What Did Paul Learn From Abraham? (Romans 4:1-12)
December 29, 2014, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Trust GodRomans 4:1-12
What Did Paul Learn From Abraham?
Paul continues the message God wanted the Romans and all Christians to learn about faith and righteousness. He had demonstrated man’s need of salvation to be right with God and the inability of man to achieve it on his own. Now he answers how we, who are condemned, guilty sinners escape the punishment of God for sin and have our judicial guilt removed forever so we are freed from the sentence of condemnation from a just Judge? He shows that by God’s grace, we have to opportunity to exercise true faith, which was something the Jews knew about but often ignored. He asserted that the message he was sharing was not a new message. Abraham, the father of the Jews, was righteous before God. Paul examines why God considered Abraham righteous. Paul shows that Abraham’s righteousness wasn’t because he fervently followed the law and earned “grace” from God. In fact, God’s Word reveals that Abraham struggled with obeying God. But Abraham placed FAITH in God. He trusted God’s revelation and chose to follow Him. God has given to us Abraham as an example of how to have a right standing before God, or to be declared righteous before God by faith alone. It is important that we understand that Biblically justification refers to God’s acquitting us in His court and reckoning us righteous by His act of grace alone so that we place our faith totally in God saving us from the penalty of sin.
The Example of Abraham
Paul uses Abraham as the object lesson of true faith. Abraham learned that faith was essential to being justified or made right it God’s sight. Verse 2 teaches us that it is impossible to be made right in God’s sight in any way other than the way of faith. So there is no possible way that a human could boast about being right in God’s sight through his own efforts. The only way to be made right is the way God makes man right. Man has nothing to brag about. Paul reminds us what God had already told us in Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God” and God accepted his faith and through grace God made Abraham right with God. Righteousness that s is God-given righteousness alone. The righteousness that God gives is credited to us as a free gift by God. Faith is therefore to be understood as “complete trust”, or “banking on God’s grace” because we honestly sees ourselves as hopeless, and without anything spiritual good to offer God. God credits our faith with righteousness, a right standing with God as our sin was acquitted, forgiven, blotted out by faith totally apart from any works of self-righteousness.
According to verse 4, the one who works for righteousness earns a wage but does not earn grace (unearned favor) but seeks to make God indebted to him. If you could make God indebted to you, you could say, “I deserve this.” But that is not what Abraham did. Abraham realized that you cannot do any work that will make you right with God. You have to trust God’s grace. God’s accepts your trust and makes you right with Him.
Verse 5 makes three significant statements about justification by faith and nothing but faith.
1. To him that worketh not. God justifies the one who does not work, so justification is by faith alone.
2. God justifies “the ungodly”. This revelation is startling because it goes against our sense of what is right and fair. How is it possible for God to declare righteous the ungodly? The answer is found in Romans 5:6 because Christ died for the ungodly! The point God is making is that faith is not our righteousness. Faith is believing in Him who declares the ungodly righteous. When we all are first declared right before God, we are ungodly. God gives us hope He is on our side, helping us in our fight against ungodliness. With God for us, who can stand against us?
3. His faith is counted for righteousness. Righteousness isn’t credited because of works or any fruit of faith like love, but faith alone!
Paul then calls upon David as a witness of the truth that righteousness comes by faith. David called the one declared righteous by God due to faith as blessed, or spiritually fulfilled. God imputes righteousness “without works’ or without paying attention to their works because He imputes or credits them with the righteousness of Christ which He earned while living a righteous and obedient life on earth.
Paul, in Romans 4:7 and 8 restates what David, in Psalm 32:1-2 wrote:
Blessed (spiritually fulfilled) are they who iniquities (lawless actions) are forgiven and whose sins (wrongs) are forgiven (pardon or blotted out). Blessed (spiritually fulfilled) is the man (person) whom the Lord will not impute or credit guilty for sins.
Paul then brings the discussion to Jewish Christians by asking does this blessing upon those circumcised or those who aren’t circumcised? Paul asks this question to show the Jewish people that this basic act of obedience and identification that showed their special covenant relationship with God didn’t put them into a right relationship with God. His answer is short and to the point. First, Paul again uses the example of Abraham. His faith was credited as righteousness, not his work of being circumcision. Genesis 15:6 clearly tells us his faith was credited as righteousness. The second part of the answer is actually a rhetoric question. In verse 10, Paul asks, whether the righteousness credited when he was circumcised or uncircumcised? The answer, when he was uncircumcised. In Genesis 15, Abraham is declared righteous but circumcision is not instituted until Genesis 17. So Paul’s brings us to the conclusion that getting right with God and being accepted as righteous by Him was before circumcision and therefore independent of circumcision. Righteousness came by faith, without works.
Paul shares two application of this truth. First, the truth of justification by faith apart from works is used to remind us the proper place of works and acts of obedience to God. Obedience and good works do have their proper place. They aren’t the means of righteousness but demonstrate true righteousness. When are transformed by the act of God, we discover that true, God-glorifying obedience is a sign and seal of the God-given righteousness that comes by faith alone. An act in obedience to God, doesn’t make us righteous but is a sign and seal that our faith is real and that Christ alone is our complete righteousness. We are declared righteous by faith and as a result of being justified, we are set apart by obedience to Him. This is sanctification.
Because of righteousness that comes by faith, all people can be a part of the faith family with Abraham their father. Justification by faith is the basis for worldwide missions for all people, not just those who are Jewish. In verses 11 and 12, reveals to us that God wanted to show that Abraham was justified by faith alone before circumcision so it would be clearly shown that Abraham was the spiritual father of all who are justified by faith, regardless of who or what they are. All have been removed from attempting to be justified by works. All are justified by faith alone and all are meant to be included in the promises of Abraham. The great thing about faith is that it can happen in anyone when they turn from everything but totally rely upon God’s work alone to be right with Him.


Revelation 1 Revealing Jesus Christ
December 28, 2014, 4:34 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

WhoIsJesusToYou2One of the unique characteristics of my cell phone is that when it shows pictures it brings them into a clearer focus. The book of Revelation starts in the same way. The “Revelation of Jesus Christ” is the revealing of Jesus Christ in a way that makes Him clearer to the reader. I notice that God is said to give this to Jesus to show His servants or bond slaves. Those who are following Jesus Christ the closest have the clearest picture of who Jesus Christ really is. Because of this, the book of Revelation is not the difficult book to read and understand. We just need to make sure that we see the purpose of the book in all that we read. Many try to read the book of Revelation to understand the future events that will take place. Because those events are in the future, and we are limited in our understanding of the future, our speculation is often wrong. Think of it this way. When initially read in the first century, would anyone image the mark of the beast to be a micro-chip placed underneath the skin of our forehead or hand? More likely the mark would have been from a branding iron. So realize the emphasis is upon Jesus Christ. The events are important, but secondary to the revelation of Jesus Christ. God wants us to see who Jesus really is so He communicates to us with words given to Jesus, who then gives these words to a familiar bond slave who knew Jesus from a walk with Him that lasted much more than the three years that he followed Jesus throughout Israel. His walk extended to over sixty years of faithful service in which John’s love for Jesus increased in spite of the difficulties that he experienced. He found Jesus as his faithful friend and Almighty God who was with him during every storm. If the words of God given to John are to be understood, then we have to take them for what they mean. If we try to find a hidden or secret meaning to the words, then the clarity of the picture of Jesus Christ never comes into a clear focus but is different for each person. God wants us to know Jesus for who He really is. The image is different from the gospels’ presentation of Jesus in His humiliation. Revelation reveals Jesus in His exalted glory as the King of all.
Jesus sent and communicated this message of who Jesus to John through His angel (messenger). John testified and vouched for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, all the things that he saw in this vision. This message is unique because it is connected to a seven-level blessing. Seven times in the book, God reveals that there are things in the book which makes a person blessed, or to be envied. Verse 3 ends with a statement that the time is near. There are two ways involved in understanding the “time is near”. First, time means a stage of history rather than a chronological time. Second, the time is seen from God’s point of view.
John begins to deliver the message to the seven churches in Asia, or Asia Minor. The seven churches of modern Turkey shared information with each others. The first thing John reveals about Jesus Christ is that He is a person of the triune God. First we discover that God the Father is literally, because of the tenses, He who is, He was, and He who is to come. This shows the eternality of the Godhead and comforts us with the truth that God has always and will always be present for us. John had experienced this reality and confirms it. The seven spirits before the throne is a term taken from Isaiah 11:2 to illustrate the sevenfold ministry of God, the Holy Spirit. The emphasis then shifts to Jesus, the Son. Look at who Jesus is. First, He is the faithful and trustworthy Witness. He faithfully did what God the Father planned for Him to do in going to the Cross. He is trustworthy in that He has proven Himself to be worthy of our trust. He is the Witness of who God is, what God planned, and what God has revealed to man. Jesus is also described as the firstborn of the dead, the first brought back to life to never again die. This shows His preeminence over all those resurrected to life. He also has the divine right to be the Ruler of all, including the every human leader, even though He has been rejected as King today. The next part of verse five describes Jesus as Him, who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. The verb tense for loved us, makes the actual translation present tense “loving us”. Jesus continually loves us. The term translated “washed” is close to the Greek word “freed”, so some versions will use freed. According to the context, “in His blood” seems to make it oblivious that “washed”, past tense, is the best choice. The final description in this section is that Christ has made us kings and priests, which seems to be a kingdom (or royal race) of priests, who will eventually rule with Christ. Our duty today is priestly, which focuses on our purpose of serving God, not men. We are to minister to God in a way that brings Him glory and dominion forever!
The exciting news is that Jesus is coming with clouds. These clouds refer to the Shekinah glory of God showing that Jesus will come back in a way that is worthy for a King. He will have a humble return to the earth, but one that will have the spotlight placed upon Him. Every eye will see him, including those who pierced Him, the Jews. His coming will be viewed by the entire world who will mourn. This mourning is because of the harsh reality that the One who has been rejected has been revealed as the True and Living God. All will see that they have made a fatal mistake of trusting something other than the Way, the Truth, and the Life. This section ends with a declaration from Jesus Christ Himself. First, he states he is the “I am”. John’s gospel is full of “I am” statements. “I am” is a declaration that Jesus is God. Second, he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning or first, and the ending or last. Jesus has always been and will always be. At this point the declaration that was used in verse four for the Father is now applied to Jesus the Son. He is the One Who is, the One Who was, and the One who is coming. He is the Almighty, or the One Who holds all. Jesus is revealed as “our everything”. The immediate question we have to answer is whether He alone is the answer to all our needs or have we turned to something lesser to meet what we think we need. These lesser gods are worthless counterfeits that take the glory from the only One who really deserves the glory. Is the picture of Christ clearer after our initial look from the first chapter of Revelation?

God’s Glory on Display
December 25, 2014, 3:05 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

God's Glory on Display.

God’s Glory on Display

Paul, writing God’s Word in Romans 3:21-31, turns from the logical argument that all men have sinned before God. “But now” indicates a change in the flow of Paul’s (and since he was being used of God to write, God’s) logical argument. Paul has shown that it is impossible to gain right standing with God through human effort. Now he shows that true righteous is provided by God Himself. But it is more than just an act for our benefit. God reveals that His righteousness has been revealed in the law and we have miserable failed. That’s the sin part. But again, there is a transition and the focus is on the “righteousness of God” that has not been revealed by the law or sin, but in a different way. Notice the word “manifested”. The idea behind this word is “displayed” or “seen”. This is a righteousness man could see! This righteousness, which focuses upon God, was witnessed by the law and prophet in over 300 predictions. Only through Jesus has this righteousness been seen, and that is through the life lived in the midst of this violent and sinful world by God Himself. He lived a life of total obedience to the laws which showed us the righteousness that God expects and He did it as 100% man, although He remained 100% God. The miracle of the virgin birth is that Jesus took the form of man and became a servant. Jesus did it! He lived in perfect obedience to each standard and every law. Not one small part of the law was ignored, set aside, or broken. Perfect and complete righteousness was obtained by Jesus the Anointed One, selected before the foundation of the earth to show the righteousness of God to us who could not imagine what it looked like, much less achieve it for ourselves.
Notice that all are guilty of failing to live according to the perfect standards of God and is incapable of fixing the situation. So God steps in to be the solution. I notice the word “all” appears twice in verse 22. Repetition is a strong way for God to emphasize something. It appears that that this solution is unto and upon all. Our part is to believe that we are incapable of solving our sin problem and that God has provided the solution through Jesus Christ, who has been displayed as the all-righteous One.
Then we go to the famous verse, Romans 3:23. In the Romans Road plan of salvation, this is the starting place. “For all (affirming what God has revealed in the first section of Romans) have sinned. This is the crucial point for us. The natural “me” doesn’t see this because it has to be spiritually revealed. This is a difficult decision point because we struggle with admitting we’re wrong, unable to solve our problems, and accountable to a Supreme God. This shakes our foundation. Jesus spoke of this as us becoming aware that we are “poor in spirit”. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and we are suddenly aware of the overwhelming judicial guilt we have without any solution. What a wonderful point when we see ourselves as the sinners God tells us we are. But there is a second part of this verse that is equally important. We have come short of the glory of God. Since we are self-centered, we see this as “we have failed to live up to God’s standard which we call ‘glory’!” But I think this in more than just a man-centered verse. In Romans 1, a part of the accusation against man was that he had exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for worthless counterfeits. In simple terms, man had no respect for the greatness of our supernatural God because we can’t understand what is beyond our reasoning. At stake was our understanding “the glory of God”. God wanted to show just how amazing He is. We sin because we have settled for the inferior instead of the Ultimate. One important thing to note in verse 23 is the two different tenses. All have sinned (past tense) and come short (present tense). We have sinned because we don’t value the glory of God right now. That’s man’s dilemma, sin separates us from God and therefore we have a low view of God. So God has to do something that solves man’s separation from God because of missing the mark of God’s specific laws while at the same time restoring man’s view of God’s glory.
