The Church of Christ: Nondenominational 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

    This year marks the 500th anniversary of the origin of Protestant denominational churches. On the last day of this month, October 31, 1517, a Catholic monk and university professor named Martin Luther posted to the door of the church building in Wittenberg, Germany a list of 95 things that he felt needed to be debated within the Catholic Church that he found to be inconsistent with the New Testament Scriptures. That action created a firestorm that led to the formation of hundreds of different denominational churches today. But, Luther’s action did not start the process of creating division within the church of Jesus Christ…

    Early Christians traveled around the world, taking the Gospel with them – the message about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. They had with them copies of the New Testament so they would have the teachings of the apostles with them to guide them. The Christians believed, based on passages like Luke 12:10-12, that the writings of the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit and, therefore, had the authority of Jesus Christ.

    One of the first controversies the church had, as you might expect, dealt with the nature of Jesus Christ. To meet that controversy, and to distinguish between Christians who believed what the NT teaches and those who did not, the Christians developed the first creed. A “creed” is a statement of faith for public use; [they typically] contain[s] articles needful for salvation and the theological well-being of the church.” (Cairns, 114).

    The first creed was called the “Apostles Creed” and was used in Rome in 340 A. D. Google “Apostles Creed” and read it. Eventually, Christians decided that you had to confess that creed before you could be baptized. You and I would agree with all its points. We can point to Bible verses where the apostles taught each of those points. But, we might easily argue that such a creed, as it stands, was not required by the apostles before they baptized someone (cf. Acts 8:37). The creed did not really solve anything. It separated some Christians who did not believe that you should require the recitation of a man-written creed before you baptized someone.

    The Apostles’ Creed did not really stop the controversy. So, in 451, Christians felt compelled to add to the Apostles’ Creed in the city of Chalcedon. Google “Nicene Creed.”

    Again, we could agree with the thoughts contained in this creed, not because it is in a man-made creed, but because we can point to some book, chapter, or verse written by an inspired man that teaches that point.

    Here is the problem… In the West, there was also controversy over the nature of the Holy Spirit; is He a member of the Godhead? A church council convened in Toledo, Spain in 589 A. D. and they added to the Nicene creed that the Holy Spirit “proceedeth from the Father and the Son.” In Latin, “and the Son” is filioque. That created quite a controversy! In fact, that addition to the creed was a major contributing factor to the split between the eastern Christians (who rejected the addition) and the western Christians (who accepted the addition), which eventually developed into the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

    The verse in dispute is John 15:26. Take a moment to read that verse. I think that verse is pretty easy to understand, don’t you? Jesus is going to send the Holy Spirit, from the Father, to the apostles so they can testify about Jesus Christ. Why does that verse have to create division? But the addition to the creed, made by the Western Church in 589 A. D., is a serious area of disagreement between these two groups even to this day.

    I have spent a lot of time sharing this history with you for this reason: The creeds of men create division. The creeds of men create denominations. It is the creeds of men that split believers in Christ into various factions and divisions and create strife in the world of Christianity. My point is this: the church of Christ, in the NT, is not divided into various groups with their own creeds, manuals, etc. That’s what I want to emphasize this week… Study with me tomorrow.

–Paul Holland

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The Mystery Revealed: The Gospel in Romans “Righteousness by Faith” Romans 4:4-17

    The theme of Romans, found in 1:16, is that the Gospel is God’s power to save, the Jew as well as the Greek. But to establish that point, Paul needs to show that salvation is not based on the works of the Law of Moses and, in a real sense, never has been. Salvation has always been based on faith, even as it involved, for the Jew, obedience to the law.

    To establish that point, Paul uses Abraham as the example. Paul will use Abraham nine times in Romans and 4:1 was the first time. Abraham believed God’s message and God considered him righteous, based on that faith (Gen 15:6).

    We pick up, now, with Romans 4:4… If you work, then what you receive is your due, your wages. But if one believes (and obeys; remember 1:5) Him who justifies the ungodly, then his faith results in righteousness. Righteousness is what is due faith rather than wages.

