Sunday June 12, 2022 Romans Week 54 Romans 10:1-21 “Human Responsibility and Salvation”

Sunday – June 12, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 12, 2022

Romans 10:2-3
For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”

Many are familiar with the comedian Jeff Foxworth and his routine “You might be a redneck if…”. A series of one-line descriptions, that if true of listener, indicate the reality they really are a redneck. It is all in good humor, until you recognize he may be referring to you.  Rednecks are not the only ones who may be ignorant of their true identity. Many religious people, some even zealous, consider themselves spiritual smart, but in fact are truly ignorant of the Scriptures. Let’s take short quiz and see where we may find ourselves.

Even though you are a biblical scholar, you may be ignorant of the Scriptures. The Jews considered themselves to be experts concerning the Law (Romans 2). But in the final analysis, they were ignorant concerning the Law. The gospel which they rejected is that which Paul has taught from the Old Testament. Those who took it upon themselves to oppose and correct Jesus were the religious leaders and the biblical scholars of that day. And yet Jesus repeatedly rebuked them for their ignorance concerning the Scriptures. Why was it that the scholars were so ignorant and that people whom they considered “ignorant” were able to understand the Scriptures?

Because when you reject what is clear and compelling in the Scripture, but choose to focus on that which is obscure, or trivial you are ignorant of the Scripture. The Deuteronomy 30 text Paul referred to gives vitally important principles which should guide us in our study of the Scriptures, particularly in our study of the Old Testament of which the Jews were ignorant. First, we must study the Scriptures not as an academic exercise of the mind, but in order to know and to practice what God wants us to do. Many wish to study the Scriptures as an intellectual exercise. They want to deal with truth academically and philosophically, not to obey it. When we view the Bible as something to only know, rather than as something to believe and to do, we have lost sight of its purpose.

Also, our study of the Scriptures should focus on God and the righteousness and salvation which He provides in Christ. Those who correctly searched the Scriptures found Christ there. Those who searched for Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures looked for His coming and recognized Him when He appeared. Our study of the Old Testament should be Christ-centered. Israel’s failure was not in studying the Scriptures but in how they studied them. May God grant that we would study the Old Testament more to find there the same gospel revealed in the New Testament. And may we find there, more and more, the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. To God be the glory.

Sunday June 5, 2022 Romans Week 53 Romans 9:30:33 “The Right Way to God”

Sunday – June 5, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 5, 2022

Romans 9:32-33
Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

Romans 9 has the dubious honor of teaching one of the most emotionally volatile doctrines of all the Bible, that of election.  “What shall we say then?” (9:30) serves both to draw a conclusion and to introduce a new section- more on this next week. The question that Paul has been focused on is, “If God is faithful to His covenant promises to His chosen people, then why are most of the Jews rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and Lord?” Paul has given several explanations for the condition of Israel in his day and in ours as well. Israel’s widespread unbelief and rejection of Jesus is explained by the doctrine of divine election. God did not promise to bless every descendant of Israel but only those to whom He gave the promise. Not all the physical descendants of Israel are true Israelites but only those whom God has chosen as such (9:6-23).

The salvation of the Gentiles is also explained in that God had both purposed and promised to save some Gentiles as well as some Jews. God’s promise to Israel through Hosea was also a promise for the Gentiles, who like Israel, are “not God’s people,” due to their sin, but who can become God’s people by His grace (9:24-26). The small number of believing Israelites is no problem to God or to the fulfillment of His promises. God promised to judge the sins of His people, and in so doing many Jews were destroyed. But God also promised to restore and to bless His people, and consequently He has assured the Jews that He will preserve a remnant, insuring the fulfillment of His promises (9:27-29).

The salvation of the Gentiles and the failure of the Jews is also explained in the Old Testament. God has always saved and blessed men by faith and not by works. Believing Gentiles have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Unbelieving Jews are condemned for their lack of faith and for their determination to be declared righteous through law-keeping. For those who believe in Him, Jesus is God’s rock of salvation. Jesus is, for those who reject Him, God’s “stone of stumbling”.

What kind of a “stone” is Jesus to you, my friend? Is He the rock of your salvation, or is He a stone of offense? Is Jesus the basis of your stumbling or the source of your salvation? Do not leave this passage without making your decision about this most crucial question. It matters not whether you are Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, but only if you are trusting in Jesus alone for salvation and not in your own merit and works.

