Romans 6

Vs. 23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Question: So what now?  Not only are we forgiven our sins; the Lord has given us the power to overcome our sinful nature!  Paul gives us some wonderful insight into learning how to live a Christian walk (vs. 1-14).  You’ve heard the adage, “Knowing is half the battle” and this is what Paul is hoping to achieve.  He does not want us to be ignorant of what Christ is offering us as new creations.  Just as Christ died for our sins, we die of our sinful nature when we trust in the Lord.  The more we grow in understanding God’s grace, the more we will not take it for granted.  We went from slaves to sin to slaves of righteousness (vs. 11-15).  Let’s never forget our identity and purpose!

Regarding application…Being Sanctified.  Vs. 4, “We 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.”  The Apostle Paul now begins to teach us a very important aspect of the Christian life: sanctification.  Sanctification is the process of becoming holy; like Jesus.  When we believe in Jesus and take up the cross; we live a life that reaps holiness (vs. 19-22).  When my mom used to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch, we would first make the cookie dough.  We would then take the nestle chocolate chips and put them in the dough.  Naturally, we needed to mix in the chocolate into the dough.  And lastly, we would bake it under extreme heat in the oven to make the dough and chocolate transform into chocolate chip cookies.  Likewise, God transform as we mix in all the ingredients (faith in Jesus, Holy Spirit, God’s Word, etc.)  The sanctification process is the sort of like the baking process.  We are not going to be transformed overnight, it’s a life-long pursuit of remaining in the fire (oven) until takes us out!

Romans 5

Vs. 8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Question: What benefits are there to being justified before God?  Often we hear of the struggles and hardships, it’s easy to forget the benefits.  In the first section of our passage (vs. 1-11), Paul reminds us of the peace and joy we receive through Jesus.  We have direct access to receive a peace even in the midst of living in this sin-filled world.  All the crazy stuff in our life can help us to grow and actually produce perseverance, character, and hope!  Our highlighted verse (vs. 8) certainly isn’t because of the good things we did.  Yet, God saves us from the wrath we deserve.  The latter half of our chapter (vs. 12-21) involves Paul contrasting Adam and Jesus.  Because of Adam, we all fell under condemnation.  If one man could bring condemnation, how much more than can one man bring salvation?  The Law revealed our sin, but it was God’s grace (underserved acceptance and love) that increased over sin!

Regarding application…Bad News & Good News.  Vs. 20, “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”  Question: Have you ever heard someone say, “I’ve got good news and bad news, which one do you want to hear first?”  I think most of us naturally want to save the good news for last.  In essence, this is what God did for us.  The bad news came first; sin entered the world.  It seemed like a hopeless situation.  But, the Good News (Gospel) superseded the bad news and it’s effect has transformed the lives of all who choose to believe in it!  I want to encourage us to remember God’s abundant grace (vs. 17).  Lord willing, if I have a daughter, I want to name her the Eunhye (meaning “Grace” in Korean).  It was grace that set me free from the wayward life of sin!  What wonderful news we have to remember both in our personal life and in the lives of others whom we share it with!

Romans 4

Vs. 3, “What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  Not only did the Jews look to Abraham, but God chose Abraham to be the trailblazer as an example for all of us.  Before David and Moses, Abraham’s justification was not by his work, but his faith.  While Abraham was obedient to the Lord, it was his faith that would justify him.  And most importantly, it was his faith first that brought salvation and works followed.  Paul ensures that David is also mentioned by quoting Psalm 32 in light of David’s transgressions (6-8).  Even though David had sinned with Bathsheba, he understood that it was his faith in the LORD that brought true salvation.  Paul clears up the circumcision issue (vs. 9-12) that many of the Jews held onto.  We are all reminded that Abraham came centuries (430 years) before Moses and the Law (vs. 13-17).  Though the odds were against the promise of God coming through for Abraham, his faith would endure (vs. 18-25).

Regarding application…Are You Convinced?  Vs. 21, “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  Question: Are there times in which we doubt?  God gave Abraham a promise; but it didn’t happen overnight.  For many, the law and the implications of it cause people to feel they must somehow achieve things on their own.   Sometimes we live by the adage, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”  The Jews assumed obedience to the Law would bring the justification they would need.  This is why Paul wrote to passionately to clear up these false assumptions.  We can’t bring salvation on our own; whether it is our own lives or the lives of others.  Faith in Jesus brings salvation (vs. 23-25).  When our hearts are right with God, we will produce good fruit.  The challenge for us is to remember what comes first!  Faith in the Lord will produce good fruit and live by the promises of God.

Romans 3

Vs. 20, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”  Whether Jew or Gentile, we stand before God on equal ground.  Yet, Paul spends some time elaborating on the privileges of having God’s word from the Jews perspective (vs. 1-8).  Though Israel had a checkered history regarding their faith, God’s faithfulness would endure (vs. 7).  Though some may have the tendency to find loophole advantages of thinking sin then is okay; Paul condemns such attitude (vs. 8).  There was the danger of thinking more highly than you ought; so Paul would remind all of us that we are sinners (vs. 9-20).  Paul quotes several Old Testament passages to give us a broader contextual understanding of sinful inclinations.  Though there are privileges to knowing God’s word, none of us are without excuse.  Paul makes very clear the Law’s purpose from the above-mentioned verse (vs. 20).  No one can live up to the standard of the law.  The latter half of our chapter is rich in salvation (soteriology) theology  (vs. 21-31).  We often talk of the “good news” we receive from the Gospel, and this passage is rich in amazing news!  God’s righteousness comes from faith in Jesus Christ.  This is all possible because of the cross and resurrection!  Being justified is not having the punishment of sin laid upon us; Jesus’ sacrifice does that for us.

