Romans 3

rom-3.jpgGreetings!

Paul continues laying out his case for why we all are sinners in need of a Savior.

God’s Faithfulness

3 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.

The New Testament is sometimes considered anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish).  Sadly, Jews have been persecute over the centuries.  But this persecution has no grounding in the Bible.

3 What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”

5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved.

People will make up all sorts of excuses to sin and reasons why they think God won’t judge us for what we’ve done.  But God is just, and will judge us with complete fairness.

No One Is Righteous

9 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16 ruin and misery mark their ways,

17 and the way of peace they do not know.”

18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

We don’t have the power to completely obey the law because of our sinful nature.  But the law helps us know where we’ve gone wrong.

Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Again, God is perfectly just.  He sacrificed Jesus – God the Son – to take our punishments.  But we need to accept Jesus’ sacrifice by faith.

V. 23 is a classic verse used to explain man’s problem.  We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of a holy and perfect God.  We should all spend more time in the Old Testament to get a better glimpse of just how holy He is.  Too often we think we’re pretty good and that God should be pleased with our efforts.  But the closer I get to God the farther I realize I was away from him.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29 Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?

Roundup

Yeah, I think this pretty much sums it up for us accounting / finance types:

Thanks, Comics.com

The Real Reason For Lefty Malaise – great explanation by Rich Karlgaard of Forbes about why Leftist ideas look swell in college classrooms but fail in the real world.

Pandering to Hispanics — L.A./Chicago Boycott Arizona… Unless There’s Money to be Made on red light cameras.  You can always tell how deep principles run when people hold them tightly — provided it costs them absolutely nothing.

Supreme Court: Public schools can deny funding to Christian student groups that bar gays — a horrible decision that only passed when they tweaked it to say that groups can’t exclude anyone.  But what will they do if hundreds of Christians join the Muslim group and change its leaders and by-laws to say that Jesus is the only way and Mohammad was a false prophet?  Make up your own examples!

More inconsistencies — We’re Here, We’re Queer and We’re in Abject Denial — gay groups support Palestine, even though the Palestinians would kill them all if they had a parade there while Israel would not.

Israel. The only place in the Middle East where one can be gay in public, without fear of being jailed, tortured or killed. The useful idiots aligning with Palestine don’t even realize that Hamas, a terrorist organization intent on “wiping Israel off the map,” is also oppressing some of its own people, particularly women and homosexuals. But, see, this doesn’t matter to them. Hamas is anti-Israel and anti-America. This is all that matters. Because George Bush. And evil capitalist America. They are willing to turn a blind eye to true oppression and homophobia so rampant that it results in bloodshed and death, as long as it fits with their preferred global agenda.

Hillary: Let the babies starve until we fund abortions – they love expanding abortions so much that they’ll hold food and medicine for babies as a result.  You can really feel the love, eh?

Besides, Hillary’s statement is nothing short of idiotic.  Maternal health does not depend on abortion.  In fact, abortion is a rather moot point when it comes to the stage of worrying about the health of mothers of newborn infants, isn’t it?

Darwin Meets Orwell – call this one, “Thanks for the concession speech, Mr. Naturalist!”  We’ve said for some time that naturalism can’t ground morality and this “expert” fully concedes the point.  His logic and conclusions are muddy, but the net of it is great to hear.  Yes, yes, we agree!  If your worldview is true then people can’t be held accountable!

Glenn’s last piece on his Catholic series, Catholic Iconography and the “Saints.” Nice summary.  I know many Catholics who, based on what they profess to believe, would be in the “true Christian” category.  They either weren’t taught or don’t believe the false doctrines from Rome and they do believe the essentials.  But that doesn’t mean I’d point people there.  The Reformation happened for many good reasons.

. . . These are the heavy burdens of legalism placed upon the members of the Roman Catholic Church, which result in the Roman Catholic Church being a cultic organization, in which the majority of its members are not true Christians (as testimony after testimony of ex-members attest).

How do we then witness to Catholics? The best way is to show them that salvation is a one-time thing and that it is not as a result of works. Point them to Christ, and not to Mary, for salvation. And that everything their leaders say should be passed through the grid of Scripture.

As noted on my Facebook page, my backup dog chewed through the mesh and inside of my suitcase to get to some candy stored in the front compartment.  She ate the Mikes AND the Ikes.  This is a re-enactment; she ran away when I was coming down the hall the first time.  She has lost a lot of teeth but still managed to chew through the fabric.

IMG_0028

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Romans 2

Greetings!

