Sunday, July 25, 2010

144) It is ridiculous for man to question God

Romans 9:19-21 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” (20) But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (21) Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

The relationship between God and man is like that between clay and the potter. It is a vertical relationship. Human beings do not have the intelligence, understanding, purity, power, or anything else to question God about why he did anything in the creation of the universe and mankind.

Focus on Christ #144

Thursday, July 22, 2010

143) God is sovereign

Romans 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

The actions of God cause those for whom he has mercy to respond as they do. They are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and seek God and his righteousness as a result of God’s initiative. Those to whom God chooses to show no mercy are left in their sinful nature. They are slaves to that nature and many are further hardened by his wrath to suit his purposes. Perhaps God removed a restraining grace from Pharaoh that resulted in his actions. Whatever the dynamics are that bring about God’s will of decree, it is not up to human beings to question or quarrel with God’s methods or actions as Paul goes on to explain.

Focus on Christ #143

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

142) God causes his purposes to be fulfilled

Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Paul quoted Exodus 9:16 to illustrate the absolute sovereignty of God in all things including salvation. It was God who caused Pharaoh to be in his position of leadership, and it was God who foreordained the conditions that Pharaoh faced. Amazingly God worked his plan without violating Pharaoh’s will, which Paul explained in chapter six was in bondage to sin. Pharaoh was a slave to his fallen sinful nature and apart from God’s restraining him from following that nature; Pharaoh was bound to react in a way that would bring about God’s plan. The purpose is stated clearly by Paul and it was for God’s glory. God’s plan of redeeming a people [the elect] for himself and his glory proceeded directly through the unredeemed Pharaoh. While the people God physically redeemed from Egypt were mostly unredeemed spiritually, they were a part of God’s overall plan of spiritual salvation for the Israel of God. The physical nation of Israel that was formed at Mt. Sinai was a type or foreshadowing of the true Israel of God.

Focus on Christ #142

Monday, June 28, 2010

141) Salvation does not depend on human will or works

Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Earlier in this passage [v. 8] Paul ruled out physical lineage as the cause of salvation. Now in this verse he rules out human will and human works as reasons. The New Testament in many places reports that unless God sovereignly intervenes and changes a person’s heart he won’t and in fact can’t come to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Human exertion or works has also been shown to be an impossible way to achieve salvation [Rom. 3:20]. Paul is clear that it depends on God to show mercy and give a new heart to all that He brings into the new covenant community of believers. Sovereign election through predestination is the cause of salvation and it does not depend on being a Jew, a child of a believer, human will, or works! Praise God that he gives mercy instead of justice to all that come to Jesus in faith and no one who comes is turned away [John 6:37].

Focus on Christ #141

Monday, June 21, 2010

140) God’s mercy is by sovereign decree

Romans 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

God is sworn to carry out justice upon sinful mankind. In order that he may have mercy on some, he executed his justice on his own son as a substitute for them. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for the sins of those that God was pleased to give mercy by his sovereign grace. Therefore, justice is completely upheld and no one receives injustice. None receive a free pass, but some receive mercy through the ministry and atonement of Jesus Christ. Although many people resent salvation being determined by God and not human decision, God made it clear to Moses that his sovereign decree would determine who would receive mercy.

Focus on Christ #140

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

139) God is not obligated to dispense universal mercy

Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!

Having just explained God’s sovereign election unto salvation, Paul answers the expected objection of whether it is fair for God to intervene and save some but no all of humanity. It is interesting to note that had the Holy Spirit through Paul not been teaching predestination and election there would have been no need for this verse at all. However, Paul is teaching eternal life is based on those whom God has predestined and effectually called unto salvation and God is not being unjust in doing so. Some men receive justice and some receive mercy, but none receive injustice.

Focus on Christ #139

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

138) God is sovereign in salvation

Romans 9:9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” (10) And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, (11) though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— (12) she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” (13) As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

From this passage it is apparent that God foreordained and caused Sarah to have a child at age ninety. It is also true that God’s purpose in election was and is implemented by his sovereign decree. While the twins were still in the womb, God ordained that one of Abraham’s physical grandchildren would be saved and one would not. Thus, Paul drives home the point with Abraham’s children and grandchildren that the Abrahamic Covenant of Promise is a covenant made with the spiritual descendants of Abraham and not his physical descendants. Therefore, there were no heirs to the Abrahamic covenant of promise in the Old Testament era based on physical birth and there are no heirs to the New Covenant in the New Testament era based on physical birth.

