1905.) Psalm 130

August 19, 2016

Ps130 depths
Psalm 130    (ESV)

My Soul Waits for the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

Luther calls Psalm 130 the most Pauline of Psalms, a proper master and doctor of scripture. God forgives sin and God redeems and restores, as shown in Israel’s return from exile. This psalm proclaims the hope of full restoration, experienced by us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and looks ahead to the future hope for the church and world.

Listen for echoes of Romans 8!

Psalm 130 is a psalm in four parts, best seen as a conversation. We hear the voice of personal experience in verses 1 and 2, and 5 and 6, and the voice of theological insight in verses 3 and 4, and 7 and 8. The reality of human existence, and in response the reality of God’s character, combine to give us hope.

–Howard Carter (and all following in blue)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

Ps130 Yahweh

The repetition accentuates the distress that the psalmist finds himself in. The depths are a vivid metaphor for trouble and sorrow and suffering in life, as if one is being tossed round on the waves of life. Walter Brueggemann identifies this as a psalm of disorientation, when we seem to have sunk into a pit and the world seems totally upside down.

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

Ps130 record

It’s important to note that God’s grace, shown in mercy and forgiveness, is given as a reason to fear and serve the Lord. God’s grace and kindness is always seen as the foundation for relationship. The Ten Commandments and the Sinai covenant are based on God’s grace, rescuing Israel from Egypt. God’s invitation for all who believe in Christ to be the sons and daughters of God is based on Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. God calls us to love him and so keep his commands out of love, not out of fear of some tyrant. Walter Brueggemann sums this up by saying that  “there is forgiveness and from it everything else flows. It is the first fact of the new life, of the new age.”

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

Ps130 wait for the Lord

The psalmist still finds himself journeying through the depth, sojourning in a dark landscape, but his posture has changed—from wailing to waiting, from despair to hope, from fretting to trust. Knowing the character of God, knowing God’s forgiveness and grace, means the Psalmist can wait for God to act. To wait on the LORD is to live trusting in God. The dawn will come. The psalmist says he is like the watchman, going about his task in the sure knowledge that the sun will soon rise.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

Ps130 hope

So the psalmist calls us to put our hope in the LORD—to wait and watch and see what God will do. The depths are real, the suffering is real, but the bottom is not the bottom, for we find underneath us the Everlasting Arms. It is in the depths perhaps we can find the deep truth about God’s grace. The psalmist met God in the depths, and it changed things. The psalmist encountered the true gracious nature of God and we can too. Charles Spurgeon puts it so eloquently: “The one who cries out in the depths will sing in the heights.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  are the Sons of Korah and their soulful rendition of Psalm 130.

_________________________


1904.) Romans 8:18-39

August 18, 2016

Romans 8:18-39   (NRSV)

Future Glory

18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

–Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416)

19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;

“Eve’s Apple” — painted steel by Edwina Sandys, 2005

In John Milton’s magnificent epic poem Paradise Lost, he describes the fall of nature at just the moment that Eve bit the apple:

Her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat:
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
That all was lost.

23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Rom8 prayer

Christian people are precious in God’s sight and their prayer is powerful and great, for they have been sanctified by Christ’s blood and anointed with the Spirit of God. Whatever they sincerely pray for, especially in the unexpressed yearning of their hearts, becomes a great, unbearable cry in God’s ears. God must listen, as he did to Moses (Exodus 14:15). There God said, “Why did you cry to Me?” even though Moses couldn’t whisper, so great was his anxiety and trembling in the terrible troubles that beset him. Even Moses did not know how or for what he should pray–not knowing how the deliverance would be accomplished–but his cry came from his heart.

God intends that his promise and our prayer or yearning which is grounded in that promise should not be disdained or rejected, but be highly valued and esteemed. 

–Martin Luther

28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Love in Christ Jesus

Rom8 If God

31What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Jeremiah 50:20  (NIV)

“In those days, at that time,”
    declares the Lord,
“search will be made for Israel’s guilt,
    but there will be none,
and for the sins of Judah,
    but none will be found,
    for I will forgive the remnant I spare.”

34Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands.” 

–Martin Luther

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n to earth come down;
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter ev’ry trembling heart.

–Charles Wesley

Theologian J. I Packer identified his favorite chapter in the Bible as this one, which begins with “There is no condemnation” and ends with “nothings can separate us from the love of God.” No condemnation. No separation. That is wonderful news!

