Archive for September, 2017

Romans 8

Romans 8 has Paul continuing to teach around our salvation through Christ.  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.  That’s a pretty clear statement.  God Jesus?  You are not condemned.  The penalty of sin has been removed.  “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death”.  Jesus is the way – the only way – for us to be set free from sin and its punishment.  “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”.

He goes on to talk about living in Christ.  “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness….For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”.  When we receive God’s grace through Christ, the Spirit comes to live in us.  “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God”.  That Spirit coming through acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross makes us a child of God.  And once a child, always a child.  Our salvation is secure because God makes us His very own.

As a result, we should live victoriously.  “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of  adoption as sons….and if children, then  heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ”.  We are heirs of eternal life with Christ.  What else could be more important?  Paul doesn’t see anything. In fact, this makes it possible to deal with anything that comes our way.  “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”.

He gives us one of the greatest promises in all of scripture.  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for  those who are called according to his purpose”.  God is in control of all things. He weaves them in our life to create blessing and goodness.  It may not always appear as such, and it likely won’t be done the way we’d do it if we were in charge, but we have a promise from the God of Heaven and Earth that ALL things work for goo.  “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things”?  God loves us that much – that He gave all so He could give all good things to us.

Will it last?  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword”?  The short answer is no one and nothing.  “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”.  Circumstances and situations may seem overwhelming, but God will never leave us.  “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  What a promise we have from God.  And He never fails to perform!

Romans 7

Romans 7 has Paul continuing to talk about sin and the law and the state of mankind related to those two things.  He told us in the last chapter that we are no longer under law, but are now under grace.  That doesn’t mean the law has gone away at all, merely that God’s got a new way of dealing with the sin that we all have in our life.  “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead,  in order that we may bear fruit for God”.  Jesus is the One who sets us free from the law.  We died with Jesus and we also rose with Him as Christ Followers.

The law is very important.  “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin”.  Remember that sin is ‘missing the mark’ or falling short of God’s standards and requirements.  God gave us clarity around those things through the law and His Word.  The problem came when spiritual leaders long ago began to interpret and add to and adjust the law to their own liking.  So it isn’t that the law is bad. Paul reminds us “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good”.  This isn’t a problem on God’s side, but how mankind dealt with the law, thus Jesus was sent to give us a new way to address the sin we all face.

Often we get down on ourselves about sin in our life.  But Paul wrestled with it too.  Every human does.  “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate”.  Often sin isn’t something we pursue – it may in fact be pursuing us.  We know we should not do it, but we struggle to stop. It is part of the human condition. “For I know that nothing good dwells  in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out”.  We want to do what’s right, but we are filled with the allure sin has to:

  • Promise satisfaction
  • Provide justification
  • Convince us we will escape punishment

It convinces us that it will be ok. “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing”.  And it gets us in its grip and just hangs on and we struggle to overcome those desires.  Paul wrestled with sin just like we do today.  All humans do.  We have a very real enemy who is there every step of the way telling us it will be ok.  It truly is a battle of the mind. “I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin”.  Thankfully God loved us enough to send Jesus to the Cross to set us free from the penalty of sin, if we receive His free offer of grace through Christ.  That sets us free from the penalty of sin.  But we’ll struggle with the power of sin, just as Paul did, until the end of our life.  We have to fight the good fight and walk with Jesus daily to resist the temptation of sin and follow Him!

Romans 6

Romans 6 is about one topic – sin.  Scripture defines sin as ‘missing the mark’ and the result is that it separates us from God.  Paul is challenging believers and their view of sin.  “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound”?  Just because Jesus death covers our sin – it isn’t a ticket to just do whatever we want because we’ll be forgiven anyway.  “By no means! How can  we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us  who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were  buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life”.

When we become a believer, we are set free from the penalty of sin, but not its power.  We have to choose to walk in the new life we have as a Christ Follower.  “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin”.  The power of Jesus is in us, and through the Holy Spirit we can be overcomers of the sin that has plagued us.  “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin,  once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God”.  Jesus conquered sin once for all through his death, burial and resurrection.

But sin pursuits and the enemy continually chases us to attempt to get us to fall back to our old ways.  “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness”.  We are not controlled by our sin.  Sin is a choice.  The devil doesn’t make us do it.  We choose sin over righteousness.  And we can choose righteousness over sin.  Sin is a choice.

We are set free.  We just have to choose to live that way. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”.  Sin is a serious deal.  Society today has somewhat dismissed sin and doesn’t even like to admit it matters.  But in God’s economy, sin is a very big deal.  It has eternal consequences if we don’t deal with it.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  Sin is why Jesus had to go to the Cross.  It matters.  We have to address it.  Jesus is the way God has provided to be set free.

Romans 5

Romans 5 has Paul continuing to teach us about faith and sin.  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Here is the secret to getting right with God – through Jesus.  “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God”.  Faith is the ticket to opening up God’s grace – the shed blood of Jesus which covers our sin and sets us free – and the hope of glory that comes with it.  Faith is the way we gain access to God and His grace and hope.

