The Book of Romans – Jesus the Only Way

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“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13 We do not gain God’s righteousness by works. We gain it by confessing and believing in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Confessing means that we agree. We agree with what God said about Jesus, and what Jesus said about Himself. It means that we recognize that Jesus is God, that He is the Messiah, and His work on the cross is the only way of salvation for mankind. We must never forget all that it means to say that Jesus Christ is Lord. “Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you want to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35) We are confessing that Jesus Christ is above everything and everyone. Jesus is not only God of our life but He is higher than the Emperor. In Paul’s day no Jew would do this unless He truly trusted Jesus and was going […]

The Book of Romans – Obedience to the Law

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“For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” Romans 10:5-7 Everything about the Jewish religion pointed to the coming Messiah, their sacrifices, priesthood, temple services, religious festivals, and covenants. Their law told them they were sinners and in need of a Savior. But instead of letting the law bring them to Jesus Christ, they worshipped the law and rejected the Savior. Paul writes about this in Galatians. “Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.” (Galatians 3:24) The law was a sign post pointing the way. But it could never take them to their destination. The law cannot give righteousness; it only leads the sinner to Jesus Christ who is the only one who can save us. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ allowing Him to be our Savior, we don’t need the law any more. The law of God is written on our hearts and in our spirit. “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ […]

The Book of Romans – The Jews were Zealous for God

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“Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.” Romans 10:1-4 This is where so many religious people, even sincere Christians, go astray. They have plenty of zeal but little understanding of God. This was a perfect description of Paul before his conversion. Saul of Tarsus was a notorious persecutor of Christians before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. It’s remarkable that Paul found something good to say about these Jewish people who persecuted him so mercilessly. Israel had a lack of understanding. But that wasn’t their only problem. They had a moral problem. They had not submitted to the righteousness of God. People cannot come to Jesus without the right information about the gospel, but information is not enough to save anyone. There must be a radical submission to the righteousness of God, putting away our own righteousness. Israel would not submit to God. They were proud of their own good works and religious self-righteousness and would not admit their own sins and trust the Savior. Paul could write about this lack of understanding about God because he at one time was one of them. “I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a […]

The Book of Romans – God’s Wonderful Grace

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“What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.  Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, “I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Romans 9:30-33 The Jews sought righteousness but did not find it, while the Gentiles, who were not searching for it, found it. Why? Israel tried to be saved by works and not by faith. They rejected grace righteousness and tried to be saved by law righteousness. The Jews felt that the Gentiles had to come up to Israel’s level to be saved. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3;22-23) Instead of permitting their religious privileges to lead them to Christ, they used their privileges as a substitute for Christ. God gave Jesus Christ to be the foundation stone and Israel rejected it and it became a stumbling stone. We need to decide what kind of righteousness we are seeking, whether we are depending on good works and character, or trusting Jesus Christ for our salvation. God does not save people on the basis of birth or behavior. He […]

The Book of Romans – Old Testament Prophesy

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“Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.” And, “Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”  And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality.”  And Isaiah said the same thing in another place: “If the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had not spared a few of our children, we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah.” Romans 9:25-29 As we study these verses in Romans 9, we can see how important the Old Testament is to our understanding of God. Paul was an Old Testament Scholar. If there was one thing that Paul knew, it was the prophesies in the Old Testament. First Paul quoted Hosea 2:23, a statement declaring that God would turn from the Jews and call the Gentiles. Then he cited Hosea 1:10 to prove that this new people would be God’s people and sons of the living God. He then quoted Isaiah 10:22-23 to show that only a remnant of Israel would be saved, while the greater part of the nation would suffer judgment. Israel will be persecuted and judged, and a small remnant left to enter the kingdom when Jesus returns to earth. What does all this prove? That God was not unjust in saving some and judging others, because He was only fulfilling Old Testament prophecies given centuries ago. He would be unjust if He did […]

