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God is YOUR FATHER!

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God is Your FATHER!

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God loves you. It doesn’t matter what you have done, it doesn’t matter what you do, God loves you. It is a lie that God’s love for you depends on your performance.

In this bold, uncompromising sermon Benjamin preaches the truth about a God who is not a harsh God looking to get you, but a tender Father looking to get stuff to you. This is a foundational message that every Christian needs to build into their life – it will set you free from worry, fear and sadness for EVER!

Romans 2.4

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Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Paul is talking still about religious people: about people who come to God on the basis of what they have done, not on the basis of what He has done. Religion ruins lives.

As we have seen in verses 1-3, religion leads you to judge people for things that you do yourself. It leads you to criticise people for doing things wrong that you do yourself. It leads you to having a double standard for judging people – if person X commits sin Y then you condemn them and judge them. When you commit the same sin, you justify yourself because of your motivation or your other good works. In short, religion makes you judgmental, critical, acerbic and rude. No-one likes a religious person.

Jesus on the other hand is gracious, kind, redemptive, helpful, gentle and easy to live with. If people truly know Jesus they are great people to be around. They are easy to live with, they are kind, patient and gentle.

Religion is awful.

Now, this verse contains some wonderful instruction. It explains why religious people are so condemning, judgmental and hypocritical.

The reason is this: they hate the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering. Never, ever hate God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering.

Let’s look at these three elements of God individually:

1. God’s goodness

The Greek word for goodness is chrēstotēs. It can be translated as goodness or benignity or kindness. It means that God is never mean, never malicious, never hurtful. It means that God does not have plans to harm us, does not want revenge on us when we sin, is not holding back anything from us.

It means God is good and good means good. God loves us and God is for us. You can cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you. He adores you. He only wants to do good for you, He only speaks good words about you, He only acts for your good. He truly is awesome!

Religious people do not realize that God is rich in goodness. They think that if you do something wrong, God will immediately withhold His blessing and get revenge. Some religious people will tell you that God is behind all the evil in the world. Others will tell you that you are not healed or not wealthy because of your sin or your lack of goodness or lack of service.

All these ideas have their root in despising the goodness of God and not having a clue of who God really is!

2. God’s forbearance

The Greek word for forbearance is anochē. It means the ability to put up with things. God is rich in forbearance. God is tolerant.

If you have messed up today, God is not looking to get you and beat you up for it. God is rich in the ability to put up with things. Look how much you did wrong before you were born again! God put up with all of that, and still when you repented and believed accepted you fully and made you fully righteous.

Now you are in God’s family: He puts up with anything you do.

Religious people are not tolerant. They will not put up with anything. If you sin you are out the door. Heaven forbid if you do something wrong that people find out about. If you break the religious community rules you will be shunned. That is what religious people are like: they will turn on you as quickly as you can imagine. They are not tolerant because they do not know the tolerance of God. God is gracious! God can put up with things.

The more you realize the goodness and graciousness of God, the easier it is to develop a real genuine relationship with Him.

3. God’s longsuffering

God’s forbearance is God’s ability to put up with anything you do wrong and not shun you or kick you out of the community. It is a form of mercy: God’s mercy is God’s ability not to treat you as your sins deserve.

God’s longsuffering is God’s ability to love you and care about you and passionately desire to be with you no matter what you have done. It is a form of God’s grace. God’s mercy is not giving you what you deserve, God’s grace is giving you what you do not deserve.

God’s longsuffering is God’s ability to love you and bless you even when you do not deserve it. It comes from the Greek word makrothymia, which is translated patience or longsuffering in the KJV. It comes from two words: makro, meaning long; and thymos which means passion or heat.

Listen: even on your worst day, God still feels passion for you. He is the God of macro-passion. He dotes on you, cares for you, loves you passionately.

Religious people cannot deal with this. They cannot sustain their passion for God or for people. They cloak their lack of passion for God and for people with religious cliches. They hate people who turn up and who pray with passion, preach with passion, love with passion, serve with passion. Religious people portray an austere God, not a God hot with passion.

