Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sent to Preach So They Can Hear 120923

Romans 10:13-21, For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Isa. 52:7) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” (Isa. 53:1) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” (Ps. 19:4)
But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.” (Deut. 32:21)
Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” (Isa. 65:1) But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” (Isa. 65:2)

The Apostle looks on his people and mourns for them because they, by and large, refuse to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Repeatedly, he presented the gospel first to the Jews then he turned to the Gentiles with a message that said, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." To leave it at that is not enough. Men call on the Lord's name in vain. If you listen you can hear the word "God" being thrown around casually everyday. Calling on the name of the Lord is more than calling on God like calling for a medic in time of trouble. It is calling on the LORD. The Bible knows nothing of Jesus being Savior and not being Lord. One is not saved by repeating a formula. One is saved by believing in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confessing with the mouth that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God The Father! In these verses Paul tracks back through the process of saving faith. Let us look at his trail.

How will they call on him unless they have believed?
Belief in God's goodness leads to repentance. Turn with me to Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews is very clear — faith is essential to a relationship with the living God. Just read the roll call of the faithful found in Chapter 11. From Able, to the last person who lives, faith is the evidence of a relationship to God.
We certainly cannot expect a person to call out to God unless they believe that he exists, and, that he rewards those who seek him earnestly. Now, many people believe in God — or at least they believe "about" God. Even those who claim to be atheists seem to believe in his existence. Otherwise, why would they be so adamant in their opposition? After all, who are they protesting against?
Now let's look at…
Romans 2:4, Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
To listen to some preachers you would think that the only thing that could lead a person to repentance is fear of an angry God. When I first began to preach, my father said to me, "You can't get people to come in by making them scared of hell. If you do you will always have to keep them hell scared." I've often thought of that especially when I hear a preacher preaching fire and brimstone only. What Paul said to the Romans is that they should not try to take advantage of the richness of God's kindness, forbearance, and patience. They should know that God's kindness is not something we should take advantage of. But rather, God's kindness should cause us to be ashamed of our sins and turn to him in repentance. Our earnest desire should be that people call on the name of the Lord. In fact, there is a tremendous need in the area we live in for people to call on the name of the Lord. If we show every kindness and patience with people perhaps they will listen to the kindness, forbearance and patience of God and come to repentance. Or, they may need to have a more dramatic introduction…
Like the Philippian jailer. Turn with me to Acts 16:30-31, Paul and Silas had been put in prison for the crime of freeing a young girl from demon possession. They had come to Philippi to bring the gospel, for the first time, to Europe. They had been severely beaten and placed in a jail cell. Their feet were in stocks so they hardly rested. Not being able to rest due to their beating and binding they did the best thing they knew how. They were praying and singing hymns to God. Now, about midnight there was a great earthquake that shook the jail. It was a very unusual earthquake because the jail doors flew open and everyone's bonds fell off. When the jailer saw what had happened he prepared to commit suicide because he was held responsible for all the prisoners. Paul called out to him, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." Apparently, the other prisoners had such respect for the godliness of Paul and Silas they wanted to stay and see what happened. The jailer hurried into the damaged jail and fell down before Paul and Silas. Now, let us read verses 30-31… Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” The jailer cried out to Paul and Silas because obviously those men knew the way of salvation. In order to call on the Lord, the jailer had to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He placed his faith in Christ and that very night he and his whole household were baptized on profession of their faith.
How will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And…
How will they believe if they have never heard of him?
A man who was born blind. Turn with me to John 9:35-38, this is towards the end of a very fascinating story from the life of Jesus. He and his disciples were leaving the Temple. On the way they saw a man who was born blind. Perhaps he was begging and thereby caused them to see him. The disciples immediately assumed that someone had sinned, causing this man to be born blind. Jesus said that it was not caused by sin. But, in order for God's work to be done Jesus healed him. Immediately the news spread around the city and the religious leaders gathered to question this man and his family. When he refused to denounce the man who healed him they threw him out of the synagogue. Now let us read verses 35-38, Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. This man had experienced healing from Jesus but he did not know who he was. Jesus asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. Well, by golly, he was ready to believe! All he needed to know was who he should believe in. He illustrates the answer to the question: "How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?" Paul, the militant missionary apostle, had a burning desire to tell others who Jesus was in order for them to be able to call on. You see…
Paul's desire was that all should hear. Turn with me to Romans 15:20, Paul wrote this letter to the Romans so that they would understand what he believed when he arrived as a prisoner of Rome. He expected to be released and allowed to go on his way, even as far as Spain. So he said…and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,…
Just as Jesus wanted to go to all the villages around to preach, Paul also had the desire to go where no one has ever preached Christ before. That is the missionary call. It is a call that we need to hear and respond to now. The majority of the people in the world, even in the United States of America, have never truly heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and as such they cannot call on him. So…
How will they hear if there is no preacher?
There are two Greek words used for "preach" in the New Testament. One is found in Acts chapter 8, verse 4. After Stephen was martyred, a general persecution of the church began, led by Saul of Tarsus. Saul would later become Paul the Apostle after he met Jesus. With the persecution, the church, except for the apostles, were scattered all over the region. These were the common people. Church members if you will. Wherever they went…
The scattered church preached. Turn with me to Acts 8:4, Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Here, the word for preach is not the special term for one who is called to preach the gospel. The word could be translated "gossiped". So, as they went they told everyone what had happened in Jerusalem. They told about Jesus being born of a virgin. They told about his life, teachings, and miracles. They told about his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. But, I am sure, they went on to say that if you call on the name of the Lord you will be saved. As they went they brought good news. Philip was one of them. He went to Samaria and preached to them there. And then he was called by God to go into the desert to meet a man from Ethiopia and to bring good news to him.
