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.

Sunday February 20, 2022 Romans Week 42 Romans 8:29 “How All Things Work Together For God”

Sunday – February 20, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – February 20, 2022

Romans 8:29
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…”

We have all received an email from some person in a foreign country who wanted to give us $10 million. All we would have to do is send our bank account numbers and they would deposit the money. If you count on that promise as true and reorganized your life around the hope you would receive that money, many would rightly question your sanity. So how can you know that Paul’s promise in Romans 8:28, that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” is true? What if that promise is about as likely as the one from the guy promising to give you $10 million?

You can only bank your life on Romans 8:28 if you know for certain that it’s true. Paul explains why (“For”) you can know that verse 28 is true- because God works all things together for good for us because our salvation is part of His predetermined eternal purpose to glorify His Son. Verse 29 specifies what “good” in 8:28 means. The “good” that God is working toward through all our trials is that we be conformed to the image of His Son. He saved you so that Christ would be the firstborn among many brethren. God saved you so that you will make much about His Son. Our salvation is all about the supremacy of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament has prepared us for this concept. The God who is sovereign is the One who has “prearranged” history. God sometimes tells men of His plans, as He told Abraham of the blessing of mankind through his seed (Genesis 12:1-3). When the prophets foretold men of God’s predetermined plans, they often used the past tense to highlight the certainty of the event. The coming of Messiah is but one prophetic theme progressively unfolded in the Old Testament, with increasing detail, as God’s predetermined plan is unfolded.  He has not only chosen His children in eternity past, but He has predetermined a plan whereby all His children will be conformed to the image of His “first-born,” Jesus Christ.

God’s foreknowledge and His predestination are linked together. They are inter-dependent. God’s ultimate goal is not to save men but to glorify Himself. In order to do this, God purposed to save some. Those He purposed to save, He also determined to sanctify. He is glorified when those He saves are like Christ. God’s eternal decree, His all-inclusive plan established in eternity past, had to include not only the choice of those whom He would save but also the process through which He would bring them into conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. His glory is linked inseparably to our good, and we can be sure that He will accomplish His purposes—for our good to be sure, but most of all for His glory.

Sunday – January 23, 2022 Romans Week 38 Romans 8:14-17 “Assurance in the Spirit”

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 23, 2022

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

The exhortation of Romans 8 is that the Christian is living out our lives in the Spirit to be far from passive. We are not to be striving to be righteous in the strength of our flesh, but we are to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh through the Spirit. There is no peaceful co-existence with the flesh; we must choose sides. We will either walk according to the Spirit or according to the flesh. If we walk in the Spirit, we will wage war against the deeds of the flesh. This is a struggle every Christian must take seriously.

The Christian’s walk according to the Spirit is a walk of obedience, based upon our obligation to God, according to His goodness and grace to us. There are no harsh words, no dictatorial commands. Paul is not a sergeant here addressing new recruits but a brother reminding us of the goodness of our Father. God’s Spirit is a gift from the Father to every Christian. He reminds us that we are sons. He leads us and empowers us so that we may act like sons to the glory of the Father.

The challenge in our walk is usually not in what we do, but how and why we do it that makes something of the Spirit or the flesh.  We falsely assume certain activities (like prayer, worship, and Bible study) are spiritual, but others (like washing dishes, changing diapers or the oil in the car) are not. Whether we work at preaching or teaching in secular schools, the issue is whether we are doing it by means of God’s Spirit or by means of the flesh. Some of the activities which appear most spiritual are those which can be, and often are, done in the flesh. For example, James warns us prayer can be accomplished in the flesh, or in the Spirit: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Even Paul experienced that preaching the gospel can be done in the flesh or in the Spirit: “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will” (Philippians 1:15).

The great danger faced by the church today is not that of “secular humanism” but that of “religious humanism”—seeking to serve God and to please Him in the power of our own flesh, rather than “according to His Spirit.” The greater danger is that of appearing to be spiritual and religious in the power of the flesh. Take note of the strong distinction which the Scriptures make between that which is of the flesh and that which is of the Spirit. May God grant us the ability to distinguish the two and to choose to walk according to the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the flesh.