Regarding application…Saving Faith.  Vs. 22, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference.”  Question: What do you put your faith in?  Even the atheist has to put their faith in others.  When you get on a airplane, you trust the pilot will get you there safely.  The author of Hebrews tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).  As believers, we put our faith in the Lord Jesus; this brings us salvation.  My encouragement to you today is to remember that saving faith is not just a one-time deal. Faith is an ever-growing aspect of the Christian life.  Saving faith is sanctifying faith that takes us on a journey heavenward!

Romans 2

Vs. 1, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”  The previous chapter ended on a sour note of sinful actions done when sin increases in our lives.  Paul now ensures before we are quick to judge others, we should consider our own lives (vs. 1-3).  Sin is sin regardless of our heritage; Jew/Gentile or Christian/non-Christian upbringing.  God justice is shown in His actions towards the way we lived our lives (vs. 4-11); not by our identity in this world.  The next section of our chapter (vs. 12-24) deals with Paul addressing the Jews and the Law.  They had a superiority when it came to the way the practiced the Law.  But their attitude only condemned them because many of the Gentiles lived the spirit of the law better than the Jews.  However, Paul reminded them as Jesus did that the practice of the law outwardly means nothing if the heart is bad.  The last section of our chapter deals with circumcision (vs. 25-29).  Circumcision was an outward mark of the covenant given to Abraham.  The early church struggled at first whether or not circumcision was a requirement for the Gentile Christians.  Though they came to a ruling that it was not, the Jews who became Christians still struggled with this.  Paul would aptly remind them that circumcision’s most important aspect was of the heart.

Regarding application…God’s Kindness.  Vs. 4, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”  God’s kindness leads us to repentance and salvation.  But, often we do not reciprocate God’s kindness.  Question: How does that look today?  We show contempt to God’s kindness when we take it for granted from God and don’t show it to others.  I think it’s a daily reminder to die to ourselves (Philippians 1:21) and remember that we ought think of ourselves lower than others (Philippians 2:3).  This is the way to honor God’s kindness in our lives.  Thanksgiving and Christmas is a time of year where we recall God’s kindness to us.  My church is looking forward to feeding our community a free Thanksgiving lunch next Saturday.  What a wonderful reminder of how we the church can honor God’s kindness!

Romans 1

Vs. 7, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Paul’s letter to the Romans has been one of the most profound books in the Bible.  It is rich with spiritual truths that can transform our lives.  Paul knew his audience well when he called himself a servant (vs. 1), for there were millions of slaves in the Roman Empire.  It was important that Paul introduce himself and list out his credentials to the mixture of Jew and Gentile audience (vs. 1-7, 14-15). Their faith had become known and Paul wanted to encourage them by letting them know he was thankful and prayerful towards them (vs. 8-10).  He longed to visit Rome, but had not yet been able to (vs. 11-13).  It was Paul’s intention to make clear the Gospel truth and show he was not ashamed of its power (vs. 14-17). God’s wrath doesn’t come to an innocent people and so Paul will spend up until chapter the first half of chapter 3 expounding on this.  In order to understand God’s good news, we must also have a clear understanding of the bad news.  God has revealed Himself to us, but the wickedness of many hearts turned from Him (vs. 18-25).  This would result in sinful immorality that is not easy to be mindful of (vs. 26-32).

Regarding application…Without Excuse.  Vs. 20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  We are without excuse.  God has revealed Himself through His creation (general/natural revelation) and through His Son (special revelation).  The truth is laid out for all to see, but many selfishly turn from God.  He has planted the knowledge of Him in all of His creation.  It is important to note that Paul is zeroing in on the Gentile audience here in this second half or our chapter.  Though all of us knew God (vs. 21), we chose in the wickedness of our own hearts to turn away from Him; before we put our faith in Jesus.  We should not be ashamed to share the truth of sin to a world that needs to be saved.

Romans 16

Vs. 2, “I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.”  Paul is writing the final greetings with Phoebe being the carrier of the letter to the Romans.  But what is striking is the amount of believers that Paul is acquainted with (vs. 3-16).  Question: How did Paul know all these people, yet never visited the Rome?  There is some debate on this, but in the end we see how relational Paul was with others.  The church in Rome was a growing church, but that didn’t mean they were going to be without troubles (vs. 17-20).  Paul makes sure to warn the Romans to avoid and have nothing to do divisive and false teachers.  We see a beautiful ending to Romans as Paul concludes by giving out shout out to those who were close to him.