    To illustrate what it means to be “credited” with righteousness, Paul will now quote King David from Psalm 32:1-2. That is, to be reckoned righteous (Rom 4:5) is equivalent to having lawless deeds forgiven, which is equivalent to having sins covered, which is equivalent to having sin not taken into account. That’s what being credited with righteousness means. I remind you that calling Jesus the “propitiation” for our sins (Rom 3:25) is equivalent to saying that Jesus is our “mercy seat” (from the ark, in the tabernacle) or “covering for sin.”

    Beginning in verse 9, Paul points out that Abraham was considered righteous (based on Gen 15:6) before and without circumcision (which was not given until Gen 17). If Abraham could be justified without circumcision (specifically) or the law of Moses (generally), then Gentiles also might be saved in the same way!

    In fact, rather than simply being the “father of the circumcision,” Abraham was the father of those who walk by the same faith of Abraham (Rom 4:12). Salvation is always based on faith, even as the specifics of obedience have changed from age to age.

    The promise given to Abraham that he would be the father of the faithful was not given to him based on the Law of Moses, since it had not even been given yet. Rather, it was offered to him based on a righteous faith. If salvation is based on the law, then there is no point or room for faith (4:14). In fact, salvation is then merited and one is able to boast before God! None of which is true or possible since sin reigns in man’s life (see chapter 5).

    Therefore, salvation is by faith so that, in accordance with grace, everyone (Jew and Greek) can be saved, who are “of the faith of Abraham” (4:16). Based on the fact that salvation is through faith, not the works of the law, then Abraham is a father of “many nations,” including Gentiles! Abraham’s faith was made complete, according to James 2:21, when he offered Isaac as a sacrifice, an event alluded to by Paul here in our text in 4:17.

–Paul Holland

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Today Is the Day

    Yesterday is gone and tomorrow never arrives. This is the reason we make the most of today.

We can’t change the past. What has been done is done. There is no going back. Paul understood this when he said, “forgetting what lies behind” (Phil. 3:13). Paul could not change the foolishness of yesterday, but he could accept the forgiveness of God for his sin and move on with vigor.

While the past is set in stone and cannot be changed, the future can still be written, but yet is fragile and uncertain (see James 4:13-16). We should look into the future with the greatest of humility. In truth, we don’t know that we have a future! (Not on earth anyway). The uncertainty of tomorrow should cause deep inward reflection today.

Today is the day that we have the most control over. However, even the infidel seizes the day (in his own way). He does so because he has no future. In contrast to that, the Christian seizes the day because he does have a future.

The Christian seizes the day by remembering His Lord and His Will in all his pursuits. He seizes the day by being sober-minded and waiting on the Lord (see Ps. 27:14).

Remember not to dwell too much on the past, nor on the future. “This is the day the Lord hath made…” (Ps. 118:24). “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

Daren Schroeder

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Sermon outline on Joseph

Joseph – His Temptations

    Joseph is one of the great characters of the OT. The story of Joseph is second only to Abraham in space. God never uses space in the Bible unwisely or without purpose. There must be worthwhile lessons in the life of Joseph.

    One of these lessons must be in dealing with temptation. Temptations are common to all of us (1 Cor. 10:13). Temptations are the door through which Satan leads us into sin (James 1:14-15). A Christian must be a victor over temptation. One cannot read the story of Joseph’s life without being impressed with is ability to overcome temptation.

JOSEPH FACED TEMPTATIONS AT HOME (Gen 37:12-36):

    We may think that home is a place to be free of temptation, but such is not true. This fallacy is responsible for our giving way to things that we should try to overcome. We decide it does not matter just because we are at home and shut out from the eyes of others.

    Some of Joseph’s temptations at home:

    A. From his brothers’ jealousy. This always brings temptation to do wrong because of someone else’s jealousy, a husband and wife of others and children of other children.

    B. From hate. The Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated back (John 4:9).

    C. Due to not being appreciated. It is a temptation to give up high ideals when we feel unappreciated. If what we do is not appreciated, it is a temptation to say, “Why try?”

