Friday, June 26, 2009

Symbols of Sadness and Certainty- MJ and FF

Luke 13:2 2 "And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Like everyone else I have been engaged in all of the media reporting and blogging of the sudden passing of Michael Jackson and the expected, but early exit of Farah Fawcett. A quick survey of my facebook friends shows everything from sadness to contempt.

Both of the celebrity icons were part of my life. I took down my Alabama runningback Johnny Musso black and white poster and replaced it with the full color poster of Farah. It had to symbolize some sort of rite of passage as I stared at that blonde hair, amazing white teeth, tanned skin, and that bright red swim suit.

Michael Jackson's music was in the background of my memories, but it was his stunning moonwalk on TV during "Billie Jean" that vaulted his persona in my admiration.

But like all celebrities, the glory faded fairly quickly. My poster crush faded without notice and Michael gave me one too many crotch grabs along with very bizarre behavior to give more than a passing nod.

In the end, we should see the person seperately from the iconic symbol. We pray for the person and their family. We do not celebrate their demise. But, it is appropriate to criticize the symbol. Idols fade.

What do Farah and Michael symbolize? The ultimate failure of the world's promises. Fortune, fame, power, and pleasure fill our eyes but break our hearts.

We lust for so much in this life... but are we ready for the next? What does the Scriptures say?

Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

MJ was the sadder of the two in my opinion. He and Elvis remind me of the rich young ruler. He is the bigger symbol also. It is reported that though he brings in over 19M per year, his estate is over 500M in debt! He epitimizes America in an unusual way. We spend, spend, spend thinking that reckoning day never comes.

But it always comes.

People ask me all the time about where America is in the Book of Revelation. I worry right now that it most resembles Babylon. We cry for dead celebrities while our politicians sneak 1300 page bills into a Friday vote. Most of them will approve the cap and trade bill without even reading it.

So I'm right here in it- I am as sinful and as much in need of mercy as anyone. The difference is that I know my need and I cling to the cross now. It is my only hope.

MJ met the fate we all face. He stood in front of the Creator all by himself.
The Father's main question is "What did you do with the offer of salvation through my son? Did you respect my son? Did you embrace my son?"

I get the feeling that God is really not that impressed with moonwalking.

May we allow the symbols to keep our focus fixed on eternity.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Draw the Line and the Bottom Line- Romans 12

Pick up any of my 5 or 6 Bibles (there is an issue here, just skip it) and you will see a big bold line in between Romans 11:36 and Romans 12:1.

It is there as a reminder that Paul never stopped in the realm of theology.... his real objective was always a practice that produces fruit. All of his letters follow the same formula.... great, meaty, Old Testament flavored, gospel theology followed by a GREAT 'OUN' ('therefore'). The two go together.

We live in an anti-theology age. I truly feel like a dinosaur in my peer circles because I spend time with the 'old dead guys' like Calvin, the Princetonians, and other reformed greats. But I do believe that proper theology produces the sweetest fruit.

I have some incredible christian brothers and sisters who have a better passion for God than I have and are sweet, serving people. But there are 'problems' in their theology which hinder their walk. I don't say anything unless they ask, they have God's Spirit and God's word, they are saved by grace, we will sit side by side at the marriage supper of the Lamb- indeed just writing this points to my pride and the log in my own eye- but improper views of God, man, salvation, church, last days, God's word- lead to issues in practice. God's word is treasure, and if you dig and scratch, and refine.... there is incredible benefit.

These old dead guys have not killed or weakened my faith; on the contrary, I have never been more free or alive. Their commendations and admonishments have kept my eyes open as the pattern of this world continues to squeeze and mold.

Most of the sermons I hear and the books I read of our contemporary evangelical culture are not only useless, I think in many ways they are bad. Why is the church so stagnant? Several things come to mind, but it is a generation that has lost its desire to think. We believe we can find God's heart without thinking His thoughts.

