Archive for the ‘Book of Romans’ Category

Not Ashamed of the Gospel

August 18, 2010

Title: Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Text: Romans 1:16-17

Time: August 14th, 2010

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith,” Romans 1:16-17. The Apostle Paul is writing to the Christians in the capital city of the great Roman Empire. We don’t know how many Christians were in Rome at the time but it might have been a few thousand or it could have been lower, like a few hundred. It’s too bad that the Christians didn’t take more care to count attendance and membership because then we’d know. Although it’s kind of refreshing to see the early church as not obsessed with numbers like churches seem to be today. But whether there were many Christian living in Rome or few, Paul takes the time and effort to write to them in order to instruct them in the basics of the Christian life. There’s a lot we don’t know about these Christians, for example, we don’t know who actually brought the gospel to Rome, although the Catholics have a tradition that says the Apostle Peter did – that can’t be verified for sure. Somebody brought the gospel to the Roman capital because there’s already a Christian church community there for Paul to write to. But what Paul wants to do is clarify the Christian message and make sure that the Roman Christians are building on a solid foundation.  It’s easy to get the gospel in bits and pieces. In fact, that’s probably how most people hear it today too, in bits and pieces. We hear some of the gospel on the radio, some of the Bible from a television ministry, a little bit of Christianity we learn from Christian books or literature of some kind. We learn a little Bible teaching from family and friends, in conversation. Then, we learn some of the gospel from attending church, whether just visiting a church or regularly attending. Now it’s great that we learn bits and pieces of the gospel. It’s great that the Christians in Rome knew the gospel from somewhere, but what Paul was concerned about was whether they knew it enough for it to serve as a foundation for their lives. That’s the same concern we should all have today. Do people who call themselves Christians really know the gospel enough to make it the foundation for their lives? Do I know the gospel well enough for it to stand on by faith? Do you know it enough for it to be the foundation of your life? So Paul writes the Book of Romans with the goal of laying the foundation for the Christians in the Roman church, just in case they might have missed the essential ingredients of salvation. He starts out by saying he’s not ashamed of the gospel. That’s a strange statement isn’t it? Why would Paul even have to bring the topic of shame up? We’ll look at that question. Then Paul also talks about the gospel as God’s method of salvation for all who believe. What does that mean? He then states that the gospel imparts God’s righteousness to us. How does that take place? Finally, Paul talks about the importance of faith in the gospel formula, but just what is salvation faith? We’ll touch on this too. It’s a joy to be here today with you as your guest this morning. And it’s an added blessing to preach the gospel to you who are here today. Some of you know the gospel from one end to the other, while others of you may know parts of it, and maybe, some of you don’t know much of the gospel at all. But that’s ok, because I’d like to spend the next few minutes explaining it from the Book of Romans. (more…)

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Did the Reformers Invent “Salvation By Faith?”

July 6, 2010

Title: Did the Reformers Invent “Salvation By Faith?”