Bringing good news. Turn with me to Acts 8:30-31, So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Beginning at that passage, Philip preached to him the good news about Jesus. The Ethiopian eunuch had a hunger in his heart to call on the Lord. He was reading from the scroll of Isaiah but he did not understand. He needed to hear someone speak the truth about Jesus because…
Faith comes from hearing. It is extremely important that we hear and believe the word of Christ. In our text today, verse 17, Paul said very boldly, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
Let's see what else he has to say on the subject. Turn with me to Galatians 3:2-6, Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
The work of God is done when his people hear with faith. Not in response to the flesh nature but in response to the Spirit. We need to hear with faith in order to become sons and daughters of Abraham the father of the faithful.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And…
How can they preach if they are not sent? There needs to be a sense of being "sent" in order for preaching to have power. I remember, very clearly, the day I was "sent" here by the Lord. In 1970 or 71 we had come through the area and stopped in Stamford. We were gone longer than we expected and needed to eat, or thought we did, yet we did not have enough cash. So I went into Grand Union and asked if they would accept an out-of-town check and they said, "Sure, we will." That stuck with me for the next 4 years. I had become pastor of Plainview Baptist Church near Bogalusa, Louisiana, and had been there for 4 years when I clearly felt a call of God to come back to New York. Soon it became clear that he wanted us here! It is a long story. At the right event I will tell it all. Let's get back to the sermon…
Early missionaries were sent. Turn with me to Acts 13:2-4, Barnabas and Saul, later to be renamed Paul, had been ministering in Antioch of Syria. The church had grown there by leaps and bounds and now it was time to reach out to other places where the gospel had not been heard. During a time of worship, and fasting, the Lord instructed them to set aside Barnabas and Saul for the work to which he had called them. Let's read the passage, While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
That began, for Paul, an amazing adventure that led finally to his execution in Rome. On the way he would see governors, soldiers, leaders of synagogues, future preachers and common people come to faith in Christ by the hundreds or even thousands. He would plant churches on Cyprus, throughout modern day Syria, Turkey and Greece. And eventually he arrived in Rome itself where he was able to lead members of the Praetorian Guard, the personal soldiers of Caesar, to faith in Christ. And then from Rome he would take his final journey into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, courtesy of the headsman's axe.
Following in the footsteps of Paul there would be hundreds of thousands of future missionaries. They were sent out by churches or groups of churches throughout the centuries since.
Through the centuries they are sent.
Beginning with the apostles of Jesus Christ, Christians of every generation have been called and sent to preach the gospel. Tradition tells us that each of the twelve went out to preach in different places. Andrew went to Greece, and at Patra he led the governor's wife and brother to Christ. He was arrested and executed there. When he was told that he would be crucified he said he was not worthy to die in the manner that Jesus did. He asked that his cross be shaped like an X and that is now called St. Andrew's cross. Bartholomew traveled east and preached in Armenia and India. He was cut to pieces with knives because of his faith. James, brother of John, was the first of the apostles to be martyred. He was beheaded by order Herod the king. John, the beloved disciple, was made responsible for Mary, Jesus' mother, and took care of her until she died while he traveled and preached in modern-day Syria and Turkey. He was the only apostle who died of natural causes when he was nearly 100 years old. Jude is said to have been killed with arrows at Ararat after a successful ministry. Matthew wrote his gospel and had a successful preaching ministry in Ethiopia where he died a martyr. Peter traveled extensively preaching the gospel and wrote two letters that are part of the New Testament. Tradition tells us that he was crucified upside down in Rome. Philip preached in modern Greece. He was martyred in Hierapolis. Simon, the zealot, preached the good news and was crucified. Thomas traveled in the East and is credited with founding the church in South India where he was martyred for his faith.
Of course, I cannot possibly give you a list of everyone who went out and, in one way or another, gave their lives for the gospel. But I can mention a few.
Patrick was kidnapped and made a slave in the 5th century. He was taken to Ireland from Britain. He was also a Christian and after being a slave for six years he escaped and returned to his home. He was trained as a preacher and returned to Ireland where he led many people to faith in Christ.
William Carey was a cobbler who studied the word of God and taught himself foreign languages while he worked with leather in the early 1700s. After he felt himself to be called to preach he became concerned for the lost. Not just the lost people of Great Britain but also the lost people around the world. He wrote a book about the need to carry the gospel to foreign lands. He helped organize a mission sending agency and became their 1st missionary to India. He was a linguist who became a university professor while at the same time translating the Bible into Sanskrit and several other Indian languages.
Adoniram Judson led the 1st group of American missionaries to India. On the way there the entire group came to believe that they should be baptized by immersion and they became the 1st American Baptist missionaries. They went to Burma where, after unspeakable hardships, they established the 1st Baptist Churches in Burma. There is not time to tell all these stories. But I can quote a poem that Judson wrote, "In spite of sorrow, loss and pain. Our course be onward still. We sow on Burma's barren plain, And reap on Zion's Hill."
These missionaries, and millions of others, are my heroes. They are the ones who really paid the price that the gospel could be spread around the world. Today, all over the world, there are missionaries who are laying down their lives in order for people who have never heard to have the privilege of hearing the good news about Jesus Christ.
You may never be a missionary in a foreign land but you can be a missionary where you live. You see…
All believers are sent. Turn with me to The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus has come to the end of his earthly ministry and is now preparing to ascend into heaven. His gathered disciples heard these words from the lips of Jesus. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
All believers are sent! As we go we should always be considering the need to make disciples. As we come in contact with people we need to share the faith that God has given us with them. And we do not have to be concerned about where they are from or who their family is. We should only be concerned about whether they know Jesus or not. All the nations are gathered in the United States alone. We travel to Peru to share the gospel with the descendents of the ancient Inca. In our own state convention, here in New York, there are several churches made up of these same people. Here, in our immediate vicinity, there are people from China, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, and many other nations. Some are Christians many are not. We do not have to buy a single plane ticket to share the gospel with one of these.
Now, let's get back to the message.
Paul goes on to say that everyone has heard. The elements of nature, as cited in Psalm 19 speaks of the creator. Specifically, Israel heard but refused to listen. Moses had told them that God would pass them by to make them jealous and draw them to himself. Isaiah went even further to say that God would be found by those who did not seek — that he would show himself to those who did not ask. Yet, to Israel God stretched out his arms to disobedient and contrary people. May it never be true here. May God's hands find in us a cheerfully obedient people.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Believe and Confess 120916

