Malachi 3:6-12 Give to God what is Gods

Malachi 3:6-12
Give to God what is His

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Malachi, chapter 3. If you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please help yourself to one off of the back table, as our gift to you.
So, as we are continuing through this book, we are seeing that there is nothing new under the sun. The things that God is addressing and telling Israel through Malachi could very easily be written today. This book, the message in Malachi is very contemporary and applies to us, as Gods covenant people as it applied to the recipients of this message, Israel, as Gods covenant people.
There is not too much introduction today, because there is not much to say. In Malachi, God has been pointing out a variety of different ways that we are being unfaithful to him and the convant that he has established with us. He has been pointing out a variety of ways that we have been sinning against God. And he has been pointing out Gods “Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”
And we are going to continue those themes this morning as we read this weeks passage. We are going to look at Malachi 3:6-12. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation. Malachi chapter 3, verses 6-12. God, speaking through his prophet, Malachi, says:
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer[b] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

We start out with God proclaim his unchangingness. James writes that there is no variation in God. Once his covenant is made, it is made. When he makes a promise, that promise comes true. He says something and it happens. And he has said that he will show mercy to his people.
And yet, despite his promising to show us mercy, proving it time and time again, we continue to take from God. We reject him outright, or we think that we can use him and contain him, we continue to treat him as if we can earn his good graces, his love. We think we can keep him in a box, pull him out when its convienant, or when we need him and put him back away, able to live our lives however we want.
Thats not how God works and he has been quite clear about that. He has promised to have mercy and his love to those who are his people. He has called us to believe the Gospel and repent of our sins. James writes in his letter, chapter 4, verses 7 & 8:
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Here is what his promises and his word and his unchangeability mean. God is completely sovereign. Nothing is done, OR not done for that matter, outside of His will. Nothing in this world is done or not done, without God purposely and specifically deciding that it will or will not be done.
But Scripture is also crystal clear that this does not absolve us of our own responsibility for our actions and our decisions. Again, Jesus says in Mark 1:15 (double check) that we are called to Repent and believe the Gospel. We have no standing to say that we didnt have an oppurtunity or a call to turn to him. But we are to have faith in Jesus Christ alone as our Salvation.
James also writes that the faith that we do have, without acting on it, without doing the things that faith calls for, that faith is dead. (James 2:17) The seeming paradox between Gods Sovereignty and Mans Responsibility continues as we look at Ephesians 2. Verse 8-10, Paul writes:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Even this passage shows us two things that I point out. First, the faith in which we trust in Christ and faith in which our rightouesness is based on, that faith itself is a gift from God and not of ourselves. But also, that with our faith comes responsibility. Verse 10 points out that we were created to do good works for and through God and and that it is our responsibility to do them.
We were created to do these good works that God has called us to. And we were created to worship God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Romans 12:1, Paul writes: to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Us doing the things that God has created us for is the truest and purest form of worship.
God says that he will be faithful on his end, and calls us to be faithful on our end. One of the things that Scriptures continues to show us over and over is the we dont keep our end. This section of Malachi shows another example of how Israel at the time and us today fail to give to God what is his.
Verses 8-12 here have an immdeiate context, a bigger context within Malachi and an even bogger context within scripture as a whole. And as a shared recently, all of those contexts are important, to leave one of them out is to take the verses out of context.
We will start with the immediate context and work our ways out. Malachi here is talking about Israels unfaithfullness in the context of tithing. The word tithe literally translated means 10 percent. Thats why we tend to use the word like we do. We dont notice, or we forget that the prescribed giving in the Old Testament was upwards over 30%.
We do also see that there is no prescribed “tithe” in the New Testament. We re commanded to give, but never commanded to give a certain amount. 2 Corinthians 9:6 & 7 says : The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. So, when you give, the two things to makes sure is not that your giving meets a certain dollar amount or whatever, but that your giving is cheerful and sacrificial. Give generously and as you are led.
Above all, we are to give God our first fruits. We are to give to God before all and above all. Lets look back momentarily to the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.
Cain was a Gardner, a farmer. He grew crops and food. Abel was a Shepard, tending to the flocks and the animals. Now, they both brought an offering appropriate to their profession, what they had, they brought the offering to the LORD.
For one reason or another, God approved of Abel’s offering and did not approve of Cain’s offering. Now, any conclusion we come to as to why, is just a guess. The scriptures don’t tell us clearly why. But there are some thing it does tell us and there are some ideas we can ponder. First, Hebrews 11:4 says that Abel’s was a “more acceptable sacrifice,” and he was commended as righteous. But why was it more acceptable?
There are a few thoughts, some might be right, all of them might be right, none of them might be right. I don’t think that last one is the case, by the way. Now, some say that it was because there was no blood in Cains offering that his was rejected. This is possible, but I don’t think its the case for a few reasons. First, yes, blood was already shown to be required for the covering of sin, as we saw last week, but specific offerings and sacrifices had not yet been implemented. Also, there is no indication that this is a sin offering. There were plenty of Old Testament offerings implemented that were not required to include blood. All the text says is that this was an offering to the LORD. So, I tend to lean against that view.
Next, and this has the most possible textual support, is that Abel gave his first and his best, while Cain gave just some stuff. If we look back at verses 3& 4, it says that Abel brought first born of the flock. For Cain it simply says he brought of his fruit. If he did bring first fruits, wouldn’t it say it there? And God does want us to give first to him. We put him number one in our life, above all things. Period. We give to him first, everything else second. We give off the top and we give him the best. That principle is clearly established throughout scriptures and very well could be why Cains offering was rejected.
I think that’s part of the reason. But I think the biggest reason is that Cain gave his offering, his sacrifice, his fruit he gave them for the wrong reasons. I think that Abel gave cheerfully and generously, as Paul calls us to do in 2 Corinthians. I believe that Abel gave out of his faith. He gave out of his love for God. It was his worship. I believe that Cain gave because he was supposed to or he was told to. Without faith. With out worship. Not cheerfully or generously. But out of obligation.
I think we see that in the way Cain reacts here. And as we look at this, think abut how we act with God as well. Cain brings fruit for an offering, as he is supposed to and God rejects it. You can almost here the thoughts going through Cains head. “I did my best and it wasn’t enough for you! Its not fair! What else do you want me to do? What more could I possibly do?”

We also see in the passage of our scripture reading this morning, Acts chapter 5, the story of Annanias and Saphira that the issue is not with how much they gave. The specific dollar amount is never the issue. The issue we see here is the heart, which we know is deceitful above all things. They said they were going to give the whole amount to the church. They instead, held some back for themselves and then lied about it. It was their deciet and sinful heart that ultimately did them in, not the amount of their giving.
From there, we move to the bigger context within Malachi. And that is us being unfaithful to God, his commands and what he has called us to. We have seen us breaking his commandments. We have been worshipping other gods and various idols. We have ignored and celebrated sins. We have been un faithful in marriages and seeing marriage as a covenant. We have failed to repent of our sin and know we are robbing God with out unfaithfullness in giving and genorosity. Basically, a basic, complete and systematic lack of obedience.
And yet, God is faithful. We believe in the Gospel and repent of our sins. And sometimes we expect that means that we wont sin anymore. We expect to never let God down again. And yet, we know thats not the case because we are living it. Pual himself struggles with this issue in Romans chapter 7. But once we are brought from death to life in Christ, once we are Gods children, God has made a promise that He will not turn his back on us, that he will be with us always.
God tells us in Joshua 1:9;
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
And the very last words of Matthews Gospel, Jesus says in Matthew 28:20:
I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

God has made his promises and his word is unchanging. He will keep his promises and his covenant will be fulfilled.
And we finally come to the biggest context, the context of the entirety of the scriptures. Give to God what belongs to God.
This includes but is more than money. As an example of how, all incompassing this is, I want to read Luke 20:19-25:
The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[d] but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius.[e] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Your life does not belong to you. Your life belongs to God. Jesus paid for it with his blood. He gave his life for yours. He created you and I. And we were created in his image and likeness.
And as one made in his image and likeness, you reflect the attributes of God the Father. You get to chose how you do so. You are either a slave to sin, or you are a slave to rightouesness, as Paul puts in Romans 6: 17-23. Jesus says in Johns gospel that we are either sons of the Devil or Sons of Abraham. (John 8:39-47) As spiritual heirs of Abraham, the fulfillment of so much prophecy, we are called children of God. (John 1)
You either give to God what is His, or you rob from God by wothholding and taking what is His.
Now, its common to hear very wrong application taught from this passage in Malachi.
Guiling you in to giving a higher dollar amount to the church, regardless of what you have been giving or what the other circumstances are. WRONG!
Offering you a money back gaurauntee on your tithes if God doesnt show up in your life and do a miracle. WRONG.
Any other application where you eliminate the Word of God and just go off of guilt or what the Pastor says. WRONG.
Gove in order to receive any sort of material blessing or healing. WRONG.
You give. Thats biblical. Thats from God. But you give what God has called you to give and not what I or anyone else tell you to give. Sometimes God will bless you with money or material blessings, but that is never promised in the Bible. Sometimes God will heal you. He certainly can and in some cases, does. But physical healing of disease or infirmities is never promised this side of heaven.
And if he chooses to give you those blessings, YAY! Praise God! But what He has promised to give us is worth som much more than anything else in this world. He promises us Him. He gives us himself. He gives us forgiveness of our sins, His Sons rightouesness and eternal life.
Revelation 7:9&10 gives us a picture of what this will look like when John writes:
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,
Rev 7:10  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

All of things that are written in scripture, all the Words of God are designed to show us the truth. John writes in his Gospel, Chapter 20, verses 30 & 31:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Thats the goal, and if we are in Christ, thats the promise. We stumble, we trip, we fall. In Christ, that is in the process of being driven out of us, the process of sanctification. But we deserve the wrath of God. But it is Gods grace that saves us, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
The enemy will try to sow seeds of doubt or shame. Because we have not and will not achieve sinlessness this side of the grave, Satan, the Accuser, will try to make us doubt Gods love, see the first section of Malachi. He will try to make us doubt our salvation, that we havent yet earned it or done enough good. Or he may make some think that because they are good people or have done good thingsthat they really are saved when their actually is no saving faith. He will use and do anything he can to make us doubt Gods promises and faithfullness.
God promises us in Malchi 3:11 the he will rebuke the devourer for us. The enemy has no power over us when we are in Christ. Romans 8:1 says that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And thats what Im going to leave us with. Assurance of the fulfillment of Gods promises to us. Im going to read Romans 8:31-39 and then I will close us in prayer. Paul writes:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 16:25-27 Pauls Doxology