_________________________

Music:

How can we begin to describe the love of God?!  HERE  is “Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)” written by Brian Doerksen & Brenton Brown.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
LOVE.    https://thepreachersword.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/romans-8-38-39.jpg
Sandys.   http://media.mutualart.com/Images/2009_04/08/0007/151933/151933_ba5cd07d-6b48-4f7a-9034-975ec3c8e504_-1.Jpeg
prayer.    https://kdmanestreet.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/e83ed6e02290bcf1050986a43f5afd17.jpg?w=750
If God is with us.     http://cdn4.designbyhumans.com/product/design/u726684/pr111286-2-1825580-640×640-b-p-d0d0c8.jpg 
chess.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/romans-8_37.jpg

1903.) Romans 8:1-17

August 17, 2016

Rom8 no condemnation
Romans 8:1-17   (NRSV)

Martin Luther described Paul’s letter to the Romans as the “most important piece in the New Testament.  It is purest Gospel.  It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul.”

So, Dr. Luther, I will take up your challenge! Let’s try to learn Romans 8 by heart!

 Life in the Spirit

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Romans 8:1 tells us we are free from the guilt of sin. 

Romans 8:2 tells us we are free from the power of sin.

3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

James 4:4  (ESV)

You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Rom8 power

12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.

Rom8 Spirit

2 Timothy 1:7  (ESV)

God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

THE GREATEST ENEMY TO FRUITFULNESS IS MYSELF

I believe God wants to give each individual a clean heart, a heart cleansed from the self-will and self-interest that always traps us in futile and sterile paths. Scripture explicitly says that the Spirit gives life, but the flesh profits nothing. What is the flesh? It is simply my way in contrast to God’s way. The self insists on keeping itself the center of my existence, yet the fruit of living with myself at the center is vanity, emptiness, and loss.

When a person has only one will and that is to do the will of God, the Holy Spirit can begin to build into that life the marks of his presence. He can transform that person’s life into a temple of God’s holy presence and can make it a fruitful and faithful life. He can order it so that it shines with his glory, and he can place inside that person the witness of himself that he wants the world to see.

The greatest enemy to fruitfulness in my life is my own way. If I let Christ purge me and cleanse me so that I am wholly his, then the Spirit can begin to shape my life so it conforms to his master design. Do you know what it means to belong to God completely? If you hold on to even a small corner of your right to yourself, you will destroy all that he wants to do in and with you. Once Christ has given us a clean heart, he can give us the faithfulness and fruitfulness for which we long.

_________________________

Music:

“I’ve got the Spirit of the Living God alive in me giving me power so I don’t have to be ‘Only Natural.'”  Sing along  HERE  with Steven Curtis Chapman.

Click  HERE  to listen!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
No condemnation.    http://dailytimewithgod.com/http://dailytimewithgod.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/2015/01/condemnation.jpg
freedom.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/freedom_nobk.gif
mindset.   http://owbg.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/mindset.jpg
Romans 8:11.   https://themasterstable.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/romans-8-11.png
led by the Spirit.    http://ledbythespiritschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/logo_lbsFS1.png
It’s all about me.    http://beforeitsnews.com/contributor/upload/104465/images/its-all-about-me.jpg

1902.) Romans 7

August 16, 2016

Romans 7   (NRSV)

Within my earthly temple there’s a crowd.
There’s one of us that’s humble; one that’s proud.
There’s one that’s broken-hearted for his sins,
And one who, unrepentant, sits and grins.
There’s one who loves his neighbor as himself,
And one who cares for naught but fame and self.
From much corroding care would I be free
If once I could determine which is Me.

–Edwin S. Martin, “Mixed”

An Analogy from Marriage

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? 2Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. 3Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

In a French cemetery there are the following concise inscriptions on one tombstone.  The epitaph is for a husband and wife:

I am anxiously expecting you.   –A.D. 1827

Here I am!   –A.D.  1867

4In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

The theme of Romans 7:1-5 is summarized. Because we died with Jesus at Calvary, we are dead to the law and delivered from its dominion over us as a principle of justification or of sanctification.  The law does not justify us; it does not make us right with God.  The law does not sanctify us; it does not take us deeper with God and make us more holy before Him.

–David Guzik

6But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

_________________________

Music:

We are free from the law, not only in terms of fulfilling it for our salvation, but also in terms of meeting its demands for how we must live as God’s children! Such freedom now! With the Spirit’s help, I now can serve God better, out of love and thanksgiving rather than fear or duty. So, I’m “Never Gonna Stop” praising You, Lord! Thanks to Tommy Walker, singing  HERE.

