07 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
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; and the divide is usually the cross. Yet it is at the cross where these two ideas meet, where love and wrath, justice and mercy are displayed. Anyone who truly wants to come to terms with this, need to come to an understanding of Unbelief – which is, the Rejection of God. In last week’s study, we looked at what the Gospel was – the power of God onto salvation. However, we will never come to grips with the importance of the gospel or be motivated to share it, until we come to the realization of this sad truth of God’s wrath! It is interesting to note that there are more references to God’s wrath and anger in the Bible than to His love and mercy, yet too many Christians will focus on love and mercy at the expense of the biblical idea of God’s wrath and anger. You cannot have a complete, prefect, holy and just God without any of these.
“But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse.” (MSG)
To put a shroud over a thing is to cover it up or make it unclear. Other versions use the word “suppress” to suppress is to hold something down. It implies that men know the truth, but they want to hold it down so that they can pursue their sins.
Whether it is 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 our problems (psychologists do not like the word “sin”!), these are all ways of pushing God away from us so that we can be our own lord.
Verses 21-23: “What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.” (MSG)
Paul tells us in detail what the reason was why the wrath of God was being revealed to the world then as it is these days.
The direction the world is heading today is one that fails to acknowledge God for who He is! So, let us be careful not to follow the crowd because the consequences can be dire. In Romans 1 verse 28, the Bible tells us of what happens to those who fail to acknowledge Him:
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate (depraved) mind, to do those things which are not convenient (things which are improper and repulsive);” (KJV)
You see, it is not that they were completely ignorant about God; but they just did not like the idea of retaining God in their knowledge! They had some knowledge of God by the light of nature, and yet did not care. That is exactly what we are seeing these days. Because they do not want to retain God in their knowledge, they are trying every method to erase this knowledge of God out of their minds, and from others! God is a loving God; but He is also a wrathful God! The death of Jesus on the cross was to appease this wrath but God did not stop Jesus from dying. He even turned His back against Him! We are reminded that no one has any excuse; because creation clearly points to the divine Creator! The wrath of God should motivate us to share God’s message of salvation. We should determine to live godly lives, realizing that we still function in the flesh and can live in ungodliness and unrighteousness if we don’t make the conscious effort.
Thursday, January 30 2020
Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
In our last Bible studies, we learnt from Apostle Paul that the Gospel is ‘the gospel of God’. The Gospel originates from God. It is God’s idea. It was ‘promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures’. It is about ‘His Son’. Moreover, we learnt that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. He is the Christ- ‘the Messiah’. He is our Lord God. The Jehovah Adonai. Today we are going to study the remaining four verses in chapter one. These are considered as the theme of the Book of Romans.
Text: Roman 1: 14-17 [English Standard Version (ESV)].
“14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Paul’s attitude about the Gospel.
Apostle Paul make the claim here that Jesus Christ Has given him the responsibility and calling to be a preacher of God’s Gospel. See Rom 1:1. Also 1Cor 9:16
The reason why Paul is so eager to preach the Gospel l to those in Rome is that Jesus Christ by means of Paul’s calling had given him the Gospel to share with others. Until that happens, Paul’s calling is, in some way, not fulfilled yet. His supreme desire is to glorify his Saviour and take the Good news to all who are still without it.
Paul understood the cost in going to various places to preach the Gospel. He knew it would eventually cost him his life. Read Acts 20: 22-24 (ESV); Phil 1: 21-24.
Paul’s conviction was centred on one goal, which is to obey Jesus Christ by fulfilling his calling. He was driven and obedient.
We must strife to emulate Paul and be able to answer these questions: How driven are we to fulfil our calling? What barriers keep us from fulfilling what God Has called us to do? Why? What is more important to you than God’s glory.
Brian Evans maintained that in these two verses we have the theme of the entire Book of Romans. Moreover, he went on to say that many scholars believe these verses to be the two greatest verses in the entire Bible. It is worthy to note that Paul’s expression of his passion for the Gospel in a negative sense probably because everyone else is ashamed of the gospel. In other words, why could not Paul states ‘I am proud of the Gospel or I am confident in this Gospel. 1Cor 1: 18-31. The Gospel is foolish to the lost world. For that reason, the world is ashamed of the Gospel, the Cross, and ashamed of Jesus Christ. The world hates the Gospel because there is no ground for boasting and because God is infinitely in control not them. It is offensive to the self-righteous. But it reveals the power of God.
