- The New Testament writers speak of “time” in two ways. First is ordinary time, measured in minutes, hours, days, etc, called chronos in Greek. As in “chronological.” Ex. Matt. 2:16; Luke 1:57. Second is kairos, which Paul talks about in Romans 13. Kairos means the time of fulfillment, harvest time, the appointed time for something to happen, or “due time.” Kairos could be described as “God’s timing.” See for ex. Mark 1:15; Luke 4:13. What things do we wait for in “God’s timing” (kairos)?
- Why is watchfulness vital for the waiting Christian? Romans 13:11-12; Mark 13:32-37. In this context, what does it mean to be caught “sleeping”? 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, esp. vs. 5-6.
- We are called to “cast off works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” What does armor of light protect us against? Contrast the power of light over darkness, with the reverse. Ephesians 6:10-13; John 1:4, 9.
- The works of darkness that Paul names in pairs in Romans 13 show lack of self-control (one of the fruits of the Spirit) over the use of alcohol, sexuality, our temper and feelings. What other negative effects result from these works of darkness? What does it look like by contrast, when Christians “walk properly” in holy and righteous conduct? What would that holy living look like in each instance?
- Notice that Romans 13:14 parallels 13:12, and that to put on the armor of light is to “put on Christ.” How do we put on Christ? Galatians 3:27; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24. How does Christ arm us against temptation, and deliver us from evil? How does He cleanse us from old ways and guilt? Ephesians 5:25-27.
- How do we avoid gratifying the flesh and making “provision” for its desires? What temptation is a particular weakness for you? How can you remove yourself from facing that temptation? How is Christ, our armor of light, our best and only hope for ultimately conquering sin?
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
· Romans opens by talking about “time.” “Besides this, you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand.” What kind of time is he talking about? This is the time of year, when we especially feel we don’t have enough of it. Ordinary time, measured in minutes, days, hours, years. Shopping, cleaning, preparing for the holidays, we become even more frantic about the shortness of our time. But the New Testament speaks of a second kind of time—what Paul means when he says, “you know the time.” It’s not a question of looking at your watch/ordinary time. The NT calls it kairos. Due time, the time of fulfillment, or God’s timing. God appoints a time for all things, and when the time is right, He carries out His intentions. His timing runs on a totally different scale than we measure by—because God is outside of ordinary time. Time is part of the universe He created for us, and it’s for our sake, not His. He does not need to “keep track” of time in the way we do.
· And Paul is telling us that this kairos-time—God’s time—is upon us. Salvation is getting nearer than when you first believed. That’s not just a mundane reflection on the fact that days and years have passed since you first believed—but rather that God’s time is reaching its fulfillment. Just as we’re aware of our “ordinary time” always running out, so also the window of opportunity for humanity to believe and be saved, and for us to cast off works of darkness and put on the armor of light, is soon to be over. God, in His timing, has set a date for Jesus’ to return and to judge the whole world, whether they have believed in the name of Jesus, or not. That date is known to God alone, but we’re reminded of its continual advance. And this is marked not just by the passing of calendar days, but by the increase of the signs that Jesus said would mark the end. Like the changing of seasons, so also we see the earth giving way to greater and greater lawlessness and lovelessness. The time is already ripe.
· In light of these things, how should we live? Romans describes it like waking a person who has overslept, and the night is far gone. It’s like he’s saying, “Don’t drag your feet and get up and out of bed!” We need to shake off the “sleepiness”—the dozing unawareness that the time is short, and God is calling all to repentance and forgiveness, before it’s too late. Both Jesus and the apostle Peter warned that scoffers will doubt His coming, and will go on living as though the world would last forever—and be caught unawares when the end comes suddenly. This is what it means to be “sleeping” instead of watchful.
· Then “cast off the works of darkness.” We have heard the call to repent, and to awake, and so we must throw off our old sins, like so many dirty clothes and stained garments. To do this we must forsake whatever sins we thought were harmless in our drowsy contentment and sin-blindness. We must condemn our sins to die the death of repentance, and be drowned in baptism—crucified with Christ. His cross stands as the atoning sacrifice for all our sins, past, present, and future, and we must daily strip them off by confessing them. This means facing that our sin is wrong, and we must by no means cling to it. It means we must sever ourselves from sinful conduct and sinful thoughts—not keeping any “pet sins” for our own comfort.
· The sins named here in pairs, are orgies and drunkenness, sexual immorality and sensuality, and quarrelling and jealousy. Each pair often go together, because they feed each other. Lack of self-control in drinking often leads to lowered inhibitions. Sin has a compounding and multiplying effect. When we indulge one pet sin, be it in the area of sexuality, over-drinking, feeding our sensual appetites, our anger, or jealousy—those sins will undoubtedly spill over into other areas of our life. When sex is not kept within the God-given bounds of marriage, it leads to unfaithfulness, jealousy, quarreling, betrayal, and broken trust. When we do not curb our anger or control our tongue, quarreling creates bitterness, hatred, and slander. We rarely see the “ugly side” of sin when we first entertain those sinful thoughts and desires—but only see the sweet and tempting “bait” that hides the hook.
· By contrast to the works of darkness, God has a restored and righteous way of living, that begins with putting on that armor of light. What sort of protection does “armor of light” offer us? It guards against darkness—the sins of darkness we just named. When I think of darkness and light, I think of the power that light holds over darkness. The light pierces through the darkness, and even at a great distance, a tiny light beams through the blackness of night. And the closer you get to the light, the brighter it is, and the more the shadows fade away. Darkness is the absence of light. And so also evil is the absence of good, or the twisting and corruption of what is good. But now think of the armor of light. Can darkness pierce the light? Can a “shaft” of darkness cut through the light? No! Therefore the light is the best “armor” against the darkness, and so also for us, the best protection against our sins and temptations, is to put on the armor of light. And what is that? Paul repeats in v. 14, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
· Christ Himself is our armor of light! He is the light of the world. The light no darkness can overcome. He is the light that came into the darkness and illumines the church. He gives light and life to every believer. And darkness must retreat and surrender at His coming. And that includes sin—yours and mine. Baptism and repentance is the drowning and crucifixion of our old sinful nature on the cross. It’s where the encrusted layers of sin fall off and Christ’s light bathes us with cleansing warmth, love, and life. When we awake from sleep, put off the works of darkness, and put on Christ, we arm ourselves against sin. And Christ’s light is the best armor against sin because it is impenetrable. There are no “chinks” in the armor, because that armor is Christ. When we put on Christ, He delivers us from every evil attack, and strengthens us against every temptation.
