Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Tag Archives: Romans

Romans 2.13

0

(For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

This is a verse that without paying careful attention to context and to systematic theology is one that you could easily take to mean the exact opposite of what Paul actually means.

Paul is talking to religious people.  He has essentially just told that God has no favourites and that they will be judged by the law.  They think because they know the law they will escape condemnation and be welcomed into heaven.  There are still people like that in the world today – I go to church, I will therefore go to heaven.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  You cannot be justified by hearing the law.  You cannot be just (righteous) by hearing the law.  It does not matter how many times I stand up in the pulpit and tell people “Do not lie”, that will NEVER make them right with God.

So many preachers seem to have no idea of this Biblical truth: you cannot be made righteous by hearing the law.  I could get in the pulpit and go to people “Do not lie”, “Do not commit adultery”, “Do not steal” and it would not make anyone right with God.  It might make someone feel guilty or condemned, it might make someone feel out of sorts, depressed and sad, but it will never make someone right with God.

Yet today there are whole sections of the church where if you go to their churches and conferences, you will be a hearer of the law.  They will tell you what to do, what the law says, what holiness is all about.  I was in discussion with someone about one of these preachers once and they say “I love that preacher, when he preaches it is like a kick in the kidneys”.  Who wants a kick in the kidneys?  Who goes to church to be told how vile and horrible they are and how much they have broken the law?

Yet some people want to get involved with sermons that tear them to pieces.  Some people venerate sermons that are hard-hitting and condemning.  One example is a sermon once preached called Sinners in the Hands of Angry God.  We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God.  God’s not an angry God – He is a loving Father.  Sending Jesus to redeem us was HIS IDEA!  The man who preached that we were sinners in the hands of an angry God depressed people in his church so much people went and killed themselves!  When he was told, he said that God made them kill themselves.   That’s not Biblical – and no matter how much law you hear, it will never make you right with God.

But religious people think because they have heard the law, they are right with God.  Because they went to church heard the sermon and now feel like dirt, they think they are right with God.  Everyone else who has not heard the legalistic message of the law is not right with God, and being religious they then judge everyone else.  Especially if you know about grace and love and you have some joy and some contentment and some security in your walk with God.  They want to drag you down to their level and have you meditate on how evil you are.  There is one guy even calls his radio ministry “Wretched” to emphasis that we are wretches.  That is true without God’s grace and goodness, but we are never without God’s grace and goodness.

But then Paul says this: you are made righteous by obeying the law.  Now, in several places in Romans Paul makes it more than clear that we are not made righteous by obeying the law.  But here Paul says: doers of the law will be made righteous (justified).

How can this make sense?  It makes sense when you realize the point Paul is trying to make: if you want to use the law to be made righteous, you need to do it.  Yes, all of it.  Every single bit.  Just hearing a message on the law is not enough, you need to put it perfectly into practise.  Paul is trying to take the sails out of the wind of the religious people by saying just hearing a condemning message is not enough – you need to put it entirely into practise!

If you cannot obey God perfectly and obey the entire law of Moses perfectly, then you are never going to be made righteous listening to the law.  So, go and listen to the gospel instead.  The word gospel means good news – find a preacher preaching good news.  Find someone preaching life and faith, find someone preaching repentance and the kingdom.  Stay clear from people who punch you in the kidneys and find someone who places a hand on your shoulder and tells you: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

Romans 2.6

0

Romans 2.6
Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

This is possibly one of the most ignored truths and yet is one of the most important teachings in the whole of the Bible, and I would never say such a thing lightly.

The NIV says ‘God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”‘. There is no escaping what this verse is saying: you and I are going to be rewarded based on our actions.

Now at first this seems incongruent with the rest of the New Testament. Anyone who knows anything about the Bible knows that you cannot be saved according to your actions: salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The entire Reformation of the church revolved around this key issue: you CANNOT be saved by works, you can only be saved by believing in the sacrificial and redemptive death and resurrection of the Lord Christ Jesus. And I believe that, and the Bible teaches that: salvation is by grace alone. And most churches that have come from the Reformation: evangelical and Protestant churches will teach and believe this wonderful Biblical truth.