Romans 10:9-13, because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 
Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart. The heart believes and the mouth confesses. In verses 9 and 10 Paul summarizes the gospel for all the world to see. He uses belief and confession in both verses and reverses the order from one to the other. Both confession of the Lordship of Christ and belief in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead is necessary for salvation. Both confession and belief are necessary to salvation. I do not believe they are steps that occur in a particular order. They sort of happen together rather than one leading to the other. If Jesus is Lord, then the resurrection is part of what we believe about him. Verses 11 through 13 are an expansion on verses 9 and 10 and shows the Old Testament proof supporting the earlier verses.

Paul has quoted from Moses showing that the word from the Lord was not far away from the people of Israel as they entered the promised land. Now he applies the same idea to the men of his day, and incidentally, to the people of our day. The word is near — in the mouth and in the heart — the word of faith proclaimed in Scripture. Everyone who calls on the name the Lord will be saved. Now there is a false teaching surrounding this idea.

I remember when I was a boy listening to a preacher presenting his understanding of this passage. I thought to myself then that what he was saying could not possibly be true. He said that if you call on the name of the Lord you are saved. Then he went on to illustrate the concept that he had. Remember, when I was a boy was during and just after World War II. Millions of American men had gone into that war. Many of them found themselves in combat much more vicious than today simply because they had no body armor to protect them. The preacher said that most of them, in the middle of battle, had cried out to the Lord to save them. Therefore, he concluded that those men were saved because during their time of fear they called out to God. That just simply cannot be! I agree with the elderly lady in a testimony service who said, "It ain't how loud you shout when you yell hallelujah, or how high you jump, it's how straight you walk when you hit the ground.” I am not advocating works salvation. I am saying that confession with the mouth that Jesus is Lord involves more than using his name in a particular time of crisis or religious fervor. Confessing with the mouth must be accompanied by believing in the heart for salvation to occur. Never take one verse by itself, or a few selected verses by themselves, to build your faith. It must be based on the entire word of God.

God invites all to call on his name and be blessed with all the riches of God. God's riches are not always seen in material things. However, he is very generous towards those he can trust with material possessions. Though he is the richest person in the universe he chose to leave heaven's glory for the gloom of earth and become poor in order that by his poverty that we might become rich. Now that is not my opinion it is the word of God found in 2nd Corinthians 8:9. Now let us look at the passage before us…

God invites ALL. There is a general call to all people to come to the Lord. At the Feast of Booths Jesus stood before the crowd and said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ' Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" (John 7:37-38)
Jesus said, "whoever believes in him." Read with me, John 6:47, Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. In fact, twelve times in the gospel of John Jesus uses the term "whoever" in connection with belief in him. It seems obvious that he was saying anyone can come if they will. We know that not everyone will come and it is very obvious that many people will reject the gospel offer. God has made us in such a way that he ordains all that we do and we exercise our personal will and make real, voluntary choices. Many people reject this idea because we cannot understand it. Yet it is clearly presented in Scripture. Should we reject something that we do not understand? We cannot understand, in any final sense, how a plant lives or how a bumblebee flies. I do not understand what a carbohydrate is but I do not deny the existence of carbohydrates. I do not understand what a vitamin is but I take them everyday. Everyone has something they do not understand and yet they do not reject it simply because they do not understand it. So it is with the truth of the Bible concerning Election.

Most Bible scholars agree that Romans 1:16 states the theme of the book. Let us look that verse now…
The theme verse says, "everyone who believes". Read with me Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Paul was not ashamed of the gospel even though the gospel condemned his own people because they pursued a righteousness of the law rather than righteousness of faith. He was not ashamed of the gospel because he had, literally, "seen the light" on the Damascus Road, as a result, he now understood that all he had stood for in the past was just garbage. The good news about Jesus Christ is the power of God for salvation. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. The Jews had the first opportunity to come to the gospel. Paul always presented it that way. He went to the synagogue and preached the gospel, and then, when he was turned away, he presented the gospel to whoever would listen. For that action he was condemned by his own people who believed that they were the chosen people of God. Paul had come to understand that the church is "The Israel of God" and now the gospel goes out all the world.

