Romans        

A Bible study

Contents:
Preface  -  Two Foundation Stones  
What is the Gospel?  God's rescue plan Ro 11-7
What is Faith? Being sure of God's Redemption   Ro 18-17
God Removes His Protection Ro 118-32
The Law and Circumcision or a Changed Heart Ro 2
Some Questions Ro 31-8
The Conclusion - No one is Righteous Ro 39-20
Righteousness through Faith in Jesus Christ Ro 321-31
Abraham Made Righteous by Faith Ro 41-25
Justified ! Ro 51-11
Death or Life ?   Ro 512-21
Set Free from Sin Ro 61-7
Not under Law, but under Grace Ro 68-23
Released from the Law's Condemnation Ro 71-13
The On-Going Struggle Ro 714-25
No Condemnation! Ro 81-4
Death, or Life with Christ Ro 85-12
Help and Hope Ro 813-27
The Love of Christ is Secure Ro 828-39
God's Sovereign Choice - Israel
      God Desires to Have Mercy
      Faith Comes from Hearing
      Israel Stumbled, Not the End - a Warning to the Gentiles
Ro 91-21
Ro 922-33
Ro 101-21
Ro 111-33
Our Response to God's Mercy
      Gifts / Abilities
     
Relationships
Ro 121-21
Ro 123-8
Ro 129-21
Submission to Authorities Ro 131-7
Love, for the Day is Near Ro 138-14
Stop Passing Judgement Ro 141-151
Endurance, Encouragement and Hope Ro 152-13
Paul, a Minister to the Gentiles Ro 1514-22
Longs to go to Rome Ro 1523-33
Personal Greetings Ro 161-27
Conclusion

Preface  -  Two Foundation Stones       [Contents]

There are two foundation stones that are fundamental to this study:

1. Scripture is the Word of God.
      It has all his authority and is totally accurate.
      In Isaiah 558 God says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts."
      It is our thoughts that so often need to change!
      There will be much that is new and unexpected.

2. God has promised that:
"If you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul."   Deut 429
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. ... Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Is 551, 2, 6

God always has, and always will, keep all that he has promised.

 
What is the Gospel? God's rescue plan.  Ro 11-7       [Contents]

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God - The gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. Ro 11,2

What is the Gospel?
      God's rescue plan.

Why do we need rescuing?
      Man has struggled for years - and always failed.
      We are all born corrupt. Who teaches a baby to lie or steal or to fight ...
      Why do we like doing what God says is obviously wrong?
      One unbiased glance at history or at today's world
            shows that hope and fact are miles apart. Greed, war, famine, disease...
            Intrigue, and especially all that leads to family breakdown.
      Though created perfect, our relationship with God has been broken.
            We are dead! Sin is a killer and it enslaves.  Eph 21  Jn 834  Gen 217
            And our destiny is not heaven!  Jn 335,36
Is there any way that either of these awful truths can be changed?
      Yes! This is 'the gospel he promised beforehand through the prophets.'
      Jesus desires us to know this truth and set us free.  Jn 832

Regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, And who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  Ro 13,4

Who is Jesus? Son of Man (the promised descendant of David).
Why did he come?  As Rescuer.
      He had to be a man to be the bearer of the punishment that we deserve.
      He also had to be the holy Son of God, to be the perfect sacrifice.
      He came to be our rescuer and Redeemer.
To prove his identity, after crucifixion, he was Resurrected.
      He ascended as Lord - victorious over sin and death.
      On the Cross he cried, "It is finished!"  Jn 1930
            He paid in full the punishment we deserve, but are utterly unable to pay.
            Jesus fulfilled all that Isaiah prophesied.  Is 535,6,8b,12

Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Ro 15-7

'Through him we received grace'.  (Paul also received apostleship)
What is grace?
Great Riches At Christ's Expense.
Do we deserve such riches? Clearly no!
      But some may think so.  Lu 189-14
Is grace the same as mercy?   5-7
      Grace is getting what we don't deserve.  Eph 28
      Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.  Ps 51
Many fail to realise that we are all slaves - to sin.  Jn 832-34
      And as such we are condemned criminals in eternity.  Jn 318, 36
      In grace and mercy Jesus desires to set us free.
      How?
      That we believe the profound, simple but so often reject truth -
            that Christ came to bear the punishment we deserve but cannot pay.

Paul was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles.
      It is a great privilege that God offers us salvationtoo.

'Obedience that comes through faith.'
      Who were those whom Jesus said built on rock?  Lu 647-49
      Faith in whom and for what? Christ crucified to take away our sin.  Jn 129

'Called to belong to Jesus Christ.'
      Again, what a privilege.
      Willing servants. Paul practised what he preached.  Ro 11
      Jesus said, 'If you love me you do what I say.'  Jn 1423

 
What is Faith?  Being sure of God's Redemption.  Ro 18-17       [Contents]

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. Ro 18
What is 'faith'?   It is much more than just believing God exists. Good start.
1. 'Being sure of what we hope for.'  Heb 111a
      Man's highest hope is to receive God's forgiveness; to be reconciled with him.
2. ‘Being certain of what we do not see.’  Heb 111b

In Heb 11
By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain.  Heb 114
      Abel offered his best; Cain offered ‘some’.
Gen 43-5
      But Abel knew even his best would not be sufficient, not perfect.  Lu 736-50
      He was assured that God would provide a better sacrifice.  Heb 1113
      He was sure of what he hoped for. God made him glad. Cain was jealous.
By faith Noah being warned about things not yet seen,
      in holy fear built an ark to save his family.
 Heb 117
      What did he know but could not yet see?
            The just Judgement of God upon wicked.
      Noah was saved in the ark covered with atonement.  Genesis 614 etc
Faith (assurance) comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.  Ro 1017

 
God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong - that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.  Ro 19-15

Paul served God with his whole heart. No distractions; no pretence or hypocrisy.
His prayer was earnest. What for?
      The Christians in Rome may be strong in faith/assurance. Hence this letter.
      They were being persecuted. Christians were not 'respectable', but hated.
            They were a growing challenge to the wickedness of Rome. Also now.

 
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."  Ro 116,17

What is the gospel? (recap).
      It is God's rescue plan.
      And it requires power - why?
      Even best intentions or resolutions cannot change our naturally corrupt nature.
      We need God to change our nature; to be born different or ‘born again’.
            Jesus explains this to Rabbi Nicodemus in John 3
      The result of new birth is the saving of our souls - Salvation.

            Rock of Ages cleft for me,
            Let me hide myself in Thee!
            Let the water and the blood,
            From thy riven side which flowed,
            Be of sin the double cure;
            Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

The Gospel is God offering his power to all who call upon him.  Joel 232
It is salvation for everyone who believes. Believes what?
      1. I am a sinner. All have sinned.  Ro 323
      2. Sin is punished - death penalty.  Gen 217  Wages of sin is death.  Ro 623
      3. I am totally unable to keep the law of pay the price.
      4. Jesus came to pay the price, to redeem, to transform.
We must believe all four.
      This defines the difference between a church-goer and a Christian believer.
Why ‘first the Jew’?
Abraham and his descendants are God’s choice, and he is the Lord Almighty.

The new nature is a righteous nature. The righteous will live by faith in Jesus.
Righteousness is the gracious gift of God.
      As such it is holy, good, true, compassionate, generous, ...
Faith or believing is not a vague hope, nor even a focussed hope.
      Some people hope that their good deeds will be sufficient.
      They may seek God for help. But even this is not faith.
      Faith is assurance; being certain of what Jesus has done for us,
            and that all his Word is true.
            The Cross (St Pauls) c.f. The Scales of Justice (Central Law Court).
"He came to pay a debt he did not owe,
      Because we owed a debt we could not pay."

 
God Removes His Protection  Ro 118-32       [Contents]

This study takes us into most unpleasant territory. But it is part of God’s Word.
God warns individuals and the world of the consequences of rejecting him.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  Ro 118-23

The wrath of God is being revealed.
      Today some churches only speak of ‘love’ because judgement is unpopular.
      But if there is no judgement of sin, then no need for Christ or crucifixion!
      To be saved sinful men must cry, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner’.  Act 237
What causes his wrath? The wickedness of man.
      They suppress the truth. ... For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -
            his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen.
      Wicked because they deliberately deny that God created the world.
            And substitute a satanic lie - the ‘theory of evolution’.
            Today only ‘evolution’ is now taught in UK schools.
            Peter warns us that men will reject creation.  2 Pe 33-5
            Constantine substituted ‘Sunday’ for the Jewish Sabbath;
                  now God’s Commandments and ‘Sunday’ have been largely discarded.
      Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened;
            So they think that both God and his laws can safely be ignored!
            The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."  Ps 141  also Lu 1215-21
            In darkness men lose their way. They do not know right from wrong.  Is 520
      Defying God, they claimed to be wise ! But technology is not wisdom.
            Today there an abundance of knowledge, but little wisdom.  Dan 124b
            He ignores God’s word, thinking he knows better than his Creator.
                  e.g. consider changes in UK law last 50 years, and social behaviour.
            God’s commandments are considered out of date and over-ruled.
                  c.f. Ps 197-11

Almighty God is angry!! How is the wrath of God revealed?

 
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Ro 124-27

Therefore ... Sin has a consequence.
If any man or nation rejects God,
      then God says he will remove his protection from the evil one.
      Exchanged truth of God for a lie.  Popular humanism.
      Worshipped ‘Nature’.  e.g. Wildlife films never mention God as Creator.
            David Attenborough always speaks about evolution, never Creation.
God says twice that he will allow men their choice; but the principle result
      of their choice will be shameless sexual perversion.  Homosexuality.
      Note that for this God destroyed Sodom; also Greece and Rome fell;
            and at the end all the world will suffer the Great Tribulation.  Rev 6-19
            As in the days of Noah ...  see Gen 61-6  Lu 1726
UK governments first legalised homosexuality in 1967.
      In 2015 they passed the Marriage Act that legalised same sex marriage.
Now it is being taught as being ‘natural’ to the youngest classes in schools.
      Anyone suggesting homosexuality is wrong is called homophobic.
But Almighty God has declared homosexuality is an abomination.  Lev 1822 (KJV)
      For which the punishment is death!  Lev 2013
      Yet Archbishop Welby strongly supports Civil Partnerships!
      All recent UK Prime Ministers and party leaders have supported Gay Pride.
      When David Cameron resigned, he boasted his best work was the Marriage Act.
      So have nearly all Gov. leaders of supposedly Christian Western nations.
This perversion shows that Almighty God is clearly removing his protection -
      just as he said he would. God always keeps his word.
Due Penalty :  Av. lifespan of homosexuals is about 20 years lower that others.

It is frightening to see the hand of God upon us. Where will it end? What next?
Note that Sodom’s sin was not confined to homosexuality.
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:
She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned;
they did not help the poor and needy.
They were haughty and did detestable things before me.
 Ezek 1649,50a

 
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.  Ro 128-32

Under God's direction, Paul wrote this accurate warning 2000 years ago!
      The nature of man has not advanced one jot. Take a glance at history.

Man is so arrogant that he thinks God can be chucked out like garbage.
      But be warned; there is a big price to pay.
      God will not force his loving presence on anyone.
When God withdraws his protection. Evil spirits are given a free rein.
      The only alternative to walking with God is 'a depraved mind'.
            e.g. 'Envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, ... gossips, slanderers (liars),
            God-haters (persecutors), insolent, arrogant, invent evil ... disobey parents,
            senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.'   What a list!

In these last days God warns us these characteristics will increase.
What is God’s righteous decree ?
      Death is the deserved punishment for rejecting him.
      Yet most take no notice of what God says. - How insulting!
The depraved mind calls evil good and good evil.  Isaiah 520
Democracies pass laws that are popular - but deeply offensive to Almighty God.

Is God blind, weak or so remote that he will do nothing? NO!
God remains the Almighty Sovereign Lord over all that he created.
      Man is in for a considerable shock. What will happen?
      Today God is allowing men to have their own depraved way.
      The result is not encouraging.
      And the prophetic future is far worse!
God has warned and given man every opportunity to repent.
      No one can say that the judgement of God is not just.
Personal sin leads to personal and national disaster.
      and finally the Great Tribulation,
            followed by Judgement Day.  Rev 2011-15
Editor to farmer, who boasted he had ploughed his fields on Sunday, sprayed and havested on Sunday.
And never had such a good crop. "God does not always settle his accounts in October."