Sunday – January 2, 2022 Romans Week 35 Romans 8:1-4 “Dealing with Guilt and Sin”

Sunday – January 2, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 2, 2022

Romans 8:1-2
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

We come to a chapter that has often been called either the greatest or one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. Many have pointed out that it begins with “no condemnation”, ends with “no separation” and in between there is “no defeat”. Personally, I’ve come to Romans 8 again and again when I’ve been discouraged or depressed. If you struggle with guilt or with sin, if you’re going through trials, read Romans 8. If you’re struggling with assurance of your salvation, Romans 8 has the answer. Interestingly, while Romans 8 exhorts me forward in my faith, there is not a single command in the chapter. Philipp Spener truly said that if the Bible were a ring and Romans its precious stone, chapter 8 would be “the sparkling point of the jewel”.

There is a noticeable shift from Romans 7 to Romans 8. In chapter 7, “I” is frequent, the law is prominent, and sin is dominant. In chapter 8, the Holy Spirit is frequent (more than any other NT chapter), God’s grace and persevering love are prominent, and victory over sin is dominant. Right out of the gate, Paul deals with two very practical issues: guilt and sin. As we saw in chapter 7, believers fight an inner war. That is why Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:1-4 is fundamental to the Christian life.

The Christian need not be overcome by guilt or by fear, due to his sins. The cross of Jesus Christ is the solution from sin and its condemnation, for all who are justified by faith. The death which Christ died was for all of the sins of the one who receives His work, by faith. The righteousness which the Law requires and which we find impossible to achieve, God achieves in and through the Christian, through the prompting of and power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God has delivered us from the penalty and the power of sin.

There is no condemnation! What a wonderful truth to the ears of every believer. While our Lord’s death at Calvary delivered us from condemnation, it also delivered sin to condemnation. In Christ, God condemned sin. God condemned sin in the flesh. The flesh was the “handle” sin found to lay hold of us and to bring us under condemnation. When God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, He came in the flesh. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. And when He suffered the wrath of God and the penalty of death in the flesh, sin was condemned in the flesh. In that very realm of the flesh, in which it seemed sin could not be defeated, God overpowered sin, condemning it in the flesh. Because of Jesus Christ, we are not condemned. Because of Him, sin is condemned, and in the flesh. For the Christian, the shackles of sin are surely broken.

Sunday – December 19, 2021 Romans Week 34 Romans 8 Overview “From Agony to Ecstasy”

Sunday – December 19, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 19, 2021

Romans 8:3-4
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

There is an expression that goes something like this: only two things in this life are certain, death and taxes. Now this may be true for the unbeliever, but for the true believer in Jesus Christ we must add at least one more thing—sanctification. That is the force of Romans 8. All of the struggles, all of the turmoil, all of the agony, is a part of God’s plan to conform us to Himself.

We gain a clue to the importance of this chapter simply by contrasting the conclusion of chapter 7 with that of chapter 8. Chapter 7 ends in agony, with the apostle describing the constant struggle going on within as he attempts to live a life which is pleasing to God in the power of the flesh. Those who can identify with the agony of Paul in Romans 7 will rejoice with him in the ecstasy of Romans 8. Do you desire to serve God and to obey His commands and yet find it impossible to do so? If not, then you should go back to the beginning of Romans and start reading again. If you have come to that point of despair of which Paul speaks, then you have come to the point of dependence upon God.

Paul’s approach to the spiritual life is so different from that of many today. Paul does not seek to motivate Christians by questioning their salvation or by suggesting that, by sin, they can lose it. He does not suggest that unspiritual living is the result of failing to possess the Spirit but bases his teaching on the certainty that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit. And he does not appeal to guilt or fear but to grace and assurance. Paul assumes that his readers are genuine Christians. If they have been justified by faith, then they have the Spirit dwelling within. Christians, according to Paul, do not need to receive the Spirit, but to respond to the Spirit, in faith and obedience for assurance, guidance, empowerment, and a host of other ministries.

The Christian’s walk according to the Spirit is a walk of obedience, based upon our obligation to God, based upon His goodness and grace to us. There are no harsh words, no dictatorial commands. Paul is not a sergeant here addressing new recruits but a brother reminding us of the goodness of our Father. God’s Spirit is a gift from the Father to every Christian. He reminds us that we are sons. He leads us and empowers us so that we may act like sons to the glory of the Father.