Romans 16:25-27
Pauls Heart for the One True God

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to the very last few verses of Paul’s letter to the early churches in Rome. Chapter 16. Well, we did it. We made it to the end of Romans! This is the 46th message in our series and today we finish. And if you have read this mornings passage ahead of time, what a finish Paul has to end this letter with.
Before we get to the end, lets review. Paul wanted to come see the churches in Rome, but had so far been unable to get there because God was using him further east to srpead the Gospel, plant and develop churches and to disciple those who did come to Christ.
He went through and wrote the most comprehensive systematic theology that hwe have in the Bible. Covering everything from sin, that we all know God instinctively, but suppress the truth and reject God, to One People and one plan of God, both jews and Gentiles. He showed that none of us are rightoues, none of us seek God according to our own will, and none does good on their own. We looked at the who Jesus is and how he secures our slavation. He spoke on the processes of regeneration, and justification. He spoke on the process of sanctification and his struggle with sin.
He looked at the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the role he plays in our walk with Christ. We looked at glorification and our security in our eternal destination. We looked at the Gentiles being grafted into the people of God and we looked at the practical application of all this theology; submitting our lives to God as living worship, setting aside our differences to unite in and by love. We put things in the right priority. Jesus first, others second, ourselves last.
Paul spent a couple of chapters make that point and how it looks practically and then pours his heart out in these last two chapters; his heart for Gods Gospel, for sdiscipleship, for missions, for unity, for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, for protecting Gods people against false teaching and finally, as we look at these last couple of verses, his heart for worshipping the One, True God.
So, before we go any further, lets go ahead and read this weeks text, the last three verses in Romans. Romans 16:25-27. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your prefferred translation. Romans 16:25-27, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit finishes his letter, writing:
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

So, real quick, before we move on, some astute readers amy have noticed that we didnt cover verse 24 last week or this week. Your Bible should have a note in it about Romans 16:24. It should be bracketed or italicized or something and the note will say that This verse is not Included in some earlier manuscripts, or something along those lines. Others of you, the verse wont be in the regular portion of the text, but instead will be printed in the footnotes, saying something along the lines of, some manuscruipts include… and then put the verse. Romans 16:24 says The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen
There is no theological impact to whether this verse is in there or not and the truth is that if my Bible had the verse in it with the rgular verses and then a footnote that mentioned it, instead of putting it in the footnotes, I would have included it last week and probably made little mention of it. As it is, I mostly just want to acknowledge it so that in case any one wondered. If you have questions about verses like this, I really do recommend our Bibliology class Sunday nights. We will be going over how we can trust the Bible, he we get our translations, all those different sorts of things.
But, moving on to this weeks text, We see Paul pour his heart out in worship in these last lines of the letter and show who and how important God is in our hearts and minds and our lives. This section is likely given the sub heading of the Doxology in your Bibles. The definition of a Doxology, broken down from its original greek wording is Glory or Splendor Words. It is a formula of Praise to God. The occur occasionally throughout the New Testament Letters, this obviously purposely put together as, not just a prayer, which we also see in scripture, but instead almost like a psalm or a hymn, specifically lifting up praise and worship to the Glory of God.

Lets look at what Paul says here in this Doxology. It really is powerful and awesome. And it brings together and brings to a culmination everything tha Paul has written so far. And as a conclusion, Paul draws all attention off of everything else and straight on to God Almighty. “Now, to Him who is able…” God is able. God is completely able to do anything and everything, and specifically God is able to strengthen us. Both the NASB and the King James say that God is able to establish us. God is able to establish us! Paul has spent quite a bit of time showing his readers and us that we need to be established and that we are not able to do it ourselves. He can establish us justified before him. God and God alone can do that.
And Paul has shown throughout this letter that none of it is through us, our works, our thoughts, our national, familial or spiritual heritage, none of it is through our own rightouesness. Instead Paul showed us that it is Christs and Christs alone rightousness that is able to stand up against the holy and rightouesness judgement of God. And it is God alone who can transfer, or impute as Paul puts it, Christs righteousness on to us.
Paul has already share how God has designed to do it. It is Gods grace that allows us to be clothed in Christs rightouesness. He chooses to pour out his grace in a specific manner and through specific methods. Faith is the vehicle which He Chooses to deliver his saving Grace.
Paul already shared in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” We also see in Ephesians 2:8,  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, So not only is grace a free gift, delivered through fatih, but the faith itself is a free gift from God. And God has decided to deliver it through the hearing of the Word, through the Gospel as Paul says here in the Doxology, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through preaching, teaching, reading and hearing of the very words of God, the Holy Bible. Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh.
This next part is interesting, looking at the last part of verse 25, and verse 26, Paul mentions the mystery that was a secret but has been disclosed through the prophetic writings, which is another word for the Scriptures. The Scriptures, the Bible, the Word of God, they have revealed to all of us and all nations the truth of the mystery revealed, the Gospel, the life and works of Jesus Christ. IT was a mystery to those in the Old Testament and to many in New Testament times, thats why Paul, Peter, the other apostles are writing these letters and the Gospels. Sadly, its still a mystery to many today even though we have it revealed to us in the Bible. One of the sayings that you will here Ron Sallee say often in our Bibliology class is that, speaking of the Old and the New Testaments or Covenants, “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New Revealed.”
Again, even with it being revealed, its still a mystery to many. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:4, In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
All throughout the Old Testament, starting in Jesus 1, Jesus has been present. Starting in Genesis 3, God promised the coming of a savior, a messiah. Those who were looking forward to his coming didnt exactly know who they were looking for. The coming Messiah was expected to be a mighty warrior, one who came down and militarily, politically overthroew all who were against the nation of Israel and especially those who were oppressing them. He would set himself up as a physical King on the throne and rule over the physical nation of Israel, Gods chosen and loved people.
Thats not how Jesus came, however. Look to Isaiah 53 to see some descriptions of the coming Messiah that would apply to Jesus that were not corporately expected. Jesus is God, truly God. Eternal and not created. Part of the perfect, eternal, holy trinity. One God, three persons. Before the creation of time, the trinity, co-equal, determined a plan that would rescue us, save us, redeem us, justify us from our sins and reconcile us back into perfect fellowhip with God.
And God foretold it all throughout the Old Testament, they were all looking forward to him. And he came down, still God, born a human baby, with no earthly father, so as not to inherit our sin nature. He grew up, lived a perfect, sinless, life. He taught truth and clarity where there had previously been confusion and unknownness. He called out sin where people thought they had none. He pointed out that we have no rightousness of our own and that the needed rightousness was more than we expected. He pointed us to a correct understandingof the Law given in the Old Testament, challengeing our assumotions and traditional understandings. He was sentenced and put to death on the cross, paying the wages for our sin. He died, was buried and then, on the third day, was raised from the day, in accordance with the scriptures. It is his sinless life and his work on the cross that forgives sin and defeats death. By the grace of God and through the faith that God has given us in that very work of Jesus, we are able to be called Children of God. When we become a part of the whosoever shall believe in Jesus, we gain forgiveness of sins, and we are adopted into his family and we get to spend eternity back in perfect relationship with God, worshipping him and glorifying him forever.
And all of that is free! God gives it graciously and generously. Faith in Christ allows us to recievethe gift of eternal life, again, the forgiveness of sins. But what do we do with our lives after we come to faith and we repent of our current and past sins?
Paul mentions here the obedience of faith. I mentioned last week what our purpose is here on this earth. What we are created to do in this mortal life. We are created to bring glory to God. All things are to be done to the glory of God and to the glory of God alone.
Again, Paul is using this Doxology, this praise and worship of God at the close of this letter and it brings the themes from throughout this letter into it. Notice we see this phrase, the “obedience of faith” back in the very beginning of the letter. Lets read again, Romans 1:1-6:
Paul, a servant[a] of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David[b] according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

Familiar, parallel themes include that this is done for ALL nations, something Paul has been quite clear on through out the letter. We also know that it is for Gods name and glory among the nations, that he gets ALL the glory. And we see the obedience of faith.
Many churches, many Christians today dont want to think this. They dont want to believe this. Todays American Gospel is cheap, free grace. Grace that gives us everything we ever wanted and requires nothing from us. Gods gift of grace is indeed free, but that is very different that saying it doesnt require anything of us.
Faith brings about obedience. Obedience is one of the main aspects of sanctification. Sanctification is the process, after justification, after we come to faith in Christ, whereby God, specifically through the works and ministry of the Holy Spirit, works on making us Holy.
We kill the sin inside of us, no longer gratifying the desires of the flesh. Instead we work on being conformed to the image of Gods Son, Jesus Christ as Paul writes in Romans 8:29. The process of sanctification is a necessary part of being adopted into the family of God. Our identity when we are born is that of fallen man, of sinners seperated by God. God, who has the right, seeing as he created us, changes our identity when we are born again, or born of the spirit. We are now called “Saints” by God. We are forgiven, we are redeemed, we are set apart and we are now waiting for our glorification, when our sanctification is complete and we leave this life to enter our perfect bodies in Gods perfect presence and perfectly worship and glorify him for perfect eternity.
But that we all want ot skip right to that part. We want the end result without going through the work that it takes. We want to be iron that is sharpened, without the hammer banging us against the anvil and without being purified through the refining fire.
Ultimately, our actions, our lives give testimony to who we see God as and how we see his character. Got Questions.org say:
Prior to salvation, our behavior bore witness to our standing in the world in separation from God, but now our behavior should bear witness to our standing before God in separation from the world. Little by little, every day, “those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, ESV) are becoming more like Christ.
Paul writes in Galatians 5 the difference between the two. The works of the flesh contrasted with the fruit of the Spirit. We should be seeing both an incredible, drastic change inn our lives before and after Christ, but also a gradual growing and maturing of our faith and obedience in Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 5, verses 19-24:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The work that happens, the refining fire, the process of discipline that Father lovingly doles out on his children. It doesnt always make sense. It often hurts. We can easily question what the purpose is or why God is putting us through this. Of course we see that in many instances in the Bible, but Paul ends this Doxology, by calling God wise, to the only wise God, as a matter of fact. God knows all. He created all. He is in all times at the same time. And so, he is wise beyond all of our understanding. Our God is a God of wisdom.
Paul draws the entire letter of Romans into this praise and worhsip of God and lifts up to him all Glory and sums up so much here. Lets read it one more time, as a whole:

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen indeed! Now, we mentioned Jesus being the key, the lynchpin on which our faith hangs. His sinless life, his death on the cross. His resurrection. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3 & 4:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

While Jesus was here, during his life, he knew what was coming. He knew what his mission here was. He warned his disciples, and promised his disciples that not only would his death take place, but he also promised that he would return. On the night before his death, we see recorded in Matthew 26:26-28,  Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
We are called to come together as a church family and celebrate the LORDs Supper. And we are called to come together and remember. Dustin Benge is a Pastor in Kentucky and he walks through the different aspects of communion. He says:
The Lord’s Supper is an act of: 1. Obedience “In remembrance of Me” 2. Thanksgiving “When He had given thanks” 3. Representation “This is My body…My blood” 4. Examination “Examine yourself” 5. Proclamation “You proclaim the Lord’s death” 6. Anticipation “Until I come.”

