Romans 1:1-16  many believe this letter to be Paul's best, I wouldn’t disagree. The letters of the New Testament do not appear in chronological order, some feel this to be a huge obstacle in understanding scripture. I think it helps to know the times when Paul wrote the letters, but this in itself doesn’t prevent us from learning scripture. Romans is addressed to the church at Rome and is significant in that Paul did not ‘plant this church’. Unlike the other letters of Paul, he is writing to the believers with whom he had no strong prior relationship. He roots his gospel in the historical facts of history and scripture. ‘The gospel of God that the prophets foretold- Jesus of the seed of David who was proved to be the Son of God by the resurrection’. Make no bones about it, Paul is coming down strong on the gospel of Jesus Christ and he positions himself well right at the start. There were ‘other gospels’ [Galatians] that were circulating and at times might have even outnumbered Paul's message! The Jewish sect from Jerusalem who embraced both Jesus and the law were very influential in Paul’s day. When Paul combats a legalistic gospel, at times he is running ‘neck and neck’ with the Judaizers. Paul will make a foundational statement that will run true thru out the rest of the New Testament. ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is the power of God unto Salvation to everyone who believes. For in it is the righteousness of God revealed’. Now, I have hit on this theme before, but it is so fundamental to the rest of this study that we need to spend some time with it. I always wondered why so many Evangelicals, and scholars, could not ‘rightly divide’ this biblical doctrine. I am speaking of ‘Righteousness by faith’ as being the root of all other ‘Salvation’. What I mean is many have confused the doctrine of ‘the salvation of the righteous’ with the salvation of the sinner. The reason why the gospel is one of salvation, is because this is the tool that God has ordained to administer ‘righteousness- justification’ to the believer. When God ‘saves- delivers’ a sinner from an ‘unjust state of being’ this act can be called ‘being saved’ [Ephesians 2]. Also thru out the scriptures you have people who are ‘just- righteous’ who experience ‘continual salvation’ because of the fact that they are righteous. This doctrine can be called ‘the salvation of the righteous’. David in Psalms says ‘the righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles’ ‘The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord’. Peter speaks of God delivering the ‘just- righteous’ from wrath. Both Lot and Noah are said to have been ‘saved’ because they were righteous. The whole point here is as we progress thru Romans Paul will use the term ‘salvation’ and ‘righteousness’. Whenever [chapter 10] you have a combining of the righteous [believers] calling, crying out to God for ‘salvation’ it needs to be understood that this does not mean ‘salvation’ in the sense of the initial act of justification. While the two are closely related, the testimony from scripture does make a distinction. So Paul shows us that the reason the gospel is Gods power ‘unto salvation’ is because this is the way God chose to ‘make people just’. Paul will spend a few chapters [3 and 4] laying the foundation of righteousness by faith. But first he will argue his case for why all men need to have this righteousness. [ see entry # 704 for more comments on ‘the salvation of the righteous’]

(821)ROMANS 1:17-21 ‘for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness’. Now, we have already established the ‘mode’ by which the gospel ‘saves’ us. Once we believe in the gospel, it immediately, and progressively ‘saves’ us. The immediate act of justification can be described as ‘getting saved’. But there is also a large amount of scripture that speaks of ‘continual and future salvation’. Now Paul begins showing us how this salvation works. He says ‘the wrath of God is revealed against unrighteousness’ the previous verses showed how the believer is made righteous. So we are ‘delivered from the wrath to come’ [Thessalonians] ‘saved by wrath thru his life’ [Romans 5:9] ‘he will appear from heaven the second time to bring salvation to those who look for him’ [Hebrews] and many other verses testify of this theme. Paul is showing us one aspect of this ‘ongoing, future’ salvation by saying ‘see, since Gods wrath is promised to come upon the unrighteous, once you believe with the heart unto righteousness, you then become someone who is off the radar screen from wrath’ [John 3- the wrath of God abides on the unbeliever, but the believer is in a state of ‘no condemnation’]. This understanding will be important as we get to the later chapters in Romans. Now I also want to share a somewhat ‘unique’ interpretation of the following verses ‘that which may be known of God is manifest IN THEM [some say ‘to them]; for God hath showed it unto them [not necessarily meaning ‘showed it to them from created things’!] For the invisible things of him [his attributes! Invisible stuff] from the creation of the world [since the beginning of time, that is since God created all things he has imbedded a witness of himself into all creation; ‘all creation groans and travails’ Paul will attribute ‘human like’ characteristics to all creation. In essence all creation has this testimony and yearning for God in it] are clearly seen [not with the natural eye, but thru this ‘imbedded testimony of Gods attributes that he has placed in all creation’] being understood by the things that are made [not understood by ‘looking at the things that are made’; creation. But actually being understood ‘by them’] so that they are without excuse’. The normal way of seeing these verses says ‘God has left a witness of himself thru his creation. All people are without excuse because they can see his creation and know he is’. Now, is this concept true? Of course! David says ‘the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament SHOWETH his handiwork’. The only problem is ‘all men can’t see!’ I don’t mean to be trivial here; I want to show you that if you read this passage like I just taught it, that it basically is saying ‘since the beginning of Gods creation he has left man without excuse. He has always revealed his inner attributes to man. The witness of moral law and conscience is imbedded in the creation. All men ‘hold’ [possess] the ‘truth’ [this inner moral witness] in unrighteousness, therefore they are without excuse’. I don’t want to be a contrarian simply for the sake of being one. But if you see what I just told you, this fits in with Paul’s understanding of salvation. God’s wrath is revealed against all unrighteousness, yet those who say ‘that’s not fair, God made us this way!’ have no excuse, because God gave all men [and creation] an inner witness that they could have acted on- ‘when they knew God, they glorified him not as God but became vain in their imaginations’. All men have at one time ‘known God’ even those who have never seen Gods testimony from creation! Therefore they are without excuse.

(822)ROMANS 1:21-32 the scripture says that all creation ‘knew God’. The indictment is ‘there is no excuse’. The previous verses proved that God not only made man, but that because man was made in Gods image, he therefore had an ‘inner imprint’ of his maker inside him. Now man chose to ‘change the image of God into that of animals’. Man could not escape this inert desire to worship, this thing in him that said ‘there’s more to life than simple flesh’. So he didn’t just become an atheist [though that’s what they would have you believe] but they became ‘changers of Gods image’. They came up with an alternative ‘religion’. Scripture says they changed God's image into that of an animal [idolatry] and worshipped and served the creature more than the creator. Evolution was Darwin’s feeble attempt at ‘changing the image of God into that of animals’. How so? Modern man was too enlightened [after all we had the enlightenment!] to actually go out and make an image of an animal and bow to it. Instead he bought into the idea that he evolved from animals. Scripture says we are made in Gods image, evolution says ‘we are made in the image of an animal’. Men did not ‘like to retain God in their knowledge’. They had to have some controlling worldview, they came up with one. Now Romans says God gave them up to become like that which they chose to worship. Man was designed to worship God, in seeking and going after God they would become more like him. When man chooses to empty his mind from the creator, God allows him to fill it with what he wants. He receives a ‘reprobate mind’. He fixates on the animal instincts that are a natural result of ‘worshipping four footed beasts’. Now man has no choice but to be formed into the thing that he worships. Paul is here telling us that man became immoral as a result of his own choice to eradicate God from his thoughts. Man received the just recompense of his choice. At the end of the chapter Paul closes with ‘they know that those who do these things are worthy of death’. Once again the idea of judgment ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven’. Paul’s summary; Man is unrighteous. God is righteous in punishing man. Man chose to become like this. The only way to escape an inevitable meeting with wrath is to ‘become righteous’. This is accomplished thru believing the gospel. When you believe you become righteous and are no longer on Gods radar screen for judgment.

(823)ROMANS 2:1-13 ‘Therefore thou art inexcusable, o man, whosoever thou art that judgest’. Now, this chapter will run with the theme ‘who do you think you are to judge, you do the things that you say are wrong’. Yikes, this type of preaching convicts us all. But we need to understand that Paul is saying a little more [well, a lot more!] than this. Here’s where we need to do some history. This letter is addressed to believers in Rome, those ‘called to be saints’. Paul is also giving one of his strongest defenses of his theology, he realizes that a large Jewish population are also at Rome [Acts 28]. By the time of this letter the lines are being drawn between ‘Paul’s gospel’ [the true gospel] and the ‘Jewish law gospel’ coming from the Judaizers out of Jerusalem. The main fight is over whether or not Gentile believers need to be circumcised and come under the law in order to ‘be saved’ [Acts 15]. Now the mentality of the Jewish mind was ‘we have been given Gods precepts [true] and because we are the inheritors of the law and moral standards of God, this puts us in a better class than the Gentiles’ [false]. In essence the law was supposed to reveal mans sin to himself, it was to show us our need for a Savior. But in the legalistic mind it created enmity between Jew and Gentile. This is what it means when Paul writes the Ephesian letter and says ‘the middle wall of partition has been removed in Christ’ this ‘middle wall’ is referring to the law and how it divided Jew and Gentile. So here Paul is saying ‘you Jews who are trusting in the fact that you were the recipients of the law, who use the law as a measuring rod to justify yourselves. This measuring rod was actually given to show you your sin. Did it never occur to you that the very fact that the ‘rod’ says “don’t commit adultery, don’t steal” that these things are actually sins that you yourselves do [the legalistic Jews]. And yet the very rule [law] of God that you are using to justify yourselves, this law you actually break!’ Now you are beginning to see the context. And not only were they breaking the law, but at the same time they were saying to Paul's Gentile churches ‘unless you get circumcised, you are not accepted with God’. The Gentile believers were actually born of God and stopped doing the things that the law commanded them not to do. They were ‘fulfilling the law by nature’. So Paul is really rebuking this hypocritical mindset that said to the Gentile believers that they weren’t saved. And at the same time the ‘judgers of the law’ were actually breaking the law, while the Gentle converts were keeping it by nature! In this context verse one means a lot. Now to an important verse ‘for not the hearers of the law are just before God, BUT THE DOERS OF THE LAW SHALL BE JUSTIFIED’. Just the fact that this statement is made by Paul in this letter is amazing. Paul will spend lots of time in this letter saying ‘those who try and become justified by keeping the law are missing it’. He will go over and over again stating that trying to become righteous by works and law keeping are futile. Yet here he says ‘the doers of the law SHALL BE JUSTIFIED, not the hearers’. Keep in context what I just showed in the beginning of the chapter. The New Testament has a theme that I have hit on before [read the Hebrews 11 commentary on this site]. The theme is ‘men are justified’ [declared legally righteous] by faith. This faith also ‘sanctifies’ [which can also be called ‘justified’ a sort of progressive justification. James uses this in his letter. Paul says in Galatians ‘having begun in the Spirit [legal justification] are you now made perfect by the flesh’ [law keeping]. Now the New Testament teaches that God wants people to actually ‘be righteous’. Johns 1st epistle uses this as the marker of whether or not you are a child of God ‘by this we know… those that do what is righteous are born of God, those that do evil are not’. In Jesus judgment scenarios ‘those that have DONE good are raised to life, those that have done evil to damnation’. So Paul in essence is saying ‘God ‘justifies’ [using the term in a ongoing- futuristic sense] the righteous, not the ones who only hear the law [the Jewish legalists] but those who by nature do it’ [Paul’s gentile converts]. Got it? This distinction is very important. One of the historic reasons why the Protestant and Catholic churches are divided is over this issue. The Catholic Pope [Leo] who initially condemned Luther did so on grounds like this. The Pope who succeeded Leo re-read all of Luther’s documents, in an honest effort to bridge the schism, and came to the same conclusion. Now I like Luther and side with him more so than the Pope, but one of the problems was some of Luther’s writings seemed to say ‘Justification is solely by faith [true] therefore sin hardily’ [false]. Now Luther didn’t intend to come off this way, but that’s the way it sounded. So the Catholic doctrine fell more on the side of ‘Gods grace makes you righteous, God cant declare people actually righteous until they actually are righteous’ this is called the ‘Legal fiction’ argument. They said Luther’s idea was a ‘legal fiction’. In essence some of what the Catholic scholars were saying was correct. Now God does declare us righteous at the moment of belief, before we actually ‘become totally righteous in practice’. But the error of the Catholic argument saying ‘God cant declare you righteous until you are’ was missing the point. When God says ‘you are righteous’ then you are! God doesn’t lie. But I understand the Catholic point. I think Paul understood it too. In this chapter Paul says ‘not the hearers of the law, but the doers shall be justified’.