But Paul makes it clear that faith in Christ is not always a smooth and simple road.  “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and  hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”.  Paul walks through the transformation from suffering to being made righteous before God.  It’s a journey, but the final result is amazing.

He reminds us that we don’t deserve any of this.  “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….God shows his love for us in that  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.  God doesn’t expect us to get everything figured out and right before we can come to Him through Christ.  Jesus died for us just the way we are.  “More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation”.  Jesus makes a way for us to get into right standing with God.  It’s not about us and what we do.  It’s about Him and what He has already done.  We merely have to receive Him and the grace God offers to us.

It’s all about grace, “the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many”.  Grace is something we are given that we don’t deserve.  That certainly defines what Jesus did on the Cross.  It had to happen because of sin.  “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness  reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ”.  God decided to deal with sin once and for all – through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection through which He defeated death for all time.  “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s  obedience the many will be made righteous”.  Through Jesus victory on the Cross we are set free for all time!

Romans 4

Romans 4 has Paul talking about Abraham – the example of faith and how God counted him as righteous and the one who received His blessing.  Here is the summary of Abraham’s life: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”.  Faith is what our relationship with God is all about.  It isn’t what we do, although that matters, but it is about our heart and what we believe.  It’s about our relationship with God that matters.  For Abraham it was about faith.  For us today, it is about what we do with Jesus.

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith”.  The law did not make Abraham right in God’s eyes.  It wasn’t what he did.  It wasn’t his works.  It was his faith.  It was about his relationship with the God of the universe who created him and all things.  Our salvation “depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace”.  As Americans with the ‘pull up your bootstraps and be self-sufficient’ mentality, we struggle to believe that faith is all we need.  But that is God’s plan for our salvation – a personal relationship with the only Savior Jesus Christ.

Abraham never wavered in his faith.  “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness”.  We have the same opportunity to latch on to God’s grace through Christ and be set free from the penalty of sin.  We aren’t released from sin’s power – it will be a continual struggle for our lifetime – but we can be freed from the penalty that is eternal separation from God.

God’s had a plan for our restoration since the early days in the garden.  “But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised  for our justification”.  Originally it was the system of sacrifice and faith in God, but then there became another way – the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross who once for all made atonement for all sin for all time.  We only have to receive that gift of grace through a personal relationship with Him and make it our own!

Romans 3

Romans 3 has Paul addressing the reality of sin.  “If through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying”.  There was an argument that some were making that since we are sinners, and God is good, why not just sin more so God’s goodness may come more.  It’s a silly argument to try and justify sin and make it something that is OK to do.  But in God’s economy, sin is never OK.  And sin applies to all of us.

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one”.  Not much wiggle room in those words.  We are all sinners who fall short of God’s standards and expectations.  We can find out what those are through His Word.  “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law…. the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”.  We can’t work our way to salvation.  We’re just not good enough.  Jesus is the only way.

Here’s the status of all mankind.  “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith”.  Here’s the gospel story in a few verses.

  1. All of us are sinners
  2. We fall short of God’s standards
  3. We face eternal separation from God
  4. God has a plan to deal with our sin – grace
  5. Jesus death of the cross is God’s grace revealed
  6. His blood was shed to cover our sin
  7. If we receive the gift of grace (Jesus Christ) and make it our own, we will be saved

It’s not rocket science.  We have a problem.  God has a solution.  We need to receive His grace and be set free from the penalty of sin.

As humans, and especially first world humans, we have bought into the idea that we should deal with things on our own.  We can work and become good enough to deal with our sin.  The Bible has a different answer.  “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law”.  Once again, just like the verses regarding each of us being sinners – there is no wiggle room.  All are sinners and no one is can earn their way to heaven. It is only through faith in Jesus that we can overcome sin through Christ’s shed blood and the forgiveness of sin.  Sin is an eternal problem.  If we don’t deal with it, we’ll spend eternity apart from God.  But there is a solution.  Jesus is the way!

Romans 2

Romans 2 has Paul continuing to lay it out there and confront the thinking of the religious leaders of the day.  “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things”.  Hypocrisy is a never ending challenge for mankind.  We tend to say one thing and do another, or hold people accountable to standards we don’t follow ourselves.  That is not how God does things.  God will judge each of us on our own merits, and on His standard of righteousness.  We will have no excuses.

While judging others may make us feel better, it is futile and takes the focus from where we need to be focused – on our own coming judgment.  “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed”.  It may seem like we are climbing higher when we tear others down and judge their actions, but we’re going to stand before God and have to give account.  And there will be no hiding.  “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury”.

Each if us will face God and have to give account for our works.  It won’t matter that our parents did this, or our spouse did that, or our family has been sitting in the same pew on Sunday morning for decades and given lots of money to the church.  God cares about one thing – how we have lived in regard to His standards.  “God shows no partiality”.  There will be no passes.  It will be our life being judged for its own merit based on God’s requirements of godliness, holiness and righteousness.  And the news won’t be good.  “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified”.

