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Monday, May 30, 2011

simple test

We act like pagans in a crisis, only one out of a crowd is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God. Oswald Chambers

Friday, May 6, 2011

Romans Bible Study #25 Romans 8:1-10

Romans Bible Study #25
Romans 8:1-10
The Spirit - The Decision
Word -scandalon

Deliverance from Bondage
1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
10If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. NASB

The Solution Is Life on God's Terms
1-2With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
3-4God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.
5-8Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.
9-11But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!
The Message

Condemnation is pushed out of our lives as Jesus Christ lives in us.
We are. in Christ Jesus, that knowledge comes to us from the grace and mercy of God. We go all the way back to the garden and eat from the tree of life, we have put aside the knowledge of good and evil. Sin is condemned, the wrath of God is poured out, but all on Jesus. The law is fulfilled in us, not in the sense of perfection, but in the sense of ‘direction.’ Grace is working outward from an inward place. The Holy Spirit indwelling us is directing us toward truth and life. Our life course is headed toward God. No longer under the demands of the law as an outward rule book, we are in the open spaces of God’s freedom and grace.

An Example of this:
Jesus words on the Sabbath, Mark 3:23-28
23And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.
24The Pharisees were saying to Him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?"
25And He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry;
26how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?" 27Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
28"So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

That is, this religious observance was intended for man's benefit, not his enslavement.

The sabbath was not an end in itself, an absolute that admitted no exceptions. It was intended for man's benefit, his well-being. To elevate it to a place of tyranny over man is to make more of it than was intended; indeed, it would overthrow it altogether.

Moreover, it is Jesus who possesses the authority to decide these things (v.28). His Lordship over "even" (ascensive kai) the sabbath demonstrates again the significance of his person and the "new" order of things marked by his arrival. The statement as it is neither confirms nor disallows the continuation of sabbath observance, in explicit terms. But it emphatically affirms Jesus' inherent right to do with the law as he sees fit, and so the foundation for an epochal shift in the meaning of the sabbath is clearly implied.

Significant also is the fact that he designates himself here "Son of Man." Mark's so-called "messianic secret" is not so secret here! And for good cause: Jesus is facing an opposition which is demanding justification for his activity. David had the right to lay claim to exception to ritual law; no less a right belongs to the Son of Man. And lordship over the sabbath is something which no mere man could claim, but for Daniel's Son of Man the situation is much different.

More significant still is the portrait of Christ painted here. His coming has ushered in a new age in which the promised salvation of God is realized. The gospel of Christ offers a rest which is more than physical and temporal but, in him, spiritual and eternal. End of example, back to the lesson.

6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
These verses form one thought, if I begin thinking about and being ruled by MY attempts to overcome sin, sin will overcome me everytime, and even my temporary victories are failures, because they serve only to exalt me and my system/formula/self. Then comes the next set of verses.

9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
10If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
More and more, by growing awareness, we come to see that the Spirit is now at the helm of our lives. This process of sanctification brings us to a place where we ‘give up’ on a method or formula for success and we begin to rely on the Spirit. What does this look like?
“God, this sin has me beat, thank You, for showing me once again that in me dwells no good thing. Thank You for showing me once again that my efforts at reform will end in failure. Thank you for providing the only way out. Your Son, His Spirit, Your very life in me, working through me. Take control, be glorified, do such a deep and wonderful work, that all who see it will say, “that couldn’t be him, that must be his God!”

The progression of this book is so divinely organized, it is a thing of true beauty.
1) You are bad, with no hope of ever being good.
2) God “set this up” and also “set up” a way of escape.
3) The law was to show us our need of faith. Faith is the only way to be set free.
4) Faith puts us in touch with all the goodness of God, His peace, His righteousness.
5) This new life makes us free from sin.
6) This flesh keeps us dependent on God, it is opposed to God, but its opposition, drives us right back into the arms of Jesus, where we belong.
7) The law is no longer your master, the Spirit is, and it is like you have come out of a very narrow trail with thorns and briers and now you have come to a wide open field with space and beauty, in abundance. “Ahhhhhhhhh” your inner man says, this is what I was created for!

1 Cor 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. We are not there yet, and we make a mistake when we, think, act and talk like we are. Barth will not let us think that our ingenuity is capable of defining God. “We stumble when we suppose that we can treat of Him, speak and hear of Him–WITHOUT BEING SCANDALIZED.” “In Him the flesh has been deprived of its independence and restored to God who created it. In Him the disorder and corruption under which it groans has been laid bare, and thereby the hope of redemption which it awaits has also been exposed. In Him its independent might and importance and glory have been condemned, and thereby its glory and significance as the creation of God have been restored.
It is imperative that we from the human point of view should be scandalized; imperative that we should recognize that not flesh and blood but only the Fatihr which is in heaven can reveal that there is more to be found here than flesh and blood.
The purpose of the mission of the Son of God, a purpose veritablyy attained, is–that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Thus the condemnation of sin inChrist is the revelation of the righteousness of God, which religion seeks after but never finds.

Verses 5-9
This being “in the Spirit” swallows up the “in the flesh” of our previous life. Like an eclipse, gradually, through the process of sanctification, the one totally blocks out the other. The totality is not until our flesh is in the grave, but the assurance is that that is the place we are headed towards.
Without “in the Spirit,” the world seeks to reform men, by passing laws and inflicting punishments. Evil only increases because the soure of the evil remains. What is needed is a severing fo the root of evil and that is what happens when we are ‘in the Spirit.’ The ax is laid to the root of being “in the flesh.”
Verse 10 This being in Christ is God acting upon us from outside of us. We were ‘in the flesh; apart from any toher choice od our own, and we are ;in Christ’ apart from any choice of our own. Sometimes we are in danger of exalting our “choice” over and above the God who gave us the grace to make the choice. (Calvinism and Arminianism do not need to be mutually exclusive.)