(824)ROMANS 2:14- 3:18- Paul says ‘you are called a Jew and are confident that you are a teacher and an instructor of the law’. Read my Hebrews commentary, chapters 5 and 6. It is interesting that Paul understood the teaching role that the Jewish nation was to play among the Gentile nations. In Jesus parables he also hits on these themes. Hebrews says ‘when the time has come [the appointed time of Messiah- Galatians 4] that you ought to be teachers, you have need to be taught the first principles again’. Here Paul tells them they are proud to be the ‘possessors’ of the Old Testament, yet thru their disobedience to it the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles [ouch!] Paul fully acknowledges the privileged role that Israel had, he himself was brought up with this ‘elitist/intellectual’ mindset. But here Paul rebukes them for not fully living up to the law. ‘Well brother, how could they live up to it? Paul himself says that this is impossible.’ If they carried thru with the receiving of Messiah, which their law spoke and testified of, then truly they would have been fulfilling the law as new creatures in Christ. In essence their indictment is ‘you never fully followed thru with your own law’! Now Paul will flatly say that circumcision and being the guardians of the law profit nothing. That the ‘circumcision of the heart’ is what matters. He says if the gentiles, who have no historical attachment to the law, if they do by nature the things in the law then they are ‘spiritually circumcised’ [set apart unto God]. But if the circumcised do not obey the law and character of God [thru the new birth] then it profits nothing. I want to note the strong disconnect between the way Paul speaks about natural Israel and her heritage, and how some in the American church present her. Paul, who himself is a Jew, makes it very clear that Israel is in a state of ‘danger’ by not receiving Messiah. Though he will admit their special place and role in history, yet he refuses to exalt her in her natural ‘state’ [of being]. Now Israel’s response to Paul [which by the way Paul interjects himself. I want to make a note here. Paul will give ‘both sides’ of the argument in his letters. He will say things like ‘and you will say to me such and such’. He actually try’s to add both sides of the conversation in his letters. Recently there has been some discussion on whether or not we can really understand the New Testament without fully knowing all the background and history of the letters. Some have said just  knowing the letters are like hearing only one side of a phone conversation. To be honest this isn’t really true. The writers of the letters and the gospels lived in an ‘oral culture’. This is why Paul himself gives instructions on his letters being read- as opposed to saying ‘pass the letters around for everyone to personally read’. The point is we can understand a whole bunch of scripture just by reading it!] Now Israel asks ‘what good is the whole thing, why even have Jews or circumcision or any history with God at all’? Paul realizes that his whole argument for law and circumcision meaning nothing without a changed heart, that some would respond back like this. He in turn says ‘the law and all the history of Israel with God were very important! It was Gods way of getting his prophetic word [oracles] to man’. In essence God chose to ‘start a conversation’ with Abraham and extend it forward to his children. Over a long history of God interacting with Israel, God would speak thru prophets and ‘wise men’ and these prophetic words were being recorded [meticulously by the way!]. God would reveal himself and his purpose of Messiah thru these writings that came from this relationship [though rocky!] that he had with Israel. Now Paul will say ‘does their unbelief negate Gods promise’? No! Let God be true and every man be a liar. The fact that Israel as a nation were ‘not believing’ in their Messiah, didn’t effect the actual power of the Messiah to be believed on among the Gentile nations. A couple of things here; dispensational theology teaches that the Kingdom of God has been postponed until Christ’s return. I think this contradicts Paul's argument. Paul said Israel’s unbelief could not negate the full purpose of God. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead and is presently seated at God’s right hand proves this. Also Paul will teach later in this letter that the actual reason why salvation has gone out to the gentiles is because Israel rejected Messiah. In essence Israel’s unbelief could not negate what God purposed to do all along.

(825)ROMANS 3:19-31 ‘Now we know that what things the law says, it says to those who are under the law… that every mouth may be stopped and all the world becomes guilty before God’. One of the questions that arise as a response to Paul’s gospel is ‘if the law cannot make us righteous, then why even have it’? Paul will consistently teach the concept that Gods intention for the law was simply to reveal mans sin to him. Man would have this ‘form’ of the law written on stone tablets and as he tried to live up to God’s standards he would come to the proper diagnosis that all men are sinners. This diagnosis would then lead him to a place of faith in Jesus. After he believes in Jesus he then fulfills the law naturally, out of having a new nature ‘yea, we establish the law’ [3:31]. I have found it interesting over the years to teach people this. To explain to sincere people, church goers. To say ‘did you know the bible says that no man can be saved by trying to obey Gods Ten Commandments’? I will always explain that this doesn't mean that God wants us to break them! But when we come to the Cross we by nature keep them. These verses lay down the foundation of ‘justification by faith’. He that believes is righteous. To declare Jesus righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. Having faith ‘in His Blood’. Both Jews and Gentiles need to be made righteous thru faith/belief in Jesus. I want to establish this fact in your mind. Paul without a doubt describes this experience as being ‘justified by faith’. This is the same as saying ‘believing with the heart unto righteousness’. Later on [chapter 10] this needs to be understood when parsing the verses that say ‘with the heart a man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’ many are confused about this, to get it right you need to see that Paul spends much time early on establishing the fact that ‘those who believe unto righteousness’ are justified by faith already!

(826)ROMANS 4: 1-12  Now, Paul will use one of his most frequent arguments to prove that all men, both Jews and Gentiles, need to be justified by faith and not ‘by works’. The most famous singular figure that natural Israel looked to as the ‘identifier’ of them being a special people was ‘Father Abraham’. Paul does a masterful job at showing how Abraham was indeed justified by faith and not by works. The ‘work’ of circumcision came before the law. It would later become synonymous with law keeping [Ten Commandments] and Paul can certainly use it here as implying ‘the whole law’. But to be accurate this work of circumcision was a national identifying factor that Israel looked to as saying ‘we are better than you [Gentiles]’. Paul is showing Israel that God in fact ‘made Abraham righteous’ before he circumcised him! [Gen. 15] And the sign of this righteousness was circumcision. This meaning that Abrahams faith in Gods promise [a purely ‘passive’ act! This is very important to see. Later on as we deal with the famous ‘conversion texts’ we need to keep this in mind] justified him without respect to the law. God simply took Abraham outside and said ‘look at the stars, your children will be this abundant’ and Abraham simply believed this promise to be true. Much like the passive belief of Cornelius house at their conversion [Acts 10]. The simple belief in the promise of Jesus justifies the sinner! Now this fact of Abraham believing and being made righteous, before being circumcised, is proof [according to Paul] that Abraham is the father of ‘many nations’ not just natural Israel. All ethnic groups who HAVE THE SAME FAITH AS ABRAHAM are qualified to be ‘sons of Abraham/ heirs of God’. The fact that Abraham carried this justification along with him as he became circumcised, shows that all Jewish people as well can partake of this ‘righteousness by faith’ if they have the same faith as Abraham had. Jesus did say ‘Abraham rejoiced to see my day’[ John’s gospel]. In Gods promise to Abraham of a future dynasty of children, this included the promised Messiah. So indirectly Abraham’s belief in the promise of being the father of ‘many nations’ included belief in the coming Messiah. So according to Paul, all ethnic groups who have faith in Jesus are justified/made righteous. The very example Israel used to justify ‘ethnic/national pride’ [Father Abraham] was taught in a way that showed the truth of the gospel and how God is no respecter of persons.

(827)ROMANS 4:13-14 ‘Now the promise that Abraham would become the inheritor of the world was not going to be fulfilled thru the law [natural Israel] but thru faith [all who believe, both Jew and Gentile]’. I have spoken on this before [see note at bottom] and will hit on it a little now. The historic church can be defined for the most part as ‘a-millennial’, that is they interpreted the parables on the Kingdom of God and the promise of ‘inheriting the world [which includes the Promised Land]’ as being fulfilled thru the church. That Jesus established Gods kingdom and the church basically fulfills these promises by expanding Christ’s ‘rule’ thru the earth. Some historians saw the 4th century ‘marriage’ of Rome and Christianity as a fulfillment of this. During the 19th and 20th century you had the rise of Dispensationalism, a ‘new/different’ way of interpreting these land promises. Many good men showed the reality of Christ’s literal coming and pointed to a future time where Jesus literally sits on a throne in Jerusalem and rules all nations. These brothers are called ‘Pre-millennial’, they believe that Jesus comes back first [pre] and then establishes his ‘millennial rule’ on earth. The Premillennialists would see the Amillennialists as ‘replacement theologians’. They said that these brothers were taking the actual promises that God made to Israel and ‘replacing’ Israel with the church. In essence they accused the Amillennialists of spiritualizing the promises to Israel and saying the church would be the recipients of the promises. Now, both sides have truth to them, I personally believe the Amillennialists have a lot more truth! But I do see some of the good points that the Premillenialists made. I want you to simply read these verses [Romans 4:13-14, Galatians 3:18] and see for yourself how Paul does teach the reality that the promises to Abraham are to be fulfilled thru the church [spiritual Israel]. This does not mean that there is no future physical return of Jesus. But the body of scripture leans heavily on the Amillinnialists side. [see entry 703] NOTE- To be fair, some historic thinkers held to the Premillennial position. The majority were Amillennial.

(828)ROMANS 4:15-25 ‘For the law worketh wrath, for where there is no law there is no transgression’. I simply want to touch on the concept of ‘wrath’ being a very real part of judgment. One of the ways the gospel ‘saves us’ is by promising a future [and present!] deliverance from wrath. While death ‘reigned’ before the law was given, it wasn’t until the law where you had a clear picture of transgression and atonement. We will deal with this later in Romans. Now Paul once again hits on the theme of Abraham being the ‘spiritual father’ of many nations [all who believe] and how the promises of God to Abraham were to be fulfilled thru this ‘new race of people’ [the church]. Paul is careful to not demean Israel; he couches his terms in a way that says ‘God will fulfill these things thru the circumcision who believes [Jews] and the un-circumcision who believe’ [Gentiles]. I want to stress the very plain language Paul uses to show us that we should not be seeing Gods ‘covenant promises’ thru a natural lens. Christians need to be careful when they support [exalt!] natural Israel in a way that the New Testament doesn’t do. ‘To the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is the faith of Abraham’. Now Paul tells us that when God made promises to Abraham that Abraham believed against hope. When all things looked really bad, he still believed. When he was 100 years old and Sarah around 90, he held to the promise [read my commentaries on Genesis 15-18 and Hebrews 11] and therefore God imputed righteousness to him. How closely are you paying attention to Paul’s free use of Abraham and Genesis? If you carefully read this chapter you see Paul ‘intermingle’ the story of Abraham being ‘made righteous upon initial belief’ [Gen. 15] and the later story of Sarah having Isaac [Gen. 17]. I think Paul was simply using the description of Abrahams faith, as seen in the Gen. 17 [and 22!] accounts of his life, to show the type of faith he initially ‘exercised’ [I don’t like using this term to be honest. God actually imputes faith to the believer at the initial act of regeneration]. The important chapters from Genesis that we all need to have a ‘working knowledge’ of are Chapters 12 [the initial promise], 15 [the oft mentioned ‘imputed righteousness’ verse], 17 [the receiving of the promised seed- Isaac], and 22 [the ultimate act of obedience that Abraham showed in offering up Isaac. This will be described in James epistle as ‘righteousness being fulfilled’. James, who is concerned about ‘works’, will say that when Abraham offered Isaac he was fulfilling the ‘imputed righteousness’ that God gave him earlier. James actually describes this as ‘being justified by works’{James 2:21} and James says ‘the scripture was fulfilled that saith Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him for righteousness’… ‘see how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only’. The classic view taken by many confuses the ‘justified’ part with the initial act of justification that Paul centers on. James uses ‘see how he was justified by works’ in a future ‘judicial decree’ sense; that is God having the ongoing ‘freedom’ to continually say ‘good job son, you did well’. The word justification is used in a fluid sense much like salvation. Christians need to be more ‘secure’ in their own assurance to be able to see these truths. When we approach all these seemingly ‘difficult passages’ in a defensive mode, then we never arrive at the actual meaning]. When we see the overall work of God in Abraham’s life we see the purpose of God in ‘declaring people just’ [initially ‘getting saved’]. The purpose is for them to eventually ‘act just’ [obey!] ‘Jesus was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification’ thank God that this process is dependant on the work of the Cross! [see # 758]

(829)Romans 5:1-9 ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God thru out Lord Jesus Christ’. There are certain benefits ‘results’ of being ‘made righteous by faith’, peace being one of them. Paul goes on and says we glory in hope and also trials, because we realize that thru the difficulties we gain experience and patience. Things that are needed for the journey, we can’t substitute talent and motivation and ‘success principles’ for them. We need maturity and God produces it this way. Those who teach otherwise have a ‘self inflicted wound’ their teachings are very immature! That is there was a ‘strain’ of teaching in the church that said ‘we don’t learn thru difficulty and suffering, we learn only thru Gods word!’ [that is reading it].  Those who grasped onto this false idea have produced some of the most unbalanced teaching in the church, stuff that even the younger generation is saying ‘what in the heck are these guys preaching’?  If you by pass the difficult road, you will be shallow. Now Paul says ‘God commended his love toward us, that when we were sinners Christ died for us’ ‘being now justified by his death, we shall be saved thru his life’ [saved from wrath thru him]. Once again this theme pops up; ‘since we are justified, made righteous by believing with the heart, we shall be saved [continual, future deliverance] from wrath thru him’. I don’t know if you ever realized what a major theme this is in Romans? The ongoing, future ‘being saved’ is a result of ‘being made righteous’. Later on in chapter 10, when we read that the righteous call for salvation, we need to understand this context. Remember, when the two are linked together in the same verse, it is not saying ‘saved’ in the sense of some sinner’s prayer. It is speaking of the ongoing, promised deliverance [from many things, not just wrath!] to the ‘justified caller’. We have access ‘by faith into this grace wherein we stand’. Wow! That's some good stuff, Jesus ever lives so that those who come to him are ‘being saved’ to the uttermost. This grace we are in is available to us all of the time, are we availing ourselves of it?

