Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Romans, Chapter 13

Let's face it, some earthly authorities that have existed throughout the course of history have not exactly been shining beacons of moral character. History is littered with despots, dictators, and rulers that were only out for their own personal gain. Why then are we asked to submit to all earthly authorities here in Romans chapter 13? This could be possibly the most confusing aspect of Romans we have studied so far because of what we know not only in history, but in the present day. How are we supposed to respect and submit to regimes such as the Taliban that persecute those that do not believe the way they do? How can this serve God's kingdom? Let's look at the passage of Scripture first.

"5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." – Romans 13:5-7

I find that I am troubled by this passage, but then I remember that God uses even evil to accomplish his purposes. That's the result of being all-powerful and all knowing. An example just from the Bible is the Babylonian exile that was used to discipline the kingdom of Judah. They had turned away from God and He needed to get their attention. We have learned that God is a God of love and discipline, therefore it does sometimes take drastic measures for Him to get our attention. In this case He tries to get the attention of an entire nation of people.

This passage is also set up to show that there are still earthly consequences that we must avoid by following the rules. We may not want to pay our taxes, but we live in a society that requires we do so or we will face the consequence of jail time. If we disagree with the authority in question we can speak of our displeasure by voting that person out of office. This is not open rebellion, as Paul speaks of here, but it is a way of voicing our displeasure. It is also God's way of choosing new leadership when His time is right, an important lesson to remember in this election season.

"10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." – Romans 13:10-12


The power of love is incredible, and it takes a ton of maturity to love when we do not want to love. It is the greatest thing we can do for someone by loving them, as it is a reflection of what Christ feels for us. Love is the fulfillment of the law because of Christ. Since He is the fulfillment of the law, and He is love, that means love is the fulfillment of the law. We are asked to love because of this as an act of sacrifice. It is against our nature to love those that hurt us, therefore we are mature when we look past that darkness and step into the light as it says here.


The armor of light is much like the full armor of God in Ephesians. We must use this at all times in order to avoid falling to darkness. It is important to know that as long as we have Christ, in our hearts we cannot fail, and that He is coming for us soon. Awakening from our slumber is allegorical here because when we accept Christ we do awaken from a spiritual slumber and step into a new world of consciousness spiritually. Because the return of Christ is near, we cannot afford to sleep lest we miss it.




  1. How can evil authorities be used for good?
  2. What does it mean to pay respect and honor to authorities?
  3. How do you wear the armor of light each day?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Romans, Chapter 12

Yesterday we learned that we must graft ourselves to Christ so that we grow anew. It is a step away from the wildness of this world and a step toward being what God wants us to be. Today we see Paul begin chapter 12 of Romans with an exhortation of how much we are supposed to give to God. We are to give nothing short of everything we are, and that is my prayer every morning in my first waking moments.

"1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." – Romans 12:1-2

My friends, this is the only way we can have a healthy relationship with God, and we must be prepared to do just this. God does not want just a small part of us while we hold back something for ourselves. What he wants is the whole thing, because then He can accomplish wonderful things with our lives. It is the least we can do after what Christ gave for all of us.

It truly is a transformation too, and not one to be taken lightly. It is a good transformation because God begins to change us into the beings that we were born to be. We begin to see the gifts He has given us and where we are called to serve in His kingdom. This is why I am up early every morning working on this blog. I feel that God has given me this gift to write it and called me to do it. I don't know why or for what purpose, but I know I am supposed to do it because it cultivates the Holy Spirit within me.

"6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his
faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." – Romans 12:6-8

How do we know what these gifts are? Is it s sudden, dramatic revelation or a slow realization over time? God does not do anything by accident. If you find that there is something mentioned here you truly enjoy doing then there is a good chance that it is a spiritual gift, and therefore you should pursue it with all your nature. When looking at what gifts you may have consider what role you are drawn to in the church.

All are asked to serve when it comes to the kingdom of Christ. There is no option and therefore there is more to church than sitting in a pew and listening. We each have a role to play and if we all do our part the message and ministry of Christ will explode and change the world.

"9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." – Romans 12:9-13

Sometimes it is hard to show this live, but again, it is what is asked of us. As we see later in the chapter, we are asked not to take revenge but to show unfailing love. That is hard. If you've been wronged it is difficult not to want to get back at them. It is in serving and pursuing the good that we truly learn. It's easy to hate, but to love even in the face of a wrong takes true grace. That is the kind of grace we are granted from sin and we must do our best to follow that example.


  1. What does it truly mean to offer yourself as a living sacrifice?
  2. What do you feel are your spiritual gifts?
  3. What does wanting revenge do to our hearts?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Romans, Chapter 11

Romans 11 may be a bit confusing on the surface, but it is important to remember that Paul uses a great illustration of branches being grafted to show the joining together of the Israelites and the Gentiles. At the time this is written the Israelites had long been known as God's chosen people. Because of the oppression they faced they were naturally wary of outsiders. Here in Romans 11 Paul reminds them that they need not be wary, because God knew what He was doing.

God did set it up so all could be saved, Gentiles included. This made some Israelites nervous because they feared losing their national identity in the process. As usual, God had a plan in this, as the salvation of the Gentiles is used as a way of making the Israelites envious of this gift, and thereby draw them to Him. What God wants is to have everyone be His people, and the illustration of the branches grafting together is to show that we are stronger together than apart.

"13I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches." – Romans 11:13-16

The root that Paul is referring to here is Christ, and the tree is his church. What he and God desire is that all come together to form this church in which the strong roots are based on the teachings of Christ. Each person is merely a branch, but in Christ, the root, we are made holy through grace. God longs for all to come to Him and join this tree because we are stronger together than apart. When we are bound together, rooted in the holiness and grace of Christ, we have little to fear.

We've spoken a lot lately about the power of sin and what it does to cut us off from God. We are saved only by grace, and because of our nature we continue to struggle with sin even after we accept the gift that is salvation. Is it then possible to lose our salvation? It is written that once our names are written in the book of life by Christ we are sealed and therefore cannot turn from Him.

"22Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!" – Romans 11-22-24

Some may view this as a warning that we can lose our salvation, but I think it is different. You have to realize the difficulty of continuing in sin once you accept Christ as your Savior. It is a transaction that if truly made in the heart begins to transform you and your spirit. That is what it means to continue in kindness. If you continue to seek him, to love Him, and to know Him after you are granted salvation by grace you cannot be cutoff. Again, this does not make you perfect and immune to sin. As we are grafted into this root of Christ though, which is the cultivated olive tree here, our wildness is changed because we are rooted in Christ. It is a process I cannot explain or hope to fully understand, but that is the power of grace. We must remain faithful in order to grow away from our sinful nature and become what Christ longs for us to be.


