Category Archives: Romans

Romans 4

rom-4.jpgGreetings!

Abraham Justified by Faith

4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

That is a key Christian concept: We are saved by faith, because God credits it to us as righteousness.  We can’t be good enough on our own because of our sinful natures.  But God, in his mercy, forgives us when we put our trust in him.

But that leaves us nothing to boast about, which actually is a good thing.  Jesus did all the work.  We don’t have to worry if we have “enough” faith – we just have to put our faith in what He did, not what we do.

4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

Yes, we are blessed, and should remember that every day!  Consider the thousands and thousands of sins that God has removed from us if we trust in Jesus.  All the things we did that we shouldn’t have done, the things we should have done but didn’t do, and all the evil thoughts.

9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

We were spiritually dead before God saved us.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

I love v. 20-21, especially where it says Abraham was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  God promises so many things to us (watch for the promises as you read the Bible).  And we can be 100% confident that He’ll deliver on them all.

What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?

Romans 3

rom-3.jpgGreetings!

Paul continues laying out his case for why we all are sinners in need of a Savior.

God’s Faithfulness

3 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.

The New Testament is sometimes considered anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish).  Sadly, Jews have been persecute over the centuries.  But this persecution has no grounding in the Bible.

3 What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”

5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved.

People will make up all sorts of excuses to sin and reasons why they think God won’t judge us for what we’ve done.  But God is just, and will judge us with complete fairness.

No One Is Righteous

9 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16 ruin and misery mark their ways,

17 and the way of peace they do not know.”

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

19 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. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

We don’t have the power to completely obey the law because of our sinful nature.  But the law helps us know where we’ve gone wrong.

Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Again, God is perfectly just.  He sacrificed Jesus – God the Son – to take our punishments.  But we need to accept Jesus’ sacrifice by faith.

V. 23 is a classic verse used to explain man’s problem.  We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of a holy and perfect God.  We should all spend more time in the Old Testament to get a better glimpse of just how holy He is.  Too often we think we’re pretty good and that God should be pleased with our efforts.  But the closer I get to God the farther I realize I was away from him.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29 Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?

Romans 2

Greetings!

Paul emphasizes a point that Jesus made as well, namely that we shouldn’t be hypocritical.  We are instructed to make judgments but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do so in humility or without acknowledging our own sinfulness.  Paul had hammered several serious sins in chapter 1, such as homosexuality, but his list also included greed, boasting, gossip and even disobeying one’s parents.

God’s Righteous Judgment

2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

God loves it when we repent.  He leads us to repentance out of his kindness.  As v. 6 notes, God is perfectly fair – we will be judged based on what we have done.  But sometimes we confuse his patience with his approval.  These are radically different things.

Paul emphasizes many times in Romans that God sent his message through the Jews.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

V. 15 states what people intuitively know: God’s law is written on our hearts.  People will be judged by God based on what they do know.

The Jews and the Law

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Christians cringe when famous Christians are caught in big-time sins.  Yet we do the same things in less visible ways each day.  Thank God for his mercy and grace!

25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

Circumcision was a sign of God’s special covenant with the Israelites.  It was a symbol of the internal circumcision of our hearts that is supposed to take place when we have faith in God.

28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Paul is relentless in showing how we are all sinners, even if we know the rules very well.

What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?

Romans 1

rom-1.jpgGreetings!

I encourage you to read this chapter very closely.  I refer to often as it has such relevance to our culture and to contemporary issues.

Paul packs a lot into his opening.

  • He was specifically called to be an apostle (one who saw Jesus and carried his message).
  • He is Jesus’ servant.
  • He is sharing the Gospel foretold in the Old Testament.
  • Jesus has two natures: Human and divine.
  • Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
  • Jesus came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
  • More!

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

Do we display the kind of faith that is worthy of being reported around the world, or even around the block?  Are we serving God with our whole hearts and spreading his Good News?

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

No matter how strong our faith is, encouragement is vital.  There are many times when I’m weighed down and someone will come along with an encouraging word to pick me up.  When I see other people living out their faith it inspires me.  You are not alone!

14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

V. 16 is powerful.  In light of eternity, why should we be ashamed of the Gospel?  The world hates the Gospel, because it convicts them of sin.  The Gospel is for everyone.  There is no other path besides Jesus.

This next section, which I put in bold, speaks volumes about why everyone should know there is a God.  Note how it says that, “God has made it plain to them . . . God’s invisible qualities . . . have been clearly seen . . . so that men are without excuse.”   People who think they’ll claim ignorance when facing God at their death are horribly mistaken.

God has revealed himself to us in his creation.  He takes it very seriously when people mock that and completely ignore him.  Deep down even atheists know there is a God, but they “suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

Theologian R.C Sproul said, “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.”

God’s Wrath Against Mankind

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Note how it repeats God “gave them over . . .” three times.  Consider how fully our society has turned sexual morality upside down.  It calls evil good and good evil.  Homosexual behavior is not only accepted but glorified.

This is one of the clearest passages denouncing homosexual behavior as sinful.  Some will try to read something into the text that simply isn’t there and claim that this was only about temple prostitutes, but there are many reasons that is wrong, starting with the fact the text doesn’t mention temples, prostitutes, or temple prostitutes.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Some pro-gay theologians try to spin verses 26-27 to mean that it is only a sin to act outside your “normal” preferences – that is, if you are naturally gay then the sin would be to have heterosexual sex.  If that sounds ridiculous to you, it should.  The original Greek means natural function, which of course would mean male/female relationships are the norm and homosexual relationships are sinful.  See Responding to Pro-Gay Theology for more information.

Romans 1 shows how the world is upside down and how people suppress the truth in unrighteousness and reject God, even though He is seen through his creation.  Then Paul offers exhibit A as an example of people rejecting God’s created order: Homosexual behavior.

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Before people grandstand on the sin of homosexual behavior, they should note the other things Paul listed as being seriously wicked: Envy, greed, deceit, arrogance, heartlessness, disobedience to parents, etc.  Trust me, if you re-read the list you’ll find yourself in there somewhere!

People know better, yet they shake their fists at God anyway.  I thank God that He took me from rebellion against him to faith in him.  It is only by his grace that I am a believer.  I pray that many people will read his Word, be convicted and turn to him for forgiveness and salvation.

What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?

Romans overview

earth.jpgGreetings!

Today we begin a study of Romans, perhaps my favorite book of the Bible (it is a toss-up with Philippians and the Gospel of John).  I’ve been going through Romans multiple, overlapping times, in a couple ways — reading a chapter, reading the study notes and listening to a chapter or two on my commute.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Romans roughly 25 years after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven.  His authorship is virtually undisputed.  Even liberal scholars agree that he wrote it.

This wasn’t a typical letter, though he did greet many people at the end of it.  This was a very carefully crafted summary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The church had already spread to Rome and the broad persecution of Christians had not begun.  But this letter is for all Christians, not just those in Rome.

Paul begins with the “big picture” and lays out how we know there is a God because He reveals himself in his creation and in our conscience, we are all sinners in need of a savior, Jesus is the solution to the problem of our separation with God, and much more.  Paul also addressed some tensions between Jewish and Gentile believers.

He makes it clear that we are saved by grace, though faith in Jesus.  There is a series of verses sometimes referred to as “The Roman Road” that are useful in presenting the basic Gospel:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Once he lays out the plan of salvation Paul helps us understand what a life lived in submission to Christ looks like.  As he often did, he starts with doctrine then moves to application.

Side note: Have you ever noticed how rarely theological Liberals preach from Romans?

This has been a life-changing book for countless people.  I hope you join in the study and share your comments and questions.