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 – November 7, 2021 Romans Week 28 Romans 6:12-18 “Stop It”

Sunday – November 7, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 7, 2021

Romans 6:13-14
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Freedom is difficult to obtain and even more difficult to maintain. Political liberation neither immediately nor automatically leads to democracy. Once a dictator is overthrown and his government toppled, the newly liberated people often find they are not equipped to handle freedom nor the governing of themselves. The Christian life is something like this. Salvation brings immediate forgiveness for sin but not immediate freedom from sin. When a person is “born again,” or justified by faith in Jesus Christ, they are loosed from the bondage of sin. And yet sin soon seems to gain the upper hand once again and reigns in the life of the believer.

Romans 6 provides a biblical basis for turning from sin to godly living, from the practice of sin to the pursuit of righteousness. In this text, Paul provides evidence in support of godliness. Paul calls the Christian’s attention to their “baptism into Christ,” which unites them with both His death and His resurrection. Our union with Christ prohibits us from living in sin, because this would be inconsistent with and contrary to the work of Christ on the cross. In Christ we died to sin, and thus we must not continue to live in sin. In Christ, we were raised to newness of life, and thus we must live a new and different life in and through Him.

Sanctification is the lifelong process of spiritual growth which takes place in the life of the Christian resulting in the glorification of God. By inference, our text teaches us that sanctification is surely not automatic. Once we have been saved, we are not predisposed to always do God’s will. Growth does not occur by accident. The Christian is faced with decisions and choices. While there is boasting and great confidence, there is also agony and struggle. The struggles and tribulations are a part of the process.

Sanctification is not immediate, and it is not easy, but it is remarkably simple.  We do not struggle with sanctification because it is so hard to understand, but because it is so hard to do. Sanctification is rooted in the cross of Jesus Christ. We were saved from sin and unto righteousness. Our sanctification is grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died not only for sin, but to sin. Since we have been baptized into Christ, we must not live in sin; we must die to sin. Our lifestyle must radically change as a result of our union with Him and His work at Calvary. Our sanctification is necessitated by the cross, and it is provided for by the cross. The cross of Christ is the key to our salvation and our sanctification.

Sunday – October 17, 2021 Romans Week 25 Romans 6 Overview “The Necessity of Sanctification”

Sunday – October 17, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 17, 2021

Roman 6:1              
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?“

God created a world of wonder and beauty, a world at peace and harmony. As we read frequently in the first two chapters of Genesis, “… it was good.” But then Adam and Eve sinned. From that point on in time, ugliness, chaos, and devastation have been the rule of the day. No longer does the description “good” seem to fit in our fallen world.

Our passage reminds me of the great impact which Adam’s sin has had on our world and on mankind in particular. Everything which man touches, man corrupts, including the splendor of the salvation which God has provided in Jesus Christ. Our righteous God cannot tolerate sin, and so, in His holiness, He condemned sin and sinners. In His mercy and righteousness, He provided for man’s salvation, by pouring out His holy indignation on His Son, Jesus Christ. God provided unrighteous men with His own righteousness, and what does man immediately do? He seeks to turn God’s grace into a license for sin. God’s salvation is distorted, so that salvation now becomes an excuse, even a mandate, for sin. The questions Paul has raised in Romans 6 only remind us of how desperately evil our hearts are, that we would seek to excuse sin as though we were serving God.

Romans 6 teaches the gospel is not only the basis for our conduct, it is the standard. When the possibility of continuing to live in sin is raised, Paul refutes it by taking us back to the cross. Christ died to sin and was raised to newness of life. When we were saved, we were united with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. How then can those who died to sin live in sin? The cross is the standard for our conduct. God saved unrighteous men, not in order that they could continue to live in sin, but to enable them to live in righteousness. We must live in conformity to God’s purposes and provisions and not in conformity to our former lusts.

Sin blinds the unbeliever, but it also distorts the vision and the perspective of the believer. Paul’s words in our text serve as a strong caution, reminding us of the effects of sin which remain, in us. Paul informs us that even the truth can be distorted and perverted so that sound doctrine is twisted to excuse and to advocate sin. Let us beware of the danger here. How easily we can deceive ourselves and excuse sin in our lives. How easily doing what is wrong can be justified as serving the purposes of God. We must constantly be on the alert to this danger.

