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 – August 1, 2021 Romans Week 15 Romans 3:27-31 “The Problem of Pride”

Sunday – August 1, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 1, 2021

Roman 3:27-29
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

If I were to ask all of you to write down the sin that causes you the most trouble, I would probably get many responses listing anger, lust, lying, and greed. I might get a few entries for jealousy, hatred, gossip, and laziness. Maybe I’d get one or two for gluttony. But I wonder how many would list pride as the most difficult sin that they battle every day? It ought to be at the top of our lists, because it is the root of virtually every other sin.

If you get angry, it’s because you want your way and you didn’t get your way. The root of such anger is pride! If you lust, it’s because you imagine that you are so sexy that this woman would want to give herself to satisfy your desires, because you want to use her, not love her. Pride is at the root of such lust. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis refers to pride as “The Great Sin”. After mentioning that pride led to the devil’s downfall, he says, “Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” He contends that pride is a sin that we are very much aware of and dislike when we see it in others, but most of us are blind to it in ourselves.

I bring up pride because Paul does (3:27): “Where then is boasting?” But that leads to some questions: Why does he bring up boasting here? Why does he ask this string of other questions? Why didn’t he just end the discussion of justification by faith after 3:26? So, why does Paul hammer on this theme? I suggest that it was because Paul knew, both from personal experience and from the Scriptures, how deeply embedded in our fallen hearts is the pride that wants to take some of the credit for being our own savior. Even if we acknowledge that God is the primary agent in our salvation, we’re still prone to claim that we had something to do with it, so that we can boast.

We, like the Israelites forget, the blessings of God upon us are not due to our own righteousness or even God’s vast and immeasurable love for us, but due to God’s grace. The righteousness God requires is also that which He alone provides, by imputation. He does it in this way so there can be no boasting. There is no basis for pride. There should only be humble gratitude and thanksgiving to God for His unspeakable gift. I challenge you to think through the Scriptures, Old Testament and New, and to recall all of the times when God instructed His people to remember their roots, in order that they might be humbled and serve God in truth. How easy it is for us to forget that we are what we are by the grace of God, apart from anything we have done, or will do. To God be the glory!

Sunday – July 25, 2021 Romans Week 14 Romans 3:21-26 “The Fathers Perspective”

Sunday – July 25, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 25, 2021

Romans 3:25-26
This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

I read a book by a man who served in the army during World War II. While he and a handful of men were stationed on a remote Pacific Island, they suddenly were surrounded by thousands of Japanese troops. The small American garrison only managed to sabotage some of their equipment before the Japanese troops overpowered them. Eventually he was taken to a remote location in Japan as a P.O.W. Determined to keep their minds active and alert, he and other P.O.W.’s organized classes and discussion groups. One class, taught by the captain of the Queen of England’s royal yacht, held many interesting stories of the royal family. Another class, American History, was taught by a British professor, from a British point of view.

Each of us views life from a certain perspective. That perspective is shaped in part by our experiences, our decisions, and our character. Certainly, a British subject would view American history from a different perspective than an American. North Vietnamese and American historians would see the history of the Viet Nam war quite differently; yet a different perspective would be held by a Swiss historian as his country was not involved in the conflict. Our perspective has everything to do with the way we understand history.

We see God’s provision of righteousness from a human point of view. As fallen men, we distort even what we see in God’s provision of His righteousness by looking at it merely from a human perspective. Romans 1:18–3:20 is thought of in terms of our need for righteousness, and Romans 3:21-26 is seen as God’s provision of righteousness to meet our need. Although true, this is not Paul’s primary emphasis. Here he examines the doctrine of salvation from God’s point of view. Man’s salvation through God’s provision of righteousness becomes here a secondary theme. The primary theme is the demonstration of God’s righteousness, through His provision of righteousness for sinners. God is in the spotlight, not men.

The death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary is the most important event in all of human history. The cross of Calvary is understood in many different ways, even by Christians. All of us tend to view the work of Calvary differently than Paul presents it here. We think mainly of Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Godhead. Yet in our text, Paul speaks primarily of the first Person of the Godhead, God the Father. We think mainly of God’s provision of that righteousness which we lack. Yet Paul speaks primarily of the righteousness of God which is demonstrated in the redemption of fallen sinners. While we see the cross from a human point of view, Paul’s words here enable us to view the cross from God’s point of view. The way we live as Christians is greatly influenced by this significant difference in perspective. A life-changing truth is taught in this marvelous text if we consider it carefully, and diligently seek to understand our salvation from God’s point of view.