There is even a doctrine many churches in the UK teach called impassibility. This means that God cannot experience pain or pleasure from our actions. It is heresy – the Bible is clear: he CAN be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Hebrews 4.15). Not only that: it leads to people not being able to understand God, so it stops people having a real relationship with Him.

Muslims also teach that God has no emotions, no passion, no heat. It is simply not true: God can be made happy by your actions. God can be grieved by your actions.

Listen: God adores you. He is passionate about you. When you fail and you feel pain, He feels it more. His love for you is boundless, it is passionate, it is red-hot. He adores you.

Conclusion

When you realize that God is good, longsuffering and tolerant you start to enjoy His company. It is when you accept the lie that God is some short-fused difficult to please monster that you run far far away from Him.

People often get worried and concerned when you teach that God is good, that God forgives, that God does not hold sin against you. They start to panic: if you do that they say, people will do whatever they want. They will live in sin and rebel.

That is absolutely not true. It is the truth that sets people free. When the truth that God is good and kind is preached, it leads people to repentance. The Greek word for repentance means to change your thinking.

It is ONLY when you realize that God is good, can you actually change your life and live a pure, holy, loving, kind life. Religious people do not live a pure life, they are critical hypocrites. They are cruel, mean and condemning. If you sin they will judge you and fail to love you. They are not godly. They have a form of godliness, but no power. People who think that God is out to get them may look holy, they ARE NOT.

When you realize that God is good and that He adores you, that does not make you want to go and do what you want. It makes you want to tell God how much you love Him, to go and show that love and goodness to some stranger, to go and serve your family, to honour His life and goodness and to go and preach the gospel to the world.

I adjure you: NEVER NEVER NEVER despise the riches of God’s goodness, God’s forbearance and God’s longsuffering. Rather enjoy those riches and share them with the world!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 2.1

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Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

In Romans 1, Paul takes great pain to point out to us that every human who rejects God slips down a death spiral, that without God their condition is hopeless. This is why Paul is not ashamed of the good news that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, Redeemer, Healer, Prosperer, Lord, Protector, Comforter and Friend. Because everyone needs a Saviour.

In Romans 2, Paul deals with the biggest problem in people becoming Christians: organized religion. Since I have started feeding on the Word of God and realizing how much God loves me, I have developed an absolute hatred for religion. There is not an atheist or secular humanist on this planet that hates religion as much as I do.

Religion is a system of behaving to attempt to impress God. Whether it is a Muslim praying five times a day, a Hindu offering food to an idol, or a Christian tithing – if the motivation behind your behaviour is to impress God it is religion. Religion always leads to depression, failure, bondage and sin. Religion always leads to comparing yourself with other people, something the Bible describes as foolish (2 Cor. 10.12). It always leads to making judgments on other people, something that is a symptom of pride. Religion always leads to pride, and pride goeth before destruction (Proverbs 16.18). Religion is evil.

Christianity as it should be is resting on the completed work of Christ on the cross. It is knowing that I do not have to impress God because I already impress God because of Jesus. If I do anything for God it is because He loves me and I love Him; never because I am scared of Him or because I need to placate Him. The wrath of God and the justice of God are taken care of because of the gospel which is the message of Romans 1.

Romans 2 is setting out to prove that religion does not mean you do not need the grace and mercy of God. We know instantly that Paul is talking about religious people in chapter 2 of Romans because he is speaking to those “that judgest”, and that is religious people. The reason why more people are in the pub than in the church is because non-religious people are – on the whole – non-judgmental and they accept people as they are. Do you remember the old sitcom “Cheers” set in a pub, it used to begin with the lyrics:

Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

That is why more people are down the pub than in church because with a few notable exceptions in church people do not know your name, are not glad you came and try their hardest to hide that they have the same troubles as you because they are terrified of being judged. It is not Christ, the friend of sinners, the merciful, the Redeemer, the one who eternally makes intercession for us, that makes people like that it is religion. It is the stinking lie that you have to reach a certain standard or do a certain thing to impress God.