Now, 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.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins. So take the time we are passing the elements to reflect on our sins and Gods grace and forgiveness.
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.

Romans 15:7-13 Our Unchanging God

Romans 15:7-13

God has no plan B

Good Morning! Go ahead and grab you Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. If you do not own a Bible, please grab one from the back table and consider that our gift to you.

As we continue through Romans, as we start to see the end of this year-long journey come in to view, what we see is that Paul is not taking his foot off the gas. He is not letting up on the intensity, the importance and the depth of what he is writing to the early churches in Rome.

The last few weeks, as we have started chapter 15, we have look at such heavy and important, weighty issues such as who Jesus is and why he did what he did while he was here on Earth. We look at the importance of the Scriptures, ALL the Scriptures, what we call both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We looked at the example that Christ set for us. We looked at how important it is that we look only to the Words of God when trying to hear the voice of God, not to the words of men, and that God has chosen the Bible, His Written word, as his method of revelation to us.

And this week, as we continue through chapter 15, we will see that Paul is going to deal with Gods perfect and unchanging character, our hope, our Only hope. And how God has brought all things together in one plan for one people, for one purpose. Not merely light reading that we are dealing with in this scriptures.

So, before we go any further, lets go ahead and read our text for this week, Romans 15:7-13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and Ill encourage you to read along, to follow along and see these words for yourself in whatever translation you are using. Romans 15:7-13.

The Word of God says:

 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”

10 And again it is said,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again Isaiah says,

The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul here, writing inspired by the Holy Spirit, brings together all of redemptive history and shows that there are not reactionary plans by God. God does not have a Plan A, and Plan B and a Plan C. God doesn’t change his plans because we thwart his original plans. He doesn’t treat some of us with one plan and some of us with another plan. There is one plan.

This plan has been in place for thousands of years. We see the first hints and revelations of it in Genesis 3, we see it throughout the first chunk of chapters of Genesis and then in Genesis 12, we really see it spelled it when God speaks to Abraham. Genesis 12, verses 1-3 and especially pay attention to the last line.

Now the Lord said[a] to Abram, “Go from your country[b] and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[c]

Many see this as Christians needing to have unwavering and blinding support of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham. But the point of this passage is rather the last line of the passage, In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Through the line of Abraham, as a Physical descendant, comes Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ, we see in the New Testament, that those who have faith in Christ are the spiritual descendants of Abraham and it is those spiritual descendants who bless Abraham by believing God, being credited as righteousness, just as abraham did and it is the spiritual descendants of Abraham who are from all families of the world who are blessed by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

This was Gods plan from the beginning. If you look at the original texts, the word for families in verse 3, is the same as the word translated as “kinds” in Genesis 8 when referring to the various animals coming off the ark. So, God is saying the Abrahams blessing, the spiritual seed of Abraham will bless all kinds of people. Not certain people, not certain groups, but as John writes in Revelation 7:9 & 10:

 After this 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!”

There is no some included in Gods plan that is part of Plan A and then some who are part of plan B. There are no first class or second class groups of people in heaven. The New Testament shows us that there is no difference, no distinction between what it refers to as Israel and what it refers to as the Church. The New Testament shows that they are one and the same. This means that Israel was not plan A and Gentiles were plan B. Both were in Gods plans from the beginning and there is no difference. Paul makes that quite clear with the Old Testament passages that he quotes here.

The word for nations in the Old Testament and the word Paul uses for Gentiles as he quotes these passages in the New Testament have the same meaning; essentially all of humanity, all nations and races. Ethnos is the greek word that Paul uses here translating the hebrew to greek, where we get our English word ethnicity.

Look especially at these middle passages he quotes, Deuteronomy 32:43 & Psalm 117:1,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

&

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

Thats very inclusive language. That us Gods plan being inclusive from the beginning. Inclusive as in ALL people have the chance, opportunity and invitation to come in to the love of God and be his people.

And what we seed of Gods plan too is that, not only has it not change and never failed, but his plan has been to choose us from the beginning. We seer throughout scriptures, and especially as we have journeyed through Pauls letter to the Romans that God is the one who chooses us. Without him reaching out to us and changing our heart and mind, we wont reach out to him.

Some people see this as  negative. They sit as hopeless if we are not the ones to reach out to God, but this should be a supreme comfort to us. First of all, we know that God doesn’t change his mind. And so, if God chose us, if he is the one that reached out to us, than we will never unchose us. He will never take back from us what he has assured us that we have. He does not change his mind.

We, however, change our minds like we blink our eyes. We change our minds about little things. We change our minds about big things. Things like our hair color, our job, our homes, our tastes, our favorite anything. In this society, we often change our minds even on our spouses and our gender.

So if we choose God, and we could change our minds on him, doesn’t it recon that we would turn our backs and walk away at some point. John MacArthur famously said that “If we could lose our salvation, we would.”

And so, then we ask, how often does Jesus change his mind? He doesn’t, and he wont. And he has pursued us, he has reached out to us, a rebellious and sinful people. Paul writes in Romans 5:8 that it was “while we were yet sinners, that Christ died for us.” And on that cross, he looked up at said, “It Is Finished.” Once the deed was done, it can’t be undone, and once his mind was made, it wont be changed.

Thats one of the attributes about God that makes him God; his unchangingness. It’s also called his immutability. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all God, one God. God is unchanging. He is eternal. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Nothing about him, his attributes, his character, his plans or his purposes, none of them change. All of God & all everything about him is perfect and unchanging. Psalm 102, verses 26 & 27 says:

They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27     but you are the same, and your years have no end.

And in Isaiah 46: 10 & 11 The LORD says:

My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

&

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

God has decreed has plans from before the beginning of the world, and nothing can thwart them, nothing can change them, nothing can get in the way of them. Nothing will change his mind and nothing will remove us from his hands once we are in them.

God chose Abraham in Genesis to be the father of the group of people that he would use to bring His message and to bring his blessings to the world and to be a blessing to the nations around them. Through that physical line came Christ Jesus.

Through Christ Jesus all the families of the earth were blessed. Here in Romans 15, Paul shows us in verse 8, that the reason that Jesus came through the physical line of Abraham, why he was, as Paul puts it, that Christ became a servant to the circumcised, to show God’s truthfulness.

God said it, He promised it would happen this way, through these people, in these circumstances, and then he delivered. Against all odds. Jesus birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, him being God was the fulfillment of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, the nearest of which were written over 400 years before his birth. Many of which were written 700-100 years before his birth.

He was born the way, in the place and in the manner that God had long said that he would be born. To show Gods truthfulness. To confirm the promises made to the patriarchs, the fathers of the faith in the Old Testament. And he did all this so that Gentiles would be brought in and made to glorify God. That his mercy would be poured out in all nations of the world. That the chosen people of God would be made up of people from every tribe, every tongue and every nation.
So, we know that God is unchanging. We see that he has proven what he says will happen and that what he has planned, has never changed. And as we see, his plan was to bring Jews and Gentiles both, people of all the world into his fold. There was only ever one redemption plan. There was only ever one plan that God made. No plan A, no plan B. No reacting to his plans going wrong. No trying to come with anything else, and no multiple groups of His people.

In that, there was no separate plan for Israel and for the Gentiles. The plan from God was the same for each. The plan was the same for both. The promises were the same for both. The fulfillment of those promises were the same for both. The method of carrying out that plan and fulfilling those promises was the same for both.

That fulfillment is what brings all people’s together, Jews, Gentiles, all brought together under the blood and at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. And, more importantly, it is ONLY through Jesus Christ that any of the promises that God made can be fulfilled. It is ONLY through jesus Christ that any of Gods plans can see fruition.

And it is Only through Jesus Christ that we can be reconciled to God the Father and receive the forgiveness of our sins. There simply is no other way but through Jesus Christ.

Jesus did what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus lived a sinless life, therefore not separated from God. Our sins separate us from God. But God had a plan, a redemption plan. He had a plan to reconcile us back with him. A plan hatched between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit before God created time.

That plan was the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His life was sinless, so no separation from God, no sins to have to pay for. His death was unwarranted. He was innocent and therefore was sufficient to pay the price for all of our sins, meaning that our slates could be wiped clean, we could be forgiven and our relationship with God could be restored. His resurrection meant that he not only paid for and therefore defeated sin, but now he paid the price and defeated the penalty for sin, the consequences of sin have now been negated. He beat death. Specifically he defeated and eliminated eternal death.

And through all that we receive something incredibly powerful. We receive hope. The Gospel in many ways is hope. When we share the Gospel with others, we are sharing hope. When we hear the Gospel, hear it with open ears, understanding it and its repercussions, we hear hope. Paul writes here in Romans 15, verse 13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

God gives us hope, he fills us with joy and peace while he gives us belief. It is through the Holy Spirit that we hear the Gospel with open ears and hear Hope. God grants us that belief. Because it is through that belief, through faith and faith alone that we receive the grace of God.

Ephesians 2:8 & 9, Paul writes:

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

By grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. As revealed by the scriptures alone. Done to the Glory of God alone.

