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011517 - Romans 6c - Be who you are
January 15, 2017 02:49 PM PST
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Romans 6:1-14 review, Pastor Scott Keller

Last week we got a big picture overview of chapter 6 and beyond.

I mentioned that there are many ways to view this important section of Scripture and I proposed what I think is the best way.

You don’t have to agree… no one is going to lose their salvation over the deal… it’s just that I believe, that it’s the most Biblically consistent and spiritually empowering way to go… I offer it to you, because I believe it can set you free from the futility of trying to jump through a never-ending set of hoops.

When we recognize, from the first 5 chapters of Romans, that our eternal salvation is all about what God has “Given,” rather than what we’ve earned, we realize our part, is to, through faith, humbly, gratefully accept the “Free gift” He has offered.

Faith is the prerequisite as we saw last week… It is impossible to please God without faith… Faith in God’s love and mercy is what will allow the “Heroes of the Old Testament” to accept Christ as their Savior… Faith is the only thing that can enable a “person living now” to accept Christ as their Savior.

When chapter 6, repeatedly states, in no uncertain terms, that we who have accepted Christ are “Crucified with Him,” dead and buried and then resurrected into a new “Born again” life with Him… it is true… it is… Truth.

What died? My “Old self” who could not believe… my old “Body of sin” that could not trust… my weak “Flesh” that was enslaved to faithlessness. The “Members of my body” that could not fight for righteousness.

The unbelieving, distrusting, faithless man I was, has been completely and totally replaced by a
new man of faith.

“I believe!” And because I do, I’m smart enough to add, “Help my unbelief.”

That’s the difference… I now care about God and my relationship with Him… I want greater faith and I therefore pray for it and strive for it and conform to it.

The greater my faith the more I am capable of accepting God’s love and then reflecting His love back to Him and to my fellow Christians and to the people still enslaved to faithlessness.

I have faith that pleases God and I am enabled to easily obey the entire requirement of the “Law and the Prophets.” I am empowered to obey all that God commands…

Whoa dude. Scott, I was with you, BUT what’s that your saying now?
What precisely does the entirety of the Bible command? We looked at it last week in Luke 10:27. That we “Love God and love our neighbor as our self.” As a reborn Christian filled with God’s love… I do… I do, and it is easy.

I’m not kidding – stay with me. I love God and I love others as I love myself – I do and it is easy.

What it’s not, is perfect or complete… That, I strive for. I do it, and I strive to do it more, because I’m a new person…

Can you see what I’m saying? That’s the new heart I’ve been given. The faith is there and so the love is there, and the desire for greater love is there, where years ago, there was none Old Testament that.

Years ago, there wasn’t even a love for myself – there was just the struggle to compete for survival.

That’s the change and that’s the difference.

I truly hope you can understand what I’m trying to convey… Notice how dissimilar that perspective is compared to the standard Christian ideal that you’ve probably believed most of your life.

Just like our Jewish forerunners of old, most Christians are running around trying to keep individual laws, rules and regulations and trying to conform to some acceptable standard of behavior, that none of us Christians can fully agree on.

Can a guy wear shorts and flipflops to church? Can a woman wear pants? How much makeup is too much? What Bible translation is acceptable? What music is okay? Can I have a glass of wine with dinner? Will I lose my salvation if I vote for a Democrat? Can a preacher be anointed by God and use the word “Crap” in a sermon?

Where does it end?

That’s the human solution.
Standards of conduct and
judgmental condemnation for violations. What God commands… is for us to 1love Him with all we’ve got and to 2love others as though we were in their shoes.

It isn’t that we love God with our human affection… human love is imperfect. It is uncertain, it is conditional, it is transitory, it is fickle and it is ultimately self-serving. God must be loved with His own perfect love. It is through faith, that we accept God’s love into us… through faith we allow the Spirit of God to fill us to overflowing with the love of God.

You actually have to embrace that reality… God’s love flowing into and then out of you.

It is impossible to properly love God with all you have unless you give yourself over to His love in you and that is done through faith… I believe God loves me, I believe God has saved me, I believe God is my friend, I believe God has filled me with His Breath.

We must get our mind around it in order to feel and experience the Truth of it.

When I love God this way I want to avoid the things that hurt Him and do the things that please Him… that is my desire.

Likewise, I love others in wider radiating circles of relationship. My first circle includes the woman God has given to me. Then our children and then our family beyond. Then this church family and then the Body of Christ beyond this church radiating out across the globe and then to all those still enslaved to faithlessness.

We must love others, as we love ourselves… Which, as I said, means that we love another person as though we were in their shoes… Please think about what I’m saying. Project yourself into the other person’s skin… you are them… how would you want to be treated.

A very popular thing in America today is to attack and revile people who are judgmental or people who are arrogant or people who oppose certain behaviors.

The reviler will pompously bash from a position of extreme superiority.

Now, who can revile a judgmental person without first being judgmental? Who can attack an arrogant person without first being arrogant? Who can bash a person with strong opinions without first holding strong opinions?

We are constantly passing judgment on others all the while joining them in the very thing we condemn them for… Can you see that we establish ourselves as superior to those we ridicule?

Can you see the Truth of Jesus’s statement in Matthew 7:2 NLT, “You will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

The Message Bible simply says, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment.”

The craziest form of judgment is from people who detest judgmental people… What I’m saying, what Jesus said… is that everyone who judges, is judgmental.

Instead of seeing a person who annoys you… see yourself as them and ask how would I want people to respond to me.

This is not blaspheme folks, it’s not some novel idea I created… Jesus said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31).

The concept is so rooted in the Bible we have come to call it… “The Golden Rule.” Paul stated it plainly, twice in Romans, just as he did in his letter to the Galatians… James calls it the “Royal Law” when he discusses it in his Epistle (Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:8, 13:10, James 2:8). Yes, there’s a nuance difference between the “The Golden Rule” and the “Royal Law,” but the net result is identical.

Let me walk a mile in their moccasins, to borrow from the poem, before, I decide how to treat them.

Now, when through the love of God poured out upon me, I can love others in that way, I want to avoid the things that hurt them, and do the things that benefit them… that is my desire.

More and more, I love God and others, as I pray for my faith to increase.

Focus on faith… which we will later see is the “Renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Allow your faith perspective to embrace and radiate Agapê.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Well, really it is simple. We make it difficult, because it is too easy, too general, too undefined – too esoteric for our taste…

Give me boundaries, let me know precisely what I can and cannot do, what the penalties and rewards are and what loopholes I can exploit.

Well, what I was talking about is the Christianity God commands and the second bit is the religion humans create.

Okay, very quickly, verse-by-verse…

ROMANS 6:1&2 ~ 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

As we go, I’m going to mention verb moods by section as a way to help us see the flow… Verse 1, starts off in the subjunctive mood… Subjunctive is like subject to – it often expresses a wish or a question… here specifically, a rhetorical question that is obviously contrary to reality.

Verses 2 through 10, present a section of indicative verbs… Indicative indicates what is accepted as fact – as reality… from the author’s perspective… the ultimate author being God – it is unassailable, unchangeable Truth.

Verses 11 through 13, switch to verbs in the imperative mood. Imperative, as in it is imperative… it is the mood of exhortation, order and command.

The end of verse 2, is our thesis… “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

Now, Paul will explain what he means…

ROMANS 6:3&4 ~ 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

As I said before, the baptism spoken of here is an illustration about what a Christian IS, NOT how one becomes a Christian… See how easy it is to lose our way when we are not careful in our pursuit of Truth?

A person who has married themselves to Jesus… A Christian who has accepted Him and follows Him and is filled with Him has, IN HIM, been “Born again” as a “New creation.” Dead as a faithless person, “Reborn” as a person of faith.

The implication is that we are, as a settled fact, no longer who we were.

The reason given for that is so that we would live as Jesus lives here and now just as we are assured it will be forever.

The point is that we Christians are God’s children destined for an eternity in His family… so we should live that way now… As I said a couple of weeks ago… Why would we wait?

About 100 years ago, a girl asked me to the Sadie Hawkins Dance… I happily accepted and was going to wait for the 2 weeks until the dance to talk to her again.

How dumb can you be? Anyway, somehow, I realized that since she asked me to the dance, she might be willing to go to a movie or something with me before the night of the dance.

We’ve accepted an invitation to a big dance with God and it would be stupid to wait to enjoy His company until then.

ROMANS 6:5-10 ~ 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

Verse 5 makes a logical connection that is emphatic… Since we have died with Christ – we will absolutely be resurrected with Christ in the future.

This is the future glorification when Christ returns and all is set right.

Since we know that is true – we know there’s a reason and a result… The reason is that we would BE Christians and the result is that we would live like the Christians we ARE.

We wouldn’t be saved at some point in the past, go back to our old life like nothing ever happened and simply wait for Christ to complete our salvation in the future.

If, “Child of God” is the status you want in the future, how could you possibly NOT want that status now?

Verse 7&8, recaps what was said in verse 5. It is a succinct factual statement… “He who has died is freed from sin,” followed by the resulting implication, “We shall also live with Him.”

Verses 9&10, state the obvious facts regarding Jesus and the logical conclusion that the life He now leads is a life fully dedicated and devoted to God.

Of course, His life as the Word of God was always so from the eternity to eternity. Of course, His life in human form was also always so from conception to death.

Paul is not saying that Jesus is somehow more after His Resurrection than He was before it… What he’s saying is that Jesus, like us, was subject to temptation and the mortality of flesh.

Jesus actually, physically, completed His work… He conquered both sin and the grave and is therefore beyond both… His time as a mortal is “Finished.” There remains nothing BUT eternity and love.

ROMANS 6:11-13 ~ 11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

The “Even so,” starting verse 11, is “Even so” in the sense of “Therefore.” It is literally, “Thus, also you…”

Paul is saying that since all of that is true about Jesus and we are in Jesus then it MUST follow that we…

Consider, reckon, judge or see ourselves, “Dead to sin.”

Before we were told in no uncertain terms that we were factually, literally, really tied to Jesus in His death and in His resurrection… It’s just the way it is as demonstrated with indicative verbs.

Here, in the passage I just read, from verse 11, running right through verse 13, we have verbs in the imperative mood. This whole section is the exhortation, order and command to now do something with the facts already presented.

This is what were supposed to do about the fact that we have died and been resurrected with Christ.

The words “Consider yourself to be” is a command… It isn’t a suggestion or a nice idea, it is a command from God for Christians to act.

And I stress, it isn’t a mind over matter thing… it isn’t just forcing yourself to accept something you don’t really understand or believe… It is commanding you to recognize the fact… Recognize who you are right now IN Christ.

In the Greek language verse 11, is formatted to show a huge and dramatic contrast between being dead to sin and alive to God.

It is a massive shift indicating it can’t possibly be both ways.

Please listen to what God’s saying here my friends… The idea that you can live to sin sometimes and live to God at other times, is a lie from Satan.

It is an all or nothing, once and for all, factual reality, that God is now, telling us, to fully embrace right here, right now!

You are either a Christian living for God or you are not. Since that’s a Biblical fact… LIVE that way!

BE who you are… IN Christ.

As a Christian living for God in Christ, I sometimes stumble and fall and even roll backwards on occasion, BUT, in His power, I am living for Him, getting up and dusting myself off and moving forward again always pressing forward towards the prize, towards my love.

In the next 2 verses, we have a practical and more specific command following the general and somewhat abstract command of verse 11. It is basically restating and filling in the details of verse 11.

Because we understand the indicative that we ARE living for God and embrace the imperative to BE that, which we ARE…

We will do battle against anything and everything that distracts us from that BEING.

When it says “Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness,” but instead, present “Your members as instruments of righteousness.”

It is a word picture… “Members” is really body parts and “Instruments” is actually weapons of war. It is ὅπλον (hŏp-lŏn) – the Greek soldiers were Hoplites.

You are in a war – your body parts are weapons of that war – offer them in service to God rather than in service to His enemy.

You are a Christian in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to live your life for God regardless of your setbacks… BUT, you are commanded right here, to be 1aware, to be 2focused, and to be a person of 3faith.

It doesn’t say, IF you make a mistake, you are doomed, it says, NEVER, under no circumstances, can you allow yourself to wallow in the faithlessness of your former existence.

Do not let the vile entity sin regain his throne in your life… do not let him rule you, enslave you, reign as king in your life.

You, and your freedom from your former master, was purchased with the highest possible price. Dedicate yourselves to your new master.

The message is that God is your master… listen to Him, serve Him, rather than listening to and serving your previous master.

I said we are hereby commanded to be 1aware, to be 2focused, and to be a man or woman of 3faith…

That’s because 2 weeks ago, I said Christians sin, out of 1ignorance, or out of 2inattention, or out of a lack of 3faith. Therefore, 1work to gain a better understanding of God, 2pay attention and 3pray for faith. In other words, be 1aware, be 2focused, and be a person of 3faith.

You can boil it all down to a lack of faith. We as Christians have been transferred from enslavement to faithlessness into a new life of faith.