Focus on Christ #138

Sunday, June 6, 2010

137) Salvation is not based on ethnicity or one’s parents

Romans 9:7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” (8) This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

It is not the physical children of Abraham who are the children of God, but the children of the promise. Jesus Christ was the unique offspring that fulfilled the promise of an everlasting covenant between God and his spiritual people, and it was through the physical line of Isaac that Jesus Christ was born. All who are in Christ through faith are the spiritual children of Abraham and are the children of the promise. They are the sons of God and the recipients of the covenant promise of Genesis 17:7-8. God has never made any spiritual covenant or promise with Abraham’s physical descendents, Israel or any other group based on their ethnicity or birthright. Paul makes that very clear in this passage.

Focus on Christ #137

Sunday, May 30, 2010

136) Paul defines spiritual Israel

Romans 9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,

Paul explains the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 17 did not fail. It did not fail because the offspring referred to in Genesis 17:7 were the spiritual offspring of Abraham and not his physical descendents. While some of his physical descendents were also spiritual descendents, most of them were not [Romans 9:27]. Therefore the covenant promise of Genesis 17:7 was made to the spiritual people of God and not to the physical descendents of Abraham. Beginning here and continuing through verse 13 Paul thoroughly explains the covenant of promise made with his elect [Spiritual Israel].

Focus on Christ #136

Sunday, May 16, 2010

72) Jesus paid the bill for the free gift (REPRINT)

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All men are sinners at birth through their connection and representation with Adam, and this earns physical and spiritual death as all men become actual sinners. Due to God’s perfect justice, the wages of sin must be paid. However, God offers eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord as a free gift. By being in Christ Jesus by faith, the wages of a person’s sin were placed on Jesus Christ. Jesus received God’s justice on the cross of Calvary, and He provides the righteousness needed to stand before God for all who are in Christ Jesus by this faith. Believers should look to Christ for both salvation and sanctification.

Focus on Christ #72

Monday, May 10, 2010

71) Believers have been set free from sin by grace (REPRINT)

Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Grace not only saves sinners from the penalty of sin, it saves them from the power of sin. Believers are given a new nature that leads to a new focus and sanctification through the fruit of the Spirit. Instead of being slaves to sin and death, believers are slaves of God, and the end result is eternal life. While believers still struggle with sin, they are no longer captive to its power thanks to God’s grace. The Law has no power to defeat the slavery of sin and that is why Paul makes it clear that sanctification comes from the fruit of the Holy Spirit through grace and not from the Law carved on tablets of stone.

Focus on Christ #71

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

135) Ashamed of the unregenerate life

Romans 6:21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

Those who have been set free from being slaves of sin are ashamed of the fruit that was produced during the time they were in bondage to sin and death. The distinction Paul is making is not between two different classes of Christians and physical death. No, the end result of being in bondage to sin and death is the eternal spiritual death of hell.

Focus on Christ #135

Sunday, May 2, 2010

134) Free from righteousness

Romans 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

All people are slaves of sin before the power of God touches their hearts and gives them new birth through the gift of a new heart of flesh. This is the mercy and grace of God’s new covenant love. However, until this happens people are free in regard to righteousness. They have no inclination or reason to serve righteousness. They are basically conformed to the world by nature and even when they oppose the world it is from a motive of doing what is right in their own eyes rather than submitting to the righteousness of God. Those who are slaves to their fallen nature are free from the righteousness of God.

Focus on Christ #134

Sunday, April 25, 2010

133) All believers are sanctified

Romans 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

Paul is emphatically stating that unregenerate sinners are not unwilling slaves to sin, but are more than willing to present their members to the slavery of lawlessness. As such the unregenerate are dead in sin and have no freedom or ability to refrain from presenting their members to impurity and sin. But now Paul is exhorting those who have been set free from sin by the power of God to present their members as slaves to righteousness. Having been set free from the slavery of sin, believers have the freedom and power to pursue righteousness, and Paul completely rejects any possibility of a Christian having two masters. While Christians still sin, they no longer willingly, regularly, and without remorse present themselves to lawlessness and impurity. There are no carnal or nominal Christians! A person is either a regenerated disciple of Christ being led by the Spirit of God or he is not a Christian at all. The fruits of sanctification flow from the internal Spirit caused desires of the new covenant and not from the external legalistic performance based old covenant.