    How he overcame this temptation:

    1.) His trust in God helped him (cf. Psa. 37:1-3).

    2.) He believed God had a place for him (Home is training ground for life’s temptations).

    3.) He realized that his attitude and action while young would be seeds that would produce the man in later life.

    4.) He believed that his enemies would help bring him to be what God wanted him to be.

    5.) He believed that he could count on God because God was counting on him.

HIS TEMPTATION IN EGYPT (Gen 39):

    He was tempted when sold into slavery. It would be humiliating to be treated as a slave. It would bring the temptation to become sour on the world, sullen and bitter.

    How he overcome this temptation:

    1.) He believed that although people change, God’s purpose does not.

    2.) He did his work as a slave, not because he was compelled to, but because he believed God had given it to him to do.

    3.) He accepted and adjusted. There was nothing he could do about the circumstances, but he could do something about himself.

    4.) He believed that the one that honors God will be honored by God.

HIS TEMPTATION IN PROSPERITY (Gen. 39:6):

    There is always a temptation in prosperity: to forget God (Deut. 6:12), to feel no need for God (Luke 12:16-21).

    How he overcame this temptation:

    1.) He was grateful to God for his prosperity.

    2.) He saw the hand of God in his promotion.

HIS TEMPTATION IN POTIPHAR’S HOUSE (Gen. 39:7-20):

    Here, he would have temptation to the flesh (Gen. 39:7), temptation to compromise (it could have meant a chance for advancement), temptation to take the easy way out, temptation because he was away from home, temptation because he was lied about and slandered. It is difficult to hold back angry words and not fight back.

    How he overcame this temptation:

    1.) He recognized the value of character. Though robbed of his coat, he would not be robbed of his character. He could get another coat but not another character.

    2.) He recognized the sinfulness of the proposal. He called it by its right name – “sin” (Gen. 39:9). He realized it would be a sin against Potiphar, his wife, and God and others.

    3.) He said NO with capital letters.

    4.) He fled from it (Gen. 39:13; cf. 2 Tim. 2:22). This is why young people should flee certain forms of dancing, “parking,” bad company, etc. (1 Cor. 15:33). 

HIS TEMPTATION IN PRISON – Gen. 39:21-23:

    Here, there would be the temptation to distrust God. This is always true when the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. It is tempting to say, “Why do right anyway? It does not pay.” How often the young, as well as old, feel this way. Some even quit the church.

    How he overcame this temptation:

    1.) He realized that the good way is not the easy way.

    2.) He looked forward, not backward.

    3.) He did not judge God by what happened in one day. There is always a tomorrow with God and He always has the last word.

    4.) His body was placed under limitations, but not his spirit. He refused to let his spirit be shackled. It is bad to be in prison, but the greatest bondage is to let our spirits become shackled because of circumstances.

HIS TEMPTATION WHEN HE WAS SOLD BY HIS BROTHERS – (Gen. 45):

    There was the temptation to get even.

    How he overcame the temptation:

    1.) He did not let the passing years fill his heart with envy and hatred.

    2.) He had practiced forgiving all through his life.

    3.) He saw the hand of God in his life (Gen 45:5-8).

    4.) He looked at the good and not the mistreatment at the hands of his brothers.

    Let us learn from Joseph the varied places and types of temptations and use his formula for overcoming.

the late Wayne Holland
a sermon preached in Bayou La Batre, AL (10/1/78)
Hayesville, NC (1/10/82)
Roxboro, NC (9/18/88)
Henderson, NC (6/14/98)

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Getting Things Off the Ground

    Since evolutionists have a predisposition to write God out of the equation of life, they are left with only natural explanations for the origin of the complexities of life. For all of those who are open minded, those natural explanations are deficient from every angle. Science itself points to a non-scientific explanation for life’s origins. But, if one is predisposed not to follow the evidence where it leads, then he is left grasping after wind.

