Showing posts with label Romans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romans. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Learning from the Apostle Paul

Paul was no silent disciple, no half-hearted follower of Jesus. He was not ashamed of his Lord. He was glad to say, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith" (Romans 1:16). Why was Paul bold to say, "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14)? Why was Paul so emphatic in saying, "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2)? The answer is very simple and straightforward. He was a man who had been grasped by the power of the Gospel. Through the power of Christ, Paul was no longer his own. He belonged to Christ. This was why he was able to write to the Corinthian Christians, "You are not your own; you have been bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He was a man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. This was why he was able to challenge the Corinthian Christians: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? ... So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He was a man grasped by the power of the Gospel, a man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. What kind of men and women are we? This is the challenge of Paul's life for us.

Matthew Henry On Spiritual Blindness

'He has blinded their eyes... I would heal them.' (John 12:40).
What are we to say about these words? Are we to say, "It is God who blinds their eyes"? or Is there a difference between He - "He has blinded their eyes" - and I - "I would heal them"? Could "He" be understood as a reference to "the god of this world" -  "The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4)? Here, we may recall the parable of the sower - "When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts" (Mark 4:15). 

 * Matthew Henry comments on John 12:39-40.
"God damns none by mere sovereignty... They could not believe, that is, they would not; they were obstinately resolved in their infidelity... God is not the author of sin... yet... (t)here is a righteous hand of God sometimes to be acknowledged in the blindness of those who persist in impenitency and unbelief,  by which they are justly punished for their former resistance of divine light."
What is the connection between "they could not believe" and "He has blinded their eyes"? Matthew Henry suggests that there's something else behind "they could not." It's "they would not." When we speak about spiritual blindness, we should never forget this - they would not.

 * Matthew Henry comments on Isaiah 6:9-13.
"... when they should obstinately reject the gospel and should thereupon be rejected by God"
Here, Henry is saying the same thing as he said on John 12:40 - "they are justly punished for their former resistance of divine light." 
Where does spiritual blindness come from? - "their former resistance of divine light." The more resistance there is, the more blindness there will be.  

* Commenting on John 12:39-40, Matthew Henry notes that God's Word speaks, with "reserve", about spiritual blindness. Alluding to the prophecy, in Isaiah 6:13, regarding a remnant - "the holy seed", he says that this "reserve" is "sufficient to keep a door of hope open to particular persons; for each one might say, 'Why may I not be of that remnant?'"
There is hope. Let us pray that more people will come to have this testimony: "I once was blind, but now I see" (John 9:25).

 * Matthew Henry comments on Romans 9:18,22-24.
"Those who are saved must thank God only, and those who perish must  thank themselves... Sinners fit themselves for hell but it is God who fits saints for heaven."
Let us never blame God for our spiritual blindness. When the Lord opens our eyes, let us praise Him. Let us say, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23). Let us say, "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1).

The Preaching Of John Wesley

"John Wesley’s Forty-Four Sermons" (published by the Epworth Press in 1944:  reprinted in 1977) - These sermons were first published, as four volumes, in 1746, 1748, 1750 and 1760. The language will seem, to the modern reader, to be very old-fashioned. There is, however, a great deal, in what Wesley says, that we need to hear today. My basic observations in reading theses sermons is this: Here is preaching which is centred on Jesus Christ, who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). When Wesley speaks of our sin, he speaks with great directness. When he speaks of God’s grace, he speaks with great warmth. This is preaching which is centred on our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Wesley shows us that we are sinners who need the Saviour. He shows us that the Saviour is always ready to receive sinners.

John Wesley on "The Righteousness of Faith"

Righteousness of Faith, The
This sermon is based on Romans 10:5-8. It is found in John Wesley’s Forty-Four Sermons, (Epworth Press, 1977 edition).
—–
Commenting on the words, “The word is nigh thee”, Wesley writes, “the first covenant required what is now afar off from all the children of men; namely, unsinning obedience, which is far from those who are ‘conceived and born in sin.’ Whereas, the second requires what is nigh at hand; as though it should say, Thou art sin! God is love! Thou by sin art fallen short of the glory of God, yet there is mercy with Him. Bring then all thy sins to the pardoning God, and they shall vanish away as a cloud” (p. 67).
Concerning ourselves, there is bad news – We cannot save ourselves.
From Christ, our Saviour, there is Good News – “He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25).
Sin takes us far from God. Grace brings us near to God.
—–
To those who are far from God, Wesley says this, “Do not say, ‘But I am not contrite enough; I am not sensible enough of my sins.’ I know it. I would to God thou wert more sensible of them, more contrite a thousand fold than thou art. But do not stay for this. It may be, God will make thee so, not before thou believest, but by believing. It may be, thou wilt not weep much, till thou lovest much because thou hast had much forgiven. In the meantime look unto Jesus. Behold, how much He loveth thee!” (p. 72).
Sin holds us captive. Grace sets us free.
—–
Wesley continues, “And to what end wouldest thou wait for more sincerity before thy sins are blotted out? To make thee more worthy of the grace of God? Alas, thou art still ‘establishing thy own righteousness.’ He will have mercy, not because thou art worthy of it, but because His compassions fail not; not because thou art righteous, but because Jesus Christ hath atoned for thy sins” (pp. 72-73).
* The way of salvation does not begin with “I”: This is what I have done – my religion, my morality.
* Salvation comes from God:- “God so loved the world …”
This is the the Gospel: What we could never do for ourselves, God has done for us – “He gave His only Son”, Jesus Christ, “the atoning sacrifice … for the sins of the whole world”, “the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; 1:7).

