Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Draw the Line- Romans 12:1

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 great passion for God and are sweet, serving people. But there are 'issues' in their theology (imho) 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 shallow, I think in many ways they are useless. 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 in my Bible.

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. 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 more of Romans 12 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.

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