 
The Law and Circumcision or a Changed Heart.  2       [Contents]

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  21

When considering the wicked world it is easy to condemn others.
Take care.  Jesus had sharp words for hypocritical Pharisees.  Math 23

Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience,
      not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
 24
      Some today only preach about the love of God.
      Many mistake their western style comfortable living and the apparent lack
            of any present judgment for God’s approval.
      God's patience with us is intended to lead us to repentance.  24  Math 32 417
            Remorse = wishing to avoid the consequence of sin.
            Repentance = being ashamed of the sin and learning to hate it.  Jer 88-13
Ezekiel, God's prophet to the exiled Jews in Babylon over 2,500 years ago
      preached the need for repentance + new heart.
Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways,
declares the Sovereign Lord.
Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.
Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.
Why will you die, O house of Israel?
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord.
Repent and live!
 Ezek 1830-32

Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector, with the same message.  Lu 189-14

The day of God's Judgement is sure: future with eternal life or eternal wrath.  25-11
      This is a most sobering, inescapable fact.
What does God base his judgement upon?  212-16
      For both Jew and Gentile it depends on the heart.
      Is there real repentance?
      Has God changed my heart from being naturally corrupt?
      Does it lead to righteousness and justice? God sees all men's secrets.

How can our hearts need to be changed?
      One thing is certain - I cannot do it. Only God can do this for me.
      Saul was a most earnest Pharisee. There was no hypocrisy or part-timing.
            But he persecuted the Christians. His heart needed changing.
            God met him on the Damascus road. It is not so dramatic for most of us.
      Nicodemus was an honest, earnest Pharisee.
            But he needed to be changed; he needed to be ‘born again’.  Jn 31-21
The main part of this letter is explaining God’s 'heart-changing operation'.

First he focuses on the Law and circumcision.
One key to understanding Romans is to see the 3 distinct groups Paul wrote to:
      Jews who obeyed the Law.   God had changed their hearts. Jeremiah 3131-34
      Jews who thought they kept the Law, but didn't. Pharisees and Saul.
      Gentiles - those outside the Law.

What is the Law?
      10 Commandments.  Exd 201-21
Jesus gives a summary of the Law in Luke 1027
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God
      with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
 Deut 64,5

Love your neighbour as yourself.  Lev 1918

      The 613 Laws of Moses in Exodus to Deuteronomy.  Jesus kept all these
      The 'Oral Law' (440 BC) that became the Mishna and the Talmud (250 AD)
            Introduced by Ezra nearly 100 years after the return from Babylon.
            He hoped to prevent another exile; but introduced 1500 Sabbath laws!
      Jesus ignored this Oral Law (which didn't endear him to the Pharisees!)

What about circumcision?
Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law,
      you have become as though you had not been circumcised.
 225

True circumcision is more than physical. Consider the origin.
      Abraham was circumcised only after he believed God.  Gen 156 179-14
      His circumcision was a sign of his changed heart; his faith in his Redeemer.
      A sign of God's choice and covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
      But physical circumcision does not prove a changed heart.
            Neither does Christening or Confirmation.
      Contrast the life hopes of his grandsons Esau and Jacob.
            Esau wanted stew, now!  Gen 2529-34
            Jacob wanted God.  3222-30
            And God's verdict was Jacob I loved, but Esau I Hated.  Ro 913

Jews cannot rely on either the Law or Circumcision.  217-29
      Knowledge of the Law does not guarantee keeping the Law.
      Knowledge of the catechism does not ensure it is kept.
            This is a major problem. And here Paul speaks from his experience.
            No man can obey all the Law. Honest appraisal cries out for help.
      Mere knowledge does not and cannot change the heart.
      In fact it will most often cause an honest heart to despair!  Gal 324
      This is true for 'church-goers' as well as Jews.
      Going to church is good; it reveals an interest in God;
            but not necessarily a changed heart.
      Likewise circumcision is a sign, a reminder of God’s covenant and choice.

There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil:
first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace
for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
 29,10

Thus, all men need to cry to God for a new heart and a new spirit.
      Jew and Gentile, men and women; all people in every generation.

A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart,
      by the Spirit, not by the written code.
 229

All these are made one with God; and like Jacob are blessed by him.
      Note that being blessed by God can lead to unexpected trials (for our good).

O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free!
A heart that always feels the blood
So freely spilt for me!

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer's throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone;

An humble, lowly, contrite heart,
Believing, true and clean;
Which neither life nor death can part
From him that dwells within;

A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine;
Perfect, and right, and pure, and good,
A copy, Lord, of thine!

This remains my great desire and prayer before Almighty God.

 
Some Questions.  31-8         [Contents]

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.  Ro 31,2

What a privilege to be entrusted with the Word of God.
      Gentiles in Rome would have little or no knowledge of God's revealed truth.
      No wonder Paul says they were at an advantage.  2 Tim 315
The Jews may not have kept the Word (the Law),
      they may not have sought God to change their hearts,
      but they have maintained with meticulous accuracy the Hebrew Bible, the OT
            and they wrote all the NT (except Luke and Acts)
In Qumran was found a complete scroll of Isaiah - now in the Shrine of the Book, Jerusalem.
      The Hebrew is exact. No copyist errors. (ditto other books)
If the Jews gave us both the Old and New Testaments,
      why have Christians persistently persecuted the Jews for 1,700 years?
When Jesus Christ is revealed to observant Jews, their understanding is electric.

If Jews having only the OT were at an advantage,
      how much more so are we who have inherited both OT and NT?
The privilege is only effective if the Bible is read, believed and obeyed.
In the Reformation, RC’s - Henry VIII, Thomas More, and ‘Bloody’ Mary
burned all English Bibles they could find, and martyred many.
Today many Church leaders ignore the parts of Scriptures that are unpopular.
      e.g. Is 557 Jn 318-20
      The ecumenical Welby is planning to express remorse for the Protestant Reformation.
      in other words we were wrong to separate from Rome!

What if some did not have faith?
Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all!  Ro 33,4a

The answer is emphatic - and true.  See Ro 9-11
Almighty God is always faithful to his Word and his covenants. e.g. Israel today.

But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! Ro 35-6a

Almighty God is totally just. His verdict is always true.
Our pride and rebellion against God's commandments deserve his wrath.
      His just wrath is being revealed by the removal of his protection. 118,24
Furthermore he makes our minds depraved, as revealed by our wickedness.  128-32
Wickedness emphasises God’s holiness.

 
The Conclusion - No one is Righteous.  39-20       [Contents]

Paul asks the question, Are we (the Jews) any better? Not at all!  Ro 39a
Why is he so emphatic in answering?
      Because Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.   Ro 39b
This truth is often challenged today.
      Psychologists say we must always think good (c.f. truth) about ourselves.
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin."  Jn 834
Though the Jews (and we in Protestant England) have much advantage, 31,2
      we all need to be set free from sin; given a new heart, a new spirit.
            to be ‘born again’ to see and enter the kingdom of God.  Jn 3
      The problem for the disciples of Jesus in  Jn 831-59 was that
            they denied the truth that they were under sin.
            They thought they were righteous - or at least as good as any other.

Paul quotes from various OT books.   Ro 310-18
No one is righteous.   310
      In Scripture only of Enoch and Daniel is no sin recorded.
      But Daniel includes himself in Dan 95,6
      Isaiah even says All our righteousness is as filthy rags.   Is 646
No one understands.   311a
      Truth is revealed by God, not man.   Math 1616,17 Jn 147-49  Is 558
No one seeks God.  311b
      We seek God only because he has awakened us.
      Take care that you never drown 'the still small voice'.   Math 133-8
The way of peace they do not know.
      There is no fear of God before their eyes. ...
      And the whole world is held accountable to God.
319

Everyone longs for peace and security;
      but no peace unless reconciled with God.  Lu 1941,42
      Jesus longs to give all men forgiveness and peace.
            But most reject the offer of God and remain careless and proud.
            So the Judgement of God stands against such foolish men.
            They remain guilty and without excuse.

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the Law;
      rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
 Ro 320

What does Law do for us? Why did God give it to the Jews, and to us?
      It tells us what is right and wrong and what is best for us.
      To test if we are willing to accept his authority.

But the law alone can never enable any man to become righteous.
How then can a man be righteous?
      Only by ‘the full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice’ of Jesus Christ.
      He has to pay the just penalty for us - we are totally unable to pay.

Blessed are the poor in spirit.  Math 53a
      God makes us aware of our corruption.
Blessed are those who mourn.  Math 54a
      Seeing the consequences of sin, like Jacob and David, we cry out,
      "O God, change my heart, my nature."
      I am not just sinful, but 'under sin', under its control. Unable to change.
            Like a slave who longs to be free.  Jn 832 c.f. 833
Blessed are the meek.  Math 55a
      = teachable.
      Almighty God begins to clear out the rubbish of years of falsehood.
      Today unbelievers may not wish to kill Jesus,
            but they do want to ‘kill’ the truth. In schools, in Gov. laws and personally.
            They have no room for my word.  Jn 837
      Many men think they know better, they call evil good.  Is 520

But Through the law we (the meek) become conscious of sin.  Ro 320b 77b
            The law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.  Gal 324 (KJV)
      How conscious am I of sin?
      How serious is it?
      What is my reaction?
      And above all - What is God's solution to this universal problem?
            God's answer is revealed in Ro 321 - 839

 
Righteousness through Faith in Jesus Christ Ro 321-31               [Contents]

Paul has shown that the Law and the Commandments are good but impossible.
      Why given? Reveals what is right and wrong and that all have failed.
      No one is, or can be righteous. All condemned under the just death penalty of sin.
      Our helplessness reveals the need for Christ to pay the price for us.

God has provided the one and only one answer to the terrible plight of man.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.  321-25a

Righteousness is:
From God.  It is an undeserved, conditional gift.
Apart from the law.  Not achieved by obedience because impossible.
Prophesied by Scripture.  Redemption is God planned and God fulfilled.
Through faith in Christ Jesus.  Trust that the price Jesus paid is sufficient.
To all who believe.  Offered to Jew and Gentile alike.
For all have sinned.  All, the 'elder brother' as well as the 'prodigal son'.
Justified.  God's justice (all sin requires punishment) is fully satisfied.
Freely by grace.  It is God's gift and cannot be earned by any man.
Through redemption by Jesus Christ.   Blood sacrifice paid in full.
Jesus, the sacrifice of atonement.  A high price; determined and paid for by God.
      Atonement = reparation given for injury or wrong that brings harmony.
      Redeem = recover possession by payment of a price.

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
      This is God's one and only answer to sin and its consequence.
      Beware of the many man made additions.
      e.g. Good works, church sacraments, Mary, confessions to priest ...
Some even say that no sacrifice is required, God’s love is sufficient.  Wrong!
Almighty God has declared:
      The wages of sin is death!  Ro 623
      Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  Heb 922
      Passover - When I see the blood I will pass over you.  Exd 1213
      Only perfect sacrifice is that of the Lamb of God.  Gen 228,14  Jn 129

God's amazing kindness is that the sinless Jesus receives
      the full punishment that we deserve.

Men hope that sin will be costless, without consequence.
      But there is always a price to pay - even in this world.
            e.g. family breakdown, insecurity, hatred, violence, famine, disease ...
And after death there is a far higher and eternal price to pay.
      The punishment for sin must always be paid by someone - that is justice.
      The vital question is - Who pays, and when?
Our loving, holy God cannot ignore sin or just say, "I forgive you."
      Justice demands that a price must always be paid.
      See Graham Kendrick's song, "Paid on the Nail."
            'He paid what he thought you were worth.'

Salvation is not automatically be given to all men.
God offers his most costly gift of forgiveness to all, but there are two conditions:

1. Repentance and faith (trust). Mark 115
      We must admit our sin, the just punishment it deserves, which has to be paid.
      God reveals to us both who Jesus was and why he came.
            That he alone could pay the ultimate price for us.