Sunday May 22, 2022 Romans Week 52 Romans 9:24-29 “Fulfillment in Failure”

Sunday – May 22, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 22, 2022

Romans 9:23-24
What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

When someone succeeds without even trying, we try to be gracious, especially if we have failed with great effort. We are naturally inclined to resent the success of those who do not strive for it. This is precisely the case with the Gentiles and the Jews. In Romans 9, Paul summarizes the state of affairs with both Israel and the Gentiles. He says that the vast majority of the Jews have labored hard to earn their own righteousness while the Gentiles have attained righteousness with no effort at all. Does this make sense? Does it seem fair? Romans 9 was written with this dilemma in mind.

Paul is dealing with the difficulty of the widespread unbelief of the Jews. Only a small minority of Israelites have believed in Jesus as their Messiah, contrasted with a larger number of Gentile saints. How can it be that God has made so many promises to the nation Israel which have not been fulfilled and which appear at the moment to have little hope of fulfillment? Does Israel’s failure to trust in Jesus not only mean that the Israelites have failed but that God’s promises have failed as well? Is Israel’s failure also a failure of the Word of God? Is God’s Word reliable? Can we stake our eternal future on the promises of God in His Word?

Just as individual salvation is based upon the promises of God, Israel’s hope as a nation is based on God’s Word. God has made promises to the nation which may appear to have failed in the light of Israel’s unbelief. In chapters 9-11, Paul sets God’s promises to Israel and Israel’s history side-by-side. His whole purpose is to show the reader that all that has happened to Israel is in complete harmony with God’s Word concerning Israel. Israel’s present condition does not prove to be an embarrassment to anyone who believes God’s Word. Israel’s condition is evidence of the faithfulness of God’s Word and of His sovereignty in history as He brings about the fulfillment of His every promise.

The matter of the faithfulness of God’s Word is not important only to the Jews. The Christian serves the same God of the Old Testament. The Christian receives God’s promised blessings as a true son of Abraham. We who are Gentile believers are blessed by God’s grace in bestowing on us those things which He promised the true Israelite. If God’s Word, as revealed in the Old Testament, has proven to be unreliable, then His Word in the New Testament is unreliable as well. Every Christian should be convinced of the faithfulness of God’s Word.

Sunday May 15, 2022 Romans Week 51 Romans 9:4-23 “Glory in Judgment”

Sunday – May 15, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 15, 2022

Romans 9:16-18
It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

One of the key words in our passage is the word “mercy.” In tracking the use of this word in the New Testament, I learned something very significant: No one ever called upon our Lord for mercy and was turned away. No one ever came to our Lord and asked for mercy and received a response like: “Well, you are not one of the elect. I’m sorry, you’ll have to go away.” Every individual who asked Jesus for mercy in the gospels received it. Those who spurned His grace were condemned.

Some Christians seem to think God is glorified only by the salvation of sinners. This is not the case. God is equally glorified by the condemnation of sinners. Moses and the exodus of Israel from Egypt glorified God. Pharaoh’s hardened heart and his resistance against God and His people also glorified God. All of God’s creation will ultimately bring glory to Him. The ultimate question is not whether God will receive glory. The ultimate question for you is whether He will be glorified by your salvation or by your condemnation. God has nothing to lose and everything to gain. You have everything to lose or everything to gain.

The doctrine of election is not brought up by Paul until Romans 9. It is a doctrine every Christian needs to understand. It is not a doctrine every unbeliever needs to know. Unbelievers need to know that they are sinners and that the wrath of God awaits them. They need to know that God has provided a way of escaping His wrath and of entering into His promised blessings. That “way” is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. By His death, Jesus suffered God’s wrath on the sinner. By His life, you can be given new life. Receive this gift. Call upon Him for mercy, and He will forgive; He will save.

The principle laid down by Jeremiah still holds today. God has promised to forgive and to bless those sinners who repent and who will receive His mercy. God has promised to judge those who resist and reject His grace. When the day of judgment has come or when the day of our death comes, there will no longer be an opportunity for mercy. The time when God’s mercy is extended to sinners is now. The day of judgment rapidly approaches. Do not delay, my friend. Plead for mercy, and He will grant it. God’s justice will be executed. We must not doubt this. God’s mercy is now offered. Take it, today.

