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Married to Christ

September 10, 2020 1 comment

marriedOr do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another; to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:1-4) 

Romans 6 answered the question of the believer’s relationship to sin. The believer died to sin, and therefore should not, and may not live in sin any longer. Romans chapter 7 introduces one more question: what is the believer’s relationship to the law? 

As Paul addresses this question, the Spirit directs him to Jesus Christ and how the believer’s union with Him. Since the believer is a member of the bride of Christ, he/she is married to Christ. But before that marriage could take place the former relationship had to end—the relationship we had with the law. How did our relationship with the law end? Did we divorce the law? No, that is not how it happened. Rather, we died to the law. 

As in Romans chapter 6, the thought concerns our union with Jesus. In Romans 6 we died to sin because we were crucified with Christ; we live to God because we were raised with Jesus Christ. In Romans 7 we died to the law, which grants us the right to be married to Christ. We died to the law through the body of Christ, i.e. through His death at Calvary. So again, when He died, so did we … and this time our death was death to the law. 

That’s a good thing for us. The law was a demanding partner. It did not love us, it was not merciful, and was not gracious to us. The law could only hold us accountable for failure to obey it. Just as police officers do not reward those who obey traffic laws, the law did not (necessarily) reward us for times we may have kept it. 

So now the believer is married to Christ. In Biblical marriage, two become one. In the same way, the believer is one with Jesus. He is in us, and we are in Him. He has wholly committed Himself to us for our care and preservation (John 10:14-15, 27-28). He loves us; He is ever gracious to us. He lives His life in us. 

Whereas our relationship with the law could not produce a fruitful life, our marriage to Christ does. Jesus, as the true Vine, provides His life in us so we become fruitful branches (John 15:1-8). As we live in Him and He lives in us, we bear much fruit. We can do nothing without Him (John 15:5), but He can do anything in and through us. 

Christianity, therefore, is not legally based, but is a personal relationship with God through our oneness with Jesus. Christianity is a life, which is why it is called the Christian life. We are free to love God and others, free to live life guilt-free, free to abide in Christ, and free to obey and serve Him.

For Further Review

1.  What are the limitations and duties of the law? How does it treat us?

2.  Why was it necessary for us to die to the law? What does that allow the believer to do?

3.  Describe how a relationship and union with Christ enables us to bear fruit. How does this teaching affect the way you approach your Christianity?

 

Baptized Into Christ Jesus

September 7, 2020 Leave a comment

dead-to-sin-alive-to-godWhat shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4) 

Paul last told us that where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. The logical question then arises: since increasing sin brought even more grace, should we sin more to give grace a chance to show itself? 

The answer is definite. “Certainly not!” the Holy Spirit asserts through the apostle. It’s an absurdity for a true believer; after all, believers died to sin. Sin lost its “oomph” as far as we were concerned. Sin is not alluring as it once was, it’s not as powerful, and it’s not as enjoyable (for a number of reasons). Just as dead men are not drawn to a great steak dinner, so the dead-to-sin believer is not drawn to sin. He died to it. 

The question then, is when did we die to sin? God’s response is that when we were immersed into Christ (baptized into Him) we were immersed into His death, meaning that when Christ died, we who have believed in Him died with Him. When Jesus died, we died. Since Christ died for sin and had no sin, then His death means that we are indeed dead to sin as He was (and is). 

Not only did we die with Him, we were raised with Him as well. His resurrection is our resurrection. His life is our life. A resurrected man has a brand new kind of life, one that is not interested in the things of the world he left behind. 

For Further Review

1.  Why is the rhetorical question of Romans 6:1 the logical question to ask?

2.  Using your own words, describe the answer to that question.

3.  Read the story of Cain’s murder of Abel in Genesis chapter 4. Notice especially what the LORD told Cain about sin’s relationship to him. How does the gospel of Jesus Christ alter what God told Cain that day?

 

Reconciled!

September 5, 2020 Leave a comment

reconciledFor when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11) 

The unbeliever or pre-believer has no moral or spiritual strength to do what God commands. Yet even when we were a total mess—in that condition, Christ died for us. 