Focus on Christ #133

Thursday, April 22, 2010

132) Set free from sin

Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (18) and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

A Christian is a disciple who obeys the teachings of Christ. This is caused by God’s grace and not by unaided human decision. The end result of God intervening with his grace is sinners are set free from sin. This doesn’t make believers sinless, but it does break the power of sin and enables and causes them to respond to a new master. This passage leaves no room for someone to be a carnal Christian and still be a slave to sin. If someone is a slave to sin, he is not a believer and is still the wretched man that Paul goes on to describe in chapter 7. It is God who saves sinners from their body of death and frees them from their slavery to sin.

Focus on Christ #132

Monday, April 19, 2010

131) We are all slaves

Romans 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

The distinction Paul makes in this verse is between believers and non-believers. Paul makes the point that everyone is either a slave to sin or obedience that leads to righteousness. The obedience that leads to righteousness is a result of the new covenant promise of a new heart. Through regeneration by the Holy Spirit and the leading of the Holy Spirit, believers have a new nature that causes them to pursue righteousness through obedience to Christ. Please note the fruit of righteousness is a result of regeneration and not the cause of it.

Focus on Christ #131

Thursday, April 15, 2010

130) Grace is not a license to sin

Romans 6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

Paul makes it crystal clear that being under grace instead of law DOES NOT mean believers are still slaves to sin and now have a license to sin. New Covenant grace provides believers with new desires and also the power to not sin. A person that professes Christ but is unrepentant and continues full steam ahead in all his sinful behavior has not been regenerated. He may claim to be a believer, but he is not under grace and is still under the wrath of God. Paul makes it clear that God’s grace does not make sin an acceptable option to willingly participate in without concern.

Focus on Christ #130

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

REPRINT....70) Grace defeats the law of sin and death

Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Grace came by Jesus Christ and it came with power. When Jesus came into the world full of grace and truth, more was provided than just satisfying the legal requirements for salvation. In addition to his atonement for sin, Jesus also provided believers with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Under the law sin had dominion and sinners were slaves to sin, but under grace the power of the Holy Spirit sets sinners free from the slavery of sin [Romans 8:2]. Not perfectly of course, but sin will no longer control the rudder and direction of all who are in Christ Jesus by faith. Grace earns the victory over the law through faith [1 John 5:4].

Focus on Christ #70

Sunday, April 4, 2010

129) Present your members to God

Romans 6:12-13 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (13) Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

While the born again believer is no longer a wretched man captive to sin, he still retains an ability to sin. The pre-conversion old man is no longer in control of a believer’s heart and actions, but he still has influence. Just as lobbyists work to influence congress, the old man is always there urging believers to participate in sin. However, God has brought believers from death to life and Paul is making it clear that believers are to present themselves to God as instruments of righteousness rather than give in to sinful passions. Believers are not perfect and sometimes stumble, but they follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in a positive direction of discipleship and sanctification. Paul thoroughly explains this in Romans 8:2-14 where he makes distinctions between believers and unbelievers. Anyone who continually follows his sinful passions and walks according to the flesh has not been regenerated. He may claim to be a saved carnal Christian, but he is deluded and bound for hell unless he repents and turns to Christ. Those who proclaim and encourage such false doctrine are very much like the serpent that deceived Eve by saying, “Did God actually say?” Christ did not die on the cross of Calvary so redeemed believers could live unchanged sinful lives and through the indwelling Holy Spirit that does not happen.

Focus on Christ #129

Friday, April 2, 2010

128) Christians are alive to God in Christ Jesus

Romans 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Paul reminds Christians they must consider themselves dead to sin. This means they are not captive to sin as they were before God regenerated and gave them a heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone. In Romans 7, Paul relates how he was a slave to sin before his conversion when he was attempting to achieve his righteousness through law keeping. While the Romans 7 wretched man is a slave to sin and does not have the ability to do what is right, the redeemed regenerated Christian has the ability because he is alive to God. He is in Christ Jesus and has been delivered from his body of death. Although Christians still battle sin, they are not wretched men who are enslaved by sin with no ability to do right. Praise God that the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death [Rom. 8:2].

Focus on Christ #128