The word "suffering" appears 16 times in the book of 1 Peter. The recipients of the letter came from different backgrounds and were facing the difficulty of persecution. Peter emphasizes God's grace as the only thing that helps in such times. It helps us stand firm and endure (1 Peter 5:12).
Solomon has several concluding chapters as he shares wisdom on enduring the margin of mystery. The theme is similar to 1 Peter 4:19: When life is hard to understand, stay active doing good things.
We have divided the third chapter of Ecclesiastes into 3 sections.
This week, we will examine several plain truths to apply God's wisdom to our lives.
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.
When religious people hear the Gospel, they respond to it sincerely from a heart that has been trained religiously. They generally reject God's free offer of grace without knowing so as they continue to work for God's favor. God never intended people to work for salvation; it is impossible! In fact, "religious good works shipwreck grace." God offers the free gift of eternal life only through His Son (Romans 6:23).
In Romans 9, Paul explained how God sovereignly saves. In chapter 10, he discusses how people respond. God saves faithfully, mercifully, and particularly. The righteousness of Christ has changed you and me! This settles our heart when distressed over those yet to be saved.
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.
Hebrews 11:6 says that faith is essential to please God. Many claim to have faith that helps them through difficult times. But there is a difference between religious faith and saving faith. True saving faith can calm us in the midst of earthly storms and save our souls for eternity. Salvation always comes by faith in Christ.
In the church of Rome, the religious element was asking questions about the Gospel and good works. Paul is answering for anyone who came from a religious background that emphasized good works.
Paul continues his argument about the depravity of mankind. This section deals with the Jews or, by extension, anyone who relies on a religious system to make them right with God. Despite any religious affiliation, sin still makes everyone liable to God's judgment. This truth is actually liberating when considering our eternal destiny: it's not up to us.
God's charge against humanity continues in the divine courtroom. He is answering the question, Is all the world lost? The answer is yes, all are guilty before God. In Romans 2:1-16, we learn the moralist is just as guilty as the immoral person. It's important to remind do-gooders that they need Jesus just as much as the wicked. None of us have an excuse before God (Romans 1:20).
Understanding the minutiae of Timothy’s life will help us understand the letters Paul wrote to help him oversee the pastor-shepherds of Ephesus. Timothy knew the Scriptures and came to Christ early in his life (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15). From what we see in Scripture, Timothy was always a timid man. But his life teaches us that timidity is never an excuse not to minister. Everyone experiences a degree of fear when giving the Gospel or ministering publically. We must not let it keep us from obeying God.
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