And it’s not based off our works, our righteousness. It is not based on anything that we can do or earn. It is based on of Jesus righteousness, it is based on Gods grace. It is based on his “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” It is based on his character and his Word. And because it’s based on God, it’s based on Jesus and not ourselves, we can have hope and peace when we respond to the Gospel. Trying to do it ourselves is the most exhausting thing that we can attempt in this world. Jesus instead offers hope and rest.

He says in Matthew 11:28-30:

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I feel so humble, filled with humility that God chose me. So much gratefulness. That I have received his grace and his mercy. And so much assurance that it does not depend on me. Reading through this passage of Romans, I feel drawn back to earlier in Paul’s letter, to Romans chapter 5, verses 1 & 2.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God.

Lets Pray

Genesis 15:1-6 God reassures and comforts

Genesis 15:1-6

God Reassures Abram

Good Morning. Lets flip on over in our Bibles to Genesis chapter 15, as we take a short, temporary break from Romans. As we look at a snapshot from the life of Abram, I see things which I think are very relevant to us in this day, especially now. As always, if you do not have a Bible with you, or if you do not own a Bible, please take one from the back table as our gift to you.
And so, as a starting point, what do we know about Abram up to this point is the story of Genesis, up through chapter 15?
Well, we know that God chose him. We know that Abram had great faith and trust in God, most of the time. We know that Abram had epic moments of failure, where he leaned on his own plans, his own understandings and did not trust in God and his promises. We know that he and his wife, Sarai, were an older couple who were passed child-bearing years and were barren. We know that God promised to make a great nation of him in spite of his lack of a child.
And we know that Abram just saw, in chapter 14, that when he listened to God and his plans and acted on Gods instructions, that he was blessed. In Chapter 14 Abram takes an army of 318 trained men, and defeated an incredible coalition of 4 kings who took Abrams nephew Lot. Abram followed God and acted on his faith, trusting completely that he and the 318 men could take theses 4 armies.
They did, and in a clear and decisive manner and brought Lot back to Sodom, where he was living. He then worshiped God with a high priest, the King of Salem, Melchizedek. And what we are going to see here this morning is that even in the good times, we still have a need for questions to be answered, to be reassured, to have God answer our questions and, ultimately, to be allowed to question.
We are going to look at Genesis 15, verses 1-6. It’s a few short verses, but it is packed dense with meaning and message and application and truth. I highly encourage you to follow along in your Bible as we read this few verses. So, Genesis 15:1-6 and I’m reading out of the English Standard Version:
Gods Word says:
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue[a] childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son[b] shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

So we start out at some point after the battles, after the worship and experience with Melchizedek, sometime after chapter 14. My guess is that it is shortly after the events of Chapter 14. And what we see is that God speaks to Abram, he comes to him and he encourages him, reassures him, reminds him and comforts him.
Now, why would Abram need this at a time when he had just had such a successful victory following the LORD and such an amazing time of worship with Melchizedek. This should have been the time when Abram was flying highest. He should have zero doubts, no questions, he should feel never closer to God than at that moment up to that point in his life.
And yet…..
And yet, I bet that each and every one of us here can testify to a time like this. Things are going well in our life, more specifically, in our relationship with God. We are doing what we know he wants us to do. We are praying. We are reading. We are giving. We are walking with him and being faithful.
But something is off. Questions pop up. Doubts are raised. We feel far away from him. We wonder IF. Or we wonder WHY. Things just aren’t quite settled like they are supposed to be. The enemy loves to take this opportunity to attack and attack hard.
For Abram, it seems to be that his question or doubt, not sure which, seems to be along these lines. God is proving him self faithful and trustworthy. He is keeping his promises. He is blessing me and my family and protecting us and just being God. But, why is he not keeping this one specific promise. This one promise has not yet been fulfilled. Why? Why is God not keeping this one promise?
The promise Abram is talking about goes back to Genesis 12, where God tells Abram, in verse 2, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great.” This was a great promise. It was a promise that God and God alone could keep, could bring about. But it was a promise that seemed to need to be fulfilled a certain way.
In order for Abram to become a great nation, someone needed to take it over and keep his name going after he would pass on. That meant that Abram needed an heir. Without an heir, whoever took over for him would stake out his own claim, put his own name on it. But if Abram had an heir, his name would continue on.
So Abram is wondering, maybe worrying. “God said he was going to do this. He said he was going to make my name great, but I have no son to continue on my name. I have seen God keep all his other promises, and prove himself over and over, but I’m not seeing it in this.”
And this would happen occasionally in those days. A couple has no child, so who would inherit their possessions after they die? Often times in those days, one of their slaves or servants would become like a son. He would be adopted into the family and he would become the heir. Somebody needed to be an heir and take possession of their stuff.
And that’s what we see here. God appears to Abram and reassures him, responds to his wondering, saying, “I am your protection and I am your reward. I am faithful, I have been faithful and I will continue to be faithful.”
Abram responds, saying, “I don’t even have a son, I need to have my servant, Eliezer of Damascus be my heir.” He is saying, what we often say to God. “I don’t understand and I don’t see you working in this situation. I know what you said, but I don’t see it. This is the only way I can see this promise coming true.”
Lets be clear here. Abram is not sinning here. He is not doing anything wrong. What he is doing is he is being open and honest with God about his struggles. So often we are afraid to be honest with God. We worry that we are going to be ungrateful and demanding of him. We worry that we wont continue to be faithful to be honest with him and what our worries and questions are. Often, we will even worry that others will question our faith or our love for God if we are honest with our questions and struggles.
God calls us to come to him. Adam and Eve, in the Garden it says that they were naked and unashamed. The reference here is not only towards their marriage relationship with each other. But it also has to do with, I think firstly, their relationship with God. Adam and Eve were completely open and transparent with God. They hid nothing from him, had literally a perfect relationship with him. After the fall, the first thing they did was realized they were naked and cover themselves with a fig leaf.
When we look at the passage in Genesis 3, it’s about more than physical nakedness. It’s about our relationship with God, and us putting up barriers between us and him and hiding things from him that we never hid from him before. Our relationship with him was now fractured.
We don’t come to him, we are not honest with him and we question and doubt. but one of the things that God is showing us here is that if we are faithful, if we follow him, if we come to him with honest questions, honest wonderings, he will not hold it against us.
Now his response wont be like they are to Abram right here. Here, he answers Abrams questions. But Gods Word tells us he doesn’t respond in that way anymore. Hebrews 1:1&2: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He has already given us all the promises, all the assurances, all the reassurances, and all the response we need.
Here, He reiterates his promise to Abram and clarifies it as well. He tells him that it will not just be any heir that keeps Abram’s name going, that allows his name to be great, but that God will give him a son. A literal, physical born son.
And his descendants, he says, will be as numerous as the stars in the sky, which while there is a literal number to that, we will never be able to count that high or accurately.
But know that sometimes, God’s answer isn’t always so… well, it’s not always what we are looking for. Looking at Job, he questions why God was letting him go through the things he was going through and Gods answer to him was essentially, “I’m God, that’s why.”
And here is the key, Job accepted that answer. Abram believed God. That’s what is important to this story if we are to try to see how it works in our lives today. It’s not wrong to ask God questions, to be honest about your struggles and doubts. But, when we know Gods answers, or when he hasn’t revealed them to us, you need to respond in faith.
Verse 6 is one of the key verses in all the Bible. I don’t think I’m overstating that either. Abram believed God. And what God was promising was not easy to believe. Remember what we know about Abram and Sarai. They were old and they were barren. They had no children and they were past the age where it was possible for them to have one.
There was no earthly, worldly reason for Abram to believe God. But he did. And God credited it to him as righteousness. And that’s good news because Abram had no righteousness of his own. Just like we don’t have any righteousness of our own. All of our righteousness, piled up on each other are as filthy rags to God. Abram’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. This statement and what it means is so important that Paul devotes an entire chapter of Romans, Romans chapter 4, to this verse, which we looked at a number of months ago.
When we wrongly understand this, it is not a good thing. And it’s not a thing of little matter. Hear this. Abram did not earn his righteousness by believing God. That would put Abrams salvation entirely in his own hands. It would take his salvation out of Gods hands. Abram, and each and every one of us, has no righteousness. We don’t have it, we can’t earn it and we cannot be given righteousness of our own.
Well then, what righteousness is credited to Abram, whose righteousness is credited to us? I’m glad you asked. It is called the doctrine of Imputed Righteousness. I know, big words. But what they mean is both complicated to explain in some ways, but very simple in other ways.
There are actually two parts to it. First, look at 2 Corinthians 5:21. Paul writes:
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The work of Jesus Christ on the cross is part one. Even though it happened in our linear thinking and experience, long after Gods promise to Abram and Abrams belief in God. God works outside of time. He is at the same time in the past, present and future, all at the same time. His plan from before the world began was for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, himself God, to be born as a human,live a perfect life and die on the cross.
For our specific discussion, one of the most important parts there is that he lived a sinless life. He had no sin. So what happened? God imputed our sins on to Jesus there on the cross.
Jesus sacrificed and paid the price for sins that he never committed. He did it for the sins that we committed. Romans 3:21 & 22, Paul again writes:
 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

God, imputed our sins on to Jesus Christ on the cross. He then imputed HIS righteousness, his very own righteousness onto us. But, just in case you misunderstand what I’m saying, not all who live, not all who are born, receive Gods righteousness. There is a specific way, a specific method that God uses to impute his own righteousness onto us. It is through faith. It is through faith alone. Faith, which itself, according to Paul in the letter to Ephesians, is a gift from God. It is through this faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe that Gods righteousness is given, or as said here, credited.
Abram had faith, he believed what God was telling him. In the face of a lifetime of reasons not to belief, a life time of experience that says, “Your not going to have a kid. You haven’t had one yet and now you are too old.” In the face of all this, God says, “Trust me. I will give you a son.” And Abram believed the LORD, and God credited it to him as righteousness.
I know this can get confusing, SO I want to share an example that John Piper gives on how this plays out by giving an analogy from his life.
He says:
Here’s a very imperfect analogy. But I will risk it in the hope of greater understanding. Suppose I say to Barnabas, my sixteen-year-old son, “Clean up your room before you go to school. You must have a clean room, or you won’t be able to go watch the game tonight.” Well, suppose he plans poorly and leaves for school without cleaning the room. And suppose I discover the messy room and clean it. His afternoon fills up and he gets home just before it’s time to leave for the game and realizes what he has done and feels terrible. He apologizes and humbly accepts the consequences.
To which I say, “Barnabas, I am going to credit your apology and submission as a clean room. I said, ‘You must have a clean room, or you won’t be able to go watch the game tonight. Your room is clean. So you can go to the game.” What I mean when I say, “I credit your apology as a clean room,” is not that the apology is the clean room. Nor that he really cleaned his room. I cleaned it. It was pure grace. All I mean is that, in my way of reckoning – in my grace – his apology connects him with the promise given for a clean room. The clean room is his clean room. I credit it to him. Or, I credit his apology as a clean room. You can say it either way. And Paul said it both ways: “Faith is credited as righteousness,” and “God credits righteousness to us through faith.”
So when God says, this morning, to those who believe in Christ, “I credit your faith as righteousness,” he does not mean that your faith is righteousness. He means that your faith connects you to God’s righteousness.

