Monday, October 31, 2016

The Heart of Romans Chapter 5

Every trial comes down to the moment of the final argument. It’s called the summation. It is when the attorneys summarize the important points and end with a therefore. Therefore is the call to the decision based upon all the evidence.

In one of the most historic trials in modern history, after all the evidence had been presented, Johnnie Cochran, in behalf of O.J. Simpson, told the jury, “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” That therefore was a pivotal point in the trial.

We are familiar with therefores. That after going through steps, therefore we reach a result, that after working through a process, therefore we come to a conclusion, that after putting all these ingredients in the pan and baking them in the oven, therefore we have cake. The result follows the therefore. Back up all the dots that are to be connected and this is what you end up with.

Romans 5 begins with therefore.

Therefore – in light of all the dots that have been connected, understanding we are made right with God by His grace and not our efforts, that in believing and giving ourselves to that belief He has declared us right with Himself, and now we stand before Him approved, accepted and justified forever. These details lead us to the next truth.

Rom 4:22-25 – Abraham was the prototype of how a person is made right with God. So, we, by following his example may know we are right with God as well.

Vs. 1 – With that established…having been justified, we now can eat our cake—have peace with God. 

Why not Heaven? Isn’t that the goal of salvation? Salvation isn’t to get us into Heaven but to get Heaven into us. What was the gift? Eternal life. When?

The result of having Heaven in us is Peace. I didn’t know He was ever upset with me.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them…so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom 1:18-21)

Paul is describing someone who will not honor Him as God in their life. Therefore those people live underneath the wrath of God.

But: When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Col 2:13-14)

He paid the debt we owed.

Hostility was the effect of God’s wrath against ungodliness. We carried that hostility like a sentence awaiting execution. Like a backpack filled with rocks.

But, therefore, after God declared us right with Himself, that hostility was removed. Instead of carrying the weight of God’s wrath, we now experience peace with God.

Paul called it being justified – just as if I’d…never sinned. Justified is the condition of being restored back to what Adam lost in the garden.

Vs. 2 - Exult: to boast – difference between boasting and bragging.  Boasting is declaring importance. We don’t boast of unimportant things.

Grandparents boast of their grandkids as their highest joy. When does that turn into bragging, when they try to tell me their grandkids are smarter, cuter, funnier, more talented than mine.
Bragging is an over-inflated opinion brought on by prejudice.

            Look at me, look what I did, what I can do, what I have. Bragging inflates me.

What is your boast? Your boast is what you declare as your highest honor, privilege, experience, joy. Boasting inflates the cause, influence, effect, the person through whom you found your delight. Crediting sources and abilities beyond yourself.

Paul’s point: We boast in our highest privilege – in the hope of God’s faithfulness coming through in all things. Look at what God has done in my life.

Me bragging about my ability, talents, skills does you no good. But my boasting in what the Lord has done can bless you because He can do the same and even more so in your life as well.


Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matt 5:16)

If you see God in my life, you will see hope for your own life.

We exult in hope of the glory of God. We boast in the hope we have in God accomplishing His purposes in our lives.

Vs. 3-5 – Also, we boast in our tribulations. Not brag about what we’re going through or have gone through or how adequate we are to suffer, but that our tribulations demonstrate God’s faithfulness in all things.

Paul heard God say: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Cor 12:9)

All we go through brings us back to the essentials of faith: trusting in the adequacy of God. Counting on Him working all things to our good, accomplishing what concerns us, blessing us with all spiritual blessings.

Vs. 6-8 – Recall – remember – remind – don’t forget the dots that led to our therefore – OT said: tie these reminders on your hand or place them on your foreheads.

Each time we remember what God did, we know that same God is at work accomplishing things this very moment and will continue doing so into the future.

Vs. 1 Having been justified – we have peace with God.
Vs. 9-11 Having been justified, much more then…we shall be saved – God’s on-going work in our lives.