Paul takes his first swipe at religion here in this verse: if you judge people according to a standard, you are inexcusable. The Greek word here is anapologētos, which literally is: without apology. Apologetos in the Greek means a defense or justification for your actions.

People in the Roman church, just like in my church and your church, often when they have done things wrong and sinned against God and man do not rest in the truth that they are justified by faith in Christ and have peace with God (Romans 5.1), but rather try to hide the seriousness of their sin by comparing themselves with other people and judging other people:

I might have lost my temper at my wife, but at least I provide for her, unlike Bob in the church.
I might have eaten too much cake, but at least I don’t have a glass of wine like her.
I might have had a glass of wine, but at least I am not a greedy glutton like him.
I might have had an affair, but I tithe and turn up every week – most people in here don’t care for this church and do that!
I might have an anger problem, but I am a deacon, not like everyone who is not a deacon.

It is a horrible attitude for two reasons. Firstly and obviously, it means that church becomes just another rat race. You can never be the holy building God wants you to be while one stone is thinking it is better than the other stones. Every stone is needed, and it is need in the shape it is to fit into the master plan for the building. No one wants to go to church where the leaders are smug, where the ushers are sneering and where people do not genuinely love them.

Secondly, it means that people are self-justifying. They are acting in a way to impress God. It totally bypasses the work of Christ. In Romans 1-5, Paul is showing the Romans – in the most powerful way ever put to paper by any individual in all of history – how to enjoy being made righteous. One of the key ways is to realize that righteousness frees you from religion.

Then Paul says something so accurate and powerful: if you judge someone, you condemn yourself because you do the same things. Look at the verse in some modern translations:

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. (NLT)

THEREFORE YOU have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce]. (AMP)

Therefore, anyone of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. (Holman Christian Standard)

Whenever you judge another person for their sin, two things are true:

1. You are condemning yourself.

If you are pointing out the sin in another and holding it against them, you are saying implicitly that Jesus Christ’s redemptive power is not enough to deal with sin. If someone comes to your church for healing and you tell them God cannot heal them when they are wearing ripped jeans (I have heard someone say that to someone), you are saying that the blood of Jesus is less powerful than rips in clothes! The blood of Jesus is more powerful than ripped jeans! The blood of Jesus is more powerful than alcohol, than drugs, than adultery, than immorality. Healing is a fact achieved for us by Christ – there is no minimum standard necessary to receive healing.

But the minute you set a standard, you condemn yourself because you are not perfect. The next time you come to the Lord for healing, the devil will jump in there and your own conscience will jump in there and tell you that you had a lustful thought, you had an angry thought, you haven’t prayed enough, you aren’t good enough and your faith will not be enough to overcome this because you are the one that said there was a standard. Yes, you set the standard in such a way that you are doing better than Mr Jones, so you should be more blessed than Mr Jones, but by setting a standard you are being legalistic and you obscure Christ and His redemption, so when you come to the Lord you condemn yourself and make it impossible to receive from God.

If you are telling other people they are not good enough for God, but you are coming to God on grace alone, then you are double minded (see James 1 to find out what you will receive from God being double minded!)

2. You do the same things!

This is very difficult to misunderstand. When someone in the church starts aggressively judging someone in sexual immorality, that person according to Romans 2, does the same things.

One of the main reasons why some Christians are so judgmental of people living in sin is that they secretly want to! They live the life in their mind, never letting it out and hide it away. This is what religion does to people: because it makes God this critical wrathful Judge, it keeps people away from Him. People who know the Father, who walk with Him, genuinely do not want to sin. Like Moses they would give up the pleasures of sin in a second just to be known as one of God’s people and enjoy fellowship with Him (Hebrews 11.25). They know that God is more wonderful than any passing folly.

Religious people keep away from God: He is painted as a God of wrath with exacting standards who we have to continually impress or be attacked. I would stay away from God if He were like that, but He is not: He is humble, He is gentle, He is gracious. He redeemed us and He loved us and He gave the most precious thing He had to set us free! But religion tells people that God needs to be impressed.