    For example, evolutionists have difficulty even getting evolution off the ground. It reminds me of the joke about the atheist who gets into a discussion with God. The atheist is arguing that he could design a better world than God designed. God takes him up on the challenge: “Design a better world.” The atheist scoops up a handful of dirt. “No,” God interrupts, “You have to make your own dirt.”

    Life consists of proteins. Proteins are large molecules of chains of amino acids. There are only 20 amino acids. That sounds simple enough until you realize that every single cell in your body, from head to toe, inside and out (your tongue, heart, finger nails, liver), are all composed of those same 20 amino acids, linked in various ways.

    How did all of that get started? How did life get “off the ground,” if God did not say, “Let there be…”? Evolutionists have proposed the famous “primordial soup” in which they suggest these amino acids formed. The problem is that every thing they test, every thing they study, runs into a dead end.

    What type of environment would allow these amino acids to spontaneously form and join together in order to create life? It is well known and widely understood that the chemicals of life would decompose in the presence of atmospheric oxygen. Because that is the case, evolutionists have to assume that the original environment was one with no or little oxygen in it. Observation and the scientific method do not support this, only the realization that amino acids could not form otherwise.

    In fact, evidence is strong that there was oxygen in the early atmosphere. “Early” rocks (by evolutionists’ terms) have ferric oxide in them. That’s oxigenized iron. Plus, if sunlight hits water (remember, we’re talking about a primordial “soup”), what does water do? It evaporates into hydrogen and — oxygen. The evidence is strong that there was oxygen in the early atmosphere.

    But if you go the opposite direction and assume there was no oxygen in the original atmosphere, you don’t make evolution any easier. Ozone is a gas produced by oxygen and if there were no ozone in the atmosphere, the ultraviolet rays of the sun would strike the earth and destroy those same amino acids that we’re trying to get to form spontaneously!

    So, the evolutionist finds himself backed into a corner. He must find a way for amino acids to form spontaneously. But they can’t form spontaneously in an oxygenated environment nor can they form in a non-oxygenated environment! What is one to do? Go where the evidence leads… God created the heavens and the earth.

    The evolutionist can’t even get life off the ground (or out of the soup, as it were)!

–Paul Holland

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Tree of Death

Standing in the shade of the tree of life, surrounded by the beauty of God, and anxiously awaiting a night-time stroll with the Creator—there could be no more perfect paradise. Consider an existence unblemished by the marks of pain and suffering, or eyes that have never known tears. Can you? Can you fathom a life that never knew rejection, depression, anxiety, addiction, or guilt? It would be an existence that is purest joy and peace, not tempered with any negativity or affected by any hardship. Why would anyone give this up?

I often look at Genesis 3 with contempt and frustration at the shortsightedness of Eve and the ignorance of Adam. They were given paradise and chose to dwell in corruption. They were given authority and sold themselves into the slavery of sin. Not only did they destroy themselves, but also they destroyed the inherent beauty that inlaid God’s creative masterpiece. Paul claims that creation itself was subjected to the sin of man and was corrupted because of their mistakes (Romans 8:20-22). Even greater than this, the sin of Adam and Eve led to their expulsion by God from our world because of the repulsiveness of our sin (Is 59:2). The fair and merciful God of Heaven no longer reigns on Earth, but instead the “father of lies” (John 8:44) is now the “ruler of this world” (John 16:11). Adam and Eve managed not only to corrupt themselves, creation, but even power, and subjected the throne of the peaceful sanctuary of Earth to a tyrant.

I often scoff at the mistake that was made at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and ridicule Adam and Eve for their stupidity. How could they in the world they ruled, in the garden of God, amidst the shade of the tree of life, chose to throw it away? They had it all, but chose sin. But before I raise my finger in accusation on this side of eight millennia, I think it is important to look at our own life.

