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 – 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 – November 28, 2021 Romans Week 31 Romans 7:7-13 “How Lovely the Law”

Sunday – November 28, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 28, 2021

Romans 7:7
What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

It comes as no surprise that sinners have no love for law, especially the Law of God. All men are born sinners, dead in their trespasses and sins. Yet unbelievers’ disdain for the Law of God is not surprising. What is distressing is the number of Christians who disdain the Law of God. The Law of God is seen by some Christians as something evil, something of which we would do well to be rid. Such thinking at best sees of the Law of God as obsolete, superseded by grace.

Many sins, on the other hand, are looked upon as something good and desirable. This is surely true of the unbeliever. But here again even Christians may be tempted to view sin as something good and desirable, just as Eve saw that deadly tree as desirable, not only to look at but to eat from so that she might be like God, knowing good and evil. God’s Law consistently receives bad reviews from the world, while sin is heralded with great reviews. The Law is looked upon with disdain, or with mere toleration, while sin is thought to be desirable and appealing. If we must give it up, for God’s sake, we will, but only reluctantly.

Our culture would have us believe that sin is beautiful and that the Law (or God’s rule) is ugly. While the Law has its limitations and weaknesses, it is not evil, nor is it synonymous with sin. There is a close relationship between the Law, sin, and death, but the Law and sin are very different. The Law is “holy, righteous, and good,” while sin is, frankly, sinister. This fact should not come as any great revelation to the Christian. Yet it is true that many Christians seem to have forgotten or ignored it. And those of us who may agree with Paul’s conclusion in principle are often tempted to deny it in practice.

The Law of God is necessary precisely because of our inability to recognize it in and of ourselves. The Law calls those attitudes and actions sin which we would not have understood to be sin. I believe a good part of Eve’s deception was that she did not really believe eating from the forbidden tree was sin. After all, the tree was desirable, how could eating its fruit be sin? It looked so good. This is precisely the reason God had to give Adam and Eve the commandment not to eat of this tree. If we would not recognize sin as such, and it can only be revealed by divine revelation, then we must, by faith, believe God’s revelation. To reject God’s Law because it does not make sense to us is to fail to remember why the Law was given in the first place: because we will not recognize sin apart from the Law.

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 14, 2021 Romans Week 29 Romans 6:19-24 “Is There Win Over Sin”

Sunday – November 14, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 14, 2021

Romans 6:22-23
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For those who have been saved, who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ, the subject of good works is still very important. If God does not save men on the basis of their works, does this mean that the deeds of the Christian do not matter? The relationship between faith and works is an important one, and it is an issue which is presently causing Christians to disagree and debate among themselves. It is commonly known as the question of “lordship salvation.”

The fundamental issue is the relationship between faith and good works. On the one side are those who wish to stress that justification is by faith alone, “apart from works,” just as Paul teaches (Romans 4:1-6). On the other side are those who insist that salvation is “unto good works,” just as Paul teaches (Ephesians 2:10). The fact is, both “sides” are correct, but each stress one side of the issue more than the other.

Having established once for all that man’s works do not contribute to his “justification by faith,” Paul now sets out to show the necessity of sanctification. God does not justify men only to get them to heaven or to keep them from hell, God justifies us to make us righteous, not only in principle, but in practice. Those who would advocate “living in sin” would do so under the banner of “liberty.” Paul refutes this error by raising the banner of “slavery.” Freedom is a misnomer because in reality, everyone is a slave and must choose one of two masters. Unsaved men are the slaves of sin. They have no choice, though they think of themselves as free. In Christ, believers have the freedom to choose our master: God or sin. But we still have a master.

One’s choice to become a slave can be either conscious or unconscious. To continue to present oneself to sin is to remain a slave to sin. Very few people choose to become drug addicts. They begin by dabbling with them. They think they are in control, but soon the drug controls (enslaves) them, and they are no longer free. It is the same with sin. To dabble with sin is to become enslaved to it. And to be enslaved by sin is to put oneself on the road to death. Sanctification is not the “higher path” of the few, the committed, the dedicated; it is that path which is expected of every believer. Sanctification is the expected outcome of justification. We dare not excuse ourselves from pursuing this path. If we do, we will be very much like those who say, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”

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 31, 2021 Romans Week 27 Romans 6:4-11 “Are You Alive to God”

Sunday – October 31, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 31, 2021

Romans 6:4
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

As Paul concluded his instruction on justification in Romans 5, he spoke of the identification of all mankind with Adam, with his sin, and with the penalty of death which God pronounced as the penalty for his sin. He also spoke of Jesus, the “last Adam”, and the salvation which He accomplished for all whose identity is found in Him, by faith. Paul now plays out the implications of the Christian’s union with Christ, which is initiated by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, publicly professed in water baptism, and which is to be lived out in a radically different lifestyle.

Fundamental to understanding Paul’s teaching in verses 3-11 is knowing what he means by baptism in these verses. By and large, the New Testament writers speak of baptism in two ways. First, there is the physical rite of water baptism. John the Baptist required men and women to be baptized as an outward evidence of their repentance. Jesus’ disciples likewise baptized men, those who repented of their sins, in preparation for the coming kingdom of God (John 3:22). Those who came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah were baptized as a testimony to their repentance and faith in Jesus.

Baptism, according to Paul here, brings about identification or union with Jesus Christ, in His death, burial, and resurrection. To be baptized into Christ is to be baptized into His death. The “old man”—the person we once were in Adam—died in Christ. Our body, in bondage to sin, was rendered ineffective by our death in Christ. Our Lord’s death at Calvary was not only a death for sin, but a death to sin. His death for our sins accomplished propitiation and the forgiveness of our sins. His death to sin achieved a separation from sin. Sin has no power over one who has died. We died to sin in Christ, and thus sin has no claim on us.

The death of Christ ended an era in our lives. It closed that ugly chapter of our lives marked by sin and destined us for death. It was but one event, ending the death-grip of sin on our lives. But the resurrection of Christ commenced a whole new and eternal life. The death of Christ was one event in history, a death to sin “once for all.” The life of our Lord is for all time, an endless succession of living toward God. This is why living in sin is entirely inconsistent with the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. Just as we must receive the atoning work of our Lord as His act accomplished for us, personally, so we must also accept His death to sin, resurrection, and life toward God personally. We must regard ourselves as dead to sin and alive toward God. To continue to live in sin is inconceivable, in the light of our death to sin and resurrection to life, in Christ.