2. Faith.
      We trust the Lamb of God did take away the sin of the world.  Jn 129
            That he did open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.  Te Deum
            That God's justice was fully satisfied.  It is finished.  Jn 1930
            That his sacrifice on the Cross was 'full, perfect and sufficient'.
            It was complete.  Is 118  Ps 1031-5, 12  Zech 31-5
            'Paid in full' invitation to eternal heaven.  Rev 217
            'When he looks at me he sees not what I used to be but he sees Jesus.'
            That the payment is personal; only for those who believe.
      Faith is a gift from God, his revelation of truth.  Math 1617

Salvation is given to all men who repent and believe.
      Almighty God gives us assurance of his truth and his forgiveness.
      Both Jews and Gentiles may thus be justified - and relieved!
      Neither have any grounds for boasting.  Ro 327-30
      Both uphold the Law, because it leads us to Christ.  Ro 33131  Gal 324
      The law that demands a perfect sacrifice for sin,
            Only thus is God's holy justice that is satisfied.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

 
Abraham Made Righteous by Faith.  41-25       [Contents]

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?  41
What is ‘this matter’?  Justification - by faith or by the Law.
      Law (Commandments) were given to Moses nearly 450 years later.
      So Abraham discovered that men can only be justified by faith.
Abraham lived a good and godly life. He obeyed God. He left Ur and then Haran.
      But before God he remained a sinner - like all men, however good they seem.
      Even this great revered forbear could not boast before God.  Ro 42

Salvation/Forgiveness is only by trust, belief, faith; not works.  Ro 41-8
God is consistent and he has no favourites.
      The way of salvation for Abraham is the same as for everyone, before or since.
Paul asks the right question:  What does the Scripture say?  And quotes
Abraham believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness.  Gen 156
      Salvation was not through what he did, but by what he believed.  Jn 318
At this time God had made 3 promises to Abraham.
      I will make you into a great nation.
      I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.
      All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
 Gen 122,3
But he and Sarah remained childless, and both well passed menopause!
Now Almighty God told him:
      "Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them."
      Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
 Gen 155
Abraham believed God! He believed the impossible.
And God credited this revealed belief as righteousness.
Some 20 years later when his son Isaac was a young man we read how
      Abraham said "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering"
      And how Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.  Gen 228,14
Abraham believed that God himself would provide the perfect sacrifice;
      That he would send his Son the die on a Cross to justify and forgive us.
Jesus confirmed this truth: Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day;
      he saw it and was glad.
 Jn 856
So Abraham was saved not through what he did, but by what he believed.   Jn 318
      Man is condemned not by his behaviour, but by what he does not believe.
      What he does results from what he believes or does not believe.
      Wages are earned, but salvation (justification) is a gift.  44,5 and 623
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man
      to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
      Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven ... 46,7

What does the righteous man trust God for?
      That God provides for and forgives the sinner and justifies the wicked!
      But how?  And Who?  What must he believe?
      1. See ourselves as sinners, separated from God, and mourn for him.
      2. Admit this separation, this death penalty for my sin is just.   Gen 2  Ro 623
      3. Realise that there is nothing I can do about it. God's price is too high.
      4. Trust Jesus alone paid the redemption price for me.

This is what Abraham believed, and so did Abel, Elijah, and Paul
      Jesus himself confirms what Abraham believed.
            That God himself would provide the Redeemer.  Gen 21  Jn 856
      Never forget that forgiveness is not free. Jesus had to pay the bill. Hosea 3
Jesus took my place. "In my place condemned he stood".

Two other shining examples in OT : Joshua (the High Priest, son of Berekiah, not son of Nun). Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.  Zech 31-5

Isaiah. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy , holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." Is 61-7

So God reveals to us four men who are not justified by what they did,
      but by what God did for them at Calvary.
      And so it is for all men, through all ages.

A debtor to mercy alone,
      of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with thy righteousness on,
      my person and off'ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God with me
      can have nothing to do;
My Saviour's obedience and blood
      Hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which His goodness began,
      the arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
      and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
      nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo,
      or sever my soul from His love.

My name from the palms of His hands
      eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
      in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
      as sure as the earnest is giv'n;
More happy, but not more secure,
      the glorified spirits in Heav'n.

 
Circumcision is God's seal of righteousness.  Ro 49-15
All male Jews are circumcised - but not all are saved.
Abraham was saved approx 14 years before he was circumcised.   Ro 1616  171
He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith
while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe.
 Ro 411b

True circumcision, like baptism, is a sign of what God has already done.
      The Holy Spirit has begun revelation, repentance and faith;
            He has made known God's forgiveness, and given us a new heart.
      He assures us that the Word of God is true; all of it.
      God faithfully fulfills his plan to give us 'new birth' and eternal life.

Abraham, the Father of many nations.  Ro 416,17
God made Abraham righteous because he believed God would do the impossible.
What was true for him, God promised would be true for all men.  Gen 123b
Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Abraham in hope believes.  Ro 418-25
Why didn't God answer Abraham's prayer for children earlier?
Why did Jesus apparently ignore Martha's plea to come and so let Lazarus die?
      Both were for the glory of God and for our instruction.  Ro 420  Jn 114
Abraham did not waver. He looked at his own and Sara's body - impossible!
      But he preferred to believe that God would do what he said.  And he did!
Do we believe Passover, 1st Fruits, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles?
Do we believe that Jesus paid the price for our forgiveness and new birth?
Do we believe that Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins
      and raised to life for our justification".
 Ro 425

Almighty God raises to life, all of us who were once dead, but who now believe.
      Like Abraham we are made righteous - Just as he promised.

What did Abraham discover?  Ro 41
God is faithful - always.
Miracle of salvation by believing what God would do for him.
      Not based on his decision to leave Ur or Haran;
            but believing God would 'provide' - a son and later th Redeemer.
      We cannot pay - only he can provide.  Gen 228,14
God had power to do what he promised.  Ro 425
      And not only power but the determined will to rescue fallen, sinful man.
Abraham's great discovery was that God would do all that he had promised.
      2000 years later he 'provided'! Now, 4000 years later there is more to come!
      Christ has 'provided', he paid the price justice demanded in full at Calvary.
      And he is coming again soon to establish his kingdom on his earth.

No Cross - No Christianity

God is holy. I am not.
Therefore we cannot meet.
My sin deserves his judgement -
My misery complete.
And all the good deeds I would do
And all the laws I keep
Will only emphasise my need
To find his mercy seat.

Now God can show his mercy,
For Jesus, in my place
Died to make me holy
And offers me his grace.
So judgement meets with mercy,
And when my case is tried
The all-redeeming blood of Christ
Will claim me as his child.

 by Paula Worth

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of salvation.
  1 Co 118

 
Justified !  51-11       [Contents]

For justice to be satisfied, the Judge has pass sentence and see the punishment fulfilled.
He has!   It is finished  Jn 1930

We have been justified by faith.  Ro 51-8
This is our new state; the amazing new relationship with Almighty God.
Let us be like Abraham who 'did not waver', but was 'fully persuaded'.
Be confident in what Jesus has both promised and fulfilled.  Heb 1019-22
What is the result of this faith, this trust?
      Justification - We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ro 51
Because the sinless Saviour died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on him and pardon me.

      Relief! God has forgiven our sin. We are reconciled, accepted.
      We know something of what Jesus yearned for in  Lu 1942
Daniel was in Babylon for 66 years. Nebuchadnezzar’s PM for ~ 40 years.
      But in this brand new city there were over 50 temples to various idols!
      Daniel yearned and prayed for a righteous kingdom,
            where God alone is worshipped.
      So Almighty God sent Gabriel to assure him of his plan for atonement;
            that would to put an end to sin would surely come,
            and a day to bring in everlasting righteousness.  Dan 924

In Lu 748,50 Mary longed for her dirty life to end, to be forgiven and to live.
      She came to Jesus pleading for mercy. It was granted.
      Jesus assured her she was fully cleansed and fully justified.
            He declared the story of what she did would never be forgotten.  Math 2613

We too may have peace and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Ro 52
      What a difference from the guilt and condemnation. God is so kind.
      We are told that it will also cause us to be persecuted.  Math 510,11
            It was always so. Cain hated Abel because God had forgiven Abel.  Gen 4
      We are assured that suffering ? perseverance ? character ? hope.   Ro 53-5
            Almighty God will never be a disappointment.   54
      His Holy Spirit changes our hearts.
            He gives us a new clean heart and even lives there!  Jn 1415-20 153-5
            This was always his great desire and delight.  Exd 258 2942-46  Rev 213,4
      While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!  58
      He did it at precisely the right time. He is never too early or too late.  Ro 56
            Sometimes it may seem so. Consider the raising of Lazarus.  Jn 116,21

We have now been justified by his blood.  Ro 59-11
Once more Paul emphasises that our salvation required a perfect blood sacrifice.
But just see how effective and how necessary the blood of Christ is.
      We are saved from the justified wrath of God ... and reconciled to him!  Ro 59,10
            But only because he himself paid the price we could not pay.  Gen 228
Noah found favour, cried for the mercy of God and was made righteous.  Gen 68
      He obeyed God and spent 120 years preparing for the wrath of God.
      He too knew how effective the blood of Christ would be.  How?
      God told him to cover the ark inside and out with "Atonement".  Gen 614
            Hebrew = "Kaphar". We use 'bread and wine' as sign; Noah used 'pitch'.
      Noah looked forward to the day of Christ, we look back and remember.
            Together we are justified by the perfect, all-sufficient blood of Jesus.
      Noah escaped the wrath, Israel escaped the avenging angel at 1st Passover,
            and we too escape the wrath of God and are reconciled to him.
      We are given peace with God that the world knows nothing about.
      They want peace, but not God. Ruth, Boaz and near-kinsman.  Ruth 312  45-10

Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am,
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father's bosom came,
Who died for me, even me, to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.

Lord, I believe thy precious blood,
Which at the mercy seat of God
For ever doth for sinners plead,
For me, even for my soul, was shed.

Jesu, be endless praise to thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me,
For me and all thy hands have made,
An everlasting ransom paid.

 
Death or Life?  512-21       [Contents]

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man,
      and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men.
 Ro 512-14

Sin = Disobedience to God.  Gen 217 + 36
      It entered the world through one man, Adam, and spread to all men.
Death was the inevitable consequence of sin, and also spread to all men.

What is the consequence of sin?
      Death, and a changed nature. Naturally righteous to naturally sinful.
      Like faith came before the Law, so did sin.
            before the law was given, sin was in the world.  513
            Sin is not just disobeying the Commandments, but will result in this.
      Almighty God is sidelined, rejected; even hated c.f.
      You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
            and with all your soul and with all your mind.
 Deut 65
      Complete break in relationship; separated from the most Holy God.
            No longer peace with God - walking with him in the garden.  Gen 38

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  515

One man, Adam brought all this sin and disaster upon the whole world.
But one man, Jesus Christ, brought the gift of salvation, eternal life for many.

What a contrast.
There truly is hope for lost mankind.
      Can you imagine a world that is filled with righteousness, truth and justice?
      God can! And he has promised to bring in such a glorious Kingdom.
      Such is the extent of his love and grace.
Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin:
      the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation,
      but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
 516

Adam brought condemnation:
Jesus offers forgiveness and justification - a complete remake, not a repair.
      The gift of God is not like an effective medicine;
            but is a new heart, a new soul, new hope, new goals, new birth.  Jn 33-8
Nicodemus asked, "How can this be?"
The answer Jesus gave was simple -
      Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.  Jn 315,18,36

Paul continues the contrast:
The standing of the men is compared - Adam and Jesus Christ, our redeemer.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.  517
He compares the standing of the two men - Adam and Jesus Christ.
The grace of God is so much better than the trespass of Adam.
      The righteous reign in life is so much better than death from disobedience.

Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.  518,19

Justification = 'Just as if I had never sinned.'

The law was added so that the trespass might increase.
      But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
  520

The Law made no difference, except to make the sin more definable.
Some Jews would ask, "What happened before Moses revealed the Law?"
      They thought obeying God was just keeping the commandments.  Math 1916-22
            Proud delusion.  We all need Jesus to change our nature.  Jn 539,40
      Paul makes it clear that 'death reigned from Adam to Moses'.
            (They didn’t sin by breaking the Law but by their rebellious nature.)
O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be ...
Where sin once reigned, now the more powerful grace of God reigns.
The forgiveness of God is achieved not by our obedience - impossible -
      but through the perfect obedient sacrifice of Jesus.