Pray earnestly every day that your faith will increase… The more faith you have, the more certainty you have that God has you and that everything will work to the ultimate good.

The more you trust God and the process… right?

The more your able to do that, the more you are able to BE who you ARE in Christ… The more your able to BE… the more your activity will reflect that.

We were talking in our Wednesday class about being in step with the Holy Spirit. How we are to focus, NOT on doing certain things and avoiding others, BUT focus on BEING Christians connected to God every moment with intention…

Constantly asking that the Holy Spirit would lead us, anoint us, show us what He would like us to do… NOT in 10 years, or 10 months, 10 days, or even in 10 minutes… What Holy God dwelling in me do You want me to do right now?

Some people try to minimize the responsibility to act in accordance with our new nature by saying in can’t be done or that we’ll do it after Christ returns.

BUT here it is explicitly commanded in for our present circumstance… “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body,” verse 13, “Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin.”

Instead, recognize that you have been saved and filled with the Holy Spirit and now live for God and His purposes…

Recognize who you ARE and BE that person.

Verse 1, was a question. Verses 2 through 10, explained the factual reality. Verses 11 through 13, commanded our proper response and verse 14, is a summation of the chapter thus far and a pivot or transition into the next section.

ROMANS 6:14 ~ For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

010817 - Romans 6b - Born Again
January 09, 2017 08:09 AM PST
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Romans 6:6&7, Plus a Chapter 6 Overview, Pastor Scott Keller,

Last week we transitioned from Romans chapter 5 into chapter 6, which starts with a rhetorical question.

Chapter 5, emphasized the absolute security of a person who fully trusts God with their salvation.

It is 100% pure grace, but people hate acknowledging they are the recipients of perfect charity… they want to contribute and they also fear putting all their hope in Jesus alone.

What if Jesus is not enough and I could have done more, but I didn’t? That’s scary… because that’s total faith.

There are only 2 possibilities… You either go for that scary, total faith and acceptance of 100% charity, or you don’t.

Most don’t, and so, they ask the pejorative question… Since you say, it’s all grace through Jesus, and that is to God’s glory… “Well then, shouldn’t we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace and receive even more glory?” (Romans 6:1).

To paraphrase Paul’s next comment… “Are you insane?” “Of course, not, NEVER!”

Paul shows that such a fear comes from a complete misunderstanding about what Christianity is…

Christianity isn’t a social club or secret society one joins. It is being “Born again.” It is a death to self and resurrection to God… It is a rebirth from the old life to the new life in Christ Jesus… It is a surrendering of our plans, purposes and desires, in favor of joining Jesus in His.

Baptism is like a wedding – we choose to hitch our wagon to Jesus and live His life with Him until death do us part… Well, there will never be death and so this is an eternal commitment to be His.

Scotty still has about 10 months to go before earning his Air Force pilot wings. Upon acceptance of those wings he will be required to sign a ten-year commitment. At the end of that time, he’ll have nearly 12 years of military service, and may very well stay the extra 8 and retire.

His girlfriend should fully recognize the life she would be accepting if she continues to move forward with him. She would eventually be an Officer’s wife, required to conform to that lifestyle, including uprooting their home and moving to who-knows-where, practically anyplace, around the world, every 2-3 years.

She could say, I refuse to follow, BUT she wouldn’t really be a wife to him if she did.

As a Christian we have accepted Jesus as our husband and have embraced the life He leads. Does Jesus indulge in sin? How then, could anyone who is living for Him and with Him, even consider indulging in sin?

ROMANS 6:6-23 NLT ~ 6We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. 12Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. 13Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. 15Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. 19Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. 21And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. 22But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

I said last week that the whole argument was the last part of Romans 6:2, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

All the rest is proving that point and amplifying the consequences.

The basic premise is that a Christian has died and been “Born again.” So, obviously, each Christian person is a new creation THROUGH Christ, to be IN Christ and to live LIKE Christ.

Christians are therefore free from the obligations, entanglements and necessities of their old physical life… JUST like Jesus is free of all those things.

We have died, been buried and been reborn as a completely different person… a spiritual person, justified as righteous before God… as released from any slavery to sin and death… freed of any vestiges of fleshly mortality.

Not only do we no longer need to sin… We no longer need to eat, or sleep, or get sick, or be poor, or suffer in any way. We who have died with Christ, never need to die again.

No one thinks we no longer need to eat, sleep, breathe and eventually die. On the other hand, no one thinks the rebirth at salvation is completely meaningless either.

All people vary between those two extremes in what it actually means to be crucified and resurrected with Christ.

1) On one end of the spectrum we have some, “Name it and Claim it,” Prosperity Gospel Peddlers, who believe the FULL KINGDOM has come… God’s children should be, right here and right now, healthy, wealthy and wise… well healthy and wealthy anyway… Most of them aren’t too hip on the wise part…

I say that because one of the features of the Pentecostal movement through the Charismatic and Third Wave iterations is a suspicion of academic education and meticulous Biblical scholarship. It is a distrust shared by their Anabaptist forerunners.

Because they emphasize the power of the Holy Spirit, they take verses like, John 14:26, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things,” to mean formal study is unnecessary.

Not just unnecessary, BUT detrimental. Too much Christian knowledge gets in the way of the movement of the Holy Spirit. Too much education is a bad thing.

There’s some truth in the idea that an overemphasis on knowledge can puff people up and quench the Spirit.

What’s also true though, is that a failure to educate, especially the people responsible for teaching the Bible, leads to a different kind of arrogance, and a horribly distorted theology.

2) At the other end of the spectrum are intellectual eggheads who are so practically minded and rationally thinking they cannot conceive of the spiritual realm having any real influence on the physical realm today. They essentially “Hold to a form of godliness, but deny its power” (II Timothy 3:5).

Some end up ignoring the concept altogether as being only a hyperbolic or overblown encouragement… Paul is given to melodramatic and extravagant constructs to inspire Believers… The goal was to motivate Christians, NOT to reveal Truth. For them the KINGDOM of GOD has not yet come.

3) Another approach, that is probably the most widely held, is to water it down to irrelevance by an appeal to the “Already, not yet” doctrine.

The KINGDOM of GOD is already, but not yet… everything is “Finished,” BUT we don’t experience it yet in its entirety.

Yes, we are resurrected with Christ as a fact, but we haven’t caught up to the fullness of that fact yet. The power of sin is “already” broken, BUT the full experience is “not yet.”

We can agree with our verses today, BUT ignore the practical implications in our present life, because, while true in the abstract, it’s not yet true in our reality.

The implication is that it’s a nice thought, and we should try to be good, BUT the it won’t really happen until we catch up to our own full resurrection when Christ returns.

Generally, such folks see the struggle with sin in chapter 7, as the Christian’s struggle.

Our first group, remember them, the Kingdom is already here group? Well, they usually see chapter 7, as describing unsaved people, because they believe that Christians really are fully able to walk in the newness of life living a sinless life and experiencing all the blessings of God right now.

I hope you can appreciate the problem.

I think the reason we have this problem is that the question we are all asking of this passage is unfortunately the wrong question to ask.

We are constantly doing that with God’s Word. We take a passage addressing a specific point, for a specific purpose and then ask that passage to answer a question, it was never intended to give.

We all agree that being “Born again” means something because the Bible says it does, but we all recognize the reality that we’re still imperfect and mortal.

What’s the solution?

I’m going to propose a consistent Biblical nuance that I believe asks the right questions and therefore produces the right answers…

I have prayed repeatedly about conveying this Truth and I will do my best to present it simply and plainly for your understanding and examination, BUT I am sure you will need to pay close attention and do your own praying as well.

I believe we misunderstand what the Christian life is supposed to look like… I think we turn it into a legalistic keeping of rules, regulations and laws… Not much different than our Pharisee brothers of old.

Dancing, wearing makeup, men with long hair and women wearing pants were all widely held as sins.

Certainly, hip hop rap music is of the Devil… we all know that… Of course, my dad thought the rock n’ roll of even the Beach Boys was Satanic… His dad thought the Big Band Swing music of Benny Goodman was of the Devil. I actually agree with my grandpa after my dad forced me to watch hours and hours of Lawrence Welk as a kid.

Some think anything but the old hymns are of the Devil, BUT there was a time, in the not so distant past, when people knew for certain that hymns were Satanic.

My point is that Christians are very good at defining what we view as the sinful behavior we must avoid… Very few Christians can agree on what those things are, BUT we easily recognize sin, when we see it… Particularly when we see it in others.

Look my friends, when I use the Bible, and my reasonable mind, to come up with 613 sins to avoid…

How is that any different than the Jews of Jesus’ time recognizing the 613 Laws they saw in the Bible?

We, in Christianity, basically have the same religion as the people who killed Jesus… The only real difference is we think we have more Holy Spirit power to obey God’s rules.

What if that’s not what Paul’s talking about?

What if God is trying to show us that we have really died and really been resurrected.

What does it mean?

I need us to remember that sin and death are both personified as powers… It is not sinS that have been defeated in your life – it is the power of the entity SIN who has been defeated.

Romans 6:6&7 ~ 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.

Sin is, as I say, personified as a powerful entity who is the master of all who have not died with Christ.

Those who have been crucified are freed from his tyranny and the wages he pays in the form of death.

This is NOT some theoretical musing, some hypothetical philosophy, some exaggerated metaphor… this is pure reality in heaven and has actual ramifications on earth.

YOU, Christian person who has embraced Christ in His death and resurrection are filled with the Breath of God and have been transferred from slavery to Sin and Death to slavery to Righteousness and Life.

To grasp what that means we must remember that being a slave is what one is, NOT what one does.

What we do flows from what we are… What Sin enslaves people to BE… not what sin makes them DO, BUT what Sin makes them BE, is FAITHLESS. It is an enslavement of faithlessness regarding God.

People who are faithless, have no real hope, and they become consumed with fear, no matter how well they hide that fact.

Because of who they are… they do. They do selfish. Selfishness results in pain and sorrow all around. They more selfish our society becomes… and let’s remember that society is just us… so the more “We the people,” become occupied with our own personal self-interest above all else, the more our society becomes just a collection of individuals all on their own course. It devolves into chaos and either 1) disintegrates or births an 2) authoritarian state to bring order.

The core problem is a lack of faith in God. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Why? What’s the context of Hebrews 11:6? “It is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

The Bible commands only 2 things… “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27, etc.).

It is impossible to love God in that way without faith.

It is impossible to love your neighbor that way without first loving God.

What I’m trying to say, is that no human has enough faith in God because we are all born into bondage as the faithless.

The transfer is from faithlessness into faith… Faith that pleases God because it is a trust in Him and His plan demonstrated by accepting Jesus.

Christians are instantly freed from unbelief, distrust, faithlessness and all the corruption that flows from that bondage.

Non-Christians cannot please God… they do not trust Him, they cannot love Him and they cannot love their neighbor as they love themselves.

We can… that’s the difference.

That’s the factual reality. We can!

It isn’t to say we will overcome every temptation, avoid every misstep, never commit selfish acts… what it is to say is that we desire from the core of our being to never fail.

We desire to have greater faith and be filled with greater love… We desperately want to do things the way Jesus would do them because we ARE slaves to Him and NOT slaves to SIN.

1) I want to have greater faith each day,
2) I want to love God more each day,
3) I want to love my fellow Christian better each day and…
4) I want to truly love those people who are still enslaved to faithlessness just as God himself does.

Think about what that means.

1) I want more faith… I pray that God grants me more faith, knowing all along, that my faith increases as my faith is tested.

God grows my faith by being faithful to me, BUT He can only be faithful, when I’m in a position where I need Him to be faithful.

Are you willing to have your faith tested?

2) I want to love God more because I love Him a little… Do you see what I mean? I love God some and it drives me to want to love Him more… Please Lord help me to love You more.

That will likely require me grasping His love for me more than I already do… and that could be very uncomfortable.

Are you willing to go through whatever is necessary to love God more?

3) I want to love you more. I promise that such a thing will cost. Many of you have experienced the cost of caring more. There is betrayal, there is abuse, there is being taken advantage of, there is being rebuffed, and there is being overlooked.

How could it be called a Holy Spirit enabled selfless love if it were easy?

Are you willing to put yourself out there?

4) I want to love the lost more.

Imagine we are all taken captive and we are enslaved to a horrible taskmaster. Imagine that a man launches a rescue and while he dies in the effort you are freed and make it back home.

Do you now look down on the rest of us still caged by the slave owner as though you are better than us because you were the one freed?

As a new creation in Christ, right here, right now, I desire what is good and right and noble and I’m focused on the Author and Perfector of my faith to move forward.

The stupid stuff I do and the good stuff I fail to do will not hold me back… I’ve been forgiven and I’m moving forward with my BEING in Christ.

And as I strive for a more Christ-like Being, my DOING will continue to reflect that reality more and more. I’m not getting hung up on the minutia and the legalistic performance of specific actions… I’m dedicating myself to the big picture.

I AM a disciple of Jesus and I AM a new man in Him and I therefore desire to DO what I AM.