  1. Why does God cut down the barriers between the Israelites and the Gentiles if he wanted to reach the Israelites?
  2. In your view, is it possible to lose one's salvation based on the second passage today?
  3. What does Paul mean when he later says all of Israel will be saved?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Romans, Chapter 10

Ever since the beginning of this blog I have spoken on how we are justified by faith and saved by grace alone. It is the most important message in all of Scripture and today, in Romans 10, we will get to the verse that describes how that transaction is made. I can only repeat myself so many times on how we are all sinners short of the glory of God, but in Romans 10 Paul provides a way for us to confess that to God and find salvation in Christ. It is not a complicated transaction. It is not something that will take eons of time or cost you tons of money, but it is a decision that must be made with the full heart and soul of a person.

"8But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." – Romans 10:8-11

Once again we come back to prayer. The power of prayer is amazing, and it is through prayer that we make this transaction. All we have to do is confess that we are sinners and we accept Christ's gift of salvation into our heart. That's it! It really is that simple, and if it is a message you truly believe in your heart as you sit here reading these words I urge you to take this step today. God may be leading you to do this, and it is what he wants for you. For some, confessing with their mouth takes on a different tone. Some are drawn to confess of all their sins in details, while others just know they have fallen short of the glory and confess they need the redemption of Christ. We are promised though that once we make this transition our sins in the eyes of the Lord are forgotten and we are made new in Christ. This is backed up in 2 Corinthians 5:17, where Paul states, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

As stated yesterday though, this is indeed a leap of faith. We must make that leap that we are separated from God and we cannot make that transaction to gain His favor through any act. We must make the leap of faith that Christ is indeed the living Son of God and has the power to forgive us in our brokenness. We must be humble in realizing that, as it says in Isaiah 64:6, our righteousness acts are like filthy rags. We know there was a need for salvation long before Christ walked the earth, and the book of Isaiah is just one example of it. It is through faith that we are saved, and since we cannot earn salvation, it is by faith alone that we must make that transaction and do the one thing we can do to be granted our salvation.

"17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." – Romans 10:17

We see here that even our faith is not based on our own works, but in the works of the Holy Spirit within us. We are spiritual creatures at heart, and therefore we long to be with our Creator. Even before we knew Christ the basic elements of our soul called to Him. When we find Christ and accept His sacrifice we are merely returning home and feeding ourselves the spiritual nourishment that I wrote about in the God Eats Potato Chips section of the blog when I went over Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. This is exactly what God has in mind for us, we need only accept this gift.

If God is truly speaking to your heart today on this message I urge you to listen and accept this precious gift.


  1. If our faith is not based on works, why must we do this simple act of prayer in order to be saved?
  2. How do we become a new creation in Christ?
  3. How does Christ work in our hearts even before we know Him?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Romans, Chapter 9

I admit that I am having difficulty writing about Romans chapter 9 because it presents a confusing message. While the sections we have been covering lately have been impassioned pleas by Paul that outline the plan of salvation, chapter 9 diverts from this by delving into the argument of God' plan for people. If God knows those who will choose Him, is there really such a thing as free will? Does God play favorites like in the story about Jacob and Esau? These are questions I do not have the answer to because I cannot even hope to understand the mind of God; therefore I am finding it difficult to write on this chapter today.

"6It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 8In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring." – Romans 9:6-8

This passage is a little clearer and I feel I can bring some understanding to it. The first Israel that Paul mentions here is the ancestral nation of Israel. The second Israel that Paul mentions is the current church: those who believe in Jesus. Once we accept the message of Christ's sacrifice we become children of the promise. Paul wrote this part of the message to illustrate once again that salvation was not just meant for the Jews, but for everyone. We all become Abraham's children through the promise God made to Abraham. We are a different type of offspring not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense.

"30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, righteousness that is by faith; 31but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone."" – Romans 9:30-32

Our stumbling block is the belief that we can earn our way into heaven, and that is sadly one of the greatest fallacies that is spread throughout the world. If you look at the basic tenets of almost every major religion in the world they all suggest that you should be a good person, take care of the poor, don't murder, etc. These are all wonderful virtues to have, but they still do not solve the problem of sin. How can we absolve ourselves of something that we don't have the power to absolve? If someone lies to you, do they have the power to make you forgive them of that lie? If a crime is committed, do you have the power to not convict yourself? No! That power can only come from someone else, just as the power to forgive sin and grant righteousness can only come from someone who has the power to do so. If all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God then there is not a single person that has ever lived that has the power to forgive sin except Christ. He is the only person who has not committed this crime of sin, and therefore because He is also fully God he has the power to forgive sin.

This is also where faith comes in. Personally, I have never seen Jesus walking around my work, at a football game, or anywhere else for that matter. We must gain this righteousness by faith that His promise and sacrifice is true. Anyone who was a personal witness to His life on earth is long dead as well, so we only have the written first-hand accounts of His ministries. Even those we must take on faith because of time and translation over 2000 years. If it is this act of faith that is holding you up from acting on what many believe is truth ask yourself this: How did it endure? How did the brief ministry and life of one man in a dusty corner of the greatest empire in the world at the time grow into something that the globe now bases its calendar and so much on? How did 11 ordinary men carry this message and nurture it into the faith of billions if there isn't some small morsel of truth in it? If it is based solely on faith, then how did it survive? These are the questions I leave you with today.


  1. How did the brief ministry and life of one man in a dusty corner of the greatest empire in the world at the time grow into something that the globe now bases its calendar and so much on?
  2. How did 11 ordinary men carry this message and nurture it into the faith of billions if there isn't some small morsel of truth in it?
  3. If it is based solely on faith, then how did it survive?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Romans, Chapter 8

Yesterday we finished our discussion by talking about spiritual warfare, which is appropriate because personally, yesterday was one of the worst days I have had in terms of facing and feeling spiritual warfare around me. It was a day illustrated well by the second half of Romans 7 in that I knew the truth of certain issues, but in facing the attacks of Satan falsehoods were whispered into my mind and it was very difficult to overcome them. I know this is a vague explanation, but today we will see the opposite of that card by seeing what life in the Spirit is like in the face of spiritual warfare.

"3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." – Romans 8:3-4

It is not that we gain righteousness, but it is merely granted once we accept this sacrifice of Christ. From that point on we are living in the Spirit. It is still our responsibility to grow from that point by practicing spiritual disciplines because our soul requires a different type of nourishment. While we were still dead in our sin we fed ourselves with our sinful desires. These were not sustaining, as the nature of sin is that it always leaves us wanting more. Once we accept Christ, however, we see here that we are not living in a sinful, earthly nature anymore, but a spiritual one. We must then sustain it through the Word and the truth of Jesus Christ. This desire and nourishment for the spirit is in opposite to sinful nature, and therefore as we pursue this nourishment it drives out the old, false, sinful nature in us. Because we are human we will never be fully expunged of this, but Matthew 5:8 calls us to pursue this righteousness so that we may be filled.