O teach me what it meaneth, that cross uplifteth high,
With One - the Man of Sorrows - condemned to bleed and die.
O teach me what it cost thee to make a sinner whole;
And teach me, Saviour, teach me the value of a soul.

O teach me what it meaneth, that sacred crimson tide,
The blood and water flowing from thine own wounded side.
Teach me that if none other had sinned, but I alone,
Yet still, thy blood, Lord Jesus, thine only, must atone.

O teach me what it meaneth, thy love beyond compare,
The love that reaches deeper than depths of self-despair.
Yea, teach me, ‘til there gloweth in this cold heart of mine
Some feeble, pale reflection of that pure love of thine.

O teach me what it meaneth, for I am full of sin;
And grace alone can reach me, and love alone can win.
O teach me, for I need thee, I have no hope beside,
The chief of all the sinners for whom the Saviour died.

O teach me what it meaneth the rest which Thou dost give
To all the heavy-laden who look to Thee and live.
Because I am a rebel thy pardon I receive
Because Thou dost command me, I can, I do believe.

O infinite Redeemer, I bring no other plea,
Because thou dost invite me I cast myself on thee.
Because thou dost accept me I love and I adore;
Because thy love constraineth, I’ll praise thee evermore.

No more then as a child of earth must I my lifetime spend -
His history, his destiny are mine to apprehend.
O what a Saviour, what a Lord, O Master, Brother, Friend!
What miracle has joined me to this Life that never ends!

 
Set Free from Sin  61-7         [Contents]

Ro 5 ends with proclaiming how great is the grace of God.
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  Ro 61
And the obvious answer is By no means!"  Ro 61
Be confident in what Jesus has done for us, but never become presumptuous.
True repentance requires us to be earnest about sin -
      Sin matters and forgiveness costs.  So does holiness - the road is not easy.
"God forgives our sins, not our excuses."

Nathan revealed to David his awful sins.  2Sam 121-13
      God revealed what was wrong and David immediately saw the truth.
            So he cried to the Lord for 'a new heart', a new nature.  Ps 5110
      No man can give himself a new heart; it can only be God's gracious gift.
      That gift required the death of Jesus, our Redeemer.
      Justification requires perfect sacrifice - the death of Jesus.

And it also requires another death - Ours!
So Paul here reveals the true meaning of baptism.
      "We were therefor buried with Christ through baptism into death ..." Ro 64a
      (Immersion is thus a far more accurate symbolism that sprinkling)
John Baptist preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Lu 23
      In true repentance we died to sin. Ro 62
      It loses it's attraction. We learn to hate it, so it withers by neglect.
Does this make a believer instantly perfect?
      Potentially yes! But practically no - regretfully.
      Peter and Paul were not perfect, but they were certainly changed by God.
      I remain flawed and weak - but one day we will be perfect, like Jesus.  1 Jn 32

"If we have been united with him like this in his death,
      we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
 Ro 65

The 'If ...' is vital.
Both death and resurrection have to be with Christ.
Christ did not die alone, and he did not rise alone either!

What is the result of this?
We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Ro 66

This is why the Gospel is 'Good News'.
Not only does God forgive us and free us from the guilt and penalty of sin,
      God also frees us from the power, the dominion of sin.
We are forgiven, justified for all that has happened in the past;
      and now we are also no longer slaves to sin.
      No longer is sin inevitable.

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
      But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out
      so that you can stand up under it.
1Co 1013

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee!
Let the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Not the labours of my hands,
Can fulfil thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked come to thee for dress;
Helpless look to thee for grace:
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgement throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.

 
Not under Law, but under Grace  68-23         [Contents]

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  68
God transfers us from being under Satan’s dominion
      to being in the Kingdom of God.  Col 113
The truth of what Jesus has done sets us free from the slavery of sin.  Jn 831-36
Therefore:  611-14
      Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  611  also 67,14,18,22
            Sever the corrupted habits. See the new life of God himself within us.
      Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  612
            We have to make right choices, enabled by presence of God within.
            God radically changes our goals and our hopes to be honest and pure.
            God begins to reveal the truth, his Word becomes clear and precious.
      By God’s free gift of grace; Sin shall not be your Master, Jesus Christ is. 614a
      Because you are no longer under Law and its condemnation. 614b
      But under grace. And what a kind Master he is!
            So unlike Satan, whose purpose and delight is our eternal pain and death.
            The Law makes impossible demands; but grace enables us to be righteous.

0 to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Take my heart, 0 take and seal it,
Seal it from Thy courts above!

 
Paul asks the same question about continuing to sin as in  61
Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  615
      And he gives the same answer!  "By no means."
His great concern is that although God loves us as we are,
     he will not leave us as we are.  He will make us holy people.
God’s directions are not an irksome restriction, but our full desire and hope.
Remember that while salvation and forgiveness may be free to us,
      Jesus had to pay the full price.
Never give up on the battle against sin. It is always costly.

You are slaves to the one whom you obey –
      whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death,
      or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
 616

God’s way may sometimes seem hard, narrow, and certainly unpopular;
      but holiness is always better than death!
We are not yet perfect, but we have been set free from sin.   614,18,22
      Set free from its result (death), its guilt (conscience) and its power.  614
Our conscience is often governed by what others think - by society’s norms.
      We must learn to be transformed to how God views all sin.  Ro 122
Keen and eager to obey all that God commands.
      If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him,
            and we will come to him and make our home with him.
 Jn 1423
      I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  Jer 3133
      It will no longer be drudgery to obey God, but a delight.  Ps 197-11
            The revealing of God’s Word both thrills and challenges us.
      It will be costly. No longer what I want to do (or be) but what God wants.
            To produce fruit, the grain of wheat must first die.  Jn 1224

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God,
the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
 622

This is God’s amazing gift to all his children.
For the wages of sin is death
      c.f.
But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.   623

Thanks be to God!

I want a principle within
Of jealous godly fear,
A sensibility of sin,
A pain to feel it near.

I want the first approach to feel
Of pride or fond desire,
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.

That I from thee no more may part,
No more thy goodness grieve,
The filial awe, the fleshly heart,
The tender conscience, give.

Quick as the apple of an eye,
O God, my conscience make;
Awake my soul when sin is nigh,
And keep it still awake.

O may the least omission pain
My well instructed soul,
And drive me to the blood again
Which makes the wounded whole.

 
Released from the Law's Condemnation  71-13         [Contents]

All believers have died with Christ and are freed from sin - its guilt and power.
      Forgiven by God, we are no longer under any condemnation for the past.

Guilt

I thought of my guilt as Satan accused me
Of all that I'd done that was wrong.
I knew he was right, and my heart agreed
That the judgement be hard and the punishment long.
But Jesus said, "Child, remember my word,
And look at the Cross where I died.
Your sin and your guilt are the nails and the thorns
And the spear that they put in my side.
First on the Cross and then in the grave
But my love was stronger than that.
For I burst through the bonds and returned to my throne;
And I burst through the bonds, but I wasn't alone!
Now fully forgiven you stand at my side.
Now eternally loved, all guilt set aside."

"Therefore there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus."  Ro 81

Paula Worth

Sin is no longer our master.  Obedience to God is enabled.
      This leads to holiness and eternal life.

Paul now gives us a simple example of freedom. It concerns the Law and Marriage.
      A married woman is bound to her husband so long as he is alive.
      But if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.  72
What is the application?
      We were all once under the Law - and it condemned us.
      Now believing in Christ, we died with him and thus we also died to sin.
      We are therefore released from the Law’s condemnation.
      We died to sin, and were thus released from the Law's condemnation.

A review of the Law:
      Commandments. They reveal God's best way for men to live.
      It reveals our corrupt nature and condemns us because unable to keep it.
      Our Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.  Gal 324
      Given new nature that delights in the Law.  Ps 197-11

Now we belong to Another, to him who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit to God.  74
What does it mean to belong to Jesus?   What is the result?
      That we might bear fruit to God.   also Phil 48  Gal 522-24  Col 32, 12-17
Once we were controlled by our sinful nature, sinful passions that leads to death.
      Now we serve in the new way of the Spirit that leads to holiness.  75,6
How may we break free from old habits and truly serve the Lord?
We are freed from the Law's condemnation.
But Commandments and Word given to reveal what is holy and true and best.
      Our new hearts are inspired and shown the righteous Way.   Jer 3133  
      We cannot chose which laws to obey and which to ignore.
      It is all of nothing.   God knows best.  
      He makes it possible to live a righteous, God-pleasing life.

The Roman / Jewish church would have been very concerned about the Law.
Paul anticipates the question and examines the role of the Law:
      If we are freed from the Law, Is the Law sinful? Certainly not!  77
      Being set free from the Law is being freed from its condemnation;
            but the Law, the Commandments and the Word of God remain.

He examines the role of the Law:

1. The Law itself remains good. God uses it to reveal what is right and wrong.
      Thus it has not become redundant.
      Unpopular. Many see it as restrictive for their sinful nature.
      Others unable to keep it find it is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

2. It reveals the truth; unlike sin that deceives.
      The law and the Word was, and is, intended to bring truth and a holy life,
            though it actually brought death.  710
      The Law is holy, righteous and good.  712
      Far from condemning, it enlightens and is our heart’s great delight. Ps 197-11

3. It reveals the truth of just how utterly bad sin is.  713
      Is this how we now see all sin? Or are we 'selective'?

      Sin greatly offends God. It does not just make him sad, but angry!
      Many see God only as a loving God; and thus deny the consequences of sin.

Our knowledge of the Law is often restricted to the 10 Commandments.
      But Jews are well versed in the 613 laws of Moses.
      Also in the Prophets (all OT Scriptures)
            and the Jewish feasts that reveal God's plan and provision for salvation.

The Law and the Prophets combine to reveal the redeeming work of Christ.
      First the need for redemption (justification),
            and also his plan from the beginning for the Lamb of God to achieve it.
      How all our sin - its guilt, punishment and shame is laid upon Jesus.  Is 535,6

Man of Sorrows! What a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim:
      Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned he stood;
Sealed my pardon with his blood:
      Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Guilty, vile and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was he:
Full atonement - can it be?
      Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Lifted up was he to die.
It is finished! was his cry;
Now in heaven exalted high:
      Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

When he comes, our glorious King,
All his ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we'll sing:
      Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

 
The On-going Struggle  714-25       [Contents]

This could be called  "The Battle of the Two I's".
Am I spiritual, like the Law; or still a slave to sin?  714
I do not understand what I do.
      For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
 715

      So who is the real master?  Is it sin, or me, or God?
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  718
Why not? What is the answer? Is there one?
Paul now answers this perplexing, on-going problem.
      Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it,
            but it is sin living in me that does it.  720

      This is not an excuse, a cop out.

There are two contestants waging war in me.
      My old sinful nature that died with Christ (that doesn't seem to have died)
      The new me that God has raised up with Christ (that delights in God).
The transformation to holiness is not instant and complete.
Even Paul saw the law of sin at work in himself.  He saw his own wretchedness.
      and cried, "Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
      Then he saw the answer.  God's answer.
      "Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!"  724
Victory is always at hand.
      No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.
      And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
      But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out
      so that you can stand up under it.
 1 Co 1013

Having been a strict Pharisee Paul was probably surprised to see just how corrupt
      his old nature was, and how reluctant it was to die.
      But God wasn't!
Christ has made me a new creation;
But if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves
      and the truth is not in us.  1 Jn 18

There has always been a battle for my soul; but now it is open war!
      How I long for the day when this war will finally be over.
      By God's grace and power alone we can experience daily victory.
      But one day we will celebrate the end of this war.

Meanwhile our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
      but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world
      and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
      We therefore have to put on the whole armour of God.
 Eph 612,13
This consists of:
      The belt of truth.
      The breastplate of righteousness.
      Shoes of the gospel of peace.
(Note  Lu 1251 1942)
      The shield of faith.
      The helmet of salvation.
      The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
      Pray always.
Eph 614-18

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

Yes, when this heart and flesh shall fail
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine,
But God, who called me here below
Will be forever mine.

 
No Condemnation 81-4         [Contents]

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  81
This great statement of the truth is a huge relief.
The Therefore follows from:
      We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death.  64
      Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  68
Do all men escape God's condemnation?   (that all have sinned so all must die)
      Obviously not; only those in Christ Jesus escape.