Regarding application…Be Innocent.  Vs. 19, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”  Question: How do we be innocent in a world of evil?  It amazes me how much innocence is lost these days.  We live in a world where evil is increasing (Matthew 24:12).  Young people are exposed to more and more sex, drugs, etc.  The sexual innuendos on media (even in commercials) are understood quite clearly.  I believe there is a grave danger in being too relevant in this world.  We must live in this world to be a light and testimony, but we shouldn’t be like the world (Romans 12:1-2).  When we encounter temptations, God always gives us a way out (I Cor. 10:13).  Think of young Joseph when Potipher’s wife came to him.  Turn to the good and set your mind on things above, not this world (Colossians 3:2).  It’s not easy to avoid such things, but God has given us the game plan to win in His word and the relationship we have each day with the Lord Jesus!

Romans 15

Vs. 15, “I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me.”  Isn’t that great?  We are an absent-minded people.  That is why it is so powerful to be encouraged by God’s Word and each other.  In the first section of our chapter, Paul is continuing the topic of weak in strong from the previous chapter (vs. 1-6).  And one of the applications of working with each other is accepting each other (vs. 7-13).  Paul reached out to both Jew and Gentile, but God gave him a special heart for the Gentiles (vs. 16).  While he wanted to go to seem them soon, Paul needed to take the offerings from the Gentile churches back to the mother church in Jerusalem (vs. 27).  It’s so important to support what God is doing in His church!

Regarding application…Accepting One Another.  Vs. 7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  Question: Why would we accept each other?  Because it simply brings praise to God!  Of course, there are other motivating factors that need to be taken into account.  We are instructed and commanded to love each other throughout Scripture.  Additionally, in our passage today as well as Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we are to be unified.  Question: Are you an accepting person?  I would love to say I am, but we know it’s not easy to accept those who are different than us.  Yesterday, I was guest speaking at a church and there was a new person who attended.  He didn’t dress or act like the others.  Myself and others reached out to him.  But I wonder if I would have reached out to him if I wasn’t at church?  There is world that needs to be accepted and loved.  A place where they can go to call church their home.  Let us do our part in accepting those who are different.

Romans 14

Vs. 2, “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.”  This certainly seems like an odd issue about the foods we eat, but it was actually quite divisive.  The underlying problem was the fact that they were judging each other (vs. 13).  Remember that the early church in Rome was made up of two main different cultures: Jews and Greeks (Gentiles).  In theory, the walls were now broken down, but the cultures ran deep.  Question(s): Who were the weak in faith?  Who were the strong in faith?  There is a bit of ambiguity concerning the interpretations of these two groups.  However, The Jews held to very strict ways of eating and the Gentiles did not.  The Jewish Christians took it to the extreme that if they didn’t know where the meat came from (i.e. pagan sacrificed meat sold in the local market), they would just abstain from meat all together.  The Gentile Christians saw it as no big deal.  Both were incorrectly judging others.

Regarding application…Making Every Effort.  Vs. 19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”  Question: Giving effort for what? Edifying or building up others.  In fact, we should do everything possible to build up rather than tear down.  Just because it’s okay for you doesn’t mean it’s okay to do.  I may love to drink a red wine for my steak dinner, but if I invite a Christian brother over who is dealing with alcoholism, that would be stumbling him.  Our traditions and ways of doing things doesn’t always mean we should exercise it.  So I caution all of us to be more aware of how others are affected by our ways.  Have a blessed week and turn to the Lord’s word!

Romans 13

Vs. 1, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”  Question: Why is Paul exhorting us about obeying authority (vs. 1-7)?  Seems possibly oddly placed!  However, in the context of practical Christian living, there is a reason for this.  One of the things we must bear in mind is this: They were all waiting for Jesus’ return.  Two thousand years later we are still waiting, but they had no idea it would take this long.  There was a tendency to throw caution to the wind and just avoid anything that had to do with the world.  One of the extremes was not submitting to authorities.  Paul wanted to ensure that as believers we still have a responsibility to be living testimonies.  Remember, one of the overarching themes in Romans is the sovereignty of God.  God is in control, even with human government.  Sure, there are times when there are evil rulers and times when we must disobey a direct order of leaders if it goes against our faith.  We read recently in Acts 5:29, where Peter declared, “We must obey God rather than men.” Paul then segues into reminding us of our ultimate responsibility is love (vs. 8-10).  And lastly, Paul admonishes us to wake up from our spiritual slumber (vs. 11-14).  The time in which we live has a sense of urgency and responsibility.  We may not be perfect, but we must make every effort to live in such a way.  It goes to the core of our hearts and intentions.

Regarding application…Debt of Love.  Vs. 8, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”  I think most of us can certainly concur with the understanding of what a debt is.  Did you know that our country as of March 29th, 2012 is 15.589 trillion dollars in debt?  I guess that makes my thousands of dollars in debt look like chump change.  In reality, we are all in debt for something.  Jesus paid the debt of the consequences of sin for us.  Question: Can we pay Him back?  There is nothing we can do to pay him back.  However…we can honor Him by loving each other.  Love is the fulfillment of the Law.  Loving is the one debt we don’t stop trying to payoff.  Question: Are you loving the Lord?  Are you loving others?  Let’s do this brothers and sisters.