Hope of glory…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Faith is the vehicle that allows us to find peace with God.  This faith drives our belief that Christ died for us, accepting that personally, reunites us with the Creator and we are once again in a place we were created for.  Does that mean we do not have suffering?  Belief in Christ gives us the gift of life through Him, frees us from the penalty of death from sin but is no guarantee of freedom from suffering.  Suffering here is a useful tool to bring us to hope.  Note the chain: suffering to endurance to character to hope.  It is a process molding who we will become in Him.  As Christ suffered so will we.  We draw comfort from the knowledge that Christ has been there and is with us through it.  As we allow God to be God, we grow and become the perfected creation He desired.  God’s love is poured into us through the Holy Spirit and we need have no shame in the suffering which brings us to hope.  Faith gives that hope substance.  God’s glory will be ours through faith,  God’s righteousness will be ours through faith.  We decrease as He increases.

Faith receives…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 4:13-25

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.

For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,

fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,

but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,

who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Two things come to mind from this reading.  One, the sacrifice was eaten; those who brought a sacrifice for their sins believed they would receive forgiveness. They took part in the giving of the sacrifice from their own substance and also, in the eating of the sacrifice.  Jesus said unless you eat my body and drink my blood;  he was our sacrifice, given to us and for us not by us.  Given for the forgiveness of sin and we are to participate by receiving and remembering – one way through holy communion receiving the blood and body of Christ.  Two, none of this is possible without faith.  Abraham believed God.  He received because he believed.  He set the example for us. He believed though he could not see the reality of it.  That faith was credited to him and what couldn’t be in reality became reality.  With the same faith we receive the promise of redemption when we receive the Christ.

It is God’s righteousness…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 4

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;

blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.

How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,

and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

We receive the righteousness of God through our faith, our believing God for what he says.  It is not some thing to be earned, it is not a result of any symbolism, or sign.  This gift, being found right in God’s eyes, comes only through the faith in us that says he is who he says he is and he does what he says he does.  This faith confirms that he sent Jesus, Jesus is the Christ and he paid our debt.  This faith accepts the gift Christ gives of new birth, spiritual birth bringing a new creature and so we are new, remade in and through the love of God.

Faith does…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 3:21-31

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

it was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,

 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

How then are we set free from the judgment for sin?  Faith that Jesus Christ’s shed blood has paid for all sins.  Do we now do as we want, with no restrictions?  Not so, out of love for God and our neighbor we will keep the code of conduct set by love because we want to, because love demands it.  No longer acting out of fear of judgment but in response to the love of God.

Sin exists.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 3:9-20

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;

no one understands; no one seeks for God.

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

in their paths are ruin and misery,

 and the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Paul establishes the existence of sin verified through the words of God found in the old testament. He also establishes that all are under sin whether they are operating under the law as a Jew or not as a Gentile.  Paul further establishes the use of the law to become aware of sin in our lives.  What a depressing state!  We will find it doesn’t end there.  Believers have accessed the grace of God and found forgiveness for that sin.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

God’s truth remains…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 3:1-8

 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?

Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?

By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)

By no means! For then how could God judge the world?

But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?

And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

It would be in error to do away with any of God’s Words – God’s Truth.  Also, we err if we judge God’s truth by the lack of faith shown by those who claim to carry God’s truth.  God’s Word and God’s Truth remain.  Mankind is fallible, not so God.  We look to the Lord for truth and not to man–humanity.  We find ourselves disappointed whenever we put trust in humanity, even the humanity who carries God’s message.  Let us be careful to always place our trust in God alone.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Cutting away the old flesh…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 2:17-29

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God

and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law;

and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—

you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?

You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.

For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.

So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.

But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Circumcision was given as a sign to Israel of the covenant with God that included God’s favor.  A covenant is an agreement between two parties leading to favorable results for each.  The agreement promises an end result.  In this case, God finds pleasure in the obedience of his people and his people enjoy his favor.  The physical sign was a symbol of that special covenant between God and his people.  It carried with it obligations to be met.  What was repeatedly told to God’s people is the first requirement; to love God and our neighbor.  All else is driven by those two bits of criteria to be met by God’s people.  When we begin our relationship with God we experience that love and return it.  There is a circumcision of the heart.  Circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh.  We experience a cutting away of the flesh-driven impulses and the new birth of a spiritual nature.  The old is cut away and the new becomes manifest.  We are made clean and become new creatures.  Obligations are now want-to’s and a joy; they have ceased to be a have-to.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

All know right from wrong…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 2:5-16

  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works:

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,

but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

For God shows no partiality.

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 righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

So by this we know all will face judgment and it doesn’t matter whether or not they had the law; for it is placed within mankind to know right from wrong and willful wrongdoing will be punished.  The law wasn’t required to establish that.  But for the believer judgment is not a fearful thing…

“… glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek…”

The believer does good out of love for the Lord and in obedience to the voice of his Holy Spirit.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Who made you the judge?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 2

 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

TIJudgment1[1]

The first statement here points out a truth often noted in reading the comments of many online.  It is apparent that those complaining of a judging spirit seen among many Christians demonstrate the same spirit of judging and intolerance.  This is not to say that the judging seen among many Christians is alright, whenever we allow ourselves to be trapped in the confines of a judging spirit, we will find intolerance and an inability to love.  We can use judgment to determine what we will do or not do, be or not be; but we cannot use judgment to pass sentence on another.  God alone judges in that fashion.  God knows and exercises such judgment.  God alone.

What denying God produces

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Romans 1:26-32

 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;

and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,

slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Does this sound like today?  Do we hear the same in our news, read it online, see it practiced in front of us and our children?

“…women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; …”

“…men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, …”

Because of this…Paul starts with this and lays all that he describes at the root of denying God, serving the creature – self – rather than God and exchanging truth for a lie.  And so we know and see the condition of man without God.  The list goes on:  covetousness, malice, envy.  And we hear voices wanting to take from those who have and give to those who don’t without consideration for who put out the effort to achieve.  Does that qualify as envy and covetousness?  There’s more:  slanderers, deceit gossips, heartless, ruthless.  Sounds like a political campaign!!  What about:  faithless, insolent, haughty, boastful, descriptors that easily fit many of our ‘idols’, celebrities.  Is this what we want for our society, our nation, our children?  How much better to be sure to stay in touch with God.  We will be faithful not faithless, humble not haughty or boastful.  We can because we know the Lord, we do not deny His lordship.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.