“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

God's Wrath on Unrighteousness, Part I

 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
 --Romans 1:18-23

The God of Scripture is a God of grace, love, and mercy. We know this because He grants salvation and righteousness to those who believe in His Son alone (1:16-17). But He is also a God of justice, vindication, and wrath. Therefore, when human beings fail to honor the Son, God demonstrates His wrath in an eternally and spiritually devastating way. God’s wrath is not sudden or random. Nor is it aimed at a certain people group. God pours His wrath on all those who deny, oppose, and resist the truth of the gospel of Christ.

The evidence for God is irrefutable. This can clearly be seen from conscience, creation, God’s Word, and His attributes. Foolish is the man who claims there is no God. This man is striving to fool Himself, for even his logic and reasoning reveal the Creator (Psalm 14:1). The earth, seas, and skies reflect the glory and majesty of their creator (Psalm 19:1). God’s very essence is truth. That is not just a part of His character, but His definition (John 14:6). God’s attributes, including His eternal power and His divine nature also prove His existence. One can travel to the most remote of villages and find a people who worship a god. The fact that we, as humans, have a knowledge of a supreme higher being, is rational proof that a supreme deity exists. Despite these overwhelming proofs, human beings still refuse to acknowledge Christ as Lord. God has placed us in front of His creation every day. We live in it, talk to it, eat it, and breathe it. It literally slaps us in the face on a cold, blistery day. But yet mankind refuses to acknowledge the Almighty God. Therefore man has no excuse on the Day of Judgment.
Even though man claims that either God does not exist, or that the God of Scripture is not the One true God, all men are conscious of God’s existence through general revelation. Everyone has a knowledge of God in their hearts. But many people choose not to give Him honor, worship, and praise. They roam around, vainly searching for their purpose in life, refusing to acknowledge that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to serve Him forever. Therefore, their thinking is flawed and the Lord has darkened their hearts, just as He darkened the heart of Pharaoh, who witnessed firsthand the reality of God’s power (Exodus 7-12). These people teach in schools and universities; they invent great technological advancements; they write important pieces of legislature; they theorize and postulate scientific and mathematical formulas; and they are some of the most brilliant minds on the face of the earth. But they are fools who revel in their own personal greatness and not the One who created them with these skills. Instead of giving the glory to God, they worship other things: philosophies, science, political leaders, money, fame, family, sports, the list goes on and on.
Thank the Lord that He is a God of mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness, for everyone would be blinded by our own depravity if not for God’s sovereign election, justification, and sanctification. Thank the Lord for the salvation that only comes through Him. Pray for those who have been blinded by the enticements of this world. Ask the Lord to quell His wrath and to open the hearts and ears of those who refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Am Not Ashamed

 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”-Romans 1:16-17

As an American, I live in relative freedom every day. I have the freedom to live and believe as I so choose. So it is easy for me to say that I am unashamed of the Gospel of Christ. But in almost every other nation in the world, Christians are living in fear for their lives from their governments, which are continually persecuting them for their faith. One would think that these believers would try to conceal their faith. But on the contrary, we hear stories almost daily of how believers are standing firm in their faith, even in the face of imprisonment and even worse, death.

            What is it that keeps our brothers and sisters in foreign lands to continue to stand for their faith in the face of death? They understand that the gospel is the most important message in the history of the world. This gospel is the message of Christ, who gives all people, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status, salvation through their faith in Him. It is as powerful as dynamite, which is what the Greek word for “power” means. It brings life and deliverance from sin to those who believe, but death and banishment to those who do not.
            Paul, as a Jew, was not ashamed to be preaching a doctrine that went against popular Jewish belief. John MacArthur notes, “He had been imprisoned in Philippi, chased out of Thessalonica, smuggled out of Berea, laughed at in Athens, regarded as a fool in Corinth, and stoned in Galatia, but Paul remained eager to preach the gospel in Rome…Neither ridicule, criticism, nor physical persecution could curb his boldness.”
            It is only through the gospel that the righteousness of God is granted to mankind through faith in Christ. Righteousness is perfectly conforming to God’s law. Since it is impossible for totally depraved humanity to achieve righteousness, therefore the perfect righteousness of God is granted through faith in Christ. This is why Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4, noting that salvation has always been given to God’s people through faith alone.
            Even though Western Christians live in relative ease, we believe a doctrine that goes against the "touchy-feely" experience-driven religion of popular culture. Our faith lies in Christ, not ourselves, nor science. We must be willing to take a stand for the gospel and to preach salvation through faith alone in Christ alone to all.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Paul's Desire For Rome

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome."
Romans 1:8-15
Paul seemed to be writing to the Romans as if they were his own children. His words are like those of a proud father who is taking glory in the fact that his children have been proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ throughout the known world. Paul was thankful for the opportunity to write to and encourage the hearts of the Roman Christians.

His heart was full for the Romans, as he prayed for them continually, without ceasing. We know that Paul is using a figure of speech and is not praying every second of the day for them. However, he is constantly in prayer--probably praying small prayers throughout the day at different times—and when he prays, he is praying for the specific needs of the Roman church, and also that the Lord would grant him the opportunity to visit them. We should use Paul’s example of prayer, taking time out of the day to continually pray for the needs of the saints. 

Paul’s hope and desire was to finally visit the Roman believers in order to encourage them and to impart a spiritual gift of grace to strengthen the congregation through the message of Christ, general blessings from God, and specific ministerial gifts. His hope and prayer was that both he and the Roman believers would be encouraged by each other’s faith in and testimony to Christ. Not only did the Apostle seek to impart the spiritual wisdom and discernment that the Lord had provided him, but he also sought to be encouraged by and learn from the Romans’ faith.  

Paul’s great desire was to come and personally minister to the Roman church. He no doubt had tried, but he was under divine obligation to preach the gospel to the Greeks, which prevented him from visiting the Romans. We know that God is sovereign and works in all things. God did not want Paul to visit the Romans at this time, but instead to continue to minister to the Gentiles in Greece and Asia, and to those who professed themselves to be wise, but were actually fools (1:22).