"19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." – Romans 8:19-21

This is the reason for our struggle. The creation referred to in this passage is man, and when you look at it that way doesn't every word ring true? We are subject to frustration (some of us more than others). We are subject to bondage because of our sin, but we are set free because of grace and the sacrifice of Christ. We see later in this section that the Spirit itself speaks on our behalf and helps us in our weakness. Sometimes it may not seem like it, but this is the promise of God that He is always there to help.

"31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" – Romans 8:31-32

Who can be against us? If the divine, all-powerful Creator of the universe is in our corner because of the mediation of Christ Jesus how can we possibly have any reason to fear anyone? Once we accept the gift of salvation there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus. I know there have been moments where in my life where I have felt separated even from myself, but I have never once felt abandoned and turned away from the One that sacrificed everything for me. Remember my extreme examples from earlier in this discussion on Romans. If Christ can overlook everything and save us from ourselves, in spite of ourselves, then why should we be surprised at the depth of His love?


  1. What are the righteousness requirements of the law met by Christ?
  2. When you accepted Christ how did you feel liberated from bondage?
  3. Why would we feel separated from the love of God?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Romans, Chapter 7

Everyone struggles with sin, and we see that struggle illustrated by Paul here in the seventh chapter of Romans. To me sin is almost irrational. With Paul's explanation in this chapter it comes off as if it merely human nature, and that we cannot cleanse ourselves of this disgusting part of humanity. Even the most devout and righteous cannot totally escape from sin, and that is where the power of grace comes in. We learned yesterday that sin is a form of slavery, but once we accept Christ we enter in to slavery of a different kind. How then does sin still hold power over us if we become slaves to a different master?

"14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." – Romans 7:14-20

We cannot divorce ourselves from humanity and that is what makes us subject to sinful desire. Personally, I hate this part of me. It feels dirty and wrong, but I do know that I am forgiven for it. I am forgiven by the grace the Christ illustrated through His death on the cross. What we see here in these verses is even though we are slaves to a new master in righteousness it does not totally eliminate sin. This does not make the law or the need for grace sinful either.

This also gets into the realm of spiritual warfare, which we did discuss during our walk through Ephesians. In Ephesians 6 we are asked to put on the full armor of God in order to take our stand against the devil. Whether you choose to believe it or not spiritual warfare is real and the devil delights in tripping up believers in Christ. Is it right for a believer in Christ to feel like he is not good enough for something, or that he is wrong for making a certain decision based on a leading from Christ? Of course it isn't right, but I will tell you that these are issues I struggle with every day. Spiritual warfare comes in the form of that little voice whispering doubt in your ear, or that voice that tells you you don't deserve this or that. When this voice is heard enough it can lead to sin even in the heart of a believer trying to do the right thing.

"22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" – Romans 7:22-25

We are soldiers in this war, and like most any war there are battles that are won and lost no matter what side you are on. If we have Christ in our hearts though it is like having the ultimate trump card in the battle. The ultimate victory has already been won in Him, and everything else is just a series of minor skirmishes. Yes we are to continue to try and live good lives as illustrated here, but the power of grace allows for times when we inevitable stumble. That is what makes God such an awesome and powerful God, because he allows for the mistakes that can and will happen.


  1. Is doing what we do not want to do a matter of control?
  2. Does this mean that God's grace is infinite and we have carte blanche to do what we want?
  3. How does Christ change our hearts in this struggle with sin?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Romans, Chapter 6

In the last chapter of Romans we discussed on Friday Paul ended by suggesting that the more sin we have in our lives, the more grace is increased for all of us. I have used the extreme example of Hitler before in the blog to illustrate the point of grace. I like extreme examples like this, because they illustrate well the point I am trying to make. Even someone as evil and misguided as him could not have been separated from grace if he had accepted God's gift of salvation. That shows in human terms the depth of the grace of god, but what does it truly mean? Does that mean we have the license to continue sinning, flying in the face of God because we are given an unlimited amount of grace for our sins? As we see in Romans 6 the answer is no.

"1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." – Romans 6:1-4

It is hard to understand in human terms, but once we accept Christ into our hearts there is a spiritual transformation that occurs severing us from our old ways. We do not become perfect and therefore incapable of sin. We do, however, begin to live a life where we are directed away from sin. We are baptized into the perfect life of Jesus, so therefore we begin to live a new life through Him. As we grow and walk with Him we gradually grow away from our old lives and see certain aspects for what they were. It is a transformation that happens in our heart and while we are still subject to falling, we recognize the grace we are given and begin to walk in that light away from sin.

"11In the same way, count yourselves 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 evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." – Romans 6:11-14

As we see beginning here and through the second half of the chapter, we merely switch our form of slavery from darkness to light when we accept the grace of Jesus Christ. Sin is no longer our master, but Christ is, and with that comes a new form of bondage and a new set of responsibilities. We are instructed to fight the evil desires of our own bodies, and even though we may falter from time to time, we are given the ultimate victory through grace.

"16Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." – Romans 6:16-18

Once we become slaves to righteousness we find that sin does not have any power over us. We may occasionally fall away, but if our true master is Christ and He is in our hearts we will always find our way back to Him. That is the beauty of grace. This does not mean we will have an easy life once we accept his grace, but it does mean that we have an advocate for us at all times. We are at least pointed in the right direction, and we will continue to grow in faith.


  1. How can we sin once we are slaves to righteousness?
  2. What is the point of grace if we are imperfect and can still sin?
  3. What does it really mean to be a slave to righteousness?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Romans, Chapter 5

Romans chapter five illustrates that one man was good enough to atone for our sins. Paul goes above and beyond the call of duty here to simplify Christ's sacrifice so all can understand it through his words and imagery. We must first remember, as Paul reminds us, that sin is the result of a choice. Sin did not exist until Adam and Eve disobeyed God. That single act brought sin into the world and made sure that all who are born are born into sin. It also paved the way for Christ, as it showed that we needed a savior.

"8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" – Romans 5:8-10

It's important to see here that Christ's life, and not just His death makes a difference. Yes His death on the cross was an act of physical sacrifice, but the fact that He lived as a man and then rose from the dead again, giving us victory over sin and death is important. It's not that he died, but that He is still alive that counts. Had He not risen from the dead and been given the keys to Hades there would be no victory over sin. We must remember that Christ is still alive and He lives in us when we accept the gift of His sacrifice.