I agree with the Rev Art Azurdia here:

"We must crush the spirit of this age under our feet that says, 'I don’t want to think, I want to feel'. You may say, 'Who can understand domain of theologians?' But theological lumber is something you cannot live without. It is not a philosophical conundrum for the intellectual elite. God’s sovereignty is a soft pillow for a weary head to comfort a church under attack and Christians facing opposition, even martyrdom."

Now let me talk about this LINE.

Another serious problem is those of us who want to soak in the bathtub of thoughts, and never let them flow through the heart and produce results from the inside out.

This is where Paul is so ingenious (and give the Spirit all the credit here)- He never stops in doctrine.... there is ALWAYS application.

Romans 12:1 begins the"So what?" portion of Romans and it is packed with a lifetime of 'to do's"

In fact, if you want a "Dummies Guide to Romans" or the "Ultra-Clif Note version of Romans" let it read like this.

1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In those 3 short sections, we have a lifetime of love, liberty, leisure, and duty.

Now.... look at 12:1-2 again. Oh my! Do I have any doubt that I have "fallen short of the glory of God"?

See, all of Romans ... Chapter 1-11 is like a funnel that pours into 12:1-2. Thankfully, all of that great truth flows with it and praise God that the stock of the stew is His Spirit!

I will be unpacking the 2nd part of Romans over the next few blogs, but I encourage all of us to fall down before the King and praise Him. He is our daddy and He loves us. He has given us more than we ever imagined and now He has a task for us. It seems impossible.

Indeed, it is impossible without Him.

But the end result is too good to pass up... you will become a transformed person, able to test and approve God's good, pleasing, and perfect desire for your life!

Let's pray for one another to take another step in that direction.... today.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Big is Your God?- Romans 11:33-36

The Star Betelgeuse

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

I went to a planetarium recently to see a program called "The Summer Sky". It was done in the early evening so that we could go outside afterward and see the real thing. Once the presentation was finished, we went out under the sky and went from telescope to telescope observing a lot of 'cool' things.

Because of the time of year, the constellation Orion was not visible. but under Orion's arm is a cool star called Betelgeuse that is located approximately 640 light years away from Earth.

The size of that star is twice the size of the earth's orbit around the sun!


twice the size of the earth's orbit around the sun!

Big Star!

How did God make that star? "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made"... He spoke it into existence, maybe just a whisper!

While in the planetarium, the presenter mentioned how much the telescope Hubble has muddled our knowledge... "All we know is that there is more that we don't know. We point the telescope at a cloud and find that it is another billion stars."

He then said, 'we now believe that there are as many stars as grains of sand'- and I thought of God and Abraham.

Look at this beautiful doxology again!

For from Him..... It ALL came from His knowledge
and through Him... It ALL came from His power
and to Him... it ALL belongs to Him


Is this your view of God? Can he handle your life and all our present problems?

Imagine now having Him as your PAPA!

"The smallest package in all the world is a man wrapped up in himself" unknown

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Christ As The End of the Law- (Romans 9-11)

This is a continuation of a summer study of Romans as I prepare for a new class "Romans and Revelation" to be taught in the spring of 2010. This is posted on my blog

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

After year’s of faithful service and perseverance, Moses blew it. In Numbers 20, God clearly told Moses to gather the people and speak to the rock and it would give water. Moses took the staff and struck the rock, frustrated and angry- but, as the water came out God’s consequences came in. “Moses, you will not enter the promise land. Joshua instead will lead the people in."

In Deuteronomy 32- Moses sings to God, the Rock, whose work is perfect and ways are just.

In Deut 34. Moses died in the land of Moab “according to the word of the Lord”. He saw the land, but he did not enter it.

It is written of Moses- “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses”. But one sin called for consequences.

Christ was the rock (I Corinthians 10:4)- He is only struck once (the cross). We now just speak to him.

Moses represented the law. The Law does not get you through; only through Joshua (Jesus) can you enter the promise land.

If you read Romans 9-11, you get the basic point of Paul. The Jewish legal system was not a system of salvation. It was a tutor to lead us to the day of mercy and the gospel of Christ.