There is much to talk about… BUT for today, please recognize that as a Christian you really are a completely new creation proven by the fact that you have faith and you have a desire to please God with your faith.

You are a person of faith… A person striving to please God because it is who you are.

010117 - Romans 6a - Happy New Year
January 03, 2017 05:02 PM PST
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Romans 6:1-5, Pastor Scott Keller

Today we begin romans chapter 6. It is a profoundly important chapter, in a profoundly important book.

If you can accept the concepts explained here today – you will start the New Year more liberated from the bondage and drudgery of man-made religion.

This year you will give more glory to God than ever before… If you are able to stay with me and accept what I’m presenting from God’s own Word.

Leading up to this point, the Apostle Paul has laid out his theology concerning human salvation.

When I say his theology, I mean Christian theology taught to him by Jesus. Jesus personally appeared to Paul on more than one occasion and taught him His Gospel.

Paul’s Gospel and resultant theology was confirmed by the church leadership in Jerusalem and by the inner-circle of Jesus’ Apostles (Acts 9:3-8, 26:12-18, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Galatians 1:11-2:21).

In the last few decades, many people emphasize the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels and diminish or even disregard Paul… Others emphasize the teaching of James or of John. They do this as though there is a disconnect… as though the teachings found in the various Bible Books are somehow at odds. Paul faced the same nonsense, He said in I Corinthians 1:12&13, “One of you says, “I follow Paul.” Another says, “I follow Apollos.” Another says, “I follow Peter.” And still another says, “I follow Christ. Is Christ divided?”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul’s theology is the theology he learned from Jesus and confirmed with James and the other Apostles. People who see a disconnect, simply lack understanding. Paul’s theology is God’s theology.

The Book of Romans is the most thorough explanation of that theology… it is Christianity 101 through 901 and beyond.

The single-most important concept is that God and only God can save us and that He did precisely that for all who get into the Ark of Salvation.

I say Ark, because Noah and his story, apart from being historical fact, also serves as a metaphor… The whole world was being flooded… no one could possibly survive, except the people who, through faith, got into the Ark Noah built.

We have seen in the first 5 chapters that salvation is found in accepting Jesus as the one and only Savior.

We have seen that salvation in Him comes down to faith – not a single thing can be done to alter that reality… It is faith in God’s plan. It is faith in Jesus’ execution of that plan, and it is faith in the Holy Spirit revelation of that executed plan… PERIOD!

It is, through faith, boarding the Ark that can save you from the flood.

I can’t build my own boat, I can’t tread water, I can’t hitch a ride on a dolphin. Nothing I do or fail to do can ever change the reality that the Ark God provides is the only hope.

Quite frankly, when a person thinks they can please God or displease God enough to affect God… They are thinking far too highly of themselves and far too lowly of God.

The faith we have is a belief that God is trustworthy… worthy of our full trust that He will save us. It is demonstrated by our wholehearted surrender to that proposition… It is abandoning our own plans for staying alive during the flood and putting all our hope, all our chances for survival, in God’s plans for us staying alive… by getting in His boat.

Trust in His plan is trusting Him.

Notice that when I try to add to that in any way I’m actually trusting in God less… When I get on the Ark and then fasten on a life preserver, I show my lack of faith in the Ark.

Please understand this absolutely vital point. My efforts to gain greater assurance of salvation… In this case, by working to ensure God’s favor… Those extra efforts come at the expense of trusting in His grace.

It’s blasphemy… It fails to trust God to save, it diminishes Christ’s completed work on the cross and it minimizes the work of the Holy Spirit in Christians.

Paul’s point, the Bible’s point, God’s point, is that salvation in total – from the moment of acceptance through sanctification on earth and glorification in heaven – is granted by His grace… The unearned gift, unmerited kindness, undeserved altruism of God.

If we earn any part of our salvation… It isn’t grace. What it is, is human arrogance.

What do we bring to the table then?

Well, we provide our acceptance of the Holy Spirit testimony concerning Jesus as the Father’s only Savior by way of our faith in that proposition.

That’s what we’ve said is essential to activate the other side of grace… our unwavering faith, trust, belief and certain hope in Jesus.

Where does that kind of faith come from? There can be only one place and that is from God, NOT us.

When we looked at verse 6, in the last chapter, we saw that Not only, are we powerless to save ourselves – we aren’t even capable of figuring out what that would entail!

Repeatedly, the Bible proclaims that faith itself is a gift from God. If a person tried to will themselves to believe enough, it simply wouldn’t be enough. True salvific faith, as a gift from God, is not something we can manufacture because it is supernatural.

Faith comes from God and leads to 2 big questions. First, why does one person act on the Gospel they hear, and another person refuses?

In other words, does God only give faith to one of them, or does one of them resist the faith God gives them both?

I’m reasonably certain that the when whole counsel of the Bible is taken together without undue denominational influence, it teaches that both have opportunity.

One resists God’s gift. I don’t see that as thwarting or frustrating God’s efforts… I see that as God’s sovereign plan to give everyone an eternity of what they clearly choose now… For a few, an eternity in God’s presence. For the rest, an eternity without God bothering them.

The second question is why do some yield to the gift of faith and others reject it? I am absolutely, 100% certain it is because some people are inclined to think about weightier things… the nature of existence, the reality and character of God, the meaning of life here and life afterwards.

In short, some people pursue God. Hold it Scott, you just said we don’t even know where to start. Right, I’m saying some people pursue something greater than themselves… they don’t know what that is, they cannot ever find it on their own, BUT they are searching for answers.

They are open to faith because they are trying to figure out the deeper things of life rather than just living it for themselves.

Why do some people search in that way? I don’t have a clue. I honestly don’t know and I don’t believe it is possible for us to know… Free will versus an illusion of free will…

I don’t know why one person loves cats and another loathes them. Calvinists would lean towards the notion that such folks were predestined to love or loathe cats… Pursue or not pursue answers to the most important questions. Folks leaning towards Arminianism, would say it is purely a matter of their choice.

Whatever the reason some people are interested in finding the Truth… the fact remains, some are. Many of those people respond to that grain of faith given to them by the Holy Spirit and they accept Jesus.

Those people continue to respond to an ever-increasing offer of faith and they grow in Christ as Christians.

Some people respond better than others, so the life in Christ looks very different from one Christian to the next…

There are 2 reasons for that. One is to do with the amount of faith God grants along with how, when and why, He grants it… We all have a role to play in the Body of Christ and He determines what that role will be.

The second reason is that most Christians don’t want more faith.

That’s tragic… it is immature and it is selfish. It’s like a baby who refuses to grow up, no matter how old he becomes… Imagine a 15-year-old boy, a 30-year-old man, who still wears a diaper, sucks his thumb, sleeps in a crib, not because he can’t mature, but because he won’t mature… He simply refuses to grow up.

If that were your son, you would be greatly concerned and deeply saddened at everything he would never experience and the waste of all his potential. You would still love him, still accept him as your son, but it would be heartbreaking.

There are a lot of Christians who are just like that and then there are some who go full tilt maturing rapidly and continuously.

Why? I am absolutely, 100% certain it is because some people are inclined to take things more seriously… Some people get it at a level where they are serious enough to pursue God’s desire more than their own.

You know what I suspect… I suspect God gives less faith to some, because that’s all they can handle. That’s all they can handle, because that’s all they WANT to handle.

I suspect both reasons are inextricably linked and that every Christian has the capacity to press into God and pray for greater faith (Ephesians 2:4-9, Romans 3:27, 8:29-30, 10:17, 12:1-8, I Timothy 1:13&14, I Corinthians 4:7, Matthew 28:16-20, Luke 11:9-12, 17:5, 22:32, Mark 9:24, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 12:2).

No one needs to flounder as a Christian… The Father knows how to give good gifts to His children who ask… Friends, ASK!

In I John 5:13-15, the Apostle John says, “I’m writing these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God (that’s Christians). I’m doing it so you will know that you have eternal life (that’s assurance and how can we be sure?). 14There is one thing we can be sure of when we come to God in prayer. If we ask anything in keeping with what he wants, he hears us. 15If we know that God hears what we ask for, we know that we have it (God wants us to grow in our love for Him and for our fellow Christian and for the lost people of the world… How happy He is when we want the same thing and ask Him for help).”

Okay, what have we learned? Salvation is totally God’s doing… He pours out His love in a mercy that patiently forgives our sins by making Jesus sin and destroying it in Him on a Cross, thus leaving Jesus purified and resurrected as proof of His success.

Sin and death are defeated and that amazing grace is to God’s eternal glory.

We know this through the Holy Spirit inspired and illuminated Bible… That is Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone” as our highest authority for doctrine)… That teaches that salvation is Sola Gratia (through God’s gift of “grace alone”)… Accessed by way of Sola Fide (through “faith alone”)… In Solus Christus (In “Christ alone”)… Which is Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”). The Five Solas of the Reformation.

The next question…

Ever notice how people ask 2 different kinds of questions? The first kind I always take time to answer and do my best to answer well… That’s a question where the person seeks to learn.

The second kind of question irritates me to no end. It’s the question that really isn’t a question. It’s a trap, just like the trap, the Pharisees and Sadducees often tried on Jesus. No new knowledge is desired or accepted – it is just a ploy. It’s the stupid question.

Well we have both kinds of questions regarding this issue. Some really wonder and others are simply attacking what they see as wrong doctrine. Either way the question is essentially, “What then, is my part?”

What would prevent people from having a cavalier or careless attitude towards sin when God is so completely forgiving?

If God’s glory is related to the scope of His grace then why not sin more, proving God to be even more merciful?

Such attitudes miss the concept of salvation entirely as Paul will now explain…

ROMANS 6:1-5 ~ 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.

It finishes with… “Certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection” – does Jesus now sin because He’s free of the consequences of sin?

What kind of foolishness would it be to say I am one with Jesus – I am part of His Body – I am filled with His Spirit – and because of that I’m going to continue to live opposed to everything He stands for?!?!?

It’s a stupid misunderstanding of the very nature of salvation in the first place! The people who fear true grace are people who mistake it for easy grace.

That’s not what I’m teaching and it certainly wasn’t what Paul was teaching.

Verse 1, gives us the hypothetical question, Paul had no doubt been asked this many times. Sometimes sincerely and sometimes as an attack…

Paul, you dummy, if what you are saying about grace is true, then the more I sin, the more God demonstrates His patience, love and mercy. The more Jesus paid for, the more the Holy Spirit overcomes, the more God forgives, the greater God’s glory.

If I am saved apart from my performance, then you are preaching an easy grace and there’s no reason I should live a Godly life.

What would prevent other Christians, my own kids or me from living like hellions? You are leading people down the primrose path into eternal destruction.

The fundamental flaw in the entire line of thinking is that a genuinely saved person is reborn… transferred from death to life, indwelt by the Breath of Almighty God and adopted as a member of God’s own family.

Such a person has died to their life of slavery to sin and the wages sin pays in the form of death. Such a person has been born again into a life set apart in Christ, for God’s purposes.

To ask why a saved person would avoid sin is like asking why a bird flies, why a giraffe has a long neck, why a bull elk bugles in the Fall. It is a nonsensical question.

As in, it literally makes no sense to ask the question once a person understands what we’re talking about.

Verse 2, Paul’s famous outburst, μὴ γένοιτο (mā gĕ-noi-tŏ), NEVER… His strongest possible refutation… “Are you insane?” “Of course, NOT!”

And the reason it is such a stupid question… “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

That’s the whole argument… Paul will flesh it out over the next 3 chapters, but that’s the essence… Salvation is called being born again for a reason…

It is literally true in the spiritual reality and the exhortation throughout the Bible is to reflect that fact in the physical reality.

I have said many times that the proof Jesus conquered sin was that He defeated death… the consequence of sin.

Another example is the Holy Spirit in us is proof that we are His.

Another is your willing obedience to God is proof you trust Him.

Well, here’s another that is just as true… A human life supernaturally transformed, is the proof of Christianity.

A radically changed life, is the only tangible proof we have in this world, that God appointed a Savior, that Jesus is that Savior, and that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians with power.

People want to equate the power of the Holy Spirit with healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, casting out demons and getting gold teeth… any of that can be faked… A person obviously changed for the long-haul points to the truth of the Gospel.

Conversely, the number one thing that keeps people from accepting the Gospel is the Christian who lives their life no differently than non-Christians… Where’s the power? Where’s the proof Christianity is true?

Christians have voluntarily given up their life of sin and death to be made one, with Jesus… That’s the entire point of Christianity… It’s not a dodge to get out of Hell. It’s not a way to make life easier. It’s not a way to gain leverage over your spouse or kids. It’s not a social club or a philanthropic venture or political party. Christianity is ALL about Christ and being IN Him.

As I said recently, it isn’t about us inviting Jesus to be a part of our lives… it’s about us giving up our lives in order to be a part of His… where’s there any room for sin in that?

Jesus frequently said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Christianity is, what Jesus repeatedly commanded… “Follow Me.”

We see it in the prerequisite to salvation… Repentance.

So many people think they can sin, repent and repeat.