So religious people have no relationship with God, they only have relationship with rules. Their hearts are still wicked and selfish as they have never been given a new heart. They have no intimate relationship with God, so they turn to rules and try and keep the rules. But their heart is not in it. So on the outside they have never committed adultery, but on the inside they are burning with lust. Jesus said that if you look at a woman with lust and imagine having sex with her, you have committed adultery of the heart (Matthew 5.28). The reason someone committing adultery of the heart disdains and hates and judges someone committing adultery is because they are jealous: their heart’s desire is to commit adultery. They do not do it not because they know the love of God, but because they are terrified of the punishment of God. They are only keeping the rules because of fear.

They are like the little boy who tells Jimmy angrily that he cannot come out to play because “Mum won’t let me.” Everything on the inside of the little boy wants to go and play, but he is scared of his mother. As soon as mother’s back is turned, the boy will be out the house. If mum does not turn her back, Jimmy will not have a good relationship with mum, but sulk and hate her. That sums up many Christians relationship with God perfectly.

When your secret heart desire is to commit a sin, you hate and judge the people who do commit that sin because you are jealous.

Christians who are not religious, who love God and know God loves them, do not want to commit adultery. They are not stupid – they know that breaking a marraige covenant would cause so much pain in the world they will not do it. They do not want to catch STDs, or hurt their families, or bring pain into their life. They trust God to satisfy them with one woman or one man, they believe God’s plan for sex and marriage works because they know God and they know He is love and that He is wiser than them! They walk with God and do not fill their minds with thoughts of adultery. They are not avoiding adultery to make God love them, because they know God loves them.

When someone like that meets someone in adultery, they do not condemn them. (John 8.1-11, compare Jesus’ reaction of love with the Pharisees’ reaction of judgment – that story sums up what I am saying here perfectly). They love them. They do not want them to commit adultery because they do not want them to be in pain, but if they keep doing it they will still love them. They will still know their name, they will still welcome them. But because our churches do not show the unconditional love that the pubs do, people are going to go “where everybody knows their name” and stay away from church in droves.

Religion kills. It stops people from accessing the grace of God for themselves and it then means that they stop others receiving that grace. Hopefully as we examine Romans 2 we are going to see how destructive religion is and get out of it. Religious death is just the same as Conscienceless death (Romans 1) and has the same negative effects. But when we reject religion and accept redemption and righteousness, we enjoy life, we enjoy God, and good things happen to us.

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Religion is a Convenient Scapegoat for the Atheist (Chuck Missler)

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Religion is often blamed for the miseries of the world. An “Imagine No Religion” billboard has just gone up in St. Louis, and most people get the point even if they disagree with it. If it were not for religion, after all, there would have been no Spanish Inquisition, no Taliban, no World Trade Center bombing, no human sacrifices to various and sundry gods. Religious wars would be conspicuously absent from world history and nobody would follow cult leaders in sipping down toxic Kool-Aid. Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion spends the first page of the Preface going through the evils that have been done in the name of religion. Yet, while atheists love to blame zealous believers for the world’s sufferings, they have missed the true problem. Yes, much earthly evil has been done in the name of one deity or another, but religion isn’t the real problem. The real problem is …. human nature.

Religion is a convenient scapegoat for the atheist, who wants to justify himself in a world of believers. The atheist has a serious problem in blaming the evils of the world on religion, though. For every complaint against religious people, there are plenty of complaints to be made against the faithless.

Have people been slaughtered in the name of religion? Certainly. Yet, the Crusades are a drop in the bucket compared to the massive death toll caused by atheistic regimes. The leaders of the French Revolution shoved God out of their social justice crusade, and the result was a blood bath. Stalin is responsible for the deaths of at least 20 million of his own people, and Mao Zedong’s death toll runs upwards of 40-70 million. From Pol Pot in Cambodia to the Kims in North Korea, governments freed of “religion” – those utopias of atheistic communism – have murdered millions upon millions of people. People of various religions continue to fight all around the world, but, anti-God governments streamline human death. Any time people get starry-eyed about imagining “no religion too” they need a little history lesson.