_________________________

The Law and Sin

7What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. 9I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived 10and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

13 Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

The Inner Conflict

14For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Do you ever feel that you are your own worst enemy? That when you resolve to do something good, you somehow sabotage  yourself (those conflicting desires!) and end up defeated? Recently I was reading Genesis 4 and came upon a phrase that captures just what seems to happen to me; in verse 7, God says to Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door.”  How well I know the feeling of being pounced by sin!

Yet the Lord, in such gracious kindness, has provided a way to deal with the problem. In Revelation 3:20 Christ assures us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” This has been a helpful visual to me — that at those moments when I am wavering, I can imagine Christ knocking and the devil crouching outside the door of my heart. The choice is clear:  let me open the door and admit the Lord, who is always my friend and never my enemy, and who will help me do what is right.

21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Rom7 psalm

 So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
.

Prayer of Confession

(based on Romans 7:15-23)

Loving God,

we confess that we have sinned.

Even though we want to do what is right,

we did not always succeed today.

Not only did we fail to do what was right,

but at times we consciously chose to think and act

in ways we knew were wrong.

We are truly sorry,

and we ask for your forgiveness.

. . .

Words of Assurance

(based on Romans 7:24-25)

Friends, hear this:

Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,

we have been set free from the power of sin!

It no longer needs to control us.

So be at peace: your sins are forgiven!

Go out and live in the light of Christ.

Thanks be to God!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Joe McKeever cartoon:  conflicting desires.   http://joemckeever.com/wp/46-cartoons-for-the-study-of-romans-updated/
angel on tombstone.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/8fc91-02_20_06_50_roma.jpg
I do not understand . . .    http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-set/BQcDAAAAAwoDanBnAAAABC5vdXQKFkVoTlJvaVZKNEJHR2pka1YxQWRNSHcAAAACaWQKAXgAAAAEc2l6ZQ.jpg
Jesus knocking.    http://www.larrystephensministries.com/Christian%20Photos/JesusAtDoorKnock.jpg
Give thanks to the Lord.   http://www.myjustkids.com/uploads/1/0/5/3/10530993/7466070_orig.jpg

1901.) Romans 6

August 15, 2016

Romans 6   (NRSV)

 Prayer before We Turn to the Word
(based on Romans 6:12-23)

God of grace,

You have brought us from slavery to freedom,

from despair to hope,

from death to life!

Holy is Your name!

We are here in Your presence with gratitude and praise

for all that You have done for us.

May the presence of Your Holy Spirit inspire our hearts and minds.

May our words and deeds,

our thoughts and prayers,

even our very lives,

bring honor and glory to You.

This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ,

whose death and resurrection have brought us everlasting life.

Amen.

Dying and Rising with Christ

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

Behold Jesus Christ, the King of glory, rising from the dead. Here the heart can find its supreme joy and lasting possessions. Here there is not the slightest trace of evil, for “Christ being risen from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer has dominion over him.” Here is that furnace of love and the fire of God in Zion, as Isaiah says, for Christ is not only born to us, but also given to us. Therefore, his resurrection and everything that he accomplished through it are mine. In Romans 8:32 the Apostle exults in exuberant joy, “Has he not also given me all things with him?”

What is it that he has wrought by his resurrection? He has destroyed sin and raised up righteousness, abolished death and restored life, conquered hell and bestowed everlasting glory on us. These blessings are so incalculable that the human mind hardly dares believe that they have been granted to me. I am unclean, but his holiness is my sanctification, in which I ride gently. I am an ignorant fool, but his wisdom carries me forward. I deserve condemnation, but I am set free by his redemption.

–Martin Luther, “Fourteen Consolations”

10The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 53:4-6   (NIV)

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

12Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Sin does not stop God’s grace from flowing, but God’s grace will stop sin.

–Joseph Prince

Slaves of Righteousness

15What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

There are only two possible masters:  Master Sin or Master Righteousness.

