Saved from what? Until one comes to the realization that they need salvation they won't be able to answer this. God brought salvation through the Jews. He did it through a process where they should have concluded their deep need for a Savior. The Ten Commandments were given for this reason to reveal sin, man's moral failure, and the need for salvation. We need to be saved from ourselves!
Paul here in Romans 10 shares about the longing of his heart that Israel would be saved. It was not that they were unaware of God, they actually were zealous for Him, the issue was they were misdirected. They thought they would be saved through their own righteousness through knowledge and obedience to the law. It should have been clear to them as described in Romans 7, that the things they want to do, they don't do, and the things they don't want to do, they do. The nature of sin cannot be overcome by just knowledge of it. One can only change if their heart changes, and that is only made possible through Jesus Christ who took our sins on the cross and by His resurrection gave the gift of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that empowered him in his flesh to live sinless, to those who believe.
You may know people who think they are saved because they go to church, say the rosary, help those in need, but works do not save us, let us not be misdirected like the Jews, Paul was addressing. The only way we are made right with God is through faith in Jesus Christ. We must repent of all our wrongs and also of trying to be right on our own. Then as it says in verse nine "we must believe in our heart that Jesus was raised from the dead" for the forgiveness of our sins in order to be saved.
We don't need to try to convince someone they need salvation we just need to tell them and if their hearts are open they will respond. As verses 7 and 8 reveal the message is not something we need to go to heaven or to the place of the dead to confirm, no, for it is written in our hearts. God desires not just Israel but the whole world to be saved as it says in John 3:16-7. The problem some have in receiving this good news is deception. All we can do is keep presenting Truth in word and deed and believe that it will expose the lies in due time.
There is no other way to the Father but by the Son, yes, for both Jew and Gentile. Verse 15 reveals what is needed for the world to be saved? The messengers need to be sent with the message of the gospel. We are God's sent ones, His apostolic people. Our family gatherings, work environments, community events, market places, etc. are the places we are to go with the seed of the gospel, to plant, and water, trusting God to bring the harvest. Knowing not everyone will welcome the good news but for those who do, faith comes by hearing and hearing God's Word.
Israel has no excuse the messenger came with the message and they as a whole rejected their Savior. Israel represents all of mankind, no matter what people group God had chosen to bring the Savior, it would have come with the same result. The promise in Romans 11:11 is that Jews will be provoked by Gentiles by their relationship with the Lord and they will return to God and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Are you saved? If you believe in your heart Jesus was raised from the dead, then yes, you are!
Sunday March 21st
A Jewish man walks into his synagogue on Yom Kippur with his dog. The rabbi stops him at the door and says "Abraham, what's the matter with you? You know you can't bring a dog in here."
Abraham says, "Don't worry, Rabbi. Isaac here is just as orthodox as I am, and he's come to pray." And as soon as he says that, the dog stands up on his hind legs, pulls a yarmulke out of Abraham's pocket, grabs a prayer book and starts praying in perfect Hebrew.
The Rabbi is amazed. "Oh my god," he says, "this is incredible, Abraham. You should allow this dog to become a rabbi!"
"That might be a problem, Rabbi," replies Abraham. "His mother wants him to become a doctor."
In Romans Chapter 9, the apostle Paul is going to give us a unique perspective on Abraham and Isaac.
He starts out by sharing the burden that is in his heart over the unbelief of his fellow Israelites:
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my countrymen, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and daughters, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the temple service, and the promises; 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
This is really an incredible statement. Paul is saying that he would be willing to give up his own salvation, and allow himself to be back under the curse of sin, if somehow that could bring about the salvation of his Jewish brothers and sisters.
How many of us would be willing to make that kind of statement – That we would give up our own salvation if somehow that would lead to our family members, our neighbors, or other people’s salvation?
It just shows how serious Paul was about the unsaved status of his countrymen. He calls it “great sorrow” and “unceasing grief”.
As shocking as this expression of passion is, it’s not the most shocking thing that Paul says in this chapter. Get ready to dig into the concept of God’s total sovereignty and the doctrine of election:
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 And not only that, but there was also Rebekah, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”
13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
Let’s break this down, because Paul uses several examples to make his point:
14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? Far from it! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy, and I will show compassion to whomever I show compassion.” 16 So then, it does not depend on the person who wants it nor the one who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very reason I raised you up, in order to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
If you were here when we studied the book of Exodus, you might remember that the question was raised, “Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, God or Pharaoh?” And the answer was – both were true. Pharaoh chose to have a hard heart and God chose to allow that hardness of heart in order to accomplish His divine purposes of setting His people free and of having His glory proclaimed throughout the earth!
Ultimately, Paul says, it is God’s decision who He wants to show mercy to and who He wants to have hardened hearts. But this still seems unfair to us.
So Paul continues to explain this difficult concept:
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, you foolish person, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does the potter not have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one object for honorable use, and another for common use?
The question that Paul is posing, a question that he anticipates people asking him, is this, “If it’s ultimately up to God which people will have hard hearts, isn’t it kind of wrong for God to blame anyone for having a hard heart?”
In answering the question, Paul uses the analogy of the potter and the clay. Who gets to decide what the pot will be used for? It is the potter or the pot?
In Jeremiah Chapter 18 we see the same issue being addressed: The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.”
3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 “Am I not able, house of Israel, to deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel.
Both Jeremiah and Paul are making the same point – What right do we have to tell God how to handle His business? If He wants to make certain jars one way and other jars another way, isn’t that His perfect right to do so?
And Paul says that God makes some jars for honorable or special use, and other jars for common, or not so special use. Isn’t He allowed to do that?
But now Paul takes it to a whole ‘nother level. He asks, “What if God makes some jars just to break them while He keeps other jars from breaking?
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with great patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon objects of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
Think of it this way: God made all the jars, so He can break all of the jars if He wants to. Or He can break some of the jars and spare other ones. And in essence, none of the jars are perfect, so not one of them can complain if God chooses to reject them.
Now Paul brings it back to the issue of his people:
24 namely us, whom He also called, not only from among Jews, but also from among Gentiles, 25 as He also says in Hosea:
“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
The key here is that the nation of Israel was originally God’s chosen people. Why? Simply because He chose them!
But what if God decides NOT to choose some of them and instead chooses to make some of the Gentiles part of His chosen family. Is He allowed to do that?
Of course He is. And that’s exactly what He did!
Paul shares that quote from Hosea to emphasize that God had said all along that He was going to unfold His plan in a certain way. Then he adds these quotes from Isaiah to show that God knew which of the descendants of Abraham were going to follow Him and which ones were going to reject Him:
27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel may be like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.”
29 And just as Isaiah foretold:
“If the Lord of armies had not left us descendants,
We would have become like Sodom, and would have been like Gomorrah.”
Even though the descendants of Israel would be as numerous as the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore, God knew that only a remnant, only a portion of them, would come to salvation through faith in Jesus. And even that, Isaiah says, is evidence of God’s mercy, or they all could have been lost, like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Paul is going to explain in more detail in Chapter 11 how God is planning to bring even more of Israel to salvation, but for now he simply sums it up like this:
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, but the righteousness that is by faith; 31 however, Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though they could by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And the one who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”
Whether we are of Jewish heritage or Gentile heritage, we will never attain righteousness by our own good works. That is a stumbling-block for many people because they are convinced that they are worthy to be counted as righteous by their own choices and their own behavior.
But as Pastor Roger showed us back in Romans 3:10
“There is no righteous person, not even one.”
And Romans 3:23
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The fact that any of us are saved, the fact that any of us are here today, has nothing to do with our own good works. The sole reason that we are seen as righteous in God’s eyes is that He chose to reveal to us His great mercy. He chose to call us to a place of surrender, repentance, grace, and forgiveness.
Aren’t you glad that He chose you? I know I am!
Sunday March 7th
A little boy went to his father with a serious look on his face.
He asked, “Daddy, what is a man?”
The father answered proudly, “Son, a man is someone who takes care of the family, who works hard to provide, who is willing to protect loved ones, who always speaks the truth and will never break a promise. That’s what a man is!”
The little boy said, “When I grow up, I want to be a man…just like Mom!”
So Pastor Josh asked us to tackle this chapter together because it addresses marriage, but it does so in a very unusual way – it points out the reality of the phrase that we hear in the classic wedding vows, “till death do us part”!
Here’s what the apostle Paul has to say about that in verses 1-3:
Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the Law), that the Law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he is alive; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is alive she gives herself to another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress if she gives herself to another man.
This is basically a no-brainer. If your spouse dies, you’re not committing adultery if you get remarried. Why not? Because the Law that bound you to that first husband was made null and void by his death. That’s simple enough, right?
Paul emphasizes this exact same point in 1st Corinthians 7:39
“A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”
So what’s that have to do with the rest of us?
Well, the reason that Paul is talking about this is really just a metaphor for us being married to sin!
In other words, we WERE married to sin, but now we are free from that marriage because our old nature, our old self, has died and we are now born again through faith in Jesus!
This is how Paul explains it in verses 4-6:
4 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you also were put to death in regard to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were brought to light by the Law, were at work in the parts of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
The connection being laid out here goes like this:
Before we came to faith in Jesus, we were “married” to the Law. We couldn’t give ourselves to righteousness, because our sinful “flesh” was our spouse and we were tied to its demands for life.
But thankfully, we died to our old nature when we accepted Jesus as our savior. And since death breaks the bonds of our former life, we are now free to “marry” Jesus and to serve Him fully as our only spouse, living in the Spirit instead of living in the flesh.
Paul realizes that this analogy makes the Law seem like a terrible thing, so he wants to clarify the Law’s real purpose:
7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Far from it! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
The Law isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It serves a purpose. It lets me know that the choices I am making are not pleasing to God.
Once I am aware of that situation, I am able to decide whether that’s the way I want to continue living my life, or if there’s a better path for me.
By knowing that coveting is wrong, I can assess the impact that covetousness is having on my life.
And the end result will be that I will recognize that trying to live under the Law is not a source of life and blessings, it is a source of death and struggles:
8 But sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin came to life, and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it, killed me.
The Law brings out my sinful desires, and sin is a killer! It brings about a desire within my flesh to do the exact opposite of what God wants me to do, and that brings death to my soul. So does that make the Law a bad thing? No, Paul says just the opposite:
12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
It’s not the Law itself that’s the problem, it’s what the Law does when it triggers a response from my sinful flesh!
13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? Far from it! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by bringing about my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
What Paul it saying is that there is nothing wrong with God’s standards. What is wrong with the whole equation is that sinful part of my old nature that rejects God’s Law because it only wants to do what IT wants to do! My flesh doesn’t want to listen to God, it doesn’t want to obey God. It wants to BE God!
Then Paul goes on to describe the battle that this causes inside of him:
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 However, if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, that the Law is good. 17 But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.
18 For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner person, 23 but I see a different law in the parts of my body waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, the law which is in my body’s parts. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
So let's not stay married to sin. Let's enter in to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!
The issue Paul is addressing in Romans 6 is our continual urge to sin. As long as we live in this age we will battle with the desires of our old nature. The big difference for those who are in Christ is grace. This grace is not as we see here in Romans 6 a license to sin and get away with it; a get out of jail free card, rather it is the power of God over sin. Grace is the only force that can render sin powerless. Without grace, man cannot overcome the urge to sin, they will give in to it, over and over again, no matter the consequence.
An acronym for GRACE is God's Riches At Christ Expense. We have the Holy Spirit the same source Christ had to live sin-free, in us, so, therefore, we can live sin-free. We have been crucified with Christ as it says in Galatians 2:20 and here in Romans 6:6, which means our sins are nailed to the cross, and just as Christ was raised from the dead, we have been raised to new life (Romans 6:7-9). No more excuses! We do not have to give in to sinful urges. It does not mean we won't be tempted, for Jesus Himself was tempted in all ways but did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). So the temptation is not what is wrong it is the act. So what do we do when we are tempted? 1 Corinthians 10:13 says God always gives us a way to escape. As long as we acknowledge God in every situation we will receive direction to do things His way (Pro. 3:5), and not fall into the trap of sin.