If you are a Christian, you stand today forgiven and redeemed by blood you did not spill. You live a life through a death you did not experience. You are bought with a price you could not pay. We look forward to a home that will bring us an eternity of joy, peace, love, and happiness. There is nothing on this Earth that can be done to us to make us lose our salvation, and no plan of the evil one that can force us to lose our souls (Romans 8:37-39). The only way we can lose our souls is if we willingly give it away. We have it all: hope, confidence, eternal life, and Jesus Christ…. Yet often we give it all up for something as foolish as a piece of fruit.

Many of us have the hope of heaven, and yet desire the satisfaction of sin more. For a fleeting moment of sexual pleasure, escape, wrath, greed, arrogance, or release, many of us have (and do) put our home in heaven on the line. Let us learn from the mistake of Eve! We as a human race introduced the plague of sin at the tree in the garden, but have been offered a chance of redemption through the tree of Cavalry. The choice now lies with us: do we follow in the footsteps of our first forefather and give away all we have been given, or will we choose a new path? It is time we turn away from the tree of death and turn to the tree that gives us life—the cross.

Bishop Darby

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Donation versus sacrifice – Judg. 11:30-40

  1. Judge. 11:30-40.
  2. READ
  • Jephthah was one of Israel’s “Judges.”
  • In the first part of Judg. 11 we learn Jephthah was not treated very well – he = something of an outcast.
  • Elders from Gilead said Jephthah would be the leader of Gilead if he helped deal w/ the Ammonites.
  • Jephthah tried to work things out in a peaceful manner but the Ammonite king didn’t want to listen.
  • Jephthah gets back home and his daughter is the first through the door.
  • This man’s promise to God – if it was literally fulfilled – meant his daughter was sacrificed.

 

DID JEPHTHAH’S DAUGHTER ACTUALLY LOSE HER LIFE, OR WAS THE VOW SOMEHOW FULFILLED BY AN ALTERNATIVE ACTION SUCH AS HER NEVER BEING ABLE TO MARRY?

 

  • I bring this OT event to our attention to draw a distinction –
  • There is a difference between the words DONATION and SACRIFICE.

 

  • In life we might “donate” to any number of causes.
  • Our donations might be time, talent, money, possessions, or something else.
  • Some donations might be sacrifices, but many are not.
  • Donations are not necessarily wrong; in fact, they can often be quite helpful.
  • At this congregation we have a food pantry – a good bit of food has been donated over the years.
  • If we have brought food, I doubt any have “sacrificed” for their donation.

 

LET’S BE VERY AWARE OF THE WORD “SACRIFICE,” AND HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW IT RELATES TO THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

 

  • For our Scripture reading we heard about a widow – a poor widow.
  • Mark recorded how Jesus “sat down” and “watched people.”
  • Mark 12:41 says there were “rich” people who came in and cast in “much.”
  • In this account we find a clear distinction between “donations” and “sacrifice.”
  • The rich were making “donations.”
  • Along with the wealthy was a widow who came along and also gave.
  • Verse 44 – which was not read earlier – says this woman “cast in all her living.”
  • As Jesus watched these events unfold He made this point (Mk. 12:43) —
  • The “poor woman” cast in “more” than all the other people.
  • Donations may be great (substantial), but even a small sacrifice is greater.
  • Jesus surely knew He did not come to make a “donation” to mankind.
  • The life Jesus lived and the death He died were sacrifices – He gave it all.
  • In Lk. 11 we again see the difference between sacrifice and donations.
    1. The Lord spoke about a man who went to see a “friend” about midnight.
    2. The man knocking on his friend’s door said he needed some assistance – he needed some food.
  • What if this had been breakfast time? Do we think the man who had the food would have shared?
  • When called on to sacrifice, the man in Lk. 11 struggled.
  • The Lord said the man w/the bread finally gave in – Lk. 11:8 says he finally got up & helped.
  • Being willing to sacrifice is our challenge —
  • In Rom. 12:1, Paul said Christians are to be “living sacrifices.”
  • Paul was not against donations, but he said the Christian life involves more.

