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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Immutability

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.
Abraham Lincoln

Immutability - Like most attributes of God, His "never changing" is a comfort only when we know Him as Holy, Just, True and Love.

My year end thoughts are...slow in coming. Discouragement is the sin that is currently crouching at my door (Gen. 4:7) Gratitude will drive it away. Jesus gives me grace and mercy, He softens my heart and makes it pliable. He has promised to bring oil from the flinty rock, in Him, in Him, in Him, I hope, trust and abide, by grace through faith.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Romans Bible Study #38 Romans 12:1,2

Romans Bible Study #38
Romans 12:1,2
Phrase: “the will of God”


Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. NASB

Romans 12:1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
The Message

“Therefore”
The importance of knowing the God that we serve and of bowing deeply before who He is and what He does has been Paul’s focus for 11 chapters, and now with that as foundation, he points us to “how to live.” But it is important, even essential, to see that they are not in any way disconnected. The knowing of who He is, and His acts IS the driving force behind, and foundation of, who we are and how we act.
The “therefore” is the knowledge of being a lost sinner. It is the saving grace that revealed that knowledge and then at the depth of despair revealed faith in the sin-atoning death of Jesus. Faith in the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, when all of our ‘best efforts’ have mercifully failed.
The “therefore” is bowing before supreme, total, sovereignty, that is intent on displaying unfathomable mercy to individuals and one day, in a massive display of overflowing, covenantal mercy, to an ENTIRE nation.
Just after being launched into an amazing song of praise, (at the end of Chapter 11) Paul returns to earth to tell us how all that has gone before, can now be worked out in and through us.


“I urge you, brethren”
Paul Washer did a good job of pointing out this phrase and emphasizing that there is an importance and weight to the words that are coming up and Paul does not want any frivolity here. All the high cost that God has paid to bring us to this point is forcefully behind this message. We do an injustice to the God-man, sweating blood in the garden, if we are not appropriately, intensely, sober about these words. It is, as if, a friend is sitting us down to tell us about their battle with cancer. It is as life and death. It is like that warning siren has come over the TV, it is not a drill, you need to know what to do and where to go in order to survive.
“by the mercies of God”
This new way of living has only one foundation. Built on the solid rock of who God is, and the extravagant mercy He constantly is showing us. If it was built on any aspect of me, it would be subject to wild variations and change and would sink at the first storm. So right after spending three chapters on the massive, unshakeable sovereignty of God that has been pleased to show mercy to us, he points back to that fact and says, because of that you can truly LIVE! You do not go out and do your best trying to earn mercy, you bow before mercy in wonder and accept it as a gift. You are about to give away the only thing you have, your life and the motivation and the means are the same marvelous thing - ‘the mercies of God.’
“to present your bodies”
He gave them to us, we return them to Him and to His service, for His glory, which is what they were created for anyway. In gratitude we return them to their original purpose and in giving up our lives we find peace and fulfillment. Here the body, with the idol of self removed, becomes what it was meant to be, an instrument in the hand of God for His glory. The freedom of a slave.
Not a slave by compulsion, but a slave by grace-enabled willing love.
“a living”
‘Living’ meaning this is not a stagnant, still-life painting. We are working it out, it is both a one-time decision and a moment by moment commitment. Perfection is our goal, but it has a “knowing” behind its pursuit, that we will always be ‘vessels of mercy.’ We are a work in progress, requiring patience and grace from those around us, and giving that same patience and grace away that we have received from Him. Piper-- “Present a living holy body to God” means give your members—your eyes, your tongue, your hands and feet—give your body to do righteousness, not sin. That's what would make a body holy. A body is holy not because of what it looks like, or what shape it's in, but because of what it does.” Paul Washer‘s example of a man who made a commitment to God by going through his senses and saying, ”This is yours God, do as you please,” is powerful. ”These are your eyes Jesus, may they look on, only what pleases you.” That one commitment alone has helped me, since listening to that teaching.
“and holy sacrifice”
Holy, set apart, and given significance by God. ‘Holy’ any time that word is used in any way regarding us, we can be assured grace and mercy are at work. Giving up totally. A sacrifice implies death, our lives are lived in a sacrificial way. Repentance is a kind of death. A ‘sacrament’ is a visible means of seeing the grace of God in our lives; ex: baptism, communion, marriage. So the call is for our lives to be ‘sacramental’ visible expressions of the grace and mercy of God.
"acceptable to God”
After being made very aware of the truth that you were an enemy of God in the opening chapters of this book, this is an ‘amazing grace’ statement. Those who know in the depth of their being that they are now ‘acceptable to God’ give that acceptance away and shine like lights in the dark world. Attraction not compulsion. That acceptance brings a peace that goes beyond understanding. You can not be ‘argued’ out of it, such security.
“From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand” Lyrics from “In Christ Alone”
“which is your spiritual service of worship”
Worship, the point of our lives is to point to His life. Our mercy is only true mercy when it points others to the finished work of Jesus Christ. Piper states, “If our good deeds are not expressing the worth of God, then our deeds are not worship, and in the end will not be merciful. Making people comfortable or helping them feel good on the way to everlasting punishment, without the hope and the design that they see Christ in your good deeds, is not mercy. Mercy must aim to make much of Christ. For no one is saved who doesn't meet and make much of Christ. And not to care about saving is not merciful.”
“And do not be conformed to this world”
There is a tension in Christianity. Piper uses these words to show the two opposing sides.
“Adaptation and confrontation;
participation and separation;
in the world but not of the world;
do not be conformed to this world, yet become all things to all people that you might save some;
be indigenous yet be a pilgrim.”

“but be transformed”

Piper emphasized this is not “Okay, I had a list of bad things I used to do, and now I will replace it with a list of good things I will do.” Transformation, comes from the inside and flows out. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

“by the renewing of your mind"
This verse with the same word, ‘renewing’ makes it clear that it is a work of the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,” Which takes us back to Romans 8:13 “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

“so that you may prove what the will of God is”
This whole section is from Piper and I could not “trim it down" any more than I did. It has value for our study but even greater value, when explaining a case of child abuse, and how the will of God relates to that kind of an event.

The Two Wills of God

There are two clear and very different meanings for the term “will of God” in the Bible. We need to know them and decide which one is being used here in Romans 12:2. In fact, knowing the difference between these two meanings of “the will of God” is crucial to understanding one of the biggest and most perplexing things in all the Bible, namely, that God is sovereign over all things and yet disapproves of many things. Which means that God disapproves of some of what he ordains to happen. That is, he forbids some of the things he brings about. And he commands some of the things he hinders. Or to put it most paradoxically: God wills some events in one sense that he does not will in another sense.

1. God’s Will of Decree, or Sovereign Will
Let’s see the passages of Scripture that make us think this way. First consider passages that describe “the will of God” as his sovereign control of all that comes to pass. One of the clearest is the way Jesus spoke of the will of God in Gethsemane when he was praying. He said, in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” What does the will of God refer to in this verse? It refers to the sovereign plan of God that will happen in the coming hours. You recall how Acts 4:27-28 says this: “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” So the “will of God” was that Jesus die. This was his plan, his decree. There was not changing it, and Jesus bowed and said, “Here’s my request, but you do what is best to do.” That’s the sovereign will of God.

That’s the first meaning of the will of God: it is God’s sovereign control of all things. We will call this his “sovereign will” or his “will of decree.” It cannot be broken. It always comes to pass. “He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35).

2. God’s Will of Command

Now the other meaning for “the will of God” in the Bible is what we can call his “will of command.” His will is what he commands us to do. This is the will of God we can disobey and fail to do. The will of decree we do whether we believe in it or not. The will of command we can fail to do. For example, 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). Not all do the will of his father. He says so. “Not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Why? Because not all do the will of God.

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Here we have a very specific instance of what God commands of us: holiness, sanctification, sexual purity. This is his will of command. But, oh, so many do not obey.

Then Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” There again is a specific aspect of his will of command: give thanks in all circumstances. But many do not do this will of God.

