Romans 15:1-7 Pt 1, Sola Scriptura

Romans 15:1-7 pt 1

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)

Good Morning! Please Go ahead and grab your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. As always, please help yourself to a Bible from the back table if you do not own, and that is our gift to you.

So, as we hit the homestretch here in Romans, we start looking at, not only Pauls words in the immediate context of what he is writing, but we remember to look at his written words in the larger context of the entirety of what he has written in this letter.

Remember that the letter Paul wrote to the churches in Rome was, for the majority of it, a systematic theology, a reminder to the churches of Rome about what they already knew, mostly, and what maybe needed some clarification. It also has been addressing how those things practically apply and how we are to live our that right theology.

As we enter in to chapter 15, Paul is going to bring the context of what he was saying in Chapter 14 about not quarreling over small differences, over secondary matters, and he is going to make two huge, fundamental, closed handed points.

We will look at one of those this week and one of them fits very well, Thank you Holy Spirit, with the Easter message and we will look at that next, hence the part 1 & part 2.

So, we will read this weeks passage, Romans 15:1-7, and today we will be especially focused on verse 4. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, but please follow along in which ever version you have in your hands. Romans 15:1-7, Paul writes:

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Now, we do see that Paul connects the themes of Chapter 14 with what he is saying here in chapter 15. And what happens is that he makes two major points here and uses the themes we have looked at recently to make them. First, the biggest subject he is addressing here is actually what we will look at next week during our Easter Celebration and that is Who Jesus is; Very Man and Very God. Like I said, that’s what we are going to be looking at next week.

This week, I want to focus on what Paul says in verse 4, and that points that flow from that. He says about scriptures that, whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

The scriptures, in Paul’s specific context, meaning the Hebrew scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, but, as we are going to see here today, also including the New testament. The scriptures are inspired by God, they are inerrant, without error. They are complete. They are sufficient and they are unchanging, unbending, timeless, Truth.

The doctrines of the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture. One might ask why these things are important. The answer is that these are not just important, but they are vital to Christianity. I make the case that these are some of the closed handed issues that we have been talking about. To not believe in these two truths, essentially, any hope we can have in the truthfulness of what is says and takes a jack hammer to the foundation upon which our faith is built.

Paul wrote to Timothy and say this about the scriptures, in 2 Timothy 3:15-17:

from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

We see first, in verse 15 here, that the scriptures, again Paul is referring specifically to the Old Testament, as the New Testament was in the process of being written, but he says that the scriptures were able to make one wise to salvation. And Paul says previously in this letter, Romans 10:17 that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

And that’s what the scriptures are, the Word of Christ. John writes in the opening chapter of his Gospel, skipping a few asides about John the Baptist:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And then:

 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is God. He is the Word of God. He is the Word of God Incarnate. Every word of scripture is the Word of Christ. Knowing this helps guard the foundations of inerrancy and sufficiency of scriptures. inerrancy means without error. It is God breathed as we just read a moment ago. It is the Word of Christ, perfect in every way. There are no errors or contradictions or anything of the sort. It is unchanging, just as God, as Jesus is unchanging. It is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The author of Hebrews writes that the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

It is timeless, written in specific historical contexts, but written to all believers, in all times and all places. And that’s part of what makes the Bible sufficient as well. GotQuestions.org describes the sufficiency of scripture in this way:

To say the Scriptures are sufficient means that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service. It provides a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior through the gift of faith. No other writings are necessary for this good news to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith.

The Bible is all that we need when it comes to hearing from God. It is sufficient. There is no other way that God reveals himself to us in these days. And we know that because the Bible says so. 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 spoken to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. John Owen, historical theologian, makes the famous comment, If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree, they are false. And one Ive shared before as well, Justin Peters, Bible Teacher and Evangelist says, If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud.

God has made the scriptures complete and sufficient so that there is no reason for us to need to search outside the Bible to see God reveal. The Bible is able to makes us wise to salvation and Faith, saving faith, faith alone in Christ alone, comes by hearing the Word of Christ, which is the written word of God, the Bible.