In addition, if you read Galatians 3, you will find that we are baptised in the Holy Spirit by grace alone. You cannot deserve the filling of the Holy Spirit, but you can believe for it. Galatians goes on to say that you cannot deserve miracles, but you can believe for them and work miracles by faith.

It seems that the entire Christian life is grace, but then in Romans 2 we find this short little verse that says “God will reward us for what we have done” (CEV). Is this verse wrong? Clearly not! But how do we fit it into the idea that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?

The answer is remarkably simple. You enter heaven only by the grace of God – you are not good enough to enter heaven because you have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3.23). However, on the cross Jesus Christ became sin for you so that you could become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5.21).

Only by believing in Jesus can you be born again – made righteous – and enter heaven (John 3.16, Romans 5.1). The Bible says that as far as the east is from the west, that is how far God has removed our sins from us (Psalm 103.2).

However – and this is a wonderful truth that has been much neglected – when we enter heaven God will render to us according to what we have done. There are rewards in heaven, and those of us who work hard on earth will be given greater rewards than those on earth.

I want to make this clear: getting into heaven – only by the free grace of God and because of what Jesus did. Mark 16.16 says if you believe you are saved and if you believe not you are damned. Nothing to do with actions at all. Rewards in heaven – based on what you have done on this earth.

Let’s look a little bit at the Greek to get a deeper understanding of this verse. The Greek word for render here is apodidōmi which means to give what is due or to give exact compensation. I love that – God is just and fair. In heaven what you receive as your reward will be totally fair to your life. There will no injustice in heaven. That is beautiful and one of the things that makes heaven heavenly in my mind. Where the KJV says “every man”, the Greek means every individual. You are not going to rewarded for what I have done or not rewarded because I held you back. This is a personal, individual reward for your work from heaven.

So what are we rewarded for? Is it our good lifes, our judging others, our church attendance? Well, the verse says that we are rendered according to our deeds. The word deeds is the Greek word ergon which means either employment or productivity.

Employment is about doing the right job. If you are employed to clean the floor by a company, it does not matter how clean you get the windows, you cannot say that your employment was successful. It would take too much time to discuss how to find out God’s will for your life, but I tell you the truth: you need to find out what God has called you to do and do it – otherwise you will get to heaven with no reward! This is also very freeing – if God has called you to clean the floor then you will given a full reward if the floor is clean, and you do not have to worry about the windows – remember, this reward is personal to your employment. Do you know your employment contract with the Lord? What has He called – indeed crafted – you to do?

Productivity is about what you create and generate. Although part of this reward is personal and due to your calling and destiny, all Christians are supposed to be fruitful Christians. You should be reproducing what you are. If you are Spirit filled and a tongue talker, who have you led into the baptism in the Holy Spirit ever? If you are a teacher of God’s Word who have you fed into so much that now they can teach? And most importantly of all – if you are a born again Christian redeemed by the grace of the Lord Jesus, how many people have you led into that grace and into the new birth?

Your punishment is not going to happen – your sins and you are separate and that will not change. If you are born again, no hell for you. However, you now have the rest of your life to build a reward in heaven. Find out what you are called to do, find out how to be more fruitful. Your eternal destiny depends on it.

Romans 1.19

0

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Remembering that our last verse told us the wrath of God was revealed against unrighteousness; and that the wrath of God is the judicial punishment of God – not the violent anger of God, then we can see in this verse WHY God is punishing sin.

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them – and them here is referring to the people who are ungodly and unrighteous.

God is right to punish the ungodly and the unrighteous, because what may be known of God is manifest in them.

What does this mean?

It means this: every person knows there is a God. Every person knows that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-loving being that created them and created the universe.

That is what the Bible teaches. That is why it is correct for God to punish sin, because everyone who sins knows that they have sinned, knows that they have done something wrong.

