Romans 9 – Some Hard Stuff to Swallow

Romans 9 is one of those chapters I think we should just rip out. Just toss it. It causes too many people too much consternation. People wonder how God could “make” Pharoah sin. But I don’t think he made Pharoah sin. Paul says in II Timothy that even dishonorable vessels can make themselves honorable.

20Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

And in I Timothy 2, we see that God desires that all be saved . . . and I really do think that “all” means all.

4 . . . who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I think, though, that Chapter 9 makes it clear that God makes decisions, that, at times, seem unfair to us. He chose Jacob over Esau, but not based on what either had done. He chose Pharoah to make His name known among the nations. He uses us, where we are in life – to accomplish His purposes – whether we have made ourselves honorable or dishonorable vessels. He makes His choices – and we live within His parameters.

Chapter 9 reminds me that I’m simply human, a creation of God’s. It is not my place to question His sovereignty – I am but clay.

20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

So much more exists in this chapter – but I am not writing a book here. I love the way it ends – Gentiles can be saved, by faith. That means me!

30What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith . . .

Romans 8 – Some Observations

Again, I note that the law is powerless to save us . . .

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 for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh . . .

And I’m sobered by the painfully clear message Paul sets forth in verse 6 . . .

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

For those who live in the flesh, their end is death. But the message is equally exciting, because those who set their mind on the Spirit need not fear death – their end is life and peace.

I especially like the end of chapter 8. If God is for us, who can be against us? We have absolutely nothing to fear in this life. We have God on our side. And if we are His, then we have been set free from the law of sin and death, and nothing can separate us from Him.

38For I am sure 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.

Romans 7 – We are Dead to the Law

It amazes me that some still believe we are under law. Yes, and these people read the same Bible I read. Paul makes it altogether clear, here and in other places in Romans, that we are completely dead to the law. We belong to Christ! The law no longer holds any sway over our lives.

4Likewise, my brothers, you also 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.

Verse 6 says it again . . .

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

That, my friends, means we possess freedom in Christ. We seek a relationship with Him – not a life of rules and regulations. What an amazing message.

New Testimony at http://truthsaves.org

I’ve recently been sent a testimony that I added to the site. It’s called “My Blessing from God,” and you can read it here.

I’ve also posted another testimony from a woman who tried to run from God, but who was unable to do so. You can read her story here.

I covet your testimony as well. If God puts it on your heart to share your testimony, please do so without delay.

Romans 6 – Slaves

Chapter 6 reminds us, in a rather blunt fashion, that Christians should not sin. Because we’re not under law gives us no excuse to sin . . .

15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

It also reminds us that we’re slaves of who or what we obey. If we obey God, we’re slaves to righteousness. If we choose to sin and live under its power, we become slaves to sin.

. . . you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Then Paul sums it all up by letting us know what the consequences of our choices will be.

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

Romans 5 – Suffering

Last night at Bible study we talked a lot about suffering. It frustrated me somewhat, because that’s not exactly a topic we want to think about. But one guy at our study has cancer in his neck, and next week he has to have a procedure done that may silence him for life. He may not be able to eat without a feeding tube. They found lumps in his stomach and they’re doing a CT scan to see what the lumps might be. But he was talking about how he might be a witness to the hospital staff. He saw his life through an eternal lens. That’s exactly what Paul tells us we should be doing:

3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope . . .

It’s easy to fall into “pity me” mode when things aren’t going well.  Believe me, I know. I do it all the time.  But I’m not facing death.  My troubles are trivial.  Sure, it’s hard to get along with some people at work.  Sure, I don’t make as much money as I’d like.  But to face real suffering – and maintain our joy – that’s a mark of the Holy Spirit within us.

I like chapter five. It causes me to look heavenward. Jesus died, rose again, and death lost its power. We have nothing to fear.

8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Romans 4 – Thoughts

It’s not easy to always believe that God will do what He says.  Sometimes our work gets old, daily existence becomes mundane, and we start believing that living the life we’re called to live is useless and impossible.  We should take our example from Abraham.

20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

And Abraham was “as good as dead,” as Paul says, and still had not had the son God promised him.  Sarah was old and barren.  Yet Abraham still believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness.  And Abraham saw God fulfill His promise. 

And God’s promise is that anyone who comes to Him, through faith, will be saved, apart from works.

Romans 3

As Peter tells us, Paul isn’t always easy to understand. And Romans 3 is one of those chapters that makes my head spin a little. But what strikes me is that none of us are righteous.

For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one . . . (ESV)

And by keeping the law, we still cannot be righteous. The law reveals the knowledge of sin, but cannot save.

20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (ESV)

So, those people who strive to keep the law, and who brag about their ability to do so, are, unfortunately, deceived.

27Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 28Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (ESV)

Anyone, then, can be saved, through faith.

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