It is a fundamental failure to understand the meaning of the word repent. True repentance means you recognize the path you’re on is wrong… you repudiate it, shun it, reject it and you turn to a completely new path – a new way of life.

I Corinthians 6:19&20, tell us that we “Are not our own,” and that we Christians “Have been purchased with a price.”

Romans 14:8, says that, “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

To illustrate Paul uses baptism. There’s much we can glean from his use here about the meaning and method of baptism, BUT I caution you to tread lightly, because Paul’s NOT teaching about baptism here.

He’s using baptism as a way of explaining the life in Christ.

Baptism is NOT the means of salvation or sanctification… it is the public demonstration of that status.

Those who have repented, relinquishing their life lived for themselves in order to be a disciple of Jesus have, in Him, died spiritually… so no more spiritual death… and they have, in Him, been resurrected spiritually… so now only spiritual life.

Water baptism by immersion is a picture of that spiritual reality.

Because that is true, it only makes sense that we, still stuck in this limbo-land of physical existence, would live our lives in conformity to our new status, rather than going back to our old sinful ways as “A dog goes back to his vomit” (Proverbs 26:11, II Peter 2:22).

When a Christian sins, they do so out of ignorance, or inattention, or a lack of faith. Work to gain a better understanding of God, pay attention and pray for faith.

Verse 4 eloquently makes the point… The Resurrection of Jesus proved God’s plan effective and is to His eternal glory!

Just as Jesus proved God glorious… So, naturally should we who have hitched our wagon to Him. “So we too might walk in newness of life.”

I’m found in Christ and so I would desire to live like He lives more than anything else in this world.

Verse 6, reminds us that we, in Him, have been granted eternal life… The sensible person would start living their God-given, eternal life, right now.

What are we waiting for? Live your life for His purposes because you have willingly, happily, excitedly joined His team.

Don’t join the Marine Corps and then complain it isn’t the Air Force.

Show me the person who accepts Jesus as Savior, but has no desire to bring glory to God and I’ll show you a selfish person only using Jesus as a get out of jail free card…

Guess what? God’s not fooled.

Here’s what you must know. Romans chapter 5 has emphasized your absolute security in Christ as a true believer.

The opening of chapter 6 has shown that, as a true believer secure in Christ, you are a new creation, set apart for God’s purposes.

Sin’s power is broken… all you need to do is fully trust in God, press into Jesus and pray the Holy Spirit strengthen your faith.

122516 - Romans 5d - For Christmas
December 30, 2016 06:33 AM PST
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Romans 5:15-21, Pastor Scott Keller

I’m not sure how many people miss the connection between baby Jesus and Jesus the Lord and Savior of all mankind… at a conceptual level… BUT, unfortunately, millions miss it at an existential level.

Beyond that, far more, miss the experiential the connection at a relational level.

I’ve always been fascinated with history. There are many people from our past, whom I would love to meet. Of course, Jesus, any of His Apostles or close disciples… especially Paul.

Outside of Christianity I think of George Washington, Albert Einstein or Aristotle. Near the top of that list, would be Aristotle’s student, Alexander the Great.

As much as I am fascinated by this man who changed the course of human history and provided the perfect backdrop for the arrival of Jesus… I don’t celebrate his birthday.

We don’t celebrate the Birth of Jesus because He grew into an incredibly influential man on the world stage… There are lots of people who have done that…

The only reason people ever started celebrating the birth of Jesus is because of who, He proved Himself to be.

It isn’t what He did… many people have lived good lives and died horrible deaths. It’s that, what Jesus did, proved, who He was…
No one has died and been bodily resurrected, to never taste death again.

We celebrate, NOT a birth, BUT an entrance. NOT a baby born, BUT the Word of God made flesh.

Beyond God supernaturally intervening in the course of human affairs by taking on humanity Himself… which is incredible in itself. It was the reason He chose to do so…
God came because of love… Love for us.

As the video pointed out, baby Jesus grew to be a man who miraculously fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning God’s Savior… Through Him: “The BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM,” Luke 7:22.

Jesus is “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29.

Jesus, who is the only Christ, voluntarily accepted my sin, your sin, as though it were His sin. II Corinthians 5:21, says, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

He paid for our sin by his vicarious, sacrificial death. “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8.

He died horrifically… For us – for you – to be reconciled to God as we saw 2 weeks ago, in Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

The bodily resurrection of Jesus proved that He succeeded in His mission to defeat sin. Since the fundamental cause of death is sin…

Conquering death, my dear friends, means that the root cause of death… sin… was defeated.

We saw last week, that we humans, as the natural descendants of a dead man named Adam are all dead ourselves.

We are born into slavery to SIN and SIN pays us our wages for our obedience to him… Sin pays us for making him stronger through our willing participation with him… Our wages earned, is paid as an ever-increasing personal relationship with DEATH. Romans 6:23… “For the wages of sin is death.”

Fun topic on Christmas morning… right. The video basically said it… IF Christmas teaches us anything, it teaches us that Christ must be proclaimed throughout the year. So, IF there is any Sunday of the year that a sermon should have substance, it is on Christmas. Let’s forget about the fluff, roll up our sleeves and focus on the message for the next few minutes…

So, we were talking about slavery to sin and our personal relationship with death… I’m not trying to depress anyone, I’m doing what is necessary.

You know the kid’s book, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” by Dr. Seuss. The book ends with great joy, fellowship and love all around.

In order for there to be such a happy ending there had to be an unhappy situation in the middle that was dramatically turned around.

It is essentially the same in every movie with a happy ending… especially romantic comedies. There is always the misunderstanding, foolish misstep or unfortunate accident that results in disaster.

It is the disaster corrected, that makes for a joyous finish. We value things in context.

One of my best friends was a pilot for a budget airline. After He began working there the airline greatly expanded and was very profitable.

They traded in their ancient jets for new ones and my friend was quickly promoted to Captain of a new 757.

He called me to share his good fortune. He was so excited, so happy, so pleased with his lot in life… Captain of a 757 making well over $100,000 per year… life was good!

At the time, I was flying for one of the big global airlines. I had fewer years of seniority with my carrier, I was still a co-pilot and I was flying a smaller 737.

My friend pressed me to divulge my salary… I resisted, BUT finally admitted that I was making more money than he was… my friend immediately became furious at the injustice of it all and grew resentful of his airline, a company, just a few moments before, he loved.

Context is vital… It is the same for Christianity. We must understand and remember the bad news before we can fully rejoice in the Good News.

We were all created by God for something far better, but due to our ancestor Adam, we are under a taint of death and decay, which itself makes us self-consumed and afraid.

SLOW: Slavery to sin and death can’t help but produce an anthropocentric point of view… it must ultimately be about me in this life because this life is all I have. An anthropocentric viewpoint in a fallen world can only result in being consumed by fear.

I need things to go my way, and I am afraid they won’t. So, I fuss and fight, stress and control, war and murder, to get things working for me, so I can feel in control – so I can feel safe. We so desperately want to feel safe.

The bad news is, it will never work out in the end. No matter how many people are hurt, how many relationships destroyed, how many situations manipulated, in the end, there is only death and eternal separation from God.

Because of that fundamental reality we are driven to think about ourselves first and we are driven by fear because we all know it is eventually going to end badly.

The Bible says in Hebrews 2:15 NIrV, that people are, “Afraid of death. All our lives we are held as slaves by that fear.” Eugene Peterson, in the Message Bible, puts it this way, we all, “Cower through life, scared to death of death.”

In that same passage, the Bible says the one who has the, “Power of death, is, the devil”
(Hebrews 2:14).

Here’s the Good News though… that passage also tells us that Jesus, “Became human and died for us.” He died in our place and in doing so, Jesus, destroyed the power of the Devil, and set us free from enslavement to the fear of death.

John, the “Beloved Disciple,” the “Son of Thunder,” the “Apostle of Love,” wrote in his first epistle, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”

We will come back to that thought… First, our verses for this morning…

ROMANS 5:15-17 ~ 15But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

We said last week that grace is a word that describes a transaction from both sides of the deal.

On the one side – God’s side – it is a no-strings attached generosity… an unearned gift, an unmerited kindness, an undeserved altruism.
On the other side – our side – it is a humble, grateful, joyous acceptance of that gift.

Combined we have two parties, in relational, mutual, graciousness towards one another.

It is unilaterally initiated by the Giver and completed by the beneficiary.

It is love… isn’t it? Love causes the Giver to give… Love fills the one who humbly accepts the generous gift with gratitude.

We get a glimpse of that at Christmas. Michaela gave me an uncoerced, freewill gift… I could have said it was too much, I could have insisted she take it back, I could have given her a better gift… or I could humbly, graciously thank her and allow the transaction to strengthen our relationship.

True acceptance in this way, requires that the value of the gift is REAL and also RECOGNIZED.

If I find a penny on the floor and give it to you, I’ve given you a gift and you may accept it from me… IF the gift has no value to me, it is not generous… IF the gift has no value to you, you are not grateful.

The gift God gave, cost Him everything He could give. It was a maximum expenditure… He couldn’t have given anything more valuable from His side of the deal.

He gave up His eternal Word to become flesh and blood… Not as a great man, but as a baby born in the “Little Town of Bethlehem” and laid “Away in a manger.”

The Baby Jesus is in fact the one and only man in history to earn a place in Heaven… As fully man, He knows our trouble. As fully God He was able to overcome and live sinlessly.
Hebrews 4:15, He “Understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.”

Instead of reclaiming His rightful place in Heaven, He voluntarily allowed the Father to place your sins upon Him as though they were His own.
II Corinthians 5:21, “God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

It is called “Imputation.” The Father imputed your sins, my sins, the sins of the world upon Jesus. The wicked thoughts you’ve thought, became His. The evil words you’ve said, became His. The vile deeds you’ve done, became His.

And He died because of it… He died in your place.

God gave up everything to demonstrate His love for you. Merry Christmas.

Because Jesus was the perfect, once and for all, sacrifice for sin… Sin was defeated and with it… DEATH.

The proof that it worked was the bodily resurrection of Jesus Sunday morning.
Without Easter, Christmas is meaningless.

The gift God offers is of the highest possible value to Him and so it is a generosity beyond compare… that is a fact and that is what is to God’s eternal glory… He provided a way for us at unbelievable personal cost while we were still His enemies.

Just because a gift cost the giver everything… it does NOT follow that the one offered the gift will care, let alone, gratefully accept.

There’s no guarantee those offered the gift will see the value for themselves.

What if the penny I gave you was literally the last penny I had to my name… it is everything I had to give and I freely gave it to you?

If it’s still just a worthless penny to you. Your attitude would probably be… “Look, you keep it.” “Not only do I not need it, I don’t want anyone, especially you, to think I’m beholding to you for some dumb gift I don’t even want.”

That’s what it’s like.

That’s why we must hear the bad news before we hear the Good News… It’s the bad news that makes us realize the value of the gift of God’s grace.

The thing our verses in Romans is conveying is that mercy trumps justice…
Forgiveness overcomes judgment…
Grace triumphs over condemnation.
Shouldn’t we Christians, recipients of that grace extend it to others?
The grace God offers, and a person accepts, is far stronger than sin and death… you’ve got to believe that… you’ve got to trust God.

Verse 17, is very important… The default position for all human beings is death… death reigns through our ancestor… But then it says, πολλῷ μᾶλλον, “Much more,” in the middle of the verse. It is the 4th time Paul has used this phrase in this chapter alone.

It is a Greek rhetorical device to show a dramatic contrast proving the vastly superior nature of the second part.

Jesus used it in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

If judgment and condemnation came from human beings failing… “How much more” will forgiveness and grace come from God succeeding?

Now, here’s the really salient point… notice what it says… the beneficiaries of God’s benevolence are “Those who receive” it.

“The abundance of grace and the gift of imputed righteousness that will dethrone death, and instead, reign in life,” is received only by those who accept it as coming “Through the One,
Jesus Christ.

A popular sentiment today and especially during the Christmas season is that everything is going to work out for everyone eventually.

Nothing could possibly be further from the teaching of the Bible.

The Bible from cover-to-cover is explicit and consistent in its portrayal of two and only two separate types of people.

There are those who accept the salvation God provides as He provides it and there are those who refuse to do so.

The first enter into life through Jesus, are justified, reconciled and adopted by God. They are filled with the Holy Spirit and their lives conform to that new, born-again reality.

The second type are condemned already and simply have that reality confirmed at the Great White Throne Judgment where they will be given precisely what they demanded in life… Total separation from God and the loonies who love Him.

It is called the Lake of Fire that Jesus described as an “Outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

It’s a choice… live your life of death, apart from God now, and you get to live your eternal life of death the same way.

Or abandon your life of death by trusting fully in God and the salvation He provides through Jesus… Reborn with the Holy Spirit to live in loving fellowship with Him forever.

It sounds cliché, BUT it is true… a personal relationship with God that begins right here, right now… IF you have a personal relationship with God now, why would such a little thing as physical death change that?