I think a lot about Paul’s first few days after meeting Christ. He went back through all of the Old Testament scriptures and they leapt off the page to him. Look at all the references in his letters. Just in Romans- Psalms, Jeremiah, Proverbs, Isaiah, Ezra, Ecclesiastes, Deuteronomy, Malachi, - all pointing to man’s sin, stubbornness, disobedience, the need for heart obedience, and prophecy that God will open the door to gentiles.

I imagine him being almost overwhelmed with disbelief, but then being encouraged as the gospel became clearer and more beautiful.

How is Christ the end of the Law? Is the LAW now abolished? No, it is fulfilled.

I believe there are two applications to Romans 10:4:
1) Christ represents the end of legalism as a way of salvation. He did what no man could. Through Him, we find entrance into the kingdom.
2) Christ is now our goal- we live in Him. By the way, we show love by obedience. But it is a life of love, faith, and forgiveness…. Not duty. We begin to see God’s law as good, providing peace and blessing.

In Romans 11:32 “God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all”. The holiest, strictest, religious people on the planet still fall short.

Salvation is a gift… what is keeping you from getting it? Is there anything worth missing out.

How do you get it?

Romans 10: 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

You call out to him in trust and begin to walk in Him daily.

All the glory goes to Him!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Contrary to Nature- God Gardens in Rom 11

Romans 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree. Any smart Gardner would never take a cultured tree and graft in a wild tree. It would make about as much sense as putting a college fight song horn on a Rolls Royce. As a gentile believer, I should never feel contempt toward my Jewish brother... and never boast. I should feel nothing but gratitude as I drink in all the good soil and nutrients of God's Word. It was the Jew who painstakingly copied the Law of God, jot by jot and tittle by tittle, day by day, year by year. It was the Jewish priest who took great care to prepare the sacrifice, exactly by the rule of God, it was the Jewish dad who prepared the passover lamb every year. I am the pauper in the palace. I am the ultimate Beverly Hillbilly. I handle holy things with no regard to my predecessors. They considered God's name too holy to even say, I use it almost flippantly. Why do I have tears as I write this? I am so incredibly thankful for what Jesus has done for me and I cry out to the God of Israel.... call Your people to Yourself. Let them see Jesus as their loving Messiah. He cries for them. Who will take the gospel to the root? Let the hardening end and the flow begin!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Paul's Presentation- Rom 9

I am in agreement with many Roman's commentators that there are three major structures in Romans.

Romans Ch 1-8 The Gospel- God's Righteousness versus Man's Righteousness
Romans 9-11- Paul's Presentation
Romans 12-16 Life in the Body- Practical Applications

I can almost hear Paul beginning right here in a Jewish synagogue on a Sabbath. He says this with great passion and tears.

When God stirs things up, it seems like chaos. The people are wondering, "What is going on?" What is this new movement of the Spirit all about? What are these strange things? How can this man, a Pharisee, turn his back on his people?

Paul anticipates all of the pushback.... Given the promises in the Old Testament, the promise of the covenant and Messiah, the chosen people of God, has God rejected his people?

I encourage you to read 9-11 without pause and hear Paul's very careful answer to those questions.

As you may know, I just finished recording 35 lessons on the Book of Revelation. These same questions pop-up there also. A significant consequence of your eschatology is your understanding of Israel's standing with God. Is Israel a physical nation or symbolic of God's spiritual people?

Paul sees the gentiles embracing the gospel by the thousands and gets nothing but persecution from the Jews. He is a Jew, he loves his people.... I see him weeping... just as I see Jesus weeping in Matthew 23:

23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

So Read Chapters 9-11 and ask some significant questions:

Has God's word failed?
Are there two paths to salvation- one for Jew and one for Gentile?
Is all who descend physically from Israel true Israel?
What did God promise in Hosea 2:23?...... read it in context and then again in RM 9:25...fascinating
Did God reject His people? How does Paul answer that?.... (I wasn't rejected, God broke my resistance)
Can the Gentiles brag now?.. No( see also Heb 2:1-3)
Why did God allow the Jewish Law to result in disobedience? (the law opened the door to grace)
What happens when the gentile election is complete? "Looks like rain"
Who is this really all about (read again 11:33-36)? SOLI DEO GLORIA

By the way... Paul's point here can really help your reading of Revelation.