    Donación versus sacrificio – Judg. 11: 30-40

    a) Judg. 11: 30-40.
    pan de molde
    2) Jefté era uno de los “Jueces” de Israel.
    3) En la primera parte de Judg. 11 aprendemos que Jefté no fue tratado muy bien, él = algo así como un paria.
    4) Los ancianos de Galaad dijeron que Jefté sería el líder de Galaad si ayudaba a lidiar con los amonitas.
    5) Jefté intentó resolver las cosas de manera pacífica, pero el rey amonita no quiso escuchar.
    6) Jefté vuelve a casa y su hija es la primera que atraviesa la puerta.
    7) La promesa de este hombre a Dios, si literalmente se cumplió, significó que su hija fue sacrificada.

    ¿LA HIJA DE JEPHTHAH REALMENTE PERDIO SU VIDA, O FUE EL VOTO REALMENTE CUMPLIDO POR UNA ACCIÓN ALTERNATIVA TAL QUE NUNCA PUEDE CASARSE?

    1) Traigo este evento OT a nuestra atención para hacer una distinción:
    2) Hay una diferencia entre las palabras DONACIÓN y SACRIFICIO.

    3) En la vida, podríamos “donar” a cualquier cantidad de causas.
    4) Nuestras donaciones pueden ser tiempo, talento, dinero, posesiones u otra cosa.
    5) Algunas donaciones pueden ser sacrificios, pero muchas no lo son.
    6) Las donaciones no son necesariamente incorrectas; De hecho, a menudo pueden ser muy útiles.
    7) En esta congregación tenemos una despensa de alimentos: una buena cantidad de comida ha sido donada a lo largo de los años.
    8) Si hemos traído comida, dudo que alguien se haya “sacrificado” por su donación.

    TENEMOS MUCHA CONSCIENCIA DE LA PALABRA “SACRIFICIO”, Y TENEMOS UN MEJOR ENTENDIMIENTO DE CÓMO SE RELACIONA CON LA VIDA CRISTIANA.

    1) Para nuestra lectura de las Escrituras, escuchamos sobre una viuda, una pobre viuda.
    2) Marcos registró cómo Jesús “se sentó” y “miró a las personas”.
    3) Marcos 12:41 dice que hubo personas “ricas” que entraron y echaron “mucho”.
    4) En esta cuenta encontramos una clara distinción entre “donaciones” y “sacrificio”.
    5) Los ricos estaban haciendo “donaciones”.
    6) Junto con los ricos había una viuda que llegó y también dio.
    7) El versículo 44, que no se leyó anteriormente, dice que esta mujer “echó en toda su vida”.
    8) Cuando Jesús vio cómo se desarrollaban estos eventos, Él hizo este punto (Mc. 12:43) –
    9) La “mujer pobre” arroja “más” que todas las demás personas.
    10) Las donaciones pueden ser grandes (sustanciales), pero incluso un pequeño sacrificio es mayor.
    11) Jesús seguramente sabía que Él no vino para hacer una “donación” a la humanidad.
    12) La vida que vivió Jesús y la muerte que él murió fueron sacrificios: lo dio todo.
    13) en Lk. 11 nuevamente vemos la diferencia entre el sacrificio y las donaciones.
    a) El Señor habló sobre un hombre que fue a ver a un “amigo” a eso de la medianoche.
    b) El hombre que llamaba a la puerta de su amigo dijo que necesitaba ayuda, necesitaba algo de comida.
    14) ¿Y si esto hubiera sido el desayuno? ¿Creemos que el hombre que tenía la comida habría compartido?
    15) Cuando se le llama a sacrificar, el hombre en Lc. 11 lucharon
    16) El Señor dijo que el hombre con el pan finalmente cedió – Lc. 11: 8 dice que finalmente se levantó y ayudó.
    17) Estar dispuesto a sacrificar es nuestro desafío:
    18) en Rom. 12: 1, Pablo dijo que los cristianos deben ser “sacrificios vivientes”.
    19) Pablo no estaba en contra de las donaciones, pero dijo que la vida cristiana implica más.

