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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Romans Bible study #4

The Letter to the Romans Bible Study #4
Phrase: The Creator
Romans 1:22-32 The Night - Its Operation

Rom 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
The vanity of the mind and the darkness of the human heart are facts to be reckoned with. If man just needs more education to ‘evolve’ to a better way of living, how come we haven’t? If the 10 commandments are ‘outdated’ and unnecessary and morale absolutes are not ‘healthy,’ how come no society that rejects them survives?
Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
The truth is that God is unreachably above, wholly other, separated from us by the “No” that can only be accessed by repentance and a calling on the Name of Jesus. Jesus takes the “No” and we get the “YES.” When men choose to reject this way, the ONLY way to God, all sorts of concoctions fill the gap. Confusion reigns, corruptible things, which we all know are perishing, are exalted and worshipped. Family, Nation, State, Fatherland, Church, (church meaning “I’m going to heaven because I belong/attend here.“) ; all are idols, erected and seen as an end in themselves and God who is incorruptible and dwells beyond all this is “given up.” The great foundational, root, “problem” with humanity is this… exchanging the glory of God for substitutes, copies, images. Do we magnify God by our choices, by how we live or do we belittle the glory of God, by choosing to put our mind on ’idols?’
“Therefore God gave them over” The confusion becomes its own punishment. The forgetting of the true God is already itself the breaking loose of His wrath against those who forget Him. Our conduct becomes governed precisely by what we desire. And now there is no higher power to protect us from what we have set on high. When God has been deprived of His glory, men are also deprived of theirs. Desecrated within, in their souls, they are desecrated also without, in their bodies, for men are one. Lust, shame, disgrace, and death, men choose the god of this world and they get to experience him. Always remembering that the purpose of this section is to make us truly "love and appreciate" the gospel by showing us the depth of our own evil. This is not a time to shut off your own sense of wrong and begin pointing the finger at "real sinners." 
Rom 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. The punishment doesn't come after people choose to live their life pursuing degrading passions, the punishment is the outcome of the choice that they made to reject God. So, reject God, be led around by the nose by a false god who wants to steal kill and destroy you.

Discussion-- what about "good people" who do not know or follow Jesus, have not given their life to Him? It is only the grace of God acting in their lives that has allowed them to avoid evil and live "good lives" being kind and giving to others etc. It is proof of His mercy and nothing else. Being kind-hearted is not, another way, to heaven. We have to acknowledge the truth of scripture, All have sinned, all need the righteousness that comes by faith. The argument that "this person is a good man," is not recognized by God. Any goodness they have or show apart from having Him as the Lord of their lives is (repeating) simply a result of the mercy of God on their life, and if He withdrew that mercy, they would be capable of horrific sin with no regret.
“The Creator” is the phrase we will study. The eternal Archetype, Barth calls Him. The ideal example, the original model.
Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these {stars,} The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of {His} power, Not one {of them} is missing. Isaiah 40:26 continue reading, this is a famous passage but its origin and context is in “the Creator.” When we truly know God as Creator, our lives become more ‘rock solid’ for Him. (Also Isaiah 44 and 45 and Psalm 124 are good examples of God giving comfort and strength to His people as they “think on” the fact that He is the Creator of all things.)
Because He is the Creator He can call upon all of heaven and earth to help in our deliverance. He made the earth and has authority, wisdom, and power sufficient to help us at all times on this earth.
We see God thru what He created
[1.] Great variety, several sorts of beings vastly differing in their nature and constitution from each other. Lord, how manifold are thy works, and all good! [2.] Great beauty. The azure sky and verdant earth are charming to the eye of the curious spectator, much more the ornaments of both. How transcendent then must the beauty of the Creator be! [3.] Great exactness and accuracy. To those that, with the help of microscopes, narrowly look into the works of nature, they appear far more fine than any of the works of art. [4.] Great power. It is not a lump of dead and inactive matter, but there is virtue, more or less, in every creature: the earth itself has a magnetic power. [5.] Great order, a mutual dependence of beings, an exact harmony of motions, and an admirable chain and connection of causes. [6.] Great mystery. There are phenomena in nature which cannot be solved, secrets which cannot be fathomed nor accounted for. But from what we see of heaven and earth we may easily enough infer the eternal power and Godhead of the great Creator, and may furnish ourselves with abundant matter for his praises. And let our make and place, as men, remind us of our duty as Christians, which is always to keep heaven in our eye and the earth under our feet. “Creator” is a word that implies a great spiritual truth -God created it, that is, made all things out of nothing. There was not any pre-existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and those waters were made out of nothing. By the ordinary power of nature, it is impossible that any thing should be made out of nothing; no artificer can work, unless he has something to work on. But by the almighty power of God it is not only possible that something should be made of nothing (the God of nature is not subject to the laws of nature), but in the creation it is impossible it should be otherwise, for nothing is more injurious to the honour of the Eternal Mind than the supposition of eternal matter. Thus the excellency of the power is of God and all the glory is to him.
Knowing that He is the Creator we can build our lives on these truths.
(1)That God is sovereign Lord of all by an incontestable right. If he is the Creator, no doubt he is the owner and possessor of heaven and earth. (2) That with God all things are possible, and therefore happy are the people that have him for their God, and whose help and hope stand in his name, Ps. 121:2; 124:8. (3.) That the God we serve is worthy of, and yet is exalted far above, all blessing and praise, Neh. 9:5, (4) If he made the world, he needs not our services, nor can be benefited by them (Acts 17:24, 25), and yet he justly requires them, and deserves our praise, Rev. 4:11. If all is of him, all must be to him. So there are some of the benefits we reap when we know God as “the Creator.”