The problem isn’t religion or even lack thereof. The problem is humanity. Human beings have this propensity for violence and greed, for self aggrandizement and selfish laziness. We struggle – and sometimes succeed – to overcome these things, but they are there inside us. As Paul writes in Romans 7:21-24:

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

We all have that destructive sin nature inside us by birth. It’s there, and we spend our lives fighting it. If we were naturally good, it would be easy to be good and kind, generous and patient. If we were naturally good, it would be a heavy effort to be rotten. But, we find that we are just the opposite, always struggling to do what is right and constantly falling into that corruption that most people want so desperately to avoid.

Even the atheist wants to avoid the corruption, as far as his own conscience dictates. Atheists have consciences too, after all. Paul writes:

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;” (Rom 2:14-15).

Atheists and humanists are quite capable of morality and moral decision making. Yet, in rejecting the True God, atheists and humanists make themselves their own gods, and because they have no greater yardstick to measure by, it often happens that they reject one evil only to turn around and embrace something far worse. The poor in France had good reason for anger against the spoiled aristocracy and opulent church in the late 18th century. But, having only man’s reasoning to depend on, and hearts full of vengeance, thousands of innocent people were murdered. The atheist has nobody but himself and the local legal system to help him do the good he wants to do, and that can lead easily into gross error. Humankind has excellent thinking ability, but we can easily use that brainpower to justify doing the evil we want to do rather than the good we should.

Yet, the atheist is not too far off when he looks at the religions of the world and feels massively unimpressed. Religion is not the salvation of the world. Religion can be useful in that it provides a framework in which to live, and gives people rules of right and wrong outside themselves. Yet, religion itself cannot change the human heart or free humans of their natural destructive tendencies. In fact, some religious sects actually promote violence and destruction.

Paul didn’t find the answer to his dilemma in religion. He found the answer in the person of Jesus Christ. He found his answer in the Spirit of God, working in human lives to cleanse and free and make new. And the Spirit of God is real, and He is powerful, and He continues to change millions of lives today. If more atheists were truly aware of the reality of God’s Spirit to heal and to transform, Richard Dawkins would sell fewer books.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:16,22-25).

Life on this planet is hard, and Jesus never promised us anything different. He said we would have many troubles in this world, but he also said he had overcome the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. If we are filled with the Spirit, walking hand-in-hand with our King and Savior, His light is going to shine out of us to the lost and the dying. And if, in the midst of our own struggles and suffering, the reality of Christ is alive and well in us, anybody who is watching will see the difference between the truth and the false religions that have caused so much grief through the years. If people can see Christ in us, they won’t want to imagine a world without him.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (2 Cor. 4:6-10).

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By Chuck Missler

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Three Waves – The Second Wave, a Wave of Financial Integrity

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As the people cast out demons, healed the sick and had the most phenomenally accurate words of knowledge and words of wisdom, two things happened

Firstly, there was a backlash of persecution from cessationist Christians.  Not from the world, not really – much more from Christians who denied the Scriptures and the power of God.  This persecution took the form of exclusion from meetings, people were forced to stand down from leadership positions.  Some pastors were removed from their churches, other pastors virtually expelled their entire churches for speaking in tongues and laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed.  This caused a few people to back off and stop their new life of faith and miracles and joy.  However, far more people were galvanised by this and it caused them to dig into the Word to understand the Biblical basis for seeing miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It caused them to spend much more time with the Holy Spirit as their comforter and friend, and the wave of miracles grew more intense.
In the places where the persecution was strongest, often involving creative miracles of limbs re-growing and organs being restored.

The second thing that happened is that some people who had been involved in the most religious, non-charismatic churches realized that the grace and power of the Holy Spirit was free and completely by the grace of the Lord Jesus.  At the same time, many of the people moving in the gifts were very young Christians, some only being Christians for a few weeks or even days.