This “knower” is called the conscience, and it is a great Trojan horse when you are evangelising someone.

It is part of their mind, part of their inner being and it knows there is a God. It knows that God is good and it knows that they have not always kept the standards of this God. Athiest, Hindu, Muslim, JW, whatever – every human has this conscience, this knower.

When you evangelise, ask people if they think they are a good person – if they say no, then ask why. If they say yes, ask them why. Ask them if they know any of God’s commandments and if they have ever broken any of them.

Awaken the conscience inside the person and evangelise them there. You won’t win over someone with an intellectual argument unless you awaken their conscience. As soon as it is awakened, it will start to deal with the person. Let them know what Jesus has done for them on the cross and that Jesus has redeemed them from all sin.

The Bible says in John 16.13 that the Holy Spirit convinces us of sin because we do not believe in Jesus. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, by the way, not to convince us of lying or stealing or adultery, but to convince and convict us of not relying on Jesus, not putting our faith in Jesus, not relating to Jesus, not trusting Him and His goodness.

Now when you have shown someone what Jesus did for them, and maybe illustrated it with an example or two from your life, then the Holy Spirit has material to work with.

That person walks off, but the Holy Spirit walks with them… you cannot escape the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit will work at convincing the person that they have failed to trust Jesus. They have to accept redemption from Jesus.

Most Christians seem to think the Holy Spirit goes around saying “sin, sin, sin, repent, you sinned, you are useless, you missed it again, you failed.” No – the Holy Spirit goes around saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, trust Jesus, put your faith in Jesus, Jesus has rescued you, Jesus has set you free.”

Same applies for us as Christians – it is not the Holy Spirit that is harping on about your sins. He harps on about Jesus and His redemptive power!

So, next time you share your faith realize that the person you are talking to, deep down, knows that there is a God. And that if you clearly show them Christ crucified and explain why (see Galatians 3.1), then the Holy Spirit can convince them of this truth and their spirit will bear witness to the Holy Spirit and they will be born again.

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.17

0

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Three books of the New Testament quote Habukkuk 2.4, the just shall live by faith. Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. Romans tells us what the just are, Galatians tells us how to live, and Hebrews explains what faith is. It is clear that the just shall live by faith are the single most important six words in the whole Bible.

Six words all one syllable long and they have changed the world. Without those six words, we would be living in hell on earth right now. It is those words that took the gospel to the world in Paul’s generation and established a church that changed the world, that released us from the world of legalism and wickedness.

Then when the church had fallen for the lies of the devil and was bound in politics, in powerless legalism and useless tradition, these six words grabbed the heart of Martin Luther and brought revival to a generation that is still flooding the church today. Without the Reformation, there would be no Methodists, no Pentecostals, no charismatics and no Word of Faith! These six words have changed your life!

Now it is time for these six words to change your life on a personal level. You are the just. Now the word just is a totally redundant word in the Bible. The word righteous means exactly the same thing. The righteous shall live by faith. You are righteous because of what Jesus has done.

This is what Paul is saying: the gospel is the power of God for salvation because in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.

Righteousness is no longer something we have to achieve by works, it is something we have to receive by faith.

The gospel is this: Jesus Christ lived a perfectly righteous life. He then offered that righteous life up as an offering for you, taking your sin so you could be made righteous (2 Cor. 5.21). The moment you put your faith in Jesus, you were made righteous. The righteous are bold, the righteous abound in blessings, the righteous enjoy fullness of joy, the righteous pray and their prayers are answered and heard by the Lord. And you are righteous the moment you put your faith in the gospel!

The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. The Greek says ek pistis eis pistis, which is best translated out of faith into faith.

The gospel reveals the righteousness of God out of faith into faith. What does this mean?

A lot of people have a lot of theories, but my opinion is this: the righteousness of God comes out of the faith of God and into our faith.

