We have been studying the love Christians should have within the body of Christ (Romans 12:9-16). The pointed commands beginning in verse 13 seem random, but they do flow from what Paul wrote in the verses just before. Love that is holy, relational, passionate in serving and persevering, will be aware in these ways.
The latter half of Romans 12 instructs Christians on the kind of love we should display. Our love is holy, relational, passionate, and aware. A series of direct imperatives begins in Romans 12:13. Love is intentional about its surroundings.
We are studying the third section of Romans 12. When people are transformed by grace (Romans 12:1-2) and functioning well in the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8), we are able to love each other as God intends.
Romans 12:9-16’s list of responsibilities may seem to have no rhyme or reason to their order, but they fit into the chapter context perfectly. Romans 12 begins the practical portion of the book as we seek to live God’s glorious gospel outlined in Romans 1-11. If the chapter is a 3-story house, verses 1-2 are the foundation. Verses 3-8 are the first floor named Community. The second floor, verses 9-16, is about Compassion. Verses 17-21 address our Commission.
As a child, were you fascinated by small wonders like lightning bugs? G.K. Chesterton said, "What is wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world.”
As Christians, God has placed us in a miraculous world of wonder. He calls it Christ's body, the church. As we move into the practical portion of the book, Romans 12:3-8 gives us the first practical aspect of our salvation.
Survival shows intrigue us when we see how shockingly few things are necessary to survive in a wilderness. The world we live in is an extreme, fallen, undiscerning spiritual wilderness, but the Lord has provided us with the simple yet essential tools of spiritual survival for daily living.
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.
What Paul says about Israel in his context can be applied to religious people in our context. Even those who are stuck in their ways have not stumbled so badly as to never have opportunity to be saved again. The offer of salvation is always given to them. What Paul says of Gentiles in his context applies to irreligious people today. As they accept Christ, religious people see the joy that results and become jealous.
In this section of Romans, Paul has been working through his sorrow and grief at the unbelief of his fellow Jews (Romans 9:1). He reminds and comforts his heart that God saves faithfully, mercifully, and righteously. His deep prayer and desire is that they would understand and accept salvation through Christ (Romans 10:1). Religious people misunderstand the righteousness of Jesus and the grace of God. In Romans 11, Paul dwells on God's mercy to both Jews and Gentiles.
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.
Philippians 3:10 expresses the Apostle Paul's desire to "know Him [Christ] and the power of His resurrection." In the Bible, the word "to know" usually means to share one's life. We share life with those who are closest to us, spouses, family, and close friends. We share in Christ's life when we know Him as our Savior.
Grasping the meaning and context of Romans 10:14-17 will ensure a church's existence for years to come and a spiritual progeny until Jesus returns. The incorrect preaching of this passage will bring decline and demise to a church.
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.
In Romans 9:19, Paul anticipates another question from his readers, then proceeds to dispel any fear or doubt they might have about God's justice in saving. God saves righteously: He is equitable, fair, and just.
The greatest joys in life are knowing Christ and seeing others meet Him. Yet of equal magnitude in grief is seeing those who hear the Gospel refuse Him.
Romans 9 shows us how to find our way back to joy. Paul's answer is considering God, His person and His attributes. This will give us the ability to work our way out of any grief.
In one sentence, this is a summary of Romans 9: God has always sought to redeem those whose sin has taken them away from Him.
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