It is only through this righteousness that we are not sentenced to eternal punishment and torment. It is only though this righteousness that we are able to stand before God and have anything to say. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:20:
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

But When we become believers in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross, when we are imputed with His righteousness, God doesn’t look at us and see us anymore. By that I mean, he doesn’t see you and me as the sinners that we are, that we were, that we were born as. Instead, he sees us through the lens of Christ’s blood, Christ’s righteousness. That’s what allows us to be adopted into his family. That is what allows us to be heirs to his kingdom and be given eternal life with Him.
This is one of the rewards that Abram is promised of God in Verse 1. Now, there are a couple of other rewards, rewards that Abram would be more in tune with that God is referring to as well. His son, his heir is one and if you continue reading Genesis, you see how big of a deal that is.
But the grand scheme, big picture thing that God is referring to when he says that Abram’s reward will be very great. He is rewarding Abram with himself. He is giving Abram his righteousness. Abram is getting the opportunity to exercise faith, belief, trust. And through that God has chosen to give him his righteousness.
When we believe in him, when we exercise faith, when we put our complete trust in Jesus Christ, God has promised to give us his righteousness. So my question to, are you covered in His righteousness? Are you promised a great reward? Eternal life? There is no other way. No other door leads to eternal life in paradise. Not all who live are getting in. I want you to get in. I love you and I want you to enjoy eternal life, but it’s not going to happen unless you exercise faith in his Son, Jesus Christ.
Now, to those of you who are covered in his righteousness, the Christian life is not one to “Set it and Forget it.” It is one of constant growth and trials and periods of feeling closer to God and feeling further from him. Peaks and valleys. The Psalms are filled with songs where David is begging, literally begging God to make him presence felt to Him. This is David we are talking about! And he has times where he can’t feel God close to him.
So you are going to go through those times too. That doesn’t mean your faith is weak, or you are a “lesser Christian,” or there is something wrong. What matters is how you deal with these valleys, these periods of life. Abram went to God, was honest with his questions, listened for and heard Gods response. And he trusted in that response. Job was going through incredible hardships and questioned why God was letting this happen! Today we ask, why God, why?
Why are these fires happening? Why did entire towns get wiped off the map? Why is this country allowing untold millions of unborn babies to die, without being given the chance to live their lives? Why are so many rejecting your Word and your promises? Why are you letting this company take away my job? Why are you letting me go through this health issue? Why are my friends and family letting me down? Why are my friends and family dying?
And it’s not just the questions like that, that we have. It’s also the ups and downs of life itself. As I mentioned earlier, there are times where we know in our heads and our hearts that God is faithful and true and he is without us to the end of the ages. But we don’t feel him. Many of Davids Psalms are asking God why it feels as if he is not there with him. David knew nothing could keep God from him or separate him from God, but that doesn’t always mean we feel his presence. And that can be tough.
Do you all know the story of Horatio Spafford? He wrote the hymn, It is Well. It is a heartbreaking story. He and his wife lost a son at the age of 2. He was financially ruined in the Great Chicago Fire, and then, sending his family ahead of him to Europe while getting their affairs in order, the ship they were traveling on sank and his three daughters drown at sea. His wife survived and while he was going over to meet up with her, as he was passing near where his daughters drowned, he wrote It Is Well.
Tim Chaffey of Answers in Genesis writes about the Hymn:
How could Spafford possibly proclaim “It is well with my soul” in light of the numerous tragedies he endured, including the loss of his young son to scarlet fever? The song reveals at least two reasons. First, he knew that all of his sins had been “nailed to the cross.” Second, look closely at the final line. It begins with two short words (“Even so”) quoted from the final passage of the Bible. He longed for Christ’s return because he was convinced that he would dwell with His Creator and would be reunited with his precious children.
(https://answersingenesis.org/answers/biblical-authority-devotional/it-is-well-with-my-soul/)
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
“Even so,” it is well with my soul

Some recommended Bible reading for you, I am not going to read it to you this morning, but Read Psalm 77. This one specifically deals with a man going through these times, this depression, and through it all, through this moment in life, he cant sleep, he can’t feel Gods promises there with him. He knows intellectually God, his promises and his attributes, but that knowledge in and of itself does not dismiss the depression. And he says in this psalm, in the Casey translation, I can’t see you, I can’t feel you, but even so, you frighten the things that frighten me. You will bring me through this and you will take care of me and my soul. And he ends the psalm, not cured, or healed or happy or out if his depression in any way. But he ends it, still in his circumstances, but leaning and trusting in the God who promised to take care of him, who promises to take care of us.
We all have these questions. Own it. Face up to it. Ask God your questions. We all have those moments, when we know in our heads, but we feel so far from him, or we can’t see how his plan is working through whats going on, or if we are going through a valley, missing the peace and exhilaration of the peaks. We all have them and they hit in different ways or with different feelings or emotions, but I bet you all know exactly what I’m talking about. And we can’t always know when they are going to hit.
But when you do, there are two things you need to do. Read his word, searching for an answer. He wont always give you the answer you want, and he wont always say it clearly. If we see something we don’t like, that disagrees with out expectation, especially in the bible, we have a tendency to just ignore it and overlook it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there and that he is not answering. Be willing to see whatever the answer is, not matter how unexpected it is.
Second, trust in his answer, whatever it is. Trust in it, accept it, lean on it, depend on it. Cling to it with everything you have. Whether he answers you like he did Abram and say, “your worried about this situation, I’m going to fix this situation the way you want it.” or whether its like Job where he says, “Im God, that’s why.”
Either way, God is God. And he loves us. He has promised us a great reward if we trust in him. Bank on that and accept that. Let it be credited to you as righteousness. Because, in the grand scheme, he promises us something very clearly. If we believe, if we have faith, and if he credits that to us as righteousness, we will have the greatest reward of all. We will receive him and we will enjoy that gift forever into eternity.
No matter what you are feeling. No matter what the circumstances, no matter what is going on in your life, in your heart, in your anything. When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever your lot, God has taught us to say, Even so, It is Well with our souls.

Lets Pray.

Romans 10:9-21 Salvation belongs to the LORD

Romans 10:9-21

Salvation Belongs to the LORD

Good Morning! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans chapter 10. We have seen Paul over the last couple of weeks, the last few chapters, and more generally, this whole letter to Romans, he is talking about salvation. Paul has been very clear about the need for salvation. We are all sinners and unable to save ourselves. We are all sinners and therefore separated from God. Paul has established the author of Salvation, Jesus Christ and he alone. Paul, as we saw last week has established the need for knowledge about salvation, calling those who refuse to acknowledge Christ as savior ones with Zeal not based off knowledge.

Today, in this section of scripture in romans chapter 10, Paul shows some of the mechanics of salvation, and again, emphasizes that those who are saved and secure in their salvation. And he is again establishing and emphasizing that salvation is for all, Jews and gentiles alike.

So with that, we will go ahead and read the text this morning. It’s a bit of a longer passage, as we will be reading verses 9-21, through the end of the chapter. You will likely recognize some of these verses, but as happens often in the Bible, when you recognize some verses, its likely you wont recognize others. So, I greatly encourage you to read along in your Bibles. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 10, verses 9-21.

Paul writes:

 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

So as we start to examine this passage of scripture, there are two questions that seem to jump out, maybe a third if you want to flow into chapter 11. And the two questions are slightly different, but close enough that we will look at both of them this week. The first question is, How is one saved? & the second is like it, put in the words of the Philippians jailer in Acts chapter 16, as he addressed Paul and Silas, What must I do to be saved?

Now, as we get into these questions, and look at the Bible for the answers that we are given by God, I want to acknowledge one of the resources that has been a big help for me in studying those questions. This book, From Death to Life: How Salvation Works, by Allen Nelson IV is a simple, clear, concise, and straight Biblical account of what the bible says and teaches about salvation. I highly recommend picking up this book and reading it through. Its simple enough for beginners and in-depth and thorough enough for serious bible students. But I want to be clear that this book was a big resource for me as I prepped this sermon.

Now, as we look at this passage, we see it broken down into a few different sections, but yet, it’s not able to pulled apart and separated. Normally I would read these sections separately, as we walk through the text, but this text is so interconnected that even if we address it in chunks, we cannot separate these sections from each other.

Now the first couple of verses we look at here, we see Paul show us a glimpse of the mechanics and continue to assure those who have been saved. Confess and believe. Believe and Confess. Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth. It sounds so simple. It sounds so easy. And in many ways, it really is.

But, with something so clear and so simple, humanity comes along, we come along and we skew it. We either make it more difficult, by adding conditions on to it. We say, you have to do this, you have to be circumcised, you have to celebrate the festivals, you have to use this Bible translation, you have to confess to a priest or pray to someone other than Jesus. Even things we are commanded to do, like being baptized, if we add them as necessary to salvation, we add to the gospel and we change the gospel.

Or we try to help God, we try to simplify the Gospel so that there is basically no distinction between followers of Christ and those who don’t. We make it easier to follow his teachings, changing the meaning of the text, raising up the letters in red while downplaying any of the other words in the gospel. We make it easier to come to church and not be confronted with sin, to come to church and not hear the Words of God, to come to church and not be accountable. We make it easier by saying all you need to do is raise your hand and say a prayer and your good.

In both cases we are saying that Gods word is not sufficient. His sovereignty is not complete. He needs our help to reach and to save the people around us. The truth is, as we have seen throughout Romans and especially in the last few chapters is the God is completely and totally the sole author if salvation. And here, he makes it clear how he provides salvation to us.

Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth,  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Jesus says simply repent and believe in the Gospel. Here we do have to define terms. This is where the knowledge we talked about last week comes in to play. This is where knowing the comprehensive and systematic themes and words of the Bible shows its importance.

What does it mean to believe? Remember some of the stats we mentioned last week? Over 90% if Americans claim to believe in God. That is actually a good start, but does not go near far enough. The author of Hebrews writes in 11:6, whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists. But that’s just a starting point. God exists. Paul says that EVERYONE knows that, though most of the suppress it, as he explains in Chapter 1 of Romans. James also shows how this is but a starting point, and not enough, as he writes in his letter, chapter 2, verse 19,  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

So, we see that belief that God exists is not enough. We must believe in our heart that Jesus is LORD. That he is God. He is the Son of God and he is God the Son, one-third of the trinity. This is a belief that is given free and clear, but a belief that demands something. This is not “easy believism.” I came across this quote a couple of days ago that I read a few years ago while in school. Gerald Sittser looks at the culture in America today and says this:

In modern American culture, we can be “spiritual” without actually believing in a particular faith tradition and belonging to a particular faith community, especially Christianity. This kind of fuzzy spirituality allows us to fashion a spiritual life that suits our immediate interests and consumer tastes. But such spirituality often lacks substance, integrity and discipline. It means everything and nothing at the same time; it is as vacuous as Hollywood’s definition of love.”

God tells us clearly here that this is not how it’s supposed to be. We are to have faith. Not a general, generic faith that doesn’t actually mean anything, But a saving faith in Jesus Christ, his godhood, his humanity, his life, his death, his resurrection. And this faith is not of our own, but a gift from god in and of itself as Paul writes in Ephesians 2. Now, some don’t like to here that. Paul writes in Romans 3 that none of us chase after God of our own volition. Jeremiah says that our hearts are deceitful above all things. Paul says here that it is only through this saving faith that we can be saved, and then I Ephesians 2 that our faith is not from ourselves, but a gift from God.

Some would argue that this means that we don’t do anything, we have no say in our salvation. They are both right and wrong. We don’t play any role in our salvation, not in initiating it, not in earning it, not even in accepting it, for as Jonah cries out, Salvation belongs to the LORD. Allen Nelson takes the biblical text and lays out 5 things that happen, that need to happen, that work together and all that in regards to salvation.

First, the Gospel is proclaimed. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. We cannot be saved, we cannot know what salvation is or how to be saved without hearing from God. And the way that God communicates with us is through his Word. Hebrews 1:1 & 2: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

No one can come to know God without hearing the Word, without the scriptures. Second, through hearing the word of God, God moves in us, he calls us. The Spirit quickens in us. However you want to say it, we talked last week about Jesus lifting the veil from our eyes. Ezekiel talks about changing our heart from one of stone to one of flesh. This happens inside of us, by God and has nothing to do with us. At this point, if God does this, if he calls us, we will end up responding.

Thats number three. We respond in faith and repentance. This is where we play a part in our salvation, even if we don’t have a say in it. Now, we may, and most of us did or will fight this, again, suppress it, resist it as best we can, for as long as we can. But, if God has called us we will respond. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

When we respond with repentance and faith, number 4 happens. God justifies us. He declares us righteous. This is where the death of Christ on the cross actually come in to play. Sin, of which we all commit, is treason against God. Sin, in any shape and size makes us instantly and completely unrighteous. In order to get back into a right relationship with him and in order to not be punished for the sins we committed, a punishment we so rightly deserve, we need to become righteous. But we can’t. We are completely, physically, emotionally, spiritually, 100% unable to make ourselves righteous. Not only that, but even if we could, we can’t undo the things that we already did to make our selves guilty, to make ourselves unrighteous.

But Jesus can and does. He lived a perfect and completely righteous life, so that he had no sin to make up for, no sin of his own to atone for. He died a death, a sacrifice for sin. The wages of sin are death, (Romans 3:23). God showed us and Adam and eve in Genesis 3 that sin requires death to cover it up. God shows in the Old Testament through the sacrificial system that blood and death are required to make up for sin. The animals that were sacrificed were a temporary measure and they could atone for sin that had not been committed yet. Jesus dies a death that was undeserved. The death of his perfect life, his blood shed was sufficient to cover all of our sins.

But, it didn’t stop there. Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He didn’t stay dead. One of my favorite hymns is In Christ Alone. The third verse says

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

When we are justified, when we are saved by grace through faith, when we respond with repentance and faith, we are now his. We are no longer clothed in our own unrighteousness. We are no longer given the identity of sinner. But we are his and He is ours. We are clothed with Christs perfect righteousness. We are now called saints by God. We are his.

Of course we know, every single one of us should be able to testify and admit, that we don’t stop sinning. We will trip up. We will stumble. We will not achieve perfect righteousness of our own, not in this lifetime. Sin’s curse has lost its grip on us. But sins curse has not yet lost its grip on this world.

But number 5, after justification, comes sanctification. The sinner grows in Christ. We grow in Christ. We sin less. We read his Word. We love his church and his people. We show our love for him by obeying his commands, summed up in Love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul. And Love your neighbor as yourself.

In this part is what we talked about last week, growing in the wisdom and knowledge of God. Having a zeal for him, based on knowledge. Putting that knowledge into action and serving and loving our God.

But this section of scriptures also points out one very important aspect of what we are called to do. To share the good news of the Gospel, to share the share of Christ and his Word with those who don’t yet know Christ. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

Despite what we hear in the wording of that passage, we are not all called to be preachers, not in the sense that I am up here preaching. We are not all called to the office of pastor or elder. But we are all called to be able to help spread the Gospel.

There is no hope outside of Christ. There is no salvation outside the Word of God. God is clear in his Word that no actions, no abilities, no obedience can earn or merit or achieve or anything in regards to our salvation. Our best works are like filthy rags to him. However, after we know Christ, after we have been justified, as part of our sanctification, works will show our faith. And we are called to obey. One of his commands is to share this great news with everyone. We are to spread the Gospel to all people, tribes and nations, making disciples of all nations, teaching them what Christ commanded.

We do that without regard to what we view of as success. Our success is obedience. The results are in Gods hands. And Paul warns us that many will hear and not respond. Not all who hear will be saved, but rest assured, all who are saved will have heard. And we all, each and every one of us, has been disobedient and contrary. We have all committed this cosmic treason, as RC Sproul refers to it. And yet, God has held out his hands and gathered us in. Remember Romans chapter 8, verse 30? And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

And so, we praise and we glorify our almighty God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. And Paul tells us, here this morning in verses 11-13: “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

When we are his, and he is ours, we see the last verse on In Christ alone,

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

One other thing Jesus tells us to do is to remember, to celebrate in remembrance. Today, we remember and celebrate Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.

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.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

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.

Romans 9:1-13 Gods Word has not failed

Romans 9:1-13

God chooses the Children of Abraham

Good Morning, please go ahead and turn with me in your bibles to Romans chapter 9. Please know that if you do not own a Bible, there is always one for you on the table in the back as our gift to you.

Romans chapter 9. This is a chapter that many people on different sides of various theological fences both use against each other to try to prove their points. In that regard, this is a worrisome chapter to preach through. I may, as we go through this chapter, the next couple of chapters even, I may upset some of you. I may teach or preach what I see as the plain meaning of the text and it may go against what you see and believe as the plain meaning to the text. Here’s the thing, that’s ok.

I’m not going to not preach and teach what the Bible says in fear of upsetting some of you. And I hope you aren’t going to just take what I say from up here as Gospel without pouring over the scriptures yourself. There are things in the Bible that we can disagree on.

Wherever you end up after going through Romans 9, the one thing I ask is that you read in the context of building right upon the promises and assurances and the complete sovereignty of God that Paul built up in Romans chapter 8. Remember the context and recognize your own presuppositions. We talked about this on Wednesday morning. What you go to the Bible looking for, you will get out of it. If you go into the Bible looking to prove the theological point that you already assume, you will find evidence for that point. If you go to the Bible asking God to reveal the truth to you, to speak his words to you, which is what the bible is, If you go in, with no human assumptions, looking genuinely, earnestly and completely to seek Gods Will and Gods truth, then that’s what you will get out of the Bible.

Speaking of the Word of God, before we go any further, let’s go ahead and read the passage for this week. I am going to read Romans chapter 9, verses 1-13. This chapter is so interconnected that we will have overlap from week to week, so next week wont necessarily start with verse 14. We may not make it all the way through verse 13 this week, but because of the interconnectedness, we will read through these 13 verses today.

So Romans Chapter 9, verses 1-13, Paul writes:

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

Paul starts off, finishing up what we looked at last week, knowing that Gods promises are true, that he is faithful, that he had it all planned out since before the beginning of time and that there is but one way to God the Father and that is God the Son, Jesus Christ. We lays all that out, and then coming off of the highest of highs, he expresses the great sorrow and unceasing anguish that is in him.

Why does he have this pain, suffering and sorrow? This great sorrow and unceasing anguish? Because his flesh and blood, his Jewish brothers and sisters who had so much advantages, as Paul points out in verses 4 & 5, they have negated those advantages, those privileges.

Paul’s statement in verses 2&3, summed up, say that he loves his brothers so much, that we would switch places with them in a heart beat, if it meant that they would be saved. He says “I wish that I myself were accursed,” implying that they are accursed, the word in the Greek is Anathema. Accursed, cut off from Christ. Paul wishes that he could be cut off from Christ, if it would mean that his kinsman, his fellow Israelites would be brought back into the fold of God the Father.

Two things that jump out to me about Paul in these first few verses. First, he knows that he cannot switch places with his fellow kinsman. Paul’s sacrifice, if he were to lay down his life, thinking that it might save anyone, would have no meaning. At least, it would not accomplish anyones salvation. Oh how Paul wished it would and wished it could, but he knew what Christ had said, and what he had written just chapters previously in this letter. Christs atoning death on the cross and his resurrection, allowing for the forgiveness of sin is the only single thing that can save any one. Period. Outside of Christ, there is no hope, no heaven, no salvation from sin.

And in this, since a vast majority of Israelites rejected this Jesus guy as the promised Messiah, that means that they had rejected salvation, they were accursed, cut off from Christ, and therefore, were doomed to punishment in Hell instead of eternal glory with Christ.