When do human beings make the choice to lay down their lives for someone else? It happens rarely when a righteous person is involved; and at times one will lay down his life for someone he considers a good guy. But God is completely different, He goes way beyond that. He sent His Son to die for us when we were in rebellion against Him. 

Here is the incredible truth about being reconciled to God: having been justified, we’re assured that we will never experience God’s wrath. If Christ’s death reconciled us to God, what does His life do for us? It completely delivers us (Greek word: sozo- to be delivered or protected). 

Our reconciliation to God produces a very deep level of rejoicing; we rejoice in God, the only One who could pull off such an amazing feat of mercy! Sinners against God and enemies of God are now at one with God through belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amazing. 

For Further Review

1.  What moral or spiritual condition were you in when the Lord Jesus came into your life? Ponder the fact that Jesus died for you, knowing you were in that state.

2.  Find as many one word descriptors as you can to describe this kind of love from God. Then ask Him to make His love real to you by His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15-16).

3.  Using whatever sources you can find (Bible Dictionary, commentary, Greek word studies), define reconciliation. What does reconciliation to God mean to you? What are its implications for your life, practically?

4.  Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. What does this passage have to say about our ministry as believers? Pray for opportunities to fulfill this ministry in someone’s life soon.

 

The Justness of God’s Judgment

God judgingBut in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. (Romans 2:5-16) 

This is a vital passage in Romans, as it answers the age-old question: by what standards will God judge the unbeliever who does not have the law of God? 

We’ve seen already that God will judge according to truth (Romans 2:4). This means that God will judge by the objective standard of absolute truth that comes from Him, that is reflected in the moral law, and later made specific in Biblical commandments. 

God’s standards are further clarified in the remainder of this section: 

  • God judges according to a person’s deeds.

 This means that God is willing to judge a person by what he/she does, not just by what they say. To put it another way: if a person insists on being evaluated by God based upon the way they have lived (many say, “I’m a good person”), then God will allow that. He will judge them on that basis. Of course, He knows exactly how each person has lived. 

  • God judges without partiality.

 He does not concern Himself with whether or not a person is a Jew, or a Gentile. He judges all human beings by the same standards. A Jew will be judged as a sinner, as will a Gentile. 

  • God judges according to one’s conscience. 

No matter how strong, or how weak, a person’s conscience is, no one lives up to the light that they have. No one lives up to the standard they believe that they (or others) should live by. Everyone fails to completely, 100% of the time, obey their own conscience.   

  • God judges according to the secrets of men. 

God, who is infinite in knowledge, who knows everything that can be known (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Isaiah 29:15; Acts 15:18). This is the proverbial icing on the cake. Imagine God … he knows every thought we’ve ever thought, every word we’ve ever spoken (Matthew 12:36), everything we’ve ever done. Therefore, when the self-righteous moralist begs for mercy and stands on his own record as proof that he deserves to be forgiven, all God has to do is recite some of the secrets He knows about him. The moralist will be shown to be a sinner, just like everyone else. 

The indictments of God are meant to be convictions of sin, leading to surrender to Jesus and belief in His finished work at Calvary. The self-righteous man cannot be saved. Salvation is reserved for those who see their need for it, humble themselves, and receive it as God’s free gift.

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For Further Review

1.  How does this section help a person understand the justness of God’s judgments?

2.  How would you stack up if God were to judge you today, right now, according to all of your secrets? Read Psalm 130:3,4 and Isaiah 43:25 after you formulate your response.

3.  Why is it merciful for God to show any human being the depth of his/her sin?

 

HE is Risen. Indeed.

April 21, 2019 2 comments

HE is Risen!

He is risen, indeed!

Today we celebrate the most important single event in all of human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Prior to the resurrection, the most important event had been His death for our sins–just three days earlier. But His death would have been meaningless, had He not risen.

When upon the cross Jesus said, “it is finished,” He was referring to His mission: which was to pay the penalty for all of our sins; and when He said that mission had been accomplished, He maintained that the debt that we all owe to God for our rebellion had been fully paid.

His resurrection sealed the deal.

He “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans‬ ‭4:25‬)

I subscribe to a word for the day from the Miriam-Webster Dictionary. Today’s word was Resurrection.