What conditions does God place on his forgiveness?
1. Forgiveness is not God ignoring sin. His justice must be satisfied.  Ro 84
      He declares that the 'wages of sin is death', so the guilty party must die.
      But this denies us all any hope of heaven. So God devised an amazing solution.
      He himself would die in my place!
      He alone bore the punishment I deserve, but cannot pay.

2. I must repent and believe what Jesus alone has done for me.
      If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
      and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 Jn 18,9
These are the only conditions.
Math 53-10  The Beatitudes are 8 steps to becoming a true believer.

When does God forgive us?   'Now'.   Ro 81

Is any sin too great to be forgiven?   No.
      The blood of Jesus purifies us from ALL sin.  1 Jn 17
      There is now NO condemnation ...  Ro 81
      Can any man dare to say that the blood of Christ was not good enough?

How can we be so sure?
1.  Because Jesus laid down his life - it was given, not taken from him.  Jn 1015,18
2.  Jesus is our Advocate - none could be better than him.
      If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence -
      Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.   1 Jn 21
3.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1 Jn 22 (and 1 Jn 17 above)
      Just as he promised Abel, Noah, Abraham and all who longed for that day.
      God faithfully fulfills all that he's promised, prophesied and written.  Lu 2133
4.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgement.  Jn 168

We are encouraged to enter with confidence by the blood of Jesus.  Heb 1019-23
      There is no presumption or self-confidence;
            we remain amazed at how great is his sacrifice,
            how necessary it remains, and how effective it is.

What was the purpose of the Temple veil?  Why was it torn in two?
      Sign of God's mercy. Within the Holy of Holies was the Mercy Seat.
      Without the veil, the Holy God would have to destroy us.  Exd 1912,24

Is there any other way that man can shed his sin and his sinful nature?   No.
      Jesus agonised in prayer at Gethsemane over this very matter.  Lu 2242
      Jesus is the truth: he declares that he alone can set us free.  Jn 832 146
      Men will try a myriad of other false, deceptive ways - all to no avail.
      "What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus ..."

This truth sets us free from the law of sin and its sure consequence, death.  Ro 82

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven's love and Heaven's justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Saviour's cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.

There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

 
Death, or Life with Christ  85-12         [Contents]

Are our minds set by our natural desires or by the Spirit?  85
      It is a vital question that only you can answer.
      This verse defines the two opposing camps - and they are at war.
And the next verse underlines the consequences of each. i.e.
The mind of sinful man is death,
      but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.  86
      Death (as in Gen 217) and corruption or Forgiveness and reconciliation.
      Note: We cannot just choose to live by the Spirit; we must first die with Christ.

The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's Laws.  87
      It does not admit that God has any right to give us his laws.
      It does not see these laws as God's kindness, revealing the best way to live.
      It thinks that God can safely be ignored!
      It is impossible for the sinful mind to please God.  88
88 Many try, and fail.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit,
      if the Spirit of God lives in you. ... your body is dead because of sin,
      yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
 89,10

When I am such a failure, how can 'righteousness' bring life to my spirit?
      It is the righteousness of Christ.  His righteous life in us.
      Jesus was willing and counted worthy to pay the death penalty for my sin.
            Because the sinless Saviour died, my sinful soul is counted free;
              For God the Just is satisfied to look on him and pardon me.

      This is the glory of the resurrection.
      Father is satisfied. Justice is satisfied.
            Jesus the perfect sacrifice is no longer dead, but alive.
            And he is glad to raise our dead spirits to life with him.  811 64,8

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong, a perfect plea;
A great High-priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there,
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Saviour died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on him and pardon me.

Behold him there! the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless Righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace!

One with himself, I cannot die;
My soul is purchased by his blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Saviour and my God.

 
Help and Hope  813-27         [Contents]

Therefore ...
If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
 813

We have to invite the Spirit to lead and guide us.
      Read, believe and apply the Word of God earnestly.
      Pray,yearning for the presence of the living God.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  815,16

He is always faithful to everything he has promised.
Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  Joel 232
Appreciate that he has made us to become his sons and daughters.
He who created you, O Jacob, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
      I have summoned you by name; you are mine."
 Is 431
This will put an end to the fear that many are plagued by.
      Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  1 Jn 418
      But know also The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Prov 17

Co-heirs with Christ.  817
      What a privilege!  What did Jesus inherit?  The Kingdom of God.
            And this kingdom he gladly shares with us who believe.
      But there is a condition - that we share in his sufferings.  817
            Being a Christian will inevitably bring ridicule, hardship and persecution.
            This causes many to turn away. The price seems too high.
Paul suffered persecution and the discomforts of missionary life.  818  2 Co 1123-28
      But he was quick to add it was nothing compared to the glory to come.
      How real is our hope for the future?
      Pray and support today’s missionaries who are willing to suffer for Christ.
We need to be sure of what we are saved from and what we are saved for.
      The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay
            and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
 821

      Ezekiel reveals this great truth in  Ezek 471-12
      (Most Environmentalists try to right the world’s wrongs without God.)
We too groan inwardly for adoption as sons and redemption of our bodies.  823
But believers have the witness that we are already sons.  1016
      This is a paradox. We are sons, yet we wait for sonship.
      The kingdom of God is now within us;
            yet we pray for the kingdom to come.  Lu 1721  Lu 112

We have a foretaste; but we wait patiently for it. (The Kingdom)  825
      God shows us enough to kindle a spark of secure hope.
            It is secure and certain because the Lord God has promised it.
            He wants us to share heaven with him.  Heb 1113-16  Rev 21,22

In our natural weakness we have help.
      In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  826
      We often don’t know what to pray, what to ask for, what is God’s solution.
      e.g. Personal situations. World affairs. Disasters, war or even prosperity!
      He may not say, “Vote UKIP ...”! It may be only with groans and tears.
      But we’ll know that somehow we have touched the heart of God, and he ours.
            We share God’s concern, his joy, his anger - even if we lack knowledge.
            We may see the need to pray for UK or for Israel. But what do we pray?
                  More than a vague plea to make life easier, for peace?
                  A good start is for righteousness, truth and justice.
            Learn to intercede with the Spirit.
                  His help is essential and exciting. A constant challenge.
            At all times The Spirit helps us in our weakness.

 
The Love of Christ is Secure  828-39       [Contents]

Paul continues on his teaching about the present sufferings (persecution).
He wanted the church to be absolutely sure about their life with Christ.
      Suffering must not be allowed to dull our assurance of forgiveness in Christ.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  816
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself
      intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
 826
In all things God works for the good of those who love him,
      who have been called according to his purpose.
 828

      Predestined, not random or chance calling.
      Predestined, chosen; yet given choice - not 'fate'.
      Predestined in the plan of God to be like Jesus.  829
            i.e. righteousness, truth, kindness, courage, justice, overcomers ...
      Predestined ... called ... justified ... glorified.  830

You are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Pe 13-7
Be sure of the answer to Satan’s, "If God really loved you and is in command,
      why does he allow xxx to happen?"
      Know and learn what God has written here and elsewhere is the sure truth.

If God is for us, who can be against us? ... Who will bring any charge
      against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
 831,33

Answer? No one and nothing of any eternal consequence.
Our calling is for ever secure because the Lord our God is the Almighty.
Proved by fact Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life
      is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  834
Our privilege and destiny is for Jesus to be Advocate.
      Thus when before the judgement seat of God, no one is able to condemn us.  81
Jesus has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely
      those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
 Heb 725
      See also  Zech 31-5 Rev 127-12  1 Jn 21
This does not mean we never suffer tragedy, war etc like everyone else.
      And obviously it does not mean that Christians are never persecuted. But ...

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?  835
No one and nothing.
As Christ triumphed over Satan, sin and death, so he will enable us to do so too.
      We stand together. He is King and a friend who will never flee.  Jn 1011-13
See all the circumstances in which we are more than conquerors.  837
      Trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword.  835
      Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God. Nothing!

In the world, nations and people will continue to fight.
Families will be torn apart, there will be disease, poverty, drought, injustice ...
Even in the church, the love of many will grow cold.  Math 249-13
      But in Christ there will never be rejection. We are totally secure; always.
      Trust this true Word of God, not our feelings.

I've found a Friend; oh, such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus he bound me to him;
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which nought can sever;
For I am his and he is mine,
For ever and for ever.

I've found a Friend; oh, such a Friend!
He bled, he died to save me:
And not alone the gift of life,
But his own self he gave me.
Naught that I have my own I call,
I hold it for the Giver:
My heart, my strength, my life, my all
Are his, and his for ever.

I've found a Friend; oh, such a Friend!
All power to him is given,
To guard me on my onward course
And bring me safe to heaven.
Eternal glories gleam afar,
To nerve my faint endeavour;
So now to watch, to work, to war,
And then to rest for ever.

I've found a Friend; oh, such a Friend!
So kind and true and tender!
So wise a Counsellor and Guide,
So mighty a Defender!
From him who loves me now so well
What power my soul shall sever?
Shall life, or death, or earth, or hell?
No! I am his for ever.

 
God's Sovereign Choice - Israel  9 1-21       [Contents]

Even after the great pinnacle of Ro 8 Paul says:
      I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  92
Why? Ro 9 - 11 tells us. Only a few of his kinsmen believed that Jesus
      was the long promised Jewish Messiah and Saviour.
The Jews had, and still have many great privileges:
      To them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law,
      the worship, and the promises.  To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race,
      according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever.
 94,5

Although they were chosen; many (if not most) had rejected God choice,
      his planned and promised salvation - and 2,000 years of historical fulfilment!
What was, and remains the privilege of the Jews? (Abraham to Christ)
1. Adoption, not born as sons.  But no easy back door to heaven.  96-8  Jn 111,12
      Abraham had two children - Ishmael and Isaac.
      Isaac also had two children - Esau and Jacob.
      In each generation one child was chosen and the other wasn’t.  96-13
      Why? What does this reveal?
      Ishmael was not the child of promise, Isaac was.  Gen 2112 222 255 1612
            Ishmael was never God’s choice.
      Isaac's son, Esau, despised his birthright - and God.  Gen 2534
            God was not Esau's choice. He, and all like him, pay a heavy price.  913
            Jacob was not a macho man, but he sought God. And God loved him.
            (See sermon "Jacob and Esau")
God had promised Abraham that through him many would be blessed.  Gen 123
      But it is never to be through Ishmael (other gods or Islam).  Gen 1611,12
            Nor through Esau (Humanism - no god but self and most common today).

2. The Covenants received by:
      Abraham Gen 1518-21  Moses Exd 1526  David 2 Sam 711-16
            also the Law (the Scriptures 32) and daily sacrifices that point to Christ.
      Temple worship and the promises. (The Gospel in the Feasts of Israel)

3. The Patriarchs.
      Their blood-line from Abraham to Christ.  Ro 29,10  Math 11-17   Lu 323-37
      This privilege of opportunity is not dependant on their response
            - or the lack of it.
      Neither did it finish when they rejected Christ 2,000 years ago.

So Paul asks what was God’s plan?
Had (or has) it been revised?

But it is not as though the word of God has failed.
      For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
      and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring,
      but Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.  96,7

First and most importantly, the Word of God has not failed - only man has.

Three difficult questions arise - and are immediately answered:
1. Because they rejected Christ, has God's Word failed?  96-9
            No! It never has and never will; indeed, it cannot ever fail.  Math 517,18 2435
      Everything that the Lord has promised or prophesied will be totally fulfilled.
      Over the centuries many have challenged the Word of God and rejected it.
      Foolish men have often tried to add or delete parts of it.  Rev 2218,19  Deut 42
      True ‘offspring’ are the children of promise, the children of God,
            includes all believers in Christ, all whom he has chosen.
      Has his promise of blessing failed? No.
      It is not to the natural children of Isaac, but to the children of promise.
            Isaac was promised; Ishmael wasn’t.   Also  Jn 842-44
      Even though Israel repeatedly rejected God, the promise was fulfilled:
            Jesus, the Messiah came.
            And the ‘Good News’ was spread by Apostles, by believing Jews.
2. God chose Jacob before he was even born! Was this just?  910-18  Gen 2522,23
      a) God has a right to choose. And he knows who will seek or reject him.
            We can only marvel at the love of God and say, "Why have you chosen me?"
      b) God’s choice is always just, though it may seem arbitrary to men.
            Note Gen 123 can be part of the reason. God has warned us.
            Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! ...
            I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.  914,15  Exd 3319
            What does it depend on? How can a man be saved and receive mercy?
      c) Salvation depends on God’s mercy, not upon our efforts.  916
            Cry to God. Plead with him. Repent. Believe the ransom Jesus paid in full.
            We will only do so if the Holy Spirit first convicts us.  Jn 167-14
            Gives example of Pharaoh, who hardened his heart.
            Also consider opportunities Jesus gave to Judas - he rejected them all.
3. So then he has mercy on whomever he wills,
            and he hardens whomever he wills.
 918

      Does this seem tough or unjust? Then hear Paul’s answer:
      If solely God’s choice, why does God still blame us?  919
            Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?  920
            Example of potter who makes what he chooses with his clay.  921
      God’s choice does in part depend upon our response, which he already knows.