Paul emphasizes a point that Jesus made as well, namely that we shouldn’t be hypocritical.  We are instructed to make judgments but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do so in humility or without acknowledging our own sinfulness.  Paul had hammered several serious sins in chapter 1, such as homosexuality, but his list also included greed, boasting, gossip and even disobeying one’s parents.

God’s Righteous Judgment

2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

God loves it when we repent.  He leads us to repentance out of his kindness.  As v. 6 notes, God is perfectly fair – we will be judged based on what we have done.  But sometimes we confuse his patience with his approval.  These are radically different things.

Paul emphasizes many times in Romans that God sent his message through the Jews.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

V. 15 states what people intuitively know: God’s law is written on our hearts.  People will be judged by God based on what they do know.

The Jews and the Law

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Christians cringe when famous Christians are caught in big-time sins.  Yet we do the same things in less visible ways each day.  Thank God for his mercy and grace!

25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

Circumcision was a sign of God’s special covenant with the Israelites.  It was a symbol of the internal circumcision of our hearts that is supposed to take place when we have faith in God.

28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Paul is relentless in showing how we are all sinners, even if we know the rules very well.

What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?

Roundup

The Disclose Act passed the house – it will address corporate contributions but coincidentally enough it exempts unions.  Go figure.

Pray for Joni Eareckson Tada, who has cancer.  She is an amazing woman.  I read her biography as a teen (I think I was home sick or something and my Mom suggested it . . . usually I would have been reading something like Helter Skelter).  I wasn’t a believer then but it still made an impression on me.

10-Year-Old Grand Marshal at Gay Rights Parade Sparks Controversy Across U.S. – something about millstones comes to mind for whoever is subjecting kids to that.

I like Right Klick’s take on objective journalism:

Should they try to be “fair and balanced?” Surely. Should they present multiple viewpoints? Of course. Should they exclude their own opinions? I don’t think so.

Readers should consider the writer’s point-of-view when assessing the validity of the writing. But they can’t do that if the writer’s interpretation of the story is hidden behind a façade. So political writers should plainly state their own opinions.

Moreover, I think political writers should be prepared to provide full disclosure. Who do they plan to vote for in the next election? To which politicians have they contributed?All conflicts of interest and relevant financial relationships should be clearly identified. Follow Mika Brzezinski’s example.

Open bias is better than fake neutrality.  But that would require honesty.

The latest on the Ergun Caner situation, for those of you following it – Looks like Liberty University was moving the right direction but fell far short of being as transparent as they should be, and Caner still isn’t fully ‘fessing up.  Shame on them.  Muslims will rightly mock this for decades when Christians try to witness to them.

The 2nd Amendment still matters: In UK, Grandmother jailed for five years for owning family heirloom handgun

Glenn is on a roll: Mary, “Mother of the Church,” Is Not the Mary of the Bible – read it for an analysis of some serious errors regarding Mary

Obama won’t close Gitmo in first term – That must be a typo.  When he campaigned he said he would close that first thing.

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Romans 1

rom-1.jpgGreetings!

I encourage you to read this chapter very closely.  I refer to often as it has such relevance to our culture and to contemporary issues.

Paul packs a lot into his opening.

  • He was specifically called to be an apostle (one who saw Jesus and carried his message).
  • He is Jesus’ servant.
  • He is sharing the Gospel foretold in the Old Testament.
  • Jesus has two natures: Human and divine.
  • Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
  • Jesus came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
  • More!

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

Do we display the kind of faith that is worthy of being reported around the world, or even around the block?  Are we serving God with our whole hearts and spreading his Good News?

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

No matter how strong our faith is, encouragement is vital.  There are many times when I’m weighed down and someone will come along with an encouraging word to pick me up.  When I see other people living out their faith it inspires me.  You are not alone!

14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

V. 16 is powerful.  In light of eternity, why should we be ashamed of the Gospel?  The world hates the Gospel, because it convicts them of sin.  The Gospel is for everyone.  There is no other path besides Jesus.

This next section, which I put in bold, speaks volumes about why everyone should know there is a God.  Note how it says that, “God has made it plain to them . . . God’s invisible qualities . . . have been clearly seen . . . so that men are without excuse.”   People who think they’ll claim ignorance when facing God at their death are horribly mistaken.

God has revealed himself to us in his creation.  He takes it very seriously when people mock that and completely ignore him.  Deep down even atheists know there is a God, but they “suppress the truth by their wickedness.”

Theologian R.C Sproul said, “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.”

God’s Wrath Against Mankind

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Note how it repeats God “gave them over . . .” three times.  Consider how fully our society has turned sexual morality upside down.  It calls evil good and good evil.  Homosexual behavior is not only accepted but glorified.

