Monday, September 26, 2016

The Heart of Romans Introduction Part 2

We were introduced to Grace last week when God had to do for Adam and Eve what they could not do for themselves. When they recognized their guilt for sinning—evidenced by their sudden awareness of being naked—they tried to cover themselves by sewing leaves together. Their feeble and inadequate effort was replaced by God’s adequate work of sacrificing an animal and using its skin to make a covering for them.

That act of covering sin gave us the picture of Atonement – God covering over sins with the ultimate intention of forgiving those sins when Jesus would die on the cross.

Grace covered their sins. But Grace also kicked them out of the Garden. Wouldn’t that be justice? Punishing them for sinning? No.

There was a second tree, a permitted tree prior to eating from the forbidden tree. It was the Tree of Life. A tree representing the promise of eternal life in relationship with God prepared for the Righteous. Since they were no longer righteous but had chosen unrighteousness, it now became a forbidden tree.

The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die. (Gen 2:16-17)

The Tree of Life wasn’t forbidden until they chose unrighteousness over righteousness.

Gen 3:22-24

Adam was created as God’s prototype—His master copy—the key man from whom all other keys would be made. He first represented mankind in righteousness and then in unrighteousness. Before he sinned he lived as the original design—man walking in fellowship with God. After he sinned he represented the state of fallen man who now needed to be redeemed in order for God to restore him back to that original design.

Until that restoration process was complete, and to keep Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life and remaining unrighteous forever, God had to kick them out of the garden and place guards to keep them and anyone else from coming back in.

God wanted fellowship with them forever…but not like that.
Unrighteousness isn’t compatible with righteousness.
            Light has no fellowship with darkness.
            Impurity cannot walk with Holiness.

So God covered their sin, kicked them out and kicked in His plan of reconciliation. All acts of grace.

Then comes justice: God cursed the ground. Gen 3:17-19

Adam, since you have chosen unrighteousness, your life will be ground focused, earth-centered, not heaven focused or God-centered. And since the ground is now cursed, life that issues from the ground is going to be hard, empty, burdensome, prickly. Instead of living within My blessings, you will live unfulfilled—seeking fulfillment from your own achievements.

Your concentration, your loyalty, even your devotion and desire for Me is now divided, distorted and detached.

Sounds hopeless, but there was a plan in the works—the plan of reconciliation that we can see looking back and connecting the dots. The first dot was when God cursed the snake. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." (Gen 3:15)

Connect the dots.

Another dot was God sacrificing animals to make coverings for Adam and Eve.
A third was God pointing out the Tree of Life, evidence His intention for eternal life with man remained fixed.
But now, catch a glimpse of a dot God hid within Cain and Able’s story.

Gen 4:1-5

After the garden, why would fallen man want to connect with God anymore? He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart... (Eccl. 3:11)

In an attempt to seek fellowship with God, to honor God with an offering, Cain presented something from the cursed ground. Able sacrificed an animal. Why did God reject Cain? His offering reflected the unrighteous act of his father and came through the cursed ground. Why did God accept Able? It mirrored His grace for Adam and Eve and ultimate plan of reconciling man to Himself.

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. (Heb 11:4)

Wait, later doesn’t God accept offerings from the ground?

After Cain killed Able, Eve had Seth: the appointed one. Appointed to what? To re-introduce God’s intentions of righteousness. Seth is the pathway to how we get back on track.

God’s not going to throw away the plan because of man’s failure: If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Tim 2:13)

To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD. (Gen 4:26)

Memory can be a curse or a blessing. The memory of stories of Adam walking with God created desire to restore that privilege.

Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They called upon the LORD and He answered them. (Ps 99:6)

Not just calling out His name but calling on His name, believing in all that name represents, as a child calls to his parent expecting something to happen.

And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered. (Joel 2:32)


The Heart of Romans Introduction Part 1

Attitude is crucial to living the Christian life. It controls our response to all aspects of life. Whenever we input new concepts into our mind, our attitude determines how those concepts will affect us. The mind receives the information but our attitude filters our response. If left unchecked, our attitude will become the standard of our thoughts and actions.

Aircraft have an attitude indicator that tells the pilot how he is positioned with reference to the horizon. The horizon is the standard by which the plane flies straight and level. It’s easy to lose your bearings in the sky. Pilots are trained to trust their instruments. If the attitude indicator shows you are in a slow, downward spiral, you need to reposition the plane with what your gauge tells you.

John Kennedy, it was determined, had trusted his personal attitude about his plane’s flight path rather than rely on the attitude indicator. Whenever our own attitude contradicts the gauge, mark it down, we’re the one who is wrong.

Now if the attitude indicator represents to the plane the standard of straight and level, what indicates we are living according to God’s standard?

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt 7:13-14)

With two ways, which is God’s intention?

Intentions: to have in mind something to be done or brought about. A plan designed for a particular purpose or end.

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
1:4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. [Righteous—that’s the indicator]
1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons [taken out of the family of unrighteousness and placed into the family of righteousness] through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Chosen: to choose them out from where they were with the outcome in mind to place them somewhere else.