For it is the power of God for salvation
The word “Power” (dunamis) comes from a Greek word that comes into English language as ‘dynamite’. The gospel is the explosive dynamite of God unto salvation. There is no more powerful message in the entire world than this truth. The gospel power brings a life changing and eternity-altering experience. Hence, Paul stated again in 2Cor 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come”. The gospel of Christ has the ability to:
Rom 6: 23 “ For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
Eph 2:5 ‘When we were dead in our transgressions God made us alive together with Christ… and raised us up with Him’.
Col 3:1 ‘If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2Cor 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come”.
See Rom 6:4; Rom 6:11; Rom 6:13; Eph 2:6.
Conclusion: If truly you have accepted the Gospel, the evidence of your new creation must bear witness in your heart that you are no longer under the condemnation of sin. For sin shall not have dominion over you because you have been raised up with Christ. Therefore, keep seeking the things above. Keep preaching the Gospel by word and deeds. You are the epistle that the world read.
Note: Teaching culled from Brian Evans via www.gccwaverly.net.
Thursday, January 23 2020
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
We will be considering an in-depth study on the opening chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Who are the intended recipient of Paul’s letter? Who is this writer himself? What exactly is the message? Who is the center focus of this message? Why is this letter important to Paul and his intended readers? What are the benefits of this letter to us as believers? These and other questions will be addressed in today’s study.
Verse 1: Paul Introduces himself
Paul here introduces himself to his readers. He identifies himself as:
In identifying himself in this way Paul establishes his authority to write to the believers in Rome. What do you think that Paul meant when he said he was 'set apart for the Gospel of God'? Was it that he felt called to do nothing but preach the Gospel to unbelievers? Or was it that he felt compelled not only to proclaim the Gospel to unbelievers, but also to teach its true and full significance to believers, clarifying its meaning and implications, and defending it against the false interpretations which so quickly were attached to it?
Verse 1b – 3a, 9: Paul introduces the gospel
Verse 3-4: Paul Introduces Jesus Christ
Verse 5: Paul Introduces his ministry
Paul sees Jesus Christ as the source/origin ('through him') and goal/purpose ('for his name's sake') of his ministry. His ministry was not his idea, nor is he in it to make a name for himself. It is a Christ-focused, Christ-centred ministry. He also sees his ministry as 'grace', that is, as something that he did not earn, deserve or merit. Both his ministry, and the ability to pursue it, are a gift.
Verse 6-8: Paul identifies his readers
It would be easy when we read some parts of Paul's letter to the Romans to forget that his readers are already believers, and because of that, to misunderstand his meaning. He here identifies them as 'among those called to belong to Jesus Christ', 'loved by God' and 'called to be saints’ and mentions their faith which 'is being reported all over the world.' Paul's readers are true believers in Jesus Christ; they already belong to Jesus. They already are loved by God. They already are 'saints' - set apart by God, for God. They already have faith. Paul is not writing to them to bring them to the point of faith. Rather, he is writing to them to spell out the implications of their already existing faith. He is not writing to them to bring them to Christ. Rather, he is writing to them so that their already existing union with Christ will find expression in the way they relate to God and to each other.
Verse 8-13: Paul introduces his priorities in relation to the Romans
Although Paul has not yet met the Roman believers, he already has them firmly fixed in his heart and mind. He thanks God for all of them (verse 8). He prays for them all the time (verse 10). He longs to come to see them but has been prevented (verses 10-13).
Considering that he has just stated that their faith is being reported all over the world, this is an interesting and informative comment. It gives us the insight that to 'preach the gospel' was not limited to initial, conversion-generating preaching, but included explanatory teaching of the meaning and implications of the gospel in the on-going life of the believer. Most of Paul's letters contain this kind of gospel teaching, and we know from his letters that the care of the churches and the preservation of the purity of the gospel within the churches lay heavily on his heart. This burden he affirms in verse nine where he states that he serves God with his 'whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son'.