The theme of the book of Acts seems to me to be the gospel going out beginning in Jerusalem, then to Judea, then to Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth. Beginning with only Jews, Acts tells us about the gospel going to Samaritans, an Ethiopian, Roman soldiers, and spreading to non-Jews in many places. The last word in the Greek book of Acts is translated as "unhindered". Though Paul was in chains in Rome the gospel was not hindered — it was going out to everyone everywhere. And those who believed were being saved. It is a wonderful story and has continued until today. This is not some New Testament idea it was prophesied repeatedly in the Old Testament for example…

Joel spoke of everyone. If you have your Bible, turn to Joel 2:32, And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls…
This is the verse used by Paul in Romans 10:13. Repeatedly, Paul has quoted from the Old Testament prophets in support of this truth that the gospel of God has always been "The Gospel of Grace" and is available to all people everywhere. Remember, the call must come because the person doing the calling has believed in their heart. The basic belief in Christ is that he was born of a virgin, took our sins on the cross, was buried and raised again to live forever as the only mediator between God and man. This is not some simple repetition of a formula for salvation. Instead, this is a serious commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In using the quote from Joel, Paul was making very plain who Jesus is. Joel, of course, was written originally in the Hebrew language. The word "Lord", in the Hebrew text, is the name of God "Yahweh" or, as some would have it in English, "Jehovah". So Paul, a very intelligent scholar of the Hebrew Bible, knowingly used the quote from Joel to say that Jesus is God Himself. Therefore, when we…

Call on the Name. We are calling on God himself because that is who Jesus is. You may say that you do not understand the Trinity. And some deny it because the word Trinity is not in the Bible. It is a word based on "tri", or three, and "unity". Resulting in a word to describe three persons in one Godhead. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, are God. They are in perfect unity and perfect communion with each other. When we call on the name we do it because we believe and not because we have somehow earned the right through our good works.

Believing and confessing, not works of the law. Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 2:8-10, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Salvation is by grace through faith only. The Scripture says that we are not saved by works of righteousness that we have done. This passage states that it is not our own doing. In fact, it is a gift of God! Our salvation does not result from our good works. We have nothing to boast about and many things to be ashamed of. We have all sinned and come short of God's glory. That is exceptionally sad because the wages of sin is death. If we have all sinned and the wages of sin is death we are born in trouble and it just gets worse as we grow older.
Praise God, we are not beyond hope. God shows his love for us while we are still sinners, ungodly people, by sending his Son to take our sins into his own body and die on the cross. Which allows us, if we are willing, to come to him and confess that Jesus is Lord affirming our belief that he died on the cross and was raised again. If a person believes in their heart, with their entire being, and confesses with their mouth that he is Lord the Bible says that they are saved. A person makes such a confession because they have been called by God you see…
The "called" call on the name. Let's see what Paul said to the Corinthians, he was writing to the church there, turn with me to 1 Corinthians 1:2, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 
This is just one example, out of many that we might have used, talking about those who call on the name of the Lord. Notice how these people are described. 1st) they are the church of God that is in Corinth. Not the Baptist Church or the Methodist Church or the Catholic Church but the church of God. All those names for churches came later. I personally believe that what God has done in the Baptist Church speaks to me personally so I am not ashamed of the name "Baptist". Any time you want to know more about what I believe in that respect just ask me I will be happy to fill you in. 2nd) Paul is writing those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus. They are people who are set apart from the world and are in Christ Jesus. 3rd) They are called to be saints. Sanctified in Christ Jesus and called, by God, to be saints. I know that there are some churches who respect certain individuals to the point that they call them "Saints". In New Orleans there is a whole football team of "Saints". Yet the New Testament refers to all believers as Saints. It is made very clear in this passage that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is called to be a Saint. And therefore, the called call on the name of the Lord. And…

Calling on the name involves Lordship. Recall the words of Joel, "… everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." There are people who teach that salvation comes to a person when they give intellectual assent. Then they teach that the person who wants to go on in spiritual growth accept Christ as "Lord". The Bible does not teach this division.
When Paul met Jesus on the Damascus Road he called Jesus, "Lord". "Who are you Lord", he said. And no one knew better what the meeting of "Lord" was than Paul. He knew that word should only be applied to God himself. Later, Paul would tell us about his preaching by saying that he did not hesitate to tell them anything that was profitable to them. He preached to them publicly and from house to house telling everyone about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:20-21)

Repentance is essential to salvation. We turn away from all known sin because we are now ready to confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. All people everywhere need to repent and confess Jesus is Lord. It does not make any difference who your family is or what race you are. The same Lord is Lord of all and he is…
Bestowing his riches. On those who call upon his name.
Salvation is the greatest gift. Turn with me to Ephesians 1:3-8, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

If you are Christian you have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. You have been chosen by him before the world was created! We have been chosen to be holy and blameless before him. He chose beforehand to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. It was the purpose of his will that he blessed us with Jesus — The Beloved! He has redeemed us through the blood of Christ, forgiving our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. These riches he lavished on us in his wisdom and insight.
His riches may include material things. I subscribe to the concept that God rewards us with material things as much as he can trust us with material things! In other words he gives us what he can trust us with! The truth is, God is more generous than we come near to deserving in the area of material blessings. God is prepared to pour out upon us, lavishly, of material and spiritual things…
More than we can imagine. Look at this quote from Isaiah found in 1 Corinthians 2:9,But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

God has prepared for those who love him more than can be imagined. Not just more than we have imagined but more than we can imagine. More than we have ever seen, more than we have ever heard about and more than we have ever dreamed. 2nd Chronicles 16:9 tells us that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro over the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless towards him. We should be aware that God wants to provide for us. Through the psalmist (Ps 81:16) he said that he would feed us with the finest wheat and with honey from the rock. But, he could not because we would not trust in him.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem he mourned the condition of the city, saying, "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Matthew 23:37)
We see in these examples how much God desires to bless his people. The big problem is his people, by and large, are just not blessable! 
God Himself is the ultimate gift!
The greatest gift we could ever receive is a relationship with the living God! All the world, sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, are born in sin and conceived in iniquity. Everyone, without exception, deserves death and hell. Yet, God chose for reasons of his own to save some and make them his people. Chosen, not because they are good or somehow deserve it, but because he chooses to love the unlovely. His greatest gift was himself! From the beginning of time he had planned a way for man to know him. Not as the far-off God who created and then drew back to watch his creation but instead one who is near. In fact, not just one who came alongside us but one who came to be one of us. John tells us in the 1st chapter of his gospel that Jesus, the Word, came to his own and his own people did not receive him. But, to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave a right to become children of God,