Had Christ died and stayed dead even if He had live the perfect life and was sacrificed as the perfect lamb he would have still be just an ordinary lamb. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were temporary because the sacrifice stayed dead. Christ did not. He is the first to claim victory over death and that is why His sacrifice is infinitely more powerful than any other. We are justified because He still lives on in the hearts of every Christian.

"12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come." – Romans 5:12-14

This is where the victory was needed. I cannot claim to know the mind of God. Since He is omniscient He knew that sin would come into the world, but He still gave man the choice through Adam. Even though God knew all along what Adam would do He still made it a choice and in the same vein provided a way out through Christ. God knew all along that Christ would be the answer to sin, even before the creation of man.

"18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." – Romans 5:18-19

Doesn't this show how overwhelming the power of God is? One single act of sacrifice is enough to cover all the sins ever committed by billions of beings over the course of thousands of years. Is it any coincidence that as the world population grows, so grows the amount of discord and plain evilness through sin? One only needs to look at the front page of CNN today to see how dismal the world is. As I write this some of the front page stories involve pedophilia, murder, robbery, and slander. These are just a handful of beings making front page headlines. All of this was conquered though by the blood of Christ.


  1. Why did God allow man a choice if He knew man would sin?
  2. Would Christ have been necessary if man had never sinned?
  3. How can one act condemn all of mankind?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Romans, Chapter 4

What would it mean if we could be justified by our works? How would that play into our salvation? When thinking of the life of Abraham, as mentioned here at the beginning of Romans 4 you have to take these questions into consideration. If we were justified by our works then we could be saved even if we did not believe in God. Imagine if the requirements for salvation were as simple as filling out a college application. Even if we did not believe in God and his promises we could still be saved simply by following some mundane process.

This is not how God works, however, and this principle was illustrated in the life of Abraham. As I have mentioned before, Abraham lived his life entirely based on his faith in God. He did not try to prove his worth based on what he had accomplished in life. Instead he believed in God, followed his promised, and based his life on his faith in his Creator. He knew that his works did not factor into the equation when it came to a relationship with the living God.

"1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."" – Romans 4:1-3

Imagine the faith that it took Abraham to do what he did. He was asked to move hundreds of miles from his home, where he was very wealthy, based on faith that God would take care of him. He was told he would become the father of many nations even in his old age and when his wife was barren. This promise was fulfilled based on faith. Abraham was also asked to sacrifice his son, the one he had been promised and waited faithfully for, knowing he would follow God's orders up to the moment God provided another sacrifice. Because of this and not by what he had done Abraham was justified, and that is the kind of faith we must have in order to attain righteousness.

"13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all." – Romans 4:13-16

We have to have had the law presented to us in order to know that we needed righteousness. As we discussed in Galatians 3:15-23 the law was put in place not to show the path to righteousness, but to show that righteousness was needed based on faith. We use Abraham only as one of the earliest examples as to what great faith can accomplish.

"18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." – Romans 4:18-21

What God accomplished here is nothing short of a physical miracle. To be able to produce a son between Abraham and Sarah would be considered impossible even by today's advanced medical standards for two people that old. Why then is it a stretch that God can provide a way for all to be saved simply based on faith? If he is the master of the physical realm, as shown in this case, is he not the master of the spiritual as well? This is why we give God the glory for our faith.


  1. Was Abraham the exception to the rule, or can we have as much faith as him?
  2. How is God asking you currently to have more faith and in what way is he trying to fulfill a faith promise?
  3. How can we use Abraham's example of faith in our lives?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Romans, Chapter 3

I apologize if I come here this morning with a heavy heart, as I have had a very rough morning. This forum is not about me, however, but about the glory and beauty that is Christ Jesus. We are promised that God is faithful to those who follow Him and that faithfulness is reiterated here in the third chapter of Romans. He is faithful because even though we are separated from him because of our sin and do not deserve it, He provides a way for atonement. His love is unchanging as we discussed in Hebrews 13:8 last week, because Jesus is the same yesterday as he is today and will be tomorrow. We continue to see this love in chapter 3.

"5But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" 8Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved." – Romans 3:5-8

Our condemnation is only necessary if we turn away from God. Yes he is glorified because he has provided a path for us to be reconciled by Him through Christ, but there is no glory given unless we accept hat gift. If we turn it down it is like we are mocking God, saying that we can absolve ourselves of our indiscretions when, of course, we cannot. This is why our condemnation is justified because we turn our backs on Him if we do not heed the message we are given. Paul goes into this a little deeper in the following verses, as well as providing the way out of sin.

"19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. 21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" – Romans 3:19-24

This is the crux of Scripture right here! Even if we obey the law we are still short of the glory, but God has provided a way to Him through Christ. We already know from Hebrews that Christ has been assigned the job of mediator for us, but here we see just what that mediation means. It means that we achieve a righteousness that we cannot achieve in any other way. If any of you have studied most of the Old Testament you know that there were a series of rituals designed to gained righteousness, but they all fell pitifully short compared to the sacrifice Christ made for us.

The beauty of this Scripture comes in the line that there is no difference in our sin. There is no such thing as a small, unimportant sin because each one is enough to condemn us. I would be condemned just as much for cheating on a test in high school as Hitler would have been for being responsible for the deaths of millions. Both are enough to separate someone from God. The amazing thing is that the blood of Christ is enough to forgive each and everything between. That is nearly impossible to comprehend on a human scale, as Hitler is universally accepted as one of the most evil men who ever lived, but Christ died even willing that he should not perish and face the torment of hell. I am not saying that Hitler was forgiven and is in heaven, as I don't know what his final moments were like, but the power of grace and forgiveness through Christ even applied to someone as twisted and evil as him should he have accepted Christ's gift.


  1. How do we face God's wrath before we are forgiven?
  2. What form does the glory of God take when we do accept the gift of forgiveness?
  3. Why is grace enough?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Romans, Chapter 2

Yesterday we left off with Paul discussing the consequences of sin, and that is where the second chapter of Romans picks up. The unfortunate consequence of being born into sin and depravity is judgment. As the beginning of the chapter states, when we pass judgment we are condemning ourselves because we too are guilty of sin. There is not a single person that is immune to this judgment because of the nature of mankind. In the end we will all be judged by what we have done. The ultimate factor in deciding our fate will be whether we have Christ or not.

"6God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." -- Romans 2:6-8

This is a difficult passage to understand because it sounds so black and white. Anything done for the self comes off as evil while anything done for the glory of God is good. Does this make me an evil person because I promote my sports blog in order to better my career? I don't think so because I have Christ in my heart. I know that if I promote myself I can gain more of an audience to spread his word through other means. God can use something totally mundane like a sports blog to accomplish wonders for His kingdom because it can elevate me to greater influence for His cause. It also strengthens my writing, allowing me to be more coherent when writing about His matters. This is where our motives behind what we do come into play. If we have Christ in our heart and we are constantly working for His ultimate glory then we are doing what is asked of us.