· But how often we let our guard down, or slip back into the old comfortable rags of sin and darkness, instead of putting on Christ. This is why Paul warns that we don’t make provision for the flesh, to gratify it’s desires. Whenever we give our sinful flesh an opportunity—whenever idle hands and idle eyes start to drift towards trouble, and we don’t curb our actions, thoughts, or behavior, our sinful flesh jumps back into play. Our sinful flesh needs to be placed in submission to God’s good commands, and driven away from evil. If we fuel its desires by inviting temptation in, or watching whatever it is that most tempts us, then we should not be surprised when sin rushes back into our lives. One of the fundamental ways in which we learn to resist temptation is by fleeing from its first beginning. Keep out of situations that are ripe for temptation—whether that means not hanging around with a “bad crowd”, or whether it means guarding our eyes from things that would tempt us, or whether it means literally fleeing from a situation that you know is going to turn into sin. When we fall into sin, it’s not because Christ and His armor of light were inadequate to protect us from the assaults of sin—but rather because we were caught not wearing it.
· Just like the metaphor of waking from sleep, casting off darkness, and putting on Christ echoes a person’s daily routine of waking up and getting dressed—so also “putting on Christ” and wearing His armor of light is our “daily wear”. In baptism you have put on Christ, been clothed with His righteousness. And this is not only for special occasions, or even just your “Sunday best”—but it is for you every day. Christ is near us, He is on us to drive away darkness, and to clothe us with His innocence and light. Sin is a wretched thing that won’t leave us be until we reach our graves—but rejoice to know that Christ forgives your sins, and that He dispenses that forgiveness to you daily in baptism, continually in His Word, and as often as you eat His body and drink His blood in the Lord’s Supper. Rejoice to know that just as closely as the sin that so easily entangles, God has joined Himself to you in Christ Jesus, baptized and clothed you with Him. God has given these objective and tangible means to arm ourselves against the works of darkness and leave them behind. Not by your own strength, but by the help and gifts that He supplies. His Spirit is ready to supply you with self-control and all the gifts of the Spirit that produce a life of holy and righteous conduct—walking properly, as in the daytime.
· The light of Christ never ceases to shine, and it never fades in the face of the darkness of this world and its sin. The devil may rage, and wicked men may contrive to commit terrible evils, but Jesus’ light and radiance stand true, and cannot be driven back by the darkness. Even our own sin tries to block out the light from our eyes, but “the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4). When the darkness seems frightful, proclaim the light of Christ into all creation! Let the beams of His light banish the darkness. Christ’s light shines as the beacon, as the lighthouse in our life, but not just as a distant hope of salvation. But His light also approaches us and comes near when we receive Him by hearing the Word with faith, and His light begins to radiate in us. We have this sure and certain Light of Jesus Christ shining in our darkness, and we need never fear that it will be extinguished or overcome. So put on that armor of light, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ! Thanks be to God! Amen.
Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com
· “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.”
· Opening verses tell us that this chorus of thanksgiving: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!”, is the song of the redeemed. And Psalm 107 counts among the “redeemed” four groups—the wanderers in the desert, those in darkness and prison, the foolish, and those caught in storms at sea. Unfolds how each are redeemed from their various trouble, and why they should praise the Lord; also how the Lord rescues, showing His steadfast love.
· So how does this Psalm teach us to give thanks to the Lord? How are we counted among the redeemed, even if our troubles do not directly parallel all those of the redeemed? “Redeemed” in original context: exiles from Israel returned from E, W, N, S. Scattered among the nations, and returned in answer to their prayers, that they might give thanks to God (Psalm 106:47). But still a Psalm for us today. We too are among the redeemed.
· Our redemption: through the blood of Jesus—from the captivity of our sins. We are “the redeemed” in Christ Jesus. Ours is not an earthly homeland to return to—but a heavenly homeland. Which means that while we are redeemed out of our captivity to sin, by Jesus’ death on the cross—we are still “elect exiles” (1 Peter 1:1), traveling through a wilderness, sojourning in cities, and crossing seas (or skies) in a world that is not our home. We face similar distresses and troubles to the redeemed in the Psalm. But God has redeemed us for a purpose, and placed us here for a purpose—and part of that purpose is to proclaim His steadfast love! And further, we recognize that as “the redeemed”—we are part of a worshipping community—not lone wanderers, but those who have found company among the fellow redeemed. We lift up God among the redeemed, in the congregation of the people (v. 32). Our praises to God are meant for God’s glory, but also our mutual encouragement.
· What can we learn from the four groups of the redeemed? Pattern for each of the four groups of “redeemed”: reason for their trouble; they are at a loss; cry out to God in their distress; He delivers them; and why we should give Him praise. Let’s look briefly at each of the reasons for giving God praise, and the window that gives into how God answers us in our distresses.
· First, the constant refrain we’re called to echo is “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man!” And the first reason to do this, is given by the wanderers, led by the Lord to a safe dwelling. They thank God because He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things. “Hungry souls” are fed, Jesus tells us, “not… by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” God provides both for our physical hunger, and our spiritual hunger, and this latter is filled and satisfied by God’s own Word. His Word uplifts us, sustains us. We give thanks to God because He fills our spiritual hunger and longing. But also because He provides us with “food and drink, clothing and shelter, and all that we need to support this body and life.” All of this is our daily bread, for which we pray and receive with thanksgiving.