The Book of Romans – God has His Purposes

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“In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction.  He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.  And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.” Romans 9:22-24 Who in the world do we think we are to second-guess God? Do we for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Paul is still telling us that God really doesn’t need us to run His business, but He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. The problem we have with this is we just don’t understand God and that He has a purpose in all that He does. We are all part of this purpose even when we are running from God. This the same principle as God’s dealing with Pharaoh. If God chooses to glorify Himself through letting people go their own way and letting them receive His wrath, who are we to oppose Him. If God wants to show mercy to the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, who can oppose Him? The Jews were inclined to think that God could not make them anything other than vessels of honor. Paul rejects this view and points out that God does what he wills. Paul does not say that God prepared them for destruction. They can do an adequate job on their own. We see our world falling apart. Not just in our nation but all over the world. It seems that God does not have control of His world. It […]

The Book of Romans – Sovereignty of God

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“Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?”  When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?” Romans 9:19-21 Paul continues to talk about the sovereignty of God. Many times, I have asked the same question, why? Why does God do the things that He does. God put forth His power and David was delivered from Goliath, the giant; the mouths of the lions were closed and Daniel escaped unhurt; the three Hebrew children were cast into the fiery furnace and came forth unharmed. But God’s power did not always deliver His people. “Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.” (Hebrews 11:36-37) Why were not these men of faith delivered like the others? Why were not the others suffered and killed like these? Why should God’s power rescue some and not others? Why was Stephen stoned to death and Peter delivered from prison? The answer to all these questions is because God is sovereign and being sovereign, He does as He pleases. In my life I have asked these questions many times. Many times, I have prayed and it seems that God is just not listening. Then my […]

The Book of Romans – Hardening of our Heart

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“So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” Romans 9:17-18 God allowed Pharaoh in the days of Moses to rise to power so that God could show the strength of His judgment against Pharaoh, and thereby glorify Himself. Sometimes God will glorify Himself through showing mercy; sometimes God will glorify Himself through a man’s hardness. We should not think that God persuaded an unwilling, kind-hearted Pharaoh to be hard towards God and Israel. In hardening the heart of Pharaoh, God simply allowed Pharaoh’s heart to pursue its natural inclination. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by sin. Just as we need to be careful that sin does not harden our hearts.  God does not make a person a sinner, nor does he tempt anyone to sin. In fact, the example of Pharaoh shows us that God goes out of his way to give time for repentance, and to show people their sin, and warning them of judgement unless they repent. The fact is that we are all sinners by birth, and deserving of everlasting damnation, but God wants everyone to be saved. He wants to show mercy to everyone. It is our choice; we can continue sinning and harden our hearts or we can turn to God and He will show us His mercy.

The Book of Romans – Is God Unfair

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“Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not!  For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”  So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.” Romans 9:14-16 Does God’s choice of one over another make God unfair? Some may think this is the case, but Paul answers this question, of course not! God has the right to give mercy to whomever He wants. He is God. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. We do not deserve mercy, but it is God’s choice to show us mercy. We are in a dangerous place when we regard God’s mercy toward us as a right. If God is obliged to show mercy to us, it is not mercy but it is an obligation. God’s mercy is not given to us because of what we wish to do, or because of what we do but simply out of His desire to show mercy. God has the right to show mercy to whomever, because of God’s sovereignty. “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.” (1 Chronicles 29:11) This is what God’s sovereignty is. God’s sovereignty is the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god head of God. God’s sovereignty is to declare that He is the most high, doing according to His will and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand. He is the almighty, the possessor of all power in heaven and in earth, […]

The Book of Romans – Our Choice

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“This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” Romans 9:10-13 Many have struggled over those words. But all the apostle is saying is that it is clear from this story that: First, ancestry does not make any difference, it does not make any difference who your father is, and, second, what they will do in their lives — including the choices they will make. Before they were able to make choices — either good or bad — God had said to their mother, “The elder shall serve the younger.” By that he implied, not only that there would be a difference in the nations that followed (the descendants of these two men) and that one would be in the place of honor and the other wouldn’t, but, also, that the personal destinies of these two men were involved as well. I think that is clear from the record of history. Jacob forevermore stands for all the things in men that God honors and wants them to have. Jacob was a scheming, rather weak character — not very lovable. Esau, on the other hand, was a rugged individualist — much more admirable when he was growing up than his brother Jacob. But through the course of their lives, Jacob was the one who was brought to faith, and Esau was not. God uses this as a symbol […]