Vs. 17 – what used to reign over us, control us, has been overtaken

Jesus’ death broke sin’s power over us and now there’s a new King on the throne of our life. By the power of His overcoming life, we can overcome in life.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 Jn 5:1, 4-5)

How do we overcome in life? By trusting in Him: Who He is and what He can do. Bringing Him into every moment of our lives.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, (2 Cor 3:4-6)

I am not adequate but He is!

Greatest hindrance to overcoming? Questioning whether there is another way available.

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. (Matt 11:2-5)

John, stop looking away from Me and look at Me. Look at who I am. Look at what I am doing. Haven’t you read the Book? Don’t you know what I am capable of?

I believe in God, not because my parents told me, not because the church told me, but because I’ve seen His goodness and mercy myself—in my darkness, I’ve seen His light, in my despair, I’ve felt His hand, in my pain, I’ve known His comfort. And in whatever I’ve yet to experience, I’ve already read of His faithfulness in His Word.

Therefore: I’m already in Heaven because Heaven is already in me.

1.       The result of sin is death; the gift of God is life – choose life!
2.      That life is full of benefits and blessings that can carry us through any situation.
3.      Because Jesus overcame, we can overcome the powers, influences, and obstructions that would hinder the success of that life.

4.      Therefore, boast of the goodness of God in your life.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Heart of Romans Chapter 4

Finance has never been my strong suit. I always thought if you still had checks you still had money. I learned in life two important words: credit and debit. Credit is what I have. Debit is what I owe. If I owe more than I have, I’m in trouble. How much I think I have doesn’t matter because there is coming a day of reckoning, when a balance sheet is provided and I have to reconcile my account with what the bank says I have or don’t have.

What we’ve learned in the introduction to the Heart of Romans study is God also has a ledger sheet. It shows what we owe and what we have to pay the debt. When it comes to being right with Him, we owe more than we can pay. In fact, we bring nothing to the table. God brings everything.

Rom 4:1-2 – discovered in God’s response to his declaration of faith.

Serendipity – something found on the way to something else.

Post-it notes - In 1968, a scientist at 3M in the United States, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead he accidentally created a "low-tack", reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. In 1974 a colleague who had attended one of his seminars, Art Fry, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook.

And He took him outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." Then he believed in the LORD, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:5-6)

Life principle: If I believe what God said is true and apply that to my life, something happens.

Vs. 3 – Credited means righteousness was moved to the plus side of his account.
Before that moment, on the side of the ledger that recorded what in his life granted relationship with God, there was nothing. Neither is there on our ledger though we think it’s full.
            Isn’t there an “E” in there for effort? I’ve tried to be good enough.
My membership in the church. Doesn’t my church guarantee me that
relationship? The church doesn’t have that power.
            Check the giving totals. I’ve given a lot of money to the church. There’s no pay to
play policy here.
            Look at the things I’ve done. Lord, didn’t we…and we list our religious and social

God has one criteria—If we believe in His Son, Jesus, have we applied what He did into our lives? If so, God has already credited our side with the word – ENOUGH! You now live in My approval.

If you’ve ever applied for a loan, approval was based on three criteria:
1.       Cash – can you pay back this loan
2.      Collateral – what can the bank hold in case you fail to pay it back
3.      Character – do you do what you promise
If you meet the bank’s criteria, you are declared approved. You didn’t earn that approval, you gained it by providing what was asked for.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. (Heb 11:1-2)

The approval gained wasn’t the reward of some effort, it was granted because they provided what was asked for—FAITH.

Vs. 4-5

Favor – God’s method for granting life. Grace—the repository of God’s provisions.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; (Rom 3:24)
So that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Tit 3:7)

Vs. 9 – Why? What did Abraham have faith in? GOD SAID!
I will trust that what God said is true. I will hold to the promises that what God has said will happen.

Abraham believed what God offered him to believe and God gave him the standing of being right with Him.

It cannot be a list of information I’m agreeing to, but a foundational truth that becomes the center of my life. What God says is TRUE!