"12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." – Romans 2:12-13

As we know from our study elsewhere in the New Testament, the new law, the one open to the gentiles that overwrote the old law is the sacrifice of Christ. We are simply asked to obey and submit to Christ, knowing that we are sinners and He is the only way to righteousness. Once that is done we have fulfilled our part of the covenant and are transformed into righteous being. This does not make us perfect, but it does mean we are forgiven. We saw in Hebrews that Christ is the mediator for us, and here in the second chapter of Romans we see the judgment that we will face where his mediation is necessary.

The second half of the chapter deals with the Jews and the law, which I think can be carried over to the new covenant and the gentiles. If you continue to sin once you accept your forgiveness from Christ you are setting a bad example for what it means to be a Christian. Think of the ultra-right wingers in this country. Think of the people that are exclusivistic Christians that feel their way is the only way. Is it really good to label yourself as a Christian if you are bashing gays or blowing up abortion clinics? We are taught to hate the sin but love the sinner, and that is what the second part of Romans 2 warns about.

"25Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?" – Romans 2:25-26

This paints an allegorical account of how we are to treat our salvation. Our salvation really has no meaning if it does not prompt change in our lives. If we truly accept the gift of Christ's salvation we honor it by living up to the righteousness we are granted.


  1. How do you seek God's glory even in everyday tasks?
  2. Should we consider Christ's new covenant as the law for Gentiles?
  3. How do exhibit the qualities of hating the sin but loving the sinner?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Romans, Chapter 1

Today we are shifting gears over to the book of Romans, which is well known for having the "Romans road" to salvation. It is also the first work in the New Testament written by Paul. The significance of this is that we are first introduced to his writing, even though we are introduced to his character in Acts. I plan to cover Acts at a later date, but I wanted to get into Romans because it puts the person that Paul was into the light of the great evangelist he would become. We see this in the beginning as he shows his longing to visit Rome.

"11I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. 13I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles." – Romans 1:11-13

Why is this important? Paul was already known for his travels and had visited many of the great cities of the early church, but why was he so focused on Rome? The answer is that it was then the center of the known world. Paul knew that his message would have its greatest impact from the center of civilization as he knew it not just in his time, but for future generations as well. During Paul's time Rome was beginning its period of largest influence on the course of human history. Paul knew that his message would have its farthest reach if he made it to Rome, and it is no coincidence that Rome, and the influence it would have on future history, would rise to power when Christ's message was at its freshest. God had a plan all along, and notice that Paul singles out the Gentiles here in verse 13. The center of the Gentile world at the time was Rome, and God had a plan for all to be saved and used secular history to carry it out.

"14I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. 16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." – Romans 1-14-16

Do you see his mission here? It makes perfect sense for him then to go to Rome. Not only was Rome the center of civilization, it also had established a network of communication through roads and cities that allowed news to travel widely for the first time in human history. Rome had the greatest influence on the Gentile world simply because of its size and power, so what better way to spread the news of Christ than to go to Rome?

"18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." – Romans 1:18-20

Paul shifts gears here as window-dressing for the future. As we will see later, all of mankind is forced into depravity because of sin. We clearly know the truth, but the separation of sin keeps us from applying it in our lives. The second half of this chapter deals with what happens when we do not give our lives over to God. We become slaves to our own desires and it separates us from the glory of God. Our desires make us less than God wants us to be, but this is only shown here to illustrate the consequences of sin. As we will see later on in Romans, there is hope and a way to reconnect with God to avoid this wrath.


  1. What do you know about the first century Roman Empire and the role it played in the gospel?
  2. How does Paul's desire to go to Rome reflect modern day evangelism?
  3. Why is there wrath against mankind if God loves us?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 13

Today we will finish our journey through the book of Hebrews, and personally it has been one of the most enlightening and delightful walks through scripture I have ever experience. As it seems to be the style of many New Testament works, the author has made this final chapter a virtual potpourri of exhortations and one-line guides for living the life that Christ calls us to live. There is no central theme to the exhortations here except the fact they are generally just good rules to live by. On the surface it seems like the basic message of, "love one another, treat each other right," is reiterated here, but there is always a deeper meaning when we look at Scripture.

"7Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." – Hebrews 13:7-8

Those last ten words tell a beautiful story and give us hope. I must admit that I have been sitting here staring at those ten words on my screen for a few minutes pondering the truth behind them. Even though today is actually my birthday I received some bad news on top of some other struggles I have been facing lately, but those ten words are being burned on my heart as I write this because of the immutable truth they represent. Christ is unchanging in a world of chaos. I just found out I may not have a job much longer while others who are equal to me were chosen to continue in a full-time basis, but Christ is unchanging. Even in my despair this morning and the raw hurt I am feeling I know that Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. He is loving, forgiving, and fully in control.

This morning as my alarm went off I took the first few moments of my day to thank Him for giving me 28 years on this earth. I don't know if I have 1 day, 50 years, or any other amount of time left, but I asked God to use all of me for His benefit for all of the time I have left. Since then I was hit with this news, but I am comforted by the truth of Hebrews 13:8 because He has not changed from that moment I was lying in bed this morning until now, even though my life situation has changed in just a few hours. This is a testament to the power and glory of Christ because I took Him up on His promise to take care of me then and He is still taking care of me now. In backing up to verse seven, I remember what He has spoken to me and I must imitate His faith.

"15Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." – Hebrews 13:15-16

This is perhaps the most powerful exhortation we are reminded of here at the end of Hebrews, and it is a reminder of the Great Commission Christ gave us in Matthew 28:16-20. The most important thing that we can do with our salvation once we accept it from Christ is to share it with others. Even in my own overwhelming negativity, lately I have been diligent in carrying out this mission through this blog. I consider it my most important work to share the gospel of Christ even in this small way.

As we learned throughout the entire book of Hebrews there is a New Covenant based on faith, and in that Covenant Christ is the center, mediator, and perfector of our faith. We have seen how this New Covenant replaces the old one and we have seen the role that faith and discipline now plays in our walk with Christ. It is my prayer, as we close this walk through Hebrews, that the author's words have a profound impact on your heart, dear reader. I urge you to look through these 13 chapters and come to your own conclusions based on what God says to you as you study His word.