Summary:
God is the Almighty. He can chose whoever he wishes.
      His choice is just and true, not vindictive or emotional.
      He chose the Jews - and amazingly, he also chose us.
Paul gives two examples of God’s choice; and the reasons for it.
      He chose Isaac and not Ishmael. (Much to the chagrin of the Arabs)
            Isaac was the child of promise; Ishmael was Hagar's son, not Sarah's.
      He chose Jacob and not Esau.
            The humanist Esau rejected God; but Jacob sought God with all his being.
      Note: Ishmael and Esau both married wives from local idol-worshipping tribes.

To Live or Die?

God made a world, He fashioned it,
The hills, the sea, the sky.
He made a man and gave to him
The choice to live or die.

Man chose his way, from life he passed,
To sin and death and shame,
But God in love was tender yet
And to His children came.

He came, at first a little child,
To suffer and to die,
That we, each one, may have the choice,
The choice to live or die.

Will you accept Him now you know
The sacrifice He made?
Or would you still be lost in sin
As if the price had not been paid?

The choice is yours, the way is clear,
You can alone decide,
Whether you turn your back on Him,
Or in His love abide.

Paula Worth

 
God's Desire is to have Mercy  922-33       [Contents]

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath – prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory – even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?  922,23

Since the Fall, all sinful men are the objects of his wrath.
      All are under the death sentence.
      "When you eat of it you will surely die."  Gen 217
      This is a warning, not idle threat.  (Not If you eat of it ..., but when ...)
The Sovereign Lord has both power and patience.
To some he has determined to show his great mercy - and thus also his glory.
      And among these are Gentiles, as well as Jews.

He gives us an example from what God revealed to Hosea.
      The prophet had to redeem his wife from her sin.  Hos 3
      Also through the naming of his 3 children by his unfaithful wife.  Hos 14-8
            Yet 'not my people' will become 'sons of the living God'.  Hos 110
            The story of how this would happen is told in Hos 2.  Also Jer 3012,17
Also Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ... only the remnant will be saved. 927
      Unless the Lord has mercy, we would all be like Sodom.  929
Left to our own devices, gross sin and judgement are inevitable.  Ro 126
      But given the mercy of God, Jews and Gentiles can become his true sons - for ever.

What then shall we say?  Paul then answers his question:
That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;
      but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.
 930,31

Jews had the Law, some tried to keep it - but all failed, so were not righteous.
Gentiles, did not have the Law, so they didn’t try to keep it, but some have
      received mercy and salvation by faith, by believing in Christ.  Gal 215  36-9
      He is the only effective sacrifice for sin. (also the only way for ‘remnant’ Jews)
Thus not all Jews and not all Gentiles are saved; but only the few believers.
See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble ...   933a
      The only ‘Stone’ that God has chosen to lay is Christ crucified.
      and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.  933b
By this means we see the enduring grace of God; even if given to only a few.
God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
      but everyone to come to repentance.
 2 Pe 39

What is the problem?   Sadly few men admit the need to be saved.
Few see how greatly God is offended by our inevitable sin.
Few are willing to humble themselves and cry to God for mercy.
Few know the great convicting work of the Holy Spirit.  Jn 168
God knows the hearts of all men perfectly. Both now and what they will be.
      He will not force himself upon any man who does not wanthim.
Why do men reject God? They prefer evil; leads to disaster.  Jn 319,20  Is 309-11,18
     But calamity does not prove sinfulness. e.g. Job Men of Siloam.  Lu 134,5
     Though God often judges with 'natural' disasters. Noah's Flood, Sodom,
            Egyptian plagues, exile under Babylon + Rome, and today ...
            They are the hand of God intended to awaken men to reality!
            See Amos 46-11 also J C Ryle on Foot and Mouth outbreak in 1865.

For Jews, the Oral Law became the Mishnah and the Talmud in approx 250 AD
            It had some 1500 Sabbath laws!
      Jesus kept the 613 Laws of Moses perfectly, but not the many extras of men.
            Some add laws (Pharisees and Roman Catholics);
                  others subtract them (Sadducees and Liberals/Charismatics)
      Either way, all are utterly unable to make themselves acceptable to God.
            There is no way I can earn the approval of God.  e.g. Rich ruler  Lu 1818-25
      So how are we saved? By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
            Grace is the undeserved gift of God.  Eph 28,9
      Do we trust our efforts at holiness, or what Jesus has done for us?
      This is the most vital question - unchanged in all ages.
            What Jesus did for us remains the only reliable basis of our hope.
      Most find the fact that we can do nothing is humiliating and unacceptable.
            Why is the Cross of Christ such a stumbling block?
                  Pride, riches, power, popularity, time (wrong priority), deceived...
            But to those being saved, it is the power and wisdom of God.  1 Co 118,23,24

Both Jew and Gentile need redeeming. No short cut or easy way for either.
      God set the just price for the pardoning of our sin at a perfect blood sacrifice.
            His judgement throne is not a market. No man can try to bargain!
      Christ came to pay this price in full.
            He is the white stone - on which ‘paid in full’ is inscribed.  Rev 217

O the love that drew salvation's plan,
O the grace that brought it down to man,
O the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
Mercy there was great and grace was free,
Pardon there was multiplied for me
There my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.

 
Faith Comes from Hearing  101-21         [Contents]

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites
      is that they may be saved.
  101

Paul greatly desires that his fellow Jews may be saved.
      But there is a problem - and he speaks from experience.  What is it?
      Having religious zeal for God can be a hindrance!!  102,3
      They seek to establish their own righteous, not receive God’s righteousness.
      Paul was a real Pharisee, earnest and true; he was no hypocrite.
            Sincere, zealous in the extreme; yet so very wrong.
      Salvation can never be earned; saved only by grace and kindness of Christ.
            Great
            Riches
            At
            Christ's
            Expense.  Eph 27-9
      Church attendance, Pilgrimage, generosity, compassion, knowledge ...
            Each may be good, but none of them can save my soul.

Christ is the end of the Law
      so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
 104

This does not mean that the Law is now obsolete;
      but that Christ has fulfilled the Law and achieved what it could never do -
            gain our forgiveness and righteousness before God.  Math 517
Never ighteous because of Jewish stock,
      but only through believing what Christ has done for me.
      See notes Ro 41-8 also Math 53-10 and Ro 39-20
Moses speaks of being righteous by keeping the Law. But none can keep it.  105
      The 'one talent man' in  Math 2514-30  thought Master 'hard'
            because when he failed, he did not repent and come to Christ.  Gal 324
Faith does not seek righteousness where it cannot be found.  106,7  Deut 3012,13
      It is not found up in the sky nor is it buried in the depths of the earth.
      It is not even a page in a mysterious book.  See Act 826-39
      The Word is near you . . . in your heart.  108
How do we know?  How can we be sure?  What is the evidence?
      Faith proclaims: Jesus is Lord (over my sin and its punishment). 109,10
      Faith believes: God raised Jesus from the dead (and he raised me with him).
      Faith is not a man's imagination or even his hope, but is the Spirit revealed truth.
     As the Scripture says ...  1011
      'It is written'  c.f.  'I hope so'  Lu 44,8,12

Though the Scriptures are Jewish, they say the same things to Gentiles and to Jews.  1012
      Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.  1013
      Jer 333   Gen 128 134 2133 2625  1 Ch 2126  Ps 996-8 1164 119145

What is the result?
The Word brings certainty and assurance  'You will be saved'.  Lu 2444-46  Jn 832
      Our sureness rests on what Jesus has done and the certain truth of his Word;
            on the effectiveness of his sacrifice.  Heb 619,20 1019-23

Paul then returns to the problem of Israel, his fellow Jews;
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
      And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
      And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
 1014

But the Israelites did have someone to preach to them;
      even the very Son of God !  Lu 1129-32
      And after him, his apostles preached; but they too were largely rejected.

Faith comes by hearing the message.
      and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
 1017

The parable of the Sower reveals how men can hear, yet not receive.  Math 131-23
      Works c.f. Cross,   Church c.f. Christ,   World c.f. Word.
      We need to hear the truth revealed and to obey it.

God reveals himself to all who call on the Lord for salvation.  1013   (Joel 232)
      To all who seek the Lord with all their heart. Jer 2913  Deut 429  2 Ch 714
      Not always immediately. God knows when the best moment is.
            e.g. Jacob. Peniel 20 years after Bethel.  Gen 2813 3226
                  Abraham and Sarah had to wait 25 years for Isaac.
                  Moses was 40 years a shepherd in Midian before God spoke to him.
            3000 knew immediately on the day of Pentecost - after 'cut to the heart'
                  they cried, "What must we do (to be saved)?" Act 237
            Jesus told the disciples 11 times how he had to be crucified.
                  But it was only after 3˝ years that they 'understood'.  Lu 2425-27, 44-46
            It was not just who Jesus was, but why he came, that is so vital.

Only a few Jews 'heard'.  Though we should never forget God's faithfulness:
All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. 1021

Today only a few Gentiles hear and believe.
      O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be.
      We should never forget God's amazing grace to include us.

 
Israel Stumbled, Not the End - A Warning to Gentiles  111-24       [Contents]

Did God reject his people?  By no means!  111
This is a most vital question - and so is the answer
If Almighty God were to reject his people,
      both his faithfulness and his truth would be in doubt.
To punish his people for their wickedness is not to reject them.
      e.g. 40 years in exodus, exile to Babylon soon to come 2,000 years exile.
            Each time God has brought back his people as he promised.  Jer 3215 3315
God reveals his consistent faithfulness - to Jews and to us.  Hosea 111,8 1314 144
      His covenant remains unconditional and everlasting.  Gen 177,8
Cannot otherwise understand world events today.  Jerusalem is central issue.
      God remains the Sovereign Lord and what he has ordained will happen.

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
And if by grace, then it is no longer by works;
if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
 115,6

All the Apostles who first spread the Gospel were Jews.
Most Jews rejected Jesus; but vital remnant as in Elijah’s day.  1Kg 1818
But why so few? Many tried by works, but failed.
      When seeking God and eternal life our only claim must be 'Christ crucified'.
What do men ask God for today? Too often it is 'peace', rather than forgiveness.
      They want to continue their current lifestyle c.f. Peace with God.  Lu 1942

What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did.
      The others were hardened.
 117

Why did Israel fail?
      Even the religious refused to admit their natural corruption and need.  Rev 317
      And others were carefree and careless.  Zeph 215
      Their minds were hardened - by their own choice.
They all refused correction.  Zeph 35b  Jer 253
            e.g. Pharaoh - after plagues 1-5 c.f. 6-10.
            All disciples ‘why this waste?’ But Judas betrayed.  Math 268-16
            Although Jesus gave him every opportunity to repent.  Jn 13
      God’s desire is that none should perish.  Is 551-7  Rev 2217
Israel has paid a high price for being 'disobedient and obstinate'.
      2000 years of rejection and wandering.
      May we learn from this example the danger of being stubborn and rebellious.
God cannot be pleased with the UK in recent years; neither church or state.