Text: Romans 3:28, 20-22, 1 Peter 1:3-9

Time: June 23rd, 2010

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theologians have often accused the Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin of essentially inventing the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Why? Because for most of the history of the Christian church the teaching about salvation by faith alone was neglected or almost entirely absent. How could this be? How could the church forget or omit such a basic and fundamental teaching as salvation by faith? I explained last time that if one doesn’t pay close and careful attention to the Bible it’s relatively easy to get off track theologically and spiritually. Unfortunately, for much of Christian history the official church perpetuated what was handed down from generation to generation instead of closely reviewing and reviving biblical teachings. Sure, the Bible was used in regular worship and studied by church leaders, but only selectively not comprehensively. More emphasis was placed on learning church tradition than on learning biblical teachings. The basic assumption guiding Christian theology for centuries was that church theology was biblical – and didn’t need proven or tested as such. Unfortunately, this assumption proved false. Over time it was possible for theological and spiritual error to creep into church tradition without anybody noticing it. Since church tradition was assumed correct simply because it was church tradition – passed down from generation to generation – nobody seriously or carefully checked it against close biblical teachings. Why didn’t anybody check or catch the theological errors creeping into church tradition? Because another assumption was in operation during this time – God, through the Holy Spirit, would keep the church free of all spiritual, theological and moral error. Didn’t Christ himself say, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?” Isn’t that a promise of church infallibility? Evidently not, because what the Protestant Reformers painfully pointed out, although the Catholic and Orthodox churches continue to deny it, is that the visible, human Christian church is capable of error. As a part of the fallen, sinful world, the visible, human organization called the Christian church can and does make mistakes, as any fallible, human organization. It is not exempt from error the way older Catholic and Orthodox theologians used to argue. The promise of Christ is not that the church would be infallible or incapable of error, but that ultimately Christ’s church would prevail over all adversity, over all evil, to accomplish its divine mission. Looking back in retrospect, we can now see that indeed for a long time the church did error in not properly teaching salvation by faith, in giving the false impression that salvation could be obtained by performing good works, that salvation was the result of both faith and works. The truth is the Bible teaches and has always taught salvation by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone. This is not an invention of the Reformation but is plainly taught in the New Testament. But let me explain further why salvation by faith alone is not an invented doctrine but it is instead the only true biblical teaching, indeed, the only true Christian teaching concerning salvation. (more…)

Clearing Up Misconceptions About Salvation II

June 25, 2010

Title: Clearing Up Misconceptions About Salvation II

Text: Romans 1:14-17, 2:7-10, 3:21-22, 28; James 2:14, 17-18, 20-22, 24

Time: June 22nd, 2010

Last time I talked about the two big misconceptions concerning the gospel of salvation our generation has: first, that we can perform enough good deeds to inherit eternal life; and second, that we can make some pious profession of faith or carry out some public act of faith indicating our salvation. Both of these notions are false. The New Testament is very clear that we can’t save ourselves through good deeds, no matter how excellent. The Bible is also clear that we can’t be saved by simply saying something or doing something pious. Simply responding to an alter call, signing a decision card, raising one’s hand at the evangelist’s invitation, even praying the Sinners Prayer can’t save us. Salvation is a work of God in the heart; true conversion occurs distinct from any act or saying on our part because it’s an invisible transformation that changes us from self-centered into God-centered. We spend the rest of our life working out the implications of that spiritual change, but it begins at the moment of true conversion. Now these misconceptions have been thoroughly discussed and analyzed over the last 500 years since the Protestant Reformation, so much so that you’d think nobody could possibly get the matter of salvation wrong ever again – since so much print and words have been spent over this important subject. Yet today, hundreds of years after the Reformers and after the launching of thousands of Reformation churches within Protestantism all over the world, people are still very confused about the whole matter of salvation. The simple question, “What must I do to be saved,” asked in the New Testament (Acts 16:30) is still asked today by millions of people who are confused over this controversial topic. It doesn’t have to be if we simply turn to the Bible and simply read and understand what it says about the matter. I remember listening to a Roman Catholic writer attempt to explain why his church doesn’t embrace the obvious teaching of the Apostle Paul found in the Book of Romans concerning salvation by faith alone. His defense was that Roman Catholicism accepts and believes in the whole Bible, not just parts. While admitting that Paul seems to teach salvation by faith, he points out that other places in the Bible teach a slightly different thing concerning salvation, namely, for example, the Book of James – which he claims teaches salvation by faith and works, not faith alone. So his argument was that the Roman Catholic church teaches what the whole Bible teaches about salvation, which is more of mixture of faith and works, rather than merely faith alone for salvation. What are we to make of this kind of argument? It’s a popular understanding of the Bible – that it teaches salvation by faith and works; many people embrace just such a teaching. But is it true? Does the Bible actually teach that salvation is by faith and works, a combination of the two, and not just by faith? Probably most people are under the impression that this is what Christianity teaches about salvation. That’s why there is so much confusion today about the gospel. Well, which is it? Is God offering salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, or is he offering salvation through a combination of our good works and faith? In order to answer this question we need to turn to the Bible and let it speak for itself, because after all, it is the Word of God. It will tell us what we need to know about this and every other topic. Let’s look at three things. (more…)