One more example: “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). Not all abide forever. Some do. Some don’t. The difference? Some do the will of God. Some don’t. The will of God, in this sense, does not always happen.

So I conclude from these and many other passages of the Bible that there are two ways of talking about the will of God. Both are true, and both are important to understand and believe in. One we can call God’s will of decree (or his sovereign will) and the other we can call God’s will of command. His will of decree always comes to pass whether we believe in it or not. His will of command can be broken, and is every day.

The Preciousness of These Truths

Before I relate this to Romans 12:2 let me comment on how precious these two truths are. Both correspond to a deep need that we all have when we are deeply hurt or experience great loss. On the one hand, we need the assurance that God is in control and therefore is able to work all of my pain and loss together for my good and the good of all who love him. On the other hand, we need to know that God empathizes with us and does not delight in sin or pain in and of themselves. These two needs correspond to God’s will of decree and his will of command.

For example, if you were badly abused as a child, and someone asks you, “Do you think that was the will of God?” you now have a way to make some biblical sense out of this, and give an answer that doesn’t contradict the Bible. You may say, “No it was not God’s will; because he commands that humans not be abusive, but love each other. The abuse broke his commandment and therefore moved his heart with anger and grief (Mark 3:5). But, in another sense, yes, it was God’s will (his sovereign will), because there are a hundred ways he could have stopped it. But for reasons I don’t yet fully understand, he didn’t.”

And corresponding to these two wills are the two things you need in this situation: one is a God who is strong and sovereign enough to turn it for good; and the other is a God who is able to empathize with you. On the one hand, Christ is a sovereign High King, and nothing happens apart from his will (Matthew 28:18). On the other hand, Christ is a merciful High Priest and sympathizes with our weaknesses and pain (Hebrews 4:15). The Holy Spirit conquers us and our sins when he wills (John 1:13; Romans 9:15-16), and allows himself to be quenched and grieved and angered when he wills (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). His sovereign will is invincible, and his will of command can be grievously broken.

We need both these truths—both these understandings of the will of God—not only to make sense out of the Bible, but to hold fast to God in suffering.

Is it not plain therefore that there is one great task of the Christian life: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We need new hearts and new minds. Make the tree good and the fruit will be good (Matthew 12:33). That’s the great challenge. That is what God calls you to. You can’t do it on your own. You need Christ, who died for your sins. And you need the Holy Spirit to lead you into Christ-exalting truth and work in you truth-embracing humility.

Give yourself to this. Immerse yourself in the written Word of God; saturate your mind with it. And pray that the Spirit of Christ would make you so new that the spillover would be good, acceptable, and perfect—the will of God.
I am grateful for work that John Piper put into that statement.

Barth stuff

The idea that what we are looking for or talking about is a new sets of rules of ethics and ‘how to live’ statements, is a superficial and totally un-biblical understanding of walking by the Spirit. This is not now the ‘practical’ that we can put side-by-side with the ‘theory’ that we have been studying for 11 chapters. NO, this is the out-flow of a true understanding of the mercy of God. Therefore, encompasses all of it and points to all of it as the foundation for the actions that flow from our hearts and out into the world.
The mercies of God - “If, therefore, the Church is to be a place of exhortation, it must be a Church altogether aware of its final and indissoluble solidarity with this world of “dry bones’; it must be a Church which has set its hope upon God only.” The man in who, in attacking others, does not also destroy himself had better keep silence in the congregation. Grace is the possibility not of a ‘good’ conscience, but of a consoled conscience. Barth mentioned ‘great sinners’ and then made this statement. Exhortation is evoked when all these dubious characters are seen to be no more than exaggerations of what we all are; Human exhortation, therefore, is justified only when it is seen to be void of human justification; that is to say, when it is grounded upon the mercies of God.
present your bodies -- This is not an obedience affecting only the ‘inner’ life of the soul or of the mind. Grace is the axe laid at the root of the good conscience which the politician and the civil servant always wish to enjoy, and which modern “Christendom” knows so well how to provide. Ethical behavior does not rely upon a number of moral ideals realizable in this world, rather it relies upon the forgiveness of sins! Grace makes an “absolute assault” upon men, it is not content to change a few things/behaviors. This is a very foundational truth that is being presented in these two verses and goes back to the concept, “to obey is better than sacrifice.” Ethics or ‘good’ moral behavior could be seen as sacrifice and to ‘obey’ is relying on God, depending on His grace and our connection with, and relationship to, Him. All the do’s and don’t ‘s that Paul is about to lay out for us in the next chapters are based on a foundation of grace that puts us all in the same boat of disobedience and needing mercy. The wrong attitude is, “Now that I am a Christian, I will... and then you begin to work on a list of things you will do and things you won’t do and God in His mercy will allow you to try that and fail, as often as you need to, until the day when you say, “God I can not do this, help me!” All of our ‘doing’ needs to point to God and His mercy and grace and power working through us. “To God be the Glory”

A young man turned away from Jesus one time, and it was said of him that he had, ‘too many possessions’ reading Barth, he expanded on this and said it could just as easily mean that he possessed too many ‘good moral virtues’ that he was taking credit for. This is how there can be ‘very good men’ who are not Christians. The man may be doing the behavior just to receive praise, or because his God given disposition is to be a servant, but if the reason for his actions rises no higher than him, than they have nothing to do with the grace and mercy of God and they do not give glory to God and so they are Belial=worthless. The behavior is not the thing, the root of the behavior is and to whom does the glory go. Therefore 1 Cor. 13 can say that even martyrdom can be ‘nothing’ if the ultimate motivation was not love, from and to God.

“not to fashion yourselves according to the present form of this world, but according to its coming transformation.” This world has moreover, form and shape; and it possesses a law , a general pressure towards concreteness, to light-created light!--to live and fullness, to begetting and being begotten. this pressure towards enjoyment, possession, success, knowledge, power, rightness; this vigorous movement towards an attainable, comprehensible perfection; this pressure, in fact, towards-- works, forms the mysterious pivot round which the whole world of human genius revolves... and at its roots human genius is eros, ego, self-love.

Human particularity and self will and arrogance are broken down by one type of thinking, repentance. Repentance is that thinking that puts us in touch with the mind of Christ. In repentance He is Lord and we pass from death to life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rapture in Revelation

Rapture in Revelation

Reading Revelation as part of my daily readings and I am coming across more scriptures that convince me of a post-trib rapture.
Revelation 1:7-11 “7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

The Patmos Vision

9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, 11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Verse 7 is clearly a rapture scripture, the clearest one in the whole book, but no pre-trib person will refer to it, because it is obviously at the end of the tribulation, when Israel as a nation, sees Jesus and converts to “Him who they have pierced.” Also it is not a secret event, like a pre-trib rapture, all the earth sees Him.
Verse 9 can we all agree John (who was only on Patmos because they tried to boil him in oil and he did not die) and Paul both experienced severe tribulation, all of the apostles but John were martyred. The point is we persevere, we continue to live out the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, no matter what the cost, just like they did. Why would we expect rescue from tribulation when the author’s Paul, Peter and John all went through it.
Verse 11 the book, the entire book is sent to the 7 churches. Why? Why send a book to the churches if a majority of the chapters will be spent describing events that the church will be totally absent from the earth for. “You won’t be here but...” I don’t think so. There is no rapture of the church in Revelation, the place where it most obviously should have shown up, and it is absent in the description of the last days, there should be a, “and before all this starts to go down, Jesus will take His favored little church out of the way so they don’t get hurt.” sorry, no such thing is in the book.

Revelation 2:10 “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ ”
Oh man Smyrna, it’s too bad for you. You have to endure tribulation unto death. Jesus expects you to be faithful in the midst of severe tribulation unto death. His only concern for you is the glorious truth that you won’t be hurt by the ‘second death.’ Wait a minute, what does Jesus have against the church at Smyrna that He is making them walk through something pre-trib says the church won’t have to walk through...easy solution, they are wrong. Tribulation purifies our love and trust like nothing else can.

