Romans 10:1-4 Knowledge is Power

Romans 10:1-8

Knowledge is Power

 

Good Morning! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans chapter 10. As we turn there, I want to give a big thank you to Dave for filling in for me last week in short notice. He delivered a great sermon. If you didnt get a chance to hear it, Hope was wonderful and recorded it for me and it is posted on the Church FB page. Thank you to the rest of you for your prayers and understanding as I was just knocked completely out by this fever and Hope passed along the concerns and the love last week. Thank you.

So, as we open up to Romans chapter 10, we see that Paul is, in some ways still addressing the same thing we did at the start of Chapter 9, his heart for the lost. And in Chapter 9, he poured out his hearts desire in the first few verses of chapter 9. After that, he addressed 3 questions or challenges that some have made regarding Gods sovereignty, finishing the chapter with no doubt that God is in control of everything, he created everything he alone sees what is good and right and that trusting in Christ alone is the only way for us to enter into Gods Kingdom.

And so, the need for salvation and the author of salvation are established. Later on in chapter 10, likely what we will look at next week, he will deal with how we are saved, some of the general mechanics. This week, we are looking at the importance of knowledge, in both salvation, our justification and in our Christian walk, in our sanctification.

Lets go ahead and read this weeks verses. Romans chapter 10, and I will be reading verses 1-8. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and I do highly encourage you to follow along in your Bibles, whatever translation they may be. If you do not own a Bible, we have some on the back table there that we would like to be our gift to you. Romans 10:1-8, the Apostle Paul writes:

 Brothers,[a] my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[b]
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);

The part of Pauls writing here that we are gong to focus on is something that Paul is very, very familiar with. In verse 2 here, Paul talks about his fellow Israelites and says that they have a zeal for God, more accurately in context, who they think God is, but their zeal is not based on any knowledge of Him.
Paul is intimately aware of this conundrum. Think of who Paul was. He describes himself in Philippians 3:4-6, as he writes:
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,[c] blameless.

A good resource for you to look at online is GotQuestions.org. They put together a systematic and chronological biography of Paul based on all the Bible verses that talk about him and his background and a little bit of resources from that period in time. One of the ways they sum up Pauls life before Christ is when they say, “Paul’s early life was marked by religious zeal, brutal violence, and the relentless persecution of the early church.” (https://www.gotquestions.org/life-Paul.html)
Paul’s early life was one of 100% dedication to doing the will of God. The problem was that he was going in the absolute wrong direction. 180 degrees backwards. He had knowledge of what we know as the Old Testament Scriptures. He knew them in and out, upside down and backwards. We see in his writings how often he quotes from the Old Testament. But he also shows us, in his writings, in Gods Word, that having intellectual knowledge of the scripture, reading it like literature for a University class or something like that, just studying its literary value, has no benefit. You can have all the scriptures in the World memorized, that doesn’t mean you know what God is saying through those words. You can’t know what Gods means through those words unless God reveals it, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3: 14-16:
14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one[c] turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