· The second group of the redeemed are those delivered out of darkness and prison, and they give thanks because God “shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.” The reason for their imprisonment was for rebellion against God’s Word and His counsels. Even if we’ve never seen the inside of a prison, we too know how imprisoning destructive choices in life can be. Whether in our own life, or that of loved ones, we know that certain sins can take us to “rock-bottom” where we lose all those things that are most valuable to us, whether that be friends and loved ones alienated from us, or losing our possessions through waste and irresponsibility, or losing our job from laziness or dishonesty. And yet in common with all the redeemed, those in prison and darkness reached the same point of falling down with no one to help, and turning to the Lord in distress, and seeking His help. And God set them free. There is no prison that can defy the power of God. There is no sin that can so hold us captive, that God cannot burst the bronze doors and cut through the iron bars. God’s Word of forgiveness and the power of new life is greater than any bars and chains of sin. There is no one for whom freedom and new life does not await them—if only they call on the Lord.
· The third group of the redeemed are very similar to the second, in that they suffered from their sinful ways and their foolishness. They reaped the reward of their own guilt, until death was near. And they give praise to God for His deeds, in songs of joy. Great sadness comes from realizing our own folly, and the bed we have made for ourselves to lie in. Rarely do we see going into a sin, what the full consequences will be afterward. But it’s a miserable thing to suffer the effects of sin. But so great again, is God’s power to rescue from distress, that we are filled with even greater measure of joy when God does rescue us. The very definition of grace has to do with getting what we don’t deserve, rather than what we do deserve. God spares us from the futility of our sins and forgives us. Give thanks!
· The final group of the redeemed, that gives thanks, is sailors who experienced the storm and tumult of the sea, and were terrified by the wind and the waves, but called upon God to rescue them, and were delivered. God calms the storm and brings them to safe haven. I don’t count any sailors among you, but many no doubt can tell of very real storms that have struck your life unexpectedly, and how apparent it was that you suddenly had no control of the situation, but were at the mercy of fearful forces around you. And if you called out to the Lord in your distress, you can also proclaim His steadfast love and tell how He carried you through the storms, and brought you to a safe haven.
· God indeed is a rescuer, a deliver. Jesus demonstrated it time and time again in the storms on the sea of Galilee, in the tumults of the crowds, in the reordering of the chaos of people’s lives, from the demon-possessed to those grieving the death of a loved one. Jesus came preaching a message that set the captives free and proclaimed the day of the Lord’s favor. He is the Rescuer, the Deliverer, the Savior. The rest of the Psalm is a reflection on how God humbles the proud and the wicked, and brings the humble, the needy, and the weak into His blessing. It reminds us of how Jesus taught that God will humble the exalted, and exalt the humble. All the redeemed have come out of one kind of distress or another. All of you have been rescued by God’s Almighty hand in one fashion or another. Whether delivering us from our own sin and foolishness, and the error of our ways; or delivering us from the distress of enemies or the storms of impersonal forces and troubles—God is indeed in control, and He indeed is able to help. And the day of deliverance is filled with such joy, that praise rises up in our hearts. Let the redeemed say so! “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, because Jesus Christ has “rescued me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen!” (2 Tim. 4:18, NIV).
Monday, November 25, 2013
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. As we heard Luke’s account of Jesus’ death on the cross, I’m struck by the deep and powerful mystery of it. The sheer otherworldliness of Jesus’ love, and yet the deep humanity of His suffering. It commands our attention and can’t help but leave us changed, even at the mere retelling of it. The multitude of people who originally saw these events also could not help but be affected by it. Some began the day hating and scorning Jesus, but ended it in remorse and distress (23:48), and in some cases even repentance—most notably in the criminal who turned in the end to Jesus. Others only amped up their ridicule and rejection of Him. So like magnets, people were either drawn to Him, or repulsed by Him. And that day did not finish without much deep searching of hearts—even if many still did not receive Him. May we all, with heartfelt repentance like the criminal on the cross, confess our guilt and our emptiness of anything good to bring to Jesus, and then pray with him, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”
If you could imagine yourself in Jesus’ place, you will no doubt realize that none of us would act like Him in His forsaken death on the cross. We’d have thought, “Are those humans really worth all this pain and trouble?” And even if we’d have gone ahead with it, wouldn’t we expect some pity and sympathy? So at least we could play the victim? But Jesus, so far from selfishness, from reluctance to help, from self-pity—even turns the laments of the women away from Himself, and toward themselves. It’s not mock modesty, to play the noble martyr, but genuine sadness over what they’ll soon face. He felt compassion and pity for them, even when He was in the midst of the most pitiable circumstances.
This utterly divine, completely other-worldly behavior of Jesus had to be what left that criminal on the cross completely undone. We know nothing of the criminal’s life, except that it must have been a major crime for him to get crucified. But whatever drove his life before, he’d never seen anything like Jesus’ response to the taunts, the torments, the cruelties and abandonment. The environment was ripe for hatred, bitterness, and despair. Yet here was someone whom displayed nothing but clear and transparent innocence. Not a hint of hatred, revenge, or self-pity that surely would have marked any normal person who had been unjustly condemned, but innocent. No begging for His life. No curses or sharp words.
But neither was Jesus cold and mechanical, enduring the suffering without pain or emotion. It was very real, and very human. He cried out in distress; but His cry was turned to God—not for vengeance, but forgiveness. His thirst, His agony, His bleeding were all painfully real. And yet louder than the jarring sounds of suffering and death, were Jesus’ words of love. No hatred could extinguish Jesus’ love. And who could He be, but God’s true and only Son, the True King who taught of His coming kingdom?