That broke Pauls heart. And it should break ours. It’s easy to have our heart-break for our close friends, or family that don’t know Christ, knowing the eternal future that awaits. Its harder to look at our enemies, whatever that actually means in our life, and to weep for them as dead in their sins and eternally lost. Its harder to look at people who have physically, mentally, or emotionally done us wrong, have hurt us in whatever ways and to pray for their salvation. To love them enough to be willing to eternally doom ourselves to hell so that they would have a chance for eternity with Christ. Its harder to look at people we fought against in wars, people we voted against, people whose beliefs and behaviors may disgust us, it’s harder to have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in our hearts for them.

And yet, that s exactly what Christ calls us to do. To love and pray for and minister to those who we don’t want to, who “dont deserve to be forgiven,” just as we didn’t deserve to be forgiven. To reach out to the very people that we try to pull away from. Our hearts should break for every single soul to dies outside of Christ.

The second thing that jumps out to me is how steadfastly Pauls clings to Gods sovereignty and faithfulness. He knows what God promised, as we wrote in this letter. Those who are in Christ, are forgiven and will reign as co-heirs with Christ for eternity future. Those who die outside of Christ are not, and will spend eternity suffering the wages of their sin and feeling the full force of Gods wrath.

God is faithful. God keeps his word. God keeps his promise, The Promise. But if God keeps his promise, how can some of Israel not be saved? Israel, the Israelites, the Jewish people were the physical descendants of Abraham. God made his promise to Abraham, back in Genesis 17, verse 7: And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

So, the argument by the Jewish people was that BECAUSE they were Jewish, BECAUSE they had the advantages mentioned in verses 4 & 5, because they had & kept the law, they didn’t need that grace through faith thing that the gentiles needed. They saw the coming Messiah as an earthly, political, geographical, national savior as opposed to an eternal, spiritual, individual savior.

And so, if God has not saved the whole nation, every physical descendant of Abraham, then he hasn’t fulfilled his promise, right? Paul says, No, the Word of God has not failed. God’s promises are still fulfilled, totally and completely. What he promised will happen, happens. But what was commonly understood as how it would be fulfilled is, in fact, not the way that it would be fulfilled. Again, what they wanted to see from the scriptures is what they saw from the scriptures, even if it was inaccurate.

This part in Romans right here is just one of the spots where Paul shows that the promise given to Abraham about his descendants, about Israel, is not given to his physical descendants, but to his spiritual descendants. Here in romans 9, the second half of verse 6, through verse, Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

Paul also spends much of Galatians chapter 3 & 4, within the context of comparing righteousness by faith or works of law, showing us who the promises of God were made to. Again, looking at Galatians 3, starting with verses 7-9:” Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The Word of God has not failed. As Paul explains this, again, we remember the context. God is sovereign over all. Only what he allows to happen, happens and he continually shows that, despite our human perspective at times, his Word does not fail. Many of us know Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.

Our understanding is fallible. And especially when we try to focus in on certain verses our passages, without paying attention to whats going around in the scriptures around it.

John Piper speaking on Romans 9, he says this:

Romans 9 is an explanation for why the word of God has not failed even though God’s chosen people, Israel, as a whole, are not turning to Christ and being saved. The sovereignty of God’s grace is brought in as the final ground of God’s faithfulness in spite of Israel’s failure, and therefore as the deepest foundation for the precious promises of Romans 8. For if God is not faithful to his word, we can’t count on Romans 8 either.

Here is what I see as one of the points here. Paul spent Romans 8, as I said at the beginning, showing what Gods promises and how we can have faith and hope and assurance in God and his promises. But some came up with a concern. They came and wondered, how can we trust in those promises with these concerns, with seeing many Israelites not being saved? It was a valid question.

And so Paul is showing here what the response would be to that concern and why, even with that, we can still have hope and faith and assurance in God and his promises. Those whom have faith in Christ, in the person and work of Christ, in his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. We are the children of the promise. We are Abrahams descendants. We are adopted as the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

Paul uses two examples from Genesis to show that God’s Word, no matter how crazy it may sound to us, No matter what we think we see that seems to negate Gods word, no matter how far-fetched it all is. The Word of God has not and will not fail. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

When he tells a 90-year-old woman whose life has proven her to barren, that in 1 year, she would have given birth to a son, that sounds crazy. Why would we believe that? Of Course, that s exactly what happened, and Isaac was born. Then, when Rebecca was pregnant by Isaac, God knew it was twins, knew which would be born first, which would be born second, told Rebecca that the older would serve the younger and both in their physical, individual lives, but in relation to their lives and descendants and the line of Christ, “For Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

All of this, before either one had a chance to do good or bad, to show that is not based off works, but on Gods grace and sovereignty. He says something and it happens. Because and for his glory and his purposes. When he says something, we can trust it to but fulfilled fully and completely and perfectly, even if not how we foresee it.

Remember, none of us could foresee his grace and mercy poured out on us. Not with who each and every one of us is outside of Christ. Not with our natural sin nature. Again, what Paul has been repeating in this letter. Romans 3, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The sins that identified us and caused us to suppress the truth of God, that is intrinsically known to all. Romans 1. Romans 6, The wages of sin is death. But. but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 5 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 10, which we will get to coming up, verse 9-13:

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Not deserved, not foreseen, not predictable. But promised. According to his will and his purposes. Christ poured his blood out for us. He willingly took the place that we deserved. He died on the cross, for us, for the forgiveness of sins. To show us his love, his glory and his goodness, his Holiness.

Normally, on the first Sunday, this month, instead today, we remember and celebrate this. Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy.

Jesus knew ahead of time. God planned from before the begining of the world, that this would happen. It was the way it had to be. It was the only way it could be. And Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.

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.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

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.

Romans 8:26-30 God is Sovereign

 

Romans 8:26-30

God is totally Sovereign

Good Morning! Please go ahead and turn with me in your Bible to Romans chapter 8. As always, if you do not own a Bible, if you do not have one, please take one from the back table as our gift to you.
So, Romans chapter 8. We have kind of camped out here for a while. From what I figure, we have this week and next week left in Romans chapter 8. I said when we started this chapter that many consider this the greatest chapter in the Bible. Paul has packed so much in this section of scripture.

Paul wrote this letter to the churches at Rome. He loved the churches in Rome, and he wanted to come to them, wanted to meet them, wanted to spend time with them. As of yet, he had been unable. And so, in this letter, Paul lays everything out here. Everything that you need to know about the human condition, about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Everything you need to know about sin and death and salvation and the cross. Everything you need to know about the promises and assurances of God. Everything you need to know about practically living life as a Christian.