God believed that we would be righteousness, and His faith sent Jesus into our world, living a righteous perfect life and offering that life as a sacrifice. Then as we believe the gospel, the righteousness goes into our faith. The moment we believe the gospel righteousness goes into our faith and transforms our spirit. We are transformed so remarkably and totally the only correct term is that we are born again.

To be born again means the same as to be made righteous. We were spiritually dead and spiritually sinful. Then we are born again to spiritual life and spiritual righteousness.

Before Jesus walked the earth, there was no one righteous, no not one.

Then, out of faith the righteousness of God moved from heaven into earth through the conception and birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life, a righteous life, and offered that life up for us on a cross, becoming sin so we could become righteous.

Then, when anyone at all puts their faith in Jesus Christ that righteousness comes into that faith and transforms that person so that they are born again as a righteous man.

Wow! Now you are righteous, how do you live? You live by the same faith that made you righteous.

Stop living by works. Stop living by circumstances. Stop living by experience. Stop living by gifting. Live by faith. Live by the Word of God and confidence that Jesus Christ has redeemed you.

If sickness comes into your body, don’t live by sickness. Live by faith in your redemption by Christ. Live well.

If you are bound by sin, don’t live by experience and how you lived today. Live by faith – faith in the fact that Jesus became that sin and you became righteous with His righteousness.

If you are in debt, don’t live by debt. Live by faith that Jesus became poor so you could be rich.

You are the righteous – so live by faith.

Romans 1.13

0

Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

I love this verse. Paul says that he would not have the Roman church ignorant.

Ignorant in the Greek is agnoeō. It literally means without knowledge or without awareness. The English word “agnostic” comes from this root – so just think when someone tells you that they are an agnostic, they are saying “I know nothing”!

I love Paul because he wasn’t some kooky emotionalist – he knew that the key to victory in the Christian life isn’t goosebumps, isn’t falling, isn’t laughing, it is knowledge.

Hosea 4.6 says that people are destroyed by lack of knowledge, Isaiah 5.13 says that people are held captive by what they do not know.

So – my challenge and question to you today is this: what are you doing to increase your knowledge?

Do not complain about areas of your life where there is destruction, where there is captivity, if you are not doing something to increase your knowledge.

Are you in a church where the preaching of the Word increases your knowledge? Have you this week read a book on the Word of God (one that exalts the Word and expounds it, not one that attempts to judge it!)?

Have you learned something new about your career this week? Are you studying something?

What do you know about healing? About prosperity? About dominating your emotions? Do you know enough? Where are you going to get new knowledge?

Do you know which websites have faith-filled life-changing messages and which ones are just the shouters and the beggars?

Do you waste your life in amusement? Remember our Greek word agnoeō? It comes from the Greek word gnoeo which means understanding. The “a” at the beginning means “without” or “the opposite of”, similar to how we might use “un-” as a prefix in the English language to change the meaning of a word. For example, happy and unhappy.

Amusement also comes from the Greek language, muse comes from the Greek word mousa meaning to contemplate or to be creative. Amuse literally means without contemplation or creativity.

That is what nearly all amusement is: what you do without contemplation or creativity. Watching hours of TV, listening to most chart music, playing computer games, all these things. I am not saying these things are wrong, but I will tell you that you only have 24 hours every day, and every hour you spend in a-musement is an hour you cannot spend in “musement”. Remember – God would NOT have you ignorant.

I remember a pastor in my city saying that if he had to work out how successful someone was in life just from their house, his formula would involve the inverse of the size of their television and the size of their personal library.

I think that he would not be far off in his guesses.

The world says that ignorance is bliss. It is not – it is deadly, it will keep you captive, it will destroy you.

What are you doing to destroy your ignorance before it destroys you? Don’t just hope it will go away, it won’t. Make a plan. Decide which 5 books you are going to read before the end of the year.

Decide how many books of the Bible you are going to read before the end of the year. Change church if you need to, find out a Christian conference and take the time off work and get yourself there.