Clearing Up Misconceptions About Salvation

June 24, 2010

Title: Clearing Up Misconceptions About Salvation

Text: Romans 3:19, 21-24, 28; 10:9-11

Time: June 21st, 2010

It’s hard to believe but from time to time the gospel, the message of salvation, the means by which we are saved – gets lost among Christians, in churches, in the midst of Christianity. Yes, as hard as it is to believe the gospel of salvation gets lost once in a while, sometimes for short periods of time, sometimes for longer time periods. In fact, I bet some of the people hearing this message right now have lost the true biblical gospel, or some haven’t ever truly heard or believed the biblical gospel because it is lost to them. But how can this be? How could Christianity, how could the church, how could Christians ever really lose the gospel? The answer is that it’s pretty easy to lose the gospel message of salvation by failing to pay careful and close attention to the biblical description of the gospel. The gospel is described or explained most clearly in the New Testament Book of Romans, ironically, not in the books of the New Testament called the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Now the true, biblical gospel is found in these books that go by the name “gospel” but the salvation message of the gospel is most fully explained and clarified in the Book of Romans. For example, in a most famous passage the gospel is summarized – “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe,” Romans 3:19, 21-22. The Apostle Paul is the primary and principle teacher of the gospel of salvation in the Bible, although Peter also teaches it clearly in his writings. The Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John teach it, but leave the Apostle Paul to explaining it fully. It’s hard to imagine that something as important as the gospel message of salvation by faith could be lost, since it’s most definitely the most important topic and teaching of the whole Bible. It’s the primary point of God’s revelation to mankind through the Bible. How could something as important as this be lost? The best answer to that question is that it simply gets buried underneath a lot of other good and important teachings. Consider that fact that the Bible is a big book and teaches a lot of things. There are many things that God has communicated to us through revelation in the Bible – and all of these things are important for us to know. But, unfortunately, it’s easy for the church and Christianity to lose perspective or lose priorities in all its teachings. So then, the most important thing – that is, the gospel message of salvation – tends to get lost from time to time, and needs to be re-found or rediscovered. But someone may say, “Yes, the gospel was lost, but the Reformation found it. Men like Luther and Calvin rediscovered it and reestablished it in the church after it had been lost. So today, it’s no longer lost.” Yes, that’s true, but only a half-truth. The gospel is still lost in much of the Christian church today; it still needs to be rediscovered by many if not most people who call themselves Christians. I’ll explain a few misconceptions concerning the gospel and hopefully keep any of us from ever “losing” the gospel, or, if any of us have never really heard or believed the true gospel, we’ll learn it correctly for the first time. Let’s first examine two popular misconceptions of the gospel, and then close with an explanation of the real gospel as presented in the Bible. (more…)

The Absolute Absurdity of “Gay” Church Leaders

June 27, 2009

Title: The Absolute Absurdity of “Gay” Church Leaders

Text: 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:6-9, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27

Date: June 26th, 2009

 