  1. How has Christ exhibited his enduring, unchanging presence in your life lately?
  2. What does it mean to continually offer a sacrifice of praise?
  3. Why are we asked to share our faith with others?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 12

Discipline has long been a watchword of mine. It is my firm belief that many problems with society today come from a lack of discipline and self control. It is discipline that helps build and shape the faith that we discussed in chapter 11 yesterday. Discipline comes from enduring hardship and pain, but having the faith to see through it. Discipline is also a lesson that s learned and can be applied in later situations. It takes a strong amount of discipline in order to walk in faith at times, and that is what God asks of us.

"7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." – Hebrews 12:7-10

I once again want to reference my earlier writings on the four spiritual disciplines. They come into play here because it is our way of communing and understanding what God is trying to tell us. These are set up for our own good so that we may learn. If you are not learning then you are dying, as it is important to continue learning throughout your life. A beautiful illustration of this comes from the care group that my father teaches as a lay pastor. He has men and women well into their 80's that he teaches, but they are still striving to learn even in their advanced age because they are practicing the spiritual discipline God has asked of them.

As we see in the verses above though, discipline also comes in the form of hardship. Some of the hardest lessons we learn in life are lessons resulting from being disciplined. Almost everyone knows that feeling of burning on the back of one's neck from getting in trouble for misbehaving at school. Sometimes it is not is much from the punishment we faced at school, but from what would happen once we got home and our parents found out. Did this punishment come out of some sadistic nature of someone that wanted to see us suffer? No! This form of discipline came out of love so that we might learn from our mistakes before they are repeated and the consequences became worse. Sometimes this is why we suffer hardships, because a loving God wants us to learn a specific lesson even if it is a simple one such as learning to walk in faith. Other times it is a consequence of our sin, because even forgiven sin has consequences. God can forgive me even if I go out and take another life, but there are still earthly consequences I must face as a result of those actions.

"14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." – Hebrews 12-14-15

The second part of this chapter warns us against refusing God. I think a critical point made in this section is that if we don't receive God and strive to be holy we will deny the chance for someone else and in turn infect them away from God. Our lives are meant to be living sacrifices to the Lord. If we live a good life and boldly proclaim our faith Christ has promised that his seed will bear fruit (see the parable of the Sower in Mark 4, Matthew 13, or Luke 8). If we deny God then we are not living the life He wants for us. In turn we are influencing others around us helping them deny God as well. As we also see in the parable of the seeds it is not a guarantee that everyone we come in contact with will come to Christ. We must live our lives though like they will so that we have a purpose. My life has purpose if just one person comes to know Christ through me. From there the message spreads further and Christ's love grows to other people.


  1. In what ways have you seen the Lord disciplining you so that you may learn a certain point?
  2. What can we learn from the discipline of others?
  3. Why is it important that we live the message if some will turn away from it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 11

I love writing about what God has accomplished simply through acts of faith, and there is no better chapter in the Bible for covering that except for chapter 11 of Hebrews. The author wastes little time in stating the importance of faith by showing us right in the beginning exactly what faith means.

"1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for." – Hebrews 11:1-2

Over the next several verses we see the role that faith has played from creation up through almost all of the Old Testament. The illustration here shows that ordinary people accomplished extraordinary feats without even knowing at times what was going to happen. It took an incredible amount of faith for Noah to obey God and build an ark when some believe it had never rained on the face of the earth. The faith of Abraham could be written on thousands of pages, as he is the perfect example of someone who lived by faith. Three things in his life stand out as tests that most normal people would struggle with, as he was asked to move to an unknown land despite his prosperity, have a son despite the barren nature of his wife, then sacrifice that son based on what God asked of him. Personally, if God asked of me these things I would initally be like, "uh… excuse me?"

"13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." – Hebrews 11:13-16

Sometimes that is the way we must live in faith. We see what is promised for us and though it is well off in the distance we must welcome them and look forward to them. Our heavenly reward in Christ is like this, because it is a mystery we will not know until we leave this earth. Other things may be promised during our time here, but we see them as far off and still must live in faith until they are realized. Sometimes it is the test of faith that proves us worthy of the reward. Personally, I have been tested more times than I care to recount over the past two and a half years, as it has been that long since I have had a permanent full-time job. I have worked dozens of places but nothing has ever panned out to be permanent. Naturally, it has been very frustrating but at the same time it has been a trial that has allowed God to teach me so much about myself. Through each trial I have never once doubted God's love for me and He has shown me that I can rely on Him and only Him because each trial is an example of His love. He does not want me to be stagnant because life is easy. He wants to promote growth through trials and faith because He has big plans for me.

This is what living in faith truly means, because we have to learn from it by living in it. I don't know what God has planned for me and my family, but I do know that I must faithfully wait for those plans to be revealed and for God to work in me if I am going to live the life He has planned for me. Living in faith is not going to be easy. It wasn't easy for any of the people we see mentioned in this chapter of Hebrews. We do know the rewards are well worth it though.

"36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." – Hebrews 11:36-40

By faith we are made perfect because it is by faith that we believe in Christ's sacrifice for us. Without faith there is no hope for this world, so we must trust in faith.


  1. How are you commended in this day and age for your faith?
  2. What do you feel is promised to you by faith?
  3. Why did God choose to make his message faith based instead of through an awesome display of "God power"?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 10

Today we will see more of how the law was laid down only to set the stage for Christ and his sacrifice. If we didn't know we needed salvation, then how would we know what it was when we found it? This is the question that the law answers, as it tells us the need we have for Christ's sacrifice. As we see in the beginning of Chapter 10 the sacrifices made in Old Testament times were not enough to truly absolve one of sins because they needed to be constant. Only the blood of Christ was good enough to end the system of sacrifices.

"11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." – Hebrews 10:11-14

It is enough, but what happens if we continue to sin once we accept this precious gift? Here in Hebrews 10 we begin to see the divergence of the word as we get an explanation of what happens when we turn our backs and continue to willfully sin once we accept the gift of Salvation. This is like intentionally turning your back on God. There are consequences to these actions and they will not go ignored. That is not to say we are perfect once we do accept Christ. Even a true believer in Christ can become lost and lose their way. Because of a relationship with Christ we can come back in repentance and get back on track. No one is perfect. God has promised to not turn his back on us as long as our faith is genuine.

"26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" – Hebrews 10:26-29

Does this mean there is no salvation and that we can fall away from God's love once we have accepted it? I am not the person to answer that, as there are differing schools of thought on this. Personally, I believe you can actively rebel against God and still commit sin knowingly, but I also believe that it is impossible to fall away from His love. To me His love is so deep and so pure that He will pursue you even through your own sin. He will fight to bring you back into the fold of His love if You have already once called upon His name. From my personal experience I know that I have often knowingly fallen short of Chrsit's glory even after I have accepted Him into my life. Each time though he has never given up on me and though there have been consequences, some of them dire, He has still been there and brought me back to the correct path.