In Romans 5:8 Paul tells us that God shows us his love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. And in the 2nd Corinthians 5:21 we are told that he who knew no sin was made to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Can any gift be greater than that which he bestows on us who believe in him.
Throughout Romans 9-11 Paul's concern for the Israelites, his own people, causes him to point out to them (and us) that God always had a plan. A plan that called all people to himself not just the descendents of Abraham. It is not just a matter of saying the word "Lord" in your confession. It is not just a matter of calling to the Lord. Remember, Jesus said that there would be many on the day of judgment who would say to him, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" Jesus went on to say that he never knew them! Just before that Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21-23) If Jesus as your Lord you will do the will of God the Father.

All scripture quotes from:The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saving Faith 120909

Romans 10:5-10, For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Last Sunday we looked at the fact that Jesus is the end of the law for those who believe. Now the law is very important. Jesus did not come to abolish the law he came to fulfill it. He satisfied the demands of the law for every believer. Now we find the Apostle coming back to Moses and comparing two kinds of righteousness. Righteousness that based on the law demands that we keep all of it. And, that is impossible! Righteousness based on faith does not make such a demand. Faith does not require an effort on our part, instead, the way is provided by our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God! We do not have to drag him down or lift him up. He has done it all!

We have in today's passage a summary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A content is given, a commitment is demanded and a confession is called for. Here Paul is stressing the importance of understanding the fact that we cannot do anything to save ourselves. The New Testament is filled with references to the fact that Christ Jesus himself did everything necessary for man's salvation. Of course, it is necessary for man to respond. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak,… (2 Corinthians 4:13)

The spirit of faith calls forth a confession. Elvina Hall penned these words more than 150 years ago:

I hear the Savior say, "Thy strength indeed is small,

child of weakness, watch and pray,

find in Me thine all in all."

Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe;

sin had left a crimson stain,

he washed it white as snow.

It is extremely important for us to know what salvation is all about and how we arrive at it. We need to know that faith has content, has character and gives confidence. Now let us look at…

The content of saving faith.

Too often today people are called "Christian" simply because they have had an experience that, they were told, saved them. Folks, reading a list of propositions and saying "I believe" does not make a person a Christian. James reminds, us in his little book, the demons believe and tremble. I would go further and say that of course the demons believe! They have seen with their own eyes the glory of heaven and yet they joined the rebellion and were driven out along with Satan. Belief in God is fairly common worldwide. The vast majority of that belief is intellectual. People believe something about Jesus or, they simply believe that he once existed.

There needs to be much more than "head belief". What we believe in must be correct in content. Our salvation is not based on a series of intellectual beliefs. Our salvation is based on a person. The content of Christian faith is, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved". That is it!That is the content.…

Jesus is Lord! Read with me please, Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus came to earth as a baby in a manger. He lived in a Carpenter's house and did a Carpenter's work. Being found in human form he humbled himself to the point of going to the cross to die for us fulfilling the law on our behalf! At the same time, He is God Almighty The King of the Universe! In fact to confess that Jesus is Lord is the same as confessing that he is God. The Greek word used for Lord is used throughout the Greek Old Testament, translated by the Jewish leaders, in place of YHWH. We do not know how to pronounce this name because the Israelites stopped pronouncing it early in order not to take the name in vain. I would that we were as respectful of the name of God in our society. So to confess that Jesus is Lord is to confess that Jesus is Jehovah.

All of this happened as a result of God's plan for meeting the needs of sinful mankind. The result of Jesus' life and death is that his name is exalted above every name and, ultimately, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He proved his Lordship, not on the cross but instead in the empty tomb. He gave his life for his chosen people but the grave could not keep him.

God has raised him from the dead. Read with me,1 Corinthians 15:12-17, Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

Too often, in presenting the gospel, we simply say, "You must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord" and we end there. Friends we have to go on. Salvation is serious business! The resurrection sets Christianity apart from all world religions. Some of the world religions claim that their founder was taken up from the earth into heaven. But none of them have any historical evidence that their founder died and came back to life by the power of God. The Bible is an historical document and it has never been shown that any of it is inaccurate. Whatever the Bible speaks to it speaks truth. So Jesus' resurrection is recorded as an historical event. It was witnessed by his close followers expanding outward, according to Paul, to more than 500 believers that saw the risen Lord.

Now, people may argue that these people lied, or, some kind of mass hypnosis made them believe something that was not true. First of all, if the authorities had possession of his body after the claimed resurrection they would have produced it and put an end to the faith at its very beginning. Secondly, if his followers had hidden the body they would have known he did not raise from the dead. And as Paul said in the above reading, our "faith is futile".

On the night of Jesus trial the disciples ran and hid. Peter, the boldest of the group, denied that he knew Jesus three times. They hid in an upper room from the authorities until the 3rd day when he appeared to them as their resurrected Lord. And then, on the day of Pentecost, they went out into the streets proclaiming that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. They did that knowing that the same authorities that crucified him could easily kill them as well. You just don't do that if you have been perpetrating a fraud. They went on, all but John, to become martyrs for the faith because they knew that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was therefore the Lord Jehovah himself.