What did God say? Abraham, I have a plan for your life and if you will agree to that plan, give your life to that plan, I will bless you forever.

Vs. 16 – God’s faithfulness to keep His promise is our guarantee.

There’s nothing else to do to get in and nothing that can be done to lose what has been gained because it’s based on God’s promises not ours.

Charles Kettering was the research head of General Motors from 1920-1947. When he wanted a problem solved, he'd place a table outside the meeting room with a sign: Leave slide rules here. If he didn't do that, he'd find one of his engineers reaching for his slide rule. Then that guy would be on his feet saying, "Boss, you can't do it."  

Our lack of faith says: God, you can’t do that…

George Muller. Faith does not operate in the realm of man’s ability to consider what’s possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends. And he stands there with nothing but GOD SAID.  

Vs. 18 – Hope against hope – contrary to, yet resting upon. How can that be, yet I’m counting on it to be so.

Vs. 19-21 – Abraham committed his life to the faithfulness of God to keep His promise. That’s all we’ve got to hang onto.

Bottom line: Do I believe what GOD SAID?

Belief is the acknowledgment of something being true.
Faith is acting out what I believe.
It is God’s faithfulness that guarantees the results.

Is the load heavy?Is God Faithful? Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. (Matt 11:29)

Are you afraid?Is God Faithful? "Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you." (1 Pet 5:7)

Are you tired?Is God Faithful? "Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I'll give you rest." (Matt 11:28)

Have you lost your strength?Is God Faithful? "The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power." (Isa 40:28-29)

Do you need comfort?Is God Faithful? "God...comforts us in all our afflictions." (2 Cor 1:4)

Have you lost hope?Is God Faithful? "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  (Ps 40:1)     

Do you doubt salvation is secure?Is God Faithful?My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  (Jn 10:27-28)

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25)

Inability to trust what GOD SAID reflects on us not Him. It stops the process of our growth as a Believer, our understanding of Scripture and our experiencing the blessings God has stored up for us.

The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life by which fear entrap us.

Vs. 23-24 – so we can know God’s plan and give our lives to it as well.

We cannot expect to live the life we do not have. But if we do have it all the promises of God are opened up to us.

So, to borrow from Capitol One: what’s in your ledger?

1.       Salvation isn’t to get us into Heaven but to get Heaven into us.
2.      Before we can live the life of salvation, we must be certain we have salvation.
3.      If we trust in anything other than what GOD SAID, we insult His Grace and grieve His heart.

4.      Once God declared us righteous, nothing can ever take that standing away.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Heart of Romans Introduction Part 5

Two hunters stopped at an old farmhouse to ask permission to hunt on the property. The place seemed deserted. There were junk cars and car parts lying around, a few chickens pecking away and a goat eating weeds. As they approached the house they saw an old well in the yard. One asked, "Wonder how deep it is." "Well drop something down and listen for the splash." They found a big chunk of concrete and dropped it in. They counted and waited a long time for the splash. It was deep. They turned to leave and the goat was charging at them. They jumped aside and the goat went straight into the well. While they were standing there the farmer came up. They chatted a while and got permission to hunt on his land. The farmer asked, "Have you seen my goat?" They said, "Your goat came charging after us but then jumped into the well. You should have had that goat tied up." The farmer said, "I thought I tied him to a big chunk of concrete." LESSON: You follow what you're tied to.

When a person calls out to God for salvation, their entire life becomes His possession—the invisible parts: their soul and spirit, as well as the visible part: their body. The body, soul and spirit make one whole person but each has a separate function.

The body is our flesh and blood. It’s the external part of us, our earth suit that identifies us with the world. It’s the part of us that goes to the grave when we die. But while it lives, it exerts pressure to have physical and emotional power over us. The body of flesh tries to influence our will to respond to its needs.