Sunday – December 12, 2021 Romans Week 33 Romans 7:14-25 Pt 2 “This is War”

Sunday – December 12, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 12, 2021

Romans 7:24-25
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I tend to think of Paul as the man with all the answers. If anyone can understand sin and my struggle with it, it would be Paul. But in our text Paul is the one struggling, and he does not offer a quick or easy explanation. This is because sin cannot be understood. Sin is irrational. We try to rationalize our sinful actions to make it appear that we have reasons, good reasons, for our sin but there is no good reason for sin. Sin is an irrational act which has no easy, rational explanation.

We have little difficulty believing we struggle with sin or that others like Peter struggled, but Paul somehow seems above it all.  Yet Paul’s struggle is a deeply personal struggle, with sin and with his own flesh. It is a war within, the result from his conversion to Christ, that did not exist until he was saved. However, Paul’s despair was legitimate and even necessary. Until we hate sin, we will not turn from it. Until we reach the end of ourselves, we will not look to God. Just as unsaved person must come to the end of themselves in order to receive God’s gracious provision of righteousness, by faith in Christ, Christians too must come to the end of themselves to find the solution, once again, at the cross of Calvary.

If coming to the end of ourselves is essential to turning to God for our deliverance, then many Christians will never turn to God for victory over sin because they do not recognize their true condition or take it seriously enough. It was the self-righteous Pharisees who did not come to Jesus for forgiveness simply because they did not think they needed it. It is the “smooth-sailing saints” who do not come to the cross for deliverance from the power of sin in their lives because they do not agonize over their condition as Paul did.

How great is our struggle? My concern is that I lack the kind of agony that Paul has. If our struggle is as great as Paul’s, we will in desperation give up all self-help efforts and turn to the cross. God has provided a righteousness through the power of the Spirit. The answer is to come in Romans 8- the very Spirit that raised the dead body of Jesus Christ from the grave is the Spirit that dwells in you and will give life to your mortal bodies. The solution for Christians is the walk of the Spirit, but we will never get to that point until we have come to the desperation of Paul in Romans 7. My prayer is that we begin to grasp the immensity of the struggle with sin and forsake all efforts to serve God in the strength of our flesh.

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.

Sunday – October 24, 2021 Romans Week 26 Romans 6:1-4 “Are You Dead to Sin”

Sunday – October 24, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 24, 2021

Romans 6:1-2
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

As we have seen in our study of Romans 5, God gave the Law, not to defeat sin, or even to reduce it, but to cause it to increase. The Law made sin more evident, and it increased the problem faced by mankind. But it also meant that the grace by which sin was to be dealt a death blow was also to increase. Since grace always surpasses and exceeds sin, the greater sin is, the greater grace must be. While we can be confident in the principal that grace always outruns and exceeds sin, we need to be aware there is a corollary to the principle and it is this: SIN ALWAYS SEEKS TO USE THAT WHICH IS GOOD TO PROMOTE EVIL.

The question Paul raises in verse 1 is an illustration of this. Paul’s answer makes it clear this is not something he would suggest or promote, but that some do. Paul asks the question, “Are we to continue in sin, that grace might increase?” If God caused sin to increase by the giving of the Law, with the result that grace abounded all the more, why should His children not do likewise? “May it never be!” is Paul’s response, and as always, it is an expression of shock, horror, and disappointment. It is an expression of dismay that someone could take a valid truth—grace always outruns sin—and make it an excuse for doing evil. For a Christian to continue in sin, because his sins are forgiven and because grace will abound, is an abominable thought to Paul—and it should be to us.

Justification was not intended as a license to sin, but as liberation from sin. It is God’s provision not only to be declared righteous but to live righteously. Sin blinded us as unbelievers, but it also distorts our vision and perspective as believers. Paul’s words in our text serve as a strong caution, reminding us of the effects of sin which remain in us. We must beware of the danger here. 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.

The gospel of Jesus Christ does not offer forgiveness for those who would continue in sin, but salvation for those who would be delivered from their sins. When you read through the Bible, you will discover that God never proclaimed the gospel as a means by which sinners could continue to sin, but the means to have the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life. The gospel begins with a condemnation of sin and sinners, by a righteous and holy God. It offers men the solution for sin in Jesus Christ, a solution which includes both forgiveness of sin and freedom from sin.