Some of these people started – or continued – in some of the vilest sins.  Some of these started to be exposed and revealed.  It threatened to derail the revival spreading through London and at this stage had started to affect churches in the home counties and in some areas in north England, Wales, France and eastern Europe.

Just at this time, several Christian ministers started to preach on purity and integrity in a powerful way.  Thousands flocked to hear sermons on holiness and purity throughout London.  People started to learn how to think on what is right, how to form pure and wise relationships and how to be honest in all their dealings.  It was a beautiful move and it dovetailed into the healing wave that had just past.  People started to learn how to live their life on the Word, not just on their gifting or anointing.  A small group went into an excess and said they could live how they like and started swapping partners, but this group stopped almost as soon as it started.

I have referred to this wave as a wave of financial integrity because that is how I saw it.  All the things I described above happened in my vision, but the crest of the wave was this: churches started to deal with money in an open and honest way.  I saw Christian leaders weeping before their churches because they had operated the church finances as an extension of their own bank accounts.  I saw elders apologize for manipulating people into giving to their causes.  Some people were repenting of making up causes to raise offerings and this was revealed.

Now, I know for a fact that there is excesses like this inside the charismatic church, but what surprised me when I saw this happen was that it was as much the traditional churches that had leaders repenting and making restitution as the charismatic churches.  Several pastors had raised money for an orphanage that did not even exist, and they were getting right with God and returning double the money to everyone who had given.

It was wonderful to watch.  And as it happened, as people – especially leaders – were honest, were owning up – there was a new level of trust across the body of Christ.  A Pentecostal minister would admit his folly, and instead of shooting him down, the local Anglican church would love him and reach out to him and restore him.  The Baptists were praying for the Assemblies of God, and the URC were praying for the Elim, and this opened up a number of joint meetings which led to many people being saved, healed and delivered.

The irony was that when this was dealt with, people actually became more generous with their money.  People who had never given more than a token amount to the church were giving 30-40% of their income into offerings for their churches.  Money was being distributed to the poor in London like never before.  A number of churches were getting together in different localities and buying buildings to use as shelters for the homeless and as soup kitchens, and places where people could be cared for and supported.  In many areas, one church was organising the whole project but would be amazed when other churches in the area would just send huge offerings with no strings attached.

As this wave started to subside – and I don’t mean that the integrity had ended, any more than the healings and miracles had ceased at this stage, but rather that this as a focus was ending – there were so many Christians who were fellowshipping with people they never thought they would fellowship with.
This is when the third wave I saw hit.

Church in the 21st Century… (William Booth)

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William Booth (Founder of The Salvation Army) when asked to comment about the issues confronting Britain at the turn of the century said:-

* There will be religion without the Holy Spirit

* There will be Christianity without Christ

* There will be Forgiveness without Repentance

* There will be Salvation without Regeneration

* There will be Politics without God

* Heaven without Hell...  Selah.

Run Through Romans (chapter 3:1-21)

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In Romans 1, Paul tells us two rather alarming truths: firstly, that all the nations of the world are involved in a spiral of increasing unrighteousness.  Secondly, that the justice of God means that God must punish all unrighteousness.

In Romans 2, Paul destroys any hope that religion or religious ritual might protect us from the wrath of God.  Everyone has done unrighteous deeds therefore everyone is unrighteous, therefore everyone must be judged by God as guilty and sentenced accordingly.

In Romans 3, Paul now shows that both Jew (religious people) and Gentile (unreligious people) are unrighteous.  He further nails down anyone who might be trying to say “I am not that bad” by looking at every single person on the earth and pointing out: “Yes, you are that bad.”

But also in Romans 3, Paul lets us see the light at the end of the tunnel.  He lets us see that although no human being can stand before God innocent and be acquited because of their perfect lifestyle, maybe there is an alternative route to being righteous.  Let’s run through the text:

1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

 2Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. #

Because Paul in Romans 2 is so scathing of the ineffectiveness of religion, and in particular the Jewish religion, that he feels he must say that there is benefit in being religious.  There is a benefit in being part of the Jewish nation, and the benefit is this: the Jewish people were trusted with the oracles (the words) of God.  The Jewish people were trusted to receive the Word of God and preserve it.   Here Paul is talking about the Old Testament, more specifically the law of God.  The Jewish people were told the whole law of God – all 613 commandments. 