The 1st century church, those who had personal knowledge of the teaching of the apostles, gave their lives gladly rather than say, "Caesar is Lord." That is powerful belief and I just pray that if I am called upon to give my life for my Lord I will be as brave as they. I join the apostle Paul in this prayer, "… it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death." (Philippians 1:20)

We've talked about the content now let us talk about…

The character of saving faith. The mouth confesses but…

The heart believes. Turn with me to Luke 24:25, And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

Here Jesus uses the same analogy of the heart believing. In the Bible the word "heart" is often used to designate the entire personality. We usually use the word "heart" when we talk about emotions. In fact, in modern time that is almost always the way the word is used. Our text says, "… with the heart one believes". Here, clearly, the word "heart" means the very center of one's personality. Or, it means the entire personality — the totality of one's being! Confession with the mouth has its foundation in believing with the heart. Without heartfelt belief the confession is just words without authority. This is not a matter of the intellect …

It is a heart condition. See what the psalmist had to say in Psalm 14:1, The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

The person who says that there is no God is a fool. Such a person is corrupt and dangerous. We live in a world that is more and more dominated by the philosophy of atheism. I am not talking about a communist type of atheism I am talking about a pagan atheism that recognizes there are many spiritual beings but refuses to recognize the one true God. Christians will find themselves more and more marginalized in the years ahead unless there is a real revival of real faith. That revival needs to come soon. Please, pray daily that the Spirit of God will move in power and that a new "Great Awakening" will happen even in our lifetime.

We have looked at the content and the character of saving faith now let us move on to…

The confidence of saving faith.

Confession with the mouth. Read with me, Luke 12:8, “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,…” That is a powerful statement! You confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and Jesus says that he will confess your name before the Angels of God. That is an awesome thought. So we should make a habit of confessing the name of Jesus, acknowledging him before men. They will try to prevent us by every means possible. All across the land there are court cases forcing people to not use the name of Jesus in public. When there is not a court case, there is public pressure.

For example: In a letter to the editor of the News-Leader newspaper in Springfield, Missouri, Jane Pitt wrote that she was a Christian and planned to vote for Mitt Romney in November. They were comments that initially attracted very little attention.

The letter cited Romney's pro-life views and said he shares her "conviction concerning homosexuality". The letter stated that Pres. Barack Obama is a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage.

That is when the roof blew off the house. It was made public that Jane Pitt is the mother of popular actor Brad Pitt, and the storm struck with all the angry contempt of those who hold ungodly views in our society.

Jane Pitt was attacked on the Internet to the point that she has refused to comment any further. By the way, this is not an endorsement for Mitt Romney.

This is just one example of many that could be offered. Those who demand "tolerance" of lifestyles that are clearly condemned in Scripture are totally intolerant when Christians speak out boldly and publicly.

When Peter and John were arrested because they boldly spoke out before the Council after they committed the "crime" of healing a crippled man in the name of Jesus. The court commanded them to speak no more to anyone in this name. May we be as bold as they in the same circumstance. Let us look at what they had to say. Acts 4:19-20, But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

"We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." Those are powerful words that need to be spoken again and again throughout our society. Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus — believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Remember, he must be Lord in every respect. This is not for the fainthearted. Throughout history literally millions of Christians have lost their lives, on this earth, because they found they had to speak what they had seen and heard.

Today, we live in a relatively free society. We can thank God for that but if the opponents of God get their way we will not be a free society long. Yes, we need to confess with the mouth but we also need…

Confession in baptism. Remember Jesus' last words on Earth according to Matthew? Turn with me to, Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

A clear command is given by Jesus. Based on his authority, which is total over all the universe, as we go about our daily lives we are to make disciples of all nations. They are to be baptized in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then they are to be taught all that Jesus has commanded.

The process is pretty clear, 1st they are to come to faith then, and only then, they are to be baptized and enrolled in a training program. There are many examples of this process in the Book of Acts. Let's look at the day of Pentecost.

Turn with me to…

Acts 2:37-41, Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

In his sermon Peter was very clear. "Repent" and then "be baptized" because of the forgiveness of your sins. This passage does not teach that person has their sins washed away by baptism. That would be inconsistent the rest of Scripture. This passage states that when a person repents he, or she, is to be baptized because their sins have been forgiven.

Again and again throughout the Book of Acts the process was followed. Repentance, leading to baptism, leading to involvement in the church. Baptism should be seen as a part of a person's confession of faith. Confession with the mouth — confession in baptism and…

Confession by lifestyle. Turn with me to, Acts 4:13, Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

My prayer is that my life will reflect the fact that I have been with Jesus! I hope there would be sufficient evidence to convict me, if I were arrested for being a Christian. There are changes that come about in a person's life upon their confession of faith in Christ. It is said, during the great revival in Wales, in the early part of the 20th century, that the ponies who worked in the mines had to be retrained because the workers no longer cursed and swore. The animals just did not understand sanctified language! During the revival in the Hebrides, Scotland, in the middle of the 20th century a similar event occurred. In both cases, for a period of time, the police had so little to do that they formed choirs to sing at evangelistic meetings. The courts had little to do because of the change in of the lives of people when they were born again. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. He went on to list a large number of recognized sins. Then he said, And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11) Praise God, though some of them had engaged in horrible sin they no longer did. Justification and sanctification now marked their lifestyle. I have seen many who have turned to the Lord Jesus and then dumped their booze, trashed their smokes, burned their magazines, stopped going to the bars because they were no longer interested in that lifestyle. They confessed that Jesus is Lord and it affected their lifestyle.