Revelation 3:10 “ Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” I have answered this in other places but since it is the favorite scripture of the pre-trib people, I will zero in on it again. “I also will keep you” sounds alot like, John 17:15 “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” The reason they seem to be the same is, the translation is accurate, they are the same greek word. tēreō
Which makes the meaning of 3:10 I will keep you in the midst of the world from the evil one. Ultimately satan will not have you, I have you. But you are not being “taken out of the world.” Trust me church, in the midst of persecution, be a living testimony of my faithfulness in the midst of persecution. That is what I hear.

Revelation 6:9-11 “9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”
The martyrs cry out, during the tribulation, and are told to wait for the brethren and fellow servants who are yet to be martyred during the tribulation. So the church is still on the earth, persevering and believing and trusting unto death. They are brethren and fellow servants, there is no distinction made, that the church is in heaven and the ‘lesser loved by God’ are just a bunch of ??? I don’t even know what, still on the earth. Some would say they are Jews who believe, well when 2 or more Jews who believe “gather” on earth, what is that called... ding, ding ding Right, CHURCH!

I have only read up to chapter 6 so I may add more to this.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The literal truth and wisdom

David Baron author of “Israel, In the Plan of God”
Writing in 1925 Baron “knew” that Israel, would one day be gathered together and be a nation again. He “knew” that Israel would only be in this land for a “short time” before terrible trouble would ensue, with another dispersion, and very quickly a complete and true “planting of God” - restoration of Israel to its promised/covenanted purpose would occur. He “knew” all of this because he believed the word of God, as a literal and true word. So far only the first part of what he said would happen, has happened, but we can be known as “wise and true” people like David Baron, by simply believing the true word of God to be literal.
A few paragraphs from his book.
“God has again and again proved to those who have believed His word and
trusted in His holy name, that He is a God of the impossible -- or, according to His own word to Abraham, that there is nothing “too hard” or “wonderful” for Jehovah. As fellow workers for Israel’s salvation, let us exercise strong faith in God and not be daunted by what may seem to us impossibilities.
We look on the Jewish nation now, and say, “What a moral and spiritual
desert!” We look on the promised land and say, “How barren, how desolate!”
Let us look to the rock whence we were hewn to the hole of the pit whence we
were digged. (Isaiah 51:1) Was not Abraham as good as dead? Was not Sarah
naturally barren?
Yea, have we not experienced the supernatural power of God in our hearts
and lives? Has He not quickened and transformed our own souls? And what He has done in the past He will do, only on a more glorious scale, in the future; and what He has done for us, He can and will do for others.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Romans Bible Study #37 Romans 11:25-36

Romans Bible Study # 37
Romans 11:25-36
Jehovah’s Interposition

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

“THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION,
HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”
27 “THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM,
WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.”

28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
NASB

A Complete Israel

25-29I want to lay all this out on the table as clearly as I can, friends. This is complicated. It would be easy to misinterpret what's going on and arrogantly assume that you're royalty and they're just rabble, out on their ears for good. But that's not it at all. This hardness on the part of insider Israel toward God is temporary. Its effect is to open things up to all the outsiders so that we end up with a full house. Before it's all over, there will be a complete Israel. As it is written,

A champion will stride down from the mountain of Zion;
he'll clean house in Jacob.
And this is my commitment to my people:
removal of their sins.
From your point of view as you hear and embrace the good news of the Message, it looks like the Jews are God's enemies. But looked at from the long-range perspective of God's overall purpose, they remain God's oldest friends. God's gifts and God's call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.
30-32There was a time not so long ago when you were on the outs with God. But then the Jews slammed the door on him and things opened up for you. Now they are on the outs. But with the door held wide open for you, they have a way back in. In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.

33-36Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out.

Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes. The Message

Verse 25 - One last blow to pride, “don’t be wise in your own estimation.” God is in charge of all of this, anything you have is mercy, period. As Jerry says, it is revelation that helps us know God, not information. So, what we know about God has been revealed to us by God.

Verse 26 - The previous verse was talking about gentiles and contrasting them with the nation of Israel, so this verse is talking about ethnic, national Israel and it is an amazing verse. The sovereign, electing, grace of God has His way with a “nation.” As they behold “Him who they have pierced,” (Zechariah 12:10) they experience national repentance and a turning to their Savior. Grace for a nation. Mercy for a nation. All prophesied numerous times in the Old Testament: Ezek. 37:25-28, Isaiah 4:2-4, Zech 13:8,9, Isaiah 54:13, Isaiah 59:21, Isaiah 60:21, Jer. 31:34, Jer. 32:39-40

Piper felt to make a long argument for the total salvation of the nation of Israel.

If you ask, How does Paul know this? How can he be sure that the original covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not simply and totally fulfilled in Christ's gathering a remnant from Israel and the nations? Why does he think that the original covenant with the fathers implies that one day ethnic Israel as a whole will be part of the body of Christ?

Here is one possible answer. There are many places in the Old Testament prophets where the covenant with Abraham is reaffirmed and applied to the people as a whole for the future. A few examples:

The prophet Jeremiah is speaking to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon and promising them a future, and the future he promises goes far beyond what they experience in coming back as imperfect, sinful stragglers to Jerusalem. So for example, Jeremiah 24:5-7.

Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

That has not yet happened, and I think that God meant that it would happen in stages. That's what the prophetic perspective is like: it often sees the future as one scene like we sometimes see succeeding mountain ranges as one mountain. Jeremiah 31 is full of hope for Israel in a future that goes beyond anything they have experienced yet.

Verses 2-3: "Thus says the LORD: 'The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, 3 the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."

Verses 10-11, 20: "He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. 11 For the LORD has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. . . . 20 Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still.

Then come the familiar words of the New Covenant that we know includes more than Israel—it is bought by the blood of Jesus (Luke 22:20) for all his people-Jew and Gentile. But does it include less than all Israel? Here are the familiar words, addressed primarily to Israel as a whole:

Verses 31-33: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah . . . I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. . . . I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

But listen to what follows, addressing the same people:

Verses 35: "Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night . . . 36 'If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.' 37 Thus says the LORD: "If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD.'"

In other words, I won't cast off Israel for what they have done. The prophet Ezekiel links the original covenant with Abraham and the everlasting commitment to the later people after the exile. For example in Ezekiel 16:60, God says, "Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth [the root was holy!], and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant [all the branches will one day be holy]. Or Ezekiel 37:26, "I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore."

I think the apostle Paul read these promises and many like them, and was guided by divine inspiration to teach us that God's purpose for the nation of Israel as a whole is not yet complete. There was implicit in their election as a people not only that there would always be a remnant of saved Jews, but that in some future generation the people as a whole would be saved. If the firstfruits was holy, the whole lump will be holy. If the root was holy, the branches will be holy.


Verse 27 - God makes and keeps the covenant. Hosea and Gomer are the picture of it. Hosea marries Gomer, and no matter how unfaithful Gomer is Hosea remains faithful, committed, with covenant love.

Verse 28 - “enemies of the gospel” Those who have looked at history and seen the atrocities purported by “Christendom” against Jews, can well see why they would be resistant to the gospel. We have a lot of ‘baggage’ to overcome when witnessing to a Jewish person. From the big picture, their hardening has allowed the opening for us to enter in. But for the ways that Christendom has added to that hardening, God will hold us accountable as He did when a nation was chosen to discipline Israel and that nation ‘went too far.’ So there is a valid repentance necessary on the part of Christians for what has been done to the Jew in history by people who said they were followers of Christ.

Verse 29 - God’s call goes out, God’s word goes out and it does not come back fruitless. It accomplishes what it was sent out to do. His word does not fall short. His covenant promises do not ‘die.’ That is the underlying point of this three chapter journey. God made promises to Israel and no matter how “roundabout” their fulfillment is, THEY WILL BE FULFILLED, because they are MY promises, backed up by MY words.

Verse 30,31 - Piper had the most wisdom on this.
Consider the four stages of God’s design in history.

1) The time of Gentile disobedience—the time when God let the nations go their own ways and sink further and further into sin, while God patiently wrote a lesson book for the nations in the history of Israel as he gave them law and writings and prophets.

