Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Romans 13:10-14

In Romans 13:10-14 Paul reminds us that love is the measuring stick that we need to stand against – it is how God will look at our life. And that love is to be spread generously to all who are our ‘neighbor’ which Jesus described as a pretty good side bunch of people in His teaching. We are to love one another, and love all, even those who hate us. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Jesus gave us the two commandments that define our mission on this planet. We are to love God first and foremost, and then to love our neighbor as ourself. That is how we meet expectations and fulfill the law.

Paul challenges us to wake up and get after our walk with Him. Because we know the danger of the times and we anticipate the coming of Jesus, we should be more energetic and committed to a walking well with God instead of sleep-walking with Him. “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” It is vital that we wake up! Guzik wrote: “We can do many Christian things and essentially still be asleep in our walk with God – go through the motions if you will. What a difference it makes when we are awake!

  • We can speak when we are awake
  • We can hear when we are awake
  • We can walk when we are awake
  • We can sing when we are awake
  • We can think when we are awake”

We’re in a battle with the enemy – Paul’s been clear about that and scripture is full of stories going back to the Garden of Eden. He uses the illustration of getting dressed in armor. When you get dressed every day, you dress appropriately to who you are and what you plan to do. Therefore, everyday, put on the Lord Jesus Christ! “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” We must cast off before we can put on. Spurgeon wrote: “The rags of sin must come off if we put on the robe of Christ. There must be a taking away of the love of sin, there must be a renouncing of the practices and habits of sin, or else a man cannot be a Christian. It will be an idle attempt to try and wear religion as a sort of celestial overall over the top of old sins.” That isn’t what Paul challenges us to do.

Rather he calls out some of the things that we need to deal with. We can’t walk with Jesus and continue to live in sin. Here Paul lists some, but the reality is that every sin gets in the way of having a right relationship with Christ. “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” These sins are not appropriate for Christians who have come out of the night into God’s light. We need to put off the old sins and put on Jesus. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  Morris wrote: “Putting on Christ is a strong and vivid metaphor. It means more than putting on the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, signifying rather that we need to let Jesus Christ Himself be the armor that you wear.”

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Romans 12:1

In Romans 12:1 Paul appeals to us to live fully for God. It requires an act of the will. God calls us to make a choice about the way that we live for Him. He is talking to all the believers and begs Christians to live a certain way in light of what God did for them. He reminds us that we do this because of the mercy shown to us by God. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Those who don’t know Christ try to achieve mercy through sacrifice. But for the believer, sacrifice is the response to mercy.  Because of God’s mercy we respond with obedience.

Paul has already explained a number of God’s mercies to us as shared by Guzik:

  • Justification from the guilt and penalty of sin
  • Adoption in Jesus and identification with Christ
  • Placed under grace, not law
  • Giving the Holy Spirit to live within
  • Promise of help in all affliction
  • Assurance of a standing in God’s election
  • Confidence of coming glory
  • Confidence of no separation from the love of God
  • Confidence in God’s continued faithfulness

In light of all this mercy – past, present, and future – Paul begs us to present your bodies a living sacrifice.

It is best to see the body here as a reference to our entire being. Whatever we say about our spirit, soul, flesh, and mind, we know that they each live in our bodies. When we give the body to God, the soul and spirit go with it. Present your bodies means that God wants you, not just your work. You may do all kinds of work for God, but never give Him your self. That won’t get us into heaven. Salvation is not earned by good works or doing good deeds. Salvation comes through faith in Christ, which in turn creates the desire within us to become obedient to His will and Word. And that obedience means that we need to present our bodies to God – we are no longer in the driver seat but are His vessel to use in His plan for His world!

But it is more than just presenting our bodies as a sacrifice.  Paul says we need to be a living sacrifice. People in Paul’s time knew all about sacrifice. But his request is different – to be a living sacrifice for a couple reasons:

  • The sacrifice is living because it is brought alive to the altar
  • The sacrifice is living because it stays alive at the altar; it is ongoing

Not just living, but holy and acceptable to God too. The holiness we bring to the altar is a decision for holiness, and yielding to the work of the Holy Spirit in building holiness into our life. As we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, God makes our life holy by burning away impurities. And all this is how we truly worship God.  He’s paid for us so we’re already His. We need to realize the mercy and grace and live for Him as a way to worship!