To describe these differences, the Bible uses two words: Righteous and unrighteous—that refer to being right or wrong with God—These become the defining categories of whether we are within God’s intentions or not.

If it is His desire to take us out of unrighteousness and place us into righteousness:

Then the righteous are those who accept and conform to God’s intentions.
The unrighteous are those who do not.

To clarify the picture of that what that righteousness looks like, we need to go back to the original design.

My fingerprints were taken digitally. It showed how scarred and chopped up they had gotten throughout my life. The picture accurately recorded what they look like, but it does not reflect the original design. It has been damaged and distorted.

Gen 2:16-25

David wrote: Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? [that drawing to be right with God] And who may stand in His holy place? [desire for relationship and fellowship] He who has clean hands and a pure heart…He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Ps 24:3-5)

Adam and Eve: they were created with hearts so pure before God they could literally walk with Him in the Garden. They had a relationship with Him that was reflected by fellowship with Him. Symbol of that purity: they were naked and not ashamed.

Their hands were clean and their hearts were pure. The original design was a perfect picture of His intentions. They walked with God. To walk with Him you have to be right with Him.

Gen 3:1-11

After the fall, their hearts were so distorted they no longer reflected the original design. They no longer conformed to God’s intentions for a relationship through righteousness. Instead, they conformed to the image of unrighteousness. They were now wrong with God.

The result: guilt. The evidence of their guilt: ashamed of their nakedness and wished it concealed from God.

Adam represented all mankind so their sin represented all sin—the desire to live by their own intentions rather than God’s. The choice to be wrong with God instead of right with Him. That’s what sin is. Choosing the broad way instead of the narrow.

But their sin stained not only their lives, it stained us as well.

Then the penalty for their sin represented the price for all sin—separation from God.

When it came to the choice to remain faithful to the standard of God’s intentions, they chose unrighteousness over righteousness. And forever distorted the image of the original design. From then on, everyone born bears that distorted image.

Paul said: For by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one...Then through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men…For through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners. (Rom 5:17-19)

But just so you know, God was prepared. Remember, He knew the plan even from the foundation of the world. So how was He prepared for Adam and Eve?

When Adam realized He had broken God’s heart, He felt the shame of his guilt. Adam’s frail attempt at covering his sin was to sew leaves together, but he couldn’t keep his sin covered. God, then, made a covering for the symbol of their guilt—their nakedness.

God had to do for him what he couldn’t do for himself. God covered his guilt. This is Grace coming into the story.

God sacrificed animals whereby coverings could be made to conceal Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Which set into motion the ultimate plan by which God would reconcile people back into relationship with Him and restore them to His original intentions.

There would be a sacrifice. There would be shedding of blood.

What started as covering—Atonement—would remain in effect until the day God would present the ultimate sacrifice of His Son. On the cross Jesus would pay the price for all sin and make full restoration possible. From that day on, God would, in Jesus, reconcile the world unto Himself, and return people back to the original design where they could walk with Him in relationship and fellowship forever.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)

1.       Because of Adam, we all are born with a nature bent on sinning and coming short of God’s intentions.
2.      That nature will control our lives if left to itself.
3.      Because of what Jesus did, the power of that old nature is able to be broken and replaced with a new nature that desires to walk with God.

4.      It is God’s intention that we accept what Jesus did and walk in relationship and fellowship with Him forever. 

The Heart of Romans Introduction Part 3

Have you ever been lost? Physically lost? You made a wrong turn, then another, and another until finally, you had no idea where you were. There’s a panic that overwhelms you. You can see all around but nothing is familiar. You begin to wander about with no clear sense of direction. What do you do? If you’re a guy you stop and ask for directions. Or just keep going and hoping.

Unless you have a GPS on your phone, finding someone who knows where you are is the surest way to solve your problem.

When God created man in His own likeness, according to His image, it wasn’t just a random expression of “well I got one that looks like me.’ But one whose heart beats like mine does. A child after your likeness is one, when others see them, they say, “That child reminds me so much of you.” There was something about Adam that showed something about God.

Adam was 130 when Seth was born. He and Eve had had other children after Cain and Able, but Seth was in Adam’s own likeness, according to his image (Gen 5:3). The likeness of God in Adam is now in Seth.

Quite possibly, Adam spent time with Seth, reliving the stories about creation and the garden, the fall and the expulsion. When Adam told of the joy of walking with God in the cool of the day, Seth’s heart began to beat faster, wanting that same fellowship. In the midst of a fallen world emerges one who desires to walk with God.

Passion, desire, is hard to pass on. It often fades. It can be seasonal or go dark for years. But to establish that passion as a legacy, it has to be cultivated; it has to be nurtured; it has to be responded to; it has to be demonstrated. Passion for God becomes a defining characteristic of who we are as believers. Seth represented such a man.

So it is no surprise that the Bible says: To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD. (Gen 4:26)

Not just calling out His name but calling on His name, believing in all that name represents, expecting when he calls out, something happens.