The rest of chapter 5 falls easily into place…

ROMANS 5:18-21 ~ 18So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is trusting in the gift of salvation… which is to trust in the Giver… Can you see that the more you trust the Giver, the less you will fear? “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”

121816 - Romans 5c - Love
December 20, 2016 07:17 PM PST
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Romans 5:12-15, Pastor Scott Keller.

The week before last, I read from the “Readers Bible,” last week from the “New Century Version,” this week it’s the “New Living Translation.”

Fear not, I’ll explain the verses from a far more difficult to understand translation as we go along.

As I read pay attention to the words “Death” and “Died.” Yes, I am well aware it’s Christmas season… there will be a tie in. In addition, what is Christmas without the Cross?

Romans 5:12-15 ~ 12When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 13Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. 15But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.

If you are scratching your head a little even after hearing this passage from what is essentially a kid’s Bible, you’re in good company.

One scholar said that this, “Is one of the most difficult and controversial passages to interpret.” Great! I come to watch a children’s Christmas play and we’re going to tackle something so difficult, technical and tedious?

I think it will be worth it… Verse 12 from the NASB…

Romans 5:12 ~ “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—”

Just like last week, our opening verse starts off with a connective word. Here it’s, “Therefore,” and again, it shows that what follows… explains what came before.

After hearing the first part of chapter 5… We are “Justified by faith,” “We have peace with God,” “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts,” we have been “Saved from the wrath of God,” and we have “Now received reconciliation.”
from and with Almighty God.

After hearing, all of that, the logical question would be… “How can all of that be true… when sin and death still reign?”

The answer is here in our verses today.

Paul starts by reminding us of what the Bible teaches in many ways and in many places… DEATH is the consequence, or natural result, of SIN.

In Genesis 2:17, God gave Adam One explicit command… Only one recorded demand… Don’t eat from this particular tree. That’s it… Eat from any and every tree in the Garden, just not, from that one in the middle.

If you do… on that day, at that very moment, you will die.

Instantaneous death is the direct result of disobedience.

Why, you might ask. And also, didn’t Adam live a very long time after disobeying?

Direct disobedience to God, is rebellion against His program, agenda, or plan. Which, is a failure to trust Him… the Author of the plan. Because it is proclaiming, through actual activity, that I have a better plan than God does.

God has an agenda – well, so do I, and I like mine better.

This refusal to trust is called SIN. Sin, naturally creates a relational divide between God and the person… it results in a separation from God, which is instantaneous “Spiritual death.”

Spiritual death instantaneously begins the process of “Physical death.”

We are separated from the source of life and so we decay until death results and while that takes a while to complete. It can rightly be said, that we are dead the moment we are conceived.

A person sentenced to death, is said to be a dead man walking. They are as good as dead, they’re just waiting to catch up to their death in time.

The moment that Adam ate, He was spiritually dead which began the process of decay towards physical death and nothing and no one, except God Himself, could stop that process… Adam was dead… he simply needed to catch up to his death in time.

Because every human being on planet earth is a direct descendent of a dead man, we are all born dead.

The final piece to the puzzle is since we are born – actually conceived – as dead people… we naturally sin.

We all sin, because it is our nature… it is our nature, because we are all dead, and we are all dead, because we individually sin.

The whole thing wraps around itself like the coils of a Serpent… there is nothing but sin and death… which entails pain and suffering.

We all sin because we are slaves to SIN… the word SIN is personified in this passage as though it is a powerful being that has imprisoned the human race and enslaved us to itself.

Likewise, DEATH is also personified like it is a living, breathing entity who has us all in its grasp.

Romans 6:23 states that “The wages of sin is death.” So, it has been said that, “Sin as the master gives its paid underlings the wages of death.” Sin pays human beings their well-deserved wage which is a personal relationship with death.

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Romans 5:13&14 ~ “13for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

Okay, this seems a little convoluted… In verse 12, Paul talked about death as a consequence of sin… we all die, so we all must have sinned, but in chapter 4, he said, “Where there is no Law, there is also no violation.”

How could people without the Law – specifically, before the Law was given through Moses – how could they die? These two verses explain that anticipated objection.

Paul does not appeal to an idea of “Original Sin,” as many believe. He appeals to the idea of “Original Death.”

It is a theologically sticky point that I’ll be happy to discuss next week in Sunday school.

“Original death” is the key. That’s why I wanted you to think about that as we read the passage.

It is certainly true that after Adam and before Moses there was no formalized, codified, Law from God.

None of those people could be charged with a specific violation of a Law that did not yet exist… Obviously.

Nevertheless, they died because death itself is the disease passed down from generation to generation as inevitably as passing along DNA.

Dead people die… that’s what they do. Dead people also sin, whether the sin is defined by the Law, or not.
We pass laws after we recognize bad behavior. the original perpetrator isn’t charged under a non-existent law, but that certainly does not make them innocent!

The final bit of verse 14, swings us back to the topic by saying that Adam is a type.

When we use the word, “Type,” in Christianity it is a little misleading. The Greek word is τύπος (tü-pŏs), from which we derive our English word “Type.”

It means an example, symbol, pattern or model… specifically here in our verse it means that Adam was similar to, or like, the one to come who is Jesus the Christ of God.

How are the two similar? How does Adam prefigure Christ?

For the next 7 verses Paul, will compare and contrast Adam and Jesus.

Romans 5:15 ~ “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

We start with a negative term and phrasing that shows a complete contrast. It shows in what way “The free gift is NOT like the” sin of Adam.

“Grace” is χάρις (ĉḥä-ȑēs) and it occurs twice in this verse. That’s 2 of the 24 times, it is used in the Book of Romans alone… It is used an additional 132 times in the New Testament… It may be an important concept.

While most people don’t think about it this way… Grace is actually a transaction that looks at both sides of the deal… at both parties. Grace is both generosity and gratitude.

As one scholar put it, Grace is “A free, uncoerced, cheerfully bestowed openness toward one another.”

The great philosopher Aristotle, long before Jesus, carefully distinguished between grace and reward. Not only is grace not wages paid for service… it is not even a reward for your faith.

Grace is given without any strings attached.

The only person who gets the benefit is the person who accepts it and such a person can only accept it if they recognize what it is… a gift they in no way deserve and so the other side of the transaction is gratitude!

Grace as a word, as a concept, is not finished until it is gratefully received with tremendous thanksgiving and joy… That’s Christmas.

The third and fourth words in verse 15 are, “Free gift.” It seems redundant… But now that we know that grace isn’t grace if it is earned; we also know that a gift is not a gift if it was somehow earned. “Free gift” is a translation of a single word to emphasize that fact.

The word is, χάρισμα (ĉḥä-ȑēs-mä). Yes, absolutely it is derived from χάρις, the word for Grace.

We are all descendants of Adam and are born dead… God chose to supernaturally intervene in human affairs giving us a baby who was born alive to die that we might be reborn alive.

Jesus is the answer. Jesus is life itself – He is the life-giving source and through Him we dead humans can have life… Now, that’s a gift.

121116 - Romans 5b - Joy
December 13, 2016 08:47 AM PST
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Romans 5:6-11, Pastor Scott Keller

Today is Gaudete Sunday… that’s Latin for rejoicing… Today is a day for Joy because Christmas Day is almost here. Candle is pink.

Christmas is, of course, the day we celebrate the Advent – the Arrival – of our Lord Jesus Christ…

We saw last week how passing the test means that you’ve passed the test… A character shaping, character revealing test passed results in character that has been proven.

“Proven character” solidifies our “Hope” and really makes it assurance… it is assurance because God has poured out His love IN us… He dwells in us.

How is it possible that God would dwell in us with such an overwhelming love?

The answer is here…

Romans 5:6-11 ~
6When we were unable to help ourselves,
at the right time,
Christ died for us,
although we were living against God.
7Very few people will die to save the life of someone else. Although perhaps for a good person someone might possibly die.
8But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
9So through Christ we will surely be saved from God’s anger, because we have been made right with God by the blood of Christ’s death.
10While we were God’s enemies, he made us his friends through the death of his Son.
Surely, now that we are his friends,
he will save us through his Son’s life.
11And not only that, but now we are also very happy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we are now God’s friends again.

That should make all of us profoundly grateful and leave us, quite frankly, awed… The love of God in three persons… the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us, Christ Who died for us and the Father Who made us His friends.

It is truly an Amazing Grace and a supreme love, like nothing else in existence… It is to God’s eternal glory… and we – above all others – should recognize that in our lifestyle, our devotion, our obedience and in our praise and worship. Let us worship Him now with an unspeakable joy.

We read our verses for today from the Children’s Bible and now we’ll take them, one at a time, from the NASB… Verse 6 says…

Romans 5:6 ~ “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”

The verse starts off with the connective word showing that what follows, explains what came before. “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

The reason for that is… all that follows.

Now, the next thing in the original language is “Christ.” We push Christ towards the end of the sentence to make better English. In the original though, Christ is pushed as far forward in the sentence, as good Greek will allow, thus highlighting Him. Christ is centerstage. The emphasis is on what Christ did (English makes us emphasis 1 and “Right time” emphasis 2).

“Helpless,” is ἀσθενής (ä-sthĕn-ās), literally to be without strength and so weak or sickly… the opposite of being powerful… It means those unable to help themselves. We could translate as “Helpless,” “Powerless,” or “Weak.”

In this context, however, it is potentially misleading to do so… we “Helpless,” are “Ungodly” (verse 6), “Sinners” (verse 8), “Enemies” (verse 10), and so in this context, it means those who are not even seeking God… those who have done nothing and are doing nothing to fix the issue themselves.

Not only are we powerless to save ourselves – we aren’t even capable of figuring out what that would entail!

In fact, we see that Truth all around us. Those without the revelation of God from the Holy Spirit, invent religions, beliefs and mindsets that are totally self-serving.

It is always, what works, for me, and how do I make it work out for me.

The Truth from God is it isn’t about us – it’s about Him. And it isn’t what can we do for Him – it’s what He has already done for us.

The very fact that Christianity is counterintuitive proves that is comes from God. Humans are “Helpless” because we don’t even know where to start.

“The right time,” refers to the perfect plan of God… Literally, it was the appointed season established by God before He created the universe.

God has a plan my friends – it is a perfect plan and despite how it looks to us sometimes… the plan is unfolding flawlessly.

So, what we have in verse 6, is essentially, “The reason God’s love has been poured out into the hearts of Believers is because of Christ,
Who, before we had lifted a finger to seek God, came in God’s perfect timing, to save us ungodly, rebellious, selfish wretches by dying in our place.”

Romans 5:7 ~ “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.”

Verse 7, amplifies the intensity of God’s love by contrasting it to human love.

Perhaps a person would choose to die for someone else under special circumstances…

It usually happens when there’s no time to think… Like jumping on a grenade to save your friends, like Navy Seal Michael Monsoor did. Those are reactions that show a person’s character… and we rightly honor such heroes.

Sometimes it’s risking your life to help others in need… military and first responders do this routinely… and we should thank them for their service.

Both of those, are far different than a premeditated choosing to surrender your life in the place of another. We’re talking deciding, after clearly thinking through all the ramifications, offering to die so someone else can live.

We might do that for our own child… perhaps for a spouse. What is far different, is to rationally choose to be brutally executed in place of… your “Enemy.” In place of, someone who is evil and who hates you.

You know who Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi is, the bloodthirsty, evil leader of Daesh (I call ISIS or ISIL, Daesh, because they hate that name). Anyhow, let’s say he’s captured alive… let’s say they take him to trial, convict him and sentence him to death… as well they should…
He certainly deserves the worst punishment we can muster.

How many of us, Christians saved by grace – Christians bound for heaven when we die, would say let Al Baghdadi go? I’ll be executed in his place – for his crimes, as though they were mine.

Romans 5:8 ~ “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

That’s love… that’s a love that is impossible to comprehend…

Right now, most of you are thinking… it’s not the same – Jesus wouldn’t die for an unrepentant, vile, despicable, UN-Believer like Al Baghdadi… Surely such a man must roast in the Lake of Fire right alongside Adolph Hitler and Edi Amin.

My friends, other than degree, what’s the difference between Al Baghdadi and you?

He’s a mass murderer… Jesus said if you are angry with someone you are in danger and if you call someone a “Fool” you qualify for eternity in the “Fiery Hell” (Matthew 5:21-26). How many people have you called worse?

Al Baghdadi is a sex fiend… Jesus said anyone who looks at a woman with lust, is already guilty as a sex fiend in his heart (Matthew 5:27-30). Have you ever lusted for someone or something that wasn’t yours… you know that’s coveting, right?

Someone might answer, yeah, I’ve been so angry, I wished someone would die, I’ve thought about tearing someone apart, I’ve entertained lustful thoughts about someone or something, BUT I didn’t do it!

God judges the heart and what God knows, is that if you had the opportunity to commit such acts without any consequences you would.

Sinners – we are all sinners under the death penalty and the Word of God entered our prison to die in our place so that those willing to accept His vicarious payment could walk free as though we were somehow innocent.

That’s an unbelievable love, an amazing grace and it should cause us to be moved to tears.