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.
 1111

No man is beyond recovery; no sin is beyond the forgiveness of God.
      This would make the perfect sacrifice of Christ inadequate.
      But we do need Jesus Christ, not just a costless religion.
The rejection of Christ by most of the Jews did have one remarkable benefit.
      Salvation was offered to us Gentiles!!
      Note well:
      1. That this was just as God had promised Abraham.
            All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.  Gen 123
      2. It was to make Israel envious.
            But over last 2,000 years Christians have continuously failed to do so.
            We have rarely expressed any love or gratitude to the Jews;
                  and will pay a just price for this - especially UK.
In presenting the Gospel of Christ, Paul always went 'first to the Jews'.
      Act 135,14 141 1710,17 184-6 198,9
It was always in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy
      and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world,
      what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
 1114,15

After 2,000 years, the day is coming shortly when the Jews will repent!
"They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great ... On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the Lord Almighty.  Zech 1210b - 132a (also Zech 81-8)

Always remember the Lord Almighty is faithful;
      he will never forget his unconditional, eternal covenant promise to Abraham.

Paul introduces the Root and Branches + wild and natural olive themes.
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, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  1117,18
Israel has often in scripture been likened to a vine and an olive tree.
Olives can be cut down to the ground, but will always sprout again.
Paul is questioning the future of his people, for many had rejected Jesus.
      He sees many of the natural (Jewish) branches 'broken off'.
            and some wild (Gentile) branches that are grafted in.
What does he say to us?
1. All branches are nourished by the same 'sap' (the life of God)
      the grace of God from the Root (Jesus Christ).
2. Do not be arrogant and boast over the broken off branches.  1118,20b,25
3. If God did not spare the Jews, he will not spare you either !  1121
      He will judge the US and UK for their anti-Israel, pro-Arab Islamic stance.
4. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God.  1122a
      Kindness - God’s love, his earnest desire to forgive and banish sin.  Hos 118
            Jesus gave his life as a ransom. Sin costs. Jesus paid! No greater kindness.
            New covenant will be fulfilled.  Jer 3131 - 3225
            God showers his kindness upon us as David upon Mephibosheth.  2 Sam 9
      Severity - Too often this is ignored; but see history of the Jews!
            Israel ignored loud, clear, repeated warning of the prophets.
            Resulted in exile by Assyria, Babylon and Rome.
      Sin separates; it brings death.  Is 592 24 139-13 51-23  Jn 833 c.f. 834
If we fail to heed these warnings, you also will be cut off.  1122b

Christian history: Since Constantine in 312 AD Christians have persecuted Jews
      All who do so will be punished, broken off by the Lord Almighty.  So beware!
      Remember God's word to Abraham, whoever curses you I will curse.  Gen 123

 
All Israel will be Saved  1125-36       [Contents]

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited:
Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
  1125

Paul addresses this verse primarily to the Gentiles in Rome.
Sometimes the hand of God may seem strange - 'this mystery'.
      Why has Israel experienced a hardening and rejected their faithful God?
      Is it permanent? Has Almighty God's plan failed?  Never!
      The hardening is only in part. Temporary + always a remnant remains
      It is only so until the full number of Gentiles has come in. Then the great day will come;
      so all Israel will be saved. 1126a
      also Ezek 371-14,21-23  Jer 3110  Hos 34,5  Amos 914,15  Zeph 314-20  Zech 106-10 etc

What a glorious truth. The day is soon coming. Can we be sure? Yes!
      It is written:
      "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
      And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
1126b,27

It has all the authority, accuracy and authenticity of the Sovereign Lord.
      It is sealed! See also  Is 5920 -603  Heb 810-12 etc

By way of a brief explanation, Paul adds:
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.  1128-31

Many today, even Christians, consider that God has finished with Israel,
      and all references to Israel are somehow ‘spiritualised’ to mean the Church.
The statement God's gifts and his call are irrevocable makes it very clear
      that God must remain faithful, he cannot be otherwise.
      So all such spiritualising is entirely false, a satanic lie.

Paul concludes with a well reasoned song of praise.
      He rightly extols the greatness of God’s mercy and grace to all believers.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
      How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
 1133

Israel   Ro 1125,26

When you were a child I loved you,
Tho' you turned your face from me,
Held my arms out while you stumbled,
Longed to teach you to walk free;
Watched in anguish while the nations
One by one declared you'd die
Without trace, not understanding
You're the apple of my eye.
Still I sent you as I'd promised
My Messiah, Holy Lamb.
O my heartache then, and sorrow
When you didn't see my plan.
Now I wait my bride to cherish,
These are days for other men
To find grace and my salvation,
Days to be fulfilled, and then,
Then with shouts of 'Grace' and 'Glory',
My Corner-stone now recognised,
I shall pluck you from the burning
And declare you justified.
Then the fountain which I opened
Still shall plead your cause to me;
And my child, beloved Israel
Bring me joy - Eternally.

by Paula Worth

 
Our Response to God's Mercy  121-21       [Contents]

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world ...
121,2a

      What's next?  Do we just carry on vaguely? Certainly not!
God loves us as we are; but he will not leave us as we are.
      And we don't want to remain as we are, but changed to be like Jesus.
God expects a response - holy living.  121   See Isaiah 52b, 7b
      Sometimes it may seem costly (a sacrifice).
            Nevertheless not my will but thine ...  Math 2639
      Always our desire to please God. Always the desire of true love.
      God richly deserves our true worship, which is much more than just words.
      The more we see the greatness of our rescue, the more grateful we will be.
      Lu 747 511 198 212   Not saved by their giving; but they gave because saved.
      Evangelism or ashamed of Jesus?  Lu 922-26

So how must we all respond?
Paul tells us.   Although a brilliant theologian, he was also very practical:

1. Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.  121
Is this possible?  What does it mean?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  1 Co 619,20
      The context of this was sexual immorality.  1 Co 613,15-18
            i.e. Do not give yourself to anyone who is not your wife.
Offering our bodies is not asceticism, nor the other extreme - living in luxury!
      How did Jesus live?  What was his life-style?
      Disciplined, loving, relatively poor, pure, holy, devoted ...
      Selfless service and the willing 'extra mile' c.f. Selfish self-indulgence.
      A few are called to be single missionaries. e.g. Jeremiah, Paul ... Jer 161,2
Note: wearing a hair-shirt does not earn us any extra 'brownie-points'!
      We can never even begin to repay the debt we own to our Redeemer.
            It is always, in view of God's mercy ...
            It is our willing, eager worship.

2. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. 122
First, what is the pattern of this world ?
      Humanist pride admits no need.
            It leaves God out of the equation of life - with dire consequences
            Is 478-11 describes unbelievers, not just Babylon.  Dan 530 and  Rev 184-8
      Some may have a form of godliness,
            but they deny the need to be saved.  2 Tim 35
              They pick and choose the Scriptures they like.
              They insult God's Word as being 'old-fashioned' - safe to ignore.
              They deny the truth of Scripture e.g. evolution, not Creation by God;
              They deny sin, all man's natural corruption;
              They and the just judgement of God.
      Popular right-sounding trends - interfaith, peace by appeasement, tolerance.
      Government leaders and even the Archbishop say we must respect all faiths.
            But 1st Commandment is You shall have no other gods before me.  Exd 203
         And the 2nd Commandment forbids making any idols and images.  Exd 204
         What is the black Ka'aba stone in Mecca if it is not an idol?
                Islam is an evil, idol-worshipping religion that denies God has a Son.
          The world denies God is the Almighty -
                it boldly declares that man is free to do whatever seems right and best.
                whatever makes you happy and brings peace.  Judges 176
      The result is easily seen.  Is 520,21  2 Tim 31-5
            Gen 65  Gal 519-21 c.f.  522-23a

What makes a Christian different?  Gal 522-24
      Faith, honesty, morality, compassion, motives, humility, assurance, loyalty,
            discipline, temperance, courage, courtesy, steadfast, discerning, Sabbath ...

Unbelievers from Ghandi to Geldof may have compassion, honesty,
      even humility and morality. Unbelievers are not all lying adulterers.
      They may have many good characteristics, but;
      They don't see Almighty God's as the one and only true God.
      He is not seen as the loving Father telling us what is best.
      They don't admit natural corruption of all men,
            or the consequent just death penalty.
      They don't have faith's certainty of being rescued by the Lord Jesus.
      Nor the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life with the Lord of Glory.
      Nor the obvious gratitude to Jesus for bearing the punishment we deserve.

3. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. 122
Why does God say our minds need transforming?
They are all born corrupt!!   We need to be born again.  Jn 33,5
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers.  2 Co 44
      The way we naturally think needs changing.
            My thoughts are not your thoughts ...  Is 558,9
This is not brain-washing, but God teaching us the truth to replace Satan’s lies.
      Present - Holy living + urgency of evangelism + learn God’s Word.
            c.f. Enjoy yourself, free to do anything that feels right, ...
                  so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.
                  Trying to earn God’s approval by keep Law, church-going ....
      Past - God’s Design and Creation + learning from history, God faithfulness
            c.f. Man is advancing, forget tradition, be bold, experimental.
      Future - Heaven or hell !
            c.f. Nothing, reincarnation, vague hope, or false assurance, ...

Satan always likes to question and bring doubt concerning God's Word.
      See how man first sinned.  Gen 31-6
God always tells the truth.  Jn 845,51 101 etc
Satan's nature is always to lie, to deceive with half-truths.  Jn 844
      He says God is not Almighty, and either he cannot or he will not judge sin.
            And thus no need for repentance or Christ to redeem us.

What we think inevitably determines what we are and what we do.
      It determines our instinctive reactions, and well thought-out decisions.
See the battle for our minds in  2 Co 105a - and the conclusion / remedy:
      Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2 Co 105b
      Temptation begins in the mind.
            Often the result of what we see or hear. Advertising, pornography ... 
            e.g. Greed and lust.  Math 527,28  Col 35 1 Jn 215-17  Hatred. Gen 41-7
            A man who buys the Sun and 'feasts' on page 3 will not have a pure mind.
                  Which claims more of our time; the Bible or the media?
                  What the media saysis so often lies or distortions.
            Control of media and education wield huge power for either good or ill.

It usually takes time to change years of ingrained thinking. But God will do it.
      It requires our determination as well as God's grace and power.
Our attitude to money is often most resistant to change.  e.g. Mk 144 c.f. 6
      See also Is 557  Ps 104  Math 1519  1 Co 127,28  Heb 412  Lu 134,5
      Learn to develop good godly habits.
            This is really what good education achieves - not just knowledge.
            Almighty God will change our natural instincts - new birth

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –
      his good, pleasing and perfect will.
 122b

The result of being transformed:
      We will know the will of God.
      His plans for us and for his world will be revealed.  Amos 37
      They will be seen to be good; even if difficult or costly.
      The unbelieving man thinks he knows better than his Creator.
      But the Lord God is always proved right in the end.
God is not restrictive and harsh.  Math 2514-30
He tells what is truly the best.
      Believers witness to the truth that God is most wise, kind and gracious.

Ps 197-11
The law of the Lord is perfect,
      reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
      making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
      giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
      giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
      enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
      and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
      than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
      than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
      in keeping them there is great reward.

 
Gifts / Abilities  123-8       [Contents]

'Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought'.
Judge using 'the measure of faith God has given you' rather than human ability.
Why does Paul emphasise this before continuing with 'gifts'?
      Very few are immune from self-importance in some area of life.
      When does leadership become assertiveness / wielding power?
All part of one body with many members. Each isneeded and valued.
      (This is more directed towards church life than individuals.)
      All abilities are given by God - allows no room for pride.
      Use them to serve others; not selfishly.
      Discover and use what God has given to the utmost for his kingdom.
Prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing, leadership, mercy ...
      Paul gives a few examples here - there are many more.  1 Co 127-11
      Beware of defining their relative importance. e.g. "Just a helper"
      The most important for me is to do well what God has directed me to do.
      Learn to trust God with variations.  e.g. Moses  Exd 1525 176  Num 2011-12

Relationships  129-21       [Contents]

Sincere love.  Not a reluctant show, not spasmodic, but thorough and real.
Hate what is evil.  Satan can only tempt us when we want what he offers.
      Learn what is God considers evil (renewing of the mind).  Is 520
      Beware of toleration of evil that is popular and so compromise God’s truth.
Obedient to God’s word only when convenient or popular.
Joyful in hope.  What are our hopes?  Do they have God's assurance?
Patient in affliction
Faithful in prayer.  Always a challenge.
Share willingly.  God loves a cheerful giver. 2Co 97
More blessed to give than to receive. Act 2035
Share willingly and practice hospitality.  Costly. 
Bless persecutors
Do not be proud or snobbish.  Who do we honour most?
Try to live at peace with all
Don't take revenge - God will repay

Our holiness is a continuing battle; let us strive to win.
We are assured that one day we will be like our Saviour.  1 Jn 31-3

 
Submission to the Authorities  131-7       [Contents]

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities.
Because God has established them.   131
  But note 1 Sam 8
      David would not harm Saul because he was the Lord's anointed.  1 Sam 24, 26
Rulers hold no terror for those who do right.  133
      They exist to keep law and order, and to ensure the common good.
      But what if they don’t? Are there exceptions to this instruction?
      There are many Biblical and modern examples of evil rulers being resisted;
            Dan 3,6, Tyndale, Nazis, Islam ...
When and how do we submit or resist?
      Submit to their rule - Pay taxes and give respect.  Lu 2020-26  Math 1724-27  Math 23
      Pray earnestly for those in authority.  1 Tim 21,2
Democratic government has given us the vote and freedom of speech.
      Thus these verses do not forbid us striving for better local counsellors,
            better MP's, a better Executive (chooses Archbishops)
            or a more righteous media.
      Submission does not forbid respectful letters of complaint or suggestions.
             Use the rights that authorities have given us while we may.
Political resistance, insisting on obedience to Almighty God.  Act 419
      Legalised homosexuality, abortion (murder), no Sabbath, Multi-faith ...
      Some laws today are actively against what God has commanded.
      Right to resist ungodly laws.  Dan 3, 6.  Rev 1314,15  also 1316-18
            e.g. Asher bakery in N.Ireland, Bulls in Marizion boarding house, Teachers,
                  Medics, Street preaching, Sunday working, servicemen under orders ...
            But it may cost us our job or even our lives!