Harsh words, aren’t they.  The truth of the matter is that all of us will miss the mark.  Not one of us can enter eternity based on our own efforts.  We are sinners who selfishly live the way we want and do the things we want without obedience to God.  We’ll stand before Him and face that truth.  The only hope we have is to claim His gift of grace – the blood of Jesus who went to the cross to give us a way to cover our sin before a perfect Judge on that day.  It is our only answer to the sin we are all guilty of committing that will ultimately lead to God’s judgment if we don’t have Jesus as our Savior.  Are you ready to stand before God.  Don’t go there unprepared.  Discover the saving grace of Jesus Christ who came that we might be set free from our sin and spend eternity with God!

Romans 1

Romans 1 has Paul explaining exactly what he is about.  This has to be one of the longest sentences in the entire Bible: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Now that’s a mouthful to say the least.


He tells us why he is there and what his mission is to do.  He represents Christ and brings them a greeting. Paul immediately makes it personal with the Roman church.  “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow  by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you”.  Paul has been saying for some time that his bucket list included a trip to Rome, and now he has finally made it, maybe not quite as he had planned, but nonetheless he is there in the flesh.


Paul has a mission to fulfill.  “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine”.  Paul has been on a difficult journey.  He’s there to impart some truth and give some gifts, but he also is there to be encouraged.  That is an outcome of true spiritual fellowship – we encourage each other by spending time together. Paul makes it abundantly clear why he’s in town.  “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome”.  He’s got a message to share.

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”.  The gospel is for all man, and Paul is there to deliver it.  And even if they don’t hear it, God’s made Himself known.  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse”.  We are all responsible for what we do with God’s existence and holiness.  He is evident through His creation.  We have to deal with the sin that keeps us from His righteousness.  The answer is Jesus, and that is what Paul is in Rome to preach!

Acts 28

Acts 28 begins with the shipwrecked crew and passengers figuring out that they had crashed on Malta.  The native people opened their island to them.  “When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand”.  Paul is helping make some warmth and a poisonous snake attacked him.  “When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live”.

They knew that the bite of a viper was deadly, so they were just handing around to watch Paul die.  “But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god”.  That’s not how things went.  You get bit, you die.  But Paul obviously had God’s hand upon him.  Paul had a chance to heal the father of the leader on the island, which opened the floodgates to any who were sick.  After three months or so, they board a vessel that has been docked there to continue their journey to Rome.

They finally get to the destination.  Some Christ Followers hear of Paul’s arrival and go to greet him.  “On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage”.  Sometimes we just need to see a friendly face.  Paul is excited to see some folks who weren’t out to kill him for a change, but wanted to spend time with him.  He arrives and asks to meet with the Jews to explain why he was there.  “But because the Jews objected, I was compelled  to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against  my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of  the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain”.  He’s come all this way to appeal his case, and the Jews in Jerusalem didn’t even know what he was talking about.

So Paul asks for the opportunity to tell them, and to share the Good News of Jesus.  “From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to  the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets”.  Paul has yet another chance to tell his story.  Some got it, some did not.  “And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, having much dispute among themselves”.   Paul again manages to put the Jewish leaders on different sides of the table.  That allowed him to stay and live his life. “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance”.  He spends two years preaching Jesus in Rome without any interference.  That’s success!

Acts 27

Acts 27 has Paul boarding a ship to be transferred to see Caesar as he had requested.  It was no short voyage, and the winds did not cooperate and their progress was slow and did not move them quickly enough on the journey.  They had many difficult days battling wrong winds and slow progress.  But they weren’t willing to give up. Paul tells them “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives. But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said”.  Paul obviously has the right answers, but they wouldn’t listen to them.

Things are not going well.  “Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.  They try with all their might to save themselves.  “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned”.  But their efforts are coming up short.  All that they were doing just wasn’t enough.  They are failing to save themselves in their own strength.  But its what we do as humans.  We put God on the sidelines until we are so far over our head we see no other way.

Then Paul takes charge.  “Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to  take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told”.  Paul first reminds them that he told them exactly what was to happen, but now, since all their efforts have failed, it is time to trust God.

There is fear amongst the crew so they make plans to leave the ship.  Again Paul steps in.  “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved”.  God’s plan is not common sense in the eyes of the crew.  But they listen to Paul.  “Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go. As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for  not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you”.

Those were some pretty bold words.  But the crew listened and ate.  This wasn’t a small boat.  “We were in all 276 persons in the ship”.  Paul isn’t saving his own skin here.  There are hundreds of people at risk. They throw more of the cargo off but and then see a beach in a bay and decide to try to run the ship ashore there.  They strike a reef and fail to get all the way.  “The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan”.  They all make it ashore and are saved because they listened to Paul.

%d bloggers like this: