Sunday September 18, 2022 Romans Week 67 Romans 13:1-7 “God Government and You”

Sunday – September 18, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 18, 2022

Romans 13:1-2a
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God…”

Over the years I have found Christians are little different than non-Christians in their attitudes and responses toward authority. Compliance is given, but cooperation is not always guaranteed. Christians comply with the law, slowing down as we pass the police car with its radar speed detection equipment, but as soon as we are sure it is safe, we drive normally—and illegally. In Romans 13:1-7, Paul deals directly with the Christian’s attitude and conduct with respect to civil government authority.

The church is involved today in the same struggle Paul addresses with the Church at Rome. In the earlier days of our nation, our government was founded on many Christian convictions. If our early government founders and officials were not Christians, at least their beliefs and values were compatible with Christian doctrines and practices. However, over the years, our culture and our government has strayed farther and farther from Christianity. Christians and their values are quickly becoming a minority view according to a Pew Research Center study released this week. Consequently, we should expect the government will increasingly regulate, hinder, and even oppose Christian activity.

When Paul speaks of submission to government, he does so in the context of service which is the main theme of Romans 12:1–13:7. We are challenged by Paul in 12:1-2 to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service of worship. Paul then speaks of our sacrificial service in terms of the church, the body of Christ, and of the exercise of our spiritual gifts (12:3-8). In verses 9-21 Paul writes of our service in the context of love, whether we are serving our fellow-believers or our enemy. Subordination to civil government is discussed in Romans 13:1-7, only to find Paul returning to the theme of walking in love in verses 8 and following.

Daniel illustrates the truth of Romans 13:1-7 and exposes the folly of our fleshly efforts to affect change in government. Daniel was a young political hostage, with no credentials or political clout to impress his Babylonian captors. Daniel was but a single man, living in a godless society and in a heathen culture. And yet Daniel had tremendous political influence on several kings and administrations over a long period of time. What was it that made Daniel the E. F. Hutten of his day? What made kings listen when he spoke? I believe the answer is that Daniel subordinated himself to the heathen, human government of Babylon as God’s divinely ordained institution.

Daniel was a man who was respected and sought by the political leaders of his day. Why? I believe it was because Daniel was practicing what Paul later preached. Daniel was serving God by his subordination to civil government. As he sought to serve God with a clear conscience, he refused to do only that which was disobedient to God and defiling to his conscience. As he served God, he eagerly cooperated and supported the governmental system under which God had placed him. Down through history, men like Daniel have had a profound impact on kings and government officials—even though they served God and even though they were in the minority. May God grant that we will present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices, as we subordinate ourselves to others and to the government He has ordained.

Sunday August 7, 2022 Romans Week 62 Romans 12:3-8 “Straight Thinking on Spiritual Gifts”

Sunday – August 7, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 7, 2022

Romans 12:3-4
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

The subject of spiritual gifts is relevant and vitally important to Christians today. Some evangelical Christians believe and teach that spiritual gifts are no longer applicable, that spiritual gifts were given for the church in its infancy. If this is so, how can spiritual gifts now be extinct when the Book of Romans clearly teaches they are necessary for the functioning of the church? While some may differ as to whether all the gifts are necessary in this age, it is very difficult to understand how none of the gifts are needed.

If I understand Paul’s teaching correctly, spiritual gifts are needed as long as we are living on this earth as members of the body of Christ. Spiritual gifts are those endowments of power which enable us to carry out the vital functions of our body life in Christ as members of His body. These endowments are a supernatural enablement so that supernatural results are produced. It is only when our Lord returns, when the church is taken up into glory and fully perfected, that the need for spiritual gifts will cease. Paul’s teaching assumes that teaching about spiritual gifts is both basic and fundamental to Christian living. Peter likewise looked at the exercise of spiritual gifts as a crucial matter. We should take spiritual gifts no less seriously than did the apostles.

But why does Paul tell us that we are to think “so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith”? There are several reasons. First, we live and walk by faith. Faith is essential in our service and in the exercise of our spiritual gifts, just as it is in every other aspect of our lives. Second, the results of our ministry may not be evident or apparent to us, or even to others. The results of the ministry of spiritual gifts are spiritual. They may not be revealed until eternity. We must act on the basis of faith, even though the results are not visible to us. The results of our ministry may be unseen, and faith deals with the unseen.

Because the exercise of a spiritual gift may be unseen, faith is required. Most often the ministry of spiritual gifts is described in terms of the function of the human body. In the human body some members are visible and prominent such as the hands and the eyes. But there are other unseen members like the heart and lungs, which while being unseen are essential to maintain the body. These unseen members are the “vital” organs. Likewise, the vital members of the body of Christ may very well be unseen. Each member of the body of Christ plays a part in the work of the body, as a whole. This the Christian believes by faith and demonstrates to the glory of God.

Sunday July 17, 2022 Romans Week 59 Romans 11:13-24 “The Sweetness and The Severity of God”

Sunday – July 17, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 17, 2022

Romans 11:13-16
“Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

In coming to faith in Christ, Paul has not denied his Jewish heritage. His conversion was no denial of his Jewish hopes but an entrance into them through Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. This raises a question: If Paul is a faithful Jew, what is he doing ministering to Gentiles? If there is still hope for Israel, how can Paul justify ministering to Gentiles rather than to Jews? Paul’s answer proves that his ministry to the Gentiles is completely consistent with His Jewish heritage and hope.

We have here a very important lesson to be learned. Frequently, we are called to achieve God’s purposes in ways which may seem contrary to His purposes. In biblical terms, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight, to walk in obedience to His Word, even when doing so seems contrary to God’s purposes. For example, God calls upon us to give up our lives in order to gain them, to take up our cross in order to serve Him. Obedience to God’s Word by faith may often seem inconsistent with what He has promised to accomplish, but God’s ways are often accomplished by the most unlikely means.

The church has been commanded to “make disciples of every nation” (Matthew 28:18-20), which necessitates evangelism (Romans 10:14-15). Often there are often those who lay a guilt trip on every believer, insisting that we obey the Lord’s command by doing what appears to be evangelistic. If we are not passing out tracts, going door to door, or doing what others expect of us, we can often feel guilty. If Paul had done what appeared to be necessary to evangelize the Jews, he would have been aggressively pursuing Jewish evangelism. He did actively pursue Jewish evangelism, by going to the synagogues and preaching Christ. But he also saw that his ministry to the Gentiles was playing a part in Jewish evangelism too even if it did not appear so.

A young man may be out mowing the church lawn and may wonder if he should be mowing the grass when he could be out witnessing. But it may be the neatly-kept lawn which attracts and encourages a passerby to visit the church and thus hear the gospel. A housewife making a plate of cookies for an ailing neighbor may very well be playing a part in God’s plan to bring that neighbor to faith. God has given each member of His body, the church, different gifts and a different ministry. We must exercise our gifts and fulfill our ministry, even though it may not “look” spiritual or appear to be directly related to God’s purposes. It is only when we see our obedience to Christ’s calling as a part of the larger program and purposes of God that we are able to “magnify our ministry,” knowing that God will use it to achieve His purposes.

Sunday – November 21, 2021 Romans Week 30 Rom 7:1-6 “The Relationship Between Rules and Righteousness”

Sunday – November 21, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 21, 2021

Romans 7:4
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”

Throughout history, the two extremes of license and legalism have existed with each pointing to the other as the justification for their own error. To the legalist, grace was the cause of sin while the Law was the solution for sin. To Paul, legalism promoted sin while grace alone could overcome it. The Law did not save Abraham, for it was not given at the time he was justified, by faith alone. It was not the Law which saved Israel from Egyptian bondage, for the Law was not given until after God’s defeat of Egypt and Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea. Law-keeping would never save any Israelite but only faith.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He immediately distinguished His teaching and that of the Law from the false teaching and legalism of the scribes and Pharisees. The apostles and leaders of the church in Jerusalem had great difficulty concluding that the gospel was to be offered to the Gentiles and that Gentile saints were not to be placed under the yoke of the Law and made Law-keepers. The apostles had to battle against both license and legalism as contrary to the gospel and the grace of God.

Legalism is one of the great threats to the Christian of our day, not just to those of Paul’s day. It is certainly true that we can find ample evidence of license and liberalism in the church today. But the danger about which Paul warns us in our text is legalism. Legalism is not the cure for license just as grace is not an excuse for sin. It is not Law but grace which the church needs more of today because it provides the cure for sin. Yet the temptation to put Christians under rules and regulations, thinking rules will defeat sin and result in righteousness, still exists in the Church today. Legalism may look good but it utterly fails to produce righteousness.

Christianity has always had its hypocrites and its bad examples. There are those who would abuse the grace of God, making it an excuse for their sin. They are wrong! There are also those who would seek to put Christians under a long list of rules, usually Don’ts. These folks are wrong too. Justification by faith is God’s solution for sin and its consequences. Justification by faith is God’s provision of righteousness, so that men might be saved, and so that they might manifest His righteousness in their lives. If you would be free from the burden of your sin, receive God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Trust in Him as the One who died in your place, bearing the punishment for your sins. Receive from Him that righteousness which you can never produce by your own efforts.

Sunday – March 21, 2021 Book of Romans – Week 1 Introduction

Sunday – March 21, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 21, 2021

Romans 1:2-4
…the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The Scriptures are said to be the defining work of civilization. But the Scriptures are not just a collection of men’s ideas about God, nor is it a guidebook for living that people developed over the centuries. The Bible was written by dozens of authors over many hundreds of years. Some are very brief–less than a page, while others are much longer. Yet, despite their diversity, when you examine them, you discover they all have a common theme: God’s relationship with the human race. Ultimately, the Bible deals with timeless questions: Who are we? Why are we here? How can we redeem our mistakes? How should we live?

Of all the books found in the Bible, no book answers these questions better than the Book of Romans. God has used this powerful letter in some remarkable ways to change the lives of some of the greatest thinkers, missionaries and theologians throughout human history. It is the book that was instrumental in leading men like Augustine, Charles Wesley and John Bunyan to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  It changed the course of church history after being read by Martin Luther. It was so important to church father Chrysostom that he had it read to him twice each week.

The Swiss commentator, Frederic Godet, wrote that “every great spiritual revival in the church will be connected as effect and cause with a deeper understanding of this book.” His summation of Romans was: “For what is the Epistle to the Romans? The offer of the righteousness of God to the man who finds himself stripped by the law of his own righteousness (1:17). In a nutshell, the Book of Romans is the gospel: the good news that God declares sinners to be righteous when they trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf. It involves both the imputed righteousness of justification (Romans 3-5) and the imparted righteousness of sanctification, worked out progressively through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 6-8).”

As I said last week, the Church of Jesus Christ faces challenges never seen before in the history of the church. There is a pervasive darkness in our country and a lack of clear biblical thinking in this generation. And our calling is to be a people who are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) If we are to reclaim this mandate from God, we must fully understand how that calling was granted to us and how we are to live it out. There is no better time than now to understand the wisdom of God found in the Book of Romans.

Sunday – March 14, 2021 Acts 19:19-30 “Christian Thinking During COVID 19” Pt 11

Sunday – March 14, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 14, 2021

Acts 11:20-21
Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

What is the main business of the church? Some would say that it is to care for its members, to visit the sick and pray with them, to take care of people at important transitions in life, such as marriage, childbirth, and death. That the Church is here to provide guidance and comfort for people at important times. No doubt, these are all functions of the church. But I would argue that these functions are not the main business of the church, and if we start acting as if they were, we will miss our main business.

With the COVID virus, many businesses have had to pivot not just to maintain customers, but to thrive in the radically changed environment we find ourselves today. But they must pivot in a way that maintains their main business. The Church of Jesus Christ is no different. We are always in danger of slipping into a maintenance mentality to keep the doors open, to preserve our faith and to maintain tradition. With the emphasis on maintaining “social distance” we must always remember our main business is the same business of Jesus who “came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Think of how the COVID virus is being spread today. People do not deliberately go out, seeking to spread the virus to many others. They simply go about their lives as usual, and when they come into contact with others, the virus is unknowingly spread abroad. The virus has a life of its own, and is spread by social contact as people go about their lives as normal. Ideally, and as we see it in Acts 19, the gospel was quickly spread abroad by people who went about, living their lives in contact with other people. These saints did not begrudgingly spread the gospel, nor was their evangelism the execution of a particular plan or script. Their joy simply overflowed, and because their new-found salvation was so life-transforming they just couldn’t help but tell others about it. For them, evangelism was the result of the overflow of joy and praise to God that others observed, and “caught.”

Antioch is as an example to us. It was a church founded by simple believers who knew that God has called every Christian to serve Him. They proclaimed the gospel as the power of God for salvation to every person who believes and the hand of the Lord was with them, and considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. Let’s keep our main business in focus: To obey the Holy Spirit in promoting God’s glory by sending out workers called by God to preach the gospel. As Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:37-38).

Sunday – November 29, 2020 Elder Thom Rachford Joshua 24:14-28 “Know Your Choices”

Sunday – November 29, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 29, 2020

Luke 6:35-36
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

How did the obscure, marginal, Jesus movement become the dominant religious force in the Western world in a few centuries? To understand how this took place we need to explore a number of key factors—one of which is plagues. Indeed, to understand the rise of Christianity from a few followers of the Way to a faith that has changed the world, we need to understand the biblical and remarkable response by the Church to plagues of the past.  Over the next few weeks as we come to the end of 2020, I want examine briefly four pandemics in history and how the church has responded in the way of Christ. As we note their examples, let’s be inspired by their faith—even if we might make some adjustments for our own time and circumstances.

The Plague of Cyprian (249–262 AD) was a lethal pandemic that, at its height, caused upwards of 5,000 deaths a day in Rome. While the plague severely weakened the Roman empire, the Christian response to it won admiration and a greater following. Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, reported: “Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead.

This evident Christlikeness—taking death in order to give life—stood in stark contrast to those outside the church. Dionysius continues: “But with the heathen everything was quite otherwise. They deserted those who began to be sick, and fled from their dearest friends. They shunned any participation or fellowship with death; which yet, with all their precautions, it was not easy for them to escape.” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 7.22.7–10)

Plagues and pandemics intensify the natural course of life. They intensify our own sense of mortality and frailty. They also intensify opportunities to display counter-cultural, counter-conditional love. The church rose to the challenge in the second century, winning both admirers and also converts. While the outworking of love may look different in different ages, love must still be the aim—a love directed by the Holy Spirit, not our self-centered flesh. May we—with our own pandemic—live out the wisdom and way of Jesus before a watching world.

Sunday – September 6, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 20:1-38 “Passing the Torch”

Sunday – September 6, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 6, 2020

Acts 20:1-3
When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months.

The apostle Paul changed the world as few other men have ever done. He lived in a day before jet airplanes or cars and paved highways. He had to go everywhere by foot, on donkeys, or by sailing vessel, none of which were very speedy. He did not have a telephone to call and talk with the leaders of churches that he had founded around the Roman Empire. He didn’t have computers, email, copy machines, or other modern tools that make communication easier. He spent many years of his ministry in prison, unable to move about freely. He contended with fierce opposition both from outside and inside the church. And yet, after 25-30 years of ministry, he left a lasting impact on the world, not only in his time, but also for all times.

Jesus promised to build His church on Peter’s confession of Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. Paul traveled about preaching the gospel and helping the new converts begin to meet as local churches. Those churches in turn could evangelize their own areas, as well as train and send out new missionaries to evangelize and plant new churches in other areas, so that the process is multiplied many times over. He did this in Ephesus, so that after two years, all of Asia (western Turkey) heard the word of the Lord. Paul was unrelenting in his commitment to the church.. He called the Philippian church his joy and his crown. He told the Colossians of his great struggle on their behalf and for those in Laodicea, that they would be knit together in love and attain to all that wealth that comes from a full knowledge of Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he goes through a long list of all of the labors and trials that he had gone through on behalf of Christ. The last thing he mentions is, “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”

At first glance, our text shows us a slice of Paul’s life describing his travels. Some things are skimmed over, and we can fill in many details from 1 & 2 Corinthians and Romans, which he wrote during this time period. Other things, such as his meeting with the church in Troas, are described in more detail. We might at first read these verses and think, “That’s interesting, but it doesn’t relate to my life.” But I think that just below the surface of Luke’s description of Paul’s travels lies Paul’s unswerving commitment to Christ’s church. It was that commitment that was at the heart of how God used Paul to change the world for Jesus Christ. No matter what our individual gifts or calling, we need to be committed to the church of Jesus Christ if we want to see God use us to change our world for Him.

Sunday – August 2, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 17:1-15 “What Is Our Goal”

Sunday – Sunday – August 2, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – Sunday – August 2, 2020

Acts 17:2-4a
And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded

The general malaise and moral confusion of the culture reminds me of Saint Francis’s claim that he would go to the city center in Assisi and stand on his head to see the world aright. The early Church was given credit for turning the world upside down. The Christian worldview required everyone outside of the Christian faith to stand on their heads to make sense of things. But now, the world is back where Christians found it. Now we find ourselves standing on our heads to see it aright. Light has been declared darkness and darkness declared light. Right is wrong, wrong is right, up is down and down is up. The old greeting, “What’s Up?” requires the answer, “Who knows?”

For 50 years, the Church has held a false idea that there are two optional tracks in the Christian life. One track is the committed discipleship track, for gung-ho types. They give up the comforts of life, giving large portions of their income to the cause of Christ and they devote themselves and their time totally to Jesus. But if that track is a bit much for you, then you can choose the comfortable Christian track. Comfortable Christians usually go to church on Sundays, unless one of their hobbies has a big event that day. They give a bit to help out the church and volunteer some time to the cause, when time permits. For them, Christ and the church are a nice slice of life that help to make life more pleasant. But I never find Jesus offering this second track to any of His followers.

In our Christian apathy, we have failed to see the war around us. It is a cultural war, but, more profoundly, it is a war of ideas. Behind those ideas are persons and, finally, only two persons, God and Satan. Why would we, the church, dirty our hands and join the fight? Because our disciples have failed and we have lost the culture. We’ve been making our kind of disciples for the past fifty years and look at what we have accomplished. The disciples we have produced have allowed the culture to be taken over by leftist ideology that is clearly anti-Christian, anti-gospel, and has cut off at least two generations from the biblical, literary, social, and cultural foundation of a working society. Those young people tearing down statues are our disciples. We must make different disciples in order to get a different result and the church must take some responsibility.

Perhaps you do not share this urgency concerning this war for the minds and souls of others because you have not come to grips with the urgency of your receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior. Apart from Him, you will die in your sins and spend eternity apart from God in eternal suffering. The gospel of Jesus Christ informs you that God has provided for the forgiveness of your sins through the death of Jesus Christ in your place, bearing your condemnation, and offering you His righteousness. Time is limited. He may return at any moment, or you may die before He comes. Accept Him today.