Romans 11:26-31

In Romans 11:26-31 Paul continues his discussion about what lies ahead for the people of Israel. God is not finished with Israel as a nation or a distinct ethnic group. Though God has turned the focus of His saving mercies away from Israel specifically and onto the Gentiles generally, He will turn it back again. “And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” This does not mean there will be a time when every last person of Jewish descent will be saved. Instead, this is a time when Israel as a whole will be a saved people, and when the nation as a whole embraces Jesus Christ as Messiah.

Even though it seemed that in Paul’s day the Jews were enemies of God and were against Jesus, they are still beloved – if for no other reason, then for the sake of the fathers. God loved them more than that. Paul reminds the Gentile Christians to remember where they came from and where God has promised to take the Jewish people. “As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.” God will never turn completely away from His people. He has been silent. He has allowed them to stumble and fall. But His love is never ending.

Paul reminds us of one major quality of God that completely defines His faithfulness to His people. His love never changes. His promises never stop. It is true for Israel, and equally as true for Christ Followers today. God loves us and holds us in His hand once we are His. He declared the people of Israel as His centuries before Paul writes Romans. That is never changing. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” It means that God will not give up on us and He leaves the path open to restoration. We can never do anything too bad or stray too far or be beyond His ability to love us back unto Himself.

Paul reminds us that the Gentile Christians came from disobedience; yet God showed them mercy, in part through the disobedience of Israel. That’s the same place you and I will come from. We’re sinners in desperate need of a Savior. Just like God used disobedience for His glory with the Gentiles of Paul’s day, He will do the same for you and me today. “For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.” God offers mercy to all who have fallen short. We merely need to receive it!

Romans 11:22-25

In Romans 11:22-25 Paul makes clear the black and white of God’s design for the world we live in. There isn’t any middle ground – no sort of, kind of walking with God and His plan. The idea that “God is love and surely wouldn’t keep me from eternity with Him” just isn’t true. God has a standard. As humans, we fall short. “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” God is love, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t holy and requires us to be righteous.

So the only option is the plan B He provided through grace where we can overcome our shortcomings and missing His mark through the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. Plan A would be complete obedience to His will and living up to His requirements. But we can’t do it, so Jesus is our answer. The great news is that we always have access to God’s tree of life through Christ. No matter our age, situation, or any other factor – if we come to faith in Christ God will make us His child and give us the promise of eternal life. “And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”

Paul reminds us that if Israel was “cut off” because of their unbelief, they can be grafted in again if they do not continue in unbelief. God never shuts the door to restoring us to righteousness and holiness. We can’t get there on our own, but through Christ we can go from whatever state we may be in and be grafted into God’s family.  “For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.” It’s never over until we have stood before God without excuse or solution.

Paul issues a warning to take this soberly. Christians must not be ignorant of this mystery. We won’t get this on our own. “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers:a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” God’s purpose in allowing blindness in part to come upon Israel is so that the fullness of the Gentiles can come in. And one day, God will once again turn the attention of His plan specifically on Israel again, so that all Israel will be saved. God wants all mankind to be saved. He opened the door to the Gentiles but hasn’t given up on His people. He’s not done with them yet.

Romans 11:16-21

In Romans 11:16-21 Paul paints a picture based on the fact that those who were early believers were mostly Jewish – the apostles and most of the writers of the Bible. And if the conversion of those patriarchs or early Christians is good, then it is good for all who come to know the Messiah and become part of that tree. “If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.” We are not made holy in our own efforts or by our own work. We are made holy as we are connected to the One who is holy and allow His shed blood to cleanse us from all sin.

It is the root of Jesus that makes us holy. With the picture of the tree and the branches, Paul reminds the Gentile Christians that it is only by God’s grace that they can be grafted into the “tree” of God – the “root” of which is His chosen. “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” There is nothing to boast about on our part. We are merely allowed to connect to the true source of light and life.