(830)ROMANS 5:10-21 ‘For if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son… much more we shall be saved by his life’. Now, some have ‘divided’ the role of Jesus death and resurrection in salvation. I heard a radio preacher teach that all the people who think they are ‘saved’ because Jesus died for them were deceived. He used this verse to say they need to believe in his ‘life’ [resurrection] to ‘be saved by his life’. Well I get the point, but he was missing the meaning of the verse. Why? Because once again we see ‘saved’ as initially ‘getting saved’ while here it is in a continual sense. Paul is saying ‘if God reconciled us [justification] while we were deadly enemies, how much more shall the actual ministry and life of Jesus at Gods right hand do for us!’ The New Testament teachers that we have actually entered into an eternal covenant with God thru his Son. Jesus ‘ever lives’ to make intercession for us [Hebrews]. Therefore he is able to ‘save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him’. The bible teaches an ongoing ‘saving’ relationship that believers have with the Messiah. This ‘relationship’ would not be possible if he were dead. Now we ‘joy in God thru Jesus Christ from whom we have received the atonement’ good stuff! Isaiah says God will meet with those who ‘rejoice and do what is right’. We have both of these ‘abilities’ because of the atonement. The rest of the chapter teaches the Pauline doctrine of original sin. That because Adam sinned, death and sin passed to all men. So likewise the ‘righteousness’ of one man [Jesus- the last Adam] has passed upon all men [those who receive of the abundance of grace and the gift of life]. This is an interesting angle that Paul uses to teach redemption. He shows the reality that there are only 2 ‘federal heads’ of mankind. You are either in the first or last Adam. The ‘righteous act’ is speaking of the Cross [Philippians says Jesus was ‘obedient unto death’. The singular act of obedience that allows this righteousness to pass to all who believe is the Cross. Some have misunderstood this chapter to teach that the obedient life of Christ, his sinless life, saves us. I feel this is a wrong reading of the chapter. The sinless life of Jesus, pre Cross, made him the true candidate to be the substitute for man. He was able to die in our place [obedience unto death] because he was the sinless Son of God. We are now ‘saved by his life’ because he ever lives to make intercession for us]. All who believe in Jesus can now trace their lineage to the ‘last Adam’ [Jesus] and be free from ‘original sin’.

(831)ROMANS 6- Lets talk about baptism. To start off I believe that the baptism spoken about in this chapter is primarily referring to ‘the baptism of the Spirit’, that is the work of the Holy Sprit placing a believer in the Body of Christ. The Catholic and Orthodox [and Reformed!] brothers believe that Paul is speaking about water baptism. The MAJORITY VIEW of Christians today believe this chapter is referring to water baptism. Why? First, the text itself does not indicate either way. You could take this baptism and see it either way! You are not a heretic if you believe in it referring to Spirit or water. You are not a heretic if you believe in Paedo baptism [infant baptism]. ‘What are you saying? Now you lost me.’ Infant baptism developed as a Christian rite over the course of church history. The church struggled with how to ‘dedicate’ new babies to Christ. Though the scriptures give no examples of infant baptism, some felt that the reason was because the scriptures primarily show us the conversion of the first century believers. There really aren’t a whole lot of stories of ‘generations’ of believers passing on the faith to other generations. So some felt that the idea of dedicating babies to the Lord through infant baptism was all right. The examples they used were the circumcision of babies in the Old Testament. Infants were circumcised [a rite that placed you under the terms of the Old Covenant] though they weren’t old enough to really understand what they were doing! This example was carried over into the Christian church and applied to infant baptism. Now, I do not believe in infant baptism. But I can certainly understand this line of reasoning. As Christian theology developed thru the early centuries, particularly thru the patristic period, you had very intellectual scholars grapple with many different themes and ideas. Some that we just studied in chapter 5. Some theologians came to see infant baptism as dealing with original sin. They applied the concept of infant baptism as a rite that washes away original sin. The church did not teach that this meant you did not have to later believe and follow Christ. They simply developed a way of seeing baptism as ‘sanctifying’ the new members of Christian households. This basic belief made it all the way to the Reformation. The Reformers themselves still practiced infant baptism. It was the Anabaptists [re-baptizers] who saw the truth of adult baptism and suffered for it, at the hands of the reformers! Ulrich Zwingli, the Swiss reformer, would have them drowned for their belief. Some Protestants stuck with the infant rite, while others [the Restorationists] would reject it. Today most Evangelicals do not practice infant baptism, the majority of Christians world wide do. Now, the reason I did a little history is because Evangelicals [of which I am one] have a tendency to simply look at other believers who practice this rite as ‘deceived’. Many are unaware of the history I just showed you. The reasons the historic church developed this doctrine are not heretical! They used scripture and tradition to pass it down to future generations. I do not believe or practice infant baptism, many good believers do.

(832)ROMANS 6: 1-11 ‘shall we continue to sin, so grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ Now begins the ‘actual part’ the result, if you will, of being ‘made righteous by faith’. One of the main accusations against Paul, by the Jewish believers, was that he taught ‘sin a lot, because you are no longer under the law’. Paul spends time defending himself against this accusation thru out the New Testament. Here Paul teaches that the believer has been joined unto Christ [baptized, immersed into him] and this ‘joining’ identifies him with Christ’s death. So how can ‘we, who are dead to sin, live any longer in sin’? Paul’s argument for righteous living comes from the fact that we have died with Christ unto sin. ‘We have died with him, and we have also been raised with him to new life’. In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul says we who were dead in sins have been made alive in Christ. Now, we live a new life, free from sin [practically speaking- not absolute sinless-ness!] because we are identified with Jesus in his new life, we are ‘alive with and in him’. ‘Since we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection’! Jesus died once, and now he lives forever unto God ‘likewise count yourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God thru Jesus Christ our Lord’. Paul’s basis for the transformed life is Grace and being ‘in him’. Paul does not appeal to the law to try and effect holiness in the believer, he appeals to Christ ‘in him you have died to legalistic practices, trying to earn salvation and acceptance; and now because of this new position [placement] you too have died to the old man [lifestyle] and are alive unto God’. Paul obviously did not teach ‘sin hardily’ to the contrary he taught ‘live unto God’.

(834)Romans 6:12-23    ‘Let not sin therefore rule in your mortal body’ if we have died with Jesus, we are ‘dead with him to sin’. If we are risen with Jesus ‘we are alive unto God thru him’ for this reason don’t sin! Paul makes sure his readers understand him, he in no way was teaching a sinful gospel. He encourages the believers to renew their minds to this truth. ‘For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace’ Paul clearly saw the dangers of legalism [living under strict ‘do this, don’t do this’ guidelines] he saw that the law actually quickens the fleshly nature and brings to the surface mans sin. Now, because we are under grace, does this mean we get to keep on sinning? ‘God forbid!’ Paul launches into the explanation of sin and bondage. Remember, sin was in the world before the law. Men were dying ever since Adam sinned. So for Paul, this means even though we are not under the restraints of law, yet the reality of sin, bondage and punishment still exist. Paul says ‘if you yield to sin and allow it to rule you, you will become its slave’. There will be a penalty and price to pay ‘the wages of sin is death’. But because you are identified with Jesus ‘sin shall not have dominion over you… you have been made free from sin’. Paul teaches the victorious Christian life. He does not deny the struggle [next chapter!] but he shows the reality of redemption. He obviously never taught the concept of ‘sin more, so grace can abound’. He understood the dangers of preaching ‘we are not under the law’ but he also understood the reality of ‘being under grace’ he figured it was worth the risk of being misunderstood if he could truly imbed the gospel into the believing community.

(835)ROMANS 7:1-4 Paul uses the analogy of a married woman ‘don’t you know that the law has dominion over a person as long as he is alive’? If a married woman leaves her husband and marries another man she is guilty of breaking the law of adultery. Now, if her husband dies, she is free to marry another man. The act that freed her from sin and guilt was death! Every thing else in the scenario stayed the same. She still married another, she still consummated the new marriage. But because her first husband died, she has no guilt. I always loved this analogy. For years I wondered why these themes in scripture are for the most part not ‘imbedded’ in the collective psyche of the people of God. We have spent so much time ‘proof texting’ the verses on success and wealth, that we have overlooked the really good stuff! Now Paul teaches that we have been made free from the law by the ‘death of our husband’ [Jesus] so we can ‘re-marry’. Who do we marry? Christ! He has not only died to free us from the law, he also rose from the dead to become our ‘husband’ [we are called the bride of Christ]. Paul connects the death and resurrection of Jesus in this analogy. Both are needed for the true gospel to be preached [1st Corinthians 15]. Notice how in this passage Paul emphasizes ‘the death of Christ’s body’. The New Testament doesn’t always make this distinction, but here it does. In the early centuries of Christianity you had various debates over the nature and ‘substance’ of God and Christ. The church hammered out various decrees and creeds that would become the Orthodoxy of the day. Many of these are what you would call the ‘Ecumenical councils’. These are the early councils [many centuries!] that both the eastern [Orthodox church] and western [Catholic] churches would all accept. Some feel that the early church fathers and Latin theologians [Tertullian, Augustine and others] had too much prior influence from philosophy and the ‘forensic’ thinking of their time. They had a tendency to describe things in highly technical ways. Ways that were prominent in the legal and philosophical thinking of the West. Some of the eastern thinkers [Origen] had more of a Greek ‘flavor’ to their theologizing [Alexandria, named after Alexander the great, was a city of philosophy many years prior to Christ. This city was at one time the center of thinking in the East. That’s why Paul would face the thinkers at Athens, they had a history in the east of Greek philosophy]. Well any way the result was highly technical debates over the nature of God and Christ. The historic church would finally decree that Christ had 2 natures, Human and Divine. And that at the Cross the ‘humanity of Jesus’ died, but his ‘Deity’ did not. I think Paul agreed by saying ‘we are free from the law by the death of Christ’s Body’ here Paul distinguishes between the physical death of Jesus and his Deity. Note- actually, Augustine would be in the same school as Origen. Alexandrian.

(836)ROMANS 7: 5-13 ‘But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of the Spirit, not in the oldness of the letter’. This is such a powerful statement! WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, surely Paul must mean ‘the fleshly law [carnal nature] in our members’? No, he means ‘the law’, the actual moral code that was contained in the Ten Commandments. He writes to the Colossians ‘Jesus took the handwriting of ordinances that were against us [the real law, not the sinful nature!] and nailed it to his Cross’. He tells the Ephesians ‘the middle wall of partition [law] has come down in Christ’. I know it’s easy to develop ideas that justify this radical grace concept in our minds, it’s just part of mans nature to want to be able to do something, contribute some way to our salvation. ‘Surely the law helps me stay in line’? No it doesn’t! You are 'dead to the law by the Body of Christ’. We now live and are regulated by the ‘Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’. It is the fact that we have been raised to life in Christ that frees us, not the law. Paul goes on and explains that there was a time when ‘he was alive without the law’ but when the commandment came ‘sin revived, and I died’. Paul was a strict Pharisee, the further he advanced in law, the more he found himself to be ‘exceeding sinful’. The more he learned, the worse he got! It’s sort of a catch 22, you see and hear the ‘do not do this’ portions of law, and it stirs up the sinful nature to ‘do it’. Now Paul recaps an earlier theme of the law serving the function of revealing sin to man. He defends the law by saying ‘was that which is good [law] death unto me’? No, but the law simply ‘awakened’ the sin that was always there, hiding under the covers. It brought to a head the ‘disease’. The law revealed the underlying problem of sin, and made it ‘exceeding sinful’. The law is good, we are bad! [apart from Christ and the Spirit of life].

(837)ROMANS 7:14-25 Paul now shows us the reality of Gods law and its effect on man. ‘When I do something that I DON’T WANT TO DO, then I consent unto the law that it is good’. Did you ever think of this? The fact that you [or even the atheist!] have done things that ‘you don’t want to do’ proves the existence of God and natural law [which the 10 commandments were only a glimpse, they reveal a small part of Gods character and nature]. So if you, or anybody else, have ever struggled with ‘I am doing something that I hate’. Then why do it? Or better, why hate it? You yourself are an actual living testimony of ‘the law of God’. Your own conscience testifies that there are  ‘good things’ and ‘bad things’. You also testify of the fact of sin ‘why do you keep doing the bad things’? Alas, that thing called ‘sin’ does exist! Paul shows us that the experience of every human member on the planet testifies to both the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of man. Freud [the father of modern Psychology] saw this war rage in the psyche of man, he came up with an idea that we need to ‘free man’ from this inner moral struggle. He espoused the idea that in mans ‘head’ he has this preconceived image of ‘God’ and right or wrong. Being Freud was a child of the Enlightenment, as well as a student of Existentialism [though the Father of Existentialism was a Christian, the Danish theologian/ philosopher Soren Kierkegaard] he taught that if we could just eliminate this ‘God idea’ and ‘church moral code’ from mans mind, then all would be well! Geez, I could hardly think of a more destructive thing than to tell man ‘if it feels right, do it’! Paul taught ‘if you can’t stop doing something that ‘feels right’ then you are sinning!’[if that which ‘feels right’ is making you miserable!] And the very fact that you can’t escape the guilt, proves that God exists and that his law is this unstoppable force that invades all human consciences. Paul knew the struggle, he testifies thru out scripture that he tried to become right with God over and over again, but the ‘law of sin’ [the sinful nature. Here ‘law’ is speaking of the ‘principle of sin’ and the fleshly nature] prevented him from keeping the ‘law of God’ [doing what’s right], he then found the ‘righteousness of God that comes thru faith in Christ’. Paul ends the chapter ‘O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death’? ‘I thank God thru Jesus Christ my Lord’. Paul found the answer, his name was Jesus.

