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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Romans Bible Study #35 Romans 11:1-10

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

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,
9 And David says,

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.

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.

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;
19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,
20 And Isaiah is very bold and says,

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.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


oil out of flinty rock
water out of rock
anything good out of me
church of Esau is the church of jacob
Faith is miracle, belief is miracle

the leaving of the 99 to find the 1

God is birthing something in me, not sure what
but these are the beginning thoughts, and I also
enjoyed reading Psalm 27 today.

I hope to take you with me on this journey

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


"How is that Spirit of Christ going to come into a world desperate for reality and truth? He needs a body to indwell; He needs flesh and blood to convey the very Spirit of Jesus. We have been busy preparing ourselves with all the riches of the world. We have supposed that what He is waiting for is a Church confident of its power, able to match and outdo the world in assertiveness, grandeur, and wealth. But He has been waiting for a very different Church, a very different body to convey Him into His kingdom and into the world; a Church that most resembles a lowly donkey, a colt. ..And we--and the world--shall not see Him again until we are willing to be that.
If at the heart of a lie is pride and arrogance, than at the heart of the truth is humility." Art Katz in the book "The Spirit of Truth"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Romans Study # 33 Romans 9:30-10:3

Romans Bible Study #33
Romans 9:30-10-3
The Crisis of Knowledge

30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is [a]by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,
Romans 10
The Word of Faith Brings Salvation
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. NASB

How can we sum this up? All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:
Careful! I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
a stone you can't get around.
But the stone is me! If you're looking for me,
you'll find me on the way, not in the way.
Romans 10
Israel Reduced to Religion
1-3Believe me, friends, all I want for Israel is what's best for Israel: salvation, nothing less. I want it with all my heart and pray to God for it all the time. I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward. They don't seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God's business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it. THE MESSAGE

I finished this lesson on Sunday and had it on my computer reviewing it for spelling errors when the power went off and the lesson went out into the abyss. I re-did it but this lesson is shorter, and I am hoping will leave more time for feedback and discussion.

Verse 9:30 Our lead in to this section was that a people who were “not my people” were chosen by God and made righteous. God is our ultimate judge and we can not work our way to Him. This is the Krisis of knowledge that Barth speaks of. (I think he uses a ‘k’ because it is an ultimate Krisis he is talking about, not a little crisis.)
Verse 9:31 Faith is miracle, otherwise it is not faith. The law had a purpose, not to lead to God, but to show that God was Other, that there is no system or way to get to Him outside of the way He provided, faith. Faith goes all the way back to Abel and Abraham, the letter to the Hebrews makes this clear. Faith is not an invention of Christianity it existed in the Old Testament. 1 Peter 1:10-12 Pursuing righteousness through the law is a dead end.
Verse 9:32 The law was put there to cause a stumbling. To cause people to go, this isn’t working, this isn’t bringing me the healing and grace of God that I need. “Wrong way” is the sign on the entrance to the street called “Law Street.”
Verse 9:33 This is another way of saying we are under judgment and there is only one way out and only He can put us in that way.
“The church is death before resurrection, the fasting of a bride who does not have her bridegroom, a solitary company in a desert with no support. Jesus is the hidden God who can be apprehended only indirectly not through works but through faith.” Barth

Verse 10:1 Paul is convinced of God’s sovereignty but it does not hinder, slow down, or stop, his intercessory prayer for those he loves.
A quick study of God’s Electing Sovereignty and our call to keep praying.
A. Paul prayerfully yearns for Israel’s salvation. 9:1
1. He once was what they still are. Phil. 3:6 Ga. 1:13-14 Acts 22:3 21:20
2. His belief in election does not stop him from caring, praying, and working for
the conversion of those who are lost. II Ti. 2:10 I Co. 9:16-27
3. His care for the lost reflects God’s concern for the lost.
Ezek. 18:23,32 33:11 I Ti. 2:3-4 II Pe. 3:9 Luke 23:34 Acts 7:60
4. Even when people are hard, he does not write them off or give up on them.
B. Why pray if God has already chosen who will be saved? 9:15-16 Eph. 1:4
Jo. 6:44
1. God tells you to pray for the lost. Eph. 6:19
2. God answers your prayers. Mt. 7:7-11 James 5:16
3. God uses your prayers as a means to the salvation of the lost. 10:14-15
4. Don’t use your limited knowledge of God’s secret will as an excuse to disobey
His revealed will. Deut. 29:29
5. Pray because God alone can change the hearts of the lost. 8:7-8 3:10
Jo. 6:37,44
Acts 16:14 Ezek. 11:19 II Ti. 2:25-26 Election encourages prayer. Jim Newheiser

Verse 10:2 In the presence of God all of the “goodness” that zeal for religious pursuits can produce, will have no final validity. It will be nothing more than a “tower of Babel.” The lack of knowledge is the lack of knowing that God is completely Other. Our ways are under judgment. We are under judgment.