If you don't like the answer 'God is God and you are not'... you may just want to stop.
But the Van Til circles say it all.

See that big circle? He is the CREATOR!
See that little circle? That is the creature (and it is not drawn to scale).
See that other circle? That world-view is in big trouble, whether religious or not.

More on this presentation later.......

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Halfway Through Series on Revelation

I have been recording my Series called : Meditations on Revelation.

You can get a preview at this link:

It will be available on our Church Website and I-tunes Podcasts
I hope to have it all in place by Sept/Oct.

I will keep you updated!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Romans 8 and the "P WORD"

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

29 For those whom he foreknew (προέγνω) he also predestined (προώρισεν) to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

30 And those whom he predestined (προώρισεν) he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Did you ever hear the old joke about the Baptist women who heard that the Presbyterian minister down the road was going to teach on predestination? They went that Sunday to hear him. When they returned the following Sunday, all of their friends wanted to hear about the message. Their reply was classic, "Well, the preaching wasn't so bad, but the Scripture verses were just awful!"

As someone who was raised Baptist, you can imagine my trained aversion to such horrible doctrines like 'predestination'. Even as I grew older, it seemed to go totally against my logical belief. Does this mean that God elects some for Hell?- never be! Doesn't this remove all motivation for evangelism and the Great Commission? Is there a free offer of the gospel?

Even my early years in Seminary were filled with push back and panic. As I studied the Scriptures, though, it became clear to me that not only was this doctrine of unconditional election Biblical, it was also logical and glorious.

By the way, the largest and fastest growing branch of the Baptist church right now are those who teach God's sovereign plan in unconditional election including John McArthur, John Piper, Steven Lawson (Mobile, AL) and the head of the Southern Baptist Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler

Let me point out a few of these points that finally clicked with me:

A God who planned all of this before the foundation of the world is more powerful and glorious than the 'hand wringing bystander' who hopes it all goes OK.

The ordering of my salvation is more secure in His plan than it resting on my strength and faith.

I have done nothing to merit my salvation- it is a free gift.

Without God's merciful election, I would have no hope of turning to Him. He can offer all He wants to... I'm not taking. A dead man can't repent.

I have no boasting to do at all about my conversion- this glorious doctrine humbles me.

I am free in evangelism- it is not my prayer or my effort or successful technique- I have a privilege of sharing the gospel guilt free.

His plan is foolproof- I am secure.

His offer of the gospel stands... those who reject Him send themselves to Hell. He is letting them have their way. Hell is a prison locked from the inside.

God is not fair...AMEN- He is merciful.

I pray to Him because He alone can elect. If it is up to me, why pray?

I don't know who the elect are, so I eagerly seek out the lost- It hastens the return of Christ!

Still unconvinced? Try spending some time on the texts below. It jumps off the page in an unmistakable way... God planned, God executed, He chooses, He will lose not even one of those who is in that plan.

How awesome is your God? Can he do even that which seems to defy your natural thinking?
Happy hunting and thinking!

Biblical Examples and Texts for Unconditional Election
The Election of Abraham (Joshua 24:2-3, Gen. 12:1-3, Gen. 15:6, Gen. 17:7)
The Election of Jacob (Gen 25:21-22- 25:23- 28:15- Romans 9:10-13- Mal. 1:2-3)
The Election of the Nation of Israel (Deut. 4:37- 7:6-8-10:14-15- 14:2)
Election in Synoptic Gospels (Mark 13/Mt 24- Mk 13:20 especially)
Election in the Gospel of John (Jn 6:35-45/ 10:26-30/ 15:14-19/ 17:2,6,9-10,24)
Election in Acts (Acts 13:48- 18:9-10)
Election in Revelation (Rev 3:5/17:8/20:12,15/17:8/ 3:5,13:8,17:8, 20:15, 21:27)
Election in Paul’s Letters (Romans 8:28-30/ Ephesians 1:4-5,11/ Romans 9:6-24)
These texts are from Dr. Robert Peterson “Why I Am Not an Arminian” IVP 2004