Now, the doctrines pf inerrancy and sufficiency are under huge attacks today, from society without and from churches within.

The attack on the inerrancy of scripture is the easier one to see. It is people, again, both in and out of the church saying that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. It is them saying that the Bible really isn’t the Word of God. Its them saying that what the bible says is sin, really isn’t anymore, or never was. Its them saying that the Bible is a parable or a collection of moral teachings only.

There is even a mega church pastor, well-known son of another well know mega church pastor and tv personality that says that Christians need to “unhitch” from the Old Testament. He says that Christians shouldnt use the Old Testament when talking to non believers, that the Old Testament creates a stumbling block to those who dont yet know Christ.

This is actually a very old heresy. Back in the second century, Marcion was labeled a heretic for his views, namely that the Old Testament held no authority over a believer. He believed that the God of the Old Testament was an inferior god to the God of the New Testament and that jesus was not the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament but the revelation of the New Testament God.

Thats something we might hear often. God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. That directly flies in the face of the scriptures and what they say.

1 Peter 1:10-12:

 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time[a] the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

But we also see so-called Christians coming out and supporting sin, justifying sin and saying that it isn’t sin. Sometimes its individuals, sometimes its whole denominations. Blurring the lines and wholly erasing the distinctions between loving those who don’t know Christ and sharing Christ and his salvation, through what the Word of God says, sharing that he can cleanse us from our sins and relieve us from our unholy passions and instead, supports, affirms and celebrates the sins that the Bible so clearly speaks against.

And that brings us to the attacks on the sufficiency of scripture. That, again is happening both in and out of the church. Connecting what we were just talking about, people claim that the Bible has only a couple of verses that call specific behaviors or actions sin. But, if the Bible is inerrant and sufficient as we know it is, I only needs to be one verse for it to be enough.

Another common argument is that Jesus never said anything about these so-called sins, therefore it must not have been that important. There are numerous reasons to reject this. First and foremost to our point, if there is a verse in the Bible that does speak on it, then Jesus spoke on it. See, again, all the words of the bible are the Words of Jesus Christ, not just the Words written in Red. Dont get me wrong, if you have one of those Bibles, they can be a useful study tool, but don’t let that affect how you see the words that are not written in red, they are the Words of Jesus as well.

And those are the only words that have an authority in our lives as believers in Christ. There are no new revelations. God has given us everything we need, everything he wants us to know. Again, don’t misunderstand, we will progressively see more of what the Bible says and means the more we read it and the longer we are christians and following the Word of God. But there is nothing new being added to what has already been revealed.

Revelation 22:18&19, some of the last words in the bible, Jesus says to John:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Not a lot of vagueness or opportunity for misunderstanding there. And yet, despite that, there are churches today built on the claim by their “pastors” that they are receiving direct revelation from God. The pastors call themselves Apostles, putting them in the same category as Peter, Paul, James and John. They claim to hear directly from God, and of course that means that you can’t point out they are wrong because if you do, you are saying God is wrong, and it doesn’t matter if what they are saying goes against what the Bible says. One of the biggest churches in America that is doing this is just a few hours up the road from us in Reading. Its scary, harmful and umbilical.

So many major bible studies in America, the best sellers in Christian Book Stores, especially the ones geared towards women’s Bible studies, so many claim to hear extra biblical revelation from God. So many of the most popular teachers out there today, don’t rightly teach the Bible, its context or true meaning and instead depend on “God told me…”

Literally the only time you should ever say “God told me…” is if you are quoting the bible. God told me, in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “not to go beyond what is written.” Gods word is sufficient. Remember that it also tells us that we are to test all things against scripture, as the bereans did in Acts. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says that we are test all things. 1 John 4:1 tells us, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” Paul shows us in the first chapter if Galatians that anyone who teaches a false gospel is damned. Whatever word your translation uses, the meaning is damned. Paul also points out that even if an angel shares a false gospel, and we know there are such things as fallen angels, even if an angel shares a false gospel, goes against scripture, they will be damned.

There is a reason that the reformers fought so hard to get the Bible into the hands of the common people. Before that, before men like Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and so many more, risked there lives to translate the Bible and get them in the hands of the everyman, only the priests and certain professional clergy members were allowed to own a Bible or to even read it. The Catholic church at the time restricted who could own or read a Bible.

But Sola Scriptura, Scripture Alone, was a vital part of what took place during the 1500s and brought Gospel and Salvation to everyone. Martin Luther was reading the Bible, studying the Word of God, realizing that the religious authorities of the day were not abiding by the Word of God, but instead were doing what they wanted to do.

The Word of God showed the wrong that they were doing. The Word of God shows the right way. We go back and see in our text this morning, reading Romans 15:4, that Paul tells us that the scriptures were written for our encouragement, for instruction and to give us hope.

It gives instruction on how to live, how to be holy and righteous, restoring a broken relationship with God. It gives us hope, showing us that God gave us his Son, sent Jesus to not only be an example, as we see here, but to be a sacrifice, an atoning sacrifice, atoning for our sins, forgiving our sins, taking the penalty for our sins, and in exchange, giving those who are believers in Christ alone, his very own righteousness, bringing us into right relationship with Christ.

And scripture gives us encouragement. To repent of our sins. To trust in Christ and his work in the cross. To live our lives for the glory of God. To follow the commands of Christ, loving God with all our heart, mind, body and soul and loving our neighbor as ourself.

These things we learn through studying scriptures. Do we have any historians here? When you study a figure in history, what are the best sources to learn about the figure? Biographies and the people who have study about and learned the figure? They are helpful and you can learn about them for sure, but even better? Read and study the actual words of the person you are studying.

That holds doubly true with God. Study the Word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The King James Bibles says in 2 Timothy 2:15, Study to show thyself approved. There are so many false gospels, false teachers, false doctrines out there and inside churches as well, it is only by studying the we can truly know the Truth.

Again, from GotQuestions, But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His voice is all we need to hear and the Scriptures are His voice, completely and utterly sufficient.

I want to leave you with the words of Martin Luther. As we look at the importance, inerrancy, sufficiency and primacy of scripture, Martin Luther was called before the Catholic Church at the Diet of Worms in 1521, to essentially recant his Bible focused teaching in favor of the churches traditions and structures. To the council assembled he stands as says:

Since your most serene majesty and your lordships require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen

Romans 11:33-12:2 How we Should Respond To God

 

Romans 11:33-12:2

Our Reaction to God

Good Morning. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles with me to Romans chapter 11. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please grab one from the table in the back as our gift to you. If you forgot yours at home or in the car, you can grab one as well, to follow along, though we do ask that you leave it here for us to gift to those who do not have one.

We will be looking at the last couple of verses of Romans chapter 11 this morning and the first two verses of Chapter 12. We started touching on these verses last week and I wanted to expand on that as we start off this morning.

We talked last week, and many other weeks as well, that these letters we have in the bible were not written with verse numbers nor were they written with chapter breaks. They were written as a continuing flow of thoughts, connected and meant to be in context. However, we also know that, as when you or I write a letter, do any of us still write letters?, we touch on numerous subjects and we wrap up one line of thought and start another one. Thats what is happening here.

Paul does this often in his letters. Often he talks and writes about theology in the first part of a letter and then changes directions, which is a poor way of wording it because they are necessarily related, but he changes directions and talks about application and how to live a christian life in the second part of the letter. Thats what Paul does here in Romans.

The first 11 chapters have been called a systematic theology by Paul, and there are many things to focus on and take away from it. Often people think of Romans and what they see and read is conviction and repentance. And thats in there for sure. Some read Romans and what they see and read is God sovereignty, and praise, God, thats is there too. There is sin, total depravity, hope for the future, the work of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. There is justification, sanctification and salvation. All of that is in there, so what are we supposed to pull out all that? Thats what pull uses to transition to his practical instructions going from Chapter 12 on through the end of the letter.

SO thats why we are looking at the last few verses of chapter 11 and the first two verses of chapter 12 this morning. So lets see what Paul has to say, reading from chapter 11, verse 33 through chapter 12, verse 2. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Paul writes:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Heres the important thing. This is Paul’s response to all he has written in the previous 11 chapters. Praise and Awe of God, worship and joy. These are the marks of understanding who God is. because when we see God for who he truly is, it shines off us in a way that is impossible to not see.

The Bible shows us the darkest sides of our selves. It does so, not only because it is true, the heart is deceitful above all things, as Jeremiah says (17:9) but also to show us how great God is. Lets break both of those things down for a quick moment.

God is God. As such he is holy and perfect. His standard is the same. He created us to commune with him in perfect paradise. But we sinned, now we cannot meet that standard. God cannot abide any unholiness and so our communion, our perfect fellowship with him is broken.

Tell that to people today on the street. Their response would be to talk about how incredibly unfair that is. Why would God take issue with the occasional sin? Or our sin isn’t really that bad. Or any other myriad of thoughts that don’t allow them to realize how serious their sin is.

And so the Bible has to make clear just how serious it is. Because our eternal souls literally depend on it. We die without having made atonement for our sins, no matter how small WE think they are, and we get to spend eternity in Hell, Gods perfect and holy wrath being poured out onto ou for all of eternity. However, we deal with our sins before we die, and we get to spend eternity with God in perfect paradise, sinless, perfect bodies, worshipping and serving Christ our King, just as we were created to do. No more death, no more sickness, no more tears, no more hurt.

But here once again, the Bible has to be crystal clear because our human assumptions, thoughts and beliefs are not accurate and will lead us astray. We can’t atone for our sins. We, despite what our friends and family will say, we are not good enough. God does take sin seriously and we cannot not sin. We cannot pay the cost to make up for our sin and wipe our slate clean.

And so the Bible shows us our darkest sides so that we can see and appreciate what God did. In a plan from before time, God the Father sent his son, His only begotten son, God the Son, Jesus. God became man. He was born a human being. He didn’t stop being God, but made himself man. And he lived the life we couldn’t live, died the death we should have died, to pay the price for sin, and through the grace of God, through our faith in Jesus Christ, we become are no longer seen as unholy or unrighteous by God, but we are seen through the lens that we are clothed in Christs righteousness and no longer seen as unholy or as sinner, but seen as a saint, and our relationship with Him is restored.

So the Bible shows us our bad, to show us how in need of His good we are. And then we get to see the good of God and we get to marvel at it. How big, how great, how loving is God! He chose to do those things, to save us from our sins. He chose to love us, while we were unlovable. He chose to redeem his people, to bring them out of this broken, sin nature and change us from sinner to saint. To change us from goats to sheep. We cant chose Him without him first choosing us.

Paul is looking back at the grand picture of Gods entire plan. He is looking back at the entirety of what he has written in Romans. And he is looking above some of the details and specifics, which, as we looked at last week, are not always the clearest and most important parts. But he is looking at gods entire character, his entire redemptive plan, the entirety of his love and goodness and he looks back and is just amazed by God.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.

I said this last week too, but I think it bears repeating, If we are reading the Bible and it doesn’t not lead us into worship and awe of God, we are reading it wrong. Yes, it should convict us, yes, it should teach us, yes it should inspire us, yes it should do all those things and more. But if it isn’t leading us into worship, we have completely missed the point. We have lost the forest for the tress. And Paul is reminding us of that here, as we finish up the systematic theology of the letter and we move into application. One commentary say this about Paul, “From a mountain height the apostle surveys the sublime plan of God, and his soul breaks out in a transport of delight.”

When you look at Gods plan, at his Word, does your soul break out in a transport of delight? Meaning, is it well with your soul? Do you have joy, joy, joy down deep in your heart? Do you Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

We talked last month about giving thanks in all circumstances to God. And the benefits of a joyful, a thankful heart. And what that does for us. And one of the things that Paul is showing here is that this joyful heart, this praise and worship of God in all things is what allows us to live for God. Joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5. These are the evidences that the Holy Spirit is working through you, that Jesus Christ has justified you and you are being sanctified.