Without Christ, a zeal and passion for God is not a zeal or passion for the One True Biblical God. Jesus says that you cannot know the Father without the Son. (Matthew 11:27) And so, many Israelites at the time, many people today of ALL religions, including Christianity, think that they know god and that they have a zeal for God, but without the knowledge of Jesus Christ, who He is, and through him, Who God the Father is, whatever god we have a zeal for is a false god.
And the only way we can know who Jesus is, is through the revelation of Him through the bible, Gods Word. Jesus is the Word. And the Word was God and the Word was with God. (John 1) When Paul, then going by Saul, finally met the real Jesus, and through him, the true God, as recorded in Acts 9, his zeal was paired with knowledge, knowledge that saves and knowledge that focus’ the zeal that many have for god into a real difference making, actionable zeal.
Again, Paul was intimately aware of what true, biblical knowledges means to the life of a believer. True knowledge of Christ and who He is changes lives. We live in a country and a time when we can claim to be Christians, claim to know Christ and to believe the Bible and no one would be able to pick us out of a crowd. This stat is a few years old, but in recent surveys, 2 stats jumped out.
First, over 90% of Americans claim to believe in “god.” In this case, obviously, god is an undefined, spiritual word of something outside of ourselves, or inside of ourselves in some cases, that really has no definition. Second, somewhere around 75-80% of Americans self-identify as Christians. I choose that word, self-identify, very purposefully. As we see across the country, throughout society today that people can “self-identify” as anything they want, scientific and biological facts not withstanding. People can self identify as anything, with no evidence to back up their claims and we are told that we need to accept that self-identification.
Well, 75-80% of Americans self identify as Christians. The problem is that there is no evidence to show that they believe anything that constitutes making one a Christian. Things like who Jesus is and how he saves. Things like what salvation is and why we need it. Things like who God the Father is and what He has revealed to us.
A few weeks ago, Ligonier Ministries released the latest findings in a study they conduct every couple of years. Dave mentioned this last week and read some of the statistics. We went over this 2 weeks ago in Prayer Meeting as well. Christianity Today wrote a good article summing up some of the findings and I have copies of that article on the back table which include a link to the raw results of the study itself, and I encourage you to look at and play around with some of that information and to really see how bad the State of Theology is in this country.
The simplest take away is that the vast majority of people polled, really don’t know what the Bible says and therefore, the Church, as a whole, doesn’t know what the Word of God is or says.
Now, a part of that is on mine and other pastors shoulders. It is on the shoulders of elders throughout churches across America. Elders are clearly tasked with the responsibility of teaching those under their care, though the Pastor is the elder who takes the main teaching role, especially in our setup, but also in most churches across America. So a part of your knowledge about what the bible says, about what is true and what is not, a part of that falls on my shoulders. For these 30-45 minutes here in Sunday mornings. For the 30 minutes or so of bible Study we have at the beginning of our prayer meeting on Wednesday Mornings. My responsibility is to give you all accurate and true teaching of what the bible says. In that, in my responsibility to rightly handle to Word of God, James writes that I will be judged stricter than those who are not teachers.
But the bigger responsibility, the larger onus is on you. You have a responsibility to know what you claim to believe. You are the only one that can take responsibility for your faith. You are the only can that can know what you believe and why. You are the only one who can put your faith in its proper priority context. You are the only one who can do any of the things it takes to build and grow your faith and your walk with Christ.
And finally, its all of our responsibilities to help each other. Its our responsibility to encourage and exhort each other. To walk along side each and bear each others burdens, as Paul writes in Galatians (Gal 6:2). He also writes in Ephesians 4:12-14 that we are to “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” We are responsible for each other as well.
Why does this matter? What does it matter what we think or believe? We look at the State of Theology Study and they asked 34 questions. Some of these questions are secondary, though very important, and some of these questions are vital to the fact that we consider ourselves Christians. Some of these questions we cannot answer a certain way and still consider ourselves Christians.
Statement 12 says “Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.” And you answer Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Dont know, Agree, Strongly Agree. Overall, only 23% of respondents agree at all. Only 26% disagree that even though everyone sins a little, people are generally good. 39%, 39% say that the Holy Spirit can tell them to do something that the Bible forbids! Then again, only 25% disagree that the Holy Spirit is a Force instead of a personal being. That means that 25% rightly understand that the Holy Spirit is a personal being, as in God. He is not like the force in Star Wars. And the last one I will run off right now, the Statement that Jesus is the first and greatest created being. Only 28% disagree with that!
Heres the thing, maybe to some of you, obviously to some of those who responded to this survey, those aren’t big issues. They are not important enough issues. Except that, this is the stuff of the Gospel. These are things that the Bible is crystal clear on. Jesus is very god and very man. He lived a sinless life. Much of this we have gone over here though Pauls letter to the Romans. We are all born sinful, slaves to our sin nature. We are not naturally good people. Not by Gods definition. Some of us do more good deeds or are more moral than many others around us, and that is a good thing. But none of us are good as defined by God. And so, because God loves us, Paul writes in Romans 5:8, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