I will tell you honestly… If such a thought does not, at times, move you emotionally, you simply don’t get it.

Bottom line, such a person thinks too highly of themselves. When you realize that you are no more deserving of God’s love than Al Baghdadi, Hitler and Amin are… And then you realize that…

Almighty God actually loves you as an individual personality… He loves you and He wants a personal relationship with you, and to prove it, He paid your debt through death on a cross.

Romans 5:9 ~ “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”

One of the big topics in Christianity is ASSURANCE. The certainty of your status as a Christian day-to-day and, more importantly, as a Christian on your final day.

There are those who believe that once you are saved by genuinely accepting the blood of Jesus and are infilled with the Holy Spirit your status as a Christian will never change.

You may fail miserably and often, BUT the fact that God adopted you as His child, means you will always be His child, no matter how lousy you perform.

Detractors, derisively call it, “Once saved, always saved.” It is actually the concept of “Perseverance of the saints,” or “Blessed assurance.”

It is associated with the French Theologian Jean Cauvin, Anglicized as, John Calvin. So, it is lumped in as Calvinism by many people, BUT while all Calvinists are in this camp, NOT everyone in this camp, is a Calvinist. Calvinism casts a much wider net and includes many more concepts than this “Eternal Security” we’re talking about.

The other side of the aisle believes that even the most genuinely saved and truly devoted Christian can lose their status as a Christian and end up in the Lake of Fire with Al Baghdadi and his friends if they’re not extremely careful.

That view is associated with the Dutch theologian Jakob Hermanszoon. He wrote in Latin, as most scholars did in those days, and the Latinized form of his name is Jacobus Arminius. Thus, Arminianism.

In honesty, the argument goes back thousands of years before either of them… it was an issue debated by Jewish theologians long before Jesus came to earth.

At issue is how much is salvation dependent upon God and how much is it dependent upon us.

In general, the more you see salvation as being dependent upon God and His effort, the surer you are of your status now, and forever.

The more you think salvation depends upon you and your effort, the less certain you are about today, and eternity.

It is honestly that simple.

Because I believe in the teaching of the Bible rather than in the institutions of religion, I cannot agree with much of what is called, “Five-Point Calvinism,” BUT I absolutely agree that “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

I know I was saved by God because the Holy Spirit showed me the Father’s plan in Jesus Christ crucified.

I wholeheartedly accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and I was filled with the Holy Spirit.

It was all God – I would not have even known where to start if it hadn’t been God leading me and saving me… just as our opening verses today proclaim.

Ephesians 2:8&9 state, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Same verses in the easier children’s Bible… “God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it.”

The Bible addresses this in Galatians 3:1-3 NIrV, “You foolish people of Galatia! Who has put you under an evil spell? When I preached, I clearly showed you that Jesus Christ had been nailed to the cross. I would like to learn just one thing from you. Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law? Or did you receive the Spirit by believing what you heard? (It’s a rhetorical question that in Greek, can only allow one answer… Of course, it was by believing, that is made even more obvious as we continue in verse 3…) Are you so foolish? You began with the Holy Spirit. Are you now trying to complete God’s work in you by your own strength?”

Paul goes on with this line of thinking and then uses the same idea found in Romans chapter 4, of Abraham being made righteous by God because of his faith… long before circumcision or the Law.

Obedience is what one does because they are saved, NOT in order to get saved.

The problem with thinking you can lose your salvation is it essentially agrees that God saves you, BUT once you are saved, all the onus, burden and responsibility for remaining saved, falls on you.

“Are you so foolish? You began with the Holy Spirit. Are you now trying to complete God’s work in you by your own strength?”

It is the same legalistic idea of propitiating the deity found in all the man-made religions of the world.

I must work and perform in order to please God so that He will be happy at me. I am responsible for maintaining my own salvation.

The twin implications… Jesus’ sacrifice is less important because I am more important since both Jesus AND I, are making this thing happen.

The result is IF I do well, I am proud of my accomplishment… Yet, we know that God is actively opposed to the proud.

If I do well, I only really know that by comparing myself with others… that’s called relative righteousness, which is far different than the Biblical imputed righteousness.

IF I do well, then I can do better, and if better, then I can live sinlessly… I can evolve or mature to the point of actual perfection and then I don’t need God at all… I am as good as He is. Accept it or not, that’s the logical telos, in the same way nihilism is the only logical telos for Atheism.

In fact, Mormons, who are strongly Arminian, believe that through that maturation process they actually become god’s in their own right to eventually rule over their own world.

The Bible says there is only one God and that no one is good except Him alone.

The key verse for Mormons and others in that camp is Philippians 2:12, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

Two problems… First that command is not to work out your individual salvation. When taken in context, it actually is a command to live up to your obligation as a Christian citizen within the community of Believers… It is a command to get along with the people in your church family because God is glorified by our unity in the Holy Spirit.

We constantly think in terms of our own salvation and our own Christian walk in the isolated sense of me as an individual.

What’s my score? How did I do on the assignment, when will I get recognized, promoted, rewarded, what is my grade?

This verse means to behave as a Christian WITHIN Christianity. To be excellent citizens in the Kingdom of God both in the future, but also right here, right now.

I could easily and accurately change this command to read “Work out your own personal salvation in the context of community for the sake of a unity that works together for God’s glory rather than our own.”

Look what immediately comes next… Philippians 2:13&14, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

“Work out your salvation,” is a command. “For it is God who is at work in you,” is a fact.

If you are a Christian you have been saved by Jesus, accepted by the Father and filled with the Holy Spirit – that is a done deal and a fact – I can describe that with an indicative phrase – it is the way it is, period!

Now, because of that truth, I will tell you that it’s time to live like the Christian, God has made you to be.

That is an imperatival phrase – I command and exhort and cajole and encourage and plead with you to get you to act.

That is the constant reality throughout the Bible that some misunderstand to one extreme and others misunderstand to the opposite extreme.

For God, it is “Finished” and you are saved… For us, think, speak and act in accordance with that reality.

That’s the force of our verse 9 and on into verse 10… If God sacrificed so much to save you while you were His enemy… How much more will He do to save you now that you are His beloved child?!?!

Romans 5:10 ~ “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

What more can we say? I mean Paul will ask the same question in a few more chapters… Romans 8:31&32, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

Romans 5:11 ~ “And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation..”

We exult, are proud of, brag or boast in the hope we have in Christ (Verse 2) and in our tribulations that ultimately strengthen our faith (verse 3) and in God through Jesus because NOW, we are His.

Once again, “Jesus” sandwiched between the “Christ,” meaning the one and only Savior God has established and the concept of “Lord,” King, Master, the one we swear allegiance to, follow, and obey.

I want to talk about this just a bit because I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m preaching “Easy grace.”

The free gift of God is really more like an invitation. Because of the salvation, the Father has provided through the Son as revealed by the Spirit… You are cordially invited to become a Christian.

A Christian is one who hitches their wagon to Jesus the Christ.

So often we think we are inviting Jesus to become a part of our life… That is so completely wrong I can’t overstate it.

The entire concept is that we abandon our life in order to become a part of His life.

Water Baptism demonstrates the reality that my old life is gone, I am dead and buried with Jesus in His death. I no longer exist as I once was, BUT am reborn – born again as Jesus called it – into a completely new and different life of His Resurrection.

I am Set Free to join Jesus and follow Him – Set free to become His bride… take His name… move in with Him and live a whole new life that was not possible before.

The Holy Spirit leads us into right relationship… that’s an indicative fact… Let Him do His job in you! That is an imperatival command to do who you are.

My dear friends do who you are.

112716 - Romans 4b - Grace or Works
November 28, 2016 11:12 AM PST
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Romans chapter 4 highlights, Pastor Scott Keller

We finished Romans chapter 4 last week. Today, we’ll go into a little more detail on a few points in that chapter.

As a reminder, we ended chapter 3, and opened chapter 4, with the idea, that it is faith in God, that makes one right with Him.
Therefore, no one can brag or boast.
No one can be proud or arrogant in their standing with God…

God credits righteousness to people who Trust Him.

One who works is owed their wage… to withhold it is a crime, because it is rightfully theirs…
A gift cannot be a gift if it was earned…
Crediting someone with something, in this Biblical context, is a gift given, not a wage paid.

The slide says, “Happy / Thanks / Giving.” I like Thanksgiving separated out into two words to emphasize the giving of thanks.

Thankful, grateful, appreciative people are humble people… they are precisely the type of people God blesses… Both James and Peter quoted the Old Testament, “God is actively opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Psalm 138:6, Proverbs 3:34, Matthew 23:12, James 4:6, I Peter 5:5).

Arrogant pride in one’s standing with God is contradictory, yet ubiquitous.

This boastful superiority in your favored position with God based upon your personal goodness is the opposite of what God favors.

not only is that foolish because doing religious works can 1never impress a perfect God… NOT only is it foolish because 2doing religious works diminishes the complete Salvation in Christ that comes by faith in His blood. BUT it is also foolish because 3the pride that comes from accomplishing religious works is a grievous sin in itself, that would negate all the good religious work anyway.

“Where then is boasting? It is excluded…” Why? Because all are “Justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” So, says the Bible.

We have seen time and again, that mercy, forgiveness and grace trump (no pun intended) justice, every time.

The gist is that the message of the Old Testament was never about the salvation of a narrowly chosen race of people by means of their performance in keeping the Law.

To prove that point, Paul brings up the original forefather of the Jews… The “Father of Faith,” the ultimate Patriarch of the human “Family of God.” Abraham, who God promised, would be the head and founder of many nations blessed by God.

And while he was at it – just for good measure, Paul threw in King David – the greatest of all Jewish Kings.

By bringing up Abraham and David, Paul demonstrated that salvation was always intended to be a gift from God to all people who would trust Him.

The Jewish race chosen from an old Mesopotamian dude who was probably Sumerian, or perhaps Akkadian… wasn’t because he had a superior genetic makeup.

It wasn’t that God was particularly awestruck with that bloodline. He wasn’t raising Thoroughbred horses or Border Collies.

The Jewish race serves a profound purpose, BUT the purpose was never to isolate God as the God of only a tiny racial line of people to the exclusion of all other races.

They were also never meant to demonstrate that human beings could impress God and gain His favor by their performance.

God is the God of all people and the Law came to Israel more than 500 years after God’s promises to Abraham.

So, Paul rightly concludes in the middle of chapter 4, that IF the promises God made to Abraham… long before there was Circumcision or the Law… Are now, dependent upon the observance of both…

NOT only is faith NOT righteousness and God is not the Savior, BUT God has gone back on His promise… God in effect has reneged on the deal He initiated!
Adding new stipulations makes God fickle and unreliable…
Because He would be, essentially, a liar and a cheat.

That’s obviously inconceivable, so the only possibility is that God will be true to His promise made to Abraham. A promise based upon God being the Savior and Abraham and his descendants being made right with Him through faith in Him.

Just as Jesus pointed out in quoting the Old Testament Prophet Hosea 6:6, twice in Matthew’s Gospel… “I want mercy and not sacrifice. I want you to recognize me as God instead of bringing me burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6 NIrV).

Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed the Lord. The Lord accepted Abram because he believed. So his faith made him right with the Lord.”

In other words, “Faith was credited to Abraham’s account as though it was righteousness.”

Then Paul asked the rhetorical question, was this before or after he was circumcised?

Circumcision was instituted in Genesis chapter 17… A minimum of 14 years after God had credited Abraham with the righteousness of faith.

Paul’s point is that if God’s promise to Abraham was contingent on the requirements of Circumcision or the Law then it was no longer an honestly fulfilled promise from God.

Why institute those things and why don’t they work to make one righteous?

Verse 15 is an incredibly important verse because it is vital to understanding the argument and yet it is very easily misunderstood. or more commonly, ignored.

Let’s take the passage, verses 13 through 15,
13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.
14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;
15For the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”

Notice that each verse begins with the word “For.” What that means is that each succeeding verse is giving the reason the preceding verse is true. It’s like saying “Because.” Joe is a great hunter, BECAUSE he puts so much time and energy into it, BECAUSE, it is very important to him.

So, verse 13, is explaining the reason verses 9 through 12 are true… Abraham received the promises of God long before he was circumcised and more than 500 years before the Law was established… What does that mean?

It means (verse 13) that the promise was never predicated or based on obedience to the Law – it was always predicated or based on faith in God that He credited to Abraham as righteousness.

What does that mean – why is that true?

Because (verse 14) IF the promise is fulfilled to those who perform under the Law, then faith is meaningless and therefore the promise originally made because of faith, has been nullified, reversed, invalidated… God’s promise would be worthless.

Now, the critical issue… Why does the keeping of the Law that God gave not work to make one righteous?

This is the big “WHY.” We can easily understand that IF the promise is nullified that makes God’s promise worthless and makes God a fickle liar… Which we all agree cannot be the case.

We get that… BUT, “WHY” does the Law of God make faith in God meaningless, null and void, why does it render faith empty and meaningless?

Because (verse 15) the Law for human beings is only able to produce God’s wrath… never our righteousness.