Those who truly know the Gospel know that its impact is not initial only. Indeed, the more one knows and understands the Gospel, the more one realizes that it is increasingly impactive for every moment of the believer's life.
The more a believer studies the message of the Gospel the bigger he/she understands it to be. So, Paul was eager to preach the Gospel - to expound its depth and its greatness, even, no, not just even, but especially to those who had already embraced it. He longs to see them and strengthen them through his ministry (Romans 1:11). It therefore follows that our call to preach the gospel to a dying and decaying world does not stop at the point of conversion, necessity is laid on everyone of us, believers, to bring men to the place of maturity.
Some parts of this study culled from https://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/romans/183-study-one-introductions-romans-11-15.html
Thursday, January 23 2020
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Paul was called by God to be an apostle to the gentile (Rom.11:13 “For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry”).
He brought Christianity to the gentile world, and established churches for worship and ministry. Rome was the capital of the gentile world, and a church was planted there. Paul no doubt knew the strategic value of strengthening the body of believers by laying a strong doctrinal foundation.
Paul was continually challenged by the Jews regarding the Gospel of Christ and the Law of Moses. Paul obviously wanted to clear up any confusion by creating a strong doctrinal statement in his epistle. He addresses the same issues as in his other epistles, false doctrine, false teachers, and troublemakers who would stir up dissension in the church.
Paul is universally accepted as the author of the epistle 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, Jesus and salvation to all mankind. Statements in the epistle indicate that Paul was going to Jerusalem with the collection for the poor which he had gathered (Romans 15:25-27). The key personalities in the book of Romans are the Apostle Paul, and Phoebe who delivered this letter.
The epistle to the Romans appears to have been written near the end of Paul's third missionary journey, probably around 57 or 58 AD. One of the main reasons for this date is because 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians refer to this collection and this would indicate that Romans was written just after 1 and 2 Corinthians, toward the end of Paul's third missionary journey. Most scholars date the epistle near AD 58 and name Corinth as the city of its origin.
The epistle begins with "To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" in Rom 1:7. This would clearly indicate that Paul was addressing the Christian church in Rome. Throughout the book of Romans, it is clear that in the church at Rome there were many Jews and Gentiles.
Outline of the Book of Romans
1, Doctrine and Theology - Chapters 1-8; Paul explains the fundamentals and foundations of the Christian faith (Rom.6:23). This is the Gospel Message, which all believers are commanded to share with the entire world.
2, God's Plan for Israel - Chapters 9-11; Paul explains God’s sovereignty over salvation. He also spells out how an individual may come into a right relationship with Go ( Rom. 10:9-10 ). Place your faith and trust only in what Jesus Christ has already done on the cross and make Him the Master of your life and trust He raised Himself from the grave conquering death. His promise to everyone is: "You will be saved''.
3, The New Life in Christ - Chapters 12-16; Paul gives instructions for all Christians about how to live a holy lifestyle ( Rom.12:1-2 ). Much of the errors and trials that Paul dealt with in his “Epistles”, were because the believers had conformed their lives to the world and not to God.
Summary of Romans from 1 to 16
Romans 1—The Gospel Is the Power of God
It covers Paul’s introduction to the book of Romans as well as building a case against the entire world that we were guilty before God. The reason for writing the book of Romans was to share the gospel and teach that our righteousness comes by faith in Jesus Christ apart from what we can do to earn it.
Romans 2—God’s Righteous Judgment
It is written to admonish the Jews that living by the law and circumcision does not make them righteous in God’s eyes. This comes as quite a shock, but Paul stresses that living by rules and regulations only brings about judgment and condemnation. Paul concludes that a true Jew is one that has experienced circumcision of the heart by the Spirit of God.
Romans 3—Righteousness Apart from the Law
It completes the accusation that both the Jews and the Gentiles are guilty before God. Now the prosecution can rest and the defence begin. Paul switches gears by explaining that the righteousness that the law was powerless to give us, God did by sending Jesus. He maintains that this righteousness comes by faith to all who believe in Christ Jesus apart from obeying the law.