The spirit is the place God designed for Himself. Like the missing piece of a puzzle, it exists as a hole in our lives until God fills it. It is here we first desire God. From here comes the influence for what God wants and the desire to obey Him. Our spirit urges us to choose a godly response to life.
The soul is who we are. It is the internal, eternal part of us that lives on after we die. The primary function of the soul is to decide how we will respond to life. The soul is the control center of our life. It is our will. It makes choices as influenced by our body of flesh or our spirit.

We have the body of flesh pulling us earthward—toward worldly desires, and the spirit pulling us heavenward—toward godly desires. The Soul makes the choice to which we will respond.

In the first century there was a group of renegade teachers who taught God was not interested in the body, only the soul. What you did with the body was of no consequence. You could sin with your body and still be right with God in your soul.

Part of the reason people accepted that heresy was they needed an answer for how to contend against the powerful urges of their body crying out for satisfaction. It was as though the body had its own strength to control a person’s life. Lust, desire, compulsion all had driving force to take over and run the life. And against these urges, the spirit seemed to have had little influence. To solve the problem, these teachers gave permission to give in, and no hope to withstand.

Like the world saying teenagers cannot resist the urge to have sex, so give them protection and look the other way.

Like the parent giving in to the tantrum of a two- year- old.

But there was hope. There is hope. These two sides—body and spirit—are only influences suggesting an outcome. Our soul decides which it will give in to: the urges of the body or the desires of the spirit. Whichever the will attaches itself to, that’s what we will follow.
Having two sides within battling for control creates a tremendous war. But the winner is easy to predict: it’s the side we are tied to.

God’s redeeming work, restoring man back to the fellowship he had with Him in the garden, reconciled the whole person. 

Ivan the Great, Tsar of Russia in the 15th century was to marry the daughter of the King of Greece. Being Greek Orthodox, she insisted that if they were to marry, Ivan must be baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church. He agreed. When the day came to be baptized, 500 of his soldiers wanted to join him and be baptized. The church forbid professional soldiers from being baptized. They compromised. The men entered the water, took out their swords and held them above their heads. All was immersed except the arm which remained out of the water. They gave everything to God except their fighting arm which they would keep control of.

God didn’t just save our souls, He saved our entire life: body, soul and spirit.

Gen 12:1-4 – Call to Abram to go. TEST ONE – Will you go where I want you to go?

Gen 15:1-7 – God’s second call. TEST TWO – Will you be who I want you to be?

15:6 – the reckoning – declared righteous in response to Abram’s faith, within Abram’s heart God saw the willingness to be who He wanted Abram to be. Abram said yes to what God was offering him to believe.

Question: Does the inner change suddenly produce matching outward actions? Isn’t that what you would expect from a now righteous man? Righteous men should act righteously, right? But even a righteous man can make worldly decisions. 

Cat with bad habits being fixed—still being influenced by his old nature. It will take time for his body to realize it’s been changed.

Which brings about TEST THREE – Will you do what I want you to do, the way I want it done?

Gen 16:1-4a

TEST FOUR – Will you now do what I want you to, the way I want it done?

Gen 17:1-8 – Promise of life – walk with me and be blameless—carry no rebellion [speaks of division] division between who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside.
Vs. 10 – Circumcision – But why that procedure? It refers to a defining body part of the man. Why the removal of foreskin? Foreskin is excess flesh.

In Scripture the word Flesh can describe the body but often represents man doing things through his own power, independent from God. So the procedure is to remove excess flesh as a symbol of a greater reality—the triumph of the spirit over the flesh in influencing the will.

This was illustrated with Sarah giving Hagar to Abram: it was a physical act attempting to create a spiritual result. God had promised a child. We don’t believe that’s possible so we’ll help God or we’ll do God’s will our way. It is a challenge to God’s plan.

We do that in prayer, in a crisis, pain or distress. We tell God this is unacceptable and then tell God how He must fix it. This is what we want, God, not, God, we want what You know is best.

By going with the desires of the flesh, Abram actually rejected God’s authority over the plan.
So if the flesh is both the physical person and a symbol of rejecting God’s authority in our lives, then circumcision has both a physical reality and a spiritual counterpart.