It says, “For the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”

Let’s start with the easy part, “Where there is no law, there also is no violation.”

Does that mean, there was no sin before the Law or that the Law creates sin? Paul would (and actually did) say, “May it never be.”

Let’s say that there was no law in Montana against hunting on private property without the owner’s permission… just hunt where you like, cross all fences, disregard all obstacles, traipse wherever you wish for as long as it suits you and completely ignore the rightful owner of the land.

Without a law, there is no violation of the law, because you can’t obey or violate what does not exist.

Most hunters would love such a deal. Even so, is it right and good to use what does not belong to you without so much as a by-your-leave?

Just because no written law was violated it doesn’t mean that it’s right – in fact, if you were a hard-working rancher, I know with complete certainty you would see it as a crime.

For hunters that thought, “I’d like that,” did you realize that would allow hunters to hunt on your property as well? How would you like it if a hunter set up a tree stand next to your house? Made a ground blind in your backyard?

When we aren’t sure if something is right or wrong, all we need to do is put the shoe on the other foot.

Without the formal Law established by God through Moses there is no violation of that Law… BUT, that does not in any way mean every action is okay… that there is no sin.

The Law makes the sin that was already there obvious. It takes away the “Let me apply this to myself and discern whether it is good or bad.” The Law makes it plain and it simultaneously establishes a basis for prosecution of a crime along with the basis for conviction and punishment.

So, Paul’s point in verse 15, is not simply something lending general support to his argument… He’s not just reaffirming that, IF right-ness before God, came from keeping the Law, it would “Nullify the Promise.” He’s saying the Law establishes once and for all that it is impossible to become right by our activity.

That’s what the first part of the verse means by saying, “For the Law brings about wrath.”

The Law brings about nothing, in itself, other than formal recognition of what constitutes inappropriate behavior…

Paul does not say, “The Law brings about justice.” He says it “Brings about God’s wrath.” Wrath only comes when the Law is violated… It is breaking the Law that results in wrath.

The Law becomes a tangible proof that no one can live up to the standard established and so therefore anyone who tries to be “Blessed by God,” through activity can only ever receive God’s divine “Wrath” instead.

We pass the Law that no one can hunt on private property without landowner permission and after we do a violation is no longer just bad character… it is a crime that has an established punishment.

God’s Law cannot be kept by anyone, and so it proves that everyone is under God’s righteous judgment – His Holy Wrath!

That’s the point and purpose of the Law… to point people to God’s mercy, love and forgiveness through faith in Him.

There were Jews of Jesus’ time who, like King David before them, knew they couldn’t please God with their performance but instead trusted in God’s mercy through the blood sacrificed each year, thanking Him for the annual Day of Atonement.

And they were always looking forward to the true Day of Atonement when God would save them once and for all… through the Messiah He would send.

Those Jews were humble and like, Abraham before them, trusted in God to provide… those were the one’s willing to be baptized by John… those were the ones who became the first followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you see the difference between the humbleness of the Jew who realized the Law only pointed out their utter inability to please God and the Jew who was so pompously arrogant they thought they could and did please God through their personal excellence?

Can you see that the first group would rejoice at Jesus, while the second could only revile Him and plot to kill Him?

Can you see that little has changed in 2,000 years? How we today, are in precisely the same boat in that there is a difference between the humbleness of the person who realizes their performance only points out their utter inability to please God and the person who is so pompously arrogant they think they can and do please God through their personal excellence?

Can you see that the first group would rejoice at Jesus, while the second could only revile Him?

Someone would object by saying “I do please God with my performance and I don’t REVILE Jesus.”

Well IF diminishing His completed work on the Cross by thinking you contribute to your own salvation isn’t reviling Him, I guess I don’t know what is…

We have Christian churches the world over, full of people who think they are right with God because of their performance.

Such people are truly the Pharisees of Christianity.

If being right with God was all about humble trust in His provision, before Christ came, how much more is that true, now that He has?

If the Jewish Pharisees, who were the greatest legalists of all time, couldn’t please God through their performance, what in the world, makes people today think they can?

Woe to the Christian who forgets that His complete salvation rests in “Christ alone, through grace alone, by faith alone.”

Because God’s dealings with Abraham prove that God honors true faith as demonstrated by a person’s actions over any legalistic religious performance.

We see that so clearly in verse 21, “Being fully assured IN what God had promised, Abraham was able also to perform.”

His ability to perform was due to his full assurance in God’s promise… His ability to sacrifice Isaac was due to his complete faith that God would make it right because God had promised that Isaac would live.

This is where the Salvation through Faith of Paul, and the Salvation through deeds of James, collide.

The only activity that pleases God, flows naturally from a person who has been transformed by the Holy Spirit through faith in God… Likewise, everyone who has that kind of faith in God is transformed by the Holy Spirit and so must act in accordance with that nature.

Abraham’s performance that both Paul and James use as the basis of proving their point… is a performance solely based upon faith… Paul stresses the faith side of the equation while James stresses the performance side… Together we get a complete picture of the reality that our actions both flow from our faith and simultaneously prove our faith.

Faith is the key, because where our effort, work, activity and sacrifice produce boasting… Faith in God and His love, grace, forgiveness and mercy… produce humble gratitude… that acts.

Because Abraham’s actions flowed from, and proved, his absolute faith, verse 22 says, once again, God credited his faith as being the same as actual righteousness.

You see, even sacrificing the son he loved was not going to make Abraham good enough to measure up to a perfect and holy God…

You could be the most meticulously perfect person who has ever lived – never once violating any law – but once you do – you are a lawbreaker.

Be wonderfully law abiding, BUT just one time, murder someone… Do they dismiss the charges because you’re normally so good?

It wasn’t the offering of Isaac that pleased God – it was the faith and trust in God that it demonstrated.

Verses 23 through 25 bring it home for us today.

We who believe in God, we who through faith completely trust Him no matter what happens, no matter what He asks… we are righteous in the same way Abraham was righteous.

Completely rest in Jesus our Lord – His death for your sins and His resurrection for your justification – depend on Him for the entirety of your right standing before God – the whole of your eternal salvation.

Then act from that place of assurance AS a child of the Living God.

112016 - Romans 4a - Faith
November 23, 2016 08:13 AM PST
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Romans 4:1-25, Pastor Scott Keller

We finished Romans chapter 3 and just to remind you it closes with this thought…

Since, a person is, “Justified,” before Almighty God, “By faith apart from works of the Law,” we can see that God shows “No partiality,” and He makes “No distinction,” because He is the God of all people and “Will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.”

That presents a potential argument… IF it is as you say, what was the purpose of the Law?

Paul said the Gospel is the fulfillment of the Law and justification by faith establishes and upholds the Law (Romans 2:11, 3:20, 3:22, 3:27-31).

To fully grasp what Paul will say next, it is important to understand the Old Testament themes and characters related to his argument.

Instead of assuming everyone has that knowledge – I’m going to give a cursory overview. For some, it will be new information. For others, it will be a much-needed refresher, and for most of you, a simple, but hopefully pleasant review.

After the world-wide Flood, Noah, his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, along with their wives, began rebuilding. God established what is called the Noahic Covenant, He promised never to destroy everything with water again, and gave the rainbow as the sign of His Covenant (Genesis 9:13).

Less than 300 years after the Flood, a dude named Abram, moved from his hometown of Ur, to Haran. Ur is about 200 miles southeast of modern-day Bagdad, in Iraq. Haran, is in modern-day, southeastern Turkey on the Syrian border).

In Genesis chapter 12, we find God telling the 75-year-old Abram, to move into the Land of Canaan – modern-day Israel. It’s the “Fertile Crescent,” from what was then a coastal city on the Persian Gulf – following the Euphrates River upstream to Haran and then the Rift Valley of the Jordan downstream to Shechem in Canaan – the Land of the Canaanites who were the “Cursed” descendants of Noah’s son Ham (Genesis 9:25, 10:6).

When Abram arrived, God told him that He would give all the surrounding land to Abram’s descendants. The problem was that Abram and his wife Sarai had no descendants.

Well, Abram does a bunch of dumb things and a few good things over the next 20+ years…

Probably his brightest moment was giving Melchizedek, the King of Salem “A tenth of all.” (Genesis 14:20) Salem means peace and was the city-state of Jerusalem. Melchizedek is literally, “My king is צַדִּיק (tsä-dēk).” Sedek means righteous.

Most people interpret that to mean that he was the King of Righteousness… I think it means, that as both a king, and a priest of Almighty God, it means just what it says… I am the King of Jerusalem and my King is righteous.

Many people think he was Noah’s blessed son and forefather of Abram… Shem. After that, God formalized His Covenant with Abram and in Genesis 15:6, it says that Abram “Believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Probably Abram’s dumbest moment comes after God reaffirmed His promise to Abram that his own descendants would inherit the land… BUT Abram and Sarai are acutely aware they still have no descendants.

Chapter 16, details how Abram and his wife tried to help God out by their human reasoning… She essentially says, “My Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, could bear us a child as a surrogate mother.” Abram essentially says, “Ah, okay.” And so, his son Ishmael was the result.

When Abram was 99-years-old and his wife was 89. God appeared to him again.

He told him in no uncertain terms that Abram would have a child with his wife Sarai and that their kid would be the child of promise and would father a whole nation… In fact, in Genesis 17:5-7, God says to him, “You will not be called Abram anymore. Your name will be Abraham, because I have made you a father of many nations. I will give you many children. Nations will come from you. And kings will come from you. I will make my covenant with you. It will last forever. It will be between me and you and your children after you for all time to come. I will be your God. And I will be the God of all of your family after you.”

God then gave Abraham a sign of the Covenant – Abraham and all his male descendants would be circumcised.

After detailing the sign of circumcision, God went on reaffirming his promises to Abraham and, also, changed his wife Sarai’s name to Sarah… Genesis 17:19, “Then God said, “I will bless Ishmael. But your wife Sarah will have a son by you. And you will name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him. It will be a covenant that lasts forever. It will be for Isaac and for his family after him.”

Even though Sarah scoffed… a year later at the age of 90 and Abraham at the age of 100, she gave birth to the Son of Promise and they named him Isaac.

Isaac was obviously a miracle and obviously the one through whom God would fulfill His Covenant.

Now here’s where Abraham does something especially relevant to our study today in Romans.

Genesis chapter 22 tells the story. By then Isaac was probably somewhere in his 20’s (if that freaks you out because you have a bias that he was younger… Don’t get hung up on that… that’s not the point. The point is to realize that whatever his age, Isaac was strong and agile enough to carry all the firewood and other supplies on his back up the mountain.

And his dad, our friend Abraham was, for certain, well over 100 years old… To make it explicit… Abraham is not going to get Isaac to sit still for what comes next without Isaac’s cooperation.

Abraham trusted God and Isaac trusted both God and Abraham by willingly submitting.

Submitting to what? Well, human sacrifice. Genesis 22:1&2, “God said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” Abraham replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son.
He is the one you love.
Take Isaac.
Go to Moriah.
Give him to me there as a burnt offering.
Sacrifice him on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Abraham got up early the next morning and set out with Isaac… Three days later they arrived.

Genesis 22:7-13, “7Then Isaac spoke up. He said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said. “But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
The two of them walked on together. 9They reached the place God had told Abraham about. There Abraham built an altar. He arranged the wood on it. He tied up his son Isaac. He placed him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then he reached out his hand. He took the knife to kill his son. 11But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven. He said, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” Abraham replied (the same reply he’d given when God first called to him… it is the response of all who trust God fully… it was the response of Samuel and Isaiah… “Here am I.” Lord God “Send me” Isaiah 6:8.).
(The angel of the Lord – I believe the pre-incarnate Jesus, who would one day be sacrificed – said), 12“Do not lay a hand on the boy,”
he said. “Do not do anything to him.
Now I know that you have respect for God.
You have not held back from me your son, your only son.”
13Abraham looked up. There in a bush he saw a ram. It was caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram. He sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Many Americans and other westerners are appalled that God would ask such a thing and even more appalled that Abraham would attempt to go through with it…

To kill Isaac, for personal convenience just prior to his birth is easy to applaud… BUT to obediently trust God in this way is insane and it’s evil.

Here’s what such people don’t know… By then, Abraham knew God. He stated unequivocally that “God would provide.”

He didn’t know how God would provide, BUT he knew – he trusted with every fiber of his being that God would provide…

God had repeatedly promised that this particular son would be the father of all of Abram’s chosen descendants… Of course, God would supernaturally – miraculously intervene again, just as he had with Isaacs conception and birth.

Hebrews 11:17-19, further amplifies the concept… “17Abraham had faith. So he offered Isaac as a sacrifice. That happened when God put him to the test. Abraham had received the promises. But he was about to offer his one and only son. 18God had said to him, “Your family line will continue through Isaac.” Even so, Abraham was going to offer him up. 19Abraham believed that God could raise the dead. In a way, he did receive Isaac back from death.