None of the other nations knew about God’s laws, although we know from Romans 1 that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for being unrighteous due to the conscience and creation.  However, the Jews were trusted with all of God’s law.  Psalm 19 tells us that the law of the Lord is perfect.  The Jews were given something perfect: a perfect standard of how to live a perfect live. 

 3For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

Now Paul is saying that just because people did not receive or accept the law, and because the Jewish people many times rejected the law, that doesn’t actually matter.  God had faith in them, God gave them the law, God’s law is still the perfect standard.

This lie seems to have permeated our society.  That if we reject God’s law and decide it is not real or not for today or whatever, that we think that the law doesn’t apply.  But crimes against the law of God are statutory crimes – whether you know the law or not, it still exists.  You would have a better chance of assuming that gravity is not for today or not real and jumping off the top of Canary Wharf and flying around London than assuming that God’s laws are not for today or not real and expecting to survive the judgment day of the Lord.

Sean McDowell used an excellent illustration of this in a sermon I heard recently.  He said that society treats God’s law and God’s revelation like ice cream flavours – you have your favourite flavour and I have mine, and it doesn’t really matter.  However, he says that God’s law and God’s revelation are more like a medical prescription.  You cannot just choose which medicine you like – you have to take the medicine prescribed or you will not recover.  God’s law is real and relevant – just because the laws of the nation have changed does not mean God’s law has changed.

 4God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Or more simply put: if you disagree with God about the standard to be righteous, then you are wrong and God is right.  Here Paul quotes Psalm 51.4, which in the NLT reads: “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” You have to realize that one day you will stand before God and he will declare you righteous or unrighteous.  If you try and stand based on your good deeds, you will be found unrighteous because you have sinned.  You have done the things listed in Romans 1.  You have broken the Ten Commandments: you have told lies, you have stolen things which are not yours, you have used the Lord’s name as a swear word. 

Now if you say that these standards for whatever reason do not apply to you, then God is telling the truth and you are lying.  God will win the court case and you will be sentenced to hell.

 5But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

This is a powerful argument Paul is making.  Many people have shyed away from hell, and mocked hellfire preachers.  Now Jesus said more about hell than anyone else in the Scripture, so are people who are not talking about hell being Christ-like?  No.  However, I will qualify this: Jesus spoke about hell to his disciples, not when preaching the gospel.  When he preached the gospel, Jesus Christ healed the sick and preached about the kingdom of God.  He preached the gospel, which means good news.  At this stage in our study of Romans, we have not actually gone through what the gospel is fully, though we have spent time on it while looking at Romans 1.16-17.  All that needs to be said is that you don’t evangelise by telling people: you are going to hell.

Why? Because telling people that they are going to hell makes no sense to them.  They don’t know the law of God mostly.  They don’t know that they are unrighteous.  Telling someone who is not aware they are guilty that they are going to receive a sentencing is nonsensical and they will not listen. 

If however, you explain to someone the way Paul has done through Romans 1-3 that they are unrighteous because they have broken the perfect law of God and that religious acts and good deeds cannot make them innocent, then they are likely to listen to you.  Their own conscience will start to remind them of the times they have done things that they did not want to do, and the Holy Spirit will be hovering over them and convincing them of sin, and then they are open to the gospel.

What Paul is essentially saying in this verse is that because we are unrighteous, because we are guilty – then for God to judge us on judgment day shows that God is righteous, that God is innocent.  If a judge just let criminals off, that judge would be as guilty as the criminals.  Those people who expect mercy from God simply because He is good are mistaken: God is not going to show you mercy and the reason why He will not show you mercy is because He is good.  His goodness means that He must punish all unrighteousness.