This is one of the clearest passages denouncing homosexual behavior as sinful.  Some will try to read something into the text that simply isn’t there and claim that this was only about temple prostitutes, but there are many reasons that is wrong, starting with the fact the text doesn’t mention temples, prostitutes, or temple prostitutes.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Some pro-gay theologians try to spin verses 26-27 to mean that it is only a sin to act outside your “normal” preferences – that is, if you are naturally gay then the sin would be to have heterosexual sex.  If that sounds ridiculous to you, it should.  The original Greek means natural function, which of course would mean male/female relationships are the norm and homosexual relationships are sinful.  See Responding to Pro-Gay Theology for more information.

Romans 1 shows how the world is upside down and how people suppress the truth in unrighteousness and reject God, even though He is seen through his creation.  Then Paul offers exhibit A as an example of people rejecting God’s created order: Homosexual behavior.

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Before people grandstand on the sin of homosexual behavior, they should note the other things Paul listed as being seriously wicked: Envy, greed, deceit, arrogance, heartlessness, disobedience to parents, etc.  Trust me, if you re-read the list you’ll find yourself in there somewhere!

People know better, yet they shake their fists at God anyway.  I thank God that He took me from rebellion against him to faith in him.  It is only by his grace that I am a believer.  I pray that many people will read his Word, be convicted and turn to him for forgiveness and salvation.

What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?

Roundup

From the “Good, I’m not the only one!” category, Alyssa puts spinach in her shakes as well.  They really don’t impact the taste much and it makes the shakes more nutritious.  I could never eat cooked spinach. 

One of my first posts was about my Veggie Boy shakes.  We just replaced our vendor by splurging on a Vita Mix and I’m glad we did.  The old one had a 2 HP motor as well but didn’t nearly blend as well as this one.  Oh, and the old one was “arcing,” which is apparently a bad electrical thingy.  I had noticed the blue sparks when the lights were low but just ignored them for a while.  Having lots of fun with the new blender. 

Adult stem cells used to restore sight to patients blinded by chemical burns – now that is great news.  And they didn’t have to destroy human beings to find the cure. 

Extra creepy: Planned Parenthood to offer "insemination services," marketing lesbians – they prefer to kill the ones conceived naturally then sell the ones conceived artificially.  Because every kid wants a sperm donor Dad and Lesbian Moms. 

Female condoms with teeth – yikes.  You read that right.  Hope it works to punish rapists and/or reduce rapes.  It definitely has potential for misuse, but given the rate of rapes in some countries I can see why some would find it appealing.

Glenn on The Catholic Eucharist: Unbiblical and Idolatry

Good analysis of the Islamic event in Dearborn, Michigan, USA.  This should be front page news.  It is “creeping Sharia” law, where Muslims get more and more aggressive with their demands and restrictions on the religious freedoms of others.  

Again the value of video footage simply cannot be understated. On Sunday evening the weekend of their arrest, after being released on bail, David Wood and Paul Rezkallah returned to the Arab Festival in Dearborn, MI, to conduct something of an experiment (along with a friend, Antonio Santana). Instead of going inside the festival, they stood outside of it and distributed pamphlets of the Gospel of John in Arabic and English. The video of the experience is incredible.

For three individuals standing on a public street handing out religious pamphlets in an American city, the Dearborn Police Department responded in under five minutes with a total of eight uniformed officers and arrested them. This is the assault on the rights and freedoms of Americans that is taking place in Dearborn, Michigan. Every year for three days in June, pursuant to a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman, the protections of the First Amendment are suspended within the Arab International Festival and its “outer perimeter” which, as we can tell from David’s experience here, apparently constitutes a five-block “buffer zone.” So anywhere within that five-block perimeter and the festival itself, the rights and freedoms of Americans is curtailed.

 

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Truth vs. fiction on the budget deficits

Despite the “Blame Bush first” mantra of this administration, the truth about the deficit spending is pretty easy to see.

To start, one should realize that the President does not make the budget — though he can influence it, as Obama has certainly done with the stimulus package and other horrific economic policies.

Congress makes the budgets, and then-Senator Obama was a part of that for 2008 and 2009 (technically the 2007 budget was the last of the Republican plans).  Note how the deficits, while high, were being reduced each year.

From 2008 on it is all Democrat, all the time.  And those figures should frighten people.  It is a quick way to destroy the country, because those are obviously unsustainable.  They will kill jobs, which will reduce the tax receipts even more and make these projections even worse when they play out.

We need to spend less, starting now.   This is what happens when you have inexperienced people in charge who have no concept of basic economic principles.

Hat tip: Frank