Sunday May 8, 2022 Mother’s Day “A Biblical Response to Abortion”

Sunday – May 8, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 8, 2022

Psalm 139:14-16
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.

One of the greatest truths in life is that there is no escape from God. Like fugitives, we may run, but we cannot ultimately hide from the God who penetrates even the darkness with the gaze of His light. He formed us even in our mother’s womb for His purpose and ordained all of our days before we ever saw the light of day. If we manage to dodge Him in this life, we must still stand exposed before Him on that fearful day of judgment. There is no place to hide from God.

Every person has in his or her body sufficient proof that God exists. To ignore that kind of evidence renders a person without excuse (Rom. 1:18-23). Every second more than 100,000 chemical reactions take place in your brain. It has 10 billion nerve cells to record what you see and hear. That information comes to your brain through the miracle of the eye, which has 100 million receptor cells (rods and cones) in each eye. Your retina also has four other layers of nerve cells. Altogether the system makes the equivalent of 10 billion calculations a second before an image even gets to the optic nerve. That’s not to mention the miracle of the ear and how it translates sound waves into meaningful speech and sounds; or of touch, taste, and smell.

A single human chromosome contains 20 billion bits of information. How much is that if it were written down in an ordinary printed book in modern language? Twenty billion bits are the equivalent of about three billion letters. If there are approximately six letters in an average word, the information content of one human chromosome corresponds to about 500 million words. If there are about 300 words on an ordinary page of printed type, this corresponds to about two million pages. If a typical book contains 500 such pages, the information content of a single human chromosome corresponds to some 4,000 volumes.  The zygote contains 46 chromosomes, half contributed by each parent, in a unique configuration that has never existed before and never will again. It is not plant life or animal life, nor is it mere tissue like a tumor. From the moment of conception, the new life is genetically different from his or her mother, and is not a part of her body like her tonsils or appendix. This new human being is a separate individual living inside the mother.

The sacredness of life demands far more of us than merely prohibiting murder. It demands that we seek to save the life of those who are in danger of death, those whose lives we are able to spare. It means we cannot stand idly by without attempting to stop abortion on demand. It means, just as much, that when a person is dying of starvation, disease, or natural disaster, you and I are obligated to do everything in our power to save their lives. If life is sacred, then we must seek to save the lives (and the souls) of all men and women, not just those who seem innocent, or helpless, or socially desirable. May God give us the ability to grasp the sacredness of life, and to have an attitude of being willing to lay down our lives for the benefit of others.

Sunday May 1, 2022 Romans Week 50 Romans 9:14-18 “Is God Unfair?”

Sunday – May 1, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 1, 2022

Romans 9:16-18
It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

If you are a parent, you have heard the repeated refrain from your children, “That’s not fair!” And when you heard that complaint you responded, “Life’s not fair!” But we all want it to be fair! And we want God to be fair—or so we think! if Paul was saying that God made His decision to bless Jacob and reject Esau based on the fact that God foresaw that Jacob would decide to trust in God, but Esau would reject God, no one would have thought to accuse God of being unfair. That’s perfectly fair. But, clearly, that’s not what Paul meant.

Paul goes out of his way to make it clear that God chose Jacob and rejected Esau apart from anything that they would do, “so that His purpose according to election would stand.” But we don’t like that! We want things to be equal and fair. We want everyone to have an equal shot at salvation and we want that salvation to be linked in some small way to something that we do. We want to be able say, “I’m saved because I made a decision by my own free will to believe in Jesus!” Then I can take some credit for my wise decision and my faith.

Romans 9 does not consist of the opinions of the apostle Paul, which we are free to accept if we agree or ignore if we disagree. Romans 9 is God speaking to us with His authority through Paul to tell us what we need to know to be assured about our salvation, which is Paul’s main subject in the context. How can we know that God’s promise of salvation will not fail? Paul’s answer is that our salvation is secure because it does not depend on us, but rather on God’s purpose according to election. As the sovereign of the universe, God always accomplishes what He purposes to do.

The doctrine of election is not obscure; it is not hard to prove. It is only hard, for some, to accept. Those who may be predisposed to reject divine election would like us to think that this doctrine is not taught in the Bible. However, in Romans 9 it is taught clearly, emphatically, categorically, repeatedly. If people reject this doctrine, it is not because it is not taught in the Bible, but because people will not accept it. Nothing is clearer in our text: the sovereign God chooses some and rejects others, and He does so in a way that reflects His sovereignty and preserves man’s responsibility.