And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered. (Joel 2:32)


They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.’ (Zech 13:9)

Calling out to God releases His grace which opens for us the door of Heaven drawing us in and granting us the privilege of standing before the very throne of Heaven confident we are children of God.
In the Garden God called out to Adam and Eve. Out of the Garden, men and women must call out to God.

Five generations later: Enoch – Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. (Gen 5:24)

From calling we move back into walking. Remember the original design, God’s intentions: Man would walk with Him in relationship and fellowship. The memory of that privilege was being passed down from one generation to another.

Jacob blessed Joseph, and said, "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day…bless the boys. (Gen 48:15)

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; (1 Jn 1:6)

As Adam represented God’s intention for man in the Garden, Enoch represented God’s intention for man outside of the Garden. Like stepping into a narrow stream, Enoch stepped back into the flow of God’s intentions.

There has always been a remnant that follows a narrow path throughout history. The vast majority choose the broad road that leads to destruction. Out of that vast majority, a remnant chooses to walk with God. Enoch chose the narrow path. Enoch walked with God.

We have calling and waking—then comes Noah and the flood. Remember how God cursed the ground in response to Adam and Eve’s sin?
Now Lamech had a son and called his name Noah, saying, "This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed." (Gen 5:29)

Why would Lamech think that? Perhaps those who called out to God, who walked with God, who fellowshipped with God, also gained insight from God. Something was up and God was about to step back into the plight of the earth. God was giving them a heads up. Somehow Lamech knew Noah would be the one through whom God would cleanse the earth and remove the curse. It is unlikely he understood the means by which God would accomplish that.

Gen 6:1-2
Sons of God – angels?
But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matt 22:29-30)
            Angels are not reproducible beings.
            Adam came from God. Son of God
            Eve came from Adam. Daughter of man
For a man is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man…though neither is independent from the other. (1 Cor 11:7-8)

And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:26-27)

Vs. 3 – Strive: shield man from My wrath
Judgment will happen in 120 years

Vs. 4 Nephilim – not a race but a category of men who were known for their might, strength, and size. Reference to them as giants later.

There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Num 13:33)

Nephilim were mighty men, victorious warriors, men of renown – of reputation. Perhaps they were like guardians or served as peace-keepers—some structure of law and order. And maybe the reference is…things were so bad even they couldn’t stop the disintegration of society.
But they were not the bi-product of the sons of God and daughters of man.

Vs. 5: Instead of righteousness begetting righteousness, unrighteousness was begetting unrighteousness.

Cf: 11-12

Without righteous, left to themselves, men will choose evil over good. Without the attitude indicator, the plane is going to crash.

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Prov 4:23)

Without pure hearts, the impurity within the heart rules. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Matt 15:19)

Transgression speaks [calls out] to the ungodly within his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. (Ps 36:1)

Where there is no vision the people are unrestrained [perish]. Prov 29:18

Vision of what? Holiness of God, Almightiness of God, Sovereignty of God, Goodness of God.

When there is no fear of God there is no fear of rebelling against God.
Vs. 6: sorry – to comfort oneself
Was God sorry for the decision to create?
Did He regret He ever made man?
Did He not expect this to happen?
He was pained by man’s response and what He would have to do to reconcile it.

Grieved: King David has a son named Absalom who wanted to take away the kingdom from his father. He was killed in battle.  The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you!" (2 Sam 18:33)

Absalom had turned against his father. David’s son had become his enemy. But David loved Absalom. His death hurt David so much he wished he had died instead of his son.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, [ones in opposition to God’s intentions] Christ died for us. For while we were enemies [those who have turned against God] we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son... (Rom 5:10)

Never think God was a detached observer in Heaven. He was a grieving Father, whose Son would eventually die in order to reconcile people back to Himself.

Vs. 7 – sorry – consoled

Vs. 8 – but Noah found favor—to bend or stoop – coming down to the level of our need. Word for Grace in OT.

Gen 6:9 – Noah walked with God

In a world of crooked lines, Noah walks as a straight line.
In a world where everyone went the broad way, Noah took the narrow path.

Why did God choose Noah? Good boat builder? Great with animals? Young and vibrant? Noah was a man of faith who walked with God. To Noah, God had applied favor, grace, and thereby declared him right with Him. Therefore, Noah was righteous, not because he built a big boat, but because he walked with God with clean hands and a pure heart, and one other thing…

Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. (Gen 6:22)

He believed and acted on that belief.

Precedents are all set:
God’s intention is for people:
·         to call out to Him for salvation,
·         walk with Him in fellowship,
·         and live by faith, conforming to His plans, trusting Him for the outcome.
Connect the dots in your life and you’ll find that’s how the Lord brought you to Himself. He invited you into a forever relationship with Him and you said, “Yes.”

And if you haven’t yet taken Him up on His offer…

TAKEAWAYS are more what you could literally takeaway today. A forever relationship with God

1.      A – Accept what God has said is true and what Jesus did is enough.
2.     B – Believe that He is inviting you to respond.

3.      C – Call out to Him for salvation.