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly [who was simply born into a culture or has adopted Jewish practices], nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh [as a surgical procedure]. 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 [of what the Law says]; and his praise is not from men [who only celebrate the outward results of the surgery], but from God.  (Rom 2:28-29)

In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh [the part of us that wants to do things through our own power, independent from God] by the circumcision of Christ; (Col 2:11)

Paul made 87 references to the flesh, some physical, but most symbolic of living by our own desires rather than God’s. He described living by the impulse of our self-centered, bodily desires as living by the flesh or living in the flesh.

For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are living 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 living in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:5-8)

Why can’t we please Him? We are not honoring Him as God.

This is the battlefield of our life. As believers we fight these same wars daily within our soul. Will we give in to the body of flesh and its desires to reject God’s plan or yield to the spirit and agree God’s way is best? Your will will attach to one or the other. Your life will follow the one you are tied to.

1.       What we believe, we do. All else is religious talk.
2.      Faith is seen in our obedience.
3.      Our choices reflect what we believe.
4.      Even righteous people can make wrong decisions.
5.      By yielding to our spirit and not our flesh, we can make good and godly choices.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Heart of Romans Introduction Part 4

Adam was created in fellowship with God. After he sinned, breaking that fellowship, God revealed the pattern by which people could be restored back in to what Adam lost. He would awaken a desire within them and then from that desire they would call out to Him. Once a person called out to Him and the relationship was begun, they could walk in fellowship with Him.

But there was more to the plan. In each example we’ve studied, when people called out to God and began walking in fellowship with Him, they adjusted their lives to conform to His plans and intentions.

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

Believing in God, calling out to Him, led to a life-transforming commitment.

In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the problem is in the misconception "that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. [Sin is that desire and practice of rejecting God’s intentions for our own.] That it is a change in belief without a change in behavior."

Jesus is not an add-on feature, like some app we’ve downloaded. He is Master of the life and we are His servants.

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Rom 6:16)  

Our obedience is not measured by what we say but whether we obey.

Jesus told a story: But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, 'I will, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? They said, "The first." (Matt 21:28-31)

Obedience is the evidence of what we decided. We come to a crossroads. We decide to turn right. Turning right, then, is the evidence of our decision.

But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18)

For each tree is known by its own fruit. (Luke 6:44)

The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin. A.W. Tozer.

The Christian life is a never ending series of decisions. How am I going to live today, in this moment, in light of what Jesus has done?

How to Make Good Decisions
1.       Perform a situational analysis – decisions usually involve change
a.      Understand what the situation is now
b.      Project how this decision will affect that situation
2.      Conduct a cost/benefit analysis [Pros/Cons]
a.      What do you gain vs. what you lose.
b.      What’s it going to cost me to move forward?
c.       What’s it going to cost if I do nothing?
3.      Assess the risk/reward ratio
a.      How will it affect me: financially, socially, positionally, physically?
b.      What if the reward is obscure? Spiritually, not all rewards are on this side
4.      Determine what is the right thing to do
a.      Davy Crockett: Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.
b.      Remember that at some point, indecision becomes a decision to do nothing, which might be the worst decision of all.

Process of taking the decision down from multiple options to a single choice: yes or no, go or no go.

Casting lots, drawing straws, rolling the dice, flipping a coin

As believers, faith calls us to surrender the decision to God.
1.       Have I asked God to help me know what to do?
2.      Is it commanded in Scripture?
3.      Is it forbidden in Scripture?
4.      Would it glorify God?
5.      Can I ask God to bless it?
6.      Have I any check within my spirit?
7.      When in doubt, don’t.

Little boy looking at a famous painting from a couple of inches away saw only blurred colors. Only when he was taken back several steps could he see the whole painting, seeing where these colors made sense in the over-all.

Since God has perfect perspective to see how each decision fits into the greater whole, trusting God with the over-all not only makes sense, it is a step of obedience.