Sunday April 24, 2022 Romans Week 49 Romans 9:6-13 “Gods Purpose Has Not Failed”

Sunday – April 24, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 24, 2022

Romans 9:10-12
Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad — in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls — she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

Romans 9 is hard for many believers to submit to because it probably will change your view of who God is, and many want God to be someone other than whom the Bible reveals Him to be. They want God to be an equal-opportunity Savior, who loves everyone just the same. They want Him to be what they consider “fair,” giving everyone an equal chance to be saved. And they want that salvation, at least in some small way, to be linked to something in us. They want to think, “God loves me because in spite of my faults, I’m really a loveable person.”

Paul shows that God has not granted salvation equally to all people. He has always made choices, not only between nations, but also between individuals. He has not given everyone an equal chance to be saved. And, Paul states that when God saves someone, it has absolutely nothing to do with anything good in that person. Rather, it depends totally on God’s purpose according to His choice (9:11). That’s not hard to understand, but you probably find it hard joyfully to submit to. Some of you may think, “I can accept that because it’s in the Bible, but I don’t like it!” So you submit to it like you submit to eating broccoli, because you know that it’s good for you. But you don’t especially like it.

Why do I say that you need to submit joyfully to the truth of Romans 9? First, this is God’s revelation of who He is, and we should not only grudgingly accept who He is, but also rejoice in who He is. He is the only totally perfect and glorious Being in the universe. The more that we see Him in His glorious beauty, the more we should rejoice. And not only that, these truths should make you rejoice because Paul is using them to explain why your salvation is secure and certain.

The doctrine of divine sovereignty is the basis for the Christian’s assurance of salvation and of his eternal security. We are sanctified and glorified on the same basis that we are saved, by grace, due to the sufficiency of Christ and His work at Calvary (Colossians 2:6). The One who saved us is also the One who will bring that work to its completion (Philippians 1:6). The author of our faith (by divine election) is also the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Be glad in this and rejoice!

Sunday April 10, 2022 Romans Week 48 Romans 9:1-5 “A Burden for the Lost”

Sunday – April 10, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 10, 2022

Romans 9:3-4
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

Imagine, if possible, Adolf Hitler writing a history of the Jews. It could hardly be taken seriously by anyone wanting to read an objective, historical account of this race. How could a Jew-hater and a Jew-killer be trusted to deal truthfully with the historical material? After his conversion, Paul was viewed as a traitor at best by his fellow Israelites who had been his colleagues in earlier years. Reaction to Paul was immediate and intense, as seen in Luke’s account of what took place in Damascus after Paul’s conversion in Acts 9.

It did not get better as time passed; it only got worse. The more Paul grew, the more boldly and broadly he proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. And the more the gospel Paul preached was received by Jews or Gentiles, the more their opposition and animosity grew. Paul refused to separate himself from Judaism but rather proclaimed the gospel as the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. It would all explode when Paul made his way to Jerusalem, not long after he penned this letter to the Romans.

With all honesty, Paul can say his response to Israel’s unbelief and very real peril is that of sorrow and grief. These are the responses of love, not of bitterness or vengeance. In spite of all the Jews have done against Paul, he still loves them and finds no joy in their downfall. It is not enough for Paul to feel sorry for his people. If it were possible, he would wish to be like Christ, sacrificing himself for the salvation of his fellow-Jews and bear the wrath of God in their place. While this would not be nor could be, Paul nevertheless unveils his heart toward the Jews. If he must speak ill of this people, he will find only grief and no pleasure in doing so.