Of course, Joy does not always mean happiness. It certainly does not mean “Grin and Bear it.” But it means that through the various trials that we experience, as James puts it, that we can consider it joy. That when we have Christ, he gives us peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.

And it is that peace, that joy and the rest of the fruit of the spirit that allows us to lead the lives that God has set before us. We can’t do it on our own. We cant have true, lasting peace or joy, we cant have true, meaningful worship without the work of the Holy spirit inside of us.

Paul shows us what a true understanding of God is. He ends what we have as Chapter 11 with  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

All Glory, all Honor, all praise and worship, all things are to be given to God. He is great and worthy to be praised. To God be the glory, great things he has done. Paul also writes at the end of Ephesians 3, verses 20 & 21:  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

When we look at God and the more we look at Him, the true Him, the more we learn about Him, the more we see him all around us and learn from his Word, his revelation to us, the more we should praise him. Paul said back in Romans 8 that one of Gods purposes for us is to conform us to the image of his Son Jesus Christ.

And to do that, he gives us rules, principles, advice and laws to live by. True worship is loving God. Jesus says if you love me you will keep my commandments. John writes that we show love by keeping his commandments. Paul says that obedience is not for obedience sake, but for worship sake, to show love to God. He says in 1 Corinthians 10:31:  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

And Paul is going to get into the practical nitty-gritty of that starting in Chapter 12. I want to say one more thing before we move on. We come together on Sunday morning here, the purpose of the church, the purpose of our gathering, the number 1 main thing is to worship God. This is a worship service. There are other reasons as well, to edify and build each other up. To learn more about the Bible and what God says. Even too much lesser extents, for fellowship and to be fed. I’m not going to say those things are not important. But the reason God calls us to gather together is to gather in worship of him.

This is a part of that unity thing that has been coming up lately. We have differences in a number of things. Backgrounds, ethnicity, gifting, musical preferences, order of service preferences, minor, secondary doctrinal issues, as we saw last week, we can disagree on a great many things. But when we gather together as a church body, we come together united in the Gospel to lift us glory and praise to the One True God. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

And so, one of the main ways we worship God is how we grow in him and how we live according to him, and so turns his attention from theology, or more specifically, why we need salvation, what salvation is, who provides salvation and how we receive salvation. The application part of this letter is Paul explaining what do we do AFTER we salvation.

Romans 12:1&2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Therefore. You know what comes next. When you read in the text, the word therefore, you should ask, whats it there for? It’s a connective phrase. Paul changes direction, changes his line of thought, but he doesn’t change subjects completely. What he starts writing here in Chapter 12 is directly connected with what he has already written. “Because of what I have just written, because of that, I say to you…”

Therefore, because of Chapters 1-11. Because you are sinners who have been saved by the mercy and grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, because he is conforming you to His image, we praise him and glorify him above all things. Because of all that, present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

Live your life for him. Do all things for him and through him. Theres a meme going around Facebook right now, I picture with a caption. It’s a person holding up their heart to God and saying, “Its all I have.” Gods response in this picture is “Its all I ever wanted.”

And if he truly has our heart, if we have truly given it to Him, that is true. But so many people think that this is all they have to do. They just have to profess faith. They can say I love God, while using the American word love, not the biblical word love. They can redefine who God is, who Jesus is and what love means and they can say that God has their heart and they dont have to change a thing.

And yet, that is the very thing we see happen in the bible. We are changed. WE go from people who have an inherent sin nature, who cannot not sin, and we are made into new creations in Christ. We have been changed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out.

And that change requires action. If all there is, are words, then there has been no heart change. How many of us who have kids can attest to this? Your kid does something wrong, maybe they hit one of their siblings. You do whatever correction or discipline is required and then what do you say to them? Go say your sorry. How do they say it. Most of the time, you can tell they don’t mean it. They say the words, but there is not a heart change. And that means that often, only moments later, they do the same thing again.

