Sunday August 28, 2022 Romans Week 65 Romans 12:14-21 “Transformed Attitudes Pt 1”

Sunday – August 28, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 28, 2022

Romans 12:14-17
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

What do persecution, sympathy and humility have in common? Most of us in America have not experienced anything comparable to the persecution that our brothers and sisters in other countries are facing. In many other countries, numerous Christians have been imprisoned, killed or forced to leave their homes and flee for their lives. Neither is it easy to weep with those who weep, yet the mercies of God call us to sympathize with others in both their joys and their sorrows. Not thinking more highly of ourselves, humility, is a theme that comes up again and again in the Scriptures simply because it is such a difficult mindset to maintain.

So are these just random thoughts that Paul throws out without any connection with each other to fill space? As Paul would say, “May it never be!” (Romans 6:1). There are some essential connecting factors. For one thing, each of these commands reflects transformed attitudes. Back in 12:2, Paul said, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Paul is showing what this transformed, renewed mind looks like. It blesses enemies who have persecuted them, it sympathizes with others in their joys and sorrows and it demonstrates genuine humility.

Another connection between these three seemingly disjointed verses is they all are rooted in selflessness or self-denial. We can only bless our persecutors and not curse them if we are more concerned about their eternal welfare than we are about our suffering. We can only rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep if our focus is off ourselves and on their situation. We can only be of the same mind with one another and not be haughty or wise in our own estimation if our eyes are on the Lord and others, not on ourselves. Selflessness is the thread that ties all three verses together.

How transformed are your attitudes? Are you blessing those who have wronged you? Are you sympathizing with others in their joys and sorrows? Are you practicing humility through true Christian unity, through being quick to take on lowly jobs or to befriend people of no earthly status, and through not being impressed with your own wisdom? If you need to grow in any of these, go often to the foot of the cross, where Christ humbled Himself for your sake. There you will find the grace and mercy you need to grow.

Sunday August 21, 2022 Romans Week 64 Romans 12:13-19 “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

Sunday – August 21, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 21, 2022

Romans 12:9-10
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

“Love” is one of the most common, yet misused and misunderstood words in the English language. On in any media, “love” is synonymous with “romance” and seldom used without a sexual connotation. Commercials tempt the audience to pay for a call for a “love connection,” where companions can be matched or where romantic secrets are told. And yet even Christians have a very fuzzy grasp of the meaning of love. The meaning seems to be, “I love the warm, fuzzy way you treat me and make me feel so good.” Yet, no mention is made of God Himself, or of who He is.

Love is a subject of vital importance, not only because of our fuzzy ideas about what love really is, but because love is a matter of the highest priority. The question society tries to frame love by has become, “Is it loving?” rather than, “Is it right?” If it is “loving,” it is presumed to be right. Not so with Paul’s understanding of love. Biblical love cannot be separated from biblical righteousness. Christian love is drawn toward “right” and repulsed by “wrong.” It is attracted to and adheres to that which is “good,” abhorring and withdrawing from “evil.”

Christian love is something like a battery. There must be two poles for current to flow- a positive terminal and a negative terminal. In biblical thinking, love is more than a choice, it is a decision. It is a decision to choose one thing and to reject another. Jacob could not “love” both Leah and Rachel; he had to “love” one and to “hate” the other. So too we cannot serve two masters, for we will inevitably “love” one and “hate” the other. Our love as Christians must be both a response to God’s love and a reflection of His love.

There are Christians today who urge us to emphasize God’s love, and I agree this we should do. But if we are to proclaim God’s love, we must distinguish between good and evil. The love of God is that love which clings to the good and abhors the evil. The love of God cannot and does not overlook sin nor the judgment which it deserves and requires. If we would speak more of God’s love, we must speak more of good and of evil. Rebuke and discipline are not a violation of love but a manifestation of it. Love acts in accordance with righteousness.

Sunday August 14, 2022 Romans Week 63 Romans 12:3-8 Pt 2 “Humility and Spiritual Gifts”

Sunday – August 14, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 14, 2022

Romans 12:4-6
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…”

While he was president of Princeton Seminary, Dr. John Mackay was heard to say, “Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action. But reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.”  These two extremes have always threatened the ongoing ministry of the church of Jesus Christ. There are those who are content to learn doctrine but sense no urgency to put what they know into practice. On the other hand, there are the pragmatists who want to know only what seems to work but  are too busy to reflect upon the principles which underlie their activity.

There are many Christians today who are up to their necks in activity and ministry, but who unfortunately have little idea what it’s all about. There are others who would encourage us to get away from cold and sterile doctrine and saturate ourselves with experience. As we approach spiritual gifting, we see that Paul avoids both these extremes. He avoids the extreme of reflection without commitment by challenging every Christian to a life of service. He avoids the danger of activity without reflection by instructing us that the Christian experience is the outgrowth of a transformed mind, a thought-process molded not by the world, but by the Word of God.