Don’t just sit there and stay ignorant!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.11

0

For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

Here is a question for you: do you long to see the church? I mean do you long to be with the crowd of Christians, worshipping Jesus, living with the church, helping them in their problems, putting up with their carnality, helping them to grow up, laying down your life for them.

Listen the body of Christ is the church. If you don’t long to see the church, you don’t really love Jesus. You might have emotional feelings about Him, but love is expressing in how you treat someone.

Paul longed to see the Romans. In the midst of 2 Corinthians 11 when Paul is talking about some of the situations he went through in his life, he puts the burden of his love for the churches as being more difficult than being beaten with sticks or lashed with a whip!

How much do you long to be with the church?

And what was Paul’s motivation for being with other Christians? It was not to get.

I will say this, most Christians go to church to get. That is true. It is an absolute indictment on the church, its structure, its understanding of love, its understanding of the kingdom of God.

Most Christians leave church and they rate the service. They comment on what the worship was like (I won’t spend the time necessary to explain how you cannot rate worship!), they make their judgment on how anointed the preacher was, and they assess how good the offering was. They never came to give, they never came to offer.

Well, they came to offer some cash, to tip good and pay their protection money, and to sit on the seat. But that is not the offerings that God is looking for.

Paul longed to be with the church to offer (impart = Gk. metadidomi – to offer, cf. Luke 3.11) a spiritual gift to the church. Paul wanted to go to church to offer spiritual life to the church – to impart faith, to teach the Word, to inspire with His testimony, to give a message in tongues, to prophesy over people, to have a word of wisdom for someone, to help a sheep find their way.

Why do you go to church?

Are you imitating Paul the way he copied Jesus? (1 Cor. 11.1).

Are you longing to go to church to offer something?

Not for your glory, not so people write about you or praise you or thank you, not to establish your ministry – but to establish (Gk. sterizo – to make constant, to make strong or to make stable) the church.

Is your joy found in going to church?

Is your goal in going to church to strengthen the church and offer something?

Is your motive in giving and imparting spiritual wisdom and revelation and gifting, selfless and to make strong the church?

If so, you can say that you are copying Paul like he is copying Christ.

If not, you have some adjusting to do in the way you think about the church and about Christians!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.9

0

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Let’s start with what Paul says first: he serves God with his spirit. This means that Paul is always serving God because he serves God from the inside.

He doesn’t need a crowd to listen to him to serve God, he can serve God chained up in prison. Sometimes we think that we have to do great things on earth to impress God – but God is impressed by our spirit, by us worshipping, praising and praying for people. Also – if you do mighty public works without your spirit being humble and pure before God you are wasting your time – you gain nothing (see 1 Cor. 13).

You can serve God right now – lift your hands to heaven and thank Him for making a wonderful day, pray for someone who has persecuted you and ask God to bless them and show them honour, then speak life over your family and your church. How easy it is to serve God!

Paul says that without ceasing he prayed for the Roman church. This word without ceasing is adialeiptōs in the Greek. This word is only used four times in the New Testament:

Romans 1.9 – without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers

1 Thess 1.2-3 – We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus
Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thess 2.13 – For this cause also we thank God without ceasing

1 Thess 5.17 – Pray without ceasing

Notice that this word is only used in the Bible in the context of our relationship with God. We should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17), and incase we dismiss this command as an ideal and not reality Paul says clearly in Romans 1.9 that he prayed without ceasing for the Roman church.

Now this does not mean that Paul prayed non-stop for the Roman Christians. It does not mean that whenever you found Paul he was lying prostrate praying in tongues for the Romans.

Firstly, Paul slept, he ate, he drank, he was a worker, he was a preacher. You cannot pray non-stop and nor can I. There is no Biblical command to pray non-stop.

The devil likes to get in to these sorts of commands and condemn us for not praying enough. He misquotes the Scripture to make you feel like rubbish.