 6God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

 7For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

The more we reject God’s judgment and act unrighteousness, the more truthful God will be when He judges us for being unrighteous.

 8And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

Paul is saying here: if our sin makes God act in a good way, the answer is not to sin as much as you can.  When we reach Romans 6, we will deal with this fully.

 9What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

In Romans 1, Paul shows us the Gentiles are all unrighteous.  In Romans 2, Paul shows us the Jews are all unrighteous.  Just in case you have missed the point, Paul is about to show that everyone is unrighteous:

 10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

 13Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

 14Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

 15Their feet are swift to shed blood:

 16Destruction and misery are in their ways:

 17And the way of peace have they not known:

 18There is no fear of God before their eyes.

The above description applies to every human being on the earth.  It applies to you and it applies to me.  Verse 10 sums up Romans 3 – there is none righteous, no, not one.  This is the key message of this chapter: if you think you are righteous, if you think on judgment day you will be found innocent before God, you are completely wrong.  I will not go through vv. 11-18, but if you have any shred of self-righteousness – if you believe you could be worthy before God on the basis of your goodness – I suggest you read it, meditate on it and study it until you know that there is nothing in you that could please or impress God.

 19Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Now Paul is telling us something very important.  The whole purpose of holding your life up to the law of God and showing you that you are unrighteous, that you do not fear God, that you do not live right, that you will be judged on the day of judgment is for one reason only: so that you will have your mouth stopped and be guilty before God.

The law was not given to you because God knew that if He only gave you enough strict instructions you would be able to obey them all and please Him.  The law was given to you because God knew that you can not obey it and that the law would shut your mouth and show you that you are guilty before God.

Before the law of God was revealed through Moses, people did not shut their mouth and did not think they were guilty before God.  Cain was protected by God after he murdered Abel, and Cain’s descendent felt that meant he could murder who he liked.  And in today’s society, generally a lawless society, people do not shut their mouths – they say things that are so inappropriate, so disrespectful to God.  They do not know they are guilty.

This is such a key point.  Many Christians still feel that they impress God with their actions.  No – the law was not given so you could impress God by keeping it.   The law was given so that you know that you could never impress God by keeping it.  You could never do all the things in it.  You could never even keep the Ten Commandments.

 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Can you see Paul’s point?  By doing good things no flesh – not you, not me, not Mother Theresa, not anyone shall be justified.  The word justified simply means “made righteous” or “declared innocent”.  Can you see the purpose of the law – it is not for you to obey and for God to give you brownie points for obeying it so well.  It is to show you beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are not innocent before God at all.  You are guilty.  You are unrighteous.  You are damned to hell by God’s goodness and justice and righteousness because you are unrighteous.

 21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Romans 1-3 is a serious message, and it needs to be understood.  You are not righteous because of your actions.  You are not righteous because of your religious rituals.  You are certainly not righteous because of your attempts to obey God’s law.  You are unrighteous because of your actions.  Your religious rituals cannot change the fact that your actions have made you unrighteous and guilty.  Your attempts to follow God’s law cannot undo your unrighteous actions and besides you fail to follow the law again and again.  The purpose of the law was not to show you a way to be good, but to show you that you are not good.

When you truly understand that, and only when you understand that, are you ready for the good news of the New Testament.  And this is the good news of the New Testament in one sentence: But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.  Paul spends three chapters stripping every human being – religious or not, Jew or Gentile – of any form of self-righteousness.  Self-righteousness is your attempt to stand before God and presumptiously declare yourself good enough for God based on your actions.  If you can read Romans 1-3 and still feel you can stand before God and declare yourself good enough for God based on your actions, you must be spiritually blind and have a very hard heart.

But once you realize that there is nothing you can do to make yourself good enough for God and that you are unrighteous and deserve hell on earth and hell when you die, Paul then decides you are ready for the good news: there is another way to be right with God that has nothing at all to do with the law of God.  In fact, it has nothing to do with anything you can do or have ever done or ever will do. 

And tomorrow, we will examine what this way is.

As always any questions or comments are more than welcome.

Every blessing,

Ben

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