2) The time of Jewish disobedience—the time when they rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ, and God gave them up to hardness.

3) The time of mercy shown to millions of Gentiles through the spread of the gospel to all nations and calling out a redeemed people of God—a fullness of the Gentiles.

4) The time of mercy on Israel as God completes his redemptive plan and takes away the hardening and saves the nation of Israel with a mass conversion to Christ.

Verse 32 - A lot of the hard to understand scriptures, in these three chapters, become easier to understand when you bow before this one verse. God has for His highest purpose, the best purpose, His exaltation, His glory. So if the path to that is “shutting us all up in disobedience” then so be it. To God be the glory.

Verse 33-36 Off we go into one of the most beautiful, majestic, “songs,” in the Bible. And it comes as a result of three chapters of contemplating God, His ways in history and His ways with the nations and His ways with with the chosen people and His ways with us as individuals.

“The Riches”

Take God’s “riches” first. God is rich in at least three senses.

1. God Owns All

First, God owns all that exists that is not God. Psalm 24:1 is the most familiar statement of this truth: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” But Deuteronomy 10:14 is far more sweeping: “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.” So not only does God own the earth and all that is in it, including you, but he also owns the reaches of space and the heavens beyond the heavens with all their angelic armies. In other words, nothing exists outside God that is not God’s. He owns it, and, as his possession, he may do with it as he pleases. Human wealth compared to God’s wealth is ridiculously tiny and laughable to boast in. Bill Gates is a pauper and has nothing compared to the poorest heir of God (Romans 8:17).

2. God Makes All

Second, God is rich in the sense that he made all that is and can make anything he pleases and as much as he pleases out of nothing. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 8:3; 104:24). In other words, his resources are infinite because the resources out of which he can make anything is nothingness, and there is an incalculable “amount” of nothingness. Or to say it more simply, if you can make what you please effortlessly out of nothing, then your riches are limitless, because your creativity is not limited by raw materials. You don’t need raw materials. God is infinitely rich, because he owns all that is, and because he can make more of anything that he pleases out of nothing.

3. God Is the Infinite Treasure of the Universe

Third, God is rich in the sense that he himself is the infinite Treasure of the universe. God does not have to create anything or to own anything in order to be rich. He is himself of infinite value. And since he exists as a Trinity of Persons in one Godhead, he has been able to enjoy the riches of his own glory from all eternity existing in the other Persons of the Godhead.

When Paul speaks in other places of “the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7) and “the riches of his kindness” (Romans 2:4) and “the riches of his glory” (Romans 9:23), this is the main thing: God freely giving himself in grace and kindness to us for our enjoyment of his own all-satisfying glory forever.

Or the most personal and ultimate way to speak of God’s wealth is to call it “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (which Paul does in Ephesians 3:8)—not just riches that Christ gives, but the riches that Christ is. As Paul says in Colossians 1:27, “The riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ himself is the present guarantee and the future gift of the glory of God. When Christ died, he bought and he became our greatest Treasure. He himself is the gift and the greatness of the glory of God.

God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge are unfathomably deep; therefore:

1. all things are from him and through him; therefore
2. no one can give a gift to God so as to make him a debtor; and
3. no one can give any counsel to God about how he should do things; which is why
4. his ways and judgments are unsearchable and inscrutable to our finite minds; so that, finally,
5. we should give all glory to God, and be content with an utterly dependent Christ-exalting happiness in God.

(deep theological stuff)
“All things are from him and through him.”

But let’s not say more than we should here. There is another sense in which we must not say that all things are from God. For example, think of 1 John 2:15-16,

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Here John says that “the desires of the flesh” and “the desires of the eyes” and the “pride in possessions” is “not from God.” So in one sense “all things” are “from God.” But in another sense these evil things are not from God.

I take this to mean that sin does not come from God’s nature. That is, it’s not an extension or aspect of God’s nature or character. God is holy, and there is no unholiness in him. God is light, and in him is no darkness. The darkness and unholiness of sin do not arise as part of God’s nature or character. They don’t come from him in that sense. Sin can be from God and through God in the sense of ultimate and decisive cause, but not in the sense that sin comes from his nature or character. God wills that sin be, without himself sinning. It is not a sin when God, with infinite wisdom and holiness, ordains that sin exist. Sin is “from him” as the one who ordained it, but “not from him” as an expression of his nature.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thomas and Israel in the day of the Lord

God would not do something special to save the Jewish nation.
So goes the argument of some, but I believe God opened to me an understanding of Thomas and the nation of Israel in the day of the Lord.
Thomas was given the opportunity to see the nail prints and put his hand in the side of His Savior, because "none of those You have given Me, could be lost."
The Nation of Israel will see "Him whom they pierced." and will experience repentance and conversion, because for the sake of the Name of God and His unchanging covenant "all Israel will be saved."
In the same way God demonstrated positively amazing mercy and "coming down" to Thomas' level, He will do the same for the nation Israel.
And the words spoken to Thomas also apply to the 'day of the Lord,' because a greater blessing goes to those who are already in the air, who believed without seeing. They go on to resurrected bodies, while the nation Israel is a sign and a wonder in human bodies on the earth.

Romans Bible Study # 36 Romans 11:11-24

Romans Bible Study #36
Romans 11:11-24
A Word to Those Without
Specificity

11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? NASB


Pruning and Grafting Branches
11-12The next question is, "Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?" And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God's kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!
13-15But I don't want to go on about them. It's you, the outsiders, that I'm concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders, I make as much of this as I can when I'm among my Israelite kin, the so-called insiders, hoping they'll realize what they're missing and want to get in on what God is doing. If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming! If the first thing the Jews did, even though it was wrong for them, turned out for your good, just think what's going to happen when they get it right!
16-18Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there's bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree's branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren't feeding the root; the root is feeding you.
19-20It's certainly possible to say, "Other branches were pruned so that I could be grafted in!" Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you're on the tree is because your graft "took" when you believed, and because you're connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don't get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green.
21-22If God didn't think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why would he hesitate over you? He wouldn't give it a second thought. Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God—ruthless with the deadwood, gentle with the grafted shoot. But don't presume on this gentleness. The moment you become deadwood, you're out of there.
23-24And don't get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don't persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you—branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn't going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you're in the tree, and hope for the best for the others. The Message

God is out to decimate human pride, keep that in mind, and this section of scripture will make perfect sense. The pride of being the “chosen people” was wrecked when God chose a people not even seeking Him. And the pride of being chosen, by grace alone, is broken, when grace is truly seen as grace and the “chosen people”.. completely unworthy and having rejected God at every turn, are grafted back in by the same ‘amazing grace’ that we sing about, but do not fully comprehend or extend to others. And they are not only grafted back in as individuals, but to display the sovereignty of God’s choice, they are grafted back in as a nation. The purpose of God, the choosing of God, the ‘specificity’ of God, is exalted and the pride of man lies in ashes, as it should, as it must.
Also note that this is a very round-about way to go about ‘salvation.’ God is not in a hurry and rarely does He do things in a straight line. He is not ‘reasonable,' although He does invite us to ‘come and reason together.' He does things in His way, in His time, for His glory.
Barth thoughts: The fall is not the end, the stumbling is not the end, the knowledge that Israel is failing in its call, or that the ‘church’ is failing in its call, is contrasted with the fact that God has chosen to ‘keep’ it. Failure does not mean ‘the end’, because God is in control and chooses to be revealed to the world through ‘clay vessels.’
We stand in the presence of God, naked of any human righteousness, relying on the ‘divine’ forgiveness of sins. We await God. His grace that allows us to hear His the life-giving word, that He utters. Election is by grace, it is hazardous, to be so certain as to remove the fear of God. Our hope is totally in Him. “He that scattered Israel will gather him.” Jeremiah 31:10