And so, if God has a hold of our heart, we will worship him and one of our methods of spiritual worship, as Paul says is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. That is that all we do, we do to the glory of God.

And that should cause us to ask some pretty tough questions to ourselves. Are we presenting ourselves to him? Or are we living life as functional atheists? Are we living a life of sacrifice? Or are we taking, looking for what makes us comfortable and what makes us feel good? Are we living a life that is holy and acceptable to God? Or are we living a life, doing what is good and right in our own eyes. And I want to add another question that the scriptures are clear on; If we answer yes to those questions, that’s good, but, then the hardest question to answer, Are you trusting in those answers to save you? Because we can fake our actions, outwardly, for a while.

And Paul is saying that we cannot continue our old ways, we cannot remain unchanged as followers of Christ. Henry Blackaby says “It is impossible to worship and remain unchanged.” Worship changes us. And so, when Paul says that our lives are to our spiritual worship, he then tells us this same thing.

Do not be conformed to this world. We do not do what is right in the eyes of the world. We do not do what is right in our own eyes. We do the will of God. Proverbs writes, Lean not on our own understanding. Do not be conformed to the world. If the public at large, if society as a whole is on our side, then we are conformed to the world. Remember that Paul says that the gospel, the cross is foolish to those who don’t believe. It doesn’t and it wont make sense until and unless God reveals the truth to them.

Do not be conformed, but be transformed. Be changed by God. Change your life to live according to what you know God is saying. Do not call yourself a Christian and continue to live the same way you were before. Do not call yourself a christian and continue to live the same lifestyle. Transform. Repent. Grow.

C S Lewis says We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; Martin Luther says that The life of a Christian is one of repentance.”

Now, brand new Christians, or those who have not been taught, those who are still feeding on milk, may not know what God is calling them to change in their life. How will they know? The Word of God. The Bible is Gods word to us. It is not only inerrant, but all-sufficient. If you want to know what God says, read your Bible. If you want to know what God wants, read your Bible. If you want to know what God expects, read your Bible. And if you want to know Gods will, read your Bible.

That is the biggest, most important, and really the only advice to give a new believer who is looking to learn about God. Books are good. Solid theological books are great. We are giving some away both this morning and tonight. But I go back to one of the first pastors that I listened to after coming to church.

He was sharing his mentors advice, and after this pastor came to Christ, he asked his mentor, what should I do now? He said read your bible.

Ok, Did that. What should I read next?

Read your Bible again.

Ok, read the Bible again, there’s all these awesome looking books in the library and in the book store, what do you recommend I read next?

Read your bible again.

He read through the Bible more than six times before his mentor told him he could read something else. This book is foundational and is the only foundation we have to our faith, to know what is right and what is wrong. To know what the bible and therefore, what God says. That way, if a book says something else, or a friend or loved one says something else. Or if, heaven forbid, a human pastor says something wrong, we have a foundation to look back and knowing the truth.

But this is not just for new believers. This is for all believers. It’s easy to think we know what God says and what god wants. It’s easy to think that we know what the Bible says. Here’s the problem. James makes it clear that even the demons believe. Luke’s Gospel shows us during his recounting of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness that Satan knows the scriptures as well as anyone. I guarantee you that he knows the scripture better than you and I.

We have to keep reading, keep learning, keep seeking and chasing after God. Otherwise we will become reconformed to the world. We will not be able to discern Gods Will, what is good and acceptable. We are going to talk more specifically about gods will coming up, not next week which is our Christmas service, but likely the week after, when we continue through Romans 12.

But right now, we need to see that is through the reading of the Bible that allows us to know God better. The more we know him, the closer we get to him, the easier it is to discern his will. The easier it is to discern between God and the world. There is no substitute. It’s the only way to grow closer and to stay closer.

And only by reading the bible and growing closer to God that we can see how he expects us to act and live. And it is only through the heart changing gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to see it in the Bible and gives us the want and the heart to actually act and live that way.

Lets Pray.