Rom 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, Rom 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. The refusal to honor God starts us down the path of ‘serving the creature.’ This elevation of ‘experiences’ (drugs, sex, power) to the level of ‘god’ in our lives, leaves us without a moral compass and so the degradation continues like a snowball downhill. Homosexuality is judged by God to be a sin. I have seen two arguments on the internet using the Bible, to defend homosexuality. #1 The Bible says “judge not” and #2 The Bible says God is love, and it is not loving when you judge a homosexual. The fact is “we” are not judging homosexuality, God judges it to be sin both in the Old and here in the New Testament. So it isn’t ‘we’ who judge it and God’s judgment is love. It is love to be told you are on a path that leads to death, it is not love to take down a “detour” sign and let someone drive their car off an unfinished bridge.
Rom 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, Previously, they were given over to 1) Lust of their hearts and 2) degrading passions, now they are given over to a depraved mind. Many a serial killer, like Ted Bundy started out with pornography. But again, this is not a section to look at and go “Yeh, he’s so bad,” it is a section to look at and go, “Wow, I’m so bad, what incredible mercy I have been shown.”
Rom 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; {they are} gossips, Rom 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, an amazing list that no one escapes from, God has made sure we will all feel included, if, and it is a big “IF” we are honest.
Rom 1:31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; I think there is special weight being put on “unloving, unmerciful” Coming to the end of the list, who could claim any reason to be unmerciful. 
Rom 1:32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. John Piper sees in this verse the wonderful mercy of God. He says that we can have hope in our hearts that EVERYONE whether they acknowledge it or not, has within them the knowledge of the ‘ordinance of God and of the fact that doing such things as we do is, “worthy of death.“ So as we speak to others about God and live for God, we can rest assured that God is in their thoughts, no matter what it may “seem” like.

Monday, February 8, 2010

reflections on jury duty

1) getting 12 people to agree on anything is hard
2) even though they may disagree on many things, they can "talk it out" and come to an acceptable compromise, in which, no one is "happy" but everyone is content.
3) the judge swore witnesses in with these words, "Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as you will stand before God on that last great Day?"
Let's just say I was floored by that and amazed he used such Christ centered language.
4) the justice system is painfully tilted toward innocense, the "job" of the prosecutor is eons harder than the defense
5) the various CSI, Law and Order shows have given us a very high standard to hold the police too, probably too high for "everyday cops"
6) It is solemn thing to stand in judgment of another human being
7) with all its flaws it is probably the best system possible with fallen human beings