Noun | rez-uh-REK-shun

Definition:

1 a: (capitalized Resurrection) : the rising of Christ from the dead

1 b: (often capitalized Resurrection) : the rising again to life of all the human dead before the final judgment

1 c: the state of one risen from the dead

Believing and confessing 1a exempts a person from having to answer for his/her sins as in 1b, and makes 1c an absolute certainty. The believer is raised to everlasting life!

Romans 10:9,10 says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

‭‭Yes, He Is Risen.

Indeed.

Happy Resurrection Sunday, everyone!

#Christisrisen #resurrection #eternallife #hope #faithinChrist #nojudgment #forgivenessofsin #forgivenbyGod #forgiven

Categories: Uncategorized

Live 2019 in God’s Word!

December 31, 2018 Leave a comment

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God’s Word, the Bible. Nothing contributes more to one’s spiritual growth than reading God’s Word, meditating upon God’s Word, believing God’s Word, and obeying God’s Word. And reading the Bible—book by book and chapter by chapter—is the foundation of living in God’s Word.

Exodus 16 tells the story of the manna, given to the children of Israel for their daily physical sustenance. It’s also a picture of Jesus (John 6:32-33), and a picture of the word of God (John 8:31-32).

When the people saw the manna on the ground, they did not know what it was. So they asked the question “what is it?“ “What is it” is the meaning of the word ‘manna.’

They were not aware of the fact that this was the ultimate super food. It had all the proteins, all the vitamins, all the right kinds of fats, all the minerals that they would ever need. They would eat this food for 40 years in the wilderness. None of them would become obese, no one would have high cholesterol, no one would acquire food related diabetes.

The manna illustrates our need to daily feed upon the Scriptures.

As was initially true of Israel, most people are not aware of the power and strength that comes to us through the Word of God. But when a person begins to read it, believe it, and obey it … its power becomes apparent.

Do you have the daily habit of reading God‘s Word? If not, may I suggest to you that this one habit has the capacity to entirely change your life!

To help you along, I’m going to list some resources that can trigger the habit of daily Bible reading. If you dive in, you’ll see major changes in your life in the coming year. God promises it. 

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Suggested Bible Reading and Study Resources

Tips on Reading the Bible Daily

  1. Start reading the Bible today—there is no better time, and there’s no reason to wait.
  2. Set aside a specific time each day. Set your schedule and then stick to it. Mornings are great, but feel free to use any time that works consistently for you.
  3. Read the Bible for the sake of learning, especially for the purpose of knowing God and His purposes for your life.
  4. Say a short prayer to God before you begin, asking the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding, then be refreshed by the words you read!

Suggested Bible Reading Schedules

Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan (entire Bible in one year, the Gospels twice).

https://www.navigators.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Discipleship-Journal-Bible-Reading-Plan-9781617479083.pdf

Discipleship Journal Book-At-A-Time Bible Reading Plan (two readings per day)

http://www.navigators.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DJ-Book-at-a-Time-Bible-reading-plan.pdf

Navigator Discipleship Tool (read through the New Testament five days a week, five minutes a day)

https://www.navigators.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/navtool-5x5x5.pdf

21 Day Challenge (read the gospel of John in 21 days, form a new habit)

https://www.backtothebible.org/images/stories/pdf/Reading_Guide_21_Day.pdf

90 Day Challenge (readings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the book of Genesis)

https://www.backtothebible.org/images/stories/pdf/Reading_Guide_90_Day.pdf

6 Month Challenge (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the whole New Testament)

https://www.backtothebible.org/images/stories/pdf/Reading_Guide_6_Month.pdf

Chronological Bible Reading Plan (read the Bible as things occurred)

https://www.blueletterbible.org/assets/pdf/dbrp/1Yr_ChronologicalPlan.pdf

Bible Apps

Bible Gateway

https://www.biblegateway.com/app/

You Version

https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/

Bible.is (audio App for iPhone and iPad)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bible.is-dramatized-audio/id378075859?mt=8

Blueletter Bible (good study resources, for iPhone and iPad)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blue-letter-bible/id365547505?mt=8

Introduction to the Bible

30 Days to Understanding the Bible, Unlock the Scriptures in 15 Minutes a Day (by Max Anders)

Talk Through the Bible (by Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa)

Halley’s Bible Handbook (by Henry H. Halley)

Categories: Uncategorized