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

Sunday – June 5, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 5, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday May 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 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 February 27, 2022 Romans Week 43 Romans 8:30 “For the Glory of God”

Sunday – February 27, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – February 27, 2022

Romans 8:29-30
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; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

Throughout history, controversy has raged over the question of whether Christians can lose their salvation. If all the texts in the Bible were clearly on one side or the other, there would be no controversy. But there are texts that seem to support each side. I have found when you come to any difficult passage in Scripture, there are guidelines to assist us with their interpretation. Interpret the more difficult text in light of clearer texts. Also, consider each text in its context and in light of the flow of thought of the passage. And, interpret individual texts in light of the overall teaching of Scripture on a subject, comparing Scripture with Scripture.

When it comes to the security of our salvation, I believe that the clear, unambiguous passages of Scripture come down strongly on the side that if God has saved us, He will keep us to all eternity. It’s easier to explain the texts that seem to say that you can lose your salvation in light of the clear texts that say you cannot, rather than the other way around. And, as Romans 8 shows us, the security of our salvation flows out of Paul’s overall doctrine of salvation.

Before the foundation of the world, God planned our salvation: He foreknew and predestined us to salvation. As a result of these sovereign decisions, at some point in our lives, He effectually called us and justified us, so that now He is working to conform us to the image of His Son. In the future, we will be glorified, fully conformed to Christ, who will be preeminent over all. It’s all designed for His glory. This is summed up by in the final result of being “glorified,” which Paul puts in the past tense to show that it’s as good as done. God has predestined it to occur in line with His purpose. In Romans 5:2, Paul stated, “We exult in hope of the glory of God.” The same focus is reflected in 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” If His sovereign purpose for the glory and supremacy of Jesus Christ is certain, then our future glory with Christ is certain.

Every good parent wants his children to feel secure in his love. Our heavenly Father wants you to know that your salvation is secure because He originated it by setting His love on you and predestining you to salvation before the foundation of the world. He effected it by calling you to salvation and justifying you when He brought you to faith in Christ. He will bring it to completion when Christ returns and you are eternally glorified with Him. Your salvation is secure because it is bound up with God’s eternal purpose of glorifying His beloved Son.

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 – August 15, 2021 Romans Week 17 Romans 4:9-15

Sunday – August 15, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 15, 2021

Romans 4:13
It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

Many Christians today are divided with regard to assurance of salvation. The Roman Catholic Church declared, “No one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God”. Among Protestants, those from the Armenian wing (Wesleyan, Holiness churches, the Nazarene Church, Pentecostal churches, etc.) argue that true believers through sin can lose their salvation and fall from grace. Although, some Armenians, inconsistent with their own view of saving grace, do hold believers are eternally secure. Those who hold the Reformed view believe that those whom Christ has genuinely saved, He will keep unto eternity.

Let me give you a brief overview of my understanding of the basis for assurance of salvation. There are three aspects to it: First and foremost, have you trusted in Jesus Christ alone and His death in your place to forgive all your sins and clothe you with His righteousness? If you answer “yes,” then there is a secondary basis for assurance: What evidence of the new birth do you see in your life? While we never will be perfectly sanctified in this life, there should be some definite signs of the new birth: a growing love for God, a desire to know Him through His Word, a desire to please Him by keeping His commandments, a growing love for others, a growing hatred of sin, etc. The “tests” of First John fit into this category, along with the character qualities of 2 Peter 1:5-11.

Third, there is the witness of the Spirit, who “testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). While this aspect of assurance is partly subjective and therefore subject to error, I understand it to be based on the objective promises of God. This inner witness of the Spirit is when He takes the promises of salvation in the Bible and testifies to your spirit, “Yes, these are true and by God’s grace I rest on them!” Or, the Holy Spirit assures you by reminding you of how He has worked the signs of new life in you.

Paul states it as a given that those who have received this reconciliation now exult in God. But do we? Have you spent any time this past week exulting in God because of all that He has freely given to you through the Lord Jesus Christ? I encourage you to make time each day to open God’s Word and pray, “Lord, show me today some of the unfathomable riches of Christ so that I may exult in You. Thank You that I have been justified by Christ’s blood! Thank You that while I was Your enemy, You reconciled me to You through the death of Your Son!” The fact that you are saved for sure—justified by Christ’s blood, saved from God’s wrath, reconciled to God although you once were His enemy—ought to cause your heart to exult in God.

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 – November 8, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 27:1-44 “Leadership in a Storm”

Sunday – November 8, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 8, 2020

Acts 27:23-25
Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

Most of us never have been in a terrible storm at sea in a small vessel. If we had, we would identify with Luke’s description of the shipwreck in Acts 27. He and Aristarchus accompanied Paul on this difficult journey to Rome. Against the human helplessness of this frightening adventure stands the sovereign hand of God, who had promised Paul he would testify in Rome. Since an angel repeats that promise to Paul here in the midst of the storm (27:24), Luke’s main purpose is to show that God’s purpose cannot be thwarted, even by such powerful forces of nature.

The story of the deliverance of Paul and his shipmates is a wonderful illustration of the salvation God offers to all who will receive it. The majority of those on-board trusted in themselves, in their captain, and in their ship to get them safely to port in Phoenix. The gentle south winds at Fair Havens proved deceptive. At first, they supposed they would be able to weather the storm, but in time they lost all hope. They could do nothing to save themselves. Yet, there was one man who promised salvation if they would do as he said – Paul. In so doing, all were saved from disaster and brought safely to shore.

Men and women today think they will somehow reach heaven on their own. Their prosperity or good health may give them confidence that they can make it, so they reject the warnings of Scripture. Then the storms of life overwhelm us, and we realize that we are hopeless and helpless. There is only one person who can save us, and His name is Jesus. He died for sinners, and God raised Him from the dead. He offers salvation to all those who will trust in Him. Those who seek to abandon Christ for another lifeboat will only perish. Those who trust in Him will be delivered safely through the storms of this life to heaven.

While Paul’s practical gifts and value to others are wonderful to appreciate, let us not end by putting the spotlight on Paul. Let us end by reminding ourselves that the Book of Acts is about God, about His faithfulness, about the fact that He sovereignly orchestrates all things so that His purposes and His promises are fulfilled. Paul was spared, along with the entire passenger manifest, not because of Paul’s greatness, but because Paul served a great God. God would not allow Jewish assassins or weak-willed Gentile rulers to keep Paul from the mission for which he had been saved and to which he had been called. In the final analysis, it is not about great men, but about a great God, the one true God, who has purposed to use mere men to proclaim the gospel and thus to bring glory to Himself.