These two great dangers are at the heart of the exercise of spiritual gifts. The first is in not devoting ourselves to doing that which we are gifted to do. The second is exercising our gifts in a way inconsistent with the grace of God, the very grace that is to motivate and be manifested by them. We must be challenged to devote ourselves to the function for which God has gifted us and to the ministry He has called us. And we are to do so in a manner pleasing to Him and consistent with the task in the overall plan and purpose of God.

Paul’s words raise an important question I call to your attention, for it require an answer which only you can give. I urge you not to leave this text without arriving at an answer for yourself. Paul is speaking to believers about the spiritual gifts God has bestowed upon each of those who have become His children, by faith. First and foremost, have you received God’s gift of eternal life? Have you been born again? If not, then the subject of spiritual gifts is but an academic exercise, a purely hypothetical question. If so, then you have received, along with the gift of eternal life, a special enablement to serve God through His body, the church. Do so, to the glory of God.

Sunday July 3, 2022 Romans Week 57 Romans 11:1-6 “The Promises Will Never Fail”

Sunday – July 3, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 3, 2022

Romans 11:5-6
In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”

At first glance, a chapter like Romans 11 that deals with the subject of whether God still has a purpose for His people Israel might seem irrelevant to your life. What does the future of Israel have to do with finding a marriage partner or staying happy with the one you’ve got? What does Israel’s future have to do with the pressures of work and keeping your family’s finance afloat? What relevance does this topic have as you struggle with personal issues or health problems? Maybe you think you can skip chapter 11 and just check back in when we get to the practical stuff in Romans 12!

Let me suggest why this subject should be of interest to you. The underlying issue Paul is dealing with in Romans 11 is, “Can God’s promises fail if our sin is too great?” God chose the nation of Israel as His people apart from all other nations on earth (Deut. 7:6). Through the prophet Jeremiah, God assured the stubborn nation that was about to go into captivity His promises to Israel could never fail. To dispel the thought that Israel’s sin could lead to their permanent rejection, God added (Jer. 31:37), “Thus says the Lord, ‘If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,’ declares the Lord.”

In other words, if God rejects Israel as His people because their sin is too great, then His promises are conditional and can fail. And if His promises to Israel fail, then how can we know that His promises to us will not fail? And since those promises include working all of our trials together for good (8:28) and His promise that no trial can ever cut us off from His love (8:35-39), the question of why God has seemingly rejected Israel becomes very practical! It boils down to can you trust God to do as He promises?

Our failures are never fatal when they cause us to turn to the sovereign grace of God. They are for our good. They are for His glory. Sovereign grace views failure in an entirely new light. I will not ask you if there are failures in your life because I know the answer to this question. But I will ask, “Have you thought that God has given up on you because you have failed?” Do you think that God is only interested in you when you succeed? Then you have completely failed to understand the grace of God. Sovereign grace means that man’s failure is the occasion for God’s grace, if we simply acknowledge our failure, our need, and receive His grace. Grace is never more sweet than it is to one who has failed. Grace is never so distasteful than it is to one who thinks he has been successful.

Sunday June 26, 2022 Romans Week 56 Romans 10:14-21 “So What Is Your Excuse”

Sunday – June 26, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 26, 2022

Romans 10:14-15
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

The Old and New Testament Scriptures are clear, salvation will come to anyone, Jew or Gentile, who “WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD.” Many see these verses as a “missionary text.” While missions may be inferred from what Paul is teaching, missions are not the goal. If missions were the goal, we would not be finding questions here but commands. The passage is not a reiteration of the Great Commission, but an explanation for the necessity of the Great Commission.

The gospel begins with sending, then there is proclamation, then there is hearing. This should result in heeding, as one calls upon God for salvation. God is sovereign, able to overrule the laws of natur;, and occasionally He does so. But God usually works through normal processes rather than avoiding them. A process is outlined in Romans 8:28-30; a process is also explained in Romans 9-11. God’s work, as outlined in the Bible, is a process. Why should we expect God to avoid the processes He ordained? God uses messengers to proclaim the good news. He has done this in Israel’s past as recorded in the Old Testament. He has done this in the gospel as well, fulfilling the requirement that the gospel be proclaimed so that men may be held accountable for their unbelief.

Those who proclaim the gospel are, in contemporary language, “beautiful people.” Isaiah says the feet of those who proclaim the gospel are beautiful. The one who receives the gospel as good news gladly receives the messenger as having beautiful feet. As a messenger of the gospel, Paul viewed his task as one of great privilege. So should every other messenger. In order for God to hold men responsible for their response to the gospel, the gospel must be proclaimed, and proclaimers must be sent. This is indeed precisely the case. God has sent forth many messengers. Through them Christ has spoken, and the word concerning salvation through Christ has been proclaimed.