When mankind first sinned, its relationship with God the Father was broken, it was shattered, we see that back in Genesis chapter 3. To have that relationship restored requires righteousness. Since God is Holy, He requires Perfect righteousness. Since we are born sinful, even the smallest sin takes away any perfect righteousness that we may have. Christs sinless, perfect life and sacrifice imputes, or puts on, his perfect righteousness on to our unrighteousness. So that, when we receive His righteousness by Gods grace through faith in Him and His Son, we are seen by God as and declared Righteous.
If we lose any of that, If Jesus isnt sinless, or if Jesus isnt God. If we are good and righteous enough on our own, if sin doesn’t separate us from God and his Kingdom. If the Bible is not truly the Word of God and inerrant and sufficient and authoritative, then we lose the Gospel. And if we don’t follow the Word of God, and Jesus is the Word, then we cannot call ourselves Christ followers, or Christians.
Doctrine and theology matters. Now, having said that, there is something we need to remember. While our salvation, our justification, the moment we move from spiritual death to spiritual life happens in a moment, our growth and knowledge do not happen in a moment. We need to remember where we started and we need to remember where others start.
As I often say, this is an instant where I am preaching to myself just as much, if not more so than I am preaching to you guys. And as such, I will use myself as an example. I didn’t become a Christian til my mid 20s. When I did become a Christian, when is started reading the Bible and going to church, I didn’t automatically and immediately jettison some of my unbiblical views.
I gave Jim this example a few weeks ago, but I didn’t immediately stop believing in evolution, even so-called Theistic Evolution when I started learning what the Bible says and growing in my faith. But, as I started to submit my thinking to the truth of Gods Word, as I was being transformed by the renewing of my mind, I started to see what Genesis and the rest of the Bible clearly teaches, that God created the world as stated in genesis 1 & 2 and not over millions or Billions of years. My view moved from evolution to Creationism. But my point is that, and hopefully Jim doesn’t think less of me for this, the change in thinking happened over the course of a few years.
We never stop learning. And we are all at different points of our journeys. And we do need to remember that all the knowledge in the world, with out grace, and without love means nothing. Paul emphasizes this I 1 Corinthians 13, verses 1-3, where he writes: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
So, as we make sure that our zeal for God is according to knowledge, let us remember that the knowledge comes in different times, at different levels, that some of us have been growing in our faith for decades, some, maybe for months. Whats important is that we walk along side each other, share our resources and equip, edify and encourage each other.
So, practically, what are some of the resources that are available to you to grow in knowledge and sanctification? Well, first and most important, bar none is your bible. Dave hammered this point home last week as well and it cannot be emphasized enough.
Author and Theologian Justin Peters says it great, If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud.
The Bible is Gods revelation to us. It is his word for us. This book here is THE Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
If you have or do or use nothing else, read your Bible, believe it and live it. What other resources are you privy to? Well, your Pastor. Thats me. Dave is a Pastor as well. Some may say he used to be a Pastor, but unless you become disqualified by sin, I don’t think you ever truly stop being a Pastor. So, we really do have two Pastors in the congregation here. We can be a great resource for you. We also have a whole bunch of mature, experienced Christians that are willing and able to share their experiences, knowledge and anything else God has gifted them with. We are here for each other.
Third, and related to that, you have access to these sermons. Not just here on Sunday mornings. But I type them out ahead of time and I record them as I am up here. Both the manuscript and the audio get posted online, usually Sunday afternoons/evenings. The easiest way to find them is through the Bangor Community Church Facebook page, but if you want to know some other options, talk to me after the service today.
In My office, I have many books. If you want to look at some of them, or borrow one or two, we can work that out as well. There are many bad “Christian” books out there, so please be careful and discerning, but there are a lot of great, scriptural, biblical books out there as well.
Just being here, especially Sunday mornings, but Wednesday mornings as well, can be a resource just for fellowship and encouragement, helping us walk through life with each other.
One f the things close to my heart is right Doctrine and so I have the article I mentioned this morning back on the table there if you want to grab one after the service. Anytime I see a study like this come out, I will look over it and use it to see where can we as the church correct what we have wrong and what can we teach clearer and better. I will post useful and relevant articles on the church Facebook page as well. This article will be posted when I post the sermon, hopefully this afternoon as well.
Lastly, I mentioned this a few weeks ago and some people have expressed an interest, but Village Missions Contenders Discipleship Initiative is another resource that you will soon have access to. This is Bible college level teaching that is provided by VM for free. This can be taken as intensively or casually as you would like, but it is a great resource for learning about Christianity in all aspects. There are six classes and it starts with hermeneutics: How to Study the Bible. This covers such things like how to make sure you know the context of what you are reading, how you know we can trust the bible, how we got the Bible that you hold in your hands and so much more.
I dont have any details yet, but after the holidays, at some point, we will start these CDI classes and I really do encourage you all to think & pray about taking part of these classes.
So, as you can see, Bangor Community Church is here to ensure that we all have whatever we need to know and learn and grow in our walk with Jesus Christ. I pray that none of us have said about us what Paul says about his fellow Israelites in Romans 10:2,  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
Know Christ. First Have a saving knowledge of him. You hear me probably say this every week, but this is the motto of the Reformation, started now 501 years ago. Salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone in Christ alone according to the scriptures alone, to the Glory of God alone.
Know Christ and then continue to learn more about him, being conformed to his image, growing in wisdom and knowledge.
Lets Pray.

