This is our playlist for the series. We hope you profit by it; and enjoy it.
This is our playlist for the series. We hope you profit by it; and enjoy it.
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
…to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Romans 16:27
This is the final verse of the book of Romans. It has taken 433 days to get here and it has been a wonderful journey of discovery and edification as we have learned from the hand of Paul. In this verse, he finishes his doxology with the reverent and exalting words “to God, alone wise.” Through His wisdom, He fashioned the heavens and the earth. Through His wisdom, He created man. And through His wisdom, He gave man free-will, knowing that this was needed for a true heart-felt relationship.
Man fell, but God initiated the plan that was in His mind before creation; Jesus Christ would come to reveal His very heart and to be the One to restore us to Him. And so it is to this wondrous Creator, who alone is wise, “be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” Jesus is, as Colossians 1 tells us, “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” In Jesus Christ, the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily.
When we look out into the stars, and even to the furthest galaxies, or when we look into the smallest subatomic particles, we see the wisdom of God displayed in the work of Jesus Christ. And further, He is the Mediator between God and man, thus we offer our glory “through” Him and we behold the glory of God “through” Him as well. Paul has shown us, time and again in this epistle, that Jesus is our meeting point with God. Thus, in order to be reconciled to Him – whether Jew or Gentile – it must occur through the Person of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, from this epistle, we discern the heart of the gospel and the way to be reconciled once again to God –
-There is none righteous, no, not one. Romans 3:10
– All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
– For the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23
– But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
– That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
God sent Jesus to live the life we cannot live; He lived the perfect life, never sinning; He gave His life in exchange for our sins; and God raised Him from the dead as evidence of His sinless perfection. The offer is made; receive Jesus and receive His righteousness. Choose wisely. Choose Jesus!
Life application: Romans shows us the love of God in Jesus Christ. His work is fully capable to save us and reconcile us to God. Now, because of Him we stand justified before God apart from deeds of the law. Let us never forget that we are saved by grace through faith and let us never attempt to set aside that grace by attempting to be justified by our deeds. Let us rest wholly upon the work of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Glorious Heavenly Father, today, I want to praise You for Your wondrous work through Jesus. A lifetime of rebellion and sin was washed away at the cross of Calvary and the proof is in His resurrection. I need not worry if I “might” be reconciled to You. Through Him, I am one hundred percent saved! Thank You for Jesus. Thank You, O God. Amen.
Monday, 3 March 2014
…but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith… Romans 16:26
This thought continues from the previous verse which spoke of the “revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began.” It is this mystery which is now “made manifest.” What was concealed, is now revealed; what was hidden, is now openly seen; what was secret, is now made evident. This begs us to ask, “How was this accomplished?” And the answer is found in the Bible itself. It is “by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations.”
The Hebrew Scriptures were eventually translated into Greek, the main language of the empire at that time. Thus they were accessible to “all nations” because they could then be retranslated into regional dialects or surrounding languages very easily. What God had kept for so long among a small and almost isolated group of people in an obscure tongue was now ready to be “made known to all nations.” This Greek translation is known as the Septuagint (or LXX), and is the most quoted text of Jesus and the apostles.
But just as important as it was to have the Scriptures which testified to the coming Messiah and the work of God in Christ, it was just as important that he actually came in fulfillment of the prophetic word. Through His coming, those hidden mysteries which told of Him could be clearly understood. As Jesus said to the Jews of His day when speaking of their Scriptures (the body which comprises the Old Testament), “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39)
Everything within the Old Testament Scriptures testifies to the coming Christ and God’s plan of redemption in history. Everything now found in the New Testament Scriptures testifies to the accomplished work of Christ and God’s continued plan of redemption in history. It is all about Jesus. The mysteries have been made known and even those mysteries which are still future are explained in some part (such as the rapture of the church).
And all of this is “according to the commandment of the everlasting God.” It is God, timeless and eternal, who issued the decree that these things should be. In the Old Testament, He is called El Olam. He is eternal and unchanging and thus His commandments, when issued from eternity past, are eternally relevant. Nothing He has decreed can fail to transpire. The word He has given is breathed out within the framework of time and thus all things that occur in time happen in accord with the accomplishment of His word. Nothing is outside of His knowledge or control.
And the reason for the issuance of His word which is in accordance with His will is that it is “for obedience to the faith.” This thought ties us directly back to Romans 1:5 which said “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name.” The Scriptures are what testify to Christ and bring about “obedience to the faith.”
Before Christ came, there were five distinct dispensations: Innocence, Conscience, Government, Promise, and Law. The OT Scriptures came about under the dispensation of law and set up a temporary system of government until Faith was revealed. When Christ came and fulfilled the law, the plan of redemption moved from “obedience to the law” to “obedience to the faith.” As Paul says in Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
This is where we stand and in our faith we are to be obedient. And Jesus is the object of that faith. It is the greatest act of grace we could imagine. And yet, far too often, we trade the grace of Jesus Christ for a return to the law. Let us not make such an error, but rest wholly in His finished work.
Life application: The commandment of the everlasting God is summed up in believing in the One whom He has sent. If we have this sure faith, then we are truly saved. It is a gift and it cannot be earned. Let us thank God for His wonderful, beautiful grace.