(839)ROMAN 8:1-4 ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh [sinful nature] but after the Spirit [new nature]’. Now, having proved the reality of sin and guilt [chapter 7] Paul teaches that those who ‘are in Christ’ are free from condemnation. Why? Because they ‘walk according to the Spirit’ the ‘righteousness of the law is being fulfilled in them’. Having no condemnation isn’t simply a ‘legal function’ of declared righteousness, and Paul didn’t teach it that way! Paul is saying ‘all those who have believed in Jesus and have been legally justified [earlier arguments in chapters 3-4] are now walking [actually acting out] this new nature. Therefore [because you no longer walk according to the flesh] there is no condemnation’! This argument helps bridge the gap between Catholic and Protestant theology, part of the reason for the ongoing schism is over this understanding. After the Reformation the Catholic Church had a Counter Reformation council, the council of Trent. They dealt with a lot of the abuses of the Catholic Church, things that many Catholic leaders were complaining about before the Reformation. They did deal will some issues and reformed somewhat. To the dismay of the more ‘reform minded’ Catholics [with Protestant leanings] they still came down strong on most pre reform doctrines. This made it next to impossible for the schism to be healed. But one area of disagreement was over ‘legal’ versus ‘actual/experiential’ justification. The Catholic position was ‘God can’t declare/say a person is justified until they actually are’ [experientially]. The Protestant side [Luther] said ‘God does justify [legal declaration] a person by faith alone’. Like I taught before, both of these are true. The Catholic view of ‘justification’ is looking ahead towards a future reality [The same way James speaks of justification in a future sense- He uses the example from Genesis 22, when Abraham does a righteous act] while the Protestant view is focusing on the initial legal act of justification [Genesis 15]. Here Paul agrees with both views, he says ‘those who walk after the Spirit [actually living the changed life] have no condemnation’.

(840)ROMANS 8:5-13 Paul will teach the impossibility of the ‘carnal minds’ ability to submit to Gods law. Those who are ‘in the flesh’ [the unregenerate nature- not simply ‘in the body’. We will get into these distinctions in a minute] can’t submit to God. Society spends so much time and effort trying to get the ‘lost man’ to do what's right. The prohibition movement [outlawing liquor], the increase in the severity of punishment for crimes dealing with drugs. Making the child kidnappers crime punishable by death. While all these laws are necessary and good [though some debate the wisdom of the kidnapper one, they think the kidnapper might just go ahead and kill the victim if the same punishment applies to both crimes] they have little effect on getting ‘the carnal man to submit’. Paul also says ‘if the Spirit of him who raised up Christ from the dead dwells in you, then he that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you’. Let’s do a little teaching here. Most commentators see this as speaking of the promise of the resurrection ‘your mortal bodies’. I see this more in line with the context of chapter 7. The discussion of ‘mortal bodies’ [your actual body, the flesh- which is different than ‘the fleshly nature’ which refers to the sinful nature] speaks of your actual life now ‘let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies’. Also in verse 13 of this chapter the same theme is seen ‘if ye thru the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live’. I believe Paul is primarily saying ‘if you are in the Spirit [born of God] the Spirit of life will make alive your physical life in such a way that you will glorify God in your body and spirit, which are Gods’ [Corinthians]. Chapter 12 says your bodies are living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. Now later on in this chapter [8] we do see the resurrection, which is called ‘the redemption of the body’ [verse 23] so these two concepts work together. The fact that the believer is ‘training his mortal body’ for God [thru obedience] is sort of a precursor to the resurrection! Now, some believers confuse the resurrection of the body and the work of regeneration in ‘making you alive’ [Ephesians 2]. The work of regeneration brings your dead spirit back to life [born again] when you believe [which is a Divine imputation of faith at the moment of conversion, a sovereign act]. This ‘coming alive’ is purely spiritual. This qualifies you for the future physical resurrection of the body [Ephesians calls this the ‘down payment’, the ‘earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession’. The word ‘earnest’ here is used in the same way as ‘earnest money’ in a real estate transaction. The fact that we have been ‘sealed’ with the Holy Spirit is our ‘guarantee of future bodily resurrection’]. Bishop N.T. Wright, the bishop of Durham [the church of England- Durham is the 3rd most influential post in the Church of England. Canterbury is at the top] has recently written on the truths of the resurrection of the body. He is an excellent scholar, way way above my league. He has been instrumental in ‘re introducing’ the reality of Christ’s resurrection as well as our future resurrection as a very real Christian belief [and historic truth as well]. I have read some of Wrights stuff and am a little surprised at some of the ideas on ‘soul sleep’ and the immortality of the soul. Bishop Wright seems to side with some of the ideas that certain restorationist groups [7th day Adventists] espouse, that the Catholic Church kind of corrupted the ideas of heaven and the soul by being overly influenced by Greek thought. While it is possible for Bishop Wright to have come to his understanding entirely thru scripture and history, yet I felt it a little strange to see him make these arguments. For the most part I like brother Wright and totally agree with his stance on the future ‘new heavens and new earth’ as the final place of rest [as opposed to dying and going to heaven now, which is a temporary place] but there is the biblical reality of a present ‘heaven’ and this doesn’t only come from Greek thought. I have often used the Christian doctrine of the new heavens and new earth while speaking with the Jehovah’s witnesses, I always agree on the reality of a future kingdom on earth. I simply steer the conversation back to ‘who qualifies for it’ and get straight to the gospel. Well anyway we have a promise of a future resurrection, and also a ‘quickening of the body now’ [God actually using our physical life to glorify him]. These are both great truths!

(841)ROMANS 8: 14-18 ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God’. Many of us are familiar with this verse [I hope!]. We often see it as saying ‘Gods direction in our lives is proof that we are Christians’ true enough. But in context ‘being led by Gods Spirit’ means living the new life thru Christ. The putting to death of the old man and being ‘made alive’ thru Christ is what this is saying. Paul agrees with John [1st John] ‘those that do what is right [led by the Spirit] are of God’. Paul says ‘we have received the Spirit and a natural result of this is crying “Abba, Father”. I don’t want to do too much here, but Paul sees the ‘confession’ and heart cry of the believer as proof, a result of being ‘a habitation of the Spirit’. A sign, if you will, of being born of God is confessing/ praying to the Father. Paul quoted David in chapter 4 ‘for this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found’ [Psalms 32- actually Paul quotes a different section from the Psalm, but this theme is consistent with Paul’s view]. Paul knew the reality of ‘the godly calling upon God’ they have an inner cry of ‘Abba, father’. ‘We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ’. For many years this has been a popular verse among many believers, often times it is used to say ‘God owns the cattle on a thousand hills’ [which he does] therefore if we are heirs ‘give me some cattle’! [stuff]. Here Paul uses this term in speaking of our identification with Christ’s sufferings. ‘If we suffer with him, we too shall share [joint heir!] in his glory’ [future glorification at the resurrection- we shall see him and be changed in a moment, at the twinkling of an eye. This mortal shall put on immortality]. It’s a symptom of modern American Christianity to view all these scriptures thru a materialistic lens, Paul held to the promise of a future reward [at the resurrection] that enabled him to go thru great difficulty and suffering in this present life. He counted the suffering as a privilege that he shared with Christ.

(843)ROMANS 8: 19-25 ‘the sufferings of this present time [are you ‘presently’ suffering?] are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us’. Paul compares the difficulty to the reward. The reward here is the future resurrection. Paul did not see suffering as ‘from the devil’ or the reward as something material [monetary stuff! The resurrection body will be ‘material’ - real]. Paul teaches that the whole creation is waiting for this day. Not only will we get a ‘makeover’ but there will be a new heaven and a new earth! The creation itself longs for this [almost as much as Al Gore!] This resurrection is called ‘the redemption of our body’. The next verse says ‘we are saved by hope’. John also says [1st John] that the future reality of the resurrection ‘causes us to be pure in this life’ [every one that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure]. Why? Because we know God has a purpose for our bodies as well as our spirits! The ‘getting saved by hope’ simply means the future hope of the resurrection ‘encourages’ us to live clean now. Once again ‘saved’ is a neutral term. In can apply to all sorts of things. I always found it funny how when you read certain commentaries, that you see the difficulty Christians have when coming across these types of verses. There’s a verse that says ‘the woman will be saved thru childbearing’ geez, you wouldn’t believe the difficulty some writers have when they come across this stuff. Some teach ‘she will be ‘saved’ thru the birth of a child [Jesus]’ and all sorts of stuff. I think if we simply changed the word ‘saved’ for ‘delivered’ [which are basically the same thing] that maybe this would help. But thank God that we have a future resurrection to look forward to, let this truth ‘deliver’ you from the temptation to think ‘what’s all this suffering worth, why even go thru it?’ Because we have a great promise at the other end!

(845)ROMANS 8:26-28 ‘Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities’ why does Paul say ‘likewise’? He is saying ‘not only does the future hope of the resurrection sustain us, but also Gods Spirit helps us’! He knows how to make intercession for us in ways that we cannot. I just finished an hour prayer time, not an ‘official’ intercession time [which I do a few times a week now]. But an ‘unofficial’ time where I try and hear what the Spirit is speaking. When you are ‘praying in the Spirit’ [which can include the charismatic expression of tongues] you are depending upon the Spirit to transcend your limited ability to articulate what needs to be said. ‘All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are ‘the called’ according to his purpose’. A very famous verse indeed. What does it mean? It means what it says! Over the years I have heard so many excuses for trying to get around difficult things. Why do the righteous suffer? Some taught it was because of their ignorance of scripture. Why did the things that happened to Job happen? Some said it was because he ‘feared’ that the things would happen [this group seems to miss the whole underlying reason for the book. Job’s friends are continually looking for a reason thru out the book. The point is, sometimes there is no reasonable explanation. I realize you can pick apart certain statements from Job and come up with ‘reasons’, but the meaning of the book is God is sovereign and we shouldn’t always think we can figure him out or ‘work the system’]. Here Paul says ‘whatever is happening to you right now [even very bad stuff!] will eventually work out for you benefit’. What about Hitler? Did he love God? I don’t believe so. This scripture says ‘to them that love God’. Your only responsibility thru the difficulty is to ‘love God’.

(846)ROMANS 8:29-30 ‘for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: whom he justified, them he also glorified’. Let’s talk a little. When I first became a Christian I began a lifelong study of scripture, where I continually read a certain amount of scripture every day for many years. Over the years I have varied on how fast I should read [that is how many chapters per day and so forth]. But during the early stages I always took these verses to teach predestination in the classical sense. Simply put, that God ‘pre chose’ me [and all whom come to him] before we ‘chose him’. The Fundamental Baptist church I began to attend [a great church with great people!] taught that ‘classic Calvinism’ [predestination] was false doctrine, and they labeled it ‘Hyper Calvinism’. I simply accepted this as fact. But I never forgot the early understanding that I first gleaned thru my own study. I also was very limited in my other readings outside of the scripture. I did study the Great awakenings and Charles Finney. I read some biographies on John Wesley and other great men of God. These men were not Calvinistic in their doctrine [which is fine], as a matter of fact Wesley would eventually disassociate from George Whitefield over this issue. Whitefield was a staunch Calvinist! Over time I came to believe the doctrine again, simply as I focused on the scriptures that teach it. Eventually I picked up some books on church history and realized that Calvinism was [and is] a mainstream belief among many great believers. I personally believe that most of the great theologians in history have accepted this doctrine. Now, for those who reject it, they honestly struggle with these portions of scripture. Just like there are portions of scripture that Calvinists struggle with. To deny this is to be less than honest. The Arminians [Those who deny classic predestination- the term comes from Jacob Arminias, a Calvinist who was writing and studying on the ‘errors’ of ‘arminianism’ and came to embrace the doctrine of free will/choice] usually approach the verses that say ‘he predestined us’ by teaching that Gods predestination speaks only of his foreknowledge of those who would choose him. This is an honest effort to come to terms with the doctrine. To be ‘more honest’ I think this doesn’t adequately deal with the issue. In the above text, as well as many other places in scripture, the idea of ‘Gods foreknowledge and pre choosing’ speak specifically about Gods choice to save us, as opposed to him simply knowing that we would ‘choose right’. The texts that teach predestination teach it in this context. Now the passage above does say ‘those whom he foreknew, he also did predestinate to be conformed into the image of Christ’ here this passage actually does say ‘God predestinated us to be like his Son’. If you left the ‘foreknowledge’ part out, you could read this passage in an Arminian way. But we do have the ‘foreknowledge’ part. So I believe Paul is saying ‘God chose us before we were born, he ‘knew’ ahead of time that he would bring us into his Kingdom. Those whom he foreknew he also predestinated to become like his Son.’ Why? So his Son would be the firstborn among many. God wanted a whole new race of ‘children of God’. Those he predestinated he ‘called’. He drew them to himself. Jesus said ‘all that the Father give to me will come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no way cast out’. Those who ‘come’ are justified, those who are justified are [present tense] glorified. Gods design and sovereignty speak of it as a ‘finished task’ like it already happened. God lives outside of the dimension of time. I believe in the doctrine of predestination. Many others do as well. You don’t have to believe it if you don’t want to, but I believe scripture teaches it.