We must crush the spirit of this age under our feet that says, “I don’t want to think, I want to feel”. You may say, “Who can understand domain of theologians?” But theological lumber is something you cannot live without. It is not a philosophical conundrum for the intellectual elite. God’s sovereignty is a soft pillow for a weary head. To comfort a church under attack and Christians facing opposition, even martyrdom. Come up to the control tower and watch what must take place. People are not stupid; they just don’t have enough experience to know categories they can’t even imagine.”
Rev. Art Azurdia

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Life in the Spirit- Romans 8

We are in Romans 8- I encourage you to sit down sometime and read 7:7- 8:14. I believe it tells a story.

Philipp Jakob Spener said that if the Holy Scriptures were a ring and the Letter to Romans its precious stone, the Chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the precious jewel.

Robert Haldane says Romans 8 speaks of the power and provision of grace. "The provision which God made for the consolation of His people."

Charles Hodge says that all the beautiful arguments go back to one point: "God's people will never be condemned or perish."

So what brings this passage out to be considered so important and majestic?

I believe it is an anchor in the storm, clarity in the midst of clouds, steadiness in chaos, and hope in face of doubt. Welcome to 'life in the Spirit"!

We can't look at Romans 8 without the conflict presented in the context.

In Romans 7:7-25, Paul personally applies his struggle with sin and grace, freedom and bondage, life and death. When Paul was a teen, he was Barmitzvahed- I fully read 7:8,9 to be near this point in his life. 7:7-14 uses all past verbs- the present tense verbs come in at vs 14.

We get the feeling that Paul is expressing a life long struggle- God-ordained- with a desire to follow the Law and the futility of the attempt. He agrees that the Law is good, but its fruit is death. The Torah points out Paul's utter inability to have success in the eyes of the Holy Yahweh.

Skip now to Romans 8:18

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

See all the conflict? Inner struggle- I can't live right. Outward struggle- All creation groans. There is 'bondage and decay' even our bodies are wasting away. We have 'weakness'- See again all the negative terms here in Romans 8: law of sin and death/powless/weakened/sinful nature/the mind of sinful man is death/hostile to God/ cannot submit to God's law/cannot please God/body is dead/misdeeds of the body/slavery to fear/groanings.


In spite of the conflict- Romans 8 begins and ends with security. It is not our hold on God, it is God's hold on us. There is no condemnation, justification is complete. Look at all the past tense verbs at the end of Chapter 8. Link it together- this is a 'golden chain': foreknew-predestined-called-justified-glorified. What can seperate us from the love of Christ? Who will bring a charge?


The present Christian life is now a fight- it is a fierce battle with sin. Victory is assured, but the present conflict will not cease until the end of time or the end of you.

A Battle of the Mind: It is amazing how much the mind is mentioned here.

Energized by Spirit- Paul's language in the New Testament goes like this: The Spirit is in us and we are in Christ.

Danger/Danger: Look at verse 13 "If you live according to the according to the sinful nature, you will die." I believe this is a serious warning here. Sin has real consequences, even to the believer.

Patient Perseverence: We ourselves groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for... the redemption of our bodies. We wait for it patiently, you don't hope in what you have.

Helped by the Spirit: Look at all the helps below:

Without Spirit- With Spirit


















As you look back over this- ask yourself... which list characterizes the trend of your life? If you are stumbling...get up and get back in the game. It is a terrible struggle, but the fruit is glorious!

Starting over? It is just a prayer away.

Romans 8- Life in the Spirit - A Beginning Question

The greek word for "spirit" is 'pneuma'. It is a centerpiece of Romans 8.

Paul uses 'pneuma' 5 times in Romans 1-7.
Paul uses 'pneuma' 8 times in Romans 9-16

Paul uses 'pnema' 21 times in Romans 8. It is the most in any chapter in the New Testament.