Sunday – September 5, 2021 Romans Week 19 Romans 4:23-25 “The Nature of Saving Faith”

Sunday – September 5, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 5, 2021

Romans 4:23-25
Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Paul has spent an entire chapter hammering home the truth that we are justified by faith in Christ alone, not by our good works, not by our religious rituals, and not by keeping the Law of Moses. He uses Abraham as the prime example of a man who believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (4:3, 5, 9, 22). But now, as he wraps up this chapter, he wants us to plug it in personally. He doesn’t want us to cheer and say, “Brilliant argument, Paul! You really stuck it to those religious Jews! Nice going!” No, he wants each of us to apply it on the most fundamental level so that we, too, are sure that the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been credited to our account by faith.

Paul’s point is that this chapter about Abraham and his faith is not just a quaint history lesson. We need to apply it personally. This is seen in the text by the fact that Paul uses the pro­noun “our” four times: “for our sake also”; “Jesus our Lord”; “our transgressions”; and, “our justification.” These truths must be ours personally. The Bible was written so that first we would understand it, but then so that we will apply it. The story of Abraham is for your sake also. Has the righteousness of Christ been credited to your account? Romans 4 won’t do you any good unless by faith you are a true son of Abraham, an heir according to God’s promise (Gal. 3:7, 29).

Also, Romans 4 shows the importance of understanding and applying the Old Testament. Paul built the entire chapter on the story of Abraham’s faith being credited to him as righteousness. If we do not understand the Old Testament, we will not properly understand the New Testament. The Old Testament continues to speak to Christians and our understanding of this foundation is fundamental to the theology and preaching of the Apostle Paul.  As Paul will go on to say in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Before we leave this chapter in Romans I want to ask you two questions: First, do you regularly read and seek to understand and apply the Old Testament? Reading through the Gospels is a good plan to do every year but make sure to include opportunities to read from the Psalms and the Old Testament. Don’t neglect the Old Testament as if it were of less importance than the New Testament. Second, have you put your faith in Christ alone, trusting God to credit Christ’s righteousness to your account? If you have not done that, you are not a Christian in the most important sense of the word. A Christian personally believes in Jesus Christ.

Sunday – August 29, 2021 Romans Week 18 Romans 4:16-22 “The Nature of Saving Faith”

Sunday – August 29, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 29, 2021

Romans 4:20-22
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness”.

The bad news of universal condemnation seen in the beginning of Romans is overshadowed by the good news of a righteousness of God provided to all who believe in Jesus Christ. What man cannot do by his own efforts, God has done in the Person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. His death appeased the righteous anger of God toward the sinner. His death and resurrection provide the righteousness which men need to be declared righteous by God. Faith in Jesus Christ makes men righteous before God without Law-keeping.

Jules Henri Poincare, who in extolling the memory of his distinguished friend, uttered these terrible words: “It matters little what God one believes in; it is the faith and not the God that makes miracles.” No statement can be farther from the truth because the Bible teaches it is the object of our faith that makes all the difference between heaven and hell. Here Paul proves this point by examining the faith of Abraham that was credited as righteousness.

Abraham’s faith was in a God Who could create something out of nothing. So far as his chances of having a child, they were nil. He and Sarah were as good as dead. Yet Abraham trusted God to create something out of nothing, a son from an old man and a barren woman. Abraham also believed in a God Who could raise the dead. This is evident in his faith in the promise to have a son of his own loins and Sarah, for they were both as good as dead so far as producing children was concerned. Nowhere is this faith in God’s ability to raise the dead more evident than in Abraham’s willingness to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice (Genesis 22).

In addition, Abraham’s faith was one that did not dwell on the obstacles to faith but on the object of faith. Abraham knew all too well the difficulties, but did not waver in his faith. The point is that Abraham, in spite of tremendous human obstacles, trusted in God to do as He promised. His faith overlooked the obstacles and focused upon the object of faith, God the Father. Because of this kind of faith, Abraham was justified before God. I invite you this morning to receive your reconciliation with that same God by placing all your faith in the work of the one man, His Son Jesus Christ. Then, you too, having been justified by faith, can have peace with God.