Last week I talked about the “Absolute Absurdity of Gay Pride,” strongly objecting to the new president’s proclamation of June as “Gay Pride” month in the United States. Also, while I was on a similar subject, I then talked about the “Absolute Absurdity of Gay Churches,” pointing out the impossibility of reconciling homosexual practices with legitimate, biblical Christianity. Now, while still on the same general subject, I’d like to address the whole issue of so-called gay clergy within the church, by calling this talk “The Absolute Absurdity of Gay Church Leaders.” You may or may not be aware of the fact that in a few church denominations and in some local Christian churches there are practicing homosexual church leaders – pastors or elders or deacons or board member or church council members. In denominational structures there are even practicing homosexual bishops or overseers – or whatever the specific denomination may call them. Ever so often these gay church leaders receive attention in the national news reporting on their specific situations. For example, a few years ago news reports described the United Methodist Church embroiled in a controversy involving a lesbian pastor in a local church who was fighting for the right to remain in her leadership position within the Methodist Church. The report also indicated that she had an open lesbian lover. As it turned out, she was permitted to remain in her position as pastor. In a far more important and controversial case, an openly homosexual Episcopalian church leader was installed as bishop in New England. And while the Episcopal Church has been ordaining gay clergy for a number of years, it had never elevated one to the level of bishop or overseer before. A bishop is a position that provides leadership coverage not just on a local church level but also carries with it the spiritual responsibility of a whole region of churches and the leaders and members of these churches. So whether it is right or wrong, whether we like it or not, there are a number of recognized Christian churches that are placing into leadership at all levels openly acknowledging and practicing homosexuals. Now the question is not whether it is or isn’t taking place – it is. Rather, the question is, is it right or wrong, is it permissible by God or is it not? And the only way to answer that question is to return to the Bible, specially the New Testament — which is ultimately the final authority for matters of faith and practice within Christianity, and more specifically, in the Christian Church. When we turn to the New Testament of the Bible we find that there are very specific qualifications for church leaders. Besides the general qualifications for all Christians found in the whole New Testament, there are very specific qualifications for church leaders found primary in two places: the books of 1 Timothy and Titus. Any bona fide church leader must pass qualifications in these two places. So with that, I’d like to review the basic qualifications for church leaders. Then, I’ll review basically what the New Testament teaches about homosexuality. Finally, I’ll show that based on the qualifications the New Testament places on church leadership and based on what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, there is absolutely no way a practicing homosexual can legitimately hold a position of church leadership. I never dreamed that I’d ever have to argue such an obvious case, but because more and more people are confused these days about such things, it’s obvious I need to spell it all out once again as clearly as possible. A practicing homosexual has no business in church leadership – at any level. (more…)

The Absolute Absurdity of “Gay” Churches

June 23, 2009

Title: The Absolute Absurdity of “Gay” Churches

Text: Genesis 19:1-29 (4-5, 29), Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27

Date: June 23rd, 2009

 

Last week I talked about the “Absolute Absurdity of Gay Pride,” strongly objecting to the new president’s proclamation of June as “Gay Pride” month in the United States. This week, while I’m on the same subject, I’d like to talk about the “Absolute Absurdity of Gay Churches.” Yes, that’s right. There are so-called “Gay Churches” in more and more communities throughout the country. These so-called churches, many which identify themselves as Evangelical churches, claim that they are full-fledged members of the Christian church or Body of Christ. Members of these “churches” say that they must gather together in gay-friendly churches because they feel unwelcome and discouraged and discriminated against in typical churches. They say that they must form their own congregations and affiliate with a different denomination – such as the Metropolitan Community Church, in order to pray, worship God, fellowship and receive instruction in Christianity. They claim separate pro-gay churches are needed until the wider Christian community accepts and finally embraces people of different sexual orientations. While some churches in the main-line or so-called “old-line” denominational structure are opening to welcoming and affirming homosexual Christians – such as the United Church of Christ, the Episcopalians, the United Methodists, and the Northern Baptists, for example, most churches and denominations still object to the practice of homosexuality as sinful and therefore something to be discouraged, not encouraged or accepted. Because they are not accepted yet in all churches and denominations, so-called Gay Christians must meet separately for now in separate churches and denominational structures. But wait. Don’t all Christians conclude that homosexuality is a sin? Isn’t in plain from the Bible that homosexuality is contrary to the law of God? Isn’t it clear both in the Old Testament and New Testament that the practice of homosexuality is sinful? Isn’t Sodom and Gomorrah the best-known examples of God’s opposition to homosexuality? Isn’t it clear from the judgment of God that came upon these ancient cities, as recorded in the Old Testament, that homosexuality is a sin? Not according to the so-called Christian pro-gay movement. Despite millennia after millennia of traditional biblical understanding that Sodom and Gomorrah are examples of God’s displeasure and opposition to the sin of homosexuality, according to the members of the so-called pro-gay churches everyone has got it all wrong for thousands and thousands of years. They say the Bible has been misinterpreted; it never really teaches against homosexuality at all. All the familiar verses used to teach that homosexuality is a sin are misinterpreted. Accordingly, one can be a full-fledged Christian and practicing homosexual – and need not repent. One can be a member of a Bible-believing church that teaches homosexuality is not sinful, according to this view. Same-sex marriages can be performed and blessed within the church with God’s full endorsement — and so forth and so on. Now the big question is, what should be the wider Christian community’s response to such claims? I’d like to weigh in on the issue by first of all stating categorically that these kinds of claims are absolutely absurd! They are rationalizations and denials of biblical truths – and not very good denials and rationalizations either. But because they are heard more and more today, I’d like to go through these claims and show why they are false. According to the Bible and authentic Christian teaching, homosexuality is a sin. That is very clear when the Bible is examined carefully. Let me point out three areas that show why Christianity and homosexuality are totally incompatible, and that it is absolutely absurd to speak of “gay” churches or “gay” Christianity with any degree of seriousness. (more…)