(847)ROMANS 8: 31-39 ‘What shall we say then to these things? [what things? The fact that God predestined us and has guaranteed completion of the purpose he has designed us for!] If God be for us, who can be against us?’ Paul teaches that Christ is the only one with the ‘right’ or authority to pass judgment. If the only person in existence who can ‘officially’ condemn and pass legal judgment has actually died for us for the purpose of ‘freeing us from a state of condemnation’, then who ‘gives a rip’ about others opinions and views of us? Most of us struggle with how others view us. Paul did teach that Elders should have good character and a fine reputation in the community. But there is another type of ‘persona’ that preachers can fall into. A sort of ‘concern’ about what the critics are saying. In this context Paul says ‘If the opinion of the only person in existence whose opinion really matters, is one of “I accept you unconditionally, I declare you free from what others think, you are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Ever since I have known you, you have been pleasing in my sight” [all true scriptures by the way] Then who cares what others think! Paul also teaches that nothing can separate us from Christ’s love ‘not tribulation or distress or famine or persecution’ IN all these things we are more than conquerors thru him who loved us. Most times we view this passage from a ‘Calvinistic’ lens. I want you to see the impact of this statement thru a different lens. In the American church we have taught people ‘would a good father not pay the bills of his kids? Would a good father allow his kids to suffer? If you were really partaking of the New Covenant you would have it made’. While I do realize that many well meaning ministers have taught these viewpoints with honest and sincere hearts, I also have seen how this mindset accuses the saints. It basically tells the struggling believer ‘what kind of father do you have? If he really loved you would you be going thru these things’? In essence we are saying ‘tribulation and distress and persecution’ are all signs that ‘you have been separated from Gods love’! Paul blows this false [materialistic] mindset out of the water. He says it is thru these things that we are more than conquerors. It is the ability to look into the face of Pontius Pilate and say ‘you have no power over me, my father has permitted these things to take place. I am here to lay my life down for his glory’. Paul said all these things we are suffering are opportunities to glorify our father. To look into the face of society and say ‘nay, we are more than conqueror's thru him that loved us’. The early church set the world on fire when they were laying their lives down for the cause, refusing to deny their Lord even at the point of death. They were ‘more than conquerors’.

(848)ROMANS 9: 1-8 Paul returns to an earlier theme ‘Christ came, as pertaining to the flesh, in response to the covenants that God made with Israel’ [my paraphrase!] Paul says that natural Israel played a very important role in the coming of Messiah. He was [is] the fulfillment of the prophecies that came as a result of Gods interaction with ‘the commonwealth of Israel’. Now Paul again says ‘they are not all Israel, which are of Israel, but “in Isaac shall thy seed be called’”. Understand something here, Paul is not teaching ‘another’ natural lineage to Christ. The mistake of the worldwide church of God [Herbert Armstrong] which teaches British Israelism, trying to trace the natural lineage of Europeans and saying ‘these are the lost tribes’. Paul is simply saying ‘those who are of the Law, the natural tribe of Israel [Jews] are not automatically counted as ‘the seed’ [children] but those who ‘are of promise’. Paul also uses this in Galatians 3 and 4. ‘Of promise’ is simply saying ‘those who have been born of Gods Spirit [Jew or Gentile] are the children that God promised to Abraham’ he is the father of ‘many nations’. All who would believe. These themes are building upon Paul’s earlier theology in this letter. This letter [Romans] has a little more ‘weight’ than say a pastoral epistle [Timothy, Titus]. Now, I am not saying it is ‘more inspired’ but I want you to see that even in the book of Acts you see Paul place special emphasis on ‘I must make it to Rome’! Paul fully realizes that this letter will be read among the believers and Jews at Rome. Rome is the capitol city of the Empire. He wants the early believers to understand the role and purpose of God for Israel. Paul’s efforts are being seen by some Jewish believers [Jerusalem] as antagonistic. Paul wants to make it clear that he was not trying to start some type of movement that rejected natural Israel. At the same time he wants natural Israel ‘my kinsman according to the flesh’ to receive their Messiah! So in this context Romans is a theological treatise saying ‘God wants to bring both Jew and Gentile together as one new man in Christ [Ephesians]’. When he argues ‘they that are the children of the flesh ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD[verse 8] but the children of the promise are counted for the seed’ he is simply saying ‘all people, both Jews and Gentiles [which includes all races that are ‘non Jews’ even Arabs!] can partake of this free gift by grace’. The promise is to all who ‘will believe’.

(849)ROMANS 9:9-23 now we get into predestination. Paul uses the example of Jacob and Esau [I spoke on this in the Genesis study, see chapter 25], he says God chose Jacob over Esau before they were born. He also uses the story of Pharaoh and says God was the one who hardened his heart. Paul says these things show us that God’s mercy and choice are a sovereign act. He specifically says ‘God chose Jacob, not on the basis of any thing he did [or would do!] but because of his own sovereign choice’. Now, this is another one of those arguments where Paul says ‘you will then say to me, how can God find fault? If everyone is simply doing the things he preordained, fulfilling destiny, then how can God justly hold people accountable’? First, I want you to see that this statement, that Paul is putting into the mouths of his opponents, only makes sense from the classic position of predestination. Second, if predestination only spoke of Gods foreknowledge of the choices that people were going to make [like asking Jesus into their heart!] then the obvious response to the argument would be ‘Oh, God chose Jacob because he knew what a good boy he was going to be’. Not only would this be wrong, Jacob [the supplanter] was not a ‘good boy’, but Paul does not use this defense in arguing his case. He simply says ‘who are we to question God? Can the thing formed say to him that formed it “why have you made me like this”? It seems as if Paul’s understanding of predestination was in the Augustinian/Calvinistic Tradition. A few years back a popular author on the west coast, Dave Hunt, wrote a book called ‘what kind of love is this’? He took on the Reformed Faiths understanding of predestination. Dave was a little out of his league in the book. He seemed to not fully grasp the historic understanding of the doctrine. He quoted some stuff from Charles Spurgeon that made it sound like he was not a believer in predestination. Spurgeon did make strong statements against certain ideas that were [are] prevalent in classic Calvinism. Some taught that Christ’s Blood was shed only for the elect. This is called ‘particular redemption’ or from the famous ‘Tulip’ example ‘limited atonement’. Spurgeon did not embrace the idea that Christ’s Blood was not sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world. The problem with Hunt using this true example from Spurgeon, is that he overlooked the other obvious statements from Spurgeon that place him squarely in the Calvinistic camp. Some refer to this as ‘4 point Calvinism’. I myself agree with Spurgeon on this point. The reason I mention this whole thing is to show you that major Christian figures have dealt with these texts and have struggled with the obvious difficulties involved. I think Paul does a little ‘speculative theology’ himself in this chapter. He says ‘what if God willing to show his mercy and wrath permitted certain things’. He gives possible reasons for the seeming ‘unfairness’ of this doctrine. The point I want to stress is Paul never tries to defend it from the classic Arminian understanding, that says ‘God knew the way people were going to choose, and he simply ‘foreordained’ those who would choose right’. To be honest, this argument does answer the question in the minds of many believers, I simply don’t see it to be accurate.

(851)ROMANS 9:24-29 Paul quotes Hosea and Isaiah to show that God has a purpose for both Jew and Gentile. He uses a few verses from Isaiah 10 and 13 to say ‘except the lord had left us a remnant, no one would be left’. Now, once again we come up against the mindset of always reading ‘saved’ as meaning ‘born again’. In context, God ‘saving’ a remnant simply means ‘he spared them from ruin and total destruction’. There is a verse in Revelation that says ‘the nations of them which are saved shall enjoy the new heavens and earth’. Some commentators will show you how some versions leave out ‘which are saved’ which would leave the text as saying ‘the nations [that are left, remain!] shall walk in it’. This is the context here. Paul is saying God always had a few from Israel that remained, he didn’t utterly wipe them out. Now, this of course fits in with ‘having sins forgiven’, being ‘saved’ or redeemed. There are prophets who say ‘the Lord will turn away ungodliness from Jacob’ [delivered from sin] and ‘the lord comes to those who have turned away from their sin’ speaking of Israel. So I want you to grasp the biblical concept of God saving [sparing] a remnant. The word ‘remnant’ actually speaks of the part of cloth/ material that is ‘left over’ from the whole piece. Jesus also said ‘unless those days were shortened, their would no flesh “be saved”’. Once again meaning ‘no human would survive unless God cut short his wrath’. Paul also uses this language here ‘the lord will do a quick work on the earth and cut it short [shortened!] in righteousness’.

(853)ROMANS 9: 30-33 ‘What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after the law of righteousness have attained it, even by faith’.  Paul concludes the chapter by summing up his ‘righteousness by faith’ argument. Natural Israel, who sought to become righteous by law, who were always striving for perfection thru the keeping of the law. They did not attain that which they sought after. Why? Because they sought it ‘not by faith, but by law’. No law could ever make a man righteous. The Gentiles, which were not even looking! They got it. Why? Because they simply believed in the Messiah, it was the best message they ever heard. They were told their whole lives ‘you are separated from Gods promises. You are not included in the commonwealth of Israel’. They never dreamed that the Jewish Messiah would say ‘neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more’. They received Gods righteousness by faith. Israel ‘stumbled’ at the stumbling stone. Jesus is called a precious stone and also a rock of offence. To those who believe, he is great, precious. To those who don’t believe he is this tremendous obstacle. The unbelieving world doesn’t know what to do with him. I was watching Ravi Zacharias the other night. He is a good Christian apologist. He was telling the story of being in Russia and speaking to a large group of Atheists. During his talk they were really aggressive, making motions with their hands and all. He was told ahead of time to be prepared. At the question and answer time a Russian Atheist asked ‘what are you talking about when you say God? I have no idea what you mean by this false concept’. Ravi asked him ‘sir, are you an Atheist?’ He replied yes. ‘What is an Atheist’? Ravi asked. The man responded ‘someone who denies God’. Ravi said ‘what exactly is it that you are denying’? The unbeliever has come up against this ‘rock of offence’. He tries to get around it, to develop all types of systems and philosophies to deny it. The rock is there, you can either ‘fall on it’. That is admit he is who he claims to be. Submit and be ‘broken’. Or it will eventually ‘grind you to powder’. You will pass from the scene and the next crop of Atheists will rise and face the same dilemma. This rock ‘aint going away’.