This scripture demonstrates the balance between the sovereign choice of God and the belief that we exercise.
"But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth"
2 Thessalonians 2:13

“There are three things here which deserve special attention. First, the fact that we are expressly told that God's elect are "chosen to salvation": Language could not be more explicit. How summarily do these words dispose of the sophistries and equivocations of all who would make election refer to nothing but external privileges or rank in service! It is to "salvation" itself that God has chosen us. Second, we are warned here that election unto salvation does not disregard the use of appropriate means: salvation is reached through "sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" It is not true that because God has chosen a certain one to salvation that he will be saved willy-nilly, whether he believes or not: nowhere do the Scriptures so represent it. The same God who "chose unto salvation", decreed that His purpose should be realized through the work of the spirit and belief of the truth. Third, that God has chosen us unto salvation is a profound cause for fervent praise. Note how strongly the apostle express this - "we are bound to give thanks always to God for you. brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation", etc. Instead of shrinking back in horror from the doctrine of predestination, the believer, when he sees this blessed truth as it is unfolded in the Word, discovers a ground for gratitude and thanksgiving such as nothing else affords, save the unspeakable gift of the Redeemer Himself.” AW Pink

1 Corin. 1:28 “and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,”
These truths are not “apparent” just from looking at life, in fact they are hidden and must be revealed.
So God chose us and gives us the grace to be “in Christ.”

Stumbling block - Scandalon

This from a guy named Steve Dewitt.
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles… (Verses 21-23, emphasis added)
Salvation by faith in a crucified Savior is counterintuitive to us
The gospel is a stumbling block when you are blind. The Greek word for “stumbling block” is scandalon defined as that which gives offense or causes revulsion, that which arouses opposition, an object of anger or disapproval. (BAG)
We get the word scandalous from it. The cross is offensive to human way of thinking and it rubs the natural man the wrong way because it requires us to do the exact opposite of what man and his pride thinks he needs to do.
Let me illustrate this with a Chinese finger trap. You put one finger in each end and when you try to pull them out again, you’re stuck. You can’t get out. Do you know how to get out of a Chinese finger trap? You push your finger in so that you can pull your finger out. The way out is the way in. That’s counterintuitive. Here are some reasons that believing in Jesus is counterintuitive…
Contrary to human religion (Verse 22)
Every religion man comes up with has something to do with man making his way to God. Paul points out in verse 22 that the Jews demanded a sign. They wanted to see something that out of their wisdom they could judge as true. You may recall the Jews asking Jesus repeatedly for a sign or a miracle. They wanted to make their own judgment and all the religions of the world do the same. They magnify in some way man’s ability to do or think or earn his way to God or Allah or Nirvana or Jehovah or whatever. Man’s kind of religion always ends up worshipping man in some way. Christ crucified rubs man the wrong way.
Contrary to human thinking (Verse 22)
Paul says in verse 22 that the Greeks seek wisdom. They want to rationalize their way to God. In the end, who gets the glory if man’s wisdom leads him to God? Man does. Who gets the glory if human eloquence and human words lead man to God? Man does. To the Greeks in the Roman Empire, if someone was crucified he was the worst of criminals. A crucified Savior? How could God save mankind by something so ugly and weak and despised as a Roman cross? That doesn’t jive with our way of thinking. The Jews want power and in the cross they get weakness. The Greeks want wisdom, but in the cross they get apparent folly. 5
Contrary to human pride and self-sufficiency
This is the big one. The human heart does not want to do what the gospel requires – humble itself. All the major objections to Christianity in some way stem from this
fundamental flaw within us. List key doctrines and the objections will come; the atonement is too bloody and predestination seems unfair and God saving some and not everyone is too exclusive and eternal punishment in hell isn’t right and a loving God wouldn’t do it this way. The gospel rubs the modern man or woman the wrong way and since we are the judge of the way it ought to be, we simply call it ridiculous. There is a movie out right now that says exactly that. Religulous! Religion is ridiculous to Bill Maher for all the same reasons Paul explains here. It strikes our sensibilities the wrong way because it elevates God and humbles us and we don’t like that. The gospel is a scandal. It always has been. It always will be. We have to admit that….
God is wiser than us (Verse 25)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. The key to understanding this passage is adding the word “apparent.” God’s apparent foolishness in the cross is actually the eternal wisdom of God. Man’s apparent wisdom is actually foolishness. So things are not as they appear. Take all the talking points of all the philosophers and talk show hosts and writers and columnists and politicians and statesmen and professors and teachers. Take all the things they’ve ever said and pile them up. The smallest thought that God has ever had eclipses all the wisdom man has ever accumulated. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
God’s Word is like the traveler to the Country of the Blind and the secret to the Chinese finger trap. It is telling us what is wise and what is folly. It is also calling us to wonder and worship. Do you realize that were it not for God’s gracious calling in our lives, we would still be blind and solidly in the category of “those who are perishing” in verse 18? The right response of a recipient of grace is not pride but wonder and worship. There is nothing here for anyone to take pride in. The Corinthian Christians were finding their identity in eloquent speakers and teachers in the church. What? Who died for us? Who called us? God did. Let’s
praise Him!

Lastly this from Paul Washer. When you are teaching your children to take their first steps they must come to a place where they let go of the chair or table or whatever they are holding onto and they walk without holding onto anything. You don’t get them there by saying “Let go of the table.” You get them to walk by saying, “Come to Daddy.” and so it is with God and us. The focus is not on what we need to let go of, but on the great and beautiful God we are being called toward.