17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Rom6 slave

19I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

20When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

_________________________

Music:

“People Need the Lord” and isn’t that the truth — because left on our own, we are, as Paul says, slaves to sin.  HERE  Ray Boltz sings.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Joe McKeever cartoon:   sin.     http://joemckeever.com/wp/46-cartoons-for-the-study-of-romans-updated/
We were therefore buried . . .     http://img.heartlight.org/cards/g/romans6_4.jpg
dead to sin.    http://www.sermoncentral.com/OptimizedImages/S/i/SinDeadTo_slide1x_365_y_273.jpg
grace.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/graceshinybinary.jpg
slave of righteousness.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3a/40/05/3a4005dad00cada04c4a668e8131c9e6.jpg
the wages of sin.   http://www.inspire21.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/lightbox/wagesofsin.jpg

1900.) Romans 5

August 12, 2016

Romans 5   (NRSV)

Results of Justification

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

In this letter the apostle speaks as one who is extremely happy and full of joy. In the entire Scripture there is scarcely another text like this chapter, scarcely one so expressive. For he describes the grace and mercy of God in the clearest possible manner, telling us what it is like and how great it is for us.

Note how he begins, placing this spiritual peace with God only after righteousness has preceded it. For first he says, “since we have been justified through faith,” and then, “we have peace.” But the perversity of men seeks peace before righteousness, and for this reason they do not find peace. Thus the apostle creates a very fine antithesis in these words, namely,

  • The righteous man has peace with God but affliction in the world, because he lives in the Spirit.
  • The unrighteous man has peace with the world but affliction and tribulation with God, because he lives in the flesh.
  • But as the Spirit is eternal, so also will be the peace of the righteous man and the tribulation of the unrighteous.
  • And as the flesh is temporal, so will be the tribulation of the righteous and the peace of the unrighteous.

–Martin Luther, Lectures on Romans

3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

This is a golden chain of Christian growth and maturity. One virtue builds upon another as we grow in the pattern of Jesus.

Most every Christian wants to develop character and have more hope. These qualities spring out of perseverance, which comes through tribulation.  I would rather have God just sprinkle perseverance and character and hope on me as I sleep. I could wake up a much better Christian! But that isn’t God’s plan for me or for any Christian.

Therefore — soberly, reverently — we say about tribulation, “Lord, bring it on. I know you love me and carefully measure every trial and have a loving purpose to accomplish in every tribulation. Lord, I won’t seek trials and search out tribulation, but I won’t despise them or lose hope when they come. I trust Your love in everything You allow.”

–David Guzik

6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

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Music:

HERE  is The Oslo Gospel Choir and “The Power of Your Love.”

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Adam and Christ

12Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV)  

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

15But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Rom5 cross

Ephesians 1:7  (ESV) 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.

18Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Grace reigns!”

–John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Joe McKeever cartoon:  loved me.    http://joemckeever.com/wp/46-cartoons-for-the-study-of-romans-updated/
suffering – endurance – character – hope.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/05/8c/de/058cde839b4b552df5a46846d51aef1f.jpg
Adam and Eve.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/r5-adam-and-eve2.jpg
Jesus on the cross, by Juan Martinez Montanes.   http://caravaggista.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Cristo_de_la_Clemencia_c.jpg

1899.) Romans 4

August 11, 2016

“Abraham, pater multarem gentium (Abraham, father of many nations”) by Salvador Dali, 1964.

Romans 4   (NRSV)

The Example of Abraham

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. 6So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: 7“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”

Rom4 grace

Salvation comes not through works, but through grace.

9Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised? We say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” 10How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11He 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 ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, 12and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Salvation comes not through human works, like circumcision, but through God’s grace which produces faith.

God’s Promise Realized through Faith

13For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

Salvation comes not through law, because we are unable to keep the law.

16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as 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.

Rom 4 new things

Salvation comes not because a person is a physical descendant of Abraham through Isaac, but because all who believe are spiritual descendants of Abraham and share his faith in God.

18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Salvation comes not through our abilities, for like Abraham, our abilities may be weak or fail. But God is able to fulfill all that is needed. If God could call the dead womb of Sarah to life, he can call those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) to new life in Jesus.

23Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Rom4 salvation

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Music:

HERE.  The sounds of the shofar lead us as we praise the “Lord God of Abraham” with Paul Wilbur.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Dali.    http://www.wikiart.org/en/salvador-dali/abraham-pater-multarem-gentium-genesis-12-1f-1967?utm_source=returned&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=referral
For it is by grace.   https://christinesbiblestudy.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/eph-2-8-web-w.jpg
God creates new things.    http://cdn.knowing-jesus.com/wp-content/uploads/Romans-4-17-God-Who-Gives-Life-To-The-Dead-cream-copy.jpg
Salvation comes from the Lord.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/fa/c9/fa/fac9fa87caf2c2293758d8b40ba47d74.jpg

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