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Showing posts from December, 2019

Romans 10:18: But I Ask, Have They Not Heard? Indeed They Have

Romans 10:18 [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.” (ESV) The message of the Gospel must be preached. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus himself commissioned all of his followers, including us, to preach the Gospel to all nations. The full revelation of God to man was culminated in the person of Jesus Christ. His life, death, and resurrection were the means of eternal salvation to all mankind. Paul asks the question, "Have people not heard?" He is raising the question of whether mankind has in fact received a revelation of God. Paul quotes the Psalmist to give his answer. "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." This is a fascinating verse for Paul to use, because the "voice" he is speaking of is not what we would consider a voice at all. Psalm 19:4 is the verse Paul is quoting. Psalm 19 starts off by say

Romans 10:17: So Faith Comes From Hearing, And Hearing Through The Word Of Christ.

Romans 10:17 [17] So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (ESV) We live in challenging times when it comes to theology. People will describe themselves as Christians who cannot support that claim with any biblical truth. If we truly care about the souls of the people around us we need to be careful not to give them false assurance of their salvation. If their understanding of salvation does not line up with Scripture there can be no assurance. Paul is talking here about saving faith. This is not faith in terms of wishing for something special to happen. This is not the kind of faith that gets talked about in terms of demanding that God give us all kinds of prosperity or even physical healing. The Apostle Paul is talking about the kind of faith that brings salvation of our eternal soul. This is important stuff. So, how does this faith come about? True saving faith is awakened in the heart of a man when they hear the true message of the Gospel of Je

Romans 10:16: But They Have Not All Obeyed The Gospel. For Isaiah Says, "Lord, Who Has Believed What He Has Heard From Us?"

Romans 10:16 [16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” (ESV) Sometimes I listen to modern day preachers and wonder if they have any idea what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ. The sermon I hear talks of how we are so wonderful and God loves us so much. It is almost as if we were doing God a favor by saying that we believe in him. And when we hear any sort of need to believe it is often a simple belief in God, without defining who he is. The Gospel is certainly a gracious gift on the part of God. He gives to mankind forgiveness of sin which he has purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross. This gift of the Gospel is something that can never earn. We also need to come to terms with the fact that without the Gospel we remain wretched, rebellious, wicked sinners. The Gospel is also more than a gracious gift. It is an invitation to repent of sin and believe specifically what t

Romans 10:15: And How Are They To Preach Unless They Are Sent?

Romans 10:15 [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!” (ESV) Who is it that sends out preachers? In the first church it was Jesus himself who sent out his disciples to preach the good news. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told his disciples that they would be his witnesses. It is interesting to note that he said that the message of the Gospel would start in Jerusalem, and then it would go to Judea, and to Samaria, and to the very ends of the Earth. On the Day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter preaches the best sermon ever. 5000 people give their lives to Jesus Christ. The people who were in that crowd were from nations all over the world. These travelers were gathering in Jerusalem for the special Feast of Pentecost. God used the first event of the new church to fulfill the promise of the message of good news being preached to the whole world. The early church continued to grow after the Day of Pente

Romans 10:14: How Then Will They Call On Him In Whom They Have Not Believed?

Romans 10:14 [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? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (ESV) One of my favorite Bible stories is found in 2 Kings 6-7. The Syrians had besieged the city of Samaria in Israel. Things had gotten so bad that there is a discussion between two women about eating their children because the starvation was great. In this story is the account of some lepers who were outside the city, primarily because of their unclean condition. During one night, the Lord caused the Syrians to hear the sound of a coming army. The Syrians fled and left all of their food, weapons and tents. The lepers were the first to discover this wonderful victory that the Lord had brought about for Israel. They were going tent to tent enjoying the spoils of victory. Eventually, they felt convicted about holding on to such good news. 2 Kings 7:9 [9] Then they said to one ano

Romans 10:12-13: For There Is No Distinction Between Jew And Greek; For The Same Lord Is Lord Of All

Romans 10:12–13 [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.” (ESV) For you and I reading this verse we likely do not catch just how controversial it might have been for some of Paul's original readers. The Jews would likely have had some concerns. They were taught from a very early age that there was very great distinction between Jew and Greek. There were physical distinctions and spiritual distinctions. An uncomfortable topic of circumcision comes to mind. Clearly, the Jews were very distinct from every other people group on earth in that they alone demanded that every single Jewish male be circumcised. Again, for us today we think of circumcision as primarily a medical choice that people make for their male children; some in favor of it, some not. It was far more than that for Jews. Spiritually, the Jews were the

Romans 10:11: For The Scripture Says, "Everyone Who Believes In Him Will Not Be Put To Shame."

Romans 10:11 [11] For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESV) When we look at the concept of who God brings to salvation and who does not come to salvation it can make our heads spin. Theologians have argued over this for centuries. Paul lays out one important truth for us that all can agree on. Everyone who believes in him (Christ) will not be put to shame. That is a powerful truth. For the Jews this might have caused some consternation. They looked at the Gentiles and saw that they were claiming to have a relationship with God through Christ. These Gentiles did not have to try to keep the Law which had been such an important part of every Jew's life. It did not seem fair that the Gentiles had it so easy. Ironically, the ones who truly understood what it meant to follow Christ knew that it was not easy in every sense. Jesus told his followers to take up their cross and follow him. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told his disciples that they w

Romans 10:10: For With The Heart One Believes And Is Justified, And With The Mouth One Confesses And Is Saved

Romans 10:10 [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (ESV) Our eternal salvation is a matter of the heart. What does Paul mean when he speaks of the heart? We tend to use the word when we think of romantic love. We certainly know that the heart is a place where we find emotions. Is that what Paul is talking about? Is our salvation simply an emotional reaction? The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible  describes the word for "heart" in this way: "The inner man; the function of mind, where man remembers, thinks; the heart, the seat and center of all physical and spiritual life; the soul or mind as the fountain and seat of thoughts, passions, desires, affections, appetites, purposes, endeavors. The heart is far more than a place that conjures up romantic sayings. It is the source of all that is truly us. I love how Jesus put it. He said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks

Romans 10:9: Because, If You Confess With Your Mouth That Jesus Is Lord And Believe In Your Heart

Romans 10:9 [9] 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. (ESV) This is one of the most important and wonderful verses you will read in all of Scripture. Paul has spent much time explaining how that works do not attain for us our salvation. He has made clear that the Law is given to prove to us that we need a Savior! We are not good enough. Moses, who wrote down the Law was himself a lawbreaker. We all are. In this verse we are told the way to salvation. Two elements are here that we need to look at more clearly. Confession and belief. Let's consider what we are confessing. We are to confess that Jesus is Lord. This goes beyond a generic belief in a "higher power" or god. We are to specifically believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. There is something else to note about this confession. We are confessing Jesus as Lord. We are not just confessing that he exists. If we con

Romans 10:8: But What Does It Say? "The Word Is Near You, In Your Mouth And In Your Heart"

Romans 10:8 [8] But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); (ESV) The message of faith is what we need. In the previous two verses Paul used a hypothetical exaggeration to make a point. He asked whether we should go to Heaven to bring Christ down. Or should we go to the grave to raise him up? No, these absurd thoughts are not the way of receiving the righteousness of God. The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. We could search the whole world and miss a relationship with it's creator. Many people have done that. In fact, those who search the world but do not find the creator are typically worshiping the things of the world instead of the one who made them. Paul makes that point clear in Romans 1:18-25. The message is not far. The message is near, even in our mouth and in our heart. The issue is not that mankind is without the message of God's salvation. The issue is what he

Romans 10:6-7: But The Righteousness Based On Faith Says, "Do Not Say In Your Heart, 'Who Will Ascend Into Heaven?"

Romans 10:6–7 [6] But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) [7] “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (ESV) As Paul speaks of a righteousness based on faith we understand that he is contrasting this way of righteousness with one that is based on the keeping of the Law. The Jews had tried to keep the Law and failed. The fact was that even for the Jews they were made righteous by believing in God, not by keeping the Law. No one could keep the Law, as we discovered, not even Moses kept it. This new way of righteousness based on faith is not some unattainable feat that none of us can accomplish. This is why Paul says we do not have to ascend into heaven or descend into hell to somehow access this great righteousness. It is obtained by faith. The work that is necessary has already been done. Christ accomplished all that we needed on the cross of

Romans 10:5: For Moses Writes About The Righteousness That Is Based On The Law

Romans 10:5 [5] For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. (ESV) As you read this verse you should be so thankful that you are made right with God by grace and not by works of the Law. Paul is reminding his readers that the righteousness that is based on the Law required complete and total obedience to every commandment. Moses, who wrote down the Law of God, could not keep the holy requirements of the Law himself! If you talk to the average sinner on the street they will give you some sort of reason why they are "righteous." They will likely say that they have never killed anyone. They try to not to do harm to their neighbor. They are not as bad as someone else like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or some other monster. They are appealing to righteousness based on law; in this case, their own law. The average person on the street, if pressed further, will have to admit that they do not even k

Romans 10:4: For Christ Is The End Of The Law For Righteousness To Everyone Who Believes.

Romans 10:4 [4] For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (ESV) When you first look at this verse it is a little confusing to understand what Paul is talking about. Is he referring to the fact that Christ fulfilled the Law? In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." I do not believe that is what Paul is referring to, although I am happy that Jesus fulfills the Law. Paul has been making a point throughout this letter to the church at Rome that the new way to be made right with God is through the grace of God. It is a gift purchased for everyone who believes. The shed blood of Christ is the payment for all of our sin. The Law served to show us our inadequacy. God's righteous standard was unattainable by human efforts. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. If you want to be made righteous in God's sight you no lo

Romans 10:3: For, Being Ignorant Of The Righteousness Of God, And Seeking To Establish Their Own, They Did Not Submit To God's Righteousness.

Romans 10:3 [3] For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. (ESV) There is within each one of us a desire to be righteous. Even those who claim to not believe in God at all will hold out some sort of standard that they expect people to live up to. It was this very reality that led the great C. S. Lewis to a belief in God. He knew that certain things were unjust, or unrighteous, and that led him to the pursuit of the source of that standard of righteousness. Paul is speaking in this verse about Jews who were ignorant of the righteousness of God. This is beyond tragic. The Jews were the recipients of the very Law of God. They were given the Scriptures which were the written revelation of God himself. If any group of people should have known the righteousness of God it would have been the Jews. The Jews looked at all of the Law and missed the whole point of it. Instead of the Law leading the

Romans 10:2: For I Bear Them Witness That They Have A Zeal For God, But Not According To Knowledge.

Romans 10:2 [2] For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (ESV) Many times I have heard people declare that as long as one is sincere that is all that matters. The Apostle Paul is recognizing here that the Jews were not lacking in sincerity. They were zealous for God. However, he is also saying that this zeal is not sufficient for salvation. They had zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Paul loved his Jewish brothers and sisters with his whole heart. He recognized their zeal, or sincerity. He also loved them enough to point out to them that their sincerity was not going to be enough to keep them from the coming wrath of God against their sin. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was the way of salvation, not their sincere efforts to keep the Law. What is interesting is that the zeal of the Jews led them to the persecution of the Church. When Paul describes his old life in Philippians he says, "as to zeal, a persecutor of the

Romans 10:1: Brothers, My Heart's Desire And Prayer To God For Them Is That They May Be Saved.

Romans 10:1 [1] Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (ESV) In the previous chapter the Apostle Paul speaks of the unbelief that plagues his Jewish brothers and sisters.  He could have simply given up on them. They had been the main instigators behind the persecution he faced in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was not willing to give up on them. He belonged to them, and they to him. Paul's heart's desire and prayer was that the Jews would be saved. I love how Paul does more than desire that the Jews be saved. He also prays to God that salvation would come to the Jews. This is not a small thing. Sometimes people say, "All I can do is pray," as if praying was a last resort, or a small thing. Praying is the very thing we should be doing as an action plan for our unsaved friends. In the next chapter of Romans Paul actually describes himself as an apostle to the Gentiles. Romans 11:13 says, "Now I am s

Romans 9:32-33: They Did Not Pursue It By Faith, But As If It Were Based On Works

Romans 9:32–33 [32] Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, [33] as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESV) Paul concludes this chapter with the reason why the Jews did not succeed in attaining righteousness. The Jews understood that God's Law was holy. They viewed it as a prescription for works. What they failed to realize is that there are not enough works in the world that could attain for them any shred of God's righteousness. They failed because they did not pursue righteousness by faith. The Jews had Abraham as their "father." As Scripture declares, "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Instead of being known as those who were people of faith, believing in God, the Jews were known by their efforts to keep the Law. The Law was onl

Romans 9:31: But That Israel Who Pursued A Law That Would Lead To Righteousness Did Not Succeed

Romans 9:31 [31] but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. (ESV) It would be hard to find a more "religious" people than the people of Israel. To this day there are Jews who take their Sabbath day very seriously. When it comes to feasts and festivals the Jews were passionate about celebrating them all. They looked to the Law of Moses as their guide. The sad reality is that they pursued a law that they could never attain. If you want to know what the Jews were like whom Paul was talking to in the book of Romans it would be helpful to look at the Pharisees of the Apostle Paul's day. Jesus had many encounters with them. The Pharisees were the spiritual leaders of the people of Israel. If anyone would know how to pursue righteousness it would be the Pharisees. Listen in on some words Jesus had for them: Matthew 23:2–4 [2] “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, [3] so do and observe whate

Romans 9:30: What Shall We Say Then? That Gentiles Who Did Not Pursue Righteousness Have Attained It?