 

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The Mystery Revealed: The Gospel in Romans: “The Righteousness of God” Romans 3:21-4:3

Just after writing in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel is God’s power unto salvation to all who believe, Paul says that in it, the Gospel, the “righteousness of God is revealed.” The “righteousness of God” plays a major role in the text before us; the phrase is found four times in 3:21-26. The question before Paul is: How can God be holy (righteous) and forgive man’s sinfulness at the same time?

The righteousness of God is manifested (apart from the Law of Moses) through having faith in Jesus Christ. Consistent with 16:25-27, Paul says this righteousness was witnessed by the Law and the prophets – he’ll quote the OT 60 times in Romans! This righteousness, again, is available to “all who believe.” God makes no distinctions between Jews and Gentiles: “all have sinned and [continue to] fall short of His glory” (3:23).

All those who believe in Jesus Christ are justified as a gift, by His grace, through redemption that is available in Jesus Christ (vs 24). God set Jesus up as our “propitiation,” the word translated “mercy seat” in the Old Testament tabernacle. It was the place of forgiveness on the Day of Atonement. This “propitiation” or “atonement” is available “in His blood” and “through faith.”

This whole process demonstrated the righteousness of God because He “passed over” the sins committed in the OT times, under the law of Moses, knowing that Jesus would come and be the final sacrifice for sin (vs 25). Since Jesus is that sacrifice, then God can be both just (righteous) and justify (make righteous) those who come to God through Him. Jesus accepts our punishment, our alienation from God, for us.

Since the thoughts in that paragraph are true (3:21-26), then boasting is excluded. The “law of faith” excludes boasting. Why? Because we are not the ones who paid the penalty for sin – that’s why! We can only be justified through our faithful response to Jesus Christ. Since that is true, then Gentiles can be saved without the Law of Moses. Jews could be saved “by faith” while Gentiles can be saved “through faith.” There is probably not importance in the change of prepositions but the point is the importance of faith!

But if salvation comes through faith, this does not nullify the Law of Moses. On the contrary, faith validates the Law. When a Jew accepted Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, then the law was established as being true and accurate.

To illustrate the concept of “salvation through faith,” Paul brings up Abraham. He’ll mention Abraham nine times in Romans; this is the first. Abraham is the “father” of the Jews. But Abraham was not justified by works of the law; indeed, he lived before the law was given on Mt Sinai. So, it would be appropriate to say that Abraham was a “gentile” (although those distinctions did not, necessarily, exist before the Law was given).

How was Abraham reckoned as righteous? By faith in the message of God (4:3; quoting the famous passage from Genesis 15:6). That was not a hollow, shallow faith though. If you look at the early recorded life of Abraham, going back to Genesis 12, you see that Abraham lived a faithful, obedient life before 15:6. But Paul’s point is that Abraham was “reckoned as righteous” before and without the Law of Moses and, specifically, without circumcision. We’ll consider that point next Friday…

Your fellow-servant in Christ,

Paul Holland

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What the Bible Says about Itself: It is Necessary

    Do you know what is going through God’s mind right now? Did you know what God was thinking ten years ago? 1,000 years ago? How about ten years in the future? 1,000 years in the future? What does God expect out of you, in order for you to be with Him in heaven? How do you even know heaven exists? And its counterpart: hell. How do you know hell exists?

    “Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:11-13).

    Just as surely as you do not know the thoughts I have right now, none of us know the thoughts of God. We cannot know the thoughts of God unless God reveals them to us. He reveals them through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. Paul tells us that the Spirit was given “so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.” What does the Bible say about itself? It teaches us that it is necessary.

    “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). The one who comes to God must have faith in God. He must have faith in Jesus Christ: “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:21-23).

    Every sinner in the world must come to know about Jesus Christ and must come to have faith in Him. But there is only one source of that saving knowledge that leads to saving faith: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “the gospel …is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

    That’s why it is so necessary to get the Bible into the hands of men and women. The Holy Spirit cannot influence their minds nor penetrate their hearts until His message in present in their lives.