"35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." – Hebrews 10:35-36

To me this tells me why we must persevere even in the face of our own sin. When we first receive Christ there is a boost of confidence, but being human it quickly fades as we learn to walk in His light instead of our own. God eventually teaches us that we can stand in His confidence even after our own early confidence fades away. There is a certain peace and joy that comes from this, but it takes a long time to go. That is where perseverance comes in.


  1. Is it possible to fall away and lose your salvation?
  2. What does it mean to have confidence in the Lord?
  3. Even after you receive Christ what do you still need to work on?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 9

Until now we have seen vague details as to the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant as we have worked our way through the book of Hebrews. In chapter 9 we see everything explained in explicit detail from the setting up of the actual old covenant through Moses to the setting up of the new one through Christ. We also see why each was done and what exactly each covenant accomplished. The first part of chapter 9 explains what the old covenant was. Notice the language that the author uses and the fact that it was set up in an earthly tabernacle. This is a key factor here, since everything had God's blessing, but they were still based on earthly rules.

"6When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance." – Hebrews 9:6-7

How restricting is this? Of all the Israelites only one of them could enter the temple one day a year to atone for the sins of an entire people. It is no wonder the Israelites continued to lose their way because this had to be a very impersonal relationship. There is also the fact that everything was still based on ritual, and one small mistake made by a fallable man could ruin the whole process. This only points out the needs for Christ even more.

Beginning with verse 11 we see the need for the blood of Christ as a sacrifice, and how it washed away the old covenant by making things so much more personal. Now EVERYONE can get involved with their own salvation through Christ as a mediator.

"12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" – Hebrews 9:12-14

We see that now Christ is the mediator for us. We are free of our sins only if we accept this gift, as the old covenant is now made irrelevant except for the fact we have still sinned under it. The sin has not changed, but the method of atonement for it has.

"24For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 25Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." – Hebrews 9:24-28

That is a big chunk of text to look at closely here, but it needed to be placed there entirely to show the depth of not only Christ's sacrifice, but His power. The Sacrifice was so changing, so pure, and so powerful that it needed to be done once and only once for all mankind. Let's look at some perspective here. The old covenant called for the sacrifice to be repeated over and over again just for the sins committed in ignorance over the course of one year for a group of several thousand. This does not account for the other sin sacrifices that needed to be done daily, weekly, and monthly as outlined in the Old Testament. Right now there are more than 6.5 billion people on the planet, not counting everyone who has ever lived and died before now. The blood of Christ's one time sacrifice is good enough for all of them. It has been a redundant message throughout my writings on the book of Hebrews, but it is only the most important message in the history of mankind.

One thing I can add though is how this difference and personal relationship stands up against many other religions. Jewish traditions still call for acts of sacrifice in order to reach God. Islam requires a strict series of daily prayers and rituals in order to reach God. Christ's sacrifice is unique because it is God's attempt to reach mankind through Himself. This stands out because it is personalized and unique.


  1. How unique is Christ's sacrifice when compared to other religions?
  2. How does other Scripture back up the fact that Christ's blood is enough?
  3. Why was there an old covenant if it wasn't enough?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 8

Today's chapter focuses on Jesus' role as the high priest and the breaking down of the old covenant. Where it can be confusing, however, is in thinking about the role that the old covenant served. If it was imperfect and was going to be torn down anyway, why was it set up in the first place? Why did God give mankind something He knew was going to fail only to break it down and throw it away when Christ replaced it?

There are two major reasons for this, and it takes looking at the old covenant to understand them. First, the old covenant, temple, and priesthood were given to Moses and set up between only the Israelites and God. Second, God gave us this example to show how short man's attempt to reach Him would fall even under explicit instruction. Read the book of Leviticus some time. It outlines the system of sacrifices and rules to live by according to the old covenant. If you take into account everything that is there it sets up an impossible standard that no one can hope to match. This only shows our needs for Christ and the new covenant. The new covenant is also opened to all mankind as we see in this chapter, and not just the Jews and we see that in Hebrews 8.

"1The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man." – Hebrews 8:1-2

I have been repeating this over and over this week since it is a common theme in the book of Hebrews, but it is the most important truth we can learn. A tabernacle set up by man is merely a shadow of the one in heaven as it is mentioned in a later verse. Christ serves in this tabernacle and He is sinless. As we learned earlier in Hebrews the high priests of old, being men, had to cleanse themselves of sin before they could serve. Even then they could only enter the Holy of Holies one day out of the year. Jesus can do this at any time in the heavenly tabernacle for us because He is sinless.

"6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. 7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." – Hebrews 8:6-7

Having Jesus mediate for us is like have God Himself as a lawyer for our case. We are all short of the Glory of God, yet all he asks is that we accept Him as our Savior. At that point He then takes on our case no questions asked and fights for us. The victory is then won regardless of the evidence against us. This is such a freeing and liberating promise and is so much better than the old covenant because it is a commitment that only needs to be done once instead of a system of sacrifices for the rest of your life.

I've done some terrible things in my life even after I came to know Christ, but the beauty of His Majesty is that I am forgiven for them. This does not mean all sin is free of consequence once we know Christ, because even forgiven sin has consequences, but it is liberating to know that I am free and loved.

At the end of the chapter we are reminded once again that the old covenant is gone. Think of this from a practical standpoint for a moment. Can you imagine trying to find a pair of perfect turtle doves as a sin offering? Now imagine trying to find these doves while everyone else is looking for them. You can't exactly find these at Wal-Mart. Next try to imagine the mess created from all of these animal sacrifices. Aren't you glad we have the new covenant through the sinless blood of Christ?


  1. Read a small portion of Leviticus for a moment. How difficult are those standards?
  2. Why is it a good thing that Jesus can intervene on our behalf at any time compared to the old covenant?
  3. Why was God so exclusive with the old covenant, but so inclusive with the new one?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 7

Yesterday was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had when it comes to writing about Scripture, and it is my hope and prayer that today is just as enlightening and that the Spirit will work through me again. Today we move on to the seventh chapter of Hebrews and more into the comparison between Jesus and Melchizedek. Melchizedek became a priest of God back in Abraham's time, which was long before Moses and the High priesthood was established. When looking at his history in the beginning of chapter 7 we must remember that Abraham was one of the most faithful men who ever lived. This is why God made His promise to Abraham and his descendents. If Melchizedek was blessed by Abraham then I would say he was pretty important at the time!

There isn't a ton that we know about Melchizedek. Pretty much all we know is what is listed here in the beginning of chapter seven, but he was clearly someone special that was called by God to perform a very special role in Abraham's time. We also see that he did not come from the traditional order of priests in Jewish culture because that order was still long from being established in the future.