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

This is the gospel. I quote this verse to myself all the time. Especially when the Accuser puts those thoughts in my head "Who are you to be speaking about God?"- He points out my failings and shortcomings. But this verse is true - Jesus does not condemn me. Who is left to judge?

2.For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Which law do I want to live under? One is freedom and the other is bondage.

JESUS-JESUS-JESUS- Sweetest name I know:

Look at what we have in Christ!

No condemnation- why?

Because He came in "the likeness of sinful flesh". This is so important in our understanding of Jesus and His nature. In all ways like us, yet without sin.

κατὰ σάρκα - κατὰ πνεῦμα. (kata sarka according to flesh) kata pnema (according to spirit)- Do you remember where we saw these two phrases before?

Romans 1:3-4 : "concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh (κατὰ σάρκα) 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit (κατὰ πνεῦμα) of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord."

So we will spend the next blog answering the question: What exactly is 'life in the spirit"?

More to follow.....

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dr Law and Dr Grace- An Incredible Story!

written by Lester Roloff

'The greatest message in the Bible and the theme of the whole Bible is grace. Now grace is the free and unmerited favor of God and there is an unbreakable relationship between law and grace. With that in mind, let me be the sinner because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way...” “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” “There is none righteous, no, not one.”

Therefore, I know I’m having some serious internal trouble and so I head for Dr. Law, and Dr. Law is always in his office and ready to see the sinner. The secretary told me that he was waiting for me. I stepped inside his office and started to relate my signs and symptoms to which he said, “I will not need your help,” to which I said, “Do you think you can find out what is wrong with me?” And he said, “No, sir, I don’t have to think I KNOW what is wrong with you you have heart trouble. You’re just like all the rest of my patients.”

My old flesh rebelled and it didn’t make sense to me that every one of his patients would have the same disease But after ail, dear friend, the law doesn’t make sense to the sinner because . . . “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

So the flesh gets ready to argue the issue and I say, “Dr. Law, you just don’t understand. I’m having trouble with my hands. I spend a lot of time dealing a deck of cards and I’ve even used them to fight with. My hands are giving me trouble.” And Dr. Law said, “No, it’s your heart.”

I said, “Doc, I’m going to have to argue with you you may be a doctor, but still you don’t understand me. I’m having trouble with my eyes. It’s nothing for me to sit two or three hours in one night and watch Hollywood and another hour reading magazines and newspapers and my eyes are never satisfied so I must be having eye trouble” The old doctor said, “No, my friend, it’s heart trouble-just plain heart trouble.”

I said, “Dr. Law, be reasonable about this thing. I’m having trouble with my tongue. It says things that are sharp and ugly and even smutty jokes have come unrehearsed and unplanned and I believe there is something rotten about my tongue. Please examine my tongue.” Dr. Law says, “No, it’s heart trouble.”

By this time, my rebellion had mounted and I tried to tell Dr. Law it was my ears that would listen to ungodly gossip. It was my feet that would dance and carry me to places I ought not to go to which he answered, “You have a bad case of heart trouble.” Once more, in desperation, I said, “Dr. Law, surely there is something wrong with my taste. I’ve even cultivated a like for intoxicating beverage and even dope and there must be some way you can help my taste.” And Dr. Law said, “That will be taken care of when your heart is fixed.”

In rebellion and desperation I said, “Dr. Law, I’m going to another doctor,” to which he said, “The woods are full of them, but you’ll never get well until your heart is made right.” I said to Dr. Law, “Would you recommend any other doctor for a consultation?” He said, “There is only one doctor I would recommend and if you won’t listen to me, you’ll never go to him and I’ll never recommend another.”

So I beat it down the street and knock on Dr. Religion’s door and it seems like he’s a real scout, he’s a regular fellow, and he said, “Come on in here, Lester Roloff, I’m glad to see you!” And I said, “Yes I’m glad to see you. I’ve been up to see old Dr. Law.” To which Dr. Religion said, “Oh, he’s ancient he’s an antique. Modern folks don’t go to him. He hasn’t had the proper training. He doesn’t know anything about the latest modes of medicine.”