(854)ROMANS 10: 1-13 Many years ago I referenced all the back up scriptures for this chapter [and book!]. The study was intense because I saw a fundamental ‘fault line’ that ran thru many in the Evangelical church [the revivalist tradition]. The ‘fault line’ was reading this chapter as in if it were saying ‘ask Jesus into your heart, or you won’t be saved’. Now, I have no problem with those who trace their conversion to an experience like this. But I want to give you my understanding of this chapter, based on the exhaustive study I did years ago. Also, I will probably quote some verses and you will have to find them later [I forget where they all are]. Paul begins with his desire for ‘all Israel to be saved’. I taught in chapter one how come the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Because all who believe ‘become righteous’. After 9 chapters of Romans, we have seen that when Paul refers to ‘justification by faith’ this is synonymous with ‘believing with the heart unto righteousness’. Here Paul’s desire is for Israel to experience ‘all facets of salvation’ [present and future] to ‘be saved’. Now, he will say ‘Christ is the end of the law to all who believe’ Israel did not attain unto ‘righteousness’ because they sought after it by trying to keep the law. But it comes only by faith. Then Paul quotes a kind of obscure verse from Deuteronomy saying ‘Moses says the righteousness which is by faith’ [note- this whole description that follows is describing ‘the righteousness that comes by faith’] and says ‘the word is near thee, in thy mouth and heart’. Paul then says ‘whoever calls on the Lord will be saved, with the heart a man believes and becomes righteous [which according to Paul means ‘justified’] and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’. In this text, Paul once again is ‘dividing’ the common understanding of ‘salvation’ meaning ‘getting initially saved’- which is ‘believing and being justified’. And simply saying ‘believers will inevitably call and be saved’ [in a generic sense]. Why would he do this? In the context of his argument, he is simply showing the ‘righteousness which is from the law’ [the man under the law is described as ‘doing something’ continuing under the load and strain of law] versus the ‘righteousness which is by faith’ [described as a person who believes and speaks, as opposed to ‘does stuff’]. It is not inconsistent for Paul to use the term ‘confessing and being saved’ as speaking of something different than meaning ‘accepting Christ into your heart’. Paul is simply giving a description of those who believe ‘all who believe will call’. And yes, they will and do experience ‘salvation’. It’s just in this example Paul is not saying ‘they are saved initially upon confession, calling’. At least not ‘saved’ in the sense of ‘getting justified by faith’. Why? Because the rest of the chapter doesn’t make a whole lotta sense if he were saying this. ‘How can they call on him in whom they have not believed’? He already showed us that ‘believers are justified’. The very argument Paul makes distinguishes between ‘believing unto righteousness, and calling unto salvation’. You can see it like this, there is a verse I stumbled across years ago. It is in one of the prophets [Old Testament] and it says ‘Gods wrath will come upon all them WHO HAVE NOT CALLED UPON HIM’. In this context Paul can be saying ‘whoever calls upon God will never enter judgment/wrath’ [a description of a particular lifestyle, remember Paul said Gods Spirit makes us cry ‘Abba Father’] in this light Paul can be saying ‘all who call [both Jew and Gentile- simply making an argument for inclusion. God accepts ‘all who call’] will not come under future [or present!] wrath’. This would be in keeping with Peters scathing sermon in Act’s where he quotes the Prophet Joel and says ‘whosoever calls upon the Lord shall be saved’. If you go back and read Joel you will see that in context he is saying ‘at the future time of God’s revealed judgment, those who cry for deliverance will be spared’. Peter quotes it in this context as well. He shows Gods future time of judgment and ends with ‘all who call will be saved’. How do we know that Peter was not quoting Joel for some type of ‘sinner’s prayer’ thing? Because after the Jews say ‘what should we do’? He doesn’t lead them in a sinners Prayer! I don’t want to be picky, I simply want you to see context. Paul has already established multiple times thru out this letter how righteousness comes to those who believe. One of the descriptions of ‘those who believe’ are they ‘call upon God’. They even call upon God ‘to save them’. In this chapter the reason Paul uses ‘whosoever calls upon the lord will be saved’ is to simply show God will deliver both Jews and Gentiles. His promise of salvation is ‘to all’. When he uses ‘believing and being made righteous’ along with ‘calling and being saved’ he obviously can not be speaking about the same thing! He even states it this way in his argument. ‘How can they call unless they already believe’? He was simply giving a description of ‘those who believe’. This ‘calling for salvation’ that ‘all who believe’ partake of can speak both of a ‘present tense’ being saved, that is from any and all types of bad things, and a ‘future tense’ deliverance from wrath. Even when Paul quoted David in Roman’s 4, he is ‘describing the blessedness of the man unto whom God will not impute sin’ [Psalms 32] if you go back and read that psalm David says ‘for this shall EVERY ONE THAT IS GODLY PRAY UNTO THEE’. David uses this in the context of his confession of his sin. So the ‘everyone that is Godly’ describes ‘the righteous’ and they WILL CALL! Also in 2nd Corinthians Paul quotes Isaiah ‘now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation’ in the context of ‘God heard you and saved you’. Why would Paul use this in 2nd Corinthians? They need not be told ‘pray and get saved’. In context he used it to encourage them to return back into full communion and fellowship after their restoration and reproof he gave them in the first letter. He is saying ‘I rebuked you guys harshly, you repented and asked for forgiveness. God ‘heard you’ in his acceptable time, now get over it and ‘be restored’. Salvation to them came by ‘calling’ but it was not describing an initial conversion experience. Well, I didn’t realize I would go so long, but this is a good example of having a ‘holistic view’ of scripture. You try and take all the quotes the writers are using, put them in context of the broad themes of scripture. Add that to the immediate context of the letter [Romans] and then come to a deeper understanding of truth. I am not against those who see this chapter thru an evangelistic lens, I just think the way I taught it is more faithful to the text. [NOTE- Thru out this site I have taught the doctrine of ‘the salvation of the righteous’. I mentioned it earlier in Romans and have spoken on it before. If you can find these entries they will add some insight to this chapter. NOTE- verse 20 actually has Paul quoting Isaiah ‘I was found by them who did not ask for me’. This would sure seem strange to say in the same chapter that taught a concept of ‘all who ask for me will enter the kingdom’. It is quite possible to ask and pray and confess everything ‘just right’ and still not find him. And according to this verse, the ones who did ‘find him’ [Gentiles] did not ask! After years of coming to the above understanding I read a church council [Council of Orange?] and I was surprised to see how they actually dealt with the issue of believing versus ‘calling upon God’. They quoted some of these texts to show that before a person could call upon the Lord, he first needed faith. They used this example to show Gods sovereignty in salvation. I though it interesting that they came to the very same conclusions that I did. They even used the same examples! This shows you how the corporate mind of the church is manifestly expressed thru out the ages. I think the council was in the 8th or 9th century?

(855)ROMANS 10:14-21 [Just a note for the previous entry. In the conversions recorded in scripture [Acts] do you know how many times there is a reference to ‘calling upon the Lord’ during the conversion? Surprisingly one time. The conversion of Saul [Paul]! During one of the ‘re-tellings’ of his own story he says ‘I was told to arise, and be baptized. Washing away my sins while calling upon the Lord’. Wow, could we have arguments over this one! Do you identify the ‘washing away of sins’ with baptism or the ‘prayer’? I actually previously taught [somewhere on this long blog!] how in the 1st century Jewish mindset ‘washing from uncleanness’ and water were related. I taught it in a way that did not teach ‘baptismal regeneration’ but more along the lines of ‘discipleship’ you might find the entry under ‘my statement of faith’. The point I want to make here is Paul spent 3 days after the Lord appeared to him before he actually got baptized and made an open confession of faith. Paul’s reputation was so bad [he killed Christians!] that his conversion and confession needed to have all the weight possible. Others needed to know that he now ‘confessed Christ’. Most commentators will look to the appearance of Jesus to Paul on the Damascus road as his conversion. The point I want to make is in the book of Acts, the main ‘altar call’ was actually baptism. This was the normal means to identify with the believing community. We also see the fact that once people believed, they then were baptized. The same distinction can be made with ‘confessing’. Neither can take place until one believes. I would assume that Paul said something like this at his baptism ‘O Jesus, please forgive me for what I have done. I killed your people and have committed a terrible crime’. There obviously were some serious things he needed to confess! But the overall view of conversion in Acts does not show a ‘sinner’s prayer’ type conversion.] Paul indicts Israel ‘The word did come to you, you didn’t believe’. He also quotes Moses ‘God said he would provoke you to jealousy by a nation who were “no people”’. We are beginning a portion of Romans where Paul will try and explain the dynamic of Gods purpose for Israel, and his ‘use’ of the Gentile nations to ‘make them jealous’. When we studied the parables we saw this dynamic at work. Israel was offended that God [Messiah] was offering equal access to the promises of Israel thru Jesus. Israel was jealous of this free grace. Paul shows them that Moses prophesied that this day would come. You also see this in Stephens sermon in Acts chapter 7 ‘Moses said the Lord would raise up a prophet like me [Jesus!]’ and then Stephen shows how Israel also did not recognize that Moses was the intended deliverer of the people. So likewise 1st century Israel also did not recognize their Messiah [the first time around!]. God’s acceptance of the Gentiles was difficult for Israel to embrace. It took a divine vision for Peter, and he still ‘fell back’ into a caste system mentality. God is not finished with these dealings [Paul will say in the next few chapters] and he will make every effort to show both Jews and Gentiles that they are both important pieces to this ‘divine puzzle’. He will even warn the Gentiles ‘don’t get proud, if God cut off the true branches to graft you in, watch out! He might do the same with you.’ Paul is striving for both Jew and Gentile to live in harmony as much as possible, he did not want to come off as a defender of the Gentiles only. He was ‘defending the gospel’.

(857)ROMANS- Let me overview a little. This entry goes along with the last one [#856- those of you reading this straight from the Romans study will need to find it under one of the ‘teaching’ sections]. Paul deals with the issue of ‘being provoked by/to jealousy’. Many times believers remain divided because of pride and jealousy. We often do not want to accept the fact that God actually is working thru other camps, groups of Christians who are ‘not like us’. It challenges our very identity at times! We feel like ‘well, my whole experience with God has been one of coming out of [name the group- for many it’s Catholicism] and I KNOW that I have found and experienced God by leaving mistaken concepts about God. Therefore any other ‘defender’ of Catholics is challenging my core experience’. I myself attribute my conversion to ‘leaving religious ideas’ and reading the bible for the first time. Though I had various believers witnessing to me, it was the actual reading of Johns gospel [and the whole New Testament] that clinched it for me. The reality of ‘whoever believes’ as opposed to religion. But my own experience should not limit [in my mind] the reality of others who also embraced the Cross without ‘leaving’ their former church. It is quite possible that other ‘Catholics’ arrived at a serious level of commitment to the Cross, while remaining faithful to their church. Now I realize this in itself can become an issue of contention, all I want to show you is we should not limit the power of the gospel to our own personal experience. During the recent controversy [2008] over certain Pentecostal expressions of ‘revival’ some old time churches simply made a case against all the Charisms [gifts] of the Spirit. The fact is most theologians accept the gifts of the Spirit as being for all ages of the church. Sure, there have been problems with them, even early on [the Montanists] but the fact is there has always been some type of Charismatic expression of Christianity thru out the church age. But the more Reformed brother’s sound [and are often!] more ‘biblical’ than some of the crazy stuff that happens under the banner of ‘Pentecostal/Charismatic’. So the divisions exist. In this chapter [Romans 11] Paul is dealing with a very real dynamic that says ‘I find my whole identity in the way God has worked with me for centuries [Judaism]. The fact that he began a new thing with other groups who I detest [Gentiles] has offended me to the point where I can’t even experience God any more’. Israel could not see past her own experience with God. The fact that God was ‘being experienced’ by other groups in ways that seemed highly ‘unorthodox’ did not mean that their former experience was illegitimate. It simply meant that Gods experience with them was always intended to ‘break out’ into the broader community of mankind. They lost this original intent and used their ‘orthodoxy’ as a means of self identification. An ‘elite’ religious class, if you will. I find many of these same dynamics being present in the modern church. We should stand strong for orthodoxy, we also need to expose and correct error when it gets to a point where many believers are being led astray. But we also need to be able to see God at work in other groups, we should not use our own experience with God [no matter how legitimate it is!] as the criterion of what’s right or wrong.

(861)Romans 11:13- ‘For I speak to you Gentiles, in as much as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office’. Let me just make a few comments today. How is Paul 'exercising’ his apostolic authority over the Gentiles in Rome? We know he hasn’t been there yet [since becoming a follower of Jesus]. He did not have some type of relationship with them where they contributed to him. He was holding no ‘church services’. He exercised it by speaking into their lives and caring for their welfare. He did this by WRITING THIS LETTER! Recently there has been some discussion on ‘Gods government’ and the apostles ‘bringing things into alignment’ [dealing with the mistakes at Lakeland]. Lots of talk that I am familiar with. What is Gods government? In the world we have 2 competing ‘world views’- systems or modes of operation. You have God’s kingdom, and then the worlds system. When the apostle John said ‘love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’ he was referring to this system of lies and pride and sin. In Gods kingdom you operate under his laws ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart… and your neighbor as yourself’. In this family [children of God] you have different types of ‘gifts’. Some are apostles, others prophets, etc. All these gifted ones are given for the singular purpose of building you up so you can have a mature faith grounded in Christ and be the ‘glorious temple’ of God in the earth. Paul was playing his part by communicating Jesus to these Roman Gentiles. He did not have some type of a corporate relationship with them where he said ‘commit to my authority over you. Either I will be your ‘covering’ or someone else!’ These are mans ideas. Now, we often say ‘Paul didn’t receive money from the Corinthians, but he did from the other churches’. I have said this myself. Paul did receive support from the Philippians, but that was support for his traveling ministry. To get him to the next place. If you read carefully you will see Paul telling the Thessalonians ‘when I was with you I did not eat, or take stuff for free. My hands ministered to both me and those that were with me’ I think he even said he worked night and day. When he spoke to the Ephesians elders in the book of Acts, he also said ‘I labored when I was with you, I did not take support from you when I was there. I did this to leave you ELDERS an example’. Now, the point I want to make is it seems as if Paul did not take money when he was actually living among the saints. It seems he took it only for traveling expenses [and of course for his ministry to the poor saints at Jerusalem]. Now, I believe and teach that it is scriptural to meet the needs, financially, of laboring elders. The reason I mention this is to show you that being an ‘apostle’ or any other gifted minister in the church simply means you bear extra responsibility to bring Gods people to maturity. It was not some type of office where you were a ‘professional minister’. When I hear all the talk of ‘Gods apostles are bringing Gods government back into alignment’ for the most part these are men’s ideas being applied to an American corporate 501c3 ministry. Gods ‘government’ operates along different lines. So in this example Paul said ‘I magnify my office’ he was simply imparting some truth to them for the purpose of their own edification. Paul did not see them coming under ‘his covering’.

(862)ROMANS 11- let me make a note on the previous entry. Over the last few years, as well as many years of experience with ‘ministry/church’, I have seen how easy it is to fall into the well meaning mindset of ‘I am going into the ministry, this is my career choice. My responsibility is to do ‘Christian stuff’ and the people’s role is to support me’[ I am not taking a shot at well meaning Pastors, I am basically speaking of the many friends I have met over the years who seemed to think ministry was a way to get financial support]. In the previous entry I mentioned how Paul seemed to have a mode of operation that said ‘when I am residing with a community of believers, I refuse to allow them to support me. I will work with my own hands to give them an example, not only to the general saints, but also to the elders. I am showing you that leadership is not a means to get gain’. It does seem ‘strange’ for us to see this. Of course we know Paul also taught the churches that it was proper and right to support those who ‘labor among you’. I have taught all this in the past and I don’t want to ‘re-teach’ it all again. The point I want to make is we ‘in ministry’ really need to rethink what we do. How many web-sites have I gone to that actually have icons that say ‘pay me here’. The average person going to these sites must think ‘pay you for what’? Paul did not teach the mindset of ‘pay me here, now’. Also in this letter to the Romans we are reading Paul’s correspondence to the believers at Rome. He often used this mode of ‘authority’ [writing letters] to exercise his apostolic office. Of course he also traveled to these areas [Acts] and spent time with them. And as I just showed you he supported himself on purpose when he was with the saints. Basically Paul is carrying out the single most effective apostolic ministry of all time [except for Jesus] and he is doing it without all the modern techniques of getting paid. He actually is doing all this writing and laboring at his own expense. He told the Corinthians ‘the fathers [apostles] spend for the children, not the children for the fathers’. So in todays talk on ‘apostles’ being restored. God ‘bringing back into alignment apostolic government’ we need to tone down all the quoting of verses [even the things Paul said!] that seem to say to the average saint ‘how do you expect us to reach the world if you do not ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’! When we put this guilt trip on the people of God we are violating very fundamental principles of scripture. Now, let’s try and finish up chapter 11. Paul is basically telling Israel and the Gentiles that God’s dealings are beyond our understanding [last few verses]. God is using the ‘unbelief’ of Israel as an open door to the Gentiles. He is also using the mercy that he is showing to the Gentiles as an ‘open door’ to Israel! He will ‘provoke them to jealousy’. There are a few difficult verses that would be unfair for me to skip over. ‘All Israel shall be saved’. Paul uses this to show that God’s dealings with natural Israel as a nation are not finished. Who are ‘all Israel’? Some say ‘the Israel of God’ [the church]. I don’t think this fits the text. Some say ‘all Israel that will be alive at the second coming’ I think this is closer. To be honest I think this can simply mean ‘all Israel’ all those who are alive and also raised at the return of the Lord. Now, this would be a form of universalism [all people eventually being saved]. I am not a Universalist, but I don’t want any ‘preconceived’ mindset [even my own!] to taint the text. I think God has the ability to reveal himself to the whole nation of Israel in such a way that ‘they all will be saved’. If I were a Jewish person I wouldn’t wait for this to happen! Just like the Calvinists argument of ‘why witness’? Because God commands it. So even though you can make an argument here for a type of universal redemption at Christ’s revealing of himself to Israel at the second coming [which is in keeping with this chapter, as well as other areas in scripture; ‘they will look upon him whom they have pierced’ ‘God will pour out the spirit of mourning and supplication on Israel at his appearing’. Which by the way would fit in with ‘whoever calls on the Lord will be saved’ which I taught in chapter 10. This is a futurist text implying a time of future judgment and wrath’]. So God’s dealings with Israel are not finished. Paul also warns the Gentiles ‘don’t boast, if God cut out the true branches [Israel] to graft you in. He can just as quickly cut you out too’! It would be dishonest for me [a Calvinist] to simply not comment on this. You certainly can take this verse in an Arminian way. Or you can see Paul speaking in a ‘nationalistic sense’. Sort of like saying ‘if Germany walks away from the faith, they will be ‘cut out’. [France would have been a better example! Speaking of the so called ‘enlightenment’ and the French Revolution]. In essence ‘you Gentiles, don’t think “wow, look at us. God left Israel and we are now special!”’ Paul is saying ‘you Gentiles [as a whole group] stand by faith. God could just as quickly ‘cut you out’ and replace you with another group’. I also think the Arminians could use this type of argument for the previous predestination chapter [9]. But to be honest I needed to give you my view. One more thing, Paul quotes Elijah ‘lord, I am the only one left’. He uses this in context of God having a remnant from Israel who remained faithful to the true God. God told Elijah ‘there are 7 thousand that have not bowed the knee to baal’. Paul uses this to show that even in his day there were a remnant Of Jews [himself included] who received the Messiah. An interesting side note. The prophetic ministry [Elijah] seems to function at a ‘popular level’. Now, I don’t mean ‘fame’, but Elijah was giving voice to a large undercurrent that was running thru the nation. If you read the story of Elijah you would have never known that there were ‘7 thousand’ who never bowed the knee! Often times God will use prophetic people to ‘give voice’ or popularize a general truth that is presently existing in the ‘underground church’ at large. Sort of like if Elijah had a web site, the 7 thousand would have been secretly reading it and saying ‘right on brother, that’s exactly what we believe too’!

(864)ROMANS 12:1-8    ‘I beseech you by the mercies of God to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service [spiritual worship]’. Most times we see ‘by the mercies of God’ as a recap of all that Paul has taught from chapters 1 thru 12. This is true to a degree. I think Paul is honing in on the previous chapters that dealt with the purpose of God specifically seen in the resurrection of the body. As we read earlier ‘for we are saved by hope’ [the hope of the resurrection]. Basically I see Paul saying ‘because of what I showed you concerning Gods redemptive purpose for you body, therefore present your body now, in anticipation of it’s future glorious purpose, as a living sacrifice ‘holy and acceptable unto God’. Why? Because you are going to have that thing [body] forever! [in a new glorified state]  Paul exhorts us to be changed by the renewing of our mind, the way we think. I have mentioned in the past that this renewing is not some type of legalistic function of ‘memorizing, muttering the do’s and don’ts all day long’. But a reorganizing of our thoughts according to this new covenant of grace. Seeing things thru this ‘new world’ perspective. A kingdom view based upon grace and the resurrection of Jesus. This resurrection that is assured to us because we have the deposit of the Spirit which is our guarantee that God will complete the work that he has begun in us. And Paul will jump into one of his ‘Body of Christ’ analogies which he uses often to describe the people of God. Because we are all one body, we should think soberly about our different gifts and purposes. God gave some ‘better’ [or more noticeable] gifts for the overall edifying of the body. So don’t boast about it. All have varying gifts, freely given. Administrate them with much grace. Do it with humility and cheerfulness. We are simply children thru whom Gods Spirit manifests himself in different ways. Don’t boast that ‘Wow, daddy gave me a bike’. Or look, I got a more expensive Christmas present than you. Daddy distributes the gifts freely as he wills. They are for everyone’s benefit. Don’t use this grace gift as a means of self importance or prestige. It would be like ‘prostituting’ a gift for self aggrandizement. People have done it, but it displeases the giver of the gift.

(865)ROMANS 12: 13  Paul continues to give some basic guidelines on practical Christian living. Notice his teaching on financial giving ‘distribute to the necessity of the saints’. This basic Christian doctrine from Jesus teachings has become the premier act of giving for the New Testament saint. The reason I have stressed this teaching as opposed to the more popular view of tithing, is because the scriptures place such a high priority on Christian charity. As I have mentioned before, Jesus even uses this basic description to describe those who ‘are righteous’ or ‘unrighteous’. He teaches the final judgment will be based on this outward identifier of ‘what we did to the least of these’. If you read carefully the New Testament epistles you will see a picture of ‘local church’ as a caring community of people who show their love for one another thru these acts of kindness and compassion. None of the New Testament letters teach a  type of financial giving that focuses on ‘support the ministry/institution’ as being ‘the new testament church’ that replaced the ‘old testament temple’. For example a tithe system that supports the ‘pastor/priest’ in the same way the Levitical priests were supported under the law. It’s so vital for us to see and understand this. Because the average believer is taught thru out his life that his primary expression of giving is to ‘bring the tithe into the storehouse’ in such a way that it violates the actual primacy of giving as taught in the New Testament. Which is to regularly give to meet the needs of those around you. The fact that there were instances in the book of Acts or the letter to the Corinthians where believers gave an offering in a corporate way [the collection for the poor saints- 1st Cor. 15, or the laying of the money at the apostles feet in Acts] does not excuse the believer from the teaching that we should all regularly give to meet the needs of those around us. This is flatly taught as a regular part of the Christian experience. The other fact that Paul never once teaches the tithe as a function of giving for the Gentile churches should cause us all to take another look at the way we teach giving in the church today.

(866)ROMANS 12:14-21 Notice how Paul puts such a high priority on the principles of Jesus. He exhorts the saints to live by the precepts of the great ‘sermon on the mount’. Often times believers try and make a division between Paul’s revelation of justification by faith and the ‘liberal moral teachings of Jesus’. I see no division here. Paul actually quotes Jesus ‘if you’re treated badly, respond in love. By not getting even you heap “coals of fire on your enemies head”’. Actually, I remember how a few years back, when everybody was coming up with their ‘new revelation knowledge’ ideas on scripture. Things like ‘the camel going thru the eye of the needle’. Some taught Jesus was not really rebuking wealth, he was simply talking about a ‘low gate’ thru the wall of the city that was called the ‘eye of the needle’ and the camels had to crouch a little to get thru, true silliness! This verse ‘coals on the head’ was taught as saying Jesus was simply saying you were helping your enemy on cold nights by ‘keeping his head warm’! Sad. Jesus said don’t avenge yourselves, God will avenge you. Doesn’t sound like the lord is talking about ‘head warmers’! Look at these verses carefully. Paul incorporates the teachings of Christ as having a very high priority for the believer. We are often inundated with modern concepts of ministry. How to raise funds [or amass wealth]. Paul ‘locates’ the important thing as being centered on Christ. He knew if the churches [believing communities] of the first few centuries would follow this idea, that they would truly turn their world upside down for the cause.

(867)ROMANS 13:1-6 Paul teaches that believers should ‘be subject’ unto human government. He shows us that ‘the powers that be are ordained of God’. All human leaders are given their position of authority, ultimately, from God. What about Hitler? Or evil Pharaoh? Did God ‘put them there’? If God is sovereign [which he is!] then he permits all things to transpire, that actually transpire! He does not ‘ordain evil’ in the sense that he initiates unrighteous things. But because he has the power to prevent anything from happening, if ‘it happens’ that a wicked ruler is in authority, then he in that sense ‘ordained it’. Understand Paul is writing this at a time in Roman history where the leaders were quite wicked. They worshipped false gods, and even claimed to themselves the tile of ‘a god’. For Paul to use this language in this chapter, he even says ‘they are the ministers [servants] of God to thee for good’ is strong. Paul is also not teaching that there is never a cause for civil disobedience, in the sense of ‘whatever the government says, we will do’. In the New Testament we have Peter resisting the order to ‘not teach or preach in Jesus name’ [Acts]. He even says ‘should we obey God or man’ in his defense. Of course today we have legalized abortion, and in the case of later term abortions, the practice is equal to infanticide. We should do all that is in our legal power to stop the murder of unborn children. This law violates Gods law, from whom all human government is derived.

(868)ROMANS 13:7-14 ‘For this cause pay your taxes also, for they are Gods ministers’ I noted earlier how Paul taught ‘give to those around you that are in need’ [chapter 12] and here he teaches the importance of ‘paying taxes’. Where is the exhortation to ‘pay tithes’? In the ecclesiology of Paul, the ‘corporate community of people’ are the ‘new testament temple of God’. Therefore you see the need to ‘pay tribute’ to only two ‘institutions’. One being the ‘local church’ [as seen in simple giving to the needs of the community around you] and the other being ‘the government’. Paul sees no 3rd ‘institution’ that is called ‘the local church’ to which the tribute of the tithe belongs. To correctly apply the verse in Malachi [if you were going to use it at all. It is obvious that the prophet is directing the rebuke towards natural Israel] you would simply see the ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’ as ‘give to meet the needs of the community [Gods new testament storehouse] around you’. Now Paul teaches the primacy of the law of love for the believer. If we walk in Jesus command to love, we fulfill the law. And again Paul uses the language of ‘fluent soteriology’ [salvation]. He says ‘now is our salvation nearer than when we believed’. Paul comfortably jumps in and out of ‘being saved’ and ‘will be saved’. It is this free use of the term that we need to become familiar with. The New Testament clearly teaches a future salvation. And it is not as simple as ‘My spirit is saved, my mind [soul- which is really a very weak translation for soul. The soul is much more than the mind, emotions and intellect!] is ‘being saved’ and my body will be saved’. It is not his cut and dry. Your spirit is saved, your spirit will be saved and is being saved [he ever lives to make intercession to God for us- this ongoing intercession deals with all aspects of the humans salvation. Not just the body!]. All 3 modes of salvation [past, present and future] can apply to ‘all of you’ [spirit, soul and body]. Don’t think future salvation only deals with the ‘salvation of the body’.

(869)ROMANS 14:1-9 Paul discusses Christian convictions. Things that are personal habits of discipline where the scripture is silent on. Some believers abstain from certain types of food. Others see certain days as ‘more special’ than the others. It’s important to see that in this discussion Paul is not concerned with ‘who is right’. Though he will describe the legalistic believers as ‘weak in the faith’. And he himself will say he is convinced that ‘nothing is unclean in and of itself’. He is speaking about the convictions mentioned above. When I first became a believer I attended a good church. It was a Fundamental Baptist church that was a little legalistic in these areas. I remember a funny story, some of the brothers went on a canoe trip. We had a blast. One of the guys was wearing these old cut off shorts that looked like ‘blue jean hot pants’ [who wears short shorts, we wear short shorts!] the pants were old and the ‘fly’ kept unzipping. We told the brother ‘hey James, your gonna get us arrested or something if you can’t keep your shorts on!’. He got mad and called us a bunch of legalists! As you can see there are times where this accusation can simply be an excuse. But seriously the church was old fashioned [though well meaning]. I had another friend of mine that I led to the Lord and he asked ‘what’s wrong with the Christian rock, I like it’? He had heard some songs from the group Petra and he thought they were great. He also questioned why it was wrong for his boys to play mixed sports in public school. He was taught that the boys and girls wearing shorts in mixed company was wrong. So things like this are personal convictions that believers should not use to judge others. I want to stress that Paul does not condemn the more legalistic brothers, but he does make it clear that this is a sign of ‘weaker faith’. A faith that looks at the insignificant things and makes them significant. Many ‘Emergent’ church folk [of which I am one to a degree] seem to have had this type of background. Or at least are familiar with the classic evangelical message and preaching. Some have found a revolution in their thinking by re-organizing their lives around the actual lifestyle and teachings of Christ [which is a very good thing!]. But some seem to despise the older type churches and expressions of Christianity that they experienced while growing up. Some even cast away the good with the bad! Though many of the more legalistic churches practiced this type of Christianity, yet I commend them on spreading the gospel of Gods grace. Taking seriously their faith in the Lord. And being historic defenders of the faith at a time when the more liberal universities were throwing out the baby with the bathwater [the 20th century fundamentalist movement].

(870)ROMANS 14: 10-23 ‘As I live…every knee shall bow and every tongue confess’. Paul teaches that we will all give an account of ourselves to God. He shows that one of the proofs that ‘he lives’ rides on this fact. How? The context of every one giving an account of his life is speaking of a future judgment day. But we also see the reality of Gods existence in the fact that most people [even atheists!] have at one time or another ‘spoken to God’. I was listening [or reading?] a testimony of a woman who was an atheist. Her child became critically ill and as the days went by in the hospital she had a conversation that went like this ‘I cant pray to God now. I would be a hypocrite. I have denied him my whole life’. The point is she actually knew that in time of need you should pray to God. This universal reality that most people on the planet have at one time or another ‘confessed to God’ is proof of his existence. Paul says because of this fact that we all will give an account to God, therefore don’t judge other people [motives] before the time. If you have the freedom to ‘eat meat’ [less legalistic] then by all means do so. But if this freedom causes another to stumble, then your first priority as a Christian is to live your life in an unselfish way for the benefit of others. So do not let your freedom become an offence to those who have ‘weaker faith’. Do all things with the benefit of others in mind. When Paul says ‘don’t judge your brother’ he is not saying there is never a time for correction and reproof. Paul used very harsh language when dealing with the Judaizers. These Jewish legalists did believe in Christ, they just mixed the law in with the gospel. Paul rebuked them harshly [just like Jesus and the religious leaders of his day]. But when dealing with new believers, those who are ‘weaker in the faith’ you don’t want to overload them with too much stuff. You want them to grow and mature in the proper time. If you used to be legalistic [not going to movies, not eating pork, all types of stuff] and now are more mature in your thinking [though some movies are bad and pork isn’t real good for you!] you should not despise those who still see the practice of their faith thru this lens. Paul said ‘he that eats, eats unto the Lord. He that abstains does it also to the lord’. In these less important restrictions that some believers abide by, most of the times their motives are pure. We shouldn’t demean them. We should try to live peaceably with all men as much as possible, we will all give an account some day.

(871)ROMANS 15:1-7 ‘we then that are strong [more mature] ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not please ourselves’. In Philippians we have the ‘KENOSIS’ the act of Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not something to be used for his own advantage. He did not see his purpose in the kingdom as one of ‘let’s find out our rights in the covenant and posses what’s rightfully ours’. A few years back it was common to hear ‘God told me his people don’t have a problem with giving [oh really?] but they need to learn how to receive’. While their might be a ‘speck’ of truth in this, the overall ethos of the kingdom [according to Jesus and Paul] is ‘we are not here to please ourselves, but give up our rights and blessings for the purpose of pleasing others’ [building them up, edifying them]. Paul makes this statement right after the chapter on Christian convictions. He shows us that even if we are right on a particular issue, it is ‘more right’ to not offend or put a stumbling block in our brother’s path. It is possible to ‘be right’ in a particular doctrine or truth, and yet ‘be wrong’ in that we might have used it in a way that destroyed the purpose of God in building others up. Many in the church [at large!] have unwittingly ‘tore down’ the poor and oppressed by seeking ‘their own pleasure’. Many overseas countries have been hurt by the amount of pleasure seeking doctrines that went into their countries. Many 3rd world Pastors gave sacrificially out of their extreme poverty to rich American ‘pleasure seekers’ and their poor people suffered greatly when they did not get a literal 100 fold return as was promised. Paul said ‘we that are strong ought to help the weak, and not please ourselves’.

(872)ROMANS 15: 8-14 Paul freely quotes from Psalms and Isaiah [the 2 most quoted Old Testament books in the New Testament] and shows how God always had a future plan to include the Gentiles. In the first century mindset, ‘salvation’ was seen more in a nationalistic sense than an individual ‘me and Jesus’ type thing. The messianic promises were for the ‘commonwealth’ of Israel. As the gospel would expand into the Gentile nations, Peter would call us ‘a holy nation’. Still couching the purposes of God and his kingdom in a nationalistic way [not human ‘nations’ but Gods people]. So for Paul it is significant to show how King David [the greatest king Israel ever had] actually prophesied [Psalms] of the future inclusion of the Gentiles into the corporate ‘nation of God’. Also Paul says ‘you are able to admonish one another’. A theme in Paul's writings is the ability of the ‘local believers/church’ to have within them a corporate ability for self edification. He teaches an idea that says ‘you are all able members of Christ’s Body, therefore build each other up’. Notice how Paul is not speaking into the modern day concept of ‘the Pastor’ who is usually seen as the main ‘builder’. In all of Paul’s letters he addresses the entire body to carry out the function of the church. He tells the Corinthians ‘when you are all gathered together, commit the unrepentant believer over to satan for the destruction of the flesh’. He gave this very heavy charge to the church. He did not see it as something that was to be carried out by a singular office [Bishop or Pastor]. So here we see Paul admonish the local believers to build each other up.

(873)ROMANS 15: 15-20 Paul appeals to his apostolic authority as ‘the apostle to the Gentiles’ in defense of his strong letter. He also says ‘I dare not use any thing that Christ has not wrought by me to make the Gentiles obedient’. Was Paul saying he would not speak about his past testimony and struggles with sin? I don’t think so. He already spoke of these struggles in this letter [chapter 7]. If you keep reading he says ‘thru mighty signs and wonders, by the power of Gods Spirit’. If you read Galatians, Paul says ‘how did you receive the Spirit, by the works of the law or the hearing of faith’ [P.S. for those still stuck on chapter 10 of Romans, see here how Paul saw the passive hearing as the only outward sign of receiving the Spirit- not calling!] here Paul appeals to the Galatians and says they received the Spirit and God wrought miracles among them [mighty signs and wonders] thru faith. In Acts we saw how the primary purpose of the charismatic signs and wonders was for the proclaiming of the gospel. The signs testify of Jesus being the Messiah. So here in Romans I think Paul is simply saying ‘I will not resort to the preaching of the law’, the main tool used by the Judaizers to try and gain ‘obedience’ among the Gentiles in order to make the Gentiles obedient [these are the things that Christ has not wrought by him. They represented Paul's past experience in Judaism]. But instead he will declare the gospel of God’s grace. He will lean on the Cross of Christ as the functional tool to ‘bring obedience to the Gentiles’.

(874)ROMANS 15: 20-33 ‘Now I go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints’ ‘my service to them’. Paul tells the Romans that he is going to ‘minister’ and have ‘service’ towards the Jerusalem saints. How would you take it if I said ‘I am going to New York to minister, hold a ‘service’ in the church’. You would see me as saying I was going to preach in a building, do my best to encourage the people. And before I left I was going to receive an offering. Paul is saying nothing of the sort! His ‘ministry and service’ are speaking of his charitable work among the poor. He received gifts from the churches for the sole purpose of meeting the needs of the poor. He even says ‘if you Gentiles have been made partakers of their blessings, you should help them out financially’. We are familiar with this terminology when Paul uses it to speak of meeting the needs of Elders, but we very rarely apply it to the meeting of the needs of the poor. Paul had a ‘service’ for the saints, and he was not speaking in terms of going to some town and preaching a message and taking an offering. Service in the first century context was giving of your time and resources for the benefit of others. Doing things at your own expense, not always receiving a recompense yourself. I wonder where they got such an ‘unbiblical idea’. It reminds me of the time when Jesus put on a towel and washed the disciples feet. Another one of those strange passages that seem to teach that leadership is here to serve, not be served. These kingdom precepts do not fit in with the modern idea of ‘ministry/service’.

(875)ROMANS 16- Some debate the ‘canonicity’ of this chapter. They feel that all the personal greetings from Paul are too personal. Let’s talk a little about the Canon [inspiration of the scriptures]. First, I am a ‘bible believing Christian’ who holds to the historic doctrine of scripture. But you do have varying views on what the historic doctrine is. I hold to the idea that God never intended for the letters that were written in the first century, which have become our New Testament, to be writings that were pulled out of time. That is the writers had to have been writing with a contextual purpose in mind. The recipients of the letters had to have had some type of practical instructions that they could wrap their minds around. So for John to say something to the seven churches in Asia Minor [Revelation] it was just common sense that the actual recipients of the letters would expect something practical for their day. This of course does not mean there are no further applications or instructions for us today, but we need to have a more personal understanding of the give and take between the Apostles and the people they were writing to. So this is how I think we should view the personal stuff in the Canon. This also needs to be understood when interpreting scripture. I have made the argument before for the 1st century belief in Christ’s literal second coming. I have also taught how the early church had no concept of a Rapture that was separated from the return of Christ. The event spoken of by Paul in Thessalonians chapter 4 is a real thing that takes place at Christ’s return. We get ‘caught up to meet him in the air’. Now how confusing would it be for the first century readers of Paul's letters, to have one letter that speaks of a second coming, and another that spoke of a rapture? It would be next to impossible to have any coherent view of scripture if they did stuff like this. You could then make an argument for any doctrine. There would be no coherent thinking if you were living in Thessalonica and read a letter from Paul that used the same terminology about the return of Christ as he used in a letter to the Corinthians. And if you relocated to Corinth and said ‘Oh, yes. Paul wrote to us about the resurrection and return of Jesus. But when he wrote to us he was speaking of the rapture, but when he wrote to you he was talking about a different event called the second coming’. This type of thinking would have been disastrous for the early church. They were all receiving letters from Paul that contained basic truth. The fact that these letters were not included in an entire collection [as we have today] leads us to believe that the basic message had to stay the same in all of these letters, or else you would have had havoc in the early church.

(876)ROMANS 16- CONCLUSION  Okay, lets try and finish up Romans. We do see some good stuff in this last chapter. We see Paul addressing women as  functional ministers in the church. Phoebe is a deaconess, Junia an apostle! I still believe that Elders were only men, but women did function in the first century Ecclesia’s. Paul also says ‘mark those which cause divisions contrary to the doctrine you have learned and avoid them’. Now, I have heard the strict Baptists use this against the Pentecostals, and it did put the fear of God in you! But then I heard the Pentecostals use it against the strict Baptists, and it also put the fear of God in you! [maybe another fear?] The point being you could use this to defend any doctrine you ‘have been taught’ by well meaning men. Here Paul is warning against those who were early on departing from the faith [the basic elements of the gospel and Gods grace]. The apostle John addresses those who ‘went out from us, but were not of us’ ‘whoever rejects Christ as come in the flesh is anti christ’ [1st John]. You did have those who rejected the basic elements of the gospel and the incarnation of Jesus. Paul warned the Corinthians not to depart from the reality of Christ's resurrection [1st Corinthians 15]. And of course Paul openly rebuked the Judiazers for trying to put the gentile believers under the restrictions of the Mosaic law. So even though these types of verses seem to fit in to our present day controversies and differences among various denominational groups, yet in context they refer to those who were rejecting the basic tenets of the faith. Paul also encourages ‘God will crush satan under our feet shortly’ ‘God is able to establish us thru the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ’. Let me defend the concept of ‘old fashioned preaching’ a little. While I and many others have publicly taught a type of new testament ecclesiology that is absent the ‘weekly pulpit Pastoral office’. Yet there is biblical precedent for the preaching of the Word. Paul taught in chapter 10 ‘how can they hear without a preacher, and how can they preach unless they are sent’? God strengthens believers thru the preaching of Gods Word. While it is wrong for the average believer to depend solely on this preaching to become educated in the things of God, yet there is a strengthening that God gives to the believer when he comes under the pure preaching of Christ. As we end Romans, I want to re emphasize the major doctrine of justification by faith. The reformation of the 16th century did not happen in a vacuum. God restored a very vital truth back to the people of God. All Christians should be grounded and well versed in the reality of God freely accepting us based on simple faith in Jesus Christ. Now, I realize that many are returning to a more 'sermon on the mount’ orientation of the Christian lifestyle. As I have taught before I think this is a good thing. A ‘re-focusing’ on the teachings and instruction of Jesus. But I think we also need to emphasize the many statements from Jesus himself on those who believe having everlasting life [John’s gospel]. Romans is a masterpiece letter from Paul, one of his main points was justification by faith. God wants believers to be grounded in this truth.

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