Had this criminal ever caught wind of Jesus’ teachings? Had he heard of the man who taught people to love their enemies, to forgive without keeping record, and to turn the other cheek? Whether or not, it would be one thing to hear Jesus teach about these things—and yet an overwhelmingly powerful sight to see LOVE lived out in the most graphic way, under the worst of circumstances. The criminal was completely undone. A life of crime, a life of selfishness, or a life ruled by power, violence, the dog-eat-dog world he knew, all just came unraveled before his eyes. An old life of sin was shattered and broken. Sin was paying out its penalty in death.
Perhaps our own life does not parallel the life of crime of this man who died with Jesus; but do we need a cross to open our eyes to the total bankruptcy of this sinful world and our own sinful ways? Is it only by the hardest lessons that we can learn that selfishness, violence, or the dog-eat-dog world pay back nothing but sorrow, grief, and death? One thing is for sure, that whatever the shape of our own sinful life is—whatever sinful desires, whatever false dreams hold us captive, that old life of sin must be shattered and broken. It must die the death of repentance, as in baptism we are crucified with Jesus Christ. When we examine our life in the light of God’s truth and the perfection of Jesus’ love, we too come undone. How will we escape the dues of sin, paying themselves out in death? Our eyes turn to Jesus.
Suspended next to two criminals, Jesus was paying out the penalty of death, though remarkably, Jesus was clearly innocent. Even if these few hours of watching Jesus’ life were all that criminal knew, it spoke volumes of the infinitely superior life that Jesus lived and possessed. At first, both criminals had joined the hateful men in pouring out ridicule on Jesus—shouting for His perfect life to end in ruin. And all of a sudden this one criminal couldn’t bear it anymore, and he confessed his own guilt and sin, he rebuked his fellow, saying “Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” In other words, we’re getting what we deserve, and you can’t see that he’s innocent?
Then with words that revealed the new life of the Holy Spirit already growing in him, he turned to Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Here was a king he would worship and serve. Here was a king with true goodness to offer, unlike any scheming politician, any revolutionary, any Caesar, governor, or worldly leader could offer. Here was a king like this criminal had never seen. What would he now give to be a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom? What could he give? Nothing of worth, but only his own sin and death. And yet here was Jesus, his newfound King, offering His own innocence and death, as the price for our citizenship in His kingdom. Jesus was dying to bring us into His kingdom, and this reborn criminal asked only that Jesus remember him when He come into His kingdom.
We’ve memorialized those words in our liturgy, with the phrase, “Lord, remember us in your kingdom, and teach us to pray.... ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom Come...’” We too are sinners under the same condemnation of death. We too have nothing worthy to offer to become a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. But He has paid every price of citizenship, of admission, He has made us the blood-bought children of His kingdom. And we pray “remember us in your kingdom” because by His grace and mercy, we’re in that kingdom. We’re under the just and righteous rule of the God who so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. Even a criminal on a cross. Even a sinner like me, like you. Jesus has a place for you in His kingdom, and far from His perfect life being brought to ruin and shame, Jesus’ death completed the perfect life for us. And His rising from His grave showed that the powers of death, of hatred, of violence, are powerless against God’s love and truth.
And this prayer is an answered prayer: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus never despises this prayer. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17). God remembers you. Jesus remembers that criminal who turned to Him in the last hour. Jesus remembers those who call on Him for help. His kingdom is open to all the broken in spirit, all who’ve seen a life driven by sin unravel and come undone, and who plead to Jesus for His forgiveness, for His goodness and His life. And thanks be to God, we have received such forgiveness, not on our deathbeds, but with a life ahead of us to live. With Christ’s own love pouring into our sin-broken hearts, with forgiveness in His body broken, and His blood shed on the cross.
Thanks be to God that Jesus’ kingdom began invading this broken and sin-corrupt world 2,000 years ago, and that it continues to invade hearts and lives by the mercy and love of Jesus’ Christ. Thanks be to God that He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. Thanks be to God that His kingdom is among us too, and Jesus takes us up as His hands and feet to work that love in the lives of our neighbors and community. Thanks be to God that our sins and failures are continually drowned in baptism at His cross, and that Christ is daily raising you up as a new son or daughter to live before Him in righteousness and purity forever. Thanks be to God that the growth and success of His kingdom does not depend on our frail and uncertain humanity, but on the otherworldly, but purely human life and love of Jesus Christ. In Him we place all our confidence. In Him we secure all our hopes for this life and for the life to come. And for the day of our death, we await His blessed promise, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com
- Luke’s gospel is unique in its frequent mention of the women disciples of Jesus, and their faithfulness to Him. Why did Jesus redirect their grief and lamentation over Him, to themselves and their children? What fearful days lay ahead for Jerusalem? Luke 21:20-24. Why would the barren be blessed in those days?
- What did Jesus mean in v. 31 by “for if they do these things…”? How were things in Jerusalem and Israel changing for the worse?
- How are the events described in Luke 23:33-37 the fulfillment of OT prophecy? Isaiah 53:12; Psalm 22:7-8, 12-13, 16-18; Psalm 69:21.
- Why were Jesus’ words of forgiveness, spoken from the cross, so powerful? Matthew 5:43-48; 18:21-22. How was the mockery of Jesus an echo of the devil’s own words? Luke 4:3, 9.
- The sign over Jesus’ head bore the inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”—which in Latin gives the initials “INRI” that is often seen on crucifixes or Christian artwork. How do the themes of mockery of Jesus’ kingship, and His true display of kingship converge at the cross?
- How did the criminal next to Jesus finally come to acknowledge Jesus’ kingship? How did he lay down his guilt before God’s righteous judgment? What was his appeal for mercy to Jesus? How do we find ourselves in the same position, both with regard to deserved guilt, and also in humble expectation of mercy?
- How will the appearance of Jesus’ kingdom and power change at His second coming? How is His return cause for rejoicing? Luke 21:28
Monday, November 18, 2013
· Today is the 2nd last Sunday of the church year, before we start the new church year with the season of Advent. At the end of the church year, and beginning of the next, themes turn to the final judgment, the end of time, and Jesus’ return. Jesus teaches in the Gospel reading about the signs of the end. And they’re not pretty. There’s the total destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the coming of false christs and false prophets, wars, natural disasters, persecution for the faith, the siege of Jerusalem, death, slavery, signs in the heavens and people fainting with fear for the things that are coming on the world.