 
Love, for the Day is Near  138-14       [Contents]

How may we love one another?
      Let no debt remain outstanding.
      Continuing debt of love to one another.

      Keep Commandments: No adultery, murder, stealing or coveting.
      Love is the fulfilment of the Law; not ignoring it.
      Do no harm to your neighbour.
Understand the present time.  1Ch 1232
      The time is urgent; Christ's coming is near.
      Therefore behave decently ... clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.
             No drunkenness, immorality, jealousy or satisfying the sinful nature.
      Are we ready for what the Lord has prophesied will happen before he comes?
Live in Christ Jesus.     Col 27-14  1 Jn 31-6  
            i.e. Fulfill 122
      Live a holy and honest life is an ongoing challenge for all of us.

 
Stop Passing Judgement  141-23       [Contents]

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
      One man’s faith allows him to eat everything,
      but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
 141,2

It is difficult to resist putting people in neatly labelled boxes.
      He's vegetarian, a Euro-sceptic, a Charismatic, 'High' church, etc
Paul appeals for understanding of unimportant differences.
      Judgement of diversity is often difficult.
             What are real 'faith' issues?
             What are seen as 'Errors' that cannot be ignored?
This is problematical! 1. Meat.
Abattoirs used to offer meat to idols.
      Thus some thought it wrong for Christians to eat it. Others didn't.
      Act 109-16,34 1118  Act 2125  1 Co 84-13  Rev 214,20
Paul does not discuss the issue; or try to indicate whether it is right or wrong.
      Vegetarians not weak in faith.
      He teaches us about our attitude towards each other.
      Note - Daniel’s faith was not weak, he was determined to honour God.
Not issue today. Jews separate meat and veg (for good reasons) and eat pork!

2. 'Special' Days.
This does not refer to Sabbaths, though it could well do so.
      God says keep the Sabbath holy, separate, not just special.
            It is not just for family or sport; but the whole family for God.
Early Christians changed 7th day to 1st day. Were they right?
      7th Day Adventists many other false beliefs.
            And the 2nd ‘Advent’ didn’t happen in 1844.
These special days refer to many minor Jewish festivals - like our 'Saints days'.
Again, Paul does not discuss which are good or bad,
      but writes, Each one should be convinced in his own mind.  145
      This presumes that we all do everything to the Lord.
            Is this a valid presumption?
It is helpful to remember our forebears who witnessed for the truth.
      We all have so much to learn from history. Causes of triumph and failure.
Learning from history is very different from venerating the saints.

Paul never misses an opportunity to remind us that Christ died and rose,
      so that we may belong to the Lord.  148,9
      You are not your own. You were bought at a price.  1 Co 619,20
Do not look down on others or despise those who see things differently.
      Revelation in God-given, to each in his time.
      What Jesus said to some of the Pharisees who were proud, may apply to us!
      Each of us will give an account of himself to God.  1412
God loves us as we are, but he will not leave us as we are.
      Let us each encourage that change without judgement or pride.
The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,
      but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  
1417
Therefor strive for peace and mutual edification.  1419
      Everything we do should have God's stamp of approval - assurance.
      Let us take heed of our conscience. Encourage it to grow more sensitive.
      Observe what other Christians do and think - then test it and learn.
             Church tradition may be good, but often it is not!
      Beware of peer / church pressure.  Act 1711
             God's well done is far more important than man's approval.

As Christians we are on a journey as pilgrims.  Heb 1113,16
      Each have differing experience and needs.
      The weakness of one may be the strength of another.  Strive to learn

This chapter is about learning to encourage each other in the truth and in holy living.
      It is a warning to avoid any suspicion of pride or Christian smugness.

 
Endurance, Encouragement and Hope  152-13         [Contents]

Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,
      so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
 154

The Scriptures were written to reveal Christ Jesus; teach us;
      to assure us of God’s faithfulness,
      to strengthen our hope and trust in Jesus Christ.
            In days of trial and persecution, an enduring hope is vital.
What is our hope?
      Forgiveness, eternal life, holy life in God’s righteous kingdom.
      The Word of God reveals the true witness of many who endured.
            God protected, encouraged, provided, revealed and remains faithful.
The Reformation that gave us the Scriptures in English was God’s provision.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you
      a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.
 155

Unity is important but it must never preclude discernment.
Try to be tolerant of different styles of worship and music.
Learn to differentiate vital truth from different opinions. e.g.
      It is wrong to say no OT men were saved because Jesus was not yet crucified.
      But to believe the rapture is before the tribulation may not be wrong,
            although I personally do not believe it to be the truth.
            (It may lead the church into false security, disillusionment
            and render us unprepared for persecution.)
Beware of false ecumenical Church unity and compromise. (See 23 RC errors)
Motivation too often only declining church numbers. Anything rather than death.
We are all on a pilgrim road with an ongoing need to learn and to change.
Discern the difference between church tradition and Biblical truth.
Am I willing to change?
      Especially when the scriptures reveal the need to do so.
Have a common goal - to 'glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ'.

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth,
to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs
so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written:
      "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles."
 159,10

Thus are Jew and Gentile reconciled under the canopy of God's mercy.
      This was always God’s intention and promise. He has fulfilled his Word.
            Gen 123b  Is 496  Gal 327-29
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
      so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  1513

I'm under the blood of Jesus ...
I'm safe in the Shepherd’s fold,
I'm under the blood of Jesus.
Safe when the night grows cold,
Safe when the nations crumble,
Safe when the stars grow dim.
I’m under the blood of Jesus,
And I am safe with him.

 
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

      We have an anchor that keeps the soul
      Steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
      Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
      Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!

Will your anchor hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers roar and the reef is near?
While the surges rave, and the wild winds blow,
Shall the angry waves then your bark o'erflow?

Will your anchor hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill your latest breath?
On the rising tide you can never fail,
While your anchor holds within the veil.

Will your eyes behold through the morning light
The city of gold and the harbour bright?
Will you anchor safe by the heavenly shore,
When life's storms are past for evermore?

 
Paul, a Minister to the Gentiles  1514-22         [Contents]

Paul makes clear his reason for writing this letter:

1. That the Gentiles might become an acceptable offering to God.  1516b
            How do we become an acceptable offering?
            Because Christ himself was a 'full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice
            for the sins of the whole world'; the offering promised from the beginning,
            long awaited and accepted by God - proved by raising him from the dead.
            We are 'buried' with Christ. United in his death and his resurrection.  63-11
            Jesus, with all our sin on his back, was accepted; therefore we are too.

2. That the Gentiles might be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  1516c
            What does it mean to be 'sanctified'?
            To live a holy, pure, righteous life, fully pleasing to God.
            God 'writes' his Law in our hearts; we learn to want to obey him.  Jer 3133,34
            Gladly, we no longer conform to the pattern of the world,
            and we are being 'transformed by the renewing of our mind'.  122

Such is the mercy and grace of our God.
Paul is convinced that the Roman Christians knew this.  1514
      Would he be equally convinced about our 'knowledge' and 'goodness'?
He wrote this letter to 'remind' us Gentiles of these truths.
      Over the centuries, God has been pleased to save many souls by this letter.
      But sadly few Gentiles have seen the privilege of our being 'grafted in'.
            They have not seen the debt we owe to the Jews
                  who in the beginning brought us the Scriptures
                  and at a high price faithfully revealed the gospel of Jesus.

'Therefore':  1517
Paul glories in Christ Jesus that many Gentiles now obey God.  1518
      How many in the UK today are zealous to obey God?
      Do we love the Lord your God with all our heart, soul and strength?  Deut 65,6
             Note If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  Jn 1423
For this purpose Paul fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ.  1519
He especially delighted to preach where no one had been before.  1520,21
      Many had preached in Rome; that was why he didn't till the end.  1522

 
Longs to go to Rome  1523-33         [Contents]

Paul had spent 20 years (AD 37-57) founding and building the church
      in today's Turkey and Greece. God had greatly blest his zeal.
Now he desired to go to Spain, via Rome.
      This was introductory letter!  How would you have written?
Paul had plans to go to Bithynia or Macedonia?  Acts 166-10
But he never did go to Spain.
Christians need to make such plans; and ask God to change them if need be!
Paul first had to go to Jerusalem, 'in the service of the saints'.
      He was taking gifts from the mostly Gentile churches to Jerusalem.
      They were pleased to do this. 1527
            Such an offering is rarely considered today.
He would come to Rome in the full measure and blessing of Christ.  1529
      The whole church is the fulness of Christ.  Eph 122,23  411-14

 
Personal Greetings  161-27       [Contents]

Paul commends sister Phoebe who had been a great help to so many.  161,2
      Note he mentions 17 men and 10 women (2 unnamed).
The one common characteristic of those being greeted was they 'worked hard'.
Watch out for those who cause divisions ...
      by smooth talk and flattery they deceive.
 1617-19  How?
      also by liberal theology, replacement theology, multi-faith ...
      It is vital to learn all of Scripture. Know the contest; learn to 'test' what is said.
      They usually tell us what we want to hear.  Peace, easy happy life, revival, ...
See how Paul's gospel centres on Jesus Christ.  1625  1 Co 22  Gal 220  Phil 34-11
What was the mystery hidden for long ages past and now revealed?  1625,26
      That all nations might believe and obey him.  1626
      That 'salvation is by grace alone, though faith alone, in Christ alone.'
            It is not by keeping the Law or 'deciding to follow Jesus'.
Many thought Messiah would come and rule; then everything ok.
      God knew better - We first needed a Saviour and Redeemer.  Lu 2413-27
To the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ! Amen.  1627
      Indeed so.  He well deserves all glory and praise.

 
Conclusion       [Contents]

In 1534 William Tyndale wrote in his exhortation about the Roman Letter:
"Now go, reader, and follow the order of Paul's writing. First, behold yourself diligently in the Law of God, and see there your just condemnation. Second, turn your eyes to Christ, and see in him the great mercy of your kind and loving Father. Third, remember that Christ did not make atonement that you should anger God again, nor did he cleanse you that you should return to your old ways again. He wants you to be a new creation and to live a new life, following the will of God and not the sinful nature."

I hear thy welcome voice
That calls me, Lord, to thee
For cleansing in the precious blood
That flows from Calvary.

      I am coming, Lord,
      Coming now to thee:
      Trusting only in the blood
      That flowed from Calvary.

Though coming weak and vile,
Thou dost my strength assure:
Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse,
Till spotless all and pure.

'Tis Jesus calls me on
To perfect faith and love,
To perfect hope and peace and trust,
For earth and heaven above.

'Tis Jesus who confirms
The blessed work within,
By adding grace to welcome grace,
Where reigned the power of sin.

All hail, atoning blood!
All hail, redeeming grace!
All hail, the gift of Christ our Lord,
Our strength and righteousness!

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