Romans 6:13 says do not let your bodies become instruments of sin but rather let them be instruments for His glory. Our lives are a song, they are either demonically influenced or heavenly inspired. When we surrender our lives into the hands of God we become His instrument to produce the songs of heaven that draw others towards Him. Nobody serves themselves, everyone serves somebody, so even when one thinks he is in control of his life, they are deceived for they are completely under the control of their sinful nature. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Someone is playing us, we are just mere instruments, a product of whoever is pulling the strings. I would rather have the person playing me be the one who makes the best music, where my life is an inspirational song rather than just the chaotic, disjointed noise of this world.
My prayer for each of you today is that you step into the grace of God and live under His power. All it takes is acknowledging Him and allowing Him to direct your life, then you become His instrument to play the music of heaven.
Nobody wants to be alone, we all want friends, people that will accept us for who we are. Most of us can remember as insecure teenagers trying so hard to fit in with our peers. Often this need for acceptance transfers right into adulthood. Even as Christians we can be so different in thinking than other Christians that we feel on an island all alone. It would be easier to just agree with a mixed, diluted form of Christianity in order to remain in fellowship.
What often gets people to like us is how well we are at something. When I was great in High School football people liked me despite how different I was from them. Now as a preacher if I just speak what people want to hear I will be liked. The world is so much about performance that it is easy to develop a works mentality even regarding our relationship with God.
Here in Romans 4, we have an example of Abraham who was accepted by God simply because he believed in Him. It reminds me of the moment I saw Loraine and just knew she was the one for me and when I told her even though to many it would have been crazy, she accepted it. I had not yet proven to her my love, I had nothing to offer her, but yet she believed.
The Issue Paul is addressing throughout Romans is Works, the Jewish Leaders thought they were justified by God because of the Law. The truth is by grace we are saved through faith, it is a gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). Abraham is the ultimate example of this and Paul knew that the religious leaders he was addressing would have a hard time arguing against the father of their faith.
It says in verse 3 that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness.” So what had Abraham done? Nothing, the law had not yet even been established. He just believed! The question is, do we believe?
Nelson's Bible Dictionary defines faith as a belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving a commitment to his will for one's life. Nelson also says belief is to place one's trust in God's truth. A person who believes is one who takes God at his word and trusts in him for salvation.
To say I believe in God is easy to say but much more difficult to walk out. We must make sure that our belief in God is not just as far as it fits our will, but rather it is accepting His will no matter how we feel or think about it, we just believe.
One usually gets credit and therefore paid if they do their job right. Abraham was credited as righteous for doing nothing but believing. When one believes in God their sins are forgiven for they are believing that Jesus covered their sin by His sacrifice on the cross. Abraham was not even circumcised, as it says in verses 9-12, yet he was credited as righteous.
The Religious leaders looked down at the world as unholy, uncircumcised, sinners. Yet Paul was making it clear that being religious meant nothing if one has not been circumcised in heart by the Holy Spirit. It is only through Holy Spirit that one can be Holy. When we believe in God, Holy Spirit goes to work. It is not our works but God’s works through His Spirit that clothe us in His Righteousness.
Paul encourages his listeners not to follow in the footsteps of leaders who are works-oriented but to follow the example of Abraham who is the father of our faith. Works produce wrath because they can never live up, we always fall short and therefore feel condemned and reap what we sow, unrighteousness.
Our American culture is obsessed with stardom! We try so hard to find a talent that will cause others to idolize us. The sad thing is most stars eventually fall, it is so hard to maintain public approval, one wrong word or act the world so easily turns.
Abraham was told that his inheritance was like the stars in the sky, we who have faith in God are stars! Stars light up only because they are a reflection of the sun. We can not get credit for the light we are just a reflection of the Son, and if we forget, we quickly will fall.
As Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goeth before destruction, haughtiness before the fall,” and as it says in Luke 14:11 “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The key to reflecting the Son is humility, as long as we remain humble we will continue to light up a dark world as God’s stars.