· Did Jesus paint such a frightening picture, to terrify us and put fear in our hearts? One might wonder, at first glance. But upon closer examination, Jesus says precisely, “When you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” Do not be terrified. He instills courage instead of fear. Then at the end of the passage, He describes two dramatically different reactions to the same event. The first reaction is of fear and dread, of people fainting with fear for what is coming on the world. But Jesus calls us to a second reaction: “now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
· It’s almost startling to think that Jesus wants us to be unafraid when such dreadful things happen. But clearly Jesus is showing us that He does not intend to create fear but rather to warn and prepare us, so that we may face these things with confidence. How can that be, with such dreadful things to come? Isn’t fear a natural response to such things? Isn’t it necessary for our safety and protection? But against these dangers, there is only One sure refuge. There is only One who can protect us through all these dangers ahead, and who therefore can instill in us courage in the face of the end times. The source of our Christian confidence is none other than Jesus. He alone lifts up our heads to see His redemption brings. He alone dispels all our fears by the comfort of His Word and the presence of His Spirit. It is His kingdom that is coming, and these signs all come first. He calls us to stand tall as our redemption nears.
· Notice that up through verse 24, the signs are almost all referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in 69/70 AD, some 30-35 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Most of those signs have already been fulfilled. And this is remarkable confirmation of Jesus’ words in itself. Yet some signs still appear today—like the appearance of false teachers and false christs, who come to lead people astray, or the presence of persecution against the church. And as each sign unfolds, everything is shaken; the Temple is toppled to its foundation, people are led astray, nations are shaken by wars and conflicts, the earth is shaken with earthquakes, famines, and natural disasters. Christians are shaken in their families as they face persecution, arrest, betrayal, and trial, just as Jesus did. The city of Jerusalem, the sea, and even the powers of the heavens are shaken. In short, every heavenly or earthly thing that seemed stable, safe, or secure, is shaken and rattled to its core. No human fortress and no earthly stronghold stands firm against this shaking and war. Nothing on earth proves worthy of our ultimate trust and security. But on the heels of even the powers of heaven being shaken, the Son of Man comes in a cloud with power and great glory.
· Jesus arrives in the midst of a scene where we have no hope and cannot find any foothold, and He ushers in His kingdom that has no end. As the book of Hebrews tells us, God has promised that “‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:26-29). Everything will be shaken, and removed. The heavens and the earth will pass away—as solid and enduring as they may seem, they too will be shaken and destroyed.
· But let us be grateful that we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken. This kingdom that the OT promises will never be destroyed, and shall stand forever (Dan. 2:44). Jesus is the Forever-King of this unshakeable kingdom, and He comes to defeat His enemies and bring redemption to His people. We take heart because He is greater than any of the fearful things that befall us on earth. He stands unchanged and immovable, against the changes and disasters of time.
· We worship Him for His power and His glory—we worship Him with reverence and awe, because He is a consuming fire. God has a great and awesome power—yet He uses it for our rescue, our redemption, our good. But first the church must endure great hardship and difficulty. But even through this, He promises to be with us, to give us the words and wisdom to speak for Him, and that through it all, by our endurance, we will gain our lives. Just like Jesus, the way toward glory went first through the cross. Jesus gained this kingdom not by military might, or by wielding a sword on the battlefield, but by going to the cross. He gained it by humble self-sacrifice, and a death that seemed all but defeat for His kingdom. But by conquering sin and death through His innocent blood, and by rising from the grave to new life, He sealed the victory for His kingdom. For Jesus, and for believers in His kingdom, glory comes only through the cross.
· So when you see signs of the end; when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, when false teachers and false teachings abound, and sin seems to have its day of triumph as the world slowly decays, don’t hang your heads in gloom and despair, don’t cower in fear and be terrified. Straighten up! Raise your heads! Because your redemption is drawing near! We have nothing to fear with Christ as the king of our unshakable kingdom.
· Do we longing for the kingdom? Do we live in expectation, rejoicing and standing tall at Jesus’ coming? Or are we clinging to a world that is passing away? Are we trapped in fear? The way we answer those questions depends on whether our trust and confidence is in Christ alone, or whether we’re hoping for security in the passing things of this world. But only Christ and His kingdom can endure.
· Does Christ come to bring fear, or comfort? For the believer, it is obviously comfort. His is the steady arm of the Savior, reaching out to rescue us in the terrible storm. His is the Light of the world coming down into our darkness, and stilling our fears. He is the Almighty King coming with the dawn of the morning, His light triumphantly breaking in on the darkness of this world. When the collapse of our disordered and faltering world seems imminent, Jesus Christ will come into the chaos and bring redemption, rescue for His people. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!” (Luke 12:32).
Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com
- In Luke 21, Jesus recounts signs of the end of times, but also in the nearer future (for Jesus’ original audience) He foretells the destruction of Jerusalem in 69/70 AD. This event would be so terrible that many people would think that the end of times had already come. Though the disciples took great pride in the grandeur of the Temple, this was the central feature of the city that would be destroyed down to its very foundation. Why did God allow the Temple to be destroyed? What would be the new center for worship, for believers in the True God? John 4:20-25
- What other types of signs would mark the end of times? Cf. Matthew 24. What might you conclude is the reason why most of these signs have been present throughout history since Jesus’ ascended to heaven? Matthew 25:13; Luke 21:31-36.
- How can there be such a sharp contrast in the way that people react to the same event, of Jesus’ return/the end of times? (see description in Luke 21:26-28). What is the difference in whom they have trusted? Why should the Christian be filled with confidence as the Day approaches? Romans 8:18-25; 13:11.
