Sunday July 31, 2022 Romans Week 61 Romans 12:1-2 “The Route to Renewal”

Sunday – July 31, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 31, 2022

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 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.

The more I meditate on the words of Paul in Romans 12, the more I see that he has outlined God’s way of reversing the process of mental and moral decay outlined in Romans 1. God revealed something of His character and attributes in the creation of the world. People should be able to look at creation and see not only that it was created by a Creator, but that this Creator has a divine nature and eternal power. This revelation of God’s nature and power requires man’s response in worship and adoration. But instead of falling down before God in worship, men either rejected this revelation or exchanged it for that “knowledge” which suited their own sinful inclinations and desires. Humanity put God down and elevated themselves to His place of glory, honor and praise.

How could the adverse effects of sin be reversed? Only through the grace of God, manifested in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The process by which that renewal takes place is outlined in Romans 12:1 and 2. God has now revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3). He has revealed not only our sin but His righteousness. He has offered to all who will believe forgiveness of sins and eternal life by the pouring out of His mercies. These mercies are the subject of chapters 1-11 of Romans. On the basis of this great revelation of the kindness and severity of God, Paul has called upon believers in the Lord Jesus to respond in a way appropriate to the revelation we have received- in worship.

We are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. We are to honor and serve Him, living holy and obedient lives. Those who respond in worship as Paul has urged will enter into the life-long process of renewal and restoration. The grip of this age will loosen and the process of transformation will begin by the renewing of our minds. The result of such a sacrifice is that both our bodies and our minds will begin to be conformed to Christ and His image, to the praise of His glory.

The point of this passage is to urge each Christian to offer himself to God as a thank offering, based upon the mercy and the grace of God which has been poured out on those who believe. Have you trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation? Have you experienced the mercies of God? If so, then have you offered your life to Him, as a sacrifice, for His glory and praise? Just as men are called upon to make a decision concerning salvation, Paul calls on believers to make the decision to worship God by offering our lives to Him who has loved us and given Himself for us. I urge you to do this today, because of His manifold mercies.

Sunday July 24, 2022 Romans Week 60 Romans 11:25-34 “The Arrogance Antidote”

Sunday – July 24, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 24, 2022

Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments,and His paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

If history has shown the Word of God to be absolutely trustworthy, both the Scriptures and history have shown God’s wisdom to be infinitely above that of mortal men. All that has happened to Israel and through Israel to the Gentiles is precisely what God purposed and promised. All of this was, is, and will be a mystery to fallen men, because the wisdom of God is vastly higher and infinitely superior to the wisdom of men. Who could ever have thought of a plan so wise as what Scripture has foretold and which history has unfolded?

The life of faith is trusting God in the midst of the mystery. Because God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours, we will find that we are unable to reason out what He is doing at any particular moment in time. We shall only understand fully when we are with Him, in heaven.  Did the Israelites know how they would survive trapped between the sea and Pharaoh’s army? But when all was done, the sea was the instrument of Israel’s deliverance and Egypt’s destruction. Did Abraham understand what God was doing when He commanded him to leave his homeland and go to an unspecified place? Did he know what God was doing when He commanded him to sacrifice his son? All Abraham knew was that God was faithful and that He promised him a land, a host of descendants, and blessings for the whole world.

Romans 9-11 are a beautiful illustration of Romans 8:28. God does cause all things to work together for the good of the elect and the glory of God. Jewish unbelief has prompted Gentile evangelism; and this Gentile evangelism will provoke the Jews to jealousy. Those things which ‘appear’ to be tragic and catastrophic are but a part of a much larger picture, which contribute to the accomplishment of God’s holy and perfect will, a will which for the Christian is always good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). Whenever we find ourselves in circumstances that appear to be counter-productive to our spiritual advancement, we must assume that our situation is like that of Israel described in Romans 9-11. That God is at work in a way which we could never have devised to promote God’s glory and our good.

I suspect that God’s work in your life is a mystery at this very moment. You may have lost your job or your mate. You may be facing circumstances which seem to promise only defeat or disaster. But if you are a child of God, you know that He is in control of all things. He is working out your good and His glory by means of the very circumstances that puzzle you. You do not need to know the secrets which God has chosen to conceal. You only need to know what God has promised and to trust and obey. This is what the life of faith is all about. God is in control and He has promised to bring about wonderful things for His people.

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 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 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 6, 2022 Romans Week 44 Romans 8:31-32 “Enduring Opposition”

Sunday – March 6, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 6, 2022

Romans 8:31-33
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all — how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

Confidence can be a very good thing. It can also be a mill stone around one’s neck. Being confident simply is not enough. The crucial issue is in whom, or in what, is our confidence. Ill-founded confidence is deadly. Well-founded confidence is proper and good. Some Christians have no confidence at all, believing that with one slip, one sin, they are out of the faith. Agonizing their way through life, they hope no sin has gone unnoticed and unconfessed; if so, they fear they will not get to heaven. These Christians desperately need the confidence of which Paul speaks in Romans 8.

It is not doubt, nor fear, nor guilt which should motivate our service, but a confidence in God mixed with deep and abiding gratitude. Because we are secure in Christ, we may serve. We need not focus on ourselves but on Him. Since He is the “author and finisher of our faith,” we must “fix our eyes on Him” (Hebrews 12:1-2). With God on His side, the Messiah was both willing and able to face a world that would reject and persecute Him. This confidence, which sustained our Lord, is that same confidence which is also able to sustain every saint.

We dare not be confident in ourselves. This would be folly. We dare not doubt that we shall be more than conquerors as this would be to deny His Word and to distrust God. We, like Paul, should be absolutely convinced concerning these things, based upon the Word of God. God, who has done the most for you by giving His own Son, will help you endure every trial that you go through for Christ’s sake. Because of His great love for you, He will bring you safely to glory. Our security is rooted in God, in His sovereignty, and in His unfailing love.

Today self-confidence is looked upon as a virtue and lack of self-assurance as a vice. Even in Christian circles we are being told how we can raise our children so that they feel good about themselves, are self-assured, and confident. The Bible calls for humility, not pride; for dependence on God, not self-sufficiency. Let us beware of seeking that which God’s Word condemns. Let us look to God, to God alone. He is our refuge and strength. In Him, and Him alone, is our confidence.