Sunday – August 8, 2021 Romans Week 16 Romans 4:1-8 “Forgiveness is the Greatest Blessing”

Sunday – August 8, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 8, 2021

Romans 4:2-3
If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

In the Old and New Testament, Abraham is named in 230 verses. Only 95 of those references to Abraham (or Abram) are during the life of Abraham in Genesis 11–25:10. The remaining 135 references to Abraham, primarily in the Old Testament, point back to historical events in his life. The Old Testament prophets spoke of the righteousness and salvation God would provide in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. That righteousness, like the righteousness of Abraham, was not a righteousness which men earned by their law-keeping, but a righteousness which God Himself would provide through His Messiah, the coming Savior.

Abraham is also a very prominent person in the New Testament. We see the distorted thinking of the Jews concerning Abraham especially in the Gospels. The Jews took pride in their physical descent from Abraham. Believing they had confirmed reservations in the kingdom of God, the Jews saw the Gentiles as those who would never enter into the blessings promised Abraham. Jesus must have rocked the boat of Jewish exclusivism when He marveled at and commended the faith of the Gentile centurion in Matthew 8:10-12. Because of his faith, the centurion would be at the banquet table, along with Abraham, but many of the “sons of the kingdom” would be cast into hell. Here was a revolutionary thought to the Jews, but one completely consistent with the Old Testament and with the gospel.

No wonder Paul devotes an entire chapter to Abraham’s justification by faith! Not only does Abraham’s justification prove the Jews wrong for trusting and boasting in Abraham as their physical forefather, but it proves Abraham to be the father of all those who believe in God, by faith. Abraham’s justification by faith is precisely the same as that which the gospel offers to all men, Jew or Gentile, today. It is justification based upon the person and work of God, believed by faith, accomplished by imputation. It is a free gift, available to those who are uncircumcised and who are not under the Law of Moses, like Abraham.

Justification by faith is God’s only way of saving men. It is also the same way in which men have been saved from the beginning of human history. Men were not saved by works in Old Testament times and are now saved by faith. Men have always been saved by faith, apart from works. Abraham is an excellent example of justification by faith because he lived in a day when neither the Law of Moses nor the rite of circumcision existed as a part of Israel’s religion. He was saved apart from any works, apart from circumcision, and apart from the Law. His justification, like ours, was based upon God’s faithfulness to His promise and not on human performance. It is a gift of God’s grace and not something earned.

Sunday – July 25, 2021 Romans Week 14 Romans 3:21-26 “The Fathers Perspective”

Sunday – July 25, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 25, 2021

Romans 3:25-26
This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

I read a book by a man who served in the army during World War II. While he and a handful of men were stationed on a remote Pacific Island, they suddenly were surrounded by thousands of Japanese troops. The small American garrison only managed to sabotage some of their equipment before the Japanese troops overpowered them. Eventually he was taken to a remote location in Japan as a P.O.W. Determined to keep their minds active and alert, he and other P.O.W.’s organized classes and discussion groups. One class, taught by the captain of the Queen of England’s royal yacht, held many interesting stories of the royal family. Another class, American History, was taught by a British professor, from a British point of view.

Each of us views life from a certain perspective. That perspective is shaped in part by our experiences, our decisions, and our character. Certainly, a British subject would view American history from a different perspective than an American. North Vietnamese and American historians would see the history of the Viet Nam war quite differently; yet a different perspective would be held by a Swiss historian as his country was not involved in the conflict. Our perspective has everything to do with the way we understand history.

We see God’s provision of righteousness from a human point of view. As fallen men, we distort even what we see in God’s provision of His righteousness by looking at it merely from a human perspective. Romans 1:18–3:20 is thought of in terms of our need for righteousness, and Romans 3:21-26 is seen as God’s provision of righteousness to meet our need. Although true, this is not Paul’s primary emphasis. Here he examines the doctrine of salvation from God’s point of view. Man’s salvation through God’s provision of righteousness becomes here a secondary theme. The primary theme is the demonstration of God’s righteousness, through His provision of righteousness for sinners. God is in the spotlight, not men.

The death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary is the most important event in all of human history. The cross of Calvary is understood in many different ways, even by Christians. All of us tend to view the work of Calvary differently than Paul presents it here. We think mainly of Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Godhead. Yet in our text, Paul speaks primarily of the first Person of the Godhead, God the Father. We think mainly of God’s provision of that righteousness which we lack. Yet Paul speaks primarily of the righteousness of God which is demonstrated in the redemption of fallen sinners. While we see the cross from a human point of view, Paul’s words here enable us to view the cross from God’s point of view. The way we live as Christians is greatly influenced by this significant difference in perspective. A life-changing truth is taught in this marvelous text if we consider it carefully, and diligently seek to understand our salvation from God’s point of view.