- While many of the signs in Luke 21 were fulfilled historically in the destruction of Jerusalem, which signs are still evident in our day? How does Jesus promise to help those who are persecuted for His name? What is His purpose for them facing persecution? Luke 21:13-15. What losses may they face? What rewards lie in store? Luke 21:16-18; Matthew 5:12
- After everything that seemed strong and solid is destroyed or shaken—even the powers of the heavens—what remains firm and unshaken? See Isaiah 34:4; 2 Peter 3:10-12 for the destruction of the universe. See Hebrews 12:26-29; Psalm 46; 1 Peter 1:25; Matthew 16:18; Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14 for what cannot be shaken.
Monday, November 04, 2013
· The Beatitudes—describes the highest blessing, each begin with “blessed are…” Observations—place and role in the Gospel: opening words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, perhaps most famous, after the Lord’s Prayer. Addressed to Jesus’ disciples. Kingdom of heaven—is not just a future reality, but present-future. Tension between the now and not yet. (epistle: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared” 1 John 3:2). Sense of being, but still becoming something greater. Jesus in early chs of Matthew is the King of this kingdom of heaven, created through His teaching. Visit of wise men, gifts for king, John’s preaching: “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”, and then Jesus preaching the same, preceding opening of Sermon on the Mount, and Beatitudes.
· 9 Beatitudes. Simple structure: Blessed are_____, and why are they blessed. 1st & 8th form bookends around the first 8. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Only repeated blessing, and the only one in present tense—theirs is. All other blessings are future tense—they shall… What does this mean? Present and future aspects of kingdom of heaven. Here now, and ours in Christ Jesus, but many blessings are yet to come. Show what life is like for followers of Jesus in the kingdom now, and what the future reality will be like, especially how they stand before God. One more note: first 8 are “they” (3rd person), the 9th, concluding one switches to “blessed are you”—driving home the point that these beatitudes are spoken to the church, to the believers in Jesus.
· Purpose? Is it the “program” for us to follow to build the kingdom of heaven? List of moral goals to shoot for? If so, progress hangs on us. If so, failure to reach these high expectations means watching the kingdom slipping away from us. Test: who here is pure in heart? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Furthermore, the beatitudes about persecution are not something we can seek out for ourselves, but they come upon us. No, this view won’t work—the coming of the kingdom can’t hang on us; our attaining this perfection.
· Rather, as Jesus had said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The kingdom of heaven hangs on Jesus Christ. He creates it by preaching His Word. We are the recipients of that word and that blessing. So what are these descriptions, and how do they come to apply to us believers?
· You know how people complain about someone looking at the world through “rose-colored glasses?” Well, the Beatitudes are far from that. They don’t picture a rosy sort of life, but rather that the believer may even face more than their share of difficulty. The Beatitudes, though, are Christ-colored glasses, through which the believer sees their own life in the world in light of Jesus Christ and who He is, and what He has done for us. So put on those Christ-colored glasses and view the kingdom of heaven from Jesus’ perspective.
· Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Poor in spirit doesn’t mean weak in faith, or running short of the Holy Spirit, but rather means having a humble and sorry heart. That we are not proud, vain, or arrogant. This is the life of Jesus. He was humble and not self-promoting. He assumed our poor and lowly condition as humans, and most fully in His death, so by His poverty, He could make us rich—not in material wealth, but the blessings of His kingdom. He pours out humility in spirit upon believers, and our present blessing is that we belong to this kingdom of heaven.
· Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. There are many things that cause us to mourn—losses, death, loneliness. Jesus experienced all these, and more, and mourned for His friend Lazarus who died; mourned for His people Israel who rejected Him; mourned for their blindness as they hung Him on the cross to die as a criminal, even while He was saving them in this very act. Jesus pours out His blessing and His comfort on all believers who mourn, because in Him we have the future hope of eternal life. A hope that overcomes our tears and brings us joy once again. Yet even now He sends His Holy Spirit, the Comforter upon us in all times of fear, loneliness, or loss.
· Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. When Jesus said “take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” He identified Himself with the meek. The world looks upon this as weakness, but the weakness of God is stronger than men. Jesus was gentle and patient, and so He desires us to be as well. He grants the earth to the meek—though men lay claim to it by power and war.
· Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Jesus longed for the justice of God to be revealed. He longed to fulfill all righteousness and do the will of the Father—and He succeeded. The righteousness the believer hungers and longs for is that righteousness we spoke of last week—the spiritual righteousness given to us by faith in Jesus. It’s God’s gifted righteousness that satisfies our longing, our need to be right with God. A righteousness that we can’t supply, but that God pours out in full measure through Jesus’ death on the cross.
· Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Mercy is a fitting description of all Jesus’ life, as He healed and cared for the sick, the outcast, the forgotten and the lost. God is rich in mercy toward us, by forgiving us all our sins, and He pours that mercy into our lives as well, so we can be merciful to others. God’s intention in forgiving our massive debt of sin before Him, is that we would become agents of His mercy, carrying it toward others.
· Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. This also requires little explanation, as the perfect description of Jesus. Pure and honorable in heart, He was divided by no false motives, no greedy or lustful intents, but only to carry out the will and teach the word of His Father. Pureness of heart is not something we can produce in ourselves, but as our reading from 1 John 3:3 says, “everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” Putting our hope and trust in Jesus is how we are purified—as the OT says, God gives us a new heart of flesh, and cleanses us for Himself. God grants us this purity of heart by Jesus Christ, so that one day in heaven, we may see God. What a sight and what a day!
· Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Jesus’ use of the word peace would take us beyond the scope of this sermon, but He promised that He did not come to bring a worldly peace, but gives peace unlike the peace this world knows. And He spoke that peace to His disciples as He gave them authority to spread the word of His forgiveness. Just as Jesus calls us to be agents of His mercy, He also calls us to be agents of His reconciliation, so that we go into the world with Jesus’ own message of forgiveness, and the power of His Word to repair lives and heal wounds and relationships, by making peace with one another. This is such a difficult and honorable work that Jesus calls such peacemakers, “sons of God.”