Are you burdened for the salvation of lost souls? More importantly, is your burden for the lost like Jonah or Paul? Are you more interested in seeing the comeuppance of those who have become your enemies because of their lifestyle, culture or politics?  Paul is unlike Jonah who desired to see his enemies sizzle in the flames of divine judgment (Jonah 4). He is like Abraham who had compassion on the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and pled with God to spare the city for the sake of a few righteous (Genesis 19:16-33). Ask God to give you a burden for the lost as Paul had, with humility and compassion. Pray that the love of Christ will control you to such an extent that you show His love even to those who mistreat you, who deserve His judgment and by such grace, prove the words of Christ to be true- “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Sunday April 3, 2022 Romans Week 47 Romans 9 “Why Write Romans 9 to 11”

Sunday – April 3, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 3, 2022

Romans 9:3-4
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

If Romans 8 has the distinction of being the high-water mark of the New Testament, chapter 9 has the dubious honor of teaching one of the most emotionally volatile doctrines of all the Bible, that of election. This chapter is so troublesome to some Bible teachers that they would prefer it not to be in Scripture. And yet Romans 9 is vitally important to the Christian, not only in the sense that it provides a basis for the theological doctrine of election, but in that it has great bearing on our spiritual life.

If salvation finds its origin in the will of the creature, rather than in the will of the Creator, then we could never be fully assured of salvation. The maintaining of our faith would then be a work required for salvation. In fact, if the salvation of others is not in the control of God, then what reason do I have to pray for the salvation of the lost? But if salvation finds its origin in the will of God, then I know that I am forever secure, for even though I may change, God is immutable. Since it was He Who purposed my salvation and He cannot change, then my salvation is as certain as the One Who is its source.

I certainly understand why the doctrine of divine election troubles many Christians, but I believe this is a doctrine that can neither be dismissed nor denied. All the questions of Paul in chapter 8 find their answer in election. Can God work all things together for our good? Will the predestined be called and the called be justified and the justified be glorified? Is there really now no condemnation, and will there be none tomorrow? Romans 9 comes after Romans 8 for this crucial reason: it shows that the word of God’s covenant with Israel has not failed, because it is grounded in God’s sovereign, electing mercy. Therefore, the promises to the true Israel and the promises of Romans 8 will stand!

Romans 9 and the doctrine of election is indeed a glorious text, a text which should lead us to rejoice. When understood correctly, in relationship to other biblical truths, this doctrine provides great confidence, great humility, and great gratitude for the Christian. Because salvation is determined by God, then I may come to Him in prayer with the confidence that He is both able to save, and He takes pleasure in saving as well as in answering my prayers. Let us set aside our preconceived prejudices and emotions, and seek to know God as He is. Let us rejoice and be glad, for He is God, the sovereign God of the universe! Who better to be in control of our lives?

Sunday March 20, 2022 Romans Week 46 Romans 8:35-39 “More Than Conquerors”

Sunday – March 20, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 20, 2022

Romans 8:37
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

In September of 1995, the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters suffered a rare defeat on the basketball court as they toured Europe with a team made up of several former professional basketball stars. The 91-85 defeat in Vienna, Austria, ended the team’s winning streak at twenty-four-years, that is, not games! The team had won an astounding total of 8,829 straight exhibition games since their last defeat before that in January, 1971.

Christians want to think of victory in terms of winning. We like to think that Christ’s power and purposes are most evident when we win, when we overcome our opponents. Paul simply underscores a principle which has always governed God’s work: God uses apparent defeat to produce ultimate victory. God uses the suffering of His saints to make them conquerors—more than conquerors. We are victorious when we suffer the calamities of life, in faith, trusting in God, knowing that He is accomplishing His purposes through our affliction. Our confidence must not end when the going gets tough. The testing of our faith really begins here.

The expression “overwhelmingly conquer” needs to be pondered. The Bible does not promise to make “copers” of us, but conquerors. It is not enough to muddle through life merely enduring our adversity. God does not promise to take us out of our afflictions, but He does promise that we will emerge from them victorious. We will be victorious in the sense that we will grow in our faith, hope and love. We will conquer in that we will become more like Christ due to our sufferings. We will conquer in that God’s purposes will be achieved through us and others will see the grace of God at work in our lives.

How does one overwhelmingly conquer? I think I have a small grasp of what this means. We overwhelmingly conquer as the sons of God. When God created man, Adam and Eve, and put him on the earth, he was created to reflect God’s image. The fall greatly marred this image of God in man. God has purposed our salvation to restore this image. Paul has written in verse 29 that we are predestined to become conformed to the image of Christ. Man was originally to reflect the image of God by subduing the earth and ruling over it, in God’s name. We, as the sons of God, with Christ, will have a part in the conquest and restoration of the earth. This is that for which all of creation eagerly awaits (8:20-23).