So let’s go back to verse 21. The righteousness of God is displayed by Jesus Christ who allows us who have sinned to be “justified freely by his grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. We don’t have to justify ourselves because God did it for us. We receives this “freely” by God’s “undeserved favor” though the “purchasing from the slave marketplace” by the only price that satisfied God. In verse 25, Jesus is set forth or publicly displayed as the propitiation or perfect sacrifice which would satisfy both the justice of our Holy God who punishes sin and the love of our Gracious God who wants to purchase sinners from the slave market. God then remits or blots out our sin so He can make us His sons, who because of their awareness of the awesomeness of God, follow Him and desire to be His servants. The last part of verse 25, tells us that Christ’s death on the cross was the public display that God was, is, and will always be, righteous. Notice the part of the verse that tells us “for the remission or sins that are past through the forbearance of God”. In the Old Testament, God accepted animal sacrifices from sinners. In Psalms 103:10 we read, “He (God) hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities”. God saw the cross as the final payment for sins as well as the proof that God judged sin severely. Yet man saw that man didn’t get judged the way they thought man should be judged. Job’s three friends saw his “punishment” as God judging Job for sin, yet didn’t understand why God would bless him as recorded at the end of the book. The Jews listened to Jeremiah’s warnings without fear because they thought God would deal with them after their sins, nor would they be rewarded based on their iniquities. God’s glory wasn’t “feared” or honored by those who were pagan believers or those who were His people. Yet there were those who believed God and were overtaken by Him and His awesomeness. This believers are the heroes of the Old Testament who believed God did deal with sin and saw the sacrifices and types of the Old Testament as pictures of God’s Ultimate Sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. The cross was God publicly displaying His serious judgment of sin as Jesus Christ took the wrath of God for man’s sin. No one could walk away from the cross without understanding how serious God was about the punishment sin deserved. The questions about His righteousness and justice were settled and His glory displayed. What an amazing demonstration of the glory of God. God’s glory was upheld by the cross. God’s wrath is satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus. God assumed the responsibility for the redemption of man, His creation. God’s righteousness is demonstrated. The cross was to show God’s glory and solve man’s sin problem. Man can take no credit for salvation because it is totally God who does everything. He alone can take credit for salvation because He did everything. When we see God as One who is so incredible, it is evident that He alone deserves our worship because He alone is worthy of our praise and devotion. The question, we each have to answer is: “Are you right now trusting in a God that is so incredible that you are willing to turn from everything and in faith trust Him to the point of turning everything over to Him and surrendering and following Him as the King of your life just so you can bring glory to Him each day?”
the cross

What Are We Lacking At Christmas?
December 19, 2014, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

jesus's weekend fansHave you ever read Romans 3:23? “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God!” This declaration has two parts. First, all have sinned. I can’t really think that anyone would attempt to say they haven’t done something wrong. Some may not like the word “sin” but most agree that we all have made bad decision, wrong choices, committed wrong acts, and done unacceptable acts. To sin means to miss the standard. We miss God’s standard of right and wrong because we live selfish and self-centered lives. The second part of the verse is often overlooked because we don’t really understand it. “Come short of the glory of God.” What does this mean? To come short means to lack. We lack the glory of God. We are created to glorify God, but instead we live selfish and self-centered lives, glorifying ourselves and lacking the glory of God in our lives. Our sin reflects our choice to trade away bringing glory to God for a life of glorifying ourselves. We lack the glory of God because glorifying God is the the ultimate ambition and goal that we hold as the number one priority of our lives. We treat God like a weekend football game. On Sunday we get into glorifying Him through our worship as He becomes the center of our lives and then on Monday, we go back to trading His glory for something else that we consider more important. Over the Christmas season, please allow the Holy Spirit to take inventory of your life. I will! Prayerfully ask Him to show you the areas of your life that doesn’t glorify Him. Determine to be more than a weekend friend, but a loving child and willing servant who has Him as the center of our universe!