· “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Here, with the 8th and 9th, you could say it becomes personal. It turns from blessed are those to blessed are you. And nowhere is the life of the believer so closely tied to and identified with Jesus as in persecution. When we share in the righteous sufferings of Jesus—suffering not for the wrong we have done, but for the good which Christ has done, and we are in His service—then we are most greatly blessed. Persecution is the ultimate example of the believer bearing their cross and following Christ.
· And when we see our own lives through these Christ-colored glasses, we see a picture of the kingdom of heaven—already here, but not yet revealed in its full glory. In fact, so far from the appearance of glory, the believer sees that right now, our life in the kingdom of heaven is humble, scorned, and oppressed by the world. And yet hidden beneath this is the promise of God’s greatest blessing, for those who follow Jesus. The world will never “get” the shape of Christ’s kingdom, which is so contrary to everything the world seeks after and glories in. But the believer who hears the Beatitudes sees their own life hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3), and realizes that the trials and sufferings we endure now do not mean God’s promise has failed. Rather, His promise is true—even in preparing us for these crosses—and His blessing is already stretching from the future to grasp our hands and hearts now. And for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, He spreads before us a meal of the true body and blood of Jesus, that satisfies us for the forgiveness of our sins, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com
- Who was Jesus addressing with the Beatitudes, in Matthew 5:1-12? “[The Beatitudes] are descriptions both of Jesus and of those who have been joined by Jesus’ Father to His kingdom” –David Scaer
- How are the marks of believers contrary to those things the world values or praises? How is one “poor in spirit?” Psalm 51:17; 34:17-18; Isaiah 61:1ff(!) How are these qualities true of Jesus also? Matthew 11:29; 2 Corinthians 8:9. How does Jesus bring these blessings to those whom He describes? Isaiah 61:1ff.
- How did Jesus mourn? Isaiah 53:3-4; John 11:35; Matthew 9:36; 23:37. For what reason do Christians mourn? How is their mourning different from the mourning of unbelievers? 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. How are they comforted? Psalm 126:6
- How is Jesus meek? Matthew 11:29. What kind of “righteousness” did Jesus hunger and thirst for? Isaiah 61:8-11; Matthew 6:33; 12:20; Romans 3:21-26. How does our soul hunger or thirst for relationship with God? Psalm 42:1-2; 84:2; 107:9; 119:20, 40, 81-82, 123, 131, 174. How is that hunger filled in Christ Jesus? Romans 3:21-26
- How does Christ show mercy, and how are we to as well? Matthew 18:15-35; 9:27; 15:27; 17:5. How do we receive mercy from God? From others in the community of believers?
- How can we be pure in heart? cf. Proverbs 20:9; Ezekiel 36:25-28. How will we be able to see God? 1 John 3:2-3; Revelation 22:3-5.
- What kind of peace did Jesus bring? Isaiah 9:5-6; John 14:27; 16:33. What kind did He not bring? Matthew 10:34. How is the believer one with Jesus Christ in enduring persecution? How are we blessed in this?
Monday, October 28, 2013
· Last in our Reformation series: Christ alone. Previous weeks—faith, grace, and scripture alone. Triangle diagram: three points with Christ alone at center—all are interconnected. How does faith, grace, and scripture intersect with Christ alone? Christ stands as heart and center of our salvation, because faith or trust depends on Him—without the powerful Savior, faith would be aimless or helpless. Faith aimed toward anyone or anything else than Jesus Christ, is a vain and empty hope. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:60. Christ alone is our salvation. There is no other name under heaven, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
· Without Christ, we would not know grace, as scripture says, “the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Because of Jesus’ incredible self-sacrifice and love, salvation comes to us as a free gift. Grace means God’s undeserved love and favor, and that comes to us because Jesus has erased our debt of sin. So salvation is not a work-exchange program with God, it’s not a contest of merits to win His approval, it’s not a debt-reduction or payment plan that we work out to cover our sins. Rather it is a completely free and undeserved gift to us, by the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
· And without Christ alone, the Scripture would be missing its beating heart. All the Scriptures testify of Him (Luke 24; John 5:39), and the life we have in His name. Jesus Christ is the living Word of God, and the Bible is the record of this “word of life” (1 John 1:1-4). Disconnected from Christ, faith, grace, and Scripture all falter and fail—but Christ holds them altogether.
· Rom. 3 talks of two kinds of righteousness—righteousness of the law, and righteousness that comes apart from the law. We can understand them in this way—the first kind of righteousness is measured by the law—whether you have obeyed or disobeyed. The rightness or wrongness of your life and deeds. It consists in whether or not you have good character, are a trustworthy citizen, take good care of family, etc, or whether you don’t do those things.
· This righteousness of the law is also called civil righteousness. It’s how we look in the eyes of the world. And the world grades on a curve, or a sliding scale. We are impressed by the outward goodness of some people, and by the outward wickedness of others. We rank people on a scale of their righteousness (by the law).
· But this righteousness is so far removed from what God demands, that Paul will later say in chapter 4, that if Abraham was justified by works, that he has something to boast about—but not before God. So we must mark the sharp difference between man’s opinions about righteousness, in terms of ordinary civil goodness, and God’s declarations about righteousness. Because no human righteousness of our own, no civil righteousness, no good citizenship or exemplary life of good works is anything to boast about before God. When it comes to matters of salvation, and where we stand before Him—only God’s opinion matters. By God’s measure, none of us attain to the righteousness of the law. God does not grade on a sliding scale or on a curve. It’s all or none with Him, and His verdict is that all have sinned and fallen short of His glory.