John Wesley on "The Witness of the Spirit"

This quotation The sermon - Witness of the Spirit, 1, The - can be found in John Wesley’s Forty-Four Sermons, (Epworth Press, 1977).  It is based on Romans 8:16 – “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”This sermon is followed by a sermon on  Witness of the Spirit, 2, The  - 2 Corinthians 1:12.
-----
  “The manner how the divine testimony is manifested to the heart, I do not take upon me to explain. Such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me: I cannot attain unto it. The wind bloweth, and I hear the sound thereof; but I cannot tell how it cometh, or whither it goeth. as no one knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man that is in him; so the manner of the things of God knoweth no one, save the Spirit of God. But the fact we know; namely, that the Spirit of God does give a believer such a testimony of his adoption” (p. 117).
Here, we have a fine combination of the humility and boldness of faith.
* With boldness, Wesley speaks of the reality of the Spirit’s working in the heart of the believer – “the Spirit of God does give a believer such a testimony of his adoption”.
* With humility, he speaks of the manner of the Spirit’s working in our hearts.
This combination of humility and boldness is well expressed in the words of the hymn:
“I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin; revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in Him. But I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”
We dare not claim to understand more than we really do. We must not, however, hesitate to affirm our faith in the reality of the Spirit’s working in us. The Word of God has come to us “with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Through faith in Christ, “we have received the Spirit who is from God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).
In 1 Corinthians 2:10, we see that our faith in Christ includes both boldness and humility.
* With the boldness of faith, we join, with Paul, in affirming the reality of the Spirit’s working in us: “Through His Spirit, God has revealed Himself to us.”
* With the humility of faith, we join, with Paul, in affirming that we can never claim to have gained a full understanding of “the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

To The Ends Of The Earth

"His dominion shall be ... to the ends of the earth" (Zechariah 9:10).
God's purpose was moving on. He had begun with Israel. Their deliverance from bondage in Egypt was a mighty demonstration of His saving power. This was only the beginning. God was moving on to Jesus - "the Saviour of the world" (John 4:42). In Jesus Christ, crucified for us, God was reaching out, in love, to "the whole world" (1 John 2:2). The Gospel is not only for the Jews: "It is it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16). Jesus is calling us, His redeemed people - empowered by the Holy Spirit - to take His message of salvation to the ends of the earth: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Is this no longer true just because a lot of people have lost interest in singing the song of salvation?
No! This was Good News in Paul’s day. It’s still Good News for today.
It will always be the Good News of God’s love. It will always be the great reminder of God’s “for ever” love (Psalm 136).

Good News for sinners

God's way of righteousness begins with this - He is "just" - and leads to this - He "justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).

"For our salvation Christ came down from heaven" (Nicene Creed) - This is Good News for sinners. 
As we rejoice in the "for our salvation" message of the Gospel, let us never forget the "for His glory" message! 
"To God be the glory, great things He has done! So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life-gate that all may go in.
  Praise the Lord! ... Give Him the glory!"

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Cornerstone

"From him will come the cornerstone... they shall be as mighty men, treading down their enemies... because the Lord is with them" (Zechariah 10:4-5).
* Jesus Christ is "the cornerstone" upon which our faith is built  - "The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord" (Samuel John Stone).
* In Christ, we are "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37) - "From victory unto victory His army shall He lead, till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed" (George Duffield).
* Jesus is with us. He is our Saviour. He has forgiven our sins. He is our Lord. He leads us in triumph over Satan.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Strong words ...

“… watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned … By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18).