Bangor Sermon Micah 3, Act Justly, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly with God

Hi Guys, I was hit hard with a fever this weekend and was in bed for 4 days. Thanks be to God, we have elders in our church that can fill in and teach! My Head Elder, Dave, a former pastor himself, was gracious and willing enough to fill in for me on Sunday. This is his sermon on Micah 3. Sorry for the beginning, we have recording issues and it didn’t start till he was already reading. hope this blesses you as it did me and enjoy!

 

Romans 9:24-33 God is the LORD of All

Romans 9:24-33

God is LORD of all

Good Morning. Please open up in your Bibles with me to Romans chapter 9. We jump back in this week to our series through Romans and we finish up the 9th chapter here as Paul is addressing objections to Gods sovereignty. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, if you dont own one, please help your self to one from the back table there as our gift to you.

Now, The first sections in Chapter 9 we saw Paul address three specific questions dealing with Gods sovereignty and we came away with three very clear points. First, Gods Word and his promises have not and cannot and will not fail. What he says will happen, is guaranteed to happen. Second, Gods decisions, on who he calls to himself and who he chooses to save are just that, his decisions. And He, as God, as perfect and just and merciful, his decisions are right and just, or more accurately, full of grace and mercy to those he saves and just to those he doesn’t. third, He is the creator God, we are his creations. He has every right to mold us as the potter molds clay, and to form us into what he wants and what is best. And all of this, not only the third point, but all of Chapter 9 is showing that all that God does is for His Glory.

So, as we finish up chapter 9, we see Gods glory on display and we see Paul is re-emphasizing two of his main points that he has been preaching all letter long. Gods Word is the foundation and the bedrock of everything. And Salvation belongs to the LORD and is available to people of all nationalities, background, race, sex, all of it. No one group of people has a hold on Christ and his redeeming work, to the exclusion of others.

So, with all that said, we are going to be looking at Romans chapter 9, verses 24-33 this morning. Since verse 24 starts in the middle of a sentence, to help with the context, we will start reading with verse 23, which is also in the middle of a Paul sentence, but adds context. We will read through the end of the chapter, and just notice, Paul quotes numerous Old Testament passages in these 9 verses and alludes to quite a number more.

So, without further ado, lets read Roman 9:23-33 and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, Paul writes:

 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel[c] be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[d] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Amen? So, Paul quotes a lot of scripture in this passage here. And that makes us wonder, why would he focus so much scripture on this passage? What point is he making that needs that scriptural emphasis to combat the questions and objections? I think we can pull out three points from this passage, two of which Paul is saying and one of which he is showing by example.

So lets start with that last one, the point that Paul is showing by example. Scripture is the foundation of all that we believe. If the Bible says it, its true. We believe the Bible. It is the inerrant, infallible, all-sufficient word of God. I think one of the main things that Jim was saying last week, what his underlying premise for everything he was saying was the Gods Word is true. In everything, and everything that it says is trustworthy and has only been verified throughout history, never disproven.

The Bible was written over 1600 years. It was written as 66 separate books or letters by over 40 authors, in 3 languages on 3 continents. But in all that, 1 main story, the restoration of our sinful selves to God and his glory through the perfect righteousness of his Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, In Jesus Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone, as revealed by the scriptures alone. The motto of the Reformation, the pillars that the Reformation was built on, that Biblical, true Christianity is built on.

And so, we need to look at what the Bible says, in its totality. Not just one verse here or there. Paul knows this. And so, to help his point, as an Apostle, as a messenger of Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writing scripture, he brings in the Old Testament scriptures to show that he wasnt just making this up. To show that he wasnt going against what God had previously said. Instead, Paul is showing that these things he is emphasizing here in Romans, and chapter 9 especially, have been established and planned from the beginning. It’s not a new plan that God came up with. This is not plan B, this is a continuation of the one and only plan that God has had. And scripture itself testifies to that.

And the first point that Paul makes in this passage is that God will call his people from all nations, all Peoples and every tribe of the World. And that was the plan from the beginning. Not from the Jews only, but from the Gentiles also. Gentiles, simply being any one who is not a Jew. God sent his Word and his prophets and his Son, our Messiah through the Jewish people. The physical descendants of Abraham hold a special place in Gods heart and were given a special calling.