Well, that sounded good to me and I said, “I don’t like him myself. Dr. Religion, would you just kind of run over me and see what’s wrong?” He said, “Sure!” After his examination, he said, “Why, there’s nothing seriously wrong with you. I recommend that you start going to church.” And I said, ‘Which one?” “Oh,” he said, “just any of them will be all right.”

So the next Sunday, I was in church and the next but I didn’t get any better. I went back to Dr. Religion and I said, “Dr. Religion, I don’t believe I’m any better.” He said, “Well, did you start going to church?” I said, “Sure. I’ve been going every Sunday.” Then he said, “Did you join and get baptized?” “Why,” I said, “no.” He said, “Do that, that will make you feel better.” I said, “I’ll sure do it and get my wife to also.”

So I went down to the church and joined it and got baptized, but I didn’t feel any better for very long and I went back to Dr. Religion and I said, “Dr. Religion, there’s something wrong I’m not really any better.” “Well,” he said, “are you really working at it? Take a job in the church and start helping others.” And so I did.

But I got weary in the struggle and somebody recommended a couple of brothers who were doctors - Dr. Be Good and Dr. Do Good and I went to them, but to no avail. There was no certainty and no assurance of salvation. And then somebody recommended Dr. Hope So. After which I went to Dr. Think So and neither one of them was able to help me. And now - weary, tired, exhausted, in despair and at the end of self - I decided I’d go back to Dr. Law.

Dr. Law was waiting for me the same stern, obstinate old doctor with the same diagnosis, “It’s your heart” to which I said, “What do you recommend?” He said, “Only one thing will do and that’s an operation. Your heart will have to come out and a new one put in.” I said, “Dr. Law, when will you operate?” And he said, “I don’t operate.” To which I said, “You mean I’m going to have to die even though you know what’s wrong with me?” “I didn’t say" returned Dr. Law, “that you had to die. So far as I’m concerned, you’ve got to die - I only make the diagnosis. But if you really want to live, I’ll tell you what to do”

And so this trembling, perspiring sinner looked into the face of this unrelenting doctor and said, “Please help me!” And he took me by the hand and led me across the hall and knocked on an office door and a handsome, loving, smiling doctor came to the door and Dr. Law said, “Dr. Grace, this is Lester Roloff, and he’s got the same trouble all my other patients that I’ve brought to you have had. He’s coming to you for an operation.”

By that time, Dr. Law had slipped away and gone back into his office and left me standing alone in the presence of Dr. Grace and with fear and trembling, the questions began to come.

First, “Dr. Grace, will you let Dr. Law or some other doctor help you operate?” And he said, “No, I’ve never had any help.” I said, “Dr. Grace, have you some good nurses?” He said, “No, sir. I’ve never had a nurse - I do it all.” I said, “Dr. Grace, will you give me a good anesthetic and put me into a deep sleep?” He said, “No, sir. I never give anesthetics because I want you to know what I did for you so you can tell the world about it.” I said, “Dr. Grace, will you let me call my wife and let her come and stand by me?” And Dr. Grace smiled and said, “No, son, this is a personal matter just between me and you. You can tell her after it’s all over.”

I said, “Dr. Grace, I’m scared,” and he said, as he placed his big hand on my trembling shoulder, “You don’t have to be afraid - I’ve never lost a case. This will be a successful operation.” I said, “Dr. Grace, what about the charges and the expense of this tremendous operation?” He said, “It’s already paid for.” I said, “Who paid for it?” He said, “A Friend of yours.” “Oh,” I said, “I’d like to meet Him.” He said, “After the operation, I’ll let you meet Him, I’ll introduce you to Him.”