Verse 11 - The stumble is just that a stumble, not a fall. In the big picture God is working out salvation. This is part of the plan, a plan that ultimately includes Israel. Honestly, we would not want it any other way. It is a great comfort to know that when God chooses, He continues to choose and pursue. To be “called according to His purpose,” is our rock.
Verse 12 - God is always about ‘over flowing giving’ over and above our expectations, and redeeming situations in such a way that they shout, “Glory to God.” He is taking the stumbling of Israel and turning it into salvation for the gentiles. Wow. Imagine what He will do when He causes Israel to turn to Him again!
Verse 13,14 - I want you gentiles to really get this, because as you live and love God, Israel will see that and say, “Hey that is ours, we want that again.”
Verse 15 - “Life from the dead”, the resurrection of the last day. Same day as Jewish conversion of the nation as a whole. Daniel 12:1,2 Zech. 13:8,9
8 “It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD,
“That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it.
9 “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name,
And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”

Life from the dead, one of the most prevalent themes in scripture
Isaac from Abraham and Sarah
Samuel from Hannah
Honey from Samson’s lion carcass
The nation of Israel, this is really the only reason why Jesus could say to Nicodemus that he should know “you must be born again.” The nation had many prophecies about it, the individual had a few about hearts of stone being made new, but there were more about the nation rising from the ashes.
The old woman’s son Elijah
The widow’s son Elisha
Ezekiel’s dry bones
The widow’s son Jesus
Lazarus Jesus

Verse 16 - GRACE and only grace refers to a people as ‘holy’ when they are not. It sees the ultimate purpose of God, being fulfilled. It sees the people as “set apart” by God for a purpose that will not be overcome. It sees an ‘everlasting covenant’ made and kept by God.
Jeremiah 24:5-7.
Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
Verse 17,18 - Here is where a true deep understanding of grace will show up in the life of a person. If you can look at someone else’s life and say, “Well I would never do that...” “They are so bad, there is no hope for them...” “He is getting what he deserves, and I’m glad...” You do not know grace. The fact that Israel is broken off, and that we are grafted in is all God. “From Him, through Him and to Him are all things.” Grace at its most true root, is a pride-killing machine. If you are saying ANYTHING about the branches that were broken off, that implies you are better than them, you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4 “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” If you are secretly thinking or relying on ANY goodness inside of you as the source of your being right with God, Paul says, you are not ‘just a little bit wrong’ no, he says, “you have fallen from grace.” Some very famous people have fallen short of this command, “do not be arrogant toward the branches.” Martin Luther was one of them, the anti-semitic tone in some of his writings, was twisted and used by the Nazi’s.
Amazing how when you open a door just a ‘crack’ all sorts of evil can rush in. (stop and pray)
“Oh God, help us to stick to the simple truth of your word as we study Your Bible. Keep us, by Your Grace, without You and Your Mercy, we will fall.”

Verse 19,20,21 - ‘You stand’ indeed you do, but not by anything in yourself, but by faith in what God did. That is the only ground of standing, and in the purpose of God, they were removed from that ground and you were planted, but be very aware that what you have gained is a gift, and the thought that you ‘earned’ the gift can and will and should drop you out of and cut you off from the tree, ‘without prejudice’ the same as it did to them.
Verse 22 - The most amazing, practical command we have been given to save us from turning to sin. “Behold,” look, focus on, consider, not just the kindness, but the severity of God. You need both sides of the coin. Both sides are real and have real consequences. Both sides are necessary if you are to have a true view of God. A true understanding of God requires embracing His severity as good, and just, and right. The balance of the two, leads to a productive life for Jesus. The leaning in either direction and the putting more weight in either direction, leads us down all sorts of wrong paths, either too harsh or the much more common sin these days, way, way, way, too lenient. “God is love and He would never send anyone to hell,” is a prime example of this type of thinking. Severity is necessary for heaven to be a place of perfection. Severity, and justice, at a deep level, we cry out for it, but in the back of our mind is, “but I want mercy for my sins.” It is in fact, in our looking at the severity of God, truly contemplating it, that we come to a real, true, deep appreciation for the kindness of God. God does not choose to use the words “cut off” very often and we should take them seriously.
Piper thoughts: Philippians 2:12 Fear is a part of our salvation. mercy/wrath salvation/judgment Look at the kindness AND severity of God. Exodus 34:6 Matt. 10:28 Neh. 1:11 Isaiah 11:3
Three times in this section arrogant, pride, conceit are mentioned.
Fear keeps us from looking at His love, with lightness, triviality, or silliness.
From my own life is an example of “fear" balancing and strengthening love.
Laura was divorced by her first husband. The divorce was the result of leaving Laura for another woman. When I married Laura, I was very aware that God deeply loved her and was not going to allow her to be hurt in that way again. I knew that divorce was not an option and that God was the ‘enforcer,’ in this situation. So behind the love that we share, is a “you had better never go there.”
One last thought on this verse Psalm 36:1 “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within [a]his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.” So, because there is no fear of God, transgression/sin is in charge of his decisions and his life.

Verse 23 - “God is able” that is such hope-giving, despair destroying word. (prayer) Lord, we receive the truth of this word, when we look out at any un-believing people that we know or will meet. “God is able,” hang it as a banner over our lives. Put it always before our eyes, so that it is all that we can see. Thank you Lord.

Matt. 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Ezekiel 11:19
And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Ezekiel 36:26
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
God has chosen to take our hearts of stone and make us His children, and He can and will do the same with Israel.

Verse 24 - Ok quiz time, we have been studying Romans for a while now, “much more,” is a phrase that Paul has used before, remember where? The main spot was in Chapter 5 where the ‘much more’ was regarding the Life of Jesus and how it so overwhelmed the death that Adam brought in to the world. So in the same way that the life of Jesus was so much more than the death of Adam, it is ‘much more’ simple and believable to graft a natural branch into a natural tree. When it happens all of their history as a people, all the struggles, all the laws, all the festivals will make sense. All the types and shadows will be seen as the God-glorifying ‘lessons’ they were intended to be.
Zechariah 12:9 And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

2Kings 19:20-28 is an example of God’s (unseen) controlling hand of a gentile king and his army.
20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.’ 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:
‘She has despised you and mocked you,
The virgin daughter of Zion;
She has shaken her head behind you,
The daughter of Jerusalem!
22 ‘Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice,
And haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 ‘Through your messengers you have reproached the Lord,
And you have said, “With my many chariots
I came up to the heights of the mountains,
To the remotest parts of Lebanon;
And I cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypresses.
And I entered its farthest lodging place, its thickest forest.
24 “I dug wells and drank foreign waters,
And with the sole of my feet I dried up All the rivers of Egypt.”
25 ‘Have you not heard? Long ago I did it;
From ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps.
26 ‘Therefore their inhabitants were short of strength,
They were dismayed and put to shame;
They were as the vegetation of the field and as the green herb,
As grass on the housetops is scorched before it is grown up.
27 ‘But I know your sitting down,
And your going out and your coming in,
And your raging against Me.
28 ‘Because of your raging against Me,
And because your arrogance has come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose,
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back by the way which you came.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The first resurrection of the dead, POST TRIB.

Rev. 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

We read Revelation 20:4-6 and see that martyrs of the Great Tribulation, overcomers of the 666 era, are given prominence as they come into the glory. They head up the parade of all the saints who belong to Christ who come up from their graves in the Resurrection, which John is clearly told is the First Resurrection. So the Resurrection of the righteous dead comes after the Great Tribulation.