Romans 4—Justified by Faith
It is proof that faith has always been the means for justification. Paul reflects back to the Old Testament patriarchs who were justified by faith, not works, to illustrate his point. Paul uses this illustration to prove that Gentiles were part of this promise given to Abraham. The whole world was blessed through him because he chose to believe God rather than his circumstances and, because of this, his faith was credited to him as righteousness.
Romans 5—The Results of Justification by Faith
It is powerful and instrumental in understanding that we are reconciled with God through Jesus Christ. God did not spare His own son, but graciously gave Him for us to undo what Adam did in the garden. Death came through one man’s sin, but life came more abundantly in every way through the gift of Jesus. Paul stresses that this reconciliation is not something we are waiting for, but in every sense of the word, believers are righteous, holy, and acceptable to God.
Romans 6—Freedom from Sin
It eloquently teaches that when we are born again, sin’s power is broken in our lives. Paul maintains that we are freed from sin and made alive to God through Jesus Christ. Our sinful nature was crucified with Him when we were baptized into his death. Now through Jesus, we have received the gift of God, which is eternal life.
Romans 7—Married to Christ
It shows us the contrast between living bound to the law and living by the Spirit of God. We are no longer in bondage as slaves and are now free to belong to God. The struggle with sin may still be evident, but Paul maintains we have no obligation to succumb to it. We are instructed to live by the Spirit and bear fruit according to our new nature.
Romans 8—Life in the Spirit
It shows how to live by the Spirit and let peace rule in our hearts. The Holy Spirit within us continually testifies to us that we are children of God. He gives us assurance with God to convince us that nothing will ever separate us from His love. This is a passage of hope because we know our future is bright in Christ.
Romans 9—Children of the Promise through Faith in Christ
It teaches us that it is not natural children that are God’s children, but rather children of the promise. The promise comes through faith in Christ not by works of the Law. He uses the example of the Israelites, who pursued righteousness by the law without obtaining it, and Gentiles, who pursued it by faith and obtained righteousness through Jesus Christ. Chapter 9 is a sobering call that faith in Christ alone saves us.
Romans 10—The Word of Faith
It teaches the word of faith. By confessing with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and by believing this in our hearts, we are saved—nothing more, nothing less. Christ is the end of the law so we can be justified and made righteous by faith in Jesus alone. Faith comes by hearing this gospel message and responding to it. Paul encourages us that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 11—A Remnant of Israel
It discusses that, although Israel as a whole rejected Jesus as the Messiah, there is still a remnant chosen by grace. Their dismissal of Jesus has blessed the world because this salvation message was then opened to the Gentiles. However, they have not fallen beyond recovery, and in the end Israel will be saved through faith. God’s plan includes bestowing mercy upon all mankind.
Romans 12—Living Sacrifices
It encourages us to be living sacrifices in view of the mercy we have received in Christ Jesus. We do this through renewing our minds to the truth of God’s word, serving and blessing the body of Christ through our gifts and above all by loving and being devoted to one another. Romans 12 is a call to live a life of peace, faithfully serving the Lord in all things and overcoming the evil of the world by faith.
Romans 13—Submission to Authorities
It is a charge to clothe ourselves with Christ Jesus and live as His children in this present world. We are to submit to authorities and to pay respect where it is due. We are to wake up and serve the Lord out of love by showing others the light of the gospel.
Romans 14—The Weak and the Strong
It encourages us to consider everything we do as if we are doing it for the Lord. It is a call to do what leads to peace and mutual edification within the body of Christ. We are not to condemn or look down on those who are weaker in faith, but be fully convinced of what is acceptable in our own minds, as everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Romans 15—Unity among Believers
It stresses unity within the body of believers. We are to take the encouragement from the scriptures and Christ as our example in how we live accepting one another. Paul reminds us that we are competent ministers of the gospel taking in and internalizing the amazing grace that was covered in the previous chapters. Now it is our job to share it with others.
Romans 16—Commendations and Greetings
It is Paul's final farewell and instruction to the believers in Rome. He is affectionate toward them and gives final coaching to watch out for false doctrines and teachings and those who would cause division among them. He reminds them that Satan will soon be crushed under their feet and that His gospel is able to hold them until the day of Jesus.