Verse 10:3 Barth had an excellent section on how even we in the church are seeking to establish a righteousness of our own.

“Who does not substitute for the righteousness of this unapproachable God some very refined, very excellent, very significant, righteousness of his own, to which is added, of course, some such phrase as ‘with the help of God’ or ‘trusting in God’? Who does not substitute some plan or program or method, some new thing, some new ‘interpretation of the truth’, some movement or task, which gives us less to create but more to do, less to ponder but more to talk about, less to endure but more to undertake, than does the righteousness of God? And so we introduce a ‘thing’ by which men--and especially religious men--secure an advantage for themselves. Immersed in the happiness of doing and speaking and inaugurating, busy with reforms and revolutions, they are able to forget the judgment hanging over their heads, and so the ‘thing’ on which they are engaged turns out more to their credit than if they were to seek naught else but to fear and to love God above all things. Was there ever a period when the Church was free of the temptation to substitute a human righteousness of its own for the righteousness of God?” Barth

John Piper on the importance of teaching our children and anyone we teach the truth of righteousness by faith.

Teach the children to look to Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins and for the righteousness they need to stand before God.

Help them see that Christ is their only hope. Show them what it means to cleave to him and hope in him and cherish him as more precious than life.

Teach them that trusting Christ as the king of righteousness not only brings them a right standing before God, but also dethrones sin in their lives.

Help them see how two things happen when faith connects them to Jesus: one is that his righteousness counts for ours before God, so that we are fully accepted in Christ; and the other is that power begins to flow though this connection to overcome sin. So a progressive personal righteousness is the necessary fruit of a perfect imputed righteousness.

Of course, we won’t use that language (progressive, personal, imputed) with a seven-year-old. What will we say? We will say:

"Talitha,(John Piper’s daughters name) mommy and daddy have lived a long time and have learned from the Bible and from our lives that we and you will never be good enough to meet God’s perfect standards. We still make mistakes after all these years. We sin. That’s why the Bible says that God gave us his Son to die for our sins and to be our righteousness. His perfect death counts for our punishment, and his perfect obedience counts for righteousness, if we trust him. So always look to Jesus. Always trust Jesus. And remember, Talitha, since God didn’t spare his own Son, but gave him for us all, he will surely give us everything we need in this life and the next (Romans 8:32; Philippians 4:19). All the promises of God belong to us because of Jesus. So when you trust him, be sure that you trust him for everything he has done and everything he has promised and everything he has purchased. And that faith will help you not to sin, because when you trust Jesus to give you the best future, you won’t want to sin to make a better future. So always trust Jesus for everything he’s done and everything he promises. By faith he will be your perfect righteousness, so that you don’t have to fear, and by that same faith he will help you do what’s right."

Finally, pray for the children.

Pray for the little ones. Pray for the prodigals without ceasing. Let Romans 10:1 be your daily testimony: "Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." Don’t grow weary. Don’t let go. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Tell it often, tell it well. Be patient and pray. Amen.

Barth on faith and the lie of "with the help of God"

“The church is death before resurrection, the fasting of a bride who does not have her bridegroom, a solitary company in a desert with no support. Jesus is the hidden God who can be apprehended only indirectly not through works but through faith.” Barth

and one more from Barth
“Who does not substitute for the righteousness of this unapproachable God some very refined, very excellent, very significant, righteousness of his own, to which is added, of course, some such phrase as ‘with the help of God’ or ‘trusting in God’? Who does not substitute some plan or program or method, some new thing, some new ‘interpretation of the truth’, some movement or task, which gives us less to create but more to do, less to ponder but more to talk about, less to endure but more to undertake, than does the righteousness of God? And so we introduce a ‘thing’ by which men--and especially religious men--secure an advantage for themselves. Immersed in the happiness of doing and speaking and inaugurating, busy with reforms and revolutions, they are able to forget the judgment hanging over their heads, and so the ‘thing’ on which they are engaged turns out more to their credit than if they were to seek naught else but to fear and to love God above all things. Was there ever a period when the Church was free of the temptation to substitute a human righteousness of its own for the righteousness of God?”