I will conclude with a quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a man gifted by the Spirit of God in biblical exposition. "If we really believe in the glorious and wonderful love of God; if we believe that, in spite of the fact that we have rebelled and sinned against him and have no claims upon him at all and deserve nothing but his wrath and eternal punishment, yet God in his great and eternal love has sent forth his own son;that as the apostle has put it so eloquently and wonderfully, He 'spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all' (Romans 8:32) — if we really believe all that, then it is inevitable that we should give expression to it."

We need to go from here in the confidence of saving faith and give expression to that faith.

All Scripture quotes are from, The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The End of the Law 120902

Romans 10:1-4. Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

In chapter nine the Apostle Paul begins by saying that he had a great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart about the condition of his people with relation to salvation. As we begin chapter ten he repeats himself. His heart's desire is that they may be saved. It is one of the greatest tragedies in history that the people of Israel, as a nation, rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and continues to do so. By human standards Israel had many advantages. Earlier, Paul had pointed out that they had the oracles of God — the written word of God. Not only did they have God's word but they studied it. They memorized it and wrote commentaries to explain it. And as Paul says here, they had a zeal for God! But their zeal was not enough!

It is a lot of fun to be around joyously zealous people. However, it can be pretty difficult to be around a zealous person who is not joyful. Zeal can be mistaken and may even be dangerous. The zealots of this world are very hard to deal with. Throughout history zealots have caused division in churches, and countries, and have led crusades in the name of Christ. A lot of shame has come upon the Christian church because of zealots. At the same time, people with no zeal are equally embarrassing. The problem Paul is addressing here is the problem of…

Zeal without knowledge.

Paul had had zeal. Read with me Philippians 3:4-6, …‍though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: ‍circumcised on the eighth day, ‍of the people of Israel, ‍of the tribe of Benjamin, ‍a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, ‍a Pharisee; ‍as to zeal, ‍a persecutor of the church; ‍as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yes, Paul had zeal! He was proud of his Jewish heritage. He was an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Hebrew through and through. Concerning the law, he was a Pharisee. Pharisees were very serious about living a life of obedience to the law of Israel. Concerning legal righteousness, Paul was blameless. But his zeal made him a great danger to the emerging church of Jesus Christ. His testimony, in Jerusalem, was, "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women," (Acts 22:4) Yes, Paul had zeal, plenty of it, and some to spare. What Paul did not know was that all the while he was persecuting the church God was preparing him to be a tool for expanding the church. He had zeal…

But, he came to knowledge. Read with me Acts 9:1-9, But Saul, ‍still ‍breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to ‍the high priest and asked him for letters ‍to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to ‍the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ‍me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, ‍whom you are persecuting. But ‍rise and enter the city, and you will be told ‍what you are to do.” ‍The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, ‍hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, ‍he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Remember, before Paul's conversion his given name was Saul. In all his zeal, he went to the high priest to get arrest warrants for men, or women, in Damascus who were followers of the Way. However, God had other plans for this zealous young Jew! Suddenly a light from heaven, literally, shone down on him and those with him. He was blinded by the light. Just as he had been spiritually blind before, he was now physically blind. Apparently he saw in the light a person whom he did not recognize. It is likely that Saul of Tarsus had never seen Jesus of Nazareth. But now he had seen the risen Lord. Jesus confronted him with his guilt, not just against individuals, but guilt against Jesus himself. "Whom you are persecuting" were the words that must have driven it home to him. He was not persecuting some sect of people. He was persecuting the risen Lord Jesus. Now he was blind and forced by his condition, to think about what just happened to him. During that thinking time, I believe he became a Christian! At least, he was very open to the short message given to him by Ananias in Damascus.

It was easy for Paul, in later years, to recognize the problem his people had because he had the same problem with regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew now that they could not respond because…

They were blinded. Read with me 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, And even ‍if our gospel is veiled, ‍it is veiled only to ‍those who are perishing. In their case ‍the god of this world ‍has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing ‍the light of ‍the gospel of the glory of Christ, ‍who is the image of God,

The God of this world, Satan, had blinded the Jews by their lack of exact knowledge of the gospel, and of the righteousness of God.

Today, billions of people seem to be in the same condition. Blind to the gospel, not physically, but in their minds. Do you have someone you have witnessed to and had no results? Or, had negative results where they have turned you away? Your prayer should be, "Lord, open their eyes, their spiritual eyes, so they can see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." Until they see with their spiritual eyes their minds will be resistant to the good news of Jesus Christ. Yes, all over our community people have a veil over their spiritual eyes put there by Satan himself. As a result they are…

Ignorant of the righteousness of God. This ignorance causes them to…

Try to establish their own righteousness. Read with me what Jesus had to say in, Luke 18:9-14, He also told this parable to some ‍who trusted ‍in themselves that they were righteous, ‍and treated others with contempt: “Two men ‍went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, ‍standing by himself, prayed‍ ‍thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‍I fast twice a week; ‍I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, ‍standing far off, ‍would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but ‍beat his breast, saying, ‘God, ‍be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For ‍everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus told this story as a perfect illustration of the self-righteousness of religious people. The Pharisee in the story was grateful to God that he could view himself as "a good man". Note that Jesus said that this parable was about some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt. Self-righteousness always results in contempt for other people!

The tax collector in the story, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by his guilt. He would not come near the Pharisee and he would not even lift his eyes to heaven. He could only cry out for God's mercy since he recognized that he was a sinner.

Jesus said that the tax collector was the one who went down to his house justified before God and not the Pharisee.