Romans 9:30 [30] What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; (ESV) The Apostle Paul is a champion of the doctrine of God's grace. He knew that his proclaiming that all people are to be made right with God by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, and not by doing works of righteousness would be embraced by the Gentiles and would be a major stumbling block to the Jews. The Jews had believed that righteousness was achieved by doing the works that the Law required. They viewed God's holy standard and wrongly felt that somehow they could be good enough by an accumulating of good works. They did not realize that the Law was given to show them how impossible it was to be made righteous by their own works. The Gentiles, on the other hand, had done nothing but pursue their own personal pleasures. In Romans 1 Paul talks about the whole history of mankind. Gentiles worshiped cre

Romans 9:29: And As Isaiah Predicted, "If The Lord Of Hosts Had Not Left Us Offspring"

Romans 9:29 [29] And as Isaiah predicted,  “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” (ESV) The Prophet Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years before Paul wrote this letter to the Rome. He looks at the years of Israel's disobedience and gives analysis. What he declares is the mercy of God. God could have justly wiped the memory of Israel off the face of the Earth. Yet, the Lord left a remnant. God is a merciful God. Sodom and Gomorrah are the perfect example of God's patience with even the most diabolically evil people. If you were to go back to Genesis 18 and 19 you would read of the wickedness of these two cities. God was going to rain down his wrath upon these cities, but was willing to spare them if he could find just ten people who were righteous. The fact that God was willing to show mercy for the sake of ten people shows us a gracious and compassionate Lord. So often when we look at an account of God&

Romans 9:27-28: And Isaiah Cries Out Concerning Israel: "Though The Number Of The Sons Of Israel Be As The Sand Of The Sea, Only A Remnant Of Them Will Be Saved

Romans 9:27–28 [27] And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, [28] for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” (ESV) These are sobering words. Hundreds of years before the Apostle Paul was writing these words the Prophet Isaiah pronounced a judgment upon the people of Israel. Even though they had become a great nation, just as God had promised to Abraham, they had largely ignored and rejected the God who had made them great. We would like to think that all of the Jews would be saved. After all, they were descendants of Abraham himself. They were God's chosen people. What the Jewish people did fully realize is that God is calling people to walk the way of faith. His people were to be faithful to their covenant just as he was faithful to them. Isaiah pronounces this judgment against a majority of the Jewish people who had not obeyed t

Romans 9:25-26: As Indeed He Says In Hosea, "Those Who Were Not My People I Will Call 'My People,"

Romans 9:25–26 [25] As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” [26] “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” (ESV) When we read the words of the Apostle Paul we need to remember that we are listening to a Hebrew scholar. In Acts 22:3 we discover that Paul was educated under Gamaliel. For our understanding this would be like saying that someone had a prestigious degree from Harvard or Yale. Paul had been a "Pharisee of Pharisees." Paul's expertise in the Word brings him to quote the Prophet Hosea. Hosea is a fascinating study in God's relationship with his people Israel. Hosea was asked by God to marry a prostitute and have children by her. In so doing, Hosea's relationship with his wayward wife would be a visual parallel to the relationship that God was having with Israel. God had

Romans 9:24: Even Us Whom He Has Called, Not From The Jews Only But Also From The Gentiles

Romans 9:24 [24] even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (ESV) There is nothing greater than God himself. There is also nothing more important than God getting glory. God has called people unto himself. Why are they called? To give him glory. The Jews had known for many centuries that they were called by God. They even knew that they were called by God to give glory to God. Paul challenges them with something else. He is telling him that not only have the Jews been called by God for his glory, but so also from the Gentiles he has called men and women unto himself so that they would give him glory. This thought would have been repugnant to the Jews who viewed all Gentiles as vile and referred to them as dogs. If we truly understand this relationship of Jews and Gentiles it makes sense out of the Apostle Paul's treatment by the Jews. When Paul began his ministry he would go into every town and preach the Gospel, first to the Jews, and