1 Corin. 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this [s]perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Thes. 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Paul knew that the dead preceed the living in the rapture. The dead go up in the first resurrection, the one that comes at the end of the tribulation. Even Martha knew it when she professed at the grave of Lazarus, John 11:24 Martha said to Him, “ I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Post Tribulation rapture/resurrection

Copied most of this from a very good web site. It seems never ending to me the Biblical evidence for a Post-tribulation rapture. It seems clear that the church should be being taught to prepare for the worst.
When the Bible speaks in 1Cor. 15:51,52 of the Resurrection of those who are Christ's at His coming we are talking here about a specific day and a point in time. This will be a blockbuster day! The graves will open up! The sea will give up its righteous dead. Dear saints, this will be a real event! And it will happen on a real and specific future day in history.
And where in the latter days might "that day" be placed? Four times Jesus tells us that He will "raise" His people "up". And He also tells us precisely when He will do that. He says that He will raise His people up at the "last day". (John 6:39,40,44,54)
We know from 1Thes. 4:15-17 and 1Cor. 15:51 that the Rapture of the living is Biblically welded to the Resurrection of the dead in Christ.  1 Cor. 15:52 speaks of the LAST trumpet as being the time of the rapture, how many trumpets are after the last one???  The trumpet judgments are mentioned in Revelation.  Paul wrote 2 Thes. to clear up the timing of the rapture.  In 2 Thes. 2:3,4 Paul makes it clear that the anti-Christ must come first.
So if the Resurrection comes at the last day of this age then we can say this with 100% assurance.
The combined Resurrection-Rapture will come at the "last day" too.
This is just one of many instances where the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine flies in the face of the clear Word of God.

In Matthew 24 Jesus is answering the disciples questions about the end times. In Matthew 25 the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus has gathered the ‘nations’ to judge them based on how they treated the Jewish people in the end times. There are many ways to interpret this parable, but the use of the word ‘nations’ and Jesus referring to the needy ones as 'brothers of mine’ makes this view valid.
Scriptures that reveal, "servants" helping and 'co-enduring' in the end times. And scriptures that speak of 'continuing' to serve God faithfully in the midst of tribulation.
Psalm 102:12-17, Romans 10:14-17, Isaiah 62, Amos 9:8-11, Deut. 32:21, Isaiah 28:9-22, Rev. 12:11, Isaiah 35:4,5, Rev. 7:9-14, Rev. 12:6, Jeremiah 4:19-21. That last one is Jeremiah expressing deep anguish over what has been revealed to him that his people are soon to walk through. Revelation and Daniel and Matt. 24 nd others clearly reveals the severity of the trial of the end times on the Jewish people. Surely, the church is not going to be 'less than' Jeremiah, not anguishing, or sticking around to be a witness, but content to be escorted off the scene, to a place of contentment and joy.
All that to say, I see it both in the scripture, and as a scriptural principle, that tribulation, is both necessary and good for the Body of Christ. A major purpose of the Church is to finish the race, and to provoke Israel to jealousy. The idea that we are special, and so must be spared from tribulation, is a "good times American gospel", that would fall flat on its face in other nations, where persecution is a daily occurrence.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Romans Bible Study #35 Romans 11:1-10

Romans Bible Study #35
Romans 11:1-10
The Oneness of God
Immutability

Israel Is Not Cast Away
1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.” 4 But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” 5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written,
“GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR,
EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT,
DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY.”
9 And David says,
“LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP,
AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM.
10 “LET THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT,
AND BEND THEIR BACKS FOREVER.” NASB

The Loyal Minority
1-2Does this mean, then, that God is so fed up with Israel that he'll have nothing more to do with them? Hardly. Remember that I, the one writing these things, am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham out of the tribe of Benjamin. You can't get much more Semitic than that! So we're not talking about repudiation. God has been too long involved with Israel, has too much invested, to simply wash his hands of them.
2-6Do you remember that time Elijah was agonizing over this same Israel and cried out in prayer?
God, they murdered your prophets,
They trashed your altars;
I'm the only one left and now they're after me!
And do you remember God's answer?
I still have seven thousand who haven't quit,
Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish.
It's the same today. There's a fiercely loyal minority still—not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They're holding on, not because of what they think they're going to get out of it, but because they're convinced of God's grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.
7-10And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn't succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The "self-interest Israel" became thick-skinned toward God. Moses and Isaiah both commented on this:
Fed up with their quarrelsome, self-centered ways,
God blurred their eyes and dulled their ears,
Shut them in on themselves in a hall of mirrors,
and they're there to this day.
David was upset about the same thing:
I hope they get sick eating self-serving meals,
break a leg walking their self-serving ways.
I hope they go blind staring in their mirrors,
get ulcers from playing at god. The Message

Verse 1 - Want proof that God hasn’t rejected His people, front and center, look at me, says Paul, I am an ethnic Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin. He is a physical descendant of Abraham, it is obvious he is not talking “spiritual” or “church” here. He mentions his specific tribe.
Verse 2,3 - “whom He foreknew”, In Romans 8 it is us as believers whom He foreknew, so it is no accident that Paul uses this word. Remember the whole point of this section is, if it can be proven that God is not/will not keep His promises to Israel, who is to say God will keep His promises to us. Elijah, one of the “largest” characters in the Old Testament, was tired, fearful and discouraged, he looked around and all he could see was, “God has abandoned the nation, and I alone and left.”
Verse 4 - God’s response, “aaahhh poor baby, yes so sad for you” NOPE, “I have kept...” Again the Sovereign God speaks of His undeniable call, I have kept, is a precious, grace-filled phrase. Seven like you, no, 70 like you, no 7,000 like you, who have not bowed the knee to the false God.
Verse 5 - What He did back there, He is doing today. The same yesterday, today, forever. The immutability of God=He never changes. He is perfect, so it follows that He cannot change, otherwise that change, would be a move away from perfection. Hebrews 6:16-19 His promises are unchanging, we can rest/trust in them/Him. His truth is unchanging. Malachi 3:6
Verse 6 - “I have kept, for Myself..” There is not any “work” being done by the remnant to make them the remnant. It is all God, It is all grace!
Verse 7 - Again the reality that God has a plan, and in that plan there is hardening.
Verse 8 - In that plan Israel, falls short of their call, by the plan and purpose of God, and that opens a door to the gentiles.
Verse 9,10 - These verses seem so shocking, so much a “curse” that it took a while for them to make sense to me. But lets turn our minds to the One who “became a curse.” David was upset at those who were rejecting God. He was “defending God,” but ultimately God defended Himself not by carrying out the curse on those who reject Him, but by having His Son take the curse on Himself. I wonder how much of our defending God, would be shut down, if we listened to the Spirit who ‘might’ be saying, ‘Pray that God would choose that one, like He did Paul.’Also these two verses are part of an entire chapter. Yes, Israel, was ‘hardened,’ but it was for a purpose. Sometimes in Bible Studies it is easy to get “buried” in one or two verses, but often the answer is to look at the entire context. In this case the hardening is one step on the way through the story. The hardening opened the door for the gentiles, who then open the door back up for Israel, and all for God’s glory! Jeremiah 31:10-12

Barth thoughts:
His emphasis on this passage was that hope, has no hope ‘in us.’ It has to be
God choosing, God preserving a remnant. Also that hope can only exist where there is no hope. If I could formulate a plan to ‘get out of it,’ there would be no need for hope. God is one, He is the God of wrath that hardens, and the God of mercy that preserves a remnant. The church needs to face up to the truth of its guilt and then repent. Election is by grace and that is the humiliation of the church. Those 7,000 that are preserved by God, are 7,000 miracles of mercy. We are no different from those that David and Isaiah are ‘cursing’ at the end of this section. “There but for the grace of God, go I.” is a good and true sentence.