The Jews, that Paul was dealing with in Rome, had this same self-righteous problem. They could see themselves as "good" but they could not see that their goodness was not acceptable in God's eyes. They should have known, from their own Scriptures, that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in the presence of God. "Good" by the world's standards is nothing in the face of God. The problem of the self-righteous person is…

They can't see God's righteousness. Let us see what Jesus had to say in Matthew 21:28-32, “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him....”

They were ignorant of God's kind of righteousness. Here Jesus talks about two sons, one who heard and obeyed and one who heard and did not obey. Jesus used this to show that God was, and is, looking for people who will hear and obey. It is not enough to believe! Belief must change your thinking, your feelings and your actions!

He reminded them of the preaching of John the Baptist. What happened there was that the self-righteous Pharisees did not believe John's teaching with regard to righteousness but the tax collectors and prostitutes believed! Jesus said they would go into the kingdom of God because they believed.

When one believes something the evidence is a change in behavior. If you are inside a building and you hear a fire alarm, or even more urgently, someone shouting, "FIRE!", You have to decide whether you believe it or not. What you believe will determine what you do. If you believe there is a fire you will leave the building. If you do not believe there is a fire you may stay where you are. But whatever you do will be based on what you believe. Because the Pharisees did not believe…

They did not submit to God's righteousness. Turn with me please to, 1 John 3:7-10, Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

The Pharisees of Jesus day, as well as the self-righteous of today, are condemned by the Scriptures. Paul says to the Romans, "they did not submit to God's righteousness." And now we find John, in his old age, saying that what you practice is what you are.

Remember, in the beginning of Romans Paul proclaimed his theme, I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The religious leaders of Jesus day did not understand the real purpose of the law. They thought the law was their way to righteousness. I meet people today who say, "Oh, of course, I keep the ten Commandments." I am always tempted to ask them to please quote them for me but I do not believe I was called of God to embarrass people. They do that to themselves without my help. The people who claim to keep the ten Commandments usually do not realize what they say. Why the very first is enough to condemn most people. "You shall have no other gods before me."

Jesus, in the sermon on the Mount, took away the refuge of hiding behind the law. The law says do not commit adultery so Jesus said, “Do you look on a woman to lust after her? Then you commit adultery with her in your heart.”

The law is God's standard for holy living but it is impossible to keep it all. Only Jesus kept the whole law. But he did not come to take away the law as many people seem to think. We must look at Christ and see what Paul is saying to us here in Romans.


The end of the law. See what Jesus said., Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I have come to abolish ‍the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but ‍to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, ‍until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Here we find, in our Lord's own words, an affirmation of the law of God. The law was not temporary; it is eternal! The law is an expression of how God would have men and women live in this world. Now let us see what Paul had to say in…

Romans 2:13-15, For ‍it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, ‍by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is ‍written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…

The point of this is pretty clear. Everybody is subject to the law, Jews and Gentiles. The law is God's expression of His holy character and shows what he expects from mankind.

Christ is the end of the law in the sense that he has fulfilled it for those who believe in him. He was born under the law. He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He lived a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. And then, he went to the cross to fulfill completely the demands of the law. As Peter would later say, He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Christ carried out the ultimate demands of the law on our behalf. He did not do away with the law. He answered the law and satisfied the law.

In that respect, Christ is the end of the law…

For righteousness. Read with me please, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, …in Christ God was reconciling‍ the world to himself, ‍not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us ‍the message of reconciliation. Therefore, ‍we are ambassadors for Christ, ‍God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ‍For our sake he made him to be sin ‍who knew no sin, so that in him we might become ‍the righteousness of God.

You see, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The law overwhelms us because we cannot meet its demands. It was intended to be a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. So, God made Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for our sake so that we become the righteousness of God "in Him "

Christ is the end of the law for righteousness…

To everyone who believes. Turn with me to, 1 John 5:13, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

Many people today want to believe, and many seem to teach, that everyone goes to heaven when they die. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christ becomes the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. John, in his first little letter, tells us that he is writing to believers. Not just believers in God but those who believe in the name of the Son of God. And he is writing to encourage them to know, as a matter of fact, that they have eternal life. Earlier, in his gospel, John wrote about this belief. Turn with me to the gospel of…

John 3:15-16, … that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Eternal life is the gift of God to everyone who believes in him. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Not who believes about him but who believes in him. Those who put their faith and trust in him. Folks, most of the people in the world believe some facts about Jesus. The vast majority of Americans believe that Jesus existed. That is not the kind of belief spoken of here. Later, chapter 3, we find these words…

John 3:36, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; ‍whoever does not obey the Son shall not ‍see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

This seems to repeat of John 3:16 but it is an addition to it. Evidence of belief is obedient. Whoever does not obey the son shall not see life. That is pretty powerful! A number of times in John's writings the truth is affirmed that people who love Jesus but also keep his commandments. In other words, they will obey him. Do you believe about him, or do you believe in him? It is a matter of eighteen inches, the distance from the head to the heart. Head belief is inexact knowledge! Heart belief is exact knowledge of who Jesus is. He is the Christ, the son of the living God, and only in his name is salvation available to us. If you have not trusted Christ as Lord and Savior I urge you to do so now. You do not know how much time you have to receive him and believe in his name.

If you are a believer in Christ, the son of God, all that he is and all that he has done for his people is true for you. Your old man is crucified with him! You have died to the law and are under grace. You are forgiven completely. You are justified absolutely! You are reconciled to God in Christ! God is your Father! You are adopted into his family and he has given you a "spirit of adoption". You are well pleasing in his sight and are alive to God. You are risen with Christ in a new realm and right now you are seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. You are eternally secure, because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Believing these truths make us able to live them out in our day-to-day lives. Have you received him and believed in his name? If not, I urge you to do so today.

All Scripture verses are from,The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.