The words of Isaiah predicted this and history has shown this prophecy to have been fulfilled. Just as in Isaiah’s day, however, Israel failed to respond to divine revelation as they should have. Isaiah saw Israel’s rejection of his message as typical of her rejection of God’s Word, conveyed through His messengers throughout their history (“our report”). Faith, then, cannot be exercised apart from the hearing of the Word, the gospel, which is the basis for faith and repentance. And if heeding cannot be expected where hearing has not taken place, let all Israel know that God has sent forth His messengers to proclaim the gospel to His people, Israel.

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 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 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 13, 2022 Romans Week 45 Romans 8:33-34 “Gods Answer to Guilt”

Sunday – March 13, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 13, 2022

Romans 8:33-35
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

Most of us know what the courtroom is like from watching on television. At the front of the courtroom, the judge is seated. He will be the one who hears the testimony, views the evidence, and pronounces the verdict. To the left of the judge, the prosecution is seated. The task of the prosecutor is to make accusations against the accused and to prove the charges are legitimate. To the right of the judge sits the defendant—the one who is to be accused. And at the side of the accused is seated the counsel for the defense, whose job it is to argue on behalf of the accused in his defense.

Just as God has ordained that there is no other Savior than Jesus Christ, so there is no other Judge than Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has two roles. The first is that as Savior, second is that of Judge. All who receive Him as Savior need never fear facing His sentence of condemnation as the Judge of all the earth. Those who reject Him as Savior most certainly will be condemned by Him as their Judge. These two roles of our Lord—Savior and Judge—are both claimed by our Lord (John 3:17, 5:22, 5:27, 12:47-48).

At first it seems that Jesus’s words are contradictory. He did not come to judge, and yet He will judge. This difficulty is easily explained in the light of our Lord’s two comings. The purpose of our Lord’s first coming was not to come as the Judge to condemn sinners. The purpose of His first coming was to make an atonement for the sins of men. But when He comes again, He comes to judge the earth and to condemn all who have rejected God’s salvation through His shed blood. The Lord is either one’s Savior or one’s Judge. If He is your Savior, He will not be your Judge, who will pronounce God’s condemnation upon you. If you reject Him as Savior, He will most certainly be your Judge.

It is this truth—that God has made Jesus either one’s Savior or his Judge. Ponder this courtroom scene for a moment. Outside of faith in Jesus Christ, every man is a guilty sinner. When judgment day comes, he must sit in the defendant’s seat, the seat of the accused. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Judge, the One whom the sinner has scorned and rejected. The Lord Jesus is also the prosecutor and the accused sinner has no defense. But salvation changes all this. The forgiven sinner need not sit in the defendant’s chair because the prosecutor cannot press any charges. The Father, the Judge, has already pronounced us to be righteous, justified by faith. How could the Judge condemn us? Jesus Christ has already been condemned in our place. He was raised from the dead, and He now is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. No one can rightfully condemn us, the One who was our Judge has become our Justifier.

Sunday – December 5, 2021 Romans Week 32 Romans 7:14-25 “Who is This Wretched Man”

Sunday – December 5, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 5, 2021

Romans 7:19-20
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

Paul describes in the Book of Romans a great struggle—one with which only Christians can identify and one with which all Christians can identify. The Christian’s agony comes from realizing that our sinful flesh refuses to respond to the requirements of God’s Law. Those things we as Christians despise, we find ourselves doing and those things we as Christians desire, we fail to accomplish. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our minds, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies.

My body generally does what I ask it to do, although to my chagrin, it does it slower and not nearly as well as it used to do. It is a frightening thought that someday it may not respond to my requests at all. But it is one thing to have our body not do what we tell it to and quite another to realize that our body is very obedient to something else. Every Christian who reads Romans 7:14-25 should immediately identify with Paul’s expression of frustration and agony due to the weakness of his fleshly body: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). We are confronted with a dilemma as we try to live righteously. If there were no answer for this question, who would dare to press on with living a holy life?

Christians and non-Christians alike struggle, but they struggle with very different things. The non-Christian’s enemy is God and ultimately the struggle of the unbeliever is their struggle with God. Their distress and troubles are a manifestation of the wrath of God. We were born in our transgressions and sin; we were at enmity with God—sin is not the problem. For the Christian, sin is the enemy and that changes only at conversion. The struggle Paul is describing is his personal struggle with sin, as I understand it, as a believer.

Some of our most tender nerves are touched by Paul’s teaching in verses 14-25. The truths taught here could be taken as the most depressing and hopeless realities of our lives. But Paul does not dwell on the weakness of our flesh in order to discourage us. Rather, Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh as the root problem that prevent Christians from living the kind of lives God requires and which we, as Christians, desire in our innermost being. Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh to prepare us for God’s provision for godly living, the solution found in Romans 8. Those of us willing to honestly identify with the agony of Romans 7 will be ready for the ecstasy of God’s gracious provision for living righteously in Romans 8. Let us welcome these words of encouragement as a revelation from God, for these verses are God’s good news for sinners.