Sunday – August 8, 2021 Romans Week 16 Romans 4:1-8 “Forgiveness is the Greatest Blessing”

Sunday – August 8, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 8, 2021

Romans 4:2-3
If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

In the Old and New Testament, Abraham is named in 230 verses. Only 95 of those references to Abraham (or Abram) are during the life of Abraham in Genesis 11–25:10. The remaining 135 references to Abraham, primarily in the Old Testament, point back to historical events in his life. The Old Testament prophets spoke of the righteousness and salvation God would provide in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. That righteousness, like the righteousness of Abraham, was not a righteousness which men earned by their law-keeping, but a righteousness which God Himself would provide through His Messiah, the coming Savior.

Abraham is also a very prominent person in the New Testament. We see the distorted thinking of the Jews concerning Abraham especially in the Gospels. The Jews took pride in their physical descent from Abraham. Believing they had confirmed reservations in the kingdom of God, the Jews saw the Gentiles as those who would never enter into the blessings promised Abraham. Jesus must have rocked the boat of Jewish exclusivism when He marveled at and commended the faith of the Gentile centurion in Matthew 8:10-12. Because of his faith, the centurion would be at the banquet table, along with Abraham, but many of the “sons of the kingdom” would be cast into hell. Here was a revolutionary thought to the Jews, but one completely consistent with the Old Testament and with the gospel.

No wonder Paul devotes an entire chapter to Abraham’s justification by faith! Not only does Abraham’s justification prove the Jews wrong for trusting and boasting in Abraham as their physical forefather, but it proves Abraham to be the father of all those who believe in God, by faith. Abraham’s justification by faith is precisely the same as that which the gospel offers to all men, Jew or Gentile, today. It is justification based upon the person and work of God, believed by faith, accomplished by imputation. It is a free gift, available to those who are uncircumcised and who are not under the Law of Moses, like Abraham.

Justification by faith is God’s only way of saving men. It is also the same way in which men have been saved from the beginning of human history. Men were not saved by works in Old Testament times and are now saved by faith. Men have always been saved by faith, apart from works. Abraham is an excellent example of justification by faith because he lived in a day when neither the Law of Moses nor the rite of circumcision existed as a part of Israel’s religion. He was saved apart from any works, apart from circumcision, and apart from the Law. His justification, like ours, was based upon God’s faithfulness to His promise and not on human performance. It is a gift of God’s grace and not something earned.

Sunday – July 18, 2021 Romans Week 13 Romans 3:19-20 “Why Did God Give the Law”

Sunday – July 11, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 11, 2021

Roman 3:19-20
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Romans chapter 3 began with a question concerning the superiority of the Jews over the Gentiles. Now Paul brushes this question aside with the reminder that we who are condemned should not trouble comparing ourselves with other condemned people. Everyone, Jew and Gentile, are unrighteous. Comparisons between the condemned is foolish and useless. The Law was not given to the Jews to cause them to feel superior to the Gentiles. The Law was given to men to show them how far short of God’s righteousness they fall. The Law was given to men to show them their need for grace.

Paul says the Law does three things to us: First, it stops our mouth: We have nothing to say. You can always tell someone is close to becoming a Christian when they shut up and stop arguing back. Self-righteous people are always saying, “But this — yes, but I do this — and I do that.” They are always arguing. But when they see the true meaning of the Law, their mouth is shut. Paul then tells us the Law was also given to demonstrate, “The whole world is held accountable to God.” The Law makes us realize there is no easy way, no way by which death suddenly is going to dissolve all things into everlasting darkness, to be forever forgotten. The whole world has to stand before God. Hebrews tells us directly, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27 KJV).

Finally, the Law reveals very clearly what sin is. What does the Law want of us? Jesus said that all the Law is summed up in one word: Love. All the Law asks us to do is to act in love- “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself”. Everything the Law states are simply loving ways of acting. When we face ourselves before the Law, we have to confess that many, many times we fail in love. We do not love as the Law commands.

While the Law was given to the Jews to shut their mouths, the Jews used the Law as an excuse to open their mouths. They opened their mouths in teaching the Law and then in judging others by it. They opened their mouths in objection to their equal treatment with other sinners. When the Law speaks as it has here, men’s mouths should be closed.  Not one word should be spoken in objection or in self-defense. The guilty sinner should listen to the sentence which God has pronounced in silence. Too much has already been said by the self-righteous. That is what the Law wants us to see, because, only then are we are ready to listen to what follows in the Book of Romans.

Sunday – June 27, 2021 Romans Week 11 Romans 3:1-8 “Condemning Questions”

Sunday – June 27, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 27, 2021

Romans 3:1-2
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

It is not difficult to imagine the response of a Jew to Paul’s words in Romans 2. “What good does it do me to be a Jew?” Paul’s response, “Great in every respect”, indicates that there are many benefits of being a Jew, but he wants to draw their attention one particular blessing. The Old Testament Scriptures were given through the Jews and to them. They did not just possess the Scriptures; they were entrusted with them. The truth of God was not given to the Jews to keep for themselves as though they exclusively possessed it. The truth was given to be used and to be shared. The Jews were granted the privilege of receiving God’s Word, of practicing it, and of proclaiming it to the nations.

Our perception of the blessedness of this gift depends upon the value we place upon God’s Word, and ultimately upon our estimation of God Himself. What good is the revelation of a God whom we dislike, whom we have rejected? What good is the revelation of His character and of His standards for our conduct if we esteem God little, and we loathe godliness? God’s Word is a blessing to those who yearn to know more of God and who wish for His Word to search them and to reveal their sins. God’s Word is a privilege to those who would desire to know Him and to be like Him.