The Absolute Absurdity of “Gay” Pride

June 18, 2009

Title: The Absolute Absurdity of “Gay” Pride

Text: Romans 1:26-27, Psalm 2:1-5, 10-12

Date: June 18th, 2009

 

The Following is an absurd “proclamation” released by the new president Barack Obama:

 THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                     June 1, 2009
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION
Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.
LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.
Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.
The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.
My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.
These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
BARACK OBAMA

 I’ve never heard of such a foolish thing coming from the highest office of government. Let me explain why I object so strongly as a Christian to the president promoting homosexuality. (more…)

Is There Any Hope For the Jews?

May 26, 2009

Title: Is There Any Hope For the Jews?

Text: Romans 11:1-16

Time: November 18th, 2006

Over and over again the Apostle Paul comes back to the question that has been haunting him time and time again — what about his own people the Jews? He can’t get this question out of his mind and grapples with it for three straight chapters in the Book of Romans. As mostly Gentile Christians today, we don’t grasp the enormity of the problem from a Jewish Christian perspective — how could God’s very own chosen people reject their very own Messiah in Jesus Christ? What is to become of the Jews? Has God abandoned His very own people? Is God through with the Jews? Paul spends another whole chapter dealing with these questions. The tragedy of the Jews rejecting Jesus is something that he and other Jewish Christians could never get out of their minds. Again, we are isolated from this problem today because we never knew a time when the Jewish faith was predominant in our culture, but there was a time in ancient days when the Jews were the primary teachers of true spirituality to the world. For example, the Jews basically taught the world monotheism, or the belief in one God. Polytheism, or belief in many gods, was common among many civilizations, but belief in just one God was rare indeed in ancient times. The idea that there might be one, overall ruling God over many other lesser gods might have been the belief of a few people in recorded ancient civilizations. For example, there was an ancient king in Egypt who taught that there was one god over all the gods, but his teaching only lasted during his lifetime. Egypt was known as a polytheistic culture before and after this ancient king. His belief in one god died with him. But in the case of the Jews, belief in one God was the main article of its faith. As historians have concluded, the Jews taught the world monotheism, or belief in one God. So the Jews had an enormous influence in the ancient world far beyond their size and strength. They also helped the world learn the rule of law through teaching such things as the Ten Commandments and preserving the Law of Moses in the Bible. In the 4th century B.C., the whole Bible was translated into the Greek language thus giving Gentiles even greater access to the teachings of God. So coming from such a great tradition of usefulness to God, by rejecting the Messiah Jesus, the Jews basically turned their back on God and so God basically turned His back on His own people the Jews. The Gentiles were pouring into the Kingdom of God through the gospel, while the Jews sat on the sidelines refusing to enter. But the burning question Paul had in witnessing all of this was — is this rejection of God by the Jews, and the rejection of the Jews by God permanent? That’s the topic of Romans 11:1-16 (read). Here’s Paul’s answer. (more…)

Is There Any Excuse For Unbelief?

May 26, 2009

Title: Is There Any Excuse For Unbelief?