But Salvation belongs to the LORD and is promised to the Sons of Abraham, but as we looked, not the physical sons, not the biological, genealogical, physical sons of Abraham, but to all who have the faith of Abraham, the spiritual sons of Abraham. Gods plan from the beginning was for all people groups to be represented in Perfect eternity.

Revelation 7:9 & 10 shows what it will look like when we are worshipping the LORD for eternity. John recorded:

I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

All tribes. All Peoples. All Languages. God will call who he decides to call. Or maybe more accurately who he has decided to call before the creation of the world. And its an incomplete reading of the Old Testament to think that Gods salvation was limited to one people group during that time.

Thats what Paul is pointing out here. Gods invitation, his call to salvation of all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike is not a new revelation that the Apostles or Paul came up with. Paul quotes Hosea and the sentiment is echoed in the book of Ruth as well, in verse 26 here:

Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

Shortly after I became a Christian, after I started going to church, I heard this and I have been saying it ever since. Christianity is very exclusive, because it has one door, one method of salvation, one way, and that is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way to know the Father or to access him except through his Son. But, Christianity is the most inclusive religion out there as well because the invitation is given to all, whosoever may believe. The invitation is not limited to any group or any people.

We know that his Word does not return void, meaning that exactly what God set out and planned from before the beginning is exactly what is going to happen and has happened. And what he has planned to pur his grace out on all people’s groups, on people from every tribe, every nation and every language.

Now some people hear what I’m saying and they think it means dismissing the Jewish people. They think the argument is that the Jewish people times has come and went. Paul points out that isn’t true either.

Paul quotes twice Isaiah here and points out that not all Israel will be saved, but that there will be a remnant, there will be some of the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, who are called by God and will turn to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Messiah and they will be saved. They are a part of Gods plan and have been from the before the creation of the world, just like you and me. Call upon the name of the LORD and you will be saved.

Now, Paul makes that point and then goes on to point out to things keeping many of the Jewish people from knowing Christ as their Messiah. First, Israel recognized, because God was clear in the Old Testament that righteousness was required to Know God. That the only way to be reconciled to Him is through righteousness.

The problem was where Israel thought that the required righteousness came from. They pursued righteousness by the following of the Law that was given down by God. And yet they couldn’t achieve that obedience to the law, couldnt achieve or acquire that needed righteousness.

And Paul points out where the needed righteousness comes from. It comes through faith. Faith in Christ. And in fact is Christs righteousness that is able to be put on us, so that the Father sees the needed righteousness, from his Son when he looks at us. This righteousness cannot be achieved or acquired or earned. Paul says the gentiles did not pursue it. It is by grace through faith.

And that faith in Christ is a stumbling stone for many in this world. And more specific, that faith in Christ alone for our righteousness. Many don’t want to trust in Christ alone. It is not in our human nature to trust in Christ alone. It’s barely in our nature to trust in Christ at all, let alone to trust in him alone. And what happens when we trust in anything other than Christ alone, we stumble over the corner-stone. We trust in works. We trust in ourselves.

We are wrong. Paul says it here. There are those who think they will be saved in the end. That they will have the required righteousness as if it were based on works. There are many who think they will enter the Kingdom of Heaven who will be denied and rejected.

Jesus says in Matthew 7, verses 13 & 14: the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

It is harder to trust in Christ alone than to try to trust in ourselves and to earn our righteousness, narrow and hard is the way that leads to life. But many are on the wide and easy path and they think they are on the narrow and hard. There is a day coming when we will either be accepted, trusting in Him alone, or rejected, trusting in our works even if we believe in him.

Jesus talks about this later in Matthew chapter 7, verses 21-23, a famous passage. Jesus tells the crowds:

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The issue here is not whether the people believed that Jesus was LORD. They had the intellectual knowledge and probably believed in their heart. The issue is that they were trusting in their works. They were trusting in the fact that they prophesied, that they cast out demons, that they did mighty works and they expected that those works were good enough to get them into heaven. Jesus calls those works that they trusted in, lawlessness.

Trust in Christ alone. Thats the way through the narrow gate. Not Christ plus works. Not Christ plus heritage. Not Christ plus political views. Not Christ plus race. Not Christ plus anything. Theres a saying, Jesus plus anything equals nothing.