If the Old Testament Scriptures were such a privilege and a responsibility for the Jews of that day, how much greater is our privilege and responsibility today? We have God’s full and final revelation; they had only the Old Testament. If we would know the measure of our own appreciation for the privilege of possessing the Scriptures, let us consider how well-worn the pages of our Bibles are. Do we look at the Bible only as a set of do’s and don’ts, or do we look at the Scriptures as the source and sustenance of our lives? Do we study them to know our God better so that we may serve Him more faithfully? I fear that for many of us, the Bible is viewed no differently than the Jews looked at the Scriptures in Paul’s day.

We too have been given the Scriptures as a stewardship. We are not only to possess and to practice His Word, but we are to proclaim it to those who are in bondage to sin. The paradox is this: the more we seek to hoard the Scriptures, and the blessings they offer, the more we forfeit them. The more we seek to share the grace of God with others, the more we experience it ourselves. It is not what we keep that matters so much as what we use and what we give away. The truth of God is a personal blessing, but it brings added responsibility, for “to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).

Sunday – October 18, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 24:1-27 “The Preacher and the Politician”

Sunday – October 18, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 18, 2020

Acts 24:5-8
We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”

If this world were made up of basically good people, a man of integrity would be well loved and have no enemies. But since this world is made up of people who love darkness rather than light, and since a life of integrity exposes their evil deeds, the world will often slander the man of integrity. We are naïve if we think that if we live with integrity, we will be protected from false accusations and slanderous attempts to bring us down. Living with integrity will not shield us from slander.

In our passage, Tertullus presents his shaky case against Paul. Tertullus’ strategy was to hope that, based on the Jews’ testimony, Felix would act in his usual insensitive manner and have Paul executed. Tertullus flatly lies when he states that the Jews arrested Paul in the act of trying to desecrate the temple (24:6). The fact was, the Jews mobbed Paul with the intent to kill him, but the Roman commander intervened to save his life. But in spite of such blatant falsehood, all of the Jews joined his attack, asserting that the charges against Paul were true (24:9).

In Paul’s defense, he points out that his accusers should have been present (24:19), Paul was raising a point of Roman law, which imposed heavy penalties on accusers who abandoned their charges. Without the appearance of his accusers should have meant the withdrawal of a charge. Paul concludes by pointing out that the only supposed misdeed that any of his accusers had against him was his statement of being on trial before them because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead. Paul answered his accusers by speaking the truth.

We have no guarantee that everything will go well with us when we walk uprightly before God. Joseph acted with godly integrity when he resisted the seductive moves of Potiphar’s wife, and it landed him in prison for several years. But the Lord was with him there, and it’s better to have the Lord with you in prison than to have sinful pleasure without the Lord. It’s better to be in custody with a clear conscience, as Paul was, than to have power and money, but be alienated from God, as Felix was. However difficult your circumstances here, you will sleep well knowing that you will dwell in heaven with God throughout eternity.

Sunday – December 2, 2018 Gospel of Luke – Luke 12:1-12 “Hazards of Hypocrisy”

Sunday – December 2, 2018

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 2, 2018

Luke 12:8-9
And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”

The Greek word for hypocrisy refers to a mask worn in acting. The hypocrite’s emphasis is on how others see him, not on how God sees him, so his focus is on the outward person, not on the heart. Jesus calls it leaven or yeast because it is subtle, just as a small pinch of yeast will spread until it puffs up a large lump of dough. In Galatians 2:13, Paul charged Peter and Barnabas with hypocrisy because they openly ate with Gentile believers, but when the Judaizers came to town, they suddenly withdrew out of fear of what the Judaizers would think. If such godly, strong leaders as Peter and Barnabas were susceptible to hypocrisy, then it is a sin that we all need to be on guard against!

Hypocrisy in the lives of the disciple can have a devastating impact on the gospel we proclaim. This is why Paul reacted so strongly to the hypocrisy of Peter in dissociating from the Gentiles and eating with the Jews alone in Galatians 2. Why make such a big issue of such a little blunder? Because it was a denial of the gospel. The gospel declares all men, Jews and Gentiles alike, to be lost in their sins, with nothing to commend them before God. The gospel offers salvation to all men, Jew or Gentile, on the same basis: faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of men on the cross of Calvary. To give preferential treatment to the Jews and to avoid the Gentiles was to imply that the Jews were on a higher spiritual plane than Gentiles, a denial of the gospel which makes all believers equal (equally lost, equally saved). Paul rooted out this little bit of leaven, knowing where it could go.

To confess Christ means to proclaim to others the fact that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord and that our salvation is all from Him and not at all from us. We do this initially through baptism, where we publicly confess that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord. Then, through both our lives and our words, we openly acknowledge that we are followers of Jesus Christ and that He has saved us by His grace, apart from anything we have done. If Jesus Christ has truly saved you, then you will be a different person. You will be growing in righteousness, love, and truth. You will judge and confess your sins. When opportunities come up to tell others of the great love and mercy of the Savior, you will do it because of your gratitude to Him for saving you.

Jesus promises that if we confess Him on earth, He will confess us in heaven (12:8). Every Christian should live every day in light of someday standing before the One who gave His life for us. Our great hope should be that we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Then any suffering or rejection we have experienced will be worth it all!