Text: Romans 10:14-21

Time: November 14th, 2006

Today, we face a similar question that Paul faced long ago, “With so many people refusing to believe in the gospel, could it be that they have some good excuse to give for their unbelief?” In Paul’s day, it was the problem of the Jew’s unbelief; today it is the problem of both Jews’ and Gentile’s unbelief. Might there be some good reason why people simply do not believe, some good excuse they can give? For the Apostle Paul, the Jews of his day had no good reason or excuse for not believing, and even though their hardness of heart was in the plan and purpose of God in order to open the gates of salvation to the Gentiles, there is no justification for their rejection of the gospel. Today, we might ask the same question of men and women in our own country, the United States: is there any possible excuse that people can give to justify their stubborn rejection of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ? But wait. Someone may object to the question because after all from the surface it would seem that people in the United States are not rejecting Christianity, but in fact believing in the gospel. From the look of things, the gospel isn’t being rejected but instead is being accepted by Americans today. Yes, from the surface it might appear that the gospel is receiving a widespread popularity among our people today, but that would only be true on a superficial level. In reality, the true gospel of Jesus, the saving gospel, is in fact being rejected by a majority of people today because much of what is being called Christianity today isn’t true Christianity. Not everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian is in fact a Christian. The saving gospel of repentance and faith in Christ alone is different from what is called the gospel by many professed Christians. Today, whatever is called Christianity is pretty much accepted as such, but we know this cannot be because of the lack of true Christian spiritual fruit that it bears. If every person calling himself a Christian in this country was in fact a true Christian, then the kingdom of God would have already arrived and society would be a lot different. Obviously something is wrong with this picture. What is wrong is that true Christianity is diminishing in this country, along with Christian beliefs and moral values. People’s hearts are turning hard to the things of God no matter what label they put upon themselves, Christian or otherwise. Just as the Jews in Paul’s day, people today are more likely to reject the gospel of Jesus rather than accept it. But what can explain this hardness of heart? Maybe they have some good excuse? Maybe they are not hearing the gospel? Maybe they are not understanding it even if they hear it because of a problem of communication? Paul’s answers to these questions concerning the Jews apply to our understanding of why people are rejecting the gospel today. Let’s listen to what the Apostle has to say in Roman 10:14-21 (read). (more…)

It’s Hard Doing Things the Wrong Way

May 26, 2009

Title: It’s Hard Doing Things the Wrong Way

Text: Romans 10:1-13

Time: November 3rd, 2006

I was once out cutting wood with a chain saw when the chain got loose and fell off. I had to put it back on, but I must have got the chain reversed because when I went to cut the wood it only spun and spun without really cutting much of the wood. I couldn’t figure it out because the chain was a fairly new one, and it was cutting ok before it fell off, but now it would hardly cut into the wood at all. I knew something was wrong. Suddenly it hit me: maybe the chain was backwards. I didn’t even know that a chain could be backwards because it looked just like it did before it fell off the chainsaw. But as I looked closer at the chain, I noticed that the teeth were facing the opposite direction from the way the chain was supposed to spin; it was backwards. So I took the chain saw apart and reversed the blade and it worked perfect. I was trying to do the job the wrong way. It makes a big difference; doing something the right way or doing it the wrong way. That’s a lot like the way of salvation with God. If we come at salvation the right way, we get rewarded with forgiveness, blessings, and eternal life; but if we come at salvation the wrong way, we only get unforgiveness, God’s curse, and eternal separation from God. How we come to God for salvation is very important. The Apostle Paul in the Book of Romans has been explaining the right way to come to God for salvation. The right way is through faith in Jesus Christ. He then spends time trying to explain how it could be that God’s chosen people the Jews could miss out on salvation by failing to put their trust in Jesus. His conclusion is that it must be in God’s sovereign plan for the Jews to reject salvation at the present time in order that the Gentiles might receive it now. He explains that God had predestined things to be as they are. But then at the end of his explanation, he comes back to the subject of personal free will and continues with this theme into the tenth chapter. That’s where we are today, in Romans 10:1-13 (read). Paul is explaining the free will aspect of salvation: first, how the Jews are mistakenly pursuing salvation by works; second, how the Gentiles are correctly pursuing salvation by faith; and third, how salvation is available to everyone, Jew and Gentile, through simple faith. Here Paul is emphasizing the free will aspect of faith. In the last chapter, Paul was emphasizing the mysterious aspects of predestination, how behind all human decisions God has already decided, and how even though we think we are in ultimate control, really God is in ultimate control of everything. Now Paul changes gears and emphasizes the importance of everyone taking responsibility and choosing to place faith in Christ or not. He wants to show us that salvation is as simple as trusting in Jesus the Savior. (more…)