Outline
God has Preserved a Remnant in Israel. Romans 11:1-10 1/12/03 #45
I. Introduction
A. What are God’s plans for the people of Israel?
1. Some believe the Jews are God’s people and have an unconditional right to the
land. (Dispensationalism) Gen. 12:1f
2. Others believe because the Jews rejected Jesus the Messiah, the Church has
replaced Israel and inherited all their promises. (Covenant Theology). Gal. 3:29
(If anyone in this Bible Study still believes that, we need to start over)
B. Paul, in Romans chapters 9-11 addresses the question of God’s plan for Israel.
1. Israel’s falling away is according to God’s sovereign purpose in election. 9:1-29
2. Israel willfully rejected the gospel. 9:30-10:21
3. God’s rejection of Israel is neither total (11:1-10) nor final (11:11-32). 11:1-32
4. God’s plan for Israel displays His magnificent wisdom. 11:33-36
II. God’s rejection of Israel is not total: He is presently preserving a remnant. v. 1-6
A. Has God totally cast away His people? v. 1a
1. Why might one conclude God is finished with Israel? 9:31-32 10:3,21 Mt. 21:33f
2. May it never be!
B. Personal evidence: Paul himself is an Israelite of unquestioned pedigree. v. 1bPhil. 3:5 II Co. 11:22
1. If ever there appeared to a hopeless case, it was Saul of Tarsus. Ga. 1:13-14 I Tim. 1:13-15 Acts 9:1-2
2. God chose this Jew as His instrument of bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. v. 13
C. Theological evidence: God cannot reject His covenant people. v. 2a
1. Israel is foreknown (foreloved) according to God’s sovereign will.8:29Dt. 7:6-8 Amos 3:2 Gal. 4:9 Acts 2:23 I Pe. 1:1-2
2. Is Paul here referring to God’s concern for the elect within Israel or His interest
in the nation as a whole?
3. God has foreordained this people to privileges and blessings which cannot be
revoked. I Sam. 12:22 Ps. 94:14 135:4 Jer. 31:37 Ex. 4:22 19:6 Deut. 14:2 26:18
4. The hardening of the majority should not be interpreted as a complete rejection
of His people.
D. Historical evidence: God preserved a remnant in the days of Elijah. v. 2b-4
1. Israel’s present situation is like what occurred in Elijah’s day. v. 2b I Ki. 17-19
2. Elijah thought he was the last faithful Israelite. v. 3 I Ki. 19:9-10
Elijah implies that God is limited by man’s failures.
3. God declares that He is at work in Israel, in spite of human appearances. v. 4
4. God has faithfully preserved a remnant throughout the history of Israel, no
matter how widespread her apostasy and unbelief. 9:27 Is. 1:9 10:22 Jer. 23:3
31:7 Joel 2:32 Amos 5:15 Micah 2:12 4:5-7 7:18 Zeph. 3:13 Mal. 3:16
5. God’s promises to Israel are fulfilled in the remnant.
E. Contemporary evidence: God is presently preserving a remnant among His people
Israel . v. 5 9:27-29
1. Even though the majority rejected the Messiah, God saved many Jews in the
early church. Acts 2:41 4:4 21:20 John 1:11
2. God has continued to save a remnant from among the Jews throughout the
history of the church. III. God saves and hardens according to His sovereign good pleasure. v. 5b-10
A. The faithful remnant exists by God’s gracious choice. v. 5b-7
1. The 7000 in Elijah’s day were kept by God’s sovereign efficacious grace. v. 4
2. Grace and works are mutually exclusive. v. 6 Eph. 2:8-9
3. Those who obtained salvation were not those who sought it, but those who were
chosen by God. v. 7a 9:16 II Ti. 1:9
4. Those who claim God’s election is based upon God’s foreknowledge of our
worthy acts (even faith) undermine grace!
5. If you have been preserved from the world (Baal), it is God’s work! 12:1-2
B. The rest are hardened by God. v. 7
1. They refused to seek salvation in God’s way. 9:32 10:3
2. Many professing Christians make the same fatal error.
3. God has sovereignly and judicially hardened them. 9:18 Ex. 4:21
a. Hardening, like election, is God’s act. ) Our two
b. Hardening, unlike election, is deserved. ) truths
4. Israel’s disobedience has not frustrated God’s plan, but fulfills divine prophecy.
C. Israel’s present hardness is in keeping with their past history. v. 8-10Deut. 29:4 Isa. 6:9-10 29:10 Ps. 69:22-23 Mt. 13:14-15 Mark 4:12 Jo. 12:40
1. God gives them a spirit of stupor. v. 8 Isa. 29:10 6:9-10Mt. 13:14-15Mark 4:12
2. God brings a snare, a stumbling block, retribution, darkness and servitude upon
them . v. 9-10 Ps. 69:22-23 Ro. 15:3 John 2:17 15:25 Acts 1:20 Mt. 27:43
3. Even when God hardens Israel, He preserves a remnant through whom He will
bring great future blessing. Isa. 6:13 29:17
4. The existence of the remnant implies hope for the future.
IV. God’s rejection of Israel is not permanent: He has a plan for Israel’s future. v.11-12
A. Has Israel fallen beyond recovery? v. 11a
B. Israel’s transgression has led to the salvation of the Gentiles. v. 11b
C. The Gentiles will provoke the Jews to jealousy so that Israel might be restored to blessing. v. 11b
D. The fulness of Israel will result in even greater blessings to the world. v. 12
V. Concluding Applications.
A. Be prepared to be in the minority, even within the visible church.
B. God has preserved a faithful remnant of believers throughout church history.
C. God is doing far more than you may think! His faithfulness is not limited by human
faithlessness. Don’t despair. I Co. 15:58
D. Don’t harden yourself against God’s gracious offer of salvation.
JIM NEWHEISER

church and Church

Over the centuries the Church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it. Its history of violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions is there for everyone to see and be appalled by.

Can we believe that this is the same Church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God's healing love? Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life? Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken over and again God's promise stands unshaken? To believe is to answer yes to these questions. Henri Nouwen

The truth of this quote is undeniable, but there is a church in the world and then there is the Church. There is an invisible remnant, kept true and faithful by God. What is seen is a stumbling block, but it can not be denied. I turn to Patrick of Ireland for the only response the Church can give to criticism of the church, "You are right, much evil has been done in the name of the church, I am a part of that and for that I repent and apologize, and in place of power and authority and manipulation, i desire to live according to this...
" Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” Patrick of Ireland

Thursday, October 13, 2011

love or nothing

Feel like i had a God moment last night at work, He said, "You do your job well...(pause)...but that is not the goal, love is." Love or nothing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Romans Bible Study #34 Romans 10:4-21

Romans Bible Study #34
Romans 10:4-21
The Light in the Darkness


4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [g]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him (Q)whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;
“THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH,
AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.”
19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,
“I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION,
BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU.”
20 And Isaiah is very bold and says,
“I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME,
I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME.”
21 But as for Israel He says, “ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.” NASB

4-10The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story— no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?
The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"
11-13Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."
14-17But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That's why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: "Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?" The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ's Word is preached, there's nothing to listen to.
18-21But haven't there been plenty of opportunities for Israel to listen and understand what's going on? Plenty, I'd say.
Preachers' voices have gone 'round the world,
Their message to earth's seven seas.
So the big question is, Why didn't Israel understand that she had no corner on this message? Moses had it right when he predicted,
When you see God reach out to those
you consider your inferiors—outsiders!—
you'll become insanely jealous.
When you see God reach out to people
you think are religiously stupid,
you'll throw temper tantrums.
Isaiah dared to speak out these words of God:
People found and welcomed me
who never so much as looked for me.
And I found and welcomed people
who had never even asked about me.
Then he capped it with a damning indictment:
Day after day after day,
I beckoned Israel with open arms,
And got nothing for my trouble
but cold shoulders and icy stares. The Message


“ Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” Patrick of Ireland
This is what it means to be the end of the law, the inferior thing that could only hope to change external behavior and could not even do that consistently is replaced by the very life of Jesus flowing through us.

The law brings death because one failure is a failure of all. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10

Verses 6,7 Moses in Deuteronomy is speaking of the law, but Paul uses the verses to speak of Christ. The right answer, just like in Sunday school is Jesus.
Verses 8 The solution is a special kind of word. A word of faith. A word that connects us to the finished work of Jesus. A word that denies any power or ability that we have. A miracle word.