Paul is clear in this passage. All whom God calls, will respond and will trust in Christ alone. His Word will not return void. And God will call his people from everyone who was not his people. Every nation, every language, every people. No matter who or where you come from, there is no salvation outside of faith in Christ alone. The scripture says this from the beginning of the Bible and continues to say it throughout the New Testament. God didn’t have plan A and Plan B. He doesn’t have one plan for now, one plan for then and one plan for later. It’s all the same plan. Scriptures speak to it and are our foundation for everything spiritual. Trust in Christ alone, not works, not plus anything. Not even Jesus plus communion. This is a time to reflect on your faith. Is it Christ alone, or Christ plus anything. Do you know who Jesus is, or do you know Jesus?

We are going to celebrate communion this morning. A time of remembrance. Who Jesus is and what he has done. Very God and Very man. Jesus spoke to his disciples saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” What does it mean to “follow” Jesus? For the modern Christian, we obviously can’t literally walk behind Jesus as the apostles did, but we can still follow his commands.

One of the last commands he gave was to do this in remembrance of Him. To remember. We do this because he first loved us. And we remember Jesus has thousands, even millions of disciples all over the world. Followers of Christ, black & white. Hispanic and Asian. Native American and Middle Eastern. Male And Female. Jew and Greek. All spiritual descendants of Abraham and all Children of God. And we gather as a local gathering of his family to do this together.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

And thats the caveat, right there. Communion is for those who have chosen to Believe and follow Jesus Christ as our sole and total means of salvation. Gods grace poured out on us, because his wrath was poured out on His Son.

We are commanded to remember because otherwise, we forget. When we forget, we put other things before God and that was one of his very first commandments.   have no other gods before him.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Book Review: From Death to Life: How Salvation Works, by Allen Nelson IV

Book Review:
From Death to Life: How Salvation Works
Written by Allen Nelson IV
Review by Casey Holencik

 

 

 

To know me is to know that I like things simple. I don’t like overly complicated things. My wife and I joke that we could never be rich, because all the food we see in fancy restaurants and on the Food Network all just looks pretentious. Give me simple, fresh, good tasting food. If you swoop the sauce on the plate with your spoon, I’m out.

When we go and try to explain the Gospel and how salvation works, we have a tendency to swoop our theology and big words across the plate, if you will. We complicate things. We are a people of the extreme ends of the pendulum. We swing to one end or the other, even if the truth is somewhere in between. And so, if we avoid the tendency to overcomplicate the Gospel, it is likely that we fall into the trap of oversimplifying it; what is referred to numerous times in this book as “Easy-believism.”

This book cuts through these two extremes and returns to the question we should all be asking; What does the Bible say? And that’s where Allen Nelson gets his answers: from the Bible. Most of the footnotes are actual scripture and does what I love, makes the book be a study of the bible, not an interview of someone’s ideas and conjectures. Because, ultimately, that’s our authority. Who gets to decide, define and determine how salvation works? The one who offers it. And He has given us His Word, the Bible.

And that, combined with Nelson’s ability to write biblical truths simply and clearly allows the book to be a useful and helpful resource to all people. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you will be able to apply these truths to your walk and deepen your understanding of the bible and walk with God. Weather you hold a Ph. D. in theology or unsure of what the bible even teaches, this clear and straight forward book will teach and give you an opportunity to grow your faith.

Its simple & clear enough for those who are early in their walk or maybe haven’t become a believer in Jesus Christ. It is deep and robust enough for Pastors and Professors to utilize and learn from.

Part of the problem within the church today, why we have such a misunderstanding about what salvation truly is and how it really works, is because the church looks just like the world around it. Today’s society is all about emotion and feelings above facts and reality. Bringing the church, its teachings, its beliefs back under the inerrant, authoritative Word of God is, maybe, the most important thing that we as Christians need to be doing for the Church to effect change in any real way. This book leads this charge by explaining in a clear, deep, systematic, straight biblical way.

This book will be one I give to all my elders, those I counsel, and anyone who comes to my office with questions of salvation. I cannot say enough good things about this book, can not recommend it enough. From new believers, lay church members, elders, pastor, seminary professors, any one who wants to see biblically what Salvation is and how we move from Death to Life, This is the book to pick up.

Thank you Allen Nelson. You have given us pastors both something to think about and a teaching tool in our often tough job of teaching the bible authentically and biblically.

 

(2 Disclaimers. First, this is the first book review Ive written, so be gentle! And Second, I received this copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Needless to say, I was planning on buying it anyway…)

 

Pastor Casey

Romans 10:8-17

 

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