"2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." 3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever." – Hebrews 7:2-3

This is very vague, but we can see the parallels that Melchizedek's life and Christ's life draw here. Both are called to be the high priest forever and both served as a mediator between man and God. Melchizedek served by blessing and serving Abraham, to whom the promise was given. It is eluded here that Melchizedek was the perfect priest because we see later in the chapter that perfection could not be attained through Levi and the current priesthood, but it could be attained through Jesus who was in the order of Melchizedek.

"11If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar." – Hebrews 7:11-13

Is there a better description of the sweeping changes that Christ enacted than right here? Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi, but he is still a high priest. He therefore was not from the line of Aaron and served from a tribe that had never served before (one of His names is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah). Jesus certainly changed the law through His sacrifice and because of His sacrifice we perfection is attained.

"18The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God." – Hebrews 7:18-19

Jesus is certainly a better hope because he attains what we cannot. As it says later though, because He lives forever He can continue to mediate on our behalf even now, millennia after He walked the earth. Jesus even broke down the law by taking the oath before God as we see at the end of the chapter. Also keep in mind that this is all part of a promise made centuries before Christ between God and Abraham. This proves that God keeps His promises throughout time and he never forgets His people. The promise ranges from Melchizedek in Abraham's day to the present day through Jesus. I don't know if Melchizedek was divinely appointed or not, but he was clearly set apart from other high priests if he is compared to Christ. Both He and Christ are special and we can thank them for breaking down the law and setting up a new one that benefits us instead of condemning us, since the old law was not perfect but Christ's law is.


  1. Go back and read Genesis. What was the promise that God made to Abraham?
  2. How does that promise carry over to today?
  3. Does the old law still have any meaning today?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 6

What does it mean to grow spiritually? Yesterday we ended our discussion with the author of Hebrews instructing us about being weaned from the milk of the Word to the real meat of the Word. Part of that process is getting into the Word daily and discovering what it says to you personally. It is my prayer that those who read this blog will be encouraged to do that and read the entire chapter to draw their own conclusions about the Word and not be satisfied with just the verses I use and the elaboration I provide. This is what it means to get into the meat of the Word, but how do we know if we have progressed in our walk far enough to be ready?

The beginning of Hebrews 6 provides a guide to that, as the author mentions what he thinks are the basics, or "milk" of the Word. When we have passed these basics we are ready to move on to something deeper and more meaningful.

"1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,
and of faith in God,
2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." – Hebrews 6:1-2

To me that sounds like a course in Christianity 101 as it references the foundation of our entire faith in Christ. Once we have laid this foundation we are called to build on it through service to the one that saved us. This is where spiritual discipline comes in from my previous writings, and in that our own walks take divergent paths. Think of each person's walk with Christ like it is a natural birth. We are built the same basic way with the same basic foundation, but once we reach a certain point in our development we begin to take on characteristics that differentiate us from everyone else. In the same vein each person's walk and calling are different, but they are based on the same foundation. We learn what our calling is by getting into the word and practicing these spiritual disciplines. It is amazing then when you think about it because God tailors each person's walk individually in that way. My experience with the Word is different from everyone else's, but it is based on the same principles of faith, repentance, and forgiveness.

We also must get into the meat of the Word and nourish ourselves so that we don't fall away. What happens to an animal that is never weaned off of milk? It eventually begins to not get the nourishment it needs and will wither and die. This can happen to us spiritually and cause us to fall away if we don't actively pursue God and dedicate time to Him each day. He wants us to walk with Him and learn from Him each day because it is essential to our souls.

"7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned." – Hebrews 6:7-8

The Word, prayer, and worship are all the rain that nourishes the crop of our soul. Without them we cannot hope to survive on our own. I challenge you to study the Word daily for two weeks, and then try and go a week without it. I guarantee you will feel as if something is absent from your life and that you will feel choked off from growing. Remember this in his promise in the following:

"10God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." Hebrews 6:10-12

This is what God wants for us! He wants us to grow and work in Him so that we can become something more. He wants us to become what we were born to become, and the only way to find out what that mission is comes from walking and growing in Him. The chapter ends with His blessing and promise to Abraham in this regard, and as believers we inherit this blessing and promise as well. If we grow in Him we will receive His promise.


  1. What is the nature of God's promise to Abraham and how does it apply to you?
  2. What do you need to do in order to add some meat to your spiritual nourishment?
  3. How can we fall away if we do not grow?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hebrews, Chapter 5

Today's lesson involves a bit of history as the author of Hebrews works to tie in the tradition of the high priest in Jewish cultures with the work that Christ did while on earth. As we read through the first few verses on this topic we can see how flawed the old system of having one high priest that can atone for the sins of a people was. Here was a guy (the high priest) that no matter how hard he worked and how pure he tried to make himself, he was still human. He still needed to account for his own sins and make sacrifices on his own behalf. Even though he was chosen by God for the role that he served he still fell short of the glory needed to truly atone for sins.

"1Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was." – Hebrews 5:1-4

Even today those among the respective clergy are imperfect and prone to weakness. The pastor at my own church has a weakness for NASCAR, but I'll forgive him for it (sorry, it was too easy). What we see in the next few verses though is that even though Christ was perfect, the only perfect man that ever lived, He still had to be called by God to fill His role. He was made perfect in his willingness to sacrifice Himself and even though He washed away the old system, it still existed in a new form because he was now the high priest and mediator for us before God.

"8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." – Hebrews 5:8-10

His suffering served a purpose because it explained to us in our own terms what it meant to obey. This guy is the son of God. He easily could have walked down off the cross feeling no worse for wear but He instead took his mantle of suffered and obeyed the Father. Because of this he can now enter the Most Holy Place at any time for any of us on our behalf. He sets forth and example of obedience that we must learn to follow, as He submitted to the will of the Father in the face of an enormous amount of pain and torture.

The final part of this brief chapter deals a warning against falling away from God and how we can prepare our hearts against this. When we are new to the faith we can get by with being taught the elementary truths of the Word; that is the milk referred to here at the end of the chapter. As we grow in our faith however we must get deeper into the word. We have matured beyond the point of needing mere milk to needing the meat of the word in order to survive spiritually. Until we get into the word and receive the spiritual nourishment that it provides our growth is stunted, because we can only be hand-fed the truth for so long. It is our responsibility then as mature being to seek out the truth on our own and learn from it. This is why I encourage you to read beyond the verses I post here and find the rest for yourselves.


  1. What role did the high priest play for the Israelites?
  2. Why is it that even Christ, who was greater than all men, still needed to learn obedience?
  3. How can not growing spiritually by studying the Word of God cause us to fall away?