Listen when God convicts us it is always three things:

1) Redemptive
2) Specific
3) Achievable

If the Holy Spirit says “Every day before you leave the house pray in tongues for 20 minutes” that is probably God because it is redemptive (it is something positive), it is specific (you can easily tell if you have done it or not) and it is achievable.

The devil is the one that says “you must pray more” – he wouldn’t dare tell you when to pray or give you a method of prayer or a goal, he just wants you to feel like rubbish. You must be more loving is another one of his phrases.

You cannot pray non-stop so stop feeling guilty that you don’t.

Let me explain what without ceasing means: it means without an intermission. Have you ever been to the cinema (I know all you holy people have never been to the cinema!) when there is a long film with an intermission: it is a break where something else happens.

You should pray without a break where something else happens. It means without an interruption to your prayer. Look at Strong’s Concordance:

Adverb from adialeiptos; uninterruptedly
When you read without ceasing in your Bible, translate it in your mind to without interruptions.

When you pray, you should be operating in faith and love. What praying without interruptions means is that just because you are not in your prayer time, don’t drop the faith and the love.

Let me try and make it practical for you so you can grasp this. Imagine you are praying for one of your children. You know that prayer must be in faith and you know that faith comes from hearing the Word so you search the Scriptures for a Scripture for your child. Maybe your child is having difficulties or starting to rebel.

Imagine you find Isaiah 54.13, which says great shall be the peace of thy children. So you go to prayer:

Father, thank you for Bob. Thank you that your Word says that His peace shall be great. He is not controlled by fear but by peace. He shall not have a broken life, but a peaceful life. He is a man of peace, and brings peace with him. Amen.

Now to pray for Bob without ceasing doesn’t mean that you pray non-stop, no drinking, no thinking, no sleeping, no anything that stops you praying and never doing anything else. Imagine if Paul prayed for the Romans like that and if pray without ceasing meant that, then Paul would never have prayed for the Thessalonians because that would mean to cease praying for the Romans! This is clearly not what pray without ceasing means.

To pray for Bob without ceasing means that after you have finished praying, you don’t phone Sister Bucketmouth and say “Man, what am I going to do with Bob? I can’t get a handle on him, it’s getting worse.” If you say contrary to your prayer, you have interrupted your prayer. You have failed to pray without interruption.

You have interrupted your prayer of faith with doubt, fear, worry and unbelief. You are undoing your prayer!

Listen: Paul prayed (and gave thanks – read Romans 1.8 and 9 together) for the Romans without ceasing. When he finished praying for them and thanking God for them, he did not go:

“Well, those Romans, it is so tough being church in Rome, I don’t know how they have made it. I hope they keep making it, I better go there and sort them out… you no what kind of mess they will be in without me…”

No – he refused to interrupt his prayer. He didn’t pray for his bills to be met on Sunday and get up Monday and worry and fret – he never interrupted his prayer. He didn’t pray in faith for the church to be revived and then tell his friend what a bunch of unspiritual fools they were down at the church as soon as he said amen.

Paul didn’t quit being thankful and appreciative for the church when he finished praying. He didn’t take faith and love into the prayer closet and leave them in there.

No – God was and is His witness, he refused to interrupt his prayers.

My encouragement to you today is this:

Pray without interruption (1 Thessalonians 5.17, Ben Conway Translation)

Do not let anything interrupt your prayers. When you have offered up your prayer in faith and love, don’t go and speak something in doubt and hatred. Don’t interrupt your prayers.

God doen’t interrupt prayers, He answers them. But if in the process of that answer manifesting, you interrupt yourself, then you are the one stopping the answer from manifesting.

You don’t have to pray non-stop, you need to pray and keep the attitudes of faith and love non-stop.

I hope this clarifies for you and helps you realize that 1 Thess. 5.17 is a command you can obey, and should obey, I hope it stops the devil ever thumping you on the head with this Scripture!

But more than that, I hope it helps you pray the prayer of faith for yourself, for friends, for enemies and for entire churches and see your answers manifest because you refuse to interrupt yourself.

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

%d bloggers like this: