Reflections From ROMANS 8:1-19 “WE’RE NOT CONDEMNED BECAUSE OF CHRIST’S LOVE FOR US”

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Paul continues his thought of the two battle fields in which believers wage war: on the one hand there’s the flesh/sin/evil that resides causing Paul to not obey God and somehow partake of death.  On the other hand there’s the spirit/the regenerated self that loves to obey God and partake of life.  The struggle is thus real and can be utterly disheartening, which may cause despair in life.  But, because Jesus delivered us from the body of death—sin, we are not under condemnation, for to be in Christ, even though sin beckons, guarantees our right standing before God.

Now to be “set free from the law of sin and death” (v.2) can’t mean we don’t sin because in chapter 7 Paul deals with our struggle with sin.  Instead, it seems to point to the fact that this law within “sin” is not our master, Christ is, and as such we are free to obey God, not unrighteousness.  That is, the freedom Christ secured for us was never intended for acts of wickedness, but for humble submission to the Father’s will.

But wait a minute.  If I’m freed from the mastery of sin to obey God and still find myself obeying the law of sin and death, then in some sense am I free also to disobey God’s law?  And, from where comes this freedom?  Paul comments:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

 This principle of life in Christ comes from the Spirit of life who brings resurrection to our dead souls and that’s why we are free (i.e., God’s power of life is the source for the power to obey God) to obey God.  He argues that Christ did what the Law could never do because of human weakness (sin) and thus through his sacrifice condemned sin on the Cross.  Death really died (v.3).

Now, this condemnation of sin was done in order that the “requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (v.4)  Paul seems to be arguing that only in Christ, because of his work on Calvary, is the Law’s fulfillment accomplished in us.  Thus, obedience can only occur because one is in the Spirit—belonging to Christ.   That’s Paul’s argument in verses 5-9:

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Paul now turns his attention on what it means for one to be “in Christ”:

10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

I take this to mean that even though sin remains and the body is dead, nevertheless righteousness reigns and is real because “the spirit” the principle of life abides within.  Now Paul seems to further explain the effects of the Spirit’s life on our mortal bodies and assures us that as Christ was raised from the grave, we too will rise by the power of the indwelling Spirit (v.11).  He thus concludes this subordinate thought:

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”    

 Notice our obligation is not disobedience but rather obedience to God displayed through the mortification of our sinful acts (Jesus does call disciples to take up the cross and follow).  If we live according to the former, Paul says the Spirit is not in us.  But if in step with the latter, then we are in Christ.  Note his theme of calling for an “obedience of faith”.

What I see Paul saying is that to not fight within is a sign that Christ is not our Shepherd and we are thus in peril of damnation.  However, if we are fighting sin it’s a sign that we belong to God.  He continues in verses 14-17:

14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

 Here Paul argues that that the evidence of Sonship is being led by the Spirit of God which is submitted to God’s will; to God’s law.  This is astounding for in Christ we can now keep the Law because of our new hearts.  Before Christ, the Law only produced death.  But wait a minute: didn’t we already die to the Law so that we might be in Christ?  Isn’t the Law our old husband?  Then in what sense do we keep the Law?  I think we keep it as secure children, not as indentured slaves.  The former are heirs of the Father’s house, the latter have no such privilege because of sin, because of unrighteousness.

Now, the fact of being heirs is evidenced in us who partake of Christ’s sufferings (v.17).  To be in Christ requires us to take up our cross and follow Him.  Those hardships evidence the veracity of our profession, they never merit our justification—nothing can but God’s mercy.

Paul now shifts from assuring us of our Sonship by the Spirit if in Christ’s sufferings we are partakers to how the whole created order is suffering.  But hold on for Paul says something of great worth we need to consider before continuing:

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”     

 What’s this glory to be revealed?  Besides a new heaven and a new earth and a new resurrected body it has to be beholding Christ behind the veil of sin.  It’s this glory I think was exchanged by the creature (Rom.1), which brought our ruin through God’s wrath.  What we formerly rejected in the 1st Adam (God Himself), we have embraced in the 2nd Adam and have been restored because of mercy alone—that’s truly awesome!

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Summary of CHAPTER FOUR: THE GOD WHO LEGISLATES [Pages 55-70]

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In this chapter, Carson first asks if it’s possible for there to be “no absolutes” concerning what is true and categorically says “no”.  The reason is because of the nature of truth which presses in on us when we need air while being held under the ocean by a powerful wave.  The truth is, if we remain underneath without any breathing apparatus, they will eventually be making arrangements for our funeral.

Moreover, no one can be position-less.  To agree or disagree argues for the inevitableness of absolutes.  Moreover, regardless of our view, when disagreements obtain, there will be “excommunications” as the analogy from Tim Keller reveals in [pgs.55-56].

Interestingly, Jesus reminds us that if we remain in his word…the truth will set us free.  Truth and freedom are different sides of the same coin.  They can’t be separated.

Second, he considers from where we derive our expressions “Old Testament” and “New Testament” (i.e., the primary divisions of the Bible).  These come from our understanding of the covenant.  That is, God made a covenant with Abraham, Moses, etc.  This of course is found in the law, the prophets, and the writings (i.e., the Old Testament).  They are referred to as the Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, Sinai Covenant, The Law Covenant.  But when Jesus arrives, everything changes.  In the New Testament, there are a few references to the “old covenant” which preceded the “new covenant” which Jesus would introduce.  This means that the covenant Moses gave was “old”.   Thus, the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” are always referring to the old covenant and the new covenant.

Third, he contemplates the issue of God described as being jealous (Ex. 20:2-3; 34:12-14).

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  “You shall have no other gods before Me. 

12 Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 13 But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God—

The term jealousy is attached to God’s exclusiveness.  The first of the Ten Commandments affirms what our culture despises in the West—He’s exclusive.  The reason for this is because of His ontological status—He’s Creator, Redeemer and Lover of His people.  God is love!  He rescued Israel from Egypt, from the slave market, and brought them out to worship him—the I AM!  He is their greatest good, and without stain.  Unlike us, God’s jealousy is to protect the object of His love from outsider’s who will only destroy them.

God’s committed to his people and as the covenant maker and keeper, there will be parameters He establishes to protect and to nurture His covenant people.  To not do this would be to expose His people to destruction, and this He can’t do because they are the object of His love.  Thus, He is a jealous God.

Fourth, Carson explains the reason for why God prohibited Israel from making images (Ex. 20:4-6).

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

The reason for the prohibition is so that Israel would ever be aware of God’s transcendence.  That is, the prohibition is a safeguard against domesticating the Creator and maintaining the proper distinction between Creator and creature.    Unlike the gods of the pagan nations, God can’t be controlled because He is the “I AM”.  God can’t be bargained with, manipulated, encapsulated or controlled.

Fifth, Carson explains the significance of the requisite sacrifice in order to enter the Most Holy place.  According to Leviticus 16, God requires a sacrifice before anyone can enter his presence in the Most Holy place as first a reminder of The Fall.  Remember, death entered through Adam’s transgression and must be remedied through another’s life.  That is, entrance into the presence of this God is still obstructed.  This is also a reminder of our sinful, idolatrous bent.  And while we may be the people of God, we are still all terrible sinners.  We need to be rescued.  Most importantly, Leviticus points us to the rescuer, redeemer, the savior to come who is Jesus Christ the Messiah.   They foreshadow His life and work for idolaters like us.

Sixth, Carson wrestles with reconciling God forgiving and punishing sinners.  According to Exodus 32-34, God does the aforesaid.  The fact is that the guilty are forgiven, but not by the law, for it is only by grace that forgiveness can be secured.  God also punishes sinners and will not leave the guilty unpunished.  So how can these two opposite poles be reconciled?  He argues that a substitute is required for love and justice to be met out.  Because God is not needy, and can’t be bartered with, only a substitute will suffice.  Again, God accomplishes this through sovereign grace alone.  Exodus 33:19 sums it up; “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Lastly, Carson explains toward what the Law of Moses points. The Law of Moses points forward to Jesus through the sacrificial system.  A system rife with types pointing to Jesus (e.g., the goat, the ram and bull’s blood, the tabernacle, etc.,) culminating in The Day of Atonement.  On this day, the substitute is the calling card of the Law of Moses—actually of Jesus himself.   The New Testament book of Hebrews attests to the fact that, “the blood of bulls and goats could never make the one’s offering them clean from their sin” (Day of Atonement) which is why every year they had to do it all over again.

Reflections From ROMANS 6:1-23 “JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH RESULTS IN SANCTIFICATION BECAUSE BELIEVERS ARE SLAVES TO GOD”

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            Whose slave are you?  In the last chapter Paul argued that the believers’ justification is truly certain because God acted in Christ before we came to be.  The last Adams’ obedience (Christ Jesus) secures our standing before God because it’s the gift of life which is unlike the first Adams’ rebellion which secured our death.  But now that grace has come in Christ, Paul asks a question:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”  (Vv.1-2)

             Certainly Paul encountered religious Jews who argued that if one is justified by faith through grace then people can go on sinning; living the same rebellious life as before their conversion.  That is, “since these people are eternally secure in Christ in their salvation, who cares how they live!”  But such a position completely misses the point.  The reason is because when believers belong to Christ, his death and resurrection are applied to them so that as Christ presently lives a new resurrected life, we too might walk in that life (Vv.3-4).  Paul continues:

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.(Vv.5-7)

                It seems Paul is pointing to our mystical spiritual union with Christ such that in his crucifixion we actually died to sin and in His resurrection we actually have come to eternal life.  Spiritual unions in the Bible, among other things, concern sexual intercourse between two people whether married or not.  As the Bride of Christ, this union is real not imagined, it’s spiritual not physical.

The “old-self” is the pre-regeneration self that was dead in trespasses and sins (Eph.2:1-4) which has been killed so that we believers would no longer be slaves to sin.  Thus, the purpose of Christ’s crucifixion in which believers are identified, was to release them from the chains of sin.  Thus to think that sin increases and thus makes grace more glorious is to totally miss the point (V.1), for the fruit produced by Christ in believers is a new life.

Paul resumes with his argument pointing to Christ’s victory over the grave which signifies that death is no longer master over Him and He says a profound truth here:

10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

             Christ is the example believers are to follow here.  They are to consider themselves as dead to sin, that is, they are to live in the reality that sin is no longer their master, God is, for Christ has vanquished the grave.  Here, Paul is exhorting and encouraging believers to live in the reality of new birth which brings new life.  And where new life exists, the “old-self” which was already killed is to be rebelled against.  This metaphor points to the reality of what being in Christ produces.  Too often we listen to “old tapes” believing lies about ourselves.  Make no mistake about it believer: you are no longer a slave to sin.  So don’t obey its’ commands.

Paul is not denying that sin remains and must be battled, but he’s exhorting believers not to be enslaved to sin which Christ conquered, instead:

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

The righteous can and do sin, but not because they are under its’ mastery (Christ fixed that problem), but because the battle(s) remain to be fought.  They however must be fought from the truth that as freed men and women from sin our enemy is relentless and thus we must also be unyielding in battle.  Moreover, because believers are under grace, not under the Law (which only increased sin, never was it to produce new birth) this means we have a new master—Christ the Lord of Life.  Believer, how much more vibrant would our lives and witness be if we constantly lived in light of this truth.

Paul has thus answered the first objection which was based on the faulty premise that grace would produce increasing sin in believers.  No!  Grace actually produces new birth, new life and a new master which says, “You shall be holy for I am holy”.  This new life has been secured by Christs’ work of redemption and having said that; Paul does not deny that sin has vanished.  For when believers sin and repent grace does shine.  What Paul wants to accentuate however is that grace does not produce a sinful lifestyle, but one of sanctification.  Paul now asks a second question connected to the first one:

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” 

Here he continues explaining that whoever is obeyed (sin or righteousness) to that one we are slaves.  The former produces death, the latter generates life (V-16).  But as believers once obeyed sin and were thus slaves to death, now in Christ after new birth, they have become slaves of righteousness resulting in sanctification (Vv.17-21).  One master produces death, the other master produces life.  Note that everyone, according to Paul, is serving something other than themselves.  He continues:

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

             Paul is concluding with what brings benefit and what brings destruction.  Sin while pleasurable for a time eventually yields death, but grace and new birth yield a life of grace and sanctification toward God which produces life.  Sin’s pay-off is death; graces’ pay-off is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That is, if the Law (as described by Paul) is in what we trust to be right with God, then our end is death.  But if we trust as Abraham did in the free gift of God’s word of promise fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, then life is our end.  This smashes human pride on the one hand but on the other hand it calls for believers to walk humbly before our gracious God and the observant world.  (SDG)        

Reflection From ROMANS 5:6-21: “JUSTIFICATION IS ASSURRED THROUGH CHRIST—EVEN AS ADAM’S REBELLION WROUGHT DEATH”

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            Paul seems to want to assure the Roman believers that their justification is certain because God’s work of redemption occurred at the right time:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Hardships might cause believers to doubt God’s goodness toward them (Vv.1-5), even their actual standing with God as judge.  But Paul argues that if while we were God’s enemies He showed His loved to us through Christ’s death, now, much more as His friends we must be confident that being justified now by Christ’s blood, God’s wrath is not ever again to be on us.

We are a lot of redeemed, reconciled sinners by the Savior (Vv.10-11).  Our state because of Adam’s rebellion assuredly resulted in death (Vv.12-14), but the free gift of God is not like the transgression.  This is because the transgression resulted in death and wrath, whereas God’s free gift brought life and mercy.

11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.  12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

The two Adams acted, the first disobeyed and thus death reigned, the second obeyed and thus life in Christ reigns.  The former brought condemnation to all men, the latter wrought justification for many (Vv.15-19)

15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  18  So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Finally, the Law came to increase transgression, but in this increase, grace all the more abounded the purpose of which is that even as death reigned because of transgression, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Christ (Vv.20-21).  Here Paul brings attention to the power of grace and righteousness over sin and death.  He uses the phrase, “much more” to contrast and heighten God’s favor and instill confidence in the work of Christ over against Adam’s rebellion.

Justification can be banked on more than death which came through the creature Adam because God’s grace and gift of righteousness came through God the Son, whose life would be brought to bear on those who love Him, who love God the Father.  That’s amazing grace!  (SDG)

Reflections From ROMANS 3:1-20: “IS THE ADVANTAGE OF THE JEW NULLIFIED BY UNBELIEF?”

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            The previous section of Romans clearly declares that all mankind is under God’s just wrath, for the light God provided through nature and scripture was obscured by lies, the pinnacle of which is the great exchange of the Creators glory for the creatures.  So Paul begins this section of text with a question:

“Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

These verses follow Paul’s explanation of what true circumcision is—that which the Spirit produces, which the Law of Moses was never intended to do, namely, give the believer a heart of flesh where obeying God is a delight rather than a list of to do’s (2:28-29).

The benefit of the Jew unlike the Gentile is that they have been given the “oracles of God”.  This refers to both spoken and written Scripture for the community of followers.  Unlike general revelation (i.e., God’s revelation of Himself through nature/creation), particular revelation (i.e., God’s revelation of His will through the Bible) explains to us how to have a redemptive relationship with God (i.e., where He’s our friend, not our foe).  That is, the Bible reveals to us our origins, our sin problem, and God’s remedy for it.  That’s a supreme advantage.  But both Jew and Gentile are under God’s wrath because they suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness.

When the knowledge of God is suppressed (e.g., through a Darwinian paradigm), for the Jew it’s a “double-whammy” because they have “Both Books” if you will and are absolutely without excuse.  Paul now asks a question that seems to set-up the remainder of his point: mainly that God is true and every man is a liar:

What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, And prevail when You are judged.”

Unbelief can’t nullify, or do away with God’s faithfulness which here I take to mean His revelation in creation and scripture.  That is, Jewish advantage is removed when instead of placing their trust in the Creators’ word; it’s placed in the creatures’ word.  When this occurs God is shown to be true and man a liar.  Only one word can always be trusted and that’s God’s word, not mans’.  The reason is because this word flows from His holy character which is incapable of lies, thus, when God judges, its spot on, never tainted, it’s always in accord with His truth and will.

Thus far, the Jewish advantage of possessing the word is nullified when it’s discarded and disobeyed (I.e., not trusted).  This however does not change God’s truthfulness when liars deny His truth.  So Paul asks:

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?” 

 How does my unrighteousness show God’s righteousness?  I think we compare them (i.e., my ways vs. God’s ways).  God reveals the truth of who He is and what He has created; I suppress that truth and replace it with my lie.  By doing this, I deny God’s design for all of life and make up my own.  We live in a culture that’s rife with this decease where the creature is the measure of all things and thus “creates” their own reality.

Again, there’s the comparison of my unrighteousness with Gods’ righteousness, or my wickedness compared to His holiness.  He is seen to be true, and I am exposed as a liar.  Why then would someone think God to be unjust by pouring out wrath since He “needs” our sins to show how glorious He is?  This seems to be what Paul is arguing.  In other words, the creature is God’s dual opposite (e.g., evil vs. good).  But that doesn’t work because He’s the self-existent Creator and we are contingent, needy creatures.  God doesn’t need us for any “benefits” but we need Him for every grace.  Paul is stating that the grounds on which God can and does judge is his righteousness.            

Thus we are rightly judged as sinners and condemned by God while simultaneously our lie abounded to God’s glory (v.7) as has already been declared (Vv.8-18).  Paul hates it when the truth of God is twisted and anticipates such acts when he states, “Let us do evil that good may come?”  Their condemnation is just” (V.8).  Does God need our sin to show forth His holiness, or our lie to demonstrate His truth, or our unrighteousness to reveal his righteousness?  The answer is no because first, God is ontologically holy, true and righteous.  As the self-existent One, He already possesses the properties or attributes mentioned.   Secondly, within the Trinitarian Godhead, these attributes are shared and demonstrated between the Father, Son and Spirit.  Thus the creature is not needed for these qualities to be expressed by the divine being.

After describing the just wrath of God upon rebellious mankind, Paul declares:  “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Vv.10-11); “All have turned aside, together they have become useless” (vv.12-17); “there is no fear of God before their eyes” (V.18).  This is a weighty indictment that before the holy, true, righteous God, we are all guilty.  Paul is still dealing with the benefit of the Jew which is nullified through the disobedience of the law and continues:

19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

The Jew is under the law which is the yardstick God uses to justly keep them accountable.  The purpose of the law is to shut men’s mouths to answer for their misdeeds.  And all have sinned, thus all are in trouble.  The reason for this is because law keeping can’t justify anyone before God.  That was never its purpose.  Instead, the purpose of the law was and is to give us the knowledge of sin.  How?  It puts forth Gods’ holy requirements for living that we can’t accomplish on our own power.

That’s a bleak reality.  Jew and Gentile are rightly condemned.  Both are found to be liars, useless and with no fear of God.  And what seems to benefit the Jew is nullified by their lack of trust in the word of truth.  Everyone then is guilty before the Holy Creator.  (SDG)

Reflections From ROMANS 2:17-29 “JEWS ARE JUDGED BY THE LAW”

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God’s impartiality in judgment is seen now even as He deals with the Jews.  For even if they’re circumcised and have the oracles of God (Vv.17-21) but don’t obey its commands to not steal, commit adultery, and thus abhor idols, then they too are judged as lawbreakers who dishonor God.  In fact this disobedience is the cause of God’s name being blasphemed among the Gentiles (Vv.21-24).

Moreover, true circumcision is not an outward physical reality but an inwardly motivated act to do Gods’ will.  That is, if the circumcised man is a lawbreaker, circumcision is of no use:

25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?”   

If I properly get Paul’s argument, he’s saying that both Jew and Gentile alike will be judged according to the light they have.  Contrary to what many professing Jews claim today, the Jew derives no benefit from his circumcision and Law if there’s disobedience.  Jews are justly condemned, for even though they have Scriptures’ light, they neglect it and thus demonstrate they are not really God’s covenant people.  They are “nominal” Jews (i.e., Jewish in name only, not in practice).

This also applies to us who call ourselves Christians but in practice are worse than non-believers.  God is serious about obedience to His commands and to think otherwise is to think contrary to the gospel message.  For true faith produces obedience, while imperfectly, nevertheless obedience is the fruit.

How does the Gentile judge the Jew in this context?  Perhaps by exposing their hypocrisy by obeying Gods’ law.  For the Gentile, though not having the LAW does it, which shows that they are a covenant person and judge of the Jew as a result.  This is what it seems Paul is saying (E.g., consider Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan to the Jews).  Paul continues and says:

28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

 Paul is clearly saying here, that outward signs—circumcision—without corresponding obedience to God—shows it’s a counterfeit faith, not produced by the Spirit of God.  Mere religious observance is meaningless before Heavens’ court if the circumcision of the heart hasn’t taken place via the Spirit of truth which is what produces obedience that honors God.  Here, Jewishness seems to equal the letter of the Law which is void of God’s life evidenced by the praise of men.

In a nutshell, Paul is saying that everything the Jews are trusting in that does not conform to the revelation of Jesus Christ in Paul’s gospel is not from God, the author of the Ten Commandments, but from the creature who suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness.

The theme of pride here surfaces between Jew and Gentile.  Paul is telling the Jew that religious pedigree is worthless if it’s not accompanied by obedience to the Law for the real Jew is not just a hearer of the word but also a doer of it.  If the doing is not evidenced, deception has a chokehold on the individual.

Up to this point, the people of the Book of Scripture and of Nature are guilty before God because of their suppressing the truth of God in unrighteousness.  Therefore their condemnation is just.  So if the Jew disobeys the Law there’s no profit for them or the rest of humanity.  Knowing this, it’s understandable why Paul was not ashamed of the gospel for it alone can rescue rebels from God’s wrath.  Thus the target group for said news is all mankind.

(SDG)

Reflections From ROMANS 1:6-7 “PAUL’S INTRODUCTION: Spirit Fuel” Part 2

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As previously noted (Vv.1-5), the authentic gospel is sourced in God, reveals God and produces the life of God in believers.   Paul continues his introduction to the Romans reminding them that they are specifically called by Jesus Christ—the word (V.6).  These who are called are also beloved by God and their description is that of a “saint”.  These are the holy ones.  Thus the called are called as saints, not sinners (V.7).

Why the mention?  Because those who have received this faith are to reflect the Holy One (God) who has rescued them and thus are to be holy as “I AM” is holy.  This is the message Israel received—God was choosing (I.e., calling) a people for Himself that would reflect His glory among the nations.  This is fulfilled in the new covenant or brought to its consummation where Jew and Gentile alike form one people of God through the Spirit’s activity (Eph.2:11-22).  God makes a people for His own possession who previously were under His wrath (Rom.1: 18-20).

Paul continues in verse 7 with this tonic:  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.  Note that the source of grace and peace is God the Father—no longer are we His enemies terrified by His mention, but as Father we are now his children—through his Son—the I AM, who is the Messiah.

What an introduction packed with Biblical theology, fulfillment of Scripture which includes Gentiles as part of Israel’s common wealth.  I’m in Christ and thus don’t need to fear what men may do to me because God the Creator has had mercy on me through his Son.  Praise His name!

(SDG)

THE LYRE & THE SCROLL: Reflections From The Psalms

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(Psalm 30) THOUGHTS ON PRAISE AND WHY

Praise, adoration and exultation are the fruit of lips that reveal hearts of thanksgiving from the saints toward God Almighty because of His mercy and acts of power.  Continuously the Psalmist gives praise to God because He has:

 

“Lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.” (V.1)  I cried to You for help, and You healed me…You have kept me alive” (Vv.2-3)

Thus;

“Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name.  For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Vv.4-5)

This text moved me to write the following poem:

WHEN LIFE’S ANXIETIES SURROUND ME ©2015 Sergio R. Tangari (Psalm 30)

When Life’s anxieties surround me and sense about to break, The fruit of lips which trust in You because of righteousness, It’s right to shout Your song and sing of Your name, For all of Your deliverance’s, O LORD that’s why You came,

So now and forever, may my soul be true, To the holy Lamb of God, I want to live for You, Now take me as I am and with a willing heart, LORD guide my steps in righteousness so that I not depart,

From loving You all day and into the night, Keep my heart before You tender and always in Your light, May Your praise be on my lips and never fade away, Until the day I see You, Rejoicing face to face.

THE LYRE AND THE SCROLL Reflections from The Psalms

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PSALM (20-25)

I’m stunned and delighted at God’s word.  It is ever present to me and new as I gaze into what I have previously read.  There’s a deep comfort I experience when the Psalmist cry’s out to God as if he were in my shoes.  Why I stay away from the word of God for prolonged periods of time and especially the Psalms is baffling to me.

Regardless, God is faithful to speak kindly, deeply, and in enigmatic ways to my soul as I peer into His eternal truth.  First, in Psalm 20 there’s a prayer for God, the LORD to answer in the day of trouble, to send help from His sanctuary, to remember your faithful worship, grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your petitions (Vv.1-4), the end of which is boasting in the God of the covenant and not the creature’s strength (Vv.7-9).

Life is filled with troubles, unlike the nonbeliever, God’s covenant people have Him as the resource for peace in spite of the opposition and when we are tempted to doubt, the written word brings back the reality of this truth.

Second, in Psalm 22 there’s a cry for God’s nearness in times of horrible distress which depicts the weightiness of the crucifixion, but no answer is given.  Yet the Psalmist writes:

Yet You are holy,
O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
In You our fathers trusted;
They trusted and You delivered them.
To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not disappointed.

In all this and the horrors of crucifixion the writer continues and says:

24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from him;  But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

God may seem like He’s forsaken you in your affliction, it may seem that your tears and groans are ignored by Him, but that’s not the case.  He is the God who is there and even the very hairs of your head (Jesus said) the Father has counted.  This should comfort us greatly in a world where so often, to most people we seem not to matter.

Third, in Psalm 25 has a litany of insights among which is: “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him and He will make them know His covenant” (V.14).  This Christian journey is long and treacherous at times the peril certainly seems about to doom us if not for the word of the LORD.  Note that He makes His secret known to us who fear Him.  Herein is knowledge, wisdom and the straight path.  This is a great prayer to offer in our pursuit for insight.

To love God I must know him through His word.  To know God I must love Him through His word.  When it’s all said and done, the knowledge of God and the love of God come through His word which in the fullness of time came in the person of Christ Jesus in order to obliterate the hostility previously damning us.  To God be the glory!

(SDG)

DOES GOD TALK TO US TODAY OUTSIDE THE BIBLE?

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Today in many circles of Christendom, believers think they can expect God to talk to them personally, supernaturally  hearing His voice through varied ways.

This is often referred to as extra-biblical revelation.  I think that God can and does do this today, but perhaps not as much as some would lead us to believe.  Consider this short video from Stand to Reason where Greg Koukl addresses this issue I think fairly and Biblically: Click http://www.str.org/videos/do-you-believe-in-extra-biblical-revelation-in-present-day#.Vp6Iq_krLIU