I said, “Dr. Grace, is it true that you are going to take my old heart out and put in a new one?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Where are you going to get the new heart?” He said, “You’ll find out after the operation.” And so just by faith, I lay down on the operating table and the great surgeon, Dr. Grace, took the knife and sliced open my heart section and out came the blackest heart with the most terrible odor — oh, it was so sickening! And for the first time, I realized that Dr. Law was right it was heart trouble.

In a moment Dr. Grace had thrown that old heart away and brought a new one — so pure and clean and put it in and closed the incision, not even leaving a scar. I felt the flow of new life, color came to my spiritual cheeks and my tongue began to say, “Now I feel better-fact is, I feel wonderful” In a moment with a smile on my face and tears of gratitude coursing down my cheeks, I said, “Dr. Grace, when shall I come back for the check up?” He said, “Son, no check up will be necessary, the operation is a success and this is permanent”

I said, “What do you recommend?” He said, “Just take some good exercise each day.” And I said, “Do you have any particular exercises?” To which he said, “Yes, kneeling and even raising your hands and praising God and at times, especially in privacy, stretch out on your face. Take some good walks through the community, knocking on doors. Exercise your vocal chords in praise.”
I started out at the door and something inside said, “Go back.” I said, “Dr. Grace, you told me you’d introduce me to the Friend who paid my bill,” and he said, “I thought you’d come back.” And stepping through a door came the loveliest Friend I’ve ever met. When He raised His hands, I saw nail prints. On His brow were thorn scars. When His lovely robe fell apart, I saw the spear print in His side. Dr. Grace said, “Jesus. I want you to meet Lester Roloff. And as I looked at that scar in His side, I said, “Dr. Grace, I now understand where my new heart came from. He gave me His.”

And I fell on my face and said, “It’s time to start my exercises.” After a season of praise and thanksgiving and adoring the One who died for me, I walked joyfully and victoriously down the sidewalk of life, but was reminded once again to go back to the old doctor that I first hated. When I walked inside, he met me with a smile. I extended my hand and his big strong hand gripped mine and I said, “Thank you, Dr. Law, for telling me what was wrong with me.” I was amazed that Dr. Law looked so handsome and seemed so different and I had sweet fellowship with him and I'll always love him for leading me to Dr. Grace.'

Now we will go into Romans 7/8.

Romans 7/8- Death and Defeat to Life and Liberty

As we come into Romans 7 and 8, we find familiar passages that have received different treatment and applications through the church age. What do we make of these two passages?

Is Paul's struggling with sin in 7:14-24 pre or post conversion? Does a christian have the ability to live sinless or just to sin less? What role does the law play now in the life of a believer?

Let's lay a few foundation stones:
1) SIN is real. Sin is subtle, it deceives, it destroys. It is especially dangerous to the believer!
2) God's law is holy and good.
3) To the unconverted- the law kills.
4) To the adopted son of God the spirit guided and empowered law wages war on the old man.
5) The struggle of the unconverted is always a loss and eventually is not even a struggle.
6) The struggle with the believer is sometimes a loss but eventually will be a victory.
7) The christian who says they have no sin, is not being honest. ( see I John)
8) But we are to grow in obedience, not to earn God's salvation, but in response to the newness in life. It is a fruit and not a merit.
9) No Christ... No chance ( Apart from me you can do nothing)
10) Losing battles do not mean lost war..... you lose when you quit fighting.

Without Christ- you will lose against Sin's team: LAW/FLESH/DEMON'S/ DEATH
With Christ you will win: GOSPEL/Spirit/LAW (Scripture)/Grace/Faith/Hope/Love/Fruit/Fellowship/Prayer/Sacraments/Worship/sanctification....GLORIFICATION.

It looks like the world is winning and the christian is losing. It feels like sin is winning. We want to give up. We get frustrated. Paul says , "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me?"(Rom 7:24).

In preparation for this discussion on Romans 7 and 8, I want you to read an incredible analogy called "Dr Law and Dr Grace by Lester Roloff"- I will post it next.

As you read it, ask yourself, how does Dr Law change after the operation by Dr Grace? It will be a clue to Romans 8.

Push yourself here.... it will be worth it.