Heavenly Father… Thank You for having forgiven me for a lifetime of failure and of rejecting You. You pulled me out of the dirty pit, wiped my face clean, and allowed Your grace to flow around me like a warm blanket. You have granted me the righteousness of Your own Son and taken away my sin. How can I not praise You for the wondrous grace You have bestowed. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.
Sunday, 2 March 2014
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began… Romans 16:25
Paul now begins his closing verses of the epistle with a doxology. This is actually the only epistle that he ends with one. Others contain one or more doxologies, but this one is unique in this way. And so he begins with “Now to Him…” This is speaking of Jesus Christ as noted in verse 20, just before Tertius’ insert greetings. It is He “who is able to establish you.” This sentiment is found in Ephesians 3:20 –
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”
The work that Christ has begun in us as recipients of His offering of grace, He is fully capable of establishing and continuing in us. Back in Romans 1:11, 12, Paul wrote these words concerning this very precept –
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
His hope was to “impart some spiritual gift that you may be established.” Now he notes that it is the Lord who in fact is able to so establish them. And, this is “according to my gospel.” In other words, the doctrines which were set forth in this epistle, written by him. This gospel is entirely Christ centered: We were predestined for salvation, because God foreknew us (Romans 8:29); our calling is of the Lord (Romans 8:30); salvation is of the Lord (Romans 10:9); justification is of the Lord (Romans 3:24); sanctification is of the Lord; this came through the work of the Holy Spirit who testifies to the work of Christ (Romans 15:16) ); and glorification is of the Lord (Romans 8:30).
After noting that the Romans can be established through the words of his epistle, he adds “and the preaching of Jesus Christ.” Paul was personally instructed by the Lord. He also had the testimony of the other apostles concerning the words of the Lord. But care must be taken here to understand what Paul is speaking of. The majority of Jesus’ recorded words in the gospels were spoken to Israel, under the law. There is a separation between these words and the words which speak of the church age. The two are not to be mixed. If what Jesus said under the law was enough to establish us, there would be no need for New Testament epistles. But there is because the church age and the kingdom age as spoken to Israel are, in fact, separate dispensations. Mixing these two then often leads to erroneous doctrine.
And this is absolutely certain because Paul’s “gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ” mentioned here are “according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began.” This is how God does things in redemptive history. He progressively reveals His intentions for us. Until Paul revealed these mysteries (and those in his other epistles) they were entirely unknown. Paul, being the apostle to the Gentiles, wrote back and forth in this letter to Jew and then to Gentile, showing that both are acceptable to Christ, and both are in need of Christ. This mystery, or hidden truth, is revealed through Paul. Before that, it was unknown “since the world began.” The word used here literally means “in times eternal.”
There were in fact hints of the dispensational model given all the way back in Genesis, such as clues that the Gentiles would, for a certain time, assume the banner of redemption; the Church Age. But these hints were concealed until the events came about. Only in hindsight can we fully grasp what the allusions we were given back there actually meant. The mystery was secure until it was fully revealed after the coming of Christ. This concept of hiding and revealing things is actually noted right in Deuteronomy. There it says –
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29
God, in His infinite wisdom, has taken man through various dispensations in order to show us that in any situation we are utterly dependent on Him and His open hand of grace and mercy.
Life application: All hail the work of Jesus Christ which reconciles us to God.
Heavenly Father, Your word is beyond compare. Though we have searched it carefully for thousands of years, still new insights and hidden truths are revealed as the days go by. How wonderfully glorious is this superior Word which You have given us. Help us to not forsake it for life’s trivial pursuits, but to search it out and hold fast to it all our days. Amen.
Saturday, 1 March 2014
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Romans 16:24
This verse is another internal clue that all of verses 22-24 were penned by Tertius the scribe and not by Paul. In verse 20, Paul wrote, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” it seems unlikely that he would repeat himself so closely in wording at such a close interval. But for Tertius to make the same comment would be natural and even expected. This salutation was probably a common one among the saints from the earliest days of the church and would have been repeated often.
In fact, these words of Tertius are a mirror of John’s final words in the book of Revelation which also say, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
Tertius, though a mere scribe, was granted the high honor of being a part-author in the eternal word of God. As his greeting to the Romans has become a part of this word, he is reaching across space and through time to greet you personally! Think of that as you again read his words and reflect on the wonder of the Bible.
Life application: What things do you think will survive your evaluation by Christ? As believers, we will all stand before Him and receive from Him our rewards. Some things will be burned away, some will survive (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). The process will be perfectly fair and we will be thoroughly satisfied with what He decides, but we may not be happy with our reflections on the life we lived. Endeavor now to do those things which will be pleasing to the Lord so that your rewards will be many and your cup will be large and eternally blessed with overflow.
Lord God, I’m excited about the life You’ve given me. There are so many opportunities to reach out to others in their times of need, there are many chances to share Your word or to tell those around me about Your gospel of peace, and there are even times where I can just sit and be still in Your presence and feel Your Spirit of comfort and peace. Thank You for Your constant hand upon my life. Thank You… Amen.