Too many pastors have been measured by worldly standards of success in this past year in the midst of all the distractions life and culture have brought our way. The real measure of successful ministry is what the all-powerful grace of God is doing in people's lives. Only Jesus Christ can transform a life so completely.
It's important to understand the God of wisdom before trying to understand practical living. Ecclesiastes has much to say about who God is.
We live in the most informed generation possibly of all time. We have an enormous amount of information available to us, whether it is legitimate or not. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "knowledge is power" in his letters at least four times, each time regarding the establishment of a state university in Virginia. He also believed in the power of knowledge to bring safety and happiness.
Despite the amount of knowledge acquired by all generations leading to ours, we still have not curbed societal ills of hatred, violence, immorality, and addiction. Knowledge cannot control our passions. It cannot change the human condition.
There is only one kind of knowledge that can permanently change a person. "Only intelligent commitment of a life in light of God's gift of salvation can curb the human condition" (Bennett). Only God receives the glory for changing a human being and sustaining that transformation (Romans 11:36). Sinful people need to hear of Christ and surrender their hearts to His authority.
Alva J. McClain said, "the person who knows well the first 11 chapters of the book of Romans knows more about the philosophy of human history than all the wisest historians that the world has ever seen. There is a philosophy of history here that is unmatched. It makes the historians on the earth appear like children playing with their toys." This passage simplifies what man has complicated. Paul reflects on the beauty of simplicity in salvation: humanity is composed of 2 groups of people, who both have 1 Savior. God has given our biggest difficulty the simplest solution in Jesus Christ.
Romans 11:33-36 is so rich, we are going to study it in small portions. This week, we focus on verse 33 as preparation for the rest of the passage. Paul's doxology is a hymn of praise for what God has done in salvation history. This is a natural response of a Spirit-filled, born-again Christian.
In whatever change we seek, God seeks to change us.
Romans 8:26 is another often-quoted verse from this chapter. Remember that its truth must be understood in the context of the spiritual security and assurance of the believer.
Romans 6-7 tells believers how we daily become more like God. God's grace allows us to understand and apply God's Word. We can reflect God's character in our lives only to the extent that we know His Word.
In Luke 24, our risen Lord shows mercy and patience to two unbelieving yet religious persons. Many in our day also do not understand the full story of Jesus. Religion always either takes away from Jesus or adds to Him. True Christianity believes that Jesus as revealed in the Bible is enough.
Cleopas and his friend had been taught by religion that Jesus would be an earthly king. He will rule on earth in the future, but his first coming was to be our Savior. Their understanding of the Scriptures was incomplete.
Given only part of the story of who Jesus was, these sincere men were left to rely on human reasoning. When Jesus was crucified, they lost hope.
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