Any Gentile standing in the “tree” of God is there by faith only, not by works or personal effort. If Gentiles are unbelieving, they will be “cut off” just as much as unbelieving Israel was. It is by faith we are saved and attached to the Messiah. “Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Those who do not believe, be they Jew or Gentile, will stand on their own before God someday. Faith is the connection to the tree. It’s not us, it is God who allows us to be attached. “That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.”

And Paul is very clear that there is no gray area when it comes to salvation and eternity. We cannot sort of be attached to Jesus. We can’t be connected when it is convenient or fits a current need or situation. Being grafted to the tree is ongoing and not something that can change based on circumstance or desire. We either are, or we aren’t. We either walk in faith with Christ, or we don’t. It isn’t something that comes and goes like a feeling or the wind. It is all or nothing – we either are connected via faith or we aren’t. And if we choose not to be – the consequences are clear and non-negotiable. “For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.”

Romans 11:11-15

In Romans 11:11-15 Paul answers the question of whether Israel is lost forever in their relationship with God and His purpose and plan. His answer is direct and strong: “By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.” Paul has shown that God is still working through a remnant of Israel, but wants to make it clear that the sinning majority of Israel is not lost forever. None of us is lost forever as long as we have breath and life. God continues to pursue us, as He did Israel, but if we reject Jesus as the Israelites did He will continue to take the gospel to all nations.

God never gave up on His people. It wasn’t that the Jewish rejection of Jesus as Messiah caused Gentiles to be saved. It merely gave more opportunity for the gospel to go to the Gentiles, and many Gentiles took advantage of this opportunity. “Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” In a number of Biblical incidents, God took the gospel out to the Gentiles after it was rejected by His people. His heart is that all will hear the gospel and come to a place they receive His grace through Jesus.

This doesn’t indicate an us vs. them thing. Paul’s desire isn’t only that these riches would be enjoyed by the Gentiles, but that the Jews would be provoked to a good kind of jealousy, motivating them to receive some of the blessings the Gentiles enjoyed. He hoped that as they watched the Gentiles receive God’s gift of grace, they would be motivated to receive it too. “Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.” This isn’t a competition, but a call to make those around us aware of God’s offer of the Messiah to all!

So what is the impact of Israel’s rejection of Jesus?  Paul shows us that it allowed the gospel to go to the entire world. It was a game changer for all Gentiles and means the gospel was to go to the ends of the earth. God’s plan is to take the message of Jesus to all people in all places. That’s a gift and blessing for all mankind. “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” And Paul holds out hope that God’s people will come to accept the Messiah and experience the result – life eternal. God’s gift of grace is now available to all with the same outcome – eternal life with God in heaven. We merely need to receive His grace through Christ and make it our own.

Romans 11:5-11a

In Romans 11:5-11a Paul reminds us that there was a remnant that was faithful in their walk with God, even though the circumstances may not have seemed that way. God always draws people to Himself, and there were a few chosen by grace. “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” But he quickly reminds us that as principles, grace and works don’t go together. If giving is of grace, it cannot be of works, and if it is of works, it cannot be of grace. Grace and works are mutually exclusive. It can’t be both ways. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

The elect among Israel received and responded to the mercy of God but the rest were hardened by their rejection. The people of Paul’s day failed to see the truth of Messiah. “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” Barclay describes it this way: “The idea is that men are sitting feasting comfortably at their banquet; and their very sense of safety has become their ruin. They are so secure in the fancied safety that the enemy can come upon them unaware”. We must be careful not to become secure in the lies of the enemy and continually seek God’s truth.

If God is pleased to enlighten only a remnant of Israel at the present time, He may do so as He pleases. God is God, and we are not. Paul knows he is not either. God can do as He wishes, and He will. “And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.” David knew that mankind would fail to see the truth clearly. We all struggle with being alive to spiritual things, and the enemy does all he can to keep us that way. But God’s light shines if we’ll only look for it.

Does Israel’s stumbling as predicted by Psalm 69 mean that they have fallen away permanently? No, but we need to understand how Paul presents it here, as there is a difference between stumbling and falling. Israel stumbled, but they would not fall – in the sense of being removed from God’s purpose and plan. You can recover from a stumble, but if you fall you’re down. “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall?” God had a specific purpose to fulfill in allowing Israel to stumble – so that salvation would come to the Gentiles.

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