· That is a devastating verdict—that our civil righteousness doesn’t justify or put us right with God. The law of God delivers that verdict, stopping every mouth and holding the whole world accountable to God. No protest, no objection. The law shows our sin, and it announces the judgment for that sin is death. This message of the law is a terror to sinners—and it was a terror to the young Martin Luther. Before he discovered the good news, the gospel—in this very book of Romans—perhaps even in this very chapter, he despaired of God. Despite all the spit and polish of his best efforts to gain righteousness by the law, he knew it was all a sham before the Holy and Righteous God. And the Righteousness of God terrified Luther! He saw God as a fearful judge. That is, until he discovered what Paul taught about this other righteousness, the second kind of righteousness that has been revealed apart from the law.
· Righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Since none can attain a righteousness that holds up before God by the law—God has given us His righteousness by faith in Jesus! This second righteousness, a spiritual righteousness or the righteousness of faith, is not our own, but it is granted to us by Jesus Christ alone. It’s a gifted righteousness. God gives you credit for what you didn’t do, but Christ did—keeping God’s law. Jesus Christ forgiving all your debt of sin on the cross. And faith finds this righteousness nowhere else than in Jesus, who lived, suffered, died, and rose for us.
· Discovering this glorious and free gift, and how we’re set right with God, or justified, was a marvelous experience for Martin Luther. It’s sometimes described as his “tower experience”—where he finally grasped that we could never satisfy God’s justice by our good works, but that Christ has done so in our place. This is the most freeing and beautiful truth, to know that Jesus Christ has redeemed us, and that His work of salvation is all-sufficient. That means that Jesus did everything that is required, so salvation is a pure and free gift, with nothing of ours added to it. And Luther grasped that anything we add to Christ’s completed and all-sufficient work, just reduces His grace by that much. Our additions just end up being subtractions from Him and His glory. Even the smallest piece of our own work diminishes the glory of what Jesus has done, when it comes to salvation. That doesn’t mean that there’s no place for our good works, but it does mean that their place is not in accomplishing our salvation. That is reserved for Jesus Christ alone.
· Paul drives this point home by showing the reason why God intends to exclude our every effort, our works, our own civil righteousness, our merit, and any other Savior etc, from the equation. God excludes everything that we have done so that there will be no room for our boasting. We are justified by faith apart from works of the law. No room to boast in ourselves—which means all glory, honor, and praise is due to Christ alone.
· We don’t hold up ourselves, we hold up Jesus Christ alone. He is our salvation and life. Romans says that God put Jesus forward as a “propitiation” by his blood, to be received by faith. What does that funny word “propitiation” mean? In the words of the song “In Christ Alone”, Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied; For ev'ry sin on Him was laid. Propitiation means that the wrath of God against sin was satisfied by the death of Jesus on the cross. Or in the words of the old hymn, Jesus Christ our Blessed Savior, turned away God’s wrath forever. Propitiation means that Jesus turned away God’s anger against sin, and that now in place of God’s wrath and judgment against sin, we face His loving and forgiving face. And now and forever, if we stand in Jesus Christ by faith, there is no condemnation for us! God declares us innocent, just, and pure, just as His sinless Son Jesus is innocent and pure. It’s the great exchange—Jesus trading all His goodness, innocence and blessing for our sin, guilt, and the curse we bore for it. The great exchange of Jesus taking what was ours, and giving us all that is His.
· And Paul tells us why God did this—he repeats it twice—that it was as a proof of God’s righteousness, and His divine forbearance. What’s that? That God was not hasty in punishing sin, that He did not rush to judgment, but that as the OT describes Him over and over, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6). It is proof of God’s righteousness, because the propitiation of Jesus shows God’s perfect justice and mercy. God’s justice is upheld because He did not ignore sin or its penalty, but rather delayed it, to be fully paid in Jesus’ death. And God’s mercy is upheld in that He forgives sin and graciously clears us from our guilt. We sinners have hope and a way to salvation by faith in Jesus.
· According to His strict justice, none of us could be admitted to heaven, because we have completely failed in His law—in that first kind of righteousness. But according to His infinite grace, heaven stands open to all who trust in Jesus, because He grants to us the infinitely superior, second kind of righteousness, that comes by faith in Jesus Christ. This spiritual righteousness stands up before God, and is pleasing to Him, because it is God’s own gift to us, received by faith. This gift, this joy, is worth all the celebrating and the triumph of this Reformation Day, as this good news broke afresh on the Christian church in the time of Martin Luther, as it returned to the Word of God, and as it continues to echo and reverberate through the churches of the Reformation today—we poor sinners are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, revealed to and shown to us in God’s own Word, the Holy Scriptures. It is our joy to celebrate all that Jesus has done for us. Amen!
Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com
- Read Romans 3:19-28. What’s the stated purpose of God’s law? What does it accomplish in us? 3:19-20, 23; 2:12-16; 5:20; 7:1-15. What’s the law unable to do? 3:20, 27-28; Galatians 2:16-3:14. How are we accountable to God? Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 2:13-14.
- In Romans 3, Paul speaks of two kinds of righteousness. See vs. 21-22. What are they? How did the Law and the Prophets testify of this righteousness of God through faith? Genesis 15:6; 2 Chronicles 6:21, 26-27, 30, 36-39; 7:12-14; Psalm 32:1-2; Exodus 34:6-7; 85:2-3; Isaiah 53:5-6, 10-12; Habakkuk 2:4.
- This righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ is freely given to all who believe. Why is Jesus perfectly righteous, and able to grant us or credit to us, His righteousness by faith? Matthew 3:15; 5:17; Hebrews 2:10, 17-18; 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21.
- The term “propitiation” (Rom. 5:25) is an unfamiliar one to most of us. It means that Jesus Christ turned away God’s wrath over our sin by His death on the cross. What is the effect of this “propitiation” for us? 1 John 2:2; Romans 5:9-11; Isaiah 53:10; Galatians 3:13; contrast to John 3:36 if we don’t believe. If we no longer face God’s wrath because of our sin, what is His attitude toward us instead? Numbers 6:23-26
- Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross and His justification of sinners proves God’s righteousness. How does this remove from us any ground for boasting in ourselves? Why is Christ the only way of salvation? John 14:6; Acts 4:12