And while there is theory and practical in both sections, Chapter 8 seems to be the crux of that. It is the combination of it all. It brings together everything that Paul has been talking about prior to this chapter and it lays all the groundwork for what is to come.
And what we looked at last week, is an incredible sense of encouragement and assurance from God. There will be suffering, there will be sin and pain, there will be death, but Paul says in verse 18,
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
God promises us that, those of us who are children of God, those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, those who have repented and believed in the [perfect and all-sufficient work of Christ, what is waiting for us in eternity future is so far beyond what we can even begin to imagine that when we get there, the things we are dealing with today will pale in comparison.
God makes that promise and we look forward to the answer, the fulfillment of that promise, we have put our hope in that guarantee that God gives us. That hope, that knowledge of Gods fulfillment of his promise is one of the biggest things that helps us get through today.
So with all that build up, let’s go ahead and look at the passage of scripture we will be studying today. Paul’s picks right up in Romans chapter 8,and we will look at verses 26-30. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:26-30.
Paul writes:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
So Paul here in this section is looking at some more of the specific things that we can take assurance in, that we can hang our hope on and how we can do that. First up is the Holy Spirit and prayer. This first verse here, verse 26 is a verse that I read wrong for a long time.
I read this verse as saying if we happen to not know how to pray in that moment. When you stumble over your words in prayer. In those moments and in those times, The Holy Spirit will pick up your slack. But that’s not what the text says. There is no IF in the text. instead it says simply, We Do Not Know What To Pray For As We Ought.
We don’t. Not if or when. We don’t. We pray as best we can. We pray to petition God. We pray to lay our hearts and our wants and needs out to Him. We pray to align ourselves with his will. We pray to confess our sins. We pray to thank him for his grace and his blessings. Prayer is an expression of all that we think and feel about God. But we don’t pray on our own.
Just like we can not achieve our salvation, we can not receive salvation without God giving it to us. We cannot receive salvation without the Holy Spirit changing our hearts from stone to flesh, without Jesus lifting the veil from our eyes. Just like that, we cannot know what to pray for as we ought, not without the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Our weakness. That weakness which makes God such a great and grace filled, merciful God. Paul recount is 2 Corinthians 12:9, that the LORD said to him,
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
We see in scripture that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. The same role, the same description, the same wording that was given to Eve in the Garden as the Helper to Adam is Given to the Holy Spirit. We helps us with out walk, helps us with our sanctification, and so much more. And he helps us with prayer.
Now, how often do you go to pray and you find that you just cant. So much is going on. So much that we only get glimpses of, or rumors of. Things that we don’t know what the will of God is.
But the Holy Spirit helps us in that weakness. The Holy Spirit knows what the will of God is because the Holy Spirit is God. And he takes our heartfelt, deep, guttural, internal prayers that we can’t communicate and He takes them and delivers them to Jesus Christ, who is our intercessor, our advocate, THE WAY to God the Father.
The Holy Spirit is who gives grace to our imperfect prayers. The Holy Spirit is who give mercy to our wrong prayers. The Holy spirit is the one who changes our prayers over time. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us in our weakness, which is to help us pray the will of God.
Words are easy to say. To believe and to mean the words that we say, that is hard. It is easy to say, “God, your will be done.” We say it all the time. We pray it all the time. But do we really mean it? Do we really mean, LORD, Not my will, but your will be done.
Because the natural tendency for human beings is to chose to twist Gods will, or ignore Gods will. It is to choose to hear the Gods will is what we already want to do, what we are comfortable with or what we are already doing.
Jesus of Nazareth, as in addition to fully 100% God, was also 100% fully, physically human, was a perfect example that he would rather not do what God the Father was having him do. He says in the Garden, right before he is arrested, says this very thing. He says, Father, I know this is the only way to achieve what we decide needed to be achieved, but if there is any other way, I would rather do that. But there’s not, so not my will, but your will be done.
Perfect submission to Gods will. Thats what we are called to. Thats what the Holy Spirit will help us move towards. And Gods will does not always have to be a mystery towards us. It is in certain circumstances, certain situations, maybe even certain seasons.
But God has perfectly revealed his will to us. He has given us his Word, the Bible. The Bible is all sufficient. It is complete and it is perfect and there is no special revelation from God outside of the scripture. And so, how does the Holy Spirit help us? The Holy Spirit helps us to have a desire to know Gods Word. He gives us a want to know what Gods will is. He helps us to rightly understand the scriptures, so that we can rightly understand from the bible what Gods will is. He opens our eyes, helps us to see things in scripture as we read, as we mature, as we memorize scripture, the Holy Spirit helps us to see things in the scripture that we had not seen before. His glories are new every morning.
The Holy Spirit reveals the meaning of scripture to us as we read Gods Word. And so we have access to Gods revealed will. We can know what his will is in a great many things and situations, IF, IF we are willing to submit to Gods will. Jesus knew. He said it first, he said, I don’t want to do it. But I know its Gods will so I will.
But why? Why would we do Gods will if we don’t want to? Why would we choose to suppress his will? Why would we submit to his will if it isnt good for us? Well, Paul addresses that here too. First, verse 28, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Those that love God, another way of identifying the children of God, genuine, legitimate Christians. For those, Gods will, when it plays out is always for the best. Always.
We could say, and give lip service to we do Gods will because God said so. And that’s technically true. But why does it matter that God said so? Who is God? What are his motivations, his purposes?  We could  try to use human leaders as examples. If King David told us that we were to do something, we know that he was a godly man, a man after Gods own heart. Not perfect mind you, no human example will be. but we can generally trust him to have whats best in mind when he, as King, gives us a command. We can do what he said, because he said so.
But what about the other side. It would be easy to use recent or current American Politics here, but I’ll resist that temptation. Instead, imagine living in Eastern Europe in the 30’s and 40’s. Hitler is reigning supreme. He says to do something. You know that he does not have whats best for anyone other than himself in mind. IF you chose to obey what he says, it would generally be done out of fear, fear for safety or causing waves or being noticed. You may choose to obey, but there is no confidence in the motivations or the purposes behind his commands.
We are shown that God is perfectly Good and perfectly just. God is perfectly perfect. And God works all things together for the good of those who are called, according to his purposes. I shared last week, this does not mean that all things are good. It does not negate the pain, the suffering, the hardships that we are going through today. But it means the same thing Joseph said to his brothers in Egypt back in Genesis 50, verse 20:
 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive. God is not the author of sin or evil, but he has authority over it and will use it to bring about his purposes, to bring about good.
Now, many know that verse, Romans 8:28. It’s a popular verse and many know that God works all things together for good. But we also need to remember the context. The verses before and after. So I will often say you can’t read, or maybe more accurately you can’t understand the right meaning of Romans 8:28 without Romans 8:29.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
As we have looked at over the last couple of weeks, we have to go through SOME of the discipline and problems that we go through in order to be sanctified, to work through our sin and to kill the sin that keeps coming back at us. And we see here, some more details regarding that. All those things that God works together for the good of those who are called. The good that is being done is that we are being conformed to the image of his Son, the image and likeness of Christ Jesus.
What our sin means for evil, to tear us away from God, to give in to our flesh. What our sin means for evil, God uses for good. And one of the overarching points, which will become even more apparent in verse 30, is that what God wills, what he willed before the beginning of the world, will come to pass. Period. Whatever God said is going to happen, will happen.
Those whom he foreknew, he also predestined. This can be scary for many people. God knows all. And he knew it all before the beginning of time. He is omniscient. He knows all. But if that was all, then we could not be assured that what he has determined as his will will come to pass, but also, that means that he only knew but didn’t cause it to happen. If he only foreknew, he would be omniscient, but not omnipotent, all powerful. All it would mean is that God could see the future.
But not only can he see the future, but he is in control of all things. He is in control of what happens and so, not only can see the future , but determines it as well. And if he determines it, we can trust in it and we can, as we dealt with last week, put our hope in the future, because we know that God leaves nothing to chance, but works all things together for good.
And so, if you are in Christ, if you are a fellow heir with Christ, you can rest in that, you can be assured of that, secure in that because God determined that it would be so from the beginning of time. And that leads us into verse 30, where we will finish up today.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
And this is where we can stand firm with assurance. This has the same point, different process, different context of what is being talked about, but same point as what Paul is saying in Philippians 1:6,
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
We see a bit of a timeline here in Romans 8:30. First, before the beginning of time, God predestined those whom would be saved. Again, if you struggle with that term, that phrase, that doctrine, Paul points it out as a comfort, as a reassurance, it is designed to give you peace about your salvation.
But that determination by God comes first. Then, at some point in our life, at some point God calls us to him. We don’t start by searching for him, he reaches out to us and calls us to him. sometimes that process takes a long time. Sometimes it starts to take effect, it changes something in us, and we do start searching for him. Sometimes we resist. Sometimes we respond quickly and emphatically. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit ends up dragging us kicking and screaming to God. But those whom he calls will, ultimately respond to that call, and they will be justified.
Remember some of these words Paul has spent time establishing earlier in this letter. Justification is what happens when we respond to that call. It is what happens when we believe, when we are saved through faith alone by grace alone, in Christ alone. We are justified. Our sins make us guilty in the eyes of God. That guilt required blood atonement. We cannot provide perfect enough blood to cover it ourselves. Christs blood on the Cross, his death on the cross covers it for us. When we are justified, that blood is applied to us. And So, when we are justified, we are no longer seen as guilty in Gods eyes, but he sees Christs righteousness covering us and we are declared innocent.
And those whom he justifies, he also glorifies. This is the end. This is when we pass from our broken sin filled bodies to our physical, spiritual, glorified, perfect, eternal bodies. This is when we enter into the eternal Kingdom of God where we will eternally worship and reign with christ for eternity.
It is interesting that the past tense of glorification is used here. We already mentioned Gods omniscience, his omnipotence and now we see his omnipresence. This is the fact of God that he is in all places at once. He is everywhere at the same time. But that’s not all. I feel like an infomercial, But wait, there’s more!
Not only is God everywhere all at once, but he is at all times at the same time. He is outside of time. He created time. That means he is in the Garden with Adam and Eve at the same time he is protecting David from his enemies, at the same time he is telling the crowd at jesus baptism that he is please with his Son, at the same time Christ is crucified, at the same time he is right here, right now, at the same time he is at the end when all will stand before him in judgment and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Which means, for the purposes of this section of scripture, that our glorification is already done. Not in our timeline because we are not in all times, we are not outside of time, But in Gods eyes, we are already glorified. The job is done. It is finished. Nothing can undo it.
And that glorification is when the glory that will be revealed to us will render the sufferings of this present time over and dead. God shows us his revealed will and he gives us all we need to know at the moment, in this time, as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 13,  
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
God through the Holy Spirits inspiration of Paul, writing this letter, is giving us assurance. If you are a Christian, if you have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, if you have been justified, if you have been saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, then you will be glorified. You will spend eternity with Christ. As we read earlier, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Lets Pray

Even the rocks cry out

Nature astounds me.  The trees in autumn are so wonderful to watch, I can get lost in watching a single leaf fall to the ground.  And the fact that nature, from the earth, to animals, to nature as a whole, while not predictable, follows such a beautiful, harmonious pattern makes me understand, at least for a moment or two, those that worship nature.

Now we know to worship the Creator, not the created.  That God himself orchestrated the cosmos, the wind and waves, the leaf I follow to the ground.  but the bible clearly states that the heavens display His handiwork.  That if we don’t give God his full worship, that even the rocks will cry out.  I have often pondered this.  Many hours have thought and prayed, “Lord, let me worship you in your glory, and keep the rocks silent.”  But tonight, driving home, through the wonder that is the Pacific Northwest tonight, while listening to a sermon on God’s authority, I think I finally caught a glimpse of what this all means.

“And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed,  each according to it kind, on the earth.” and it was so.  The earth brought forth vegetation…(Gen. 1:11-12a)  The earth sings God’s glory and it’s God’s glory that people hear and worship.  They are enticed by what the earth does, but miss why the earth does so.  It is because it’s creator deemed it so.   The earth pronounces God’s glory because it is doing what it was commanded.  Because in doing what God commanded, it can show true obedience to the One who has ultimate control.  It can reflect the Master.  That is how nature has it’s power.  It’s in the obedience to the master that it’s true purpose is revealed.  And it’s that way with us.

 

Why does the blossoming apple tree hold our fascination?  How is it that even though we know that after harvest season come winter and snow, and yet we still find beauty in the flakes falling???  One could think that their very predictability would cause us to lose interest in the whole process. But it’s the very predictable pattern of God’s creation that sings His praise.  The wind and the waves, the snow and apple tree are subject to God, and do exactly what He commanded at the beginning of time, and that’s it.  They do what He wants, regardless of their own will.  Now the apple tree doesn’t have will, but we do.  When do we reflect the glory of our God?!?!  When we are subject to Him, and are doing the will of our loving father, regardless of our own will.  Instead of garnering favor for ourselves, like we try to from time to time, let’s think of the apple tree, the dandelion, the oak losing it’s leaves every year.  They don’t shout about the mighty acts they have accomplished, they simply show the world, all who see, what God instructed them of, and thereby give glory to their creator.

 

In every day, there are times when we feel the Spirit calling us to something.  How about we don’t fight it, but like the snowflake falling, or the rose blossoming, we follow the authority of our Creator, and do His will, giving Him the glory He deserves.  And keep those rocks silent one more day.

Hope Holencik

Active Faith, and Holy Spirit convictions

So here is the follow up to my sermon on Genesis 13. This ism y sermon on Genesis 14! Its names you can never pronounce, more than you ever thought you would hear about Melchizedek and learning that people cant change before they meet Jesus, they need Jesus in order to change.

Thanks ahead of time for the feedback!

 

 

 

Casey

Proverbs 8:1-11

Godly wisdom vs Earthly Wisdom

So this past Sunday, February 23rd, I preached on Genesis 13, where Abram and Lot went there separate ways. Im pretty proud of the content, even though i can find many critiques about my delivery. What feedback do you all have?

 

Casey

Matthew 6:25-34