God trusted Abraham to trust Him. And He gave him a test to physically prove that reality to all beings, for all time. It was proven beyond doubt that Abraham trusted God… obviously, so did Isaac.

All this prefigures and foreshadows Jesus and the actual sacrifice our Heavenly Father did make. God did indeed provide once and for all on a Cross.

Isaac became the father of Israel – a people blessed, if for no other reason, because Almighty God honors the faith of Abraham.

About 1,000 years later, Israel was given David, their greatest king. He was, “A man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).

David was an unbelievable warrior. As a young man, he killed both Asiatic Lions and Syrian Bears. In I Samuel 17, David petitioned King Saul to fight the Giant Goliath, who was the Philistine Champion.

The Philistines were at war with the Israelites and were willing to put the outcome of the war in the hands of their champion. It wasn’t just a deal where the two would fight each other for bragging rights… it was a fight to the death and whoever lost – their nation, would be defeated, and would serve the other nation.

Saul was skeptical and David said, while tending my father’s flock, I have killed both lions and bears… God delivered me from their paws… God will deliver me from this Philistine who dares to blaspheme His Holy Name.

They did have both lions and bears back then…
SLIDE: SYRIAN bear ~ related to Alaskan brown bears and our own grizzlies… now mostly in the mountains on the Turkey-Syrian border.
SLIDE: Asiatic lions ~ related to African lions… now mostly in the mountains of Afghanistan to India.
SLIDE: Assyrian Lion kill relief c. 650 B.C.

David did kill Goliath and eventually went on to become king himself.

Although David was zealous for the Lord and did many great things he was also a ruthless warrior, a poor father, a lousy husband, an adulterer and a murderer.

David was a mess, BUT he loved God and sincerely repented in sackcloth and ashes begging God’s pardon. He is responsible for about half of the Psalms.

Part of which is Psalm 32:3-5, from the NLT,
“When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. 4Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
5Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me!
All my guilt is gone.”

King David understood how much better than justice; mercy and forgiveness are… So, taking all of that into account, along with the reminder that Paul has just said… in verse 28, “We firmly believe that people are made right with God because of their faith. They are not saved by obeying the law.” then, verse 31, “Does faith make the law useless? Not at all! We agree with the law” (Romans 3:28–31), let me read the fourth chapter.

ROMANS 4:1-25 ~
1What then
shall we say that Abraham,
our forefather according to the flesh,
has found?
2For if
Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3For what does the Scripture say?
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
5But to the one who does not work,
but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is credited as righteousness,
6just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. 8“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
9Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also?
For we say,
“Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” 10How then was it credited?
While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised?
Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11and he received the sign of circumcision,
a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised,
so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,
12and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.
13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law,
but through the righteousness of faith.
14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;
15for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.
16For this reason it is by faith,
in order that it may be in accordance with grace,
so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants,
not only to those who are of the Law,
but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
17(as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”)
in the presence of Him whom he believed,
even God,
who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.
18In hope against hope he believed,
so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken,
“So shall your descendants be.”
19Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body,
now as good as dead
since he was about a hundred years old,
and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
20yet, with respect to the promise of God,
he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
21and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
22Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness.
23Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24but for our sake also,
to whom it will be credited,
as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
25He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”

John 6:28&29, records what could be the most important message people can hear today…
“Then they asked Jesus, ‘What does God want from us? What works does he want us to do?’
Jesus answered, ‘God’s work is to believe in the One he has sent.’”

Faith – Trust – Belief, my friends… Everything including love, flows from this.

The work God absolutely requires is total faith in the One He has sent… The Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12, “You can’t be saved by believing in anyone else. God has given us no other name under heaven that will save us.”

111316 - Romans 3d - Salvation Has been Provided
November 14, 2016 08:02 AM PST
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Romans 3:25-31, Pastor Scott Keller

We have Baptisms, Communion and a Missionary to Congo today.

Last week in the first service we left off about ¾ of the way through verse 25 in Romans 3.

We’ll re-read the passage starting in verse 24 for flow and since I read it all last week from the NASB, today I’ll read it from the children’s Bible for ease of understanding.

ROMANS 3:24-26 (NIrV) ~ 24The free gift of God’s grace makes all of us right with him. Christ Jesus paid the price to set us free. 25God gave him as a sacrifice to pay for sins. So he forgives the sins of those who have faith in his blood. God did all of that to prove that he is fair. Because of his mercy he did not punish people for the sins they had committed before Jesus died for them. 26God did that to prove in our own time that he is fair. He proved that he is right. He also made right with himself those who believe in Jesus.

5 times, in 3 verses, we have the word family of δίκη (dē-kā), the verb, δικαιόω (dē-kī-ŏ-ō), the noun δίκαιος (dē-kī-ŏs), the adjective, δικαιοσύνη (dē-kī-ŏ-sü-nā), all meaning justice and therefore righteousness.

Each time our passage used the word “Right,” or “Fair,” it was this idea of righteousness. “God is righteous in all His judgments,” as Psalm 19 states, “The fear of The Lord is pure, enduring forever. His judgment is completely trustworthy and righteous” (my translation Psalm 19:9).

This is boldly proclaimed in Revelation 19:1-6, in what is called the Fourfold Hallelujah. In part it says, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged…”

God will judge and in doing so He will justify Himself and His children… those refusing to repent and be saved by His righteous mercy will be damned by His righteous justice.

The end of verse 25, “Because of his mercy he did not punish people for the sins they had committed before Jesus died for them.” and then all of verse 26, brings a new twist to the argument and has been the basis for some weird beliefs over the centuries.

Of course, God judged sin before the Cross… of course people were accountable for their sin prior to Jesus paying for them… just like sin existed before the Law was given… Romans 4:15 states, “Where there is no Law, the also is no violation.”

We could erroneously take that to mean that before the Law there was no sin, BUT that is NOT the point God’s making in that place… Just like He’s NOT saying here that sin was ignored before Jesus.

What this means is that while there are consequences to sin in this world, the Judgment Day comes at the end of time, rather than immediately.

God could have simply condemned everyone at the moment of their first sin or even at the end of their earthly life… BUT in His mercy… Because He has a plan… He holds final Judgment in order to give everyone an opportunity.

Paul stood in the Areopagus in Athens and preached his famous sermon recorded in the last half of Acts chapter 17.

In part, he said, 30In the past, God didn’t judge people for what they didn’t know. But now he commands all people everywhere to turn away from their sins. 31He has set a day when he will judge the world fairly. He has appointed a Man to be its judge. God has proved this to all people by raising that Man from the dead” (Acts 17:16-34).

The argument is that now that God has provided a way out for mankind through His Son all sin can be judged fairly.

It eliminates the argument that God is not just if he created us and then condemns us for being how He created us.

That is NOT a valid argument against God, BUT it is in fact a very common complaint.

Homosexuals often claim that God made them with a same-sex attraction, so how could He possibly be so evil as to condemn the behavior He essentially created?

The Truth is, it’s the rebellion against God, NOT God Himself, that has led us to the fallen nature where everything is corruption, decay and death.

God has no obligation whatsoever to help us out of our predicament… BUT He DID!

Now that He has, provided a Way to Salvation people are doubly without any excuse.

For those who have heard the Gospel and then rejected it… and let’s be honest here… rejected Jesus… there is nothing left. “27But a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries… 31It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:27&31).

So, while it gets very technical and therefore tedious the main point is that the Cross is where both God’s righteous justice and His righteous mercy collide.

The Father poured out His righteous justice upon Jesus – in order to lavish His righteous mercy upon us – it proves that He is both just and merciful.

God is patient with sinners because He has a plan… it is a plan to give them every opportunity to accept His payment.

Those who accept His Way – His Plan – His Payment are “Made right,” or are “Justified,” as being righteous because as verse 26 closes, God is the “Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

What’s required? Faith in the Blood – Faith in Jesus.

ROMANS 3:27-31 ~ 27Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. 31Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

God has done it all – It was the Father’s plan – His WAY… Jesus the Anointed One, the Word of God made flesh IS the WAY and the Holy Spirit of God points us to Him – to the only Way.

Ephesians 2:8&9, “God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it.”

“Where then is boasting? It is excluded.” Of course, it’s excluded… IF, I actually believe, that God saved me. Religious arrogance is always the result of thinking that I save myself at least to some extent.

I look down on sinners because I’m so much better than they are in doing right and pleasing God… It is works… it creates pride.

When I am convinced that it is only the “Law of faith” that has saved me – I am GRATEFUL – I am therefore humble before my creator and my fellowman.

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, I Peter 5:5, etc.).

Verse 29 is one of those verses that prove Christianity is an all-inclusive, worldwide, timeless Truth… Of course, God is the God of all people.

Why then did He make a special covenant with the Jews – why did the Jews receive the very Oracles of God and all the promises contained therein?

Because God established the Law in order to fulfill it in Jesus.

Just as Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

Again, the Jews, a wrong assumption about the purpose of the Law… the Law was never meant to make men righteous before a perfect God – it was always to show the necessity for a Savior and the reality that the Savior had to be God Himself!


Last week we heard the Gospel preached… many of you were here… And many of you didn’t need to be here, because you have heard it more times than you can count.

My guess, is that everyone in this room, knows the Gospel – the Good News – the Message of Jesus – the Plan, the Way, the Path of Salvation.

Yet, let me ask you – let me put you on the spot. Explain to me, that Gospel Message.

Right now, take a moment and in your own mind tell me what it all means… Explain to me the Gospel… Where do you start? What is your central focus? What is the reason for it all? How are we saved? Why are we saved? What are we saved from?

These young people, Abigail, Jeremiah & Benjamin, are here today to be Baptized… We do that.

We sing songs, we have Communion, we host missionaries, we teach and preach the Bible. We call ourselves Christian, we claim Mercy, Forgiveness and Grace. We declare God as Good and proclaim He is Love. We say we are Regenerated, Adopted, Justified, Sanctified, Reconciled and Redeemed… In other words, that we say that we are Saved by way of the Gospel…

What does it all mean? Please explain it so I can understand.

The beauty of God’s economy is that no one will ever be able to plumb all the depths of God’s perfect character or fully grasp every nuance of His plan… BUT at the same time, all that is required to start is the simple faith of a small child.

When I present the Gospel to non-Christians they get very nervous… NOT because they fear me or fear that the Gospel is false… What they are terrified of is acknowledging what they already know intuitively and what will require them to change.

They always, inevitably, in every case, come to a point of decision and want to delay – postpone… they say, I just need a little more time to think, just a little more evidence to process, before I commit.

Wrong, I say. You’ve spent enough time – you already have enough evidence. What you need, is to realize the urgency and the stakes and recognize that temporary enjoyment of sin is a fool’s errand. What you need is a little more child-like faith to take the plunge.

The Gospel in its simplest terms is that you are a criminal (a sinner), because you have broken God’s law.

God is a perfectly just Judge and can do nothing other than find you guilty and sentence you to the Eternal Lake of Fire.

God is a perfectly loving Creator and at the greatest personal cost provided a way out of your predicament.

Jesus the Eternal Uncreated Word of God took on and became flesh and blood. Fully God, fully human, Jesus allowed the Father to transfer your sins, past, present and future to Jesus’ account.

Jesus who was perfect, accepted your sins as though they were His in order to pay the debt you could never pay and to redeem you from sin and death.

When you truly turn from sin and embrace Jesus as your Savior you enter in to God’s Grace… You are mercifully forgiven… And made right with God – justified. You are adopted as a child of God to live as a member of His family reconciled to Him.

You have taken your place as part of the Bride of Christ and taken His name Christian. As a Christian now filled with the sanctifying Holy Spirit you are born again – Regenerated to live for God.

As a Christian you take your place in the Body of Christ – in the one true church by being Baptized into that community of Believers and by partaking in Holy Communion that symbolizes our unity in Christ.

How can you not sing His praises, fellowship with the saints, learn and in-turn, proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Today we Baptize three young people into the Body of Christ as full members of the church universal with all rights, privileges and responsibilities as Christians in their own right.

So what does it mean when we say a 9-year-old is a Christian in her own right?

It means the same thing as for a person in their 80’s. Christians are all required to submit themselves to the proper authority over them as established by God.

A, 9, 11, or 13-year-old, is commanded to honor and obey his or her parents.

What changes then? After today we recognize that these three people, Abigail, Jeremiah and Benjamin are honoring and obeying their parents because they are Christians, not because they are children.

They have each decided to follow Jesus as their Lord and their Savior… They have each decided to make that decision public through the declaration of obedience to Christ in water Baptism.

We Baptize them in a public recognition of what God has already ordained.

Baptism is like a wedding.

The parents have given their children to Jesus to be His own possession – part of His Eternal Bride.

It is a joining of them with Jesus done in the sight of God and the company of these witnesses.

As evidence of this union they are given a pledge, like a wedding ring, of everlasting union by the deposit of the Holy Spirit.

In acceptance of this they each take the name of Christ, their perfect groom… Christian.

110616 - Romans 3c - One Way
November 06, 2016 03:08 PM PST
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Romans 3:23-26, Pastor Scott Keller

Anyone miss the transcript?

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