Sunday – April 25, 2021 Romans Week 5 Rom 1:16-17 “The Power of God for Salvation”

Sunday – April 25, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 25, 2021

Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

For us to understand the power of these words, we need to see the flow of Paul’s reasoning. Paul states, “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Why? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel….” Why? “For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” How is this gospel the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes? “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” Is this a new idea that Paul thought up? No, he cites Habakkuk 2:4, “as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”

At the outset, we may wonder why Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” It is a figure of speech called litotes, where through understatement the affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary. For example, if you say, “he’s not a bad athlete,” you mean, “he’s a pretty good athlete.” So when Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel, he means, “I glory in the gospel. I’m astounded by the gospel.”

But why does he express it this way? Well, there were many reasons a first century Roman might feel a bit uncomfortable about this Jewish man coming to a sophisticated city like Rome to preach about a Galilean carpenter-prophet who was executed by the Roman government in the most humiliating manner possible, by being crucified. After all, this was Rome, the capital of the civilized world! Your message had better appeal to the educated or it won’t fly here! Your message needs to offer political solutions to the pressing needs of the empire or it will not gain a hearing here! It had better offer some answers to the massive problems of greed, hopelessness, lust, and violence, or the people in Rome won’t listen!

But Paul’s main message did not directly address these issues. His message focused on the main need of every human being, whether the most religious Jew or the most educated, worldly, immoral Greek—the need to be reconciled to the holy God. How can I be right before God? Paul’s theme in Romans is God and the good news that comes from God, how sinners can be delivered from His righteous judgment and reconciled to Him. It is the very power of God to save everyone who believes, because in it God reveals how His perfect righteousness will be put to the account of the guilty sinner who trusts in Christ. This is called salvation. I pray that we will understand the gospel, believe it personally, preach it to ourselves every day, and proclaim it unashamedly to this lost world.

Sunday – March 28, 2021 Romans Week 2 “Tracing Righteousness Through Romans”

Sunday – March 28, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 28, 2021

Romans 3:21-23
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

The righteousness of God, one of the most prominent attributes of God in the Scriptures, is also one of the most elusive. Initially, distinguishing the righteousness of God from His holiness or His goodness seems difficult. This is because the righteousness of God is virtually synonymous with His justice. No one states this better than A.W. Tozer, “Justice, when used of God, is a name we give to the way God is, nothing more; and when God acts justly He is not doing so to conform to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given situation.”

The righteousness of God and the justice of God are not secondary matters; they are primary. When summarizing the very essence of what the Old Testament Law was about, Amos and Micah both spoke first of justice and righteousness. The righteousness or justice of God is to be the guiding principle for the people of God. So often we think God’s righteousness is revealed in His judgment of sinners and His mercy by His salvation of sinners. The Scriptures teach that God’s righteousness is the cause of both condemnation and justification. He is righteous in saving sinners, as well as merciful and compassionate. God is righteous in all His dealings with men.

The righteousness of God is particularly important in relation to salvation. In Romans 3, Paul points out God not only justifies sinners (that is, He declares them righteous), but He is also shown to be just (righteous) in the process. Men have failed to live up to the standard of righteousness laid down by the Law (Romans 3:9-20). God is just in condemning all men to death, for all men without exception have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God is just in condemning the unrighteous and also just in saving sinners. As Paul puts it, He is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

How can this be? God is just because His righteous anger has been satisfied. Justice was done on the cross of Calvary. God did not reduce the charges against men; nor change the standard of righteousness. God poured out the full measure of His righteous wrath upon His Son on the cross of Calvary. In Him, justice was meted out. All of those who trust in Him by faith are justified. Their sins forgiven because Jesus paid the full price; He suffered the full measure of God’s wrath in their place. And for those who reject the goodness and mercy of God at Calvary, they must pay the penalty for their sins because they would not accept the payment Jesus made in their place. The good news of the gospel is that salvation by grace is offered to all men, and by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, men may be forgiven of their sins and made righteous.

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.