A vast majority of Christmas carols focus on one night: O Holy Night, Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Away in a Manger. Many of these rich theological hymns are still played at stores and restaurants. It is astounding that we can walk into different businesses and hear What Child is This? Unfortunately, many go about this season busy with parties, decorating, and shopping, yet fail to consider the question, "what Child is this?"
God created the moon to be the lesser light of the night sky and the sun to rule the day (Genesis 1:16). When the sun comes up, the light of the moon no longer seems bright. Paul makes a similar comparison between the Old and New Covenant in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11, using a typical rabbinical comparison of the lesser to the greater.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 compares a life lived under the Law with a life lived under grace. Paul knew the Corinthians had begun to lose their Gospel influence when they began embracing the false message of the Judaizers. The Law, even though divinely given, could not transform a person. No standard can change a heart. Its splendor is to convict.
The best way to protect the church from religious racketeers is to compare the nature and practice of the false and genuine.
Paul talks about two categories of Christians in Romans 14, the strong and the weak. Every believer falls under one category or the other. Both are assumed to be reverent and growing. Both are instructed to keep themselves in the love of God.
Christ is coming back, and as the Head of the Church, He will be looking to see His people bringing the Gospel to others (Romans 1:16). Jesus is building His church in Mentor as He has been since the beginning of the church. He was building His church through the local body of believers in Rome. This was a healthy church made up of all different kinds of people, which we will see in Romans 16. That diversity of people being saved and united in Christ is the result of living out the commission of love that Paul wrote about in Romans 12:17-21.
God created human beings to know Him. Though we fell into sin, which separates us from Him, God has prepared a way for every person to return to a relationship with Him. The image of God can still be seen in people's moral, rational, spiritual, and personal components. Fallen nature tries to work its way back to friendship and reconciliation with God. This is the essence of religion. However, the Bible teaches that the only way back to God is through His Son, Jesus Christ.
In Romans 10:18-21, Israel typifies all religions. The religious mind has been well described as full of energy, sincerity, and equity. Religious people make great efforts to do all they can to earn God's favor. They sincerely believe what they are taught. And they hope (although without certainty) that all their efforts are enough. Jesus often has a place in their lives, but He is not governing their lifestyle. This can be seen in patterns of unbroken sin. Human nature will never submit to one Lord alone.
Christian parents often tell their children, "There is nothing you can do to change my love for you." How much greater is God's infinite love! There is nothing we can do to change God's love for us. God the Father keeps us eternally secure in Jesus Christ, omnipotently held by the Holy Spirit. These truths provide hope for us throughout this earthly journey regardless of our circumstances.
We cannot be saved by grace and grown by the law. Trying to grow ourselves or others by the law is setting up any external standard of holiness by which to measure one's spiritual growth. Whether the standard is given by God or man, it can never produce spiritual growth.
Romans 6-7 are all about how a Christian becomes more Christ-like after he or she comes to know Jesus. Chapter 6 takes a positive approach, while chapter 7 takes a negative approach.
Sinclair Ferguson compared studying Romans to climbing Mount Everest. We are in the midst of the book's third section discussing how we become more like Christ in our character: sanctification. This chapter will be like a base camp as we prepare to take on the next ascent. The content of Romans 6-7 help us to avoid extremism on two counts: spiritual license and legalism. In Jesus Christ, we have died to both sin and the law. We are free from the power of sin, though not yet of its presence.
We don't want one family member left behind at special events. The family picture should not be missing anyone! Similarly, we don't want anyone left behind in a church. We seek to protect each member so all can enjoy spiritual unity and progress.
Pastor Kent Hobi
Do you ever wonder if all the things we believe as Christians will ever come true? Generations of God’s people come and go, and we still groan under the task of becoming who we are in Christ. Will our faith ever be sight?
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