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 – July 4, 2021 Independence Day Philippians 1:27-30 “Christian Citizenship”

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 4, 2021

Philippians 1:27-28
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

Paul was aware when he wrote to the Philippian church of just how important the desire to re-create a home in a foreign place was. Philippi was a colony of Rome—a part of the Roman commonwealth. This meant more than its being a subject city: Philippi was distinct from other cities in Macedonia in that it was made to be a model Roman city. In a colony one would find Roman customs, Roman architecture, Roman dress, and the prevailing language was Latin. It was, in a word, a fragment of Rome. If you were to walk into the city, you would have the feeling of entering an Italian suburb of Rome, even though it was nearly a thousand miles distant.

When Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, he knew they would understand him when he said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20) There is an important difference between Paul’s calling Christians to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom and the human tendency to make a home on foreign soil by imitating the customs of the homeland. While there is a continual reminder of the alienation that accompanies having a home in a foreign land, we have the hope of going to our true homeland.

We as Christians must never forget that this world is not home. There must be a sense of alienation taken into the heart of all our experiences because the gospel has given us more than new lift-  it has granted us new citizenship. Unfortunately, adaptation is second nature to the human race. We adapt ourselves to the environment and culture in which we find ourselves until we act and think like those around us. In doing so we exchange the distinction of being a heavenly citizen for a lesser title of a citizen of an earthly nation. We lay aside the standard of the gospel in order to have room to carry the standard of the nation.

The gospel is the new and higher standard of conduct for who bear the name of Christ. The gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ; it is the declaration of how God has made it possible for people to obtain the forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life. The actions of the believer are attempts to prove to this world the real existence of another world; another citizenship. In all matters relating to the gospel, we must obey God and not men. This will cause friction with the nation in which we live. The friction caused by our spiritual loyalty to our true nation is the way we testify of another eternal world and to another glorious King.

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 – June 20, 2021 Father’s Day John 8:31-50 “Like Father Like Son”

Sunday – June 20, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 20, 2021

John 8:39-41
Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.”

Our Lord has not yet said just who is the “true father” of these Jewish opponents. His adversaries seem well on their way to figuring that out for themselves. Almost as though they are trying to speak before Jesus can identify their “father,” they blurt out, “We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself” (verse 41). They seem to be saying: “So, you think that God is your Father, but not ours. You think you can accuse us of having another “father” than Abraham. Well, since the subject of fathers has come up, let us remind you that none of us is a bastard—but you are! It is we who are the sons of God, and not you!”

Our Lord is not taken aback by their cruel accusation. Jesus bases His next words on a principle we articulate by the expression: “Like father, like son.” You know who one’s father is by his conduct as a son. A son acts like his father, and so you know that the son will imitate his father. The “father” of these hecklers in the crowd can be discerned by simply observing their conduct. Abraham believed God; the crowd does not believe in the Son of God, who was sent down from heaven and who speaks for God the Father. If God were their father, they would welcome His Son and love Him, as they think they love the Father.

Jesus concludes: “You people are from your father the devil” (verse 44). This must come as a slap in the face. These people think they have the inside track with God, that they are “sons of God” as much as men can be. Now Jesus tells them they are really sons of the devil. How can one conclude otherwise? They reject Him whose word is the truth. They are devoted to lies, just like their real father, the devil. When they seek to kill Jesus, are they not murderers, like their father, the devil?

Jesus has much to say about “fatherhood.” The Jews of that day made too much of their ancestry. They not only rightly believed that being a Jew is a privilege, they falsely assumed that being Jewish (the offspring of Abraham) was their ticket into the kingdom of God. Jesus makes it clear that Abraham must be our father in a different sense. Jesus is telling us that one’s “father” is known, not by one’s parents, or even by one’s profession, but by means of one’s practice. Our father is the one who behaves as we do. The Jews who oppose Jesus are liars and murderers, just like their “true father,” the devil. Who your “true father” is will be evident by your walk.