Verse 9 Jesus is the most attacked name there is. And His resurrection from the dead is one of the most attacked doctrines. Questioning God’s ultimate power over death is like saying He is not who He says He is, and so affirming that power is a way to express, He alone is God.
Verse 10 This verse “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” James 2:19 speaks of a belief that is not united with saving faith. The fact that “every knee will bow,” says that truth is truth and one day all will acknowledge it. God’s calling and election of us gives us a much higher privilege, to believe, confess, and live for Him now.
Verse 11 This is a slice of Isaiah 28:16 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” Amazing Grace has revealed to our hearts the “precious cornerstone.” This lesson is more and more a call to be truly, deeply, grateful, for all that we have been given.
Verse 12,13 Belief has no specific ethnic requirement. It is a free gift, and has only a “whoever” attached to it.
Verse 14,15 Starting from the end of the matter, Paul works his way back to the foundation of this process. One who is sent, preaches the news, resulting in hearing, and being called into the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!! I have heard whole sermons on the word “sent.” It is a precious thing to be sent by God, it speaks of having His delegated power, authority and anointing. Preaching from such a one, results in many hearing the “word of Christ,” which is the call of God to their soul.
Verse 16 Isaiah was told and Paul and every preacher has experienced, not all have ears to hear and eyes to see the truth. The vocation, the calling, is to proclaim, the harvest is not your responsibility.
Verse 17 The root of faith is uncovered. At some point the blessed, called, person has been a hearer of the word of Christ. The anointed word, that has within it, the Life of the Son of God. That kind of word is a costly word, both to the proclaimer and the hearer.
Verse 18 The voice is the voice of creation and what is usually spoken of as “general revelation” that revelation that everyone gets. It is enough to make one accountable.
Verse 19 This verse seems to be a transition to me, we are now setting a course to glance into the mystery of God’s wisdom in all of history. The law and the chosen nation fail, this failure leads to the revealing of the path of faith to a people formerly ‘outside’ of God’s covenants and promises. But the purpose of the outsiders getting this gift is to make the insiders jealous and angry to the point of winning them back to their original purpose. God’s promises come to fruition NO MATTER WHAT!
Verse 20,21 lots of comments on these verses below, I was very encouraged to see that two sources that I trust, John Piper and Charles Spurgeon agreed on the issue of the sovereignty of God being truth, side-by-side and not in any way contradicting, the truth that men are given a choice, and encouraged to choose Christ. Philosophy might say that is impossible but when scripture reveals two truths it is better to just “bow” and believe both truths.

Bonus stuff:
The reason it is not submission to God’s righteousness when we seek justification by trying to obey God, even with God’s help, is that it dishonors "Christ as our righteousness." It says to God, "My humble, Spirit-empowered behavior will be the ground of my righteous standing before you," while God is all the while saying,
"No it won’t. I have assigned that glorious role to the righteousness of my Son, Jesus Christ. When I accept you and vindicate you and declare you righteous in my sight, I will accept you and vindicate you and declare you righteous in my sight because on the ground of his righteousness alone. Perfect divine righteousness, performed by my Son, is the only righteousness that will justify in my court. You shall obey me through faith! But all your imperfect obedience will be the fruit of your justification, not the root. My Son alone will have that honor.
The submission to God’s righteousness that God requires of us is not simply that we submit to Christ’s enabling power as the key to our sanctification, but that first we submit to Christ’s perfection and pardon as the key to our justification. And if we try to merge them, we will cut Christ’s honor in half.”

verse 11-13 The ‘whoever’ and the ‘no distinction’ is unbelievably good news to the gentiles.
The amazingness of the gentiles coming into the kingdom from Acts 13:48
“When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
Paul’s Gospel had to be preached from OT texts, there was no NT at the time, so he labors to show that what he is preaching is not new, but is a New Revealing of the old.

Verse 9 “Jesus”, Verse 13 the “Name of the Lord”. = Jehovah
Quoting Joel 2:32 Paul does some amazing things by the Spirit of God. verse 13 he is quoting a text regarding Jehovah and substituting Jesus. This is in fact a good place to take the cults who teach that Jesus is not God and did not claim to be God. Paul here is saying, “See here where it says Jehovah in the Joel, you can put Jesus right in there.”

A. Believe in the Lord and you will not be disappointed (ashamed). v. 11
Paul repeats the promise of Isa. 28:16 with a new emphasis: “ whoever”. 9:33b
emphasize the “whoever” of the call


Verse 20,21 God saves His people using a process.
1. Paul has already shown how people are saved, from the Divine perspective.
a. God saves people by His sovereign grace. 9:15-16,18
b. The golden chain: foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. 8:29-30
2. Now Paul shows how people are saved from the human perspective.
a. God accomplishes his saving purpose through us. Acts 13:48 18:9-10
b. Paul sets forth the chain of events in salvation, from the human side. 10:13-15

(Kings from man’s perspective Chronicles from God’s perspective)

The preacher must be sent. v. 15a 1:1,5 Gal. 1:15-16 2:2 Acts 26:17 Eph. 4:11f
1. Beware of preachers who are not sent by God. Jer. 14:14 23:21 27:15 I Co. 3:11
II Co. 3:1 11:13-15 Mt. 7:22-23
2. How can you tell that a person is sent by God? John 20:21 II Co. 5:20 I Co. 3:11
3. God sends forth preachers, including missionaries, by means of the church.
Acts 13:1f 14:26-28 II Ti.2:4 I Ti.3:15 Mt. 16:18

God’s acceptance of the Gentiles is meant to provoke the Jews to jealousy, leading
to their salvation. v. 19 11:11,14

Divine election and the free offer of the gospel are again taught side by side. v. 21
1. God gives an universal invitation, but only those whom He has chosen come.
Mt. 11:25-27 22:14
2. God sovereignly reveals Himself to those who were spiritually dead. v. 20 9:30
I Ti. 1:13 John 6:44,37
3. God hardens and cuts off the Jews. John 12:37f Isa. 53:1 Mark 4:12
4. God repeatedly and graciously stretches out His hands to disobedient obstinate
people. Mt. 11:28 23:37 Lu. 14:21-24 13:6-9 Acts 7:51-53 Jer. 7:13 Isa. 5:3 1:18f
5. Israel is fully responsible for her stubborn unbelief. John 5:40 Heb. 3:15

“verse 20 Sovereign grace predestines. verse 21 Man is responsible. Both are true.They are not contradictory, even if to us they seem to be. In eternity both truths will converge.” Charles Spurgeon

RE: Verse 20,21
My aim here this morning is not to analyze how this can be, but to urge us all to embrace the paradox of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. The sad thing is that some embrace the sovereignty of God over the human will and say: "It is wrong to portray God with his arms stretched out, inviting and calling." And others embrace the responsibility of man and say, "If God invites and calls and beckons, then he can't really be sovereign over man's will, and man really is ultimately self-determining and God is not really in control of all things."

Both of these are sad mistakes. It is sad, because one group rejects something deep and precious that God has revealed about himself for our strength and hope and joy and love - namely, his absolute sovereignty. Oh, how sweet it is when all around our soul gives way, and we need a reliable and firm rock in a world that sometimes seems utterly out of control and meaningless and cruel. Oh, how sweet at these times to know that God is not good and helpless, but good and sovereign. And the other group (who embrace the sovereignty of God) sometimes rejects something utterly crucial for understanding the justice of God in dealing with people, and they fail to see how we should plead with people and persuade people and invite people and woo people with tears, to Christ, and on behalf of Christ.

So my aim is not to explain the paradox but simply to underline it with three other examples (and there are many more), in the hope that God will cause your mind to submit to his word, whether you can explain it all or not.

In Matthew 11:25 Jesus says, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children." And then in verse 28, he says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He has hidden the truth from some, and he invites all.

In John 6:35 Jesus says, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." And one verse later he says, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." All are invited to Christ. And the Father gives some to Christ.
In Acts 13:38 Paul says to the synagogue in Antioch, "Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed." And in verse 48 Luke says, ". . . And as many as were appointed to eternal life believed." All are invited to believe and be forgiven. And as many as were appointed to life did believe.
I am not explaining it this morning. I am simply proclaiming it. This is what it means for God to be God. Man is not the final, ultimate sovereign over his own life. God is. God is the potter. We are the clay. But on the other hand, God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). He holds out his hands all day long to Jews and the Gentiles of the Twin Cities. He calls, he beckons, he invites.
Call---Believe---------Heard-----Preacher---------Sent