    As DeYoung writes: “Counselors can counsel meaningfully because Scripture is sufficient. Bible study leaders can lead confidently because Scripture is clear. Preachers can preach with boldness because their biblical text is authoritative. And evangelists can evangelize with urgency because the Scripture is necessary” (Taking God at His Word, 92).

–Paul Holland

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Behind Enemy Lines Psalm 109

    In the last two weeks, our country has seen the brutal murder of innocent people on two occasions, in two states – TN and NV. As a country, we are trying to put the pieces together. Who were these men? Why did they do this? It is so very hard for many of us to answer that last question: “Why?” There does not seem to be any reason at all. The folks in TN were finishing their worship to God. The people out in Las Vegas were at a country music concert. Why?

    As Christians, especially, we find it very hard to understand why someone would want to kill an innocent person in cold blood. Many people will think that one or both of these men have mental issues. That might be the case. But it is also true that these events remind us that there are people in the world who are just plain wicked. They are evil and they can kill in cold blood just because they can.

    But there is a third question that we, as Christians, ask ourselves: “How should we respond to such evil and wickedness? Is it appropriate to feel feelings of hatred or wrath against such wicked men?” That is also a legitimate question. To provide at least part of the answer to that question, we turn to Psalm 109.

    Psalm 109 is a fairly long psalm, as psalms go: 31 verses. You will see that Psalm 109 speaks some very harsh words against David’s enemies. This psalm, along with a handful of others (17; 31; 35; 59; 70) are called “imprecatory psalms.” The word “imprecatory” comes from the Latin imprecari which means to “pray to, to invoke” and it carries the idea of speaking a curse. Before we make a moral judgment on David’s thoughts and words, let’s study the psalm…

THE CALL FOR GOD TO SPEAK – verse 1:

REPAID EVIL FOR GOOD – verses 2-5:

    What do you and I want to do if we do good and get repaid with evil? Or we get falsely accused, what is our reaction? Don’t we want to say, “Fine! See if I ever do good to you again!” That’s our normal response.

    David’s response is to go to God in prayer (vs 4). David’s prayer does not sound like a prayer that we would pray today as Christians, but let’s read it, study it, and meditate on it…

JUSTICE! – verses 6-20:

    As we read this text, we see that David’s anger is “red hot!” He is hurt; his emotions are raw and he speaks things that we, as Christians, feel in our hearts sometimes but are afraid to verbalize. David shows us that we might simply need to verbalize them to Jehovah God (like the song says, “take it to the Lord in prayer.)”

THE IMPACT OF THE WICKED ON DAVID – 109:21-25:

THE PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE – 109:26-31:

    In contrast to the enemy who curses, David wants blessing from God. In contrast to the shame that awaits those who do evil, there is gladness for those who follow God. The enemy clothed himself in cursing; David says they will be clothed in dishonor (vs 29) and shame.

    Vindication is coming. 

    So, how do we, as Christians, make use of Psalm 109? In the Christian age where we are supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who despitefully use us, how can we apply the sentiments of Psalm 109?

    1. This psalm illustrates that God will judge the wicked (Rom. 12:19). While we pray for the wicked’s repentance and God demands the wicked repent, if they do not, the thoughts portrayed in this psalm are only the tip of the iceberg of what awaits them on the day of judgment.

    2. From the example of Christ, we learn that we can have patience with those who do wrong to us (Luke 6:28). So, we pray for both things: justice and forgiveness, which seem to be contradictory but we know…

    3. Ultimately, the righteous will be vindicated and the wicked will be destroyed eternally. For the faithful Christian “behind enemy lines,” sometimes the only thing we can do is pray!

    4. So, may we pray for God’s justice? We are told not to rejoice when our enemy falls (Prov. 24:17) but may we not pray for justice over our enemy? At the same time praying that he may repent of his sins? How can we walk that fine line? We pray, whatever the “Lord wills”  (James 4:15).

    When you hurt from the words and behavior of the wicked, lay your hurt before the throne of God in prayer. He knows what to do.

–Paul Holland

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