These are very strong words. They are words which have a great deal to say to the Church at a time when it seems that the voice of permissive society is threatening to drown out completely the voice of Holy Scripture. When Paul addresses the problem of divisions among God’s people, He calls us to be faithful “to the teaching you have learned.” Behind Paul’s words concerning “the teaching you have learned”, there is something else: “according to the Scriptures.” We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Paul begins by speaking about “the gospel which I preached to you” (1 Corinthians 15:1). As we look on to 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, it becomes clear that he is not concerned with drawing attention to himself. What he is concerned about is this: “according to the Scriptures” – “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Praying Through God’s Word: Romans

Romans 1:1-32
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (Romans 1:16). Lord, we thank You for Your Gospel. It is Good News. It comes to us with power. It brings to us salvation. Help us to believe Your Gospel, to release its power and to receive Your salvation.
Romans 2:1-29
Help us, Lord, not to come to You with the Pharisee’s pride: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men.” Help us to come with the sinner’s prayer: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18: 11-13). Help us, Lord, to confess our sin and rejoice in Your salvation: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Romans 3:1-31
“All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). Lord, this is more than the Bible’s teaching about sin. It’s our own personal story. It’s the story of our life. Sin – This is not the only story. There’s another story, a better story – the Story of Your salvation. You have sent Jesus to our world. He is our Saviour. He comes to us with His pardon, His peace and His power. He saves us. He changes us. “Sin shall not have dominion over us” (Romans 6:14) – Thank You, Lord.
Romans 4:1-25
Lord, Your salvation is always Your gift. It’s never a reward that we earn. Salvation never begins with “I” – “This is what I have done.” It always begins with You, Lord. It begins with Your love: “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). We can never save ourselves. We can only be saved by You, Lord. Thank You, Lord, for giving to me Your salvation, so full and free.”
Romans 5:1-21
Lord, You are the great God. Your love is great. Your Son is great. Your salvation is great. You give us a great future – glory with You forevermore. Thank You, Lord.
Romans 6:1-21
Lord, we want to walk with you in the centre of Your will. Where does this desire to please You come from? – It comes from You, Lord. You put it into our hearts. Without Your Word, speaking to us, we would never think of walking with You. We would be too busy thinking about ourselves and what we want. Draw near to us, Lord. Keep us close to Yourself.
Romans 7:1-25
Lord, our life’s a battlefield. It’s a minefield. We never know when something’s going to blow up in our face. When the heat is on, help us to cool down with Your calm: “Do not be anxious about anything … with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Romans 8:1-39
Life is all about choices. Sometimes, Lord, we make bad decisions – and we have to live with them. We thank You, Lord, that You made the best decision. You decided to love us. You decided to send Your Son to us. We thank You, Lord, that You’venever gone back on Your decision. Our love for You is often weak. Your love for us is as strong as it ever was. It’s absolute love. It’s “love that will not let us go” (George Matheson).
Romans 9:1-33
Often, Lord, we have too much self-confidence and not enough confidence in You. May there be less ‘I can’ – that’s the pride we can do without – and more ‘God can’ – this is the faith we need so much. Are there times when we can forget about ‘God can’, times when ‘I can’ is all that we need? When we start thinking like this, help us to remember Jesus’ words: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Lord, we are not without You. You are with us. Help us to say, I can – because God can.”
Romans 10:1-21
Sometimes, Lord, we feel left out in the cold. Other people are being blessed – but we’re not! Where does this kind of thinking come from? – It comes from Satan. He tells us that we don’t matter to You. You love everybody else – but us! How can we get out of this rut? We need to be lifted out of it, lifted out by You. Lift us up, Lord. Lift us up with Your love. Lift us up to a new level. Give to us a new awareness of how much You love us.
Romans 11:1-36
Teach us, Lord, to “stand in awe” of You and to “stand fast” for You. May we have no place in our hearts for the way of “pride.” May we always seek to walk with You in the way of “faith” (Romans 11:20).
Romans 12:1-13:10
Lord, we want to know what love is. We want You to show us. We want to feel what love is. We know You can show us. There is no love like Your love. It’s “love so amazing, so divine.” May Your love reach us  – and change us.
Romans 13:1-14:23
Give to us, Lord, real love, real faith, real peace and real joy. We don’t want just talk about these things. We want the real thing – a life that is being changed by Your power, a life that is bringing glory to You.
Romans 15:1-33
We thank You, Lord, for Christ’s example, calling us to walk more closely with You. We thank You for the encouragement of the Scriptures, urging us on to a closer walk with You. We thank You for Your enabling power that keeps us walking with You day-by-day – “Day-by-day, O dear Lord, three things I pray: To see Thee more clearly, to love Thee more dearly, to follow Thee more nearly, day-by-day.”
Romans 16:1-27
We have many problems, Lord, but Your power is greater than all of them. Help us to look beyond our problems. Help us to receive Your power. Help us to release Your power. Renew us, Lord. Put a right spirit within us (Psalm 51:10) – a spirit of praise, a spirit of obedience, a spirit of joy, your Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

"I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God" (Romans 15:17).

Where has the blessing come from? Does it say something about how worthy we are? No! It's not about us. We haven't done anything to deserve God's blessing. The blessing comes from the Lord. To Him be all the glory!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

This Is All About Jesus!

I was reading Romans 1:1-7. I was asking the question, "What's this about?" There's one simple answer to this question: "This is all about Jesus!"

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