Sunday – June 6, 2021 Romans Week 9 Rom 2:6-16 “How Good is Good Enough”

Sunday – June 6, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 6, 2021

Romans 2:12-13
For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

If you have shared the gospel with people, you’ve heard the question, “Is God fair to judge those who have never heard about Jesus Christ?” Will a person really go to hell because they did not believe in Jesus when they never heard of Him? Another variation of the question is, “Won’t those who have done the best that they could do get into heaven?”

God will judge everyone with perfect justice. Paul establishes this point in verse 11, “For there is no partiality with God.” Paul anticipates our objection because he knows we are predisposed to think more highly of our own sense of morality. We think God will treat us more favorably than others who live just as they please. We are good people who obey the golden rule and they don’t!” Or, perhaps a more agnostic person would object, “It’s not fair for God to judge me for disobeying a standard that I knew nothing about! I’ve done the best that I could with what I knew. God won’t judge me, will He?”

Paul shows that God will impartially judge everyone for sinning against the light that they were given. His line of reasoning goes like this: The Gentile sinned without the Law, so he will perish without the Law. The Jew sinned under the Law and so he will be judged by the Law. In other words, as verse 6 stated, God “will render to each person according to his deeds.” Hearing the Law isn’t good enough; you must be a doer of the Law. Although the Gentiles did not have God’s Law, they all have an inner sense of right and wrong- a conscience. And, although occasionally they may do what is right, they all have sinned against what they know to be right. Their consciences and thoughts convict them of their guilt. But whatever they may think of themselves, the day is coming when God will judge not only outward deeds, but also the secrets of men through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the gospel.

At first glance, this doesn’t sound like good news! But, if there is no judgment for all sin, then there is no need for a Savior and thus no good news. If we do not acknowledge the coming judgment and wrath of God, we do not understand the gospel at all. The gospel does not offer good people the option of going on in our sin or shrugging it off as if it will not come under judgment if we do not repent. We need to understand the bad news of judgment in order to appreciate the good news of salvation through faith in Christ.

Sunday – May 23, 2021 Romans Week 8 Rom 2:1-5 “Self Righteousness is Unrighteousness”

Sunday – May 23, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 23, 2021

Romans 2:3-4
But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Waiting for his first orthodontist appointment, a 12-year-old boy was a bit nervous. He was completing a patient questionnaire and had high hopes of winning the dentist’s favor. In the space marked “Hobbies” he wrote, “Swimming and flossing”. We all want to make a good impression, to portray ourselves to others as better than we really are. But when we do that, we’re forgetting something important, namely, that God knows the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13). Someday we will stand before Him to give an account of our lives.

Paul begins to zero in on the moral Gentile or Jew in these opening verses, using the same indirect approach that the prophet Amos (Amos 1 & 2), where he begins by condemning the foreign nations around Israel. Just when the Jews are cheering him on, he moves in to hit them with their sins. Self-righteous people tend to justify themselves by blaming others. Self-righteousness is a very difficult sin to get people to see and condemn in themselves. But it’s a serious sin because it keeps people from seeing their need for the gospel. It believes the lie that we can be good enough in ourselves to qualify for heaven. “Maybe really gross sinners need a Savior. But me? Hey, God wouldn’t judge a good guy like me, would He?” Or, would He?

Paul isn’t condemning the act of judging others per se, in that he expects the moral person to agree with him that the sins of Romans 1 are wrong. The problem with judging others is when you secretly engage in the same behavior that you openly condemn. When a politician postures as standing for family values, but it comes out that he snuck off to visit his mistress in South America, he has condemned himself. Paul is not saying that it is wrong to judge others. Rather, he is saying that it is wrong self-righteously to judge others, while at the same time you’re practicing the sins that you’re judging.

The self-righteous are in error concerning divine judgment. They fail to distinguish between God’s present wrath and His coming (future) wrath. One purpose of God’s present wrath is repentance, leading to salvation. The primary purpose of His future wrath is justice. There is no turning back from this judgment. When we look upon those God has “given over to sin” as eternally doomed, we are just as incorrect as looking upon those who are presently experiencing God’s “kindness” as